Photography by Gabe Ford

Like so many creative people in Nashville, Tim Riffle moved here 10 years ago with one dream in mind — music. Instead, the Southern California native has succeeded in a career that is totally different but no less inspiring.

One day Riffle, who was then working in the Sony Music office, wanted to give a friend flowers. He went to a grocery store and had the woman working in the floral department build a bouquet instead of pulling one of the plastic-wrapped ones out of the barrel. While he loved his conversation with the woman, the finished product? Not so much.

“What she made was awful,” he says. “I couldn’t bring myself to say anything, so I just left.”

He couldn’t present the bouquet as it was to his friend, so he stopped at another grocery store, picked a few things to add to the arrangement, and put it together himself. The reaction was not at all what he expected.

“I just arranged it and thought it looked at least better than it had,” he says. “I took it to my friend the next day, and she was over-the-top about it.”

Then everyone at her office wanted to know where he got it. His new business, Tim Riffle Environments, took off from there.

Tim’s Succulent Tips

Arranging beautiful floral displays may be an inadvertent career for Riffle, but it isn’t entirely unexpected.

“I grew up with a love for helping my parents — my mom, specifically — in her yard,” Riffle says. “Plans and landscaping, helping her do the whole rose garden thing — general upkeep and landscaping for that. She really enjoyed flowers and being outside, and she wanted them all around her house.”

In addition to the succulents he uses in many of his designs, Riffle often uses cymbidium orchids and ranunculus; his favorite colors are deep burgundy and white. Above all, he loves working with what is available, stretching his creative abilities every day for his clients — which are a mix of special event organizers, retail spaces and residential properties.

“I like that I can create something from scratch, taking raw materials — a vase or container or whatever thing I find that’s cool — and then different bunches of flowers, and create something that’s interesting to the eye,” he says. “It’s so hard to [replicate] things a second time — each creation is … different and new. My inspiration … really comes from the materials that I’m working with at that time.”

Riffle is still involved in music, singing on friends’ demos or projects, or getting together for group sessions.

“I like to do live music and have clients that are these amazing songwriters and performers in town. It’s cool that it still gets to be this part of my life, just in a different way than I thought when I moved here to pursue it.”

And Riffle still delivers most of his arrangements himself, if only to see the end result of his creations — happiness and joy.

“As a creative person, you are looking for that person to be pleased, that person to smile, that person’s reaction,” he says. “I do love it when people just seem to be blown away.”