Hot for the Holidays

Michelle Jessup, floral designer at Mary Tuttle's Floral and Gifts in Chesterfield, shares what inspires her designs, and what's hot for the holidays.

Edited by Barbara E. Stefano 
Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton



Michelle Jessup has more than 30 years experience in floral design, thanks to a creative grandmother who encouraged her eye for color and shape. 


SLHL: Where did you get your start in floral designs?

Michelle: My grandmother actually got me into it. I told her I wanted to be an interior designer and she said, “Oh, it’s too hard to get a job in interior design. You should do florals like me.” I started going to work with her when I was just a little girl and I’ve been doing it ever since. 


SLHL: How does your approach to design differ when you work with fresh florals versus high-quality silks?

Michelle: Basically, the approach to silks is the same as the approach to fresh florals. You find out where the customer is going to put the arrangement and work to that space. With fresh they don’t necessarily need it to match the house but with permanent arrangement they do, so we look at their color scheme and keep that in mind. We have an ever-changing inventory of fresh product throughout the season that dictates the style and design that we incorporate into our fresh florals.


SLHL: What are the first things you consider when designing a floral arrangement?

Michelle: We take into consideration the occasion for the flowers and the venue or place in the client’s home where they will be used. The container we'll be placing the flowers in influences the shape the arrangement we’ll take as well.


SLHL:  How do you balance the size, color and shape of your floral design within a space?

Michelle: We analyze the color of the walls, the table and oftentimes furniture fabrics to optimize the impact a piece will have in any given space.


SLHL: What’s your preference: supplying the containers for a design or working with a family’s own heirlooms? Why?

Michelle: Honestly, we don't have one. We're happy to utilize the client’s own vessels to make the creation look at home within the space. If that isn't possible, we're happy to select something from our vast inventory.


SLHL: What’s trending now in holiday florals?

Michelle: Red and green is always a traditional staple in St. Louis. This year we're adding a touch of lime green and accents of black and white for a pop of color. Woodland is still strong and fits well with current design trends and colors of gray, taupe and basil. The vintage theme is popular as well, with tinsel trees, silver, turquoise, and pink. Look to us for Christopher Radko ornaments and the return of Jay Strongwater to our holiday selections.


SLHL: What are your design go-to’s for big impact?

Michelle: During the holidays, we trend towards painted birch branches, curly willow, ilex berries and magnolia. We pair that with white oriental lilies, hydrangeas, roses, protea and we begin to use spring flowers like tulips, narcissus and amaryllis.


SLHL: Can you think of a time when an event or something you saw changed your approach to floral designs?

Michelle: Every year when we attend the gift markets, we are taken to new heights with new products and trends and popular schemes. The experience greatly influences our approach and creativity accordingly.

Mary Tuttle's Floral & Gifts, (636) 728-0480