Raffish stand

Susan DetjensIn “Be Mine, Valentine” earlier this year, a raffia covered stand of tubes was created for a Valentine’s Day centerpiece (see Archives, Feb 14, 2016).  It’s time to redecorate this stand for summer.


In the original instructions, sitting on the right, was the ‘spool’ of green raffia I wanted to use for this redecoration.  Big mistake!!!!!  In the center is a ‘hank’ of purple raffia, a loose collection of strands.  Unfortunately the ‘spools’, from Michael’s are very sad indeed, consisting of two or three foot strands knotted together into one long strand.  OY!!

blog coleus raffia stand

This made for less than pristine winding of the tubes as the strand had to hide the knots all the time.  Hunter green spray paint covered the red.  The raffia went right over the purple already there.  Eh Voila – a completely different look.

blog coleus

Around The Barns are lots of pots with various varieties of Coleus.  I’m particularly fond the strong contrasts of lime green and deep reds.

coleus raffia stand 1

 coleus raffia stand 2

 coleus stand 3

In the center photo you can see that some green Amaranthus has snuck in too.  I keep after the Coleus so it doesn’t flower – these got a way from me, hidden under other leaves. The flowers are exactly the right scale for these tubes.



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Pollinators, the Queen and the botanist

 Queen's GAllery London

On our last day in London in June, I went off to the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.  This museum, which showcases all aspects of the Royal Collection, is a hidden gem.  It’s shop, with the ubiquitous “Buckingham Palace” shopping bags, is a must-see for tourists, who rarely venture to see the museum.

blog Merian Buckingham Palace

My object in visiting was an exhibition of Scottish painters, 1750 to 1900.  But what totally captivated me was the lyrical and scientific botanical art of Maria Sibylla Merian in an adjoining gallery.  Born in Germany in 1646, Maria Merian was a naturalist and scientific illustrator, who learned her craft from her step-father.

blog Merian Branch of Cardinal's Guard with Bulls Eye MOth

In 1699, Merian was granted permission to travel from Holland to the Dutch colony of Surinam (present day Suriname, neighbor of Guyana) in South America to collect specimens of plants from which to paint.  She became interested in the little known connection between the plants and the insects that feed on them.  This flower is called Cardinal’s Guard and on it is perched the Giant Owl Butterfly and its caterpillar.

blog Merian Branch of Pomelo with Green Banded Uranus Moth

In this handsome plate, the pomelo orange is detailed with the Green Banded Urania Moth.  Merian would rear the moths and butterflies from the caterpillar stage so that she could paint them.

blog Merian ConfederateRose with Buterfly

The petals of the Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) change color during the day, as shown in this early morning white flower and the full blown pink (the end of the day).  Its pollinator, the swallowtail butterfly, is also shown in both male and female versions.

blog Merian Citron with Harlequin Beetle

Merian became ill and had to return to Amsterdam so it was on board ship that these two creatures hatched.  She added this Harlequin Beetle to the illustration because it was so rare to her and added to the composition.  The other on the leaf on top are the stages of the Monkey Slug Moth.

blog Merian Pineapple with cockroaches

Although pineapples had already been seen in Europe, Merian thought they were the most majestic of fruits and found they were plentiful in Surinam.   Here they are paired with cockroaches……..don’t ask!

blog Merian Branch of Seville Oranges with Rothschild moth

The Rothschildia Moth fascinated Merian and she sent some back to Holland with the hopes of starting a commercial breeding industry with their strong silk.  It is shown here with its cocoon and a brilliant Seville orange.

blog Merian Banana with moth

King George III and Peter The Great collected Merian’s work including “Metamorphosis Insectoriun Surinamenisium” which was published in 1705.  Her beautiful work, looking as fresh as when she painted it, it still highly prized.  This brilliant banana flower showing all its stages of growth is paired with a Bull’s Eye Moth.  Raise a toast to a fascinating, strong woman breaking all kinds of 17C barriers!


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Flora London

Motocmb Street Party

In June,  we had the great pleasure to be in England at the beginning (Porstmouth, Dover) of our recent trip, and at the end, in London.  Everywhere were street celebrations of the Queen’s 90th birthday.  This one in our old neighborhood was scheduled for the day we departed.

 London fence railings

London through the fence

London was en fete with many more flowers than our last visit.  Probably due to the month – June – the height of “The Season” and the general festive mood…..three days before Brexit.

Number 11

On a bright breezy Sunday we walked to our old neighborhood to check out the front door color.  When we moved in,  #11 was red; we changed it to dark green but, as you see, it is a dignified black now.  There used to be a big tree too.


 Deer in Stones

 Faux boxwood

Sadly down the street towards Wilton Crescent, these days the neighbors favor  deer in stone gardens  and plastic boxwood.  We saw lots of that – it is really a peculiar shade of green.

 The Flower Lounge Window

 florist philosphy

 Inside the Flower Lounge

Around the corner on West Halkin Street is Neill Strain Floral Couture – new to me and closed on a Sunday.  Check out the website for some gorgeous flowers www.neillstrain.com.

Claridges designs


McQueens Flower Shop, Bethnal Green, is the hub of a high end design shop and school which supplies flowers to an impressive list of clients.  These gorgeous hydrangeas, orchids and roses graced the lobby of Claridge’s Hotel.  Check out their website too:  mcqueens.co.uk.  Both these florists have floriferous blogs!


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