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Flower.Style35: Flower Trends Expert Talmage McLaurin Gives A Glimpse Into His Wabi-Sabi World that Captures the Beauty of Happenchance

Talmage McLaurin, noted author and flower trends expert, began his lifelong career in a family-owned florist shop. Following a 23-year appointment in publishing for Florists' Review Enterprises—during which he contributed to more than 400 magazine issues, 20 books, and several editions of the "American Floral Trends Forecast" for flower professionals—he received the coveted AIFD award of Distinguished Service to the Floral Industry. Today, Talmage continues to inspire international audiences with his work as a creative consultant for Sunshine Bouquet and Esmeralda Farms, as well as directing the editorial content for magazine.

1. What is your idea of the perfect flower arrangement? I am drawn to ones that look like happy accidents—where all elements seem to have simply fallen into place without manipulation. Of course, it takes some practice to appear so effortless.

2. How did you get started in the floral industry? My mom opened a flower shop when I was in middle school. The rest was inevitable.

3. If not a florist, what would be your fallback profession? I have a fondness for art and antiques and really enjoy the hunt. So, I can see myself feeling comfortable curating an art and antique business, maybe even throwing in a few flowers!

4. What’s your present state of mind? Honestly, restless. With the world adapting to a new normal of post-pandemic reality, everything seems to be a bit on hold. That has a global effect on how we move creativity forward. Many of the standard sources are changing, ergo a sense of restlessness. It’s also an opportunity to find new inspiration and adapt to a new way of thinking about fashion, design and art.

5. What is your most treasured possession? I would have to say my dogs, Mortimer the Dachshund and Jasper the Corgi (since I don't think one can possess one's spouse, right?). No greater treasure than unconditional love.

6. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "Oh, my…" and "perfect!" I mean, is anything really perfect?

7. Where do you find inspiration outside the flower world? Mostly from collecting books on art and design; I’m also addicted to watching runway fashion.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Probably my age. I could back that up a decade or two.

9. What do you consider your greatest achievement? I'm still working on it. I think my creative motivation is fueled by the hope that the next project will be the best.

10. What event or job has been your favorite? I loved every moment of my 24 years at Florists' Review. I think that's why I am so enthusiastic about directing the editorial content for

11. Any projects that you wish you could forget? I think I forgot them.

12. What is your most marked characteristic? My ability to move forward. I try to face each day with a fresh perspective leaving the past exactly where it should be, in the past.

13. Who are your heroes in real life? I'm sticking with Tina Turner on this, "we don't need another hero."

14. Who is your floral hero? That's easy, Bill Harper.

15. What is your favorite color? After much thought I'm going to go with green. If it's my favorite combination of colors, it would be white with cream, which to me is more exciting.

16. What is your favorite flower? Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis).

17. What flower could you live without? I would love to put a moratorium on pampas grass, but it’s not really a flower. And I really am not fond of the smell of paperwhite Narcissus. With those items off my chest, I do think all flowers are worthy of admiration even if it's downwind.

18. What would you call your style of design? Pragmatic. Since most of my work is to create florals that appeal to others (solutions of a sort), I think there is an art to that focus. So it might be that my style resembles a multiple personality disorder. Personally, I enjoy designs that are moody and celebrate nature's imperfections and happenchance—my own version of occidental wabi sabi.

19. What is your favorite tool for working with flowers? A camera. They reliably reveal things you’ve missed.

20. Who's on your playlist? Keith Jarrett, Shirley Horn, Eva Cassidy, Chris Thile, George Michael, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Justin Bieber.

21. What's on your to-do list? To improve my technical photography skills.

22. Who is your favorite artist? Andrew Wyeth and John Dugdale.

23. What's the last book you read (and loved)? "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tart.

24. Are you prone to routine or more spontaneous? Can you be a bit of both?

25. How do you unwind after a long day? HGTV and Bravo.

26. Favorite beverage? Diet Coke and Grapefruit Bubly.

27. What do you see trending in floral design? Overblown asymmetrical balance, mixing foraged botanicals with commercial blossoms, and earth-friendly mechanics.

28. What's out? Any flower trapped in a fluid filled glass bubble.

29. What's your flower motto? "When in doubt, take your cues from nature."

30. What's your motto in life? I lifted it from Bill Cunningham: "He who seeks beauty will find it."

31. What have you learned from flowers? I've learned that, like life, flowers—while appearing fragile—have an odd resilience, and that much of their meaning is directly related to their ephemeral existence. We can't forget that we are all gone too soon.

32. How would your friends describe you? Probably as a visionary who is uncompromising, independent, but diplomatic. That could translate to an annoying perfectionist.

33. What would surprise us most about you? I played the piano and organ as a teenager for many a religious gathering. I still play them today, but they tend to sound more like show tunes.

34. If you could invite three people to a dinner party, who would they be? Describe the centerpieces. Truman Capote, Bernadette Peters and Howard Stern. The centerpieces could be simple glass bowls piled high with white Cattleya orchids—classically elegant, fragrant and guaranteed not to block the conversation.

35. What's your best advice to someone just starting out in the flower industry? Find a mentor who is generous, learn as much as you can, and trust the process.


To stay connected with Talmage and view more of his work, click on the links below.

Talmage McLaurin Instagram | Talmage McLaurin Facebook