Ella O’Donnell sculpts unique works of art with a delicate medium



Horticulture has been a lifelong passion for Ella O’Donnell. Growing up on a working farm in South Carolina, Ella enjoyed tending an heirloom rose garden with her grandmother. Through the years, her love and knowledge of horticulture and floristry grew. She became an active member of local garden clubs and worked as the lead bridal consultant and designer for one of the most preeminent commercial florists in northern Virginia.

In 2015, she launched her own floral design business, Vintage Floral Design, fulfilling her goal of owning her own business. With 68 weddings to her credit, it is safe to say she is off to a successful start.

ella_7842.jpgElla finds her work rewarding and exciting.

“I love horticulture, floral design and the beauty of marriage,” she said. “It’s a thrill to have the privilege to create a vision and evoke emotion through the beauty of floral artistry.”

For Ella, a typical workday always begins with a social media post. She cares about her clients, and knows the importance of communication. Ella gets all of her “administrative tasks” out of the way early, so that she can spend the rest of her time on what’s important—the flowers.

“My flower deliveries feel like Christmas each week,” said Ella, who designs every arrangement to fit what each of her clients want. “I get so excited envisioning how beautiful the final designs will be for them!”

When she’s not at work, Ella likes working in her own garden or spending time with her family.


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How would your friends describe you?

Creative, hospitable, dependable, loving.

What is one thing that most people wouldn’t know about you?

I served our country 26 years ago in the United States Air Force. My education and vocation in the military gave me many of the skills and knowledge needed to manage a successful business.

Do you have any big business plans for the future?

Vintage Floral Design’s current business model was intentional at inception. We specialize in weddings providing florals for one client per week. This enables us to focus our energy and design creativity solely on that one client, which offers a very hands-on customized experience for them. Currently, we love our business model the way it is and do not foresee any big business plans…YET! 

What is your favorite thing about Airlie?

Where do I start! Airlie is by far my absolute favorite venue in Virginia! The first time I visited Airlie for a wedding walk-through in 2015 and went into the garden…it was truly a spiritual experience for me. My heart felt as if it would burst. Everywhere I looked, it was one more beautiful flower, shrub, vine or tree to see. The feel of Airlie is very nostalgic, filled with so much soul. So, my favorite thing about Airlie is Airlie!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A doctor.

Are you a sports fan?

I like to watch baseball in person only. My team is the Red Sox! Go Sox!

To which product or service are you most loyal?

I believe in supporting the local flower grower as much as possible.

What’s your favorite movie or TV show?

Gone with the Wind.

If you were a character in a movie or TV show, which actor/actress would play you?

Melanie from Gone with the Wind.

What is your favorite song at the moment?

“I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff (all-time favorite song).

Do you have any pet peeves?

I do not like tardiness.

Speaking of pets, are you a dog person or cat person?

Dog. Our current fur baby is Rosie, a Yorkie.

What was your most memorable vacation?

Mount Washington, New Hampshire camping with the family in 2003. We could see the stars so clearly one evening that we were able to see the Milky Way! It was an unforgettable experience!

If money were not a consideration, where would you go on vacation?

Santorini Greece is my dream vacation destination.

What is your favorite food?

Peaches…anything with peaches!

What is the most life-changing experience you’ve ever had?

Becoming a wife and a mother.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“You’ll never get to the fruit, if you aren’t willing to climb out on the branch.”

What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?

Jump up and down uncontrollably!

If you had a super power, what would it be?

To fly!

What is your favorite flower?

The peony…any color…any variety!



Photo Credits:

Floral arrangement in the Airlie Pavilion (top): Ashley Boyan
Ella portrait: Bonnie Rhyne
Bouquet in Airlie Lake Cottage window: Birds Of A Feather

Natalie Glenn

Written by Natalie Glenn

Natalie Glenn is this summer’s Sales and Marketing intern. As a Junior at Virginia Tech, Natalie is studying Public Relations and the beauty of Blacksburg. Natalie has lived in Warrenton for most of her short life, and enjoys exploring the great outdoors or playing with dogs when she’s not working hard at Airlie.


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