“The sunsets in Tuscany seem to last for hours and never fail to take my breath away,” Kelly Marie says. “This arrangement recalls the way the light hits the landscape. It’s so textural, and the different shapes in the arrangement nod to the land.” This June, the designer will return to the idyllic Tuscan town of Città della Pieve to host her second pilgrimage aptly named My Tuscan Gathering. With a private villa as home base, Kelly Marie will lead a small group as they forage at a local flower farm for their own designs. They will also make pasta, enjoy wine tastings, and explore the town’s vibrant markets, cafes, and live music scene. “When I visit Città della Pieve, I find the scent of linden trees that lingers in the streets pleasantly intoxicating, along with the chimes from the bell tower and the scuffle of footsteps on the old cobblestones,” Kelly Marie says. “Gathering there is extremely special because it celebrates so much of what’s important to me—flowers, food, and connecting with others.”
- Chicken wire
- Waterproof floral tape
- Olive branches
- Rosemary branches
- Toffee roses
- Juliette roses
- Peach ranunculus
- Poppy pods
Form a ball of chicken wire so that it fi ts snuggly inside the bowl of the compote. Secure the ball with waterproof tape by making an “X” across the top; then fi ll with water up to 1 inch from the top.
Start with the olive branches, and let them rest and curve on their own while securing them into the wire ball. Continue with the rosemary branches to create a base that is full and lush.
Add your focal blooms. Start with the roses to help form a nice shape; then scale down one size and add in the ranunculus to fill any gaps.
Pepper the little blooms of geum, wheat, and poppy pods throughout the arrangement, making sure to let some reach out long and strong to create negative space and allow for the arrangement to breathe.
Step back a few times while designing to see the whole picture.
Behind the Scenes
As a child, Kelly Marie Thompson used to sneak behind the peony bushes while playing hide-and-seek in the backyard of her family’s Chicago bungalow. “Every inch of that yard brimmed with rose bushes and snapdragons and was shaded by a big apple tree,” says the floral designer. “I honestly can’t think of a time when I wasn’t surrounded by flowers. They’ve always been a part of my life and my memories. It’s hard to know if I found them or if they found me!” Although her training is in painting and printmaking, Kelly Marie followed her heart and ventured into floral design after working in the floral department of a local store. In 2002, she founded Fleur Inc., a floral design studio and boutique in Chicago’s eclectic Logan Square neighborhood. “In fine art and floral art, I love the challenge of creating unique and unexpected color combinations,” she says. “Currently, I’m drawn to the combination of sky blue and neon orange as representations of the sky at dawn and at dusk. It reminds me that flowers are a beautiful way to start and end my day.”
“The sunsets in Tuscany seem to last for hours and never fail to take my breath away. This arrangement recalls the way the light hits the landscape. It’s so textural, and the different shapes in the arrangement not to the land.”—Kelly Marie Thompson