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Landing on Marna Ringel’s website and marvelling at her vibrant floral displays is like a breath of fresh air, particularly for those experiencing dark winter days.
With Valentine’s just around the corner, it seemed the perfect time for our Guest Editor Denise to chat to Marna about her fascinating career and her passion for floristry and the floral arts.
I’m an award-winning florist and ‘floral designer’ and I’m based in Fairfield, Connecticut, in the United States. But I love travelling for my work. I’m forever studying, lecturing, and widening my horizons.

So many exciting opportunities come my way and you can’t get more distinguished than this one!

Last September I was honoured to be Guest Florist, invited by Laura Dowling. (Laura was former Chief Florist at the White House for seven years under the Obama administration). I worked for Laura Dowling at The White House during 2013 and 2014.

The event was the 150th Anniversary celebration of the American Horticultural Society at River Farm, in Alexandria, Virginia.

A celebratory display from Marna
A celebratory display from Marna

I love the name The Essential Florist, I think it is the perfect name for my company. We create the quintessential celebratory flowers, bespoke for all occasions including weddings, engagements, birthdays, mitzvahs, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and of course, Valentine’s Day, which is keeping me busy.

My work has been featured at some wonderful social events. My flowers have been commissioned by The ‘Hampton Classic’. The Hampton Classic Horse Show is a crème de la creme event that is one of the larger show jumping contests in the United States. Held over Labor Day in Bridgehampton, part of the town of Southampton, New York, it is one of the biggest social gatherings in the Hamptons scene and signals the grand finale of the summer season. People tend to make ‘concept’, horse-themed arrangements. One year I used riding boots as my flower containers!

The American Red Cross Ball. It was a privilege to make flowers for the American Red Cross. The Red Cross honours the metro New York chapter in Greenwich for their work with distinct valour and courage and who rise above in times of adversity. The theme was emblematic red and white and I made a tablescape of a boat sailing in the water and used real sand, with hydrangea and red roses as decoration. It looked really beautiful and stood out amongst the other decor.

Not surprisingly, I have a busy press portfolio. My floral arrangements for a Memorial Sloan-Kettering charitable event were featured in New York Social Diary. And I am an ongoing favourite among brides, with my bridal bouquets featuring on Style Me Pretty blog.

I had a lovely front cover too, with Fairfield magazine featuring my florals. I also worked for interior designer Tom Felicia - I made a garden for him in Soho for House Beautiful magazine.

I have studied my craft internationally to build up my eclectic skills. I’ve taken courses at McQueen’s Flower School in London, Gregor Lersch’s seminars in Germany and Laura Dowling’s flower class in New York. Also, many classes at The New York Flower School.

I love to pass on my passion for flowers and floral design and nurture new recruits. I continue to lecture at Garden Clubs throughout Connecticut. I was a guest lecturer at the Greenwich Garden Club in May 2023 and have worked at the Home Gardening Center at The New York Botanical Garden.

Marna loves lecturing on her subject!
Marna loves lecturing on her subject!

The People’s Choice – a perfect accolade! In 2016 I made the actual ‘three ribbons’, the accolade which was awarded for The Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Floristry. This was in a joint collaboration for a contest at the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri. I entered on behalf of the St Louis Garden Club, and we took the prize for best traditional design and ‘people’s choice’.

I was flown in for the night to make the arrangement and we presented it in the museum the following morning. The show is massive, it can draw up to 20,000 visitors!

‘The master’ Gregor Lersch. Well, this was an absolute inspiration, another highlight of my career and pivotal to the artistry of my work. In June 2019, over the course of five days people gather from around the world to learn from ‘the master’ Gregor Lersch, legendary floral designer and author. The event is held in the tiny village of Bad Neuenahar-Arhweiller (a renowned spa town in the Rhine River Valley) in a spectacular garden.

In great company. There, I met the Sultan of Oman’s flower team, and the Queen of Demark’s flower gruru. Gregor’s lively personality makes it such a memorable five days. He has a wonderful sense of colour and from this this many different elements of flower design were created. Worth noting, his courses sell out about six months in advance!

Back in 2016 I discovered the art of aromatherapy. This was when I attended the Young Living yearly convention in Utah. The essential oil Joy was diffused in an ‘aroma-dome’ around me, and I was on a happiness high from the flower oil. I had an epiphany and became an aromatherapy aficionado. 

My research into the efficacy of essential oils run in perfect synergy with my main brand, The Essential Florist. There are French, British and German schools of aromatherapy, so there’s a lot to learn!

My inspirational mother is where my love of flowers began. For my studies, I was an English major at the University of Colorado. But my real love of flowers grew when my mother sadly died. She was a florist and a painter and had her own floral business. I did all the flowers for her funeral. The spray of the casket was ferns, green tea roses and dutch green hydrangea. She was an absolute inspiration.

My favourite flowers and plants are gardenias, tuberose and lilac. I have a beautiful dark purple lilac tree at my house. My mother had many lilacs while I was growing up at my childhood home. The scent is so evocative.

I love to decorate my home with bouquets of local-grown tulips. So simple yet effective!

But I also like to use flowers that naturally grow in far-flung places not native to USA. Japanese tweedia comes comes in light blue and white and has the most delicate flowers.

I love to collect books and vases. Carolyne Roehms' floral books are always wonderful. 'Passion for Flowers' is one of my favourites. I also love coloured vases and collect blue glass and green vase from antique shops. 

Not surprisingly, as a lover of beautiful things, I just love handbags (and smart luggage!) Gladstn London, are a fabulous brand whose creativity and craftsmanship are in synergy with The Essential Florist.

My favourite piece is the super chic Carte Blanche in Santorini - perfect to carry a laptop and a pair of floral clippers – and the colour is so lively! I am heading to Palm Beach tomorrow and it will be delight to travel with!

Here’s a top tip. I love to cover containers in plant material to make the entire arrangement look more ‘organic’

An 'organic' vase created by Marna
An 'organic' vase created by Marna

I’m lucky to live in such a creative location. I love to drive up to the Hollister House in Litchfield County, their gardens are beautiful. Terrain in Westport, CT is a favourite spot to shop and they have fabulous plants and a garden café.

On my travels …..I love the island of Mallorca, especially the town of Deia. I remember seeing potted red geraniums at The Belmond Hotel which were so eye catching and simple. I also love London during The Chelsea Flower Show. I was interviewed by the BBC when I was carrying out two large Gartenmeister Topiaries. A photograph of me made the Sunday Telegraph on the day of the closing sale!

To find out more about The Essential Florist visit the website here
Marna shared her story with Denise Barrett, Guest Editor and
author of Handbag Homage

Missed any of the Gladstonian Journals? Click here to catch up
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