How To Define Southern Flower Style According To An Atlanta Florist

How To Define Southern Flower Style According To An Atlanta Florist

Here are my thoughts and tips for creating gorgeous arrangements that are full of southern style.

atlanta luxury florist christy griner hulsey


I was raised in the garden. From helping my grandmother pick up sticks to raking pine cones, digging holes, planting seeds and so much more. Being outside in nature is important to my state of mind. I first learned about indoor plants like aloe and fern from my mother and outdoor plants from my grandmother. Now, I enjoy being in the garden with my children, dog and husband. 

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1. How would you describe “Southern” style and way of life? What are their primary characteristics?

Ridiculously stylish, beautiful... liberating.

Sometimes grand, sometimes modest but always relaxed, effortless and designed for comfort. Have you ever spent a summer in the South? Plus, the South is a melting pot of cultures. From architecture to tables to conversation, wardrobe and event detailing -- everything is designed to handle the South’s hot, humid weather and uncomposed ancestry. Savoir-faire!

The necessity to embrace natural conditions lends to timeless elegance that seeps with the history of an uncultivated organic world, and manners, of course. Whether traditional or modern there is always a strong sense of place-- about everything in the South.

There isn’t one constant style that defines the region, except that it’s constantly fluctuating. Nothing is static, here. Unless, you consider everything comes with a story and a whole lot of soul - including floral arrangements. 

The South is a place of uncompromising beauty. It’s wilds have stayed with me even as I’ve grown, and traveled. The rough hand of nature combined with deep roots cultivates a non-stop celebration in found, unconventional materials that let you breathe-easy. 

The writing on the wall is a simple blend of-it-all that sets us apart.

We embrace the world in a cloak of knowing, "it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful" because we have to catch the delicate breeze with grace and look handsome doing it. It’s. Who. We. Are. 

Garlands on tables. Branches over doors. Flowers on mantels. Simple. Honest. Real. 

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2. How would you describe your floral design aesthetic?

Moody, ethereal, whimsical compilations of seasonally relevant flowers, fruits, and leafy branches are my floral design aesthetic. I love cotton. I love linen. I love my family, friends, my dog, the beach, garden and my own bliss. I can’t deny that my floral designs are seriously, just like me. 

Natural and honest elements. Raw. I suppose I’d say, classic with a twist. 

The spirit of a 91 year old grandmother who always sends me into the garden and brings found plants as a gifts taught me to dig bulbs, grow cuttings and to stop at random roadside stands provides the underlying canvas for my craft. The memory of a childhood euphoria, that feeling of of discovering something unexpected, is the true medium of my art. It’s the cradle of surprise that I like, the blanket of wonderful abruptness among familiar calculations. Would you call it suspense? Uncertain certainty. 

Sensual, evocative, tonal and painterly. I like to find something abruptly seductive and blend it in a soft, romantic, feminine way. Uncultivated, unconventional and effortlessly relaxing. 

Every single flower recipe is meaningful. Every single arrangement, even in our daily deliveries has a personal element that tells a story, a flower story, the long and short of a mini-autobiography.

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3. How would you describe “Southern”-style floral design, and what are some of its must-have floral and nonfloral elements?

Southern style floral design is one of uncompromising beauty. It’s sophisticated with rich ethereal odes to the organic world that are  seasonally relevant. A delicious mix of sensuality, movement, stories, quiet surprises, and hushed excitement. Timelessly elegant and effortlessly composed. To me, southern style floral design is soft while dramatically poetic in it’s simplicity. 

Southern Flower Style Must-haves: 

Something sought after, something found, something given to me, something from the garden clipped by me, my children, my sister or friends.. Often arranged a meaningful vessel like a cake stand, heirloom bowl, actually anything special and practical will do. 

The back side of an Elaeagnus entrances me. A must-have is hard to define because nothing is paramount. It depends on the season! Pine Cone Lilies (as my Grandmother calls them here in Nashville) in the Fall. Cosmos in the summer. Porcelain berries. Blueberry branches and fruit. Pomegranates. Smilax. Wisteria vine with the lovely seed pods can really get me going. Oh, and fruiting passion flower found on an old dirt road. Shoot! I don’t know all the names. I look for the seasonal stars within a color palette and whatever is pretty that day well it’s, the downright absolute must-have of the day! 

cover of florist review magazine featuring atlanta luxury florist christy hulsey

What are the major influencers of your style?

The weather. The music on the radio. What my sister finds in the woods. And ah, honestly, my mood. 

With all sincerity, I believe the spirit of my grandmother’s creativity and ability to resourcefully create something sophisticated, flutters through my every intention. 91 year old, Margie Tygart, still arranges, cultivates, and studies flowers. She even ships cuttings to our studio! We’ve always talked weekly. The things we can always find common excitement are flowers and adventures. 

Once we foraged wild Queen Ann’s Lace alongside an interstate to bring home for planting, and I’ve loved unceremonious materials ever since. This stately, woman prefers lichen and hand-plucked pine cones with her silver service. I, too, tend to focus on a timeless, elegance that is ethereal and moody. She sings a soft southern whisper I love to hear.

My dad was a forester. The memory of his extensive arrowhead collections, excited voice as he talks about timber, the forest and the woods, and love for being outdoors influences the voice of the artistry my fingers communicate, the sound of what I see. I’m not saying it’s pretty! But, saying that my style is an outward display of what I feel and know inside. 

It the south everything is none with friends, family and over a ice cold glass of sweet tea or warm whiskey. My 91 year old grandmother went with me to do flowers for The First Ladies Luncheon in Washington, D.C. this year with Kasey Conquiest and American Grown Flowers. When the airline confiscated her Southern Comfort, it was no surprise. Things have changed at the airport over the years, but the southern girl traveling flower style hasn’t changed a bit. It’s still over the top and fun.  All about having a good time! Always. Always. 

I’m wildly inspired in philosophy and brilliance of Ariella Chezar, Joy Thigpen, Kiana Underwood, Amy Osaba, Sarah Ryhanen, Naomi DeManana, and Nicolette Camille. 

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