AIFD Symposium 2015: Plants with Jenny Thomasson AIFD, CFD

AIFD Symposium 2015: Plants with Jenny Thomasson AIFD, CFD


Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably aware that plants are in. Everyone wants the newest, coolest succulents, and people are filling their homes and gardens with all sorts of plant varieties. Well, Jenny Thomasson AIFD, CFD, ofStems Florist, is also aware of this phenomenon, and has taken a special interest in designing with plants. She believes, however, that designing with plants has become a bit monotonous, and hoped to inspire us with her designs to “open our minds to designing with plants” in a unique way. She also let us in on her little theory about the direction things are going… “something that is more sculpture, something that is more art… I think that’s where the world of plants is going.” I happen to be a believer of this sentiment as well, and was inspired by her belief that we need to design with more purpose, and not just use plants and greenery as fill-in and a way to finish off an arrangement.

Jenny’s first design was inspired by the traditional Japanese art form calledkokedama, which basically involves the use of moss as the container for a plant. She took this to the next level, however, and evolved this idea into a living wall sculpture, which she deemed the Moss Ball Wall. Using a combination of chicken wire and hog rings, she built the lightweight structure and from there attached all of the moss, flowers, and plants. Living walls are such a fresh, current take on sculpture, and reminded me of Beth’s flower wall! These living walls can be used in a number of settings, including a corporate setting, hotels, weddings, and more. So fun!

For her next design, Jenny scaled things down a bit and showed us her take on container gardening. According to Jenny, “copper is the next metal is coming,” and was sure to use it in this design! She used UCI’s copper patina containers and a minimum amount of product to create this beautiful display. Through the use of bamboo, she created vertical lines and repetition, two very important components of floral design. She then terraced small wooden disks wrapped in a way that gave it depth and intrigue, as well as carried on the repetition of elements. This display showed us just how easy it is to create a visually stunning and interesting piece, without needing an excessive amount of living product.

Her third (and my personal favorite!) design showcased her take on terrariums. Terrariums are a huge trend today, especially for my generation. Since half the people my age live in small apartments, terrariums are the perfect way to bring plants inside, without taking up too much space. Jenny loves them as well, but wanted to do something that is so trendy and popular in a more unique way. She used pod vases to house these mini gardens, creating a terracing garden effect with multiple vases and tables at varying heights. Within each “pod,” she worked with layers of sand and moss to create rolling hill landscapes and mimic the contours and lines of nature. Such simple ways to elevate a popular trend in plants! I will definitely be exploring these ideas in my own small apartment terrariums!

Last but not least, Jenny revealed her grand finale, which had made the thirteen hour drive with her from St. Louis in the back of her trailer. The strange looks she received on the drive were worth it, because Jenny’s driftwood tree was spectacular! She spent years collecting driftwood from a number of rivers around St. Louis, including the Mississippi, to create this beautiful tree. The rebar structure stood on an oversized pallet on casters, and the tree basically held itself together with layers upon layers of driftwood. Spanish moss and yellow vanda orchids made up most of the canopy, and she even designed her own mechanic, “the claw,” to attach the orchids to the tree and give them the ability to stand straight like they would in Mother Nature.  This driftwood tree was definitely her pride and joy, and an awesome finale to a great show.

Thanks for all the fabulous inspiration, Jenny, we can’t wait to see what happens in the world of plants!



Photos by Molly Baldwin

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