Her very first day as a White House Flower Shop volunteer, Cameron Hardesty was decorating the East Room with dozens of intricate floral arrangements for the First Lady’s 50th birthday party. For two years she worked under the direction and guidance of the White House’s Chief Florist, learning the basics (and a few secrets) to creating beautiful bouquets and decorative arrangements.
Now, the director of products for UrbanStems, Hardesty shares her flower selection advice with Domino — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when selecting flowers?
Picking too many stems of a single type—and forgetting that contrast is the secret weapon of any interesting floral arrangement. Simple green stems that wouldn’t make a huge impact on their own, like ruscus, salal, or even eucalyptus, when paired with more showy “face flowers” like roses or ranunculus, can frame more colorful stems—and really make them pop.
What is one piece of flower advice you find yourself giving over and over again?
Create a focal point. Most people buying and arranging flowers aren’t making massive 10-foot flower walls, they’re creating arrangements suited to a dining table or a countertop. At that scale, you can give your arrangement cohesion and interest by establishing a clear focal point–using a less common item, like a cut succulent or air plant.
What are a few “romantic” options for Valentine’s Day that are often overlooked?
Romance on Valentine’s Day is all about over-the-top luxury—it’s when we see those grand romantic gestures, like sending four-dozen red roses to your sweetheart. Maybe it’s the Texan in me, but I love that, however clichéd it might be. But another, more subtle, but super romantic option that I think most men, in particular, might overlook, are wearable flowers–like hair pieces, floral crowns, or even floral jewelry. Especially if you’re planning to go out to celebrate, gifting a floral hair pieces gives your lady the opportunity to show off her flowers all night.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best flower advice I ever received: Nature makes the most beautiful designs of all, so if you do your best to imitate them, you’re on the right track.
What flowers would be in your ideal Valentine’s Day bouquet?
Is it bad that I want to say roses? I do love a good rose bouquet on Valentine’s Day.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about selecting flowers?
Flowers put creative power in your hands—they can make anyone an artist! Don’t be intimidated when selecting flowers, and follow your heart. It can be hard for a lot of people to think of themselves as “creative,” and I think flowers are the perfect antidote to that.