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Southern Stories – They call him The Flower Whisperer: Atlanta floral designer nurtures growing career

Cannan Marshall, floral designer. Submitted photo. Marshall stands in front of a large arrangement of colorful flowers at an event.
Cannan Marshall, floral designer. Submitted photo.

Aleksandra Arwood
Oxford Stories
Aleksandra.Arwood@gmail.com

SOUTHERN STORIES – An Atlanta-area floral designer is beginning to see his career blossom as he showcases his talent on a competitive HBO Max series.

Canaan Marshall’s passion for floral design has led him to create more than mere moments of joy for his clients. His work is driven by a desire to create lifetime memories blooming with beauty.

Marshall has been deemed “The Flower Whisperer” due to his wild and exceptional abilities to transform a space with nothing more than flower arrangements.

Marshall worked for the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, Georgia for 12 years. Working on the party planning team for the museum, he realized how essential flowers were to a party or event.

Cannan Marshall. Submitted photo. Marshalls stands outside a building with greenery behind him holding his hands up in the air.
Cannan Marshall. Submitted photo.

“Flowers are an accessory like earrings for a woman or lipstick on a full face of makeup,” he said. “I always knew flowers were a great way to change an element of a room.”

Apart from the museum, Marshall worked with Allison Luca, a lady he affectionately nicknamed his “flower godmother.” Working with Luca allowed Marshall to build connections, which eventually led to his dream opportunity.

Just out of college, Marshall was asked to chair and host a dinner party for 2,000 guests as part of the Atlanta Symphony Show House.  For eight months, he planned and designed the party along with the floral arrangements. This was the first step Marshall took to become a full-time floral designer.

From there, he began to work on small and large parties, weddings, significant events for cities and towns, and eventually soirees for the rich and famous.

“Every year, I go to Macon, Georgia, my hometown, and work with an event that is all about the Cherry Trees in bloom,” he said. “My arrangements often consist of large branches and bright colors, so this is the perfect event for me. It is always a time for me to remember where I came from and how far I’ve come.”

Besides using his talent to create magnificent weddings and events, Marshall is appearing in the second season of “Full Bloom” on HBO Max. This competitive series features florists creating blooming masterpieces, and Marshall appears to be in his element – flourishing in the creative experience.

“At first, they asked me to be a part of season one, but I thought it was a fake show, so I declined the offer, which was a mistake,” he said. “Later, they called me back, and I was told I just had to be on the show. This took me to a whole other level that I never thought you could reach as a florist. This show opened doors for me.”

Being part of the show, “Full Bloom,” allowed Marshall to connect with the world’s best floral designers and even got him the job of doing the flowers for the funeral of Virgil Abloh, the late fashion designer for the brand, Off-White. Within that same year, Marshall arranged flowers for the show “The Bachelorette” and several shows during New York Fashion Week.

Marshall recently was a featured artist at Thomasville Center for the Arts’ Wildlife Arts Festival. There, he hosted floral workshops and decorated the main halls for the opening night gala.

Cannan Marshall during the Thomasville Center for the Arts Wildlife Arts Festival. Submitted photo. Marshall stands next to a vase with a pink and white floral arrangement.
Cannan Marshall during the Thomasville Center for the Arts Wildlife Arts Festival. Submitted photo.

“When he leads a workshop, it feels more like having a kitchen table conversation with your favorite person – you are learning without even realizing it because the experience is so fun,” said Mariam Mirabzadeh, the Wildlife Arts Festival director.

Marshall’s fun spirit and ability to make friends with anyone and everyone has helped him make essential connections. He will tell you that his success is from going out of his way to ask for help.

“Making connections is the main thing that will take you where you want to be in life,” he said. “Others are living your dream, and if you don’t ask them for help, then how do you expect to get to achieve your goal?”

Marshall has gained success through hard work and being the type of person people want to get to know.

“Canaan is that person who walks into the room, and all of a sudden, it’s brighter,” Mirabzadeh said.

If you are lucky enough to work beside him, you will be met with constant encouragement and will see his true passion for flowers.

“His laugh and personality are absolutely contagious, and he is effortlessly stylish and talented,” Mirabzadeh said. “He’s also someone you can call on for anything, and he will always show up!”

This summer, Marshall will work on the most prominent wedding he has ever done. He described this wedding as having two significant tents with 1,000 guests and several hundred flower arrangements.

“Wedding season is just around the corner, and I know after this wedding, I will be busier than ever,” he said. “Getting those jobs, doing those flowers, and making those friends! I am so looking forward to it as I do every year.”

Marshall gets to wake up every day and travel to amazing cities to arrange flowers. He dreamed of working with flowers when he was young, and today, his colorful and creative dreams have become his reality.

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