From October 2022
When Jenny Thomasson got her first job working at a flower shop in college, she had a hunch she was onto something big. “I knew relatively quickly that I had found something that really spoke to me,” she says. At just 22 years old, she opened her own shop in St. Louis. “I had to start from the ground up and kind of find my way, find what I was interested in.”
That was 18 years ago, and though the business is still going strong, Thomasson no longer owns or manages it. Instead, her love for surprising, experimental arrangements has taken her around the world, eventually landing her in Dallas at the high-end Dr Delphinium Designs & Events, where her responsibilities include gift buying, merchandising, product development, and teaching as a lead instructor.
But it was in July in Las Vegas—at this year’s American Institute of Floral Designers’ National Symposium, sponsored by Florists’ Transworld Delivery—that she discovered just how far she could push the boundaries of floral arranging. “This wasn’t your everyday pretty flowers in a bouquet,” she says. “It was avant-garde, contemporary.”
Thomasson was one of 10 carefully chosen contestants from across the country. “There were lots of moving parts,” she says, “but I loved every minute.” For some challenges, they were free to preplan and bring their own flowers. For others, they had to put their own spin on assigned components and dimensions.
The theme of the competition was Roots. The piece Thomasson is most proud of involved a deconstructed Texas tumbleweed, something she knew no one else would have. “It’s not something they can ship; it’s not something they can sell. Even designers that walked by stopped and stared because they’d never seen it used before.” Her clean mechanics, use of color, and design elements netted her the win.
This isn’t the first accolade she’s received for her unique spin on floral arranging. She’s written two books on the subject; represented the United States in international competitions in Mexico, Canada, Belgium, and China; and presented three times at the AIFD National Symposium. And, in September 2023, she’ll head to England to represent the United States in the prestigious Interflora World Cup design competition.
Want to incorporate world-championship-worthy floral arrangements into your home this fall? Thomasson suggests thinking outside the vase. “Be creative about what you have in your home,” she says. Tapered candleholders, teacups, interesting vessels, pots, or collectibles—anything that shows your personality and can hold some flowers—can add surprise and color to an arrangement. “Sometimes those things make the coolest statement pieces.”
You can also take a class to up your floral game.
Their ikebana classes are typically only held in the summer, but they’re looking to expand their schedule. Join their mailing list to find out when you can next learn the Japanese “way of flowers.” ufgrangehall.com
Award-winning designer Shane Friesenhahn offers quarterly classes at the Thompson hotel. The next one, held in November, will focus on fall themes and Thanksgiving centerpieces. Classes are $250 per person, which includes materials and light food and bubbly. @botanicalmix
Master florists lead semiprivate classes (five to 15 people) by request at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, where their designs are often on display for weddings and events. Cost is $175 per person, which includes materials. avantgarden.com
The “Autumn Home in Bloom” two-day workshop (Oct. 4 & 5) is led by Thomasson and focuses on preserved elements, so you can create seasonal pieces that will last for years. Cost is $899 per person for four take-home designs, including a centerpiece and mantelpiece. drdelphinium.com
This story originally appeared in the October issue of D Magazine with the headline, “Coming to an Arrangement.” Write to [email protected].