“I lived in Japan as a kid, and my mom was a teacher,” says Shannon Mitch, founder of Blooms Botanica — a full-service, floral design company, in New Orleans. 

“These Ikebana masters would come in and do presentations. I remember thinking, ‘I want to do that.’ It was my earliest interest in floral design.”

Decades later, living in America once more, Mitch found herself between marketing jobs. She began part-time freelance work for Thibodeaux’s Floral Studio, redesigning their website. That spawned tutorials in floral design and eventually her own professional creations. 

Mitch’s avant-garde arrangements now add bold moments of color around the city, from towering pedestals with dried, painted palm fronds in a boutique shop window to amaranthus and Edison bulbs, strung from archways at weddings. For the latter, she finds she connects most often with brides who want something on wild side.

“My tag line is ‘flowers for the risk takers’,” Mitch says. “I founded Blooms Botanica in 2020, with the idea of offering an alternative in floral design, with fresh ideas and funky visuals.”

With that in mind, this issue, we wanted to ask Shannon Mitch about taking risks in our own spaces, inviting neon hues and interesting textures into home floral arrangements this spring.

The No. 1 Rule for Beginners

Don’t overthink it. Flowers are beautiful in and of themselves. Novices get intimidated by arranging. If you get a good product, it speaks for itself.

Choose a Vessel

The easiest vase to begin with is one with a smaller opening. Something tall and skinny rather than wide and low. In the base, I like to use rocks or sand. I try not to use floral foam when I can avoid it, but it’s okay to use as well. Any of these will help anchor your flowers.

Think Outside the Phlox

I once overheard a girl joke that her favorite color was ‘fringe.’ I’ve been using fringe as table runners lately. You can add anything to your arrangements, from mushrooms to garden herbs like dill and rosemary. It doesn’t have to be only flowers. I’ve even used long green beans that I found at Hong Kong Market, to create a drippy effect. Fruit and vegetables are great, like loquats, which can add a beautiful pop of yellow.

Speaking of Loquats

New Orleans has so many wild and wonderful things growing on the neutral ground, in parks and along the rivers. Never cut something from someone’s yard, but collecting wild botanicals, big ginger leaves, banana flowers or even driftwood from public spaces is a great way to add to centerpieces. Plus, it’s free.

Places to Purchase

I like to source from Baby T-Rex Farms in Mid-City. They do weekly bundles that you can get in spring and fall. Cicada Calling Farm is another, and Trader Joe’s in a pinch is pretty affordable.

Avoid the Sun. Refresh the Water.

Never put cut flowers in sunlight. Once they’ve been cut, they don’t love the sun. Change the water every few days and give the stems a fresh cut. About an inch is fine. That last bit of stem section sitting in the water is rotting. If you cut it away every few days, the arrangement will last much longer.