When Pot Meets Fleur

Susan DetjensWhen Pot meets Fleur” was one of the posts from the first summer when flowerflinging was on blogspot.com. It’s still there in the Archive under August, 2012. www.flowerflinging.blogspot.com

 Inner workings of pot-et-fleurThe post goes into detail of the inner workings of the ‘pot’, which was a wonderful wooden box but very deep, requiring jerry-rigged bleachers of Styrofoam blocks plus containers as shown above to hold all the components.

 Containers of all sizesThat box is still one of my favorites with which to create a pot-et-fleur design. Pot-et-fleur is a design criteria that pairs potted plants (in pots or not, in soil or not) with cut flowers.  Plants can be removed from their pots and put in plastic baggies with less soil to facilitate cramming (design term) more in!

The Green Light Tealight stakeLast June at The Fashion Gallery in Staunton VA, I purchased these green glass candle holders designed with a sharp metallic end, perfect for putting in soil in a pot or in the ground. They hold small tea lights like the one shown. The glass is bubbly and a pretty shade of green. However my intention is to also use them also for cut flowers.

Gardenia, fern, kalanchoe and cyclamenThe plant material for these mixed designs can easily come from the supermarket where there is often an abundant supply of small inexpensive plants. I have too short an attention span to be a good horticulturalist, which is a fancy way of saying I never remember to water plants! At least outside in the garden, Mama Nature meets me halfway. Clockwise from top right, pink Cyclamen, pink Kalanchoe, a very graceful fern and a bargain Gardenia, full of buds.

Susan DetjensA petite pot-et-fleur is placed in the small starch box, using only the Cyclamen and the fern. The green glass holder, filled with water and tulips, has been placed in the soil of the fern plant.

 Gardenia with candlesI don’t have real hope that the Gardenia will bloom but it is full of buds. It may be too cool in my house. My mother-in-law had a monster Gardenia that bloomed all winter. It sat on the sun porch radiator with its head pressed against the cool glass. The heavenly scent is my #1 favorite so I can’t resist trying to have that fragrance wafting around again.

Susan DetjensAll the plants and glass holders are massed in the bigger deep wooden box. Blupurum adds its’ lime green texture in one of the glass holders sitting in the Cyclamen pot.

Susan DetjensEach week the cut flowers can be changed which changes the mood of the box. White stock makes its’ lovely fragrance known when you come in the door.

Susan DetjensHydgrangea and purple stock have a more forceful presence in this combination. The foliage plants make a nice setting for small pots of forced bulbs or primroses as well.


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Working It

Waterfront Park VancouverOne of the great opportunities open to members of GCA clubs is the opportunity to attend the Flower Arranging Study Group Workshops. This month the workshop was held in Vancouver BC where we made our headquarters at the Four Seasons Hotel. Uber-talented Hitomi Gilliam was our inspired teacher for 3 days of intense design immersion.

 Harborside viewOur intrepid and delightful leader, JJJ, brought her Southern charm and indefatigable energy to the huge task of organizing our five-day sojourn, which included a city tour led by Hitomi on the beautiful day above. At the end of the week, she charged us to go forth and share what we learned. So two days later, I did!

Black vase with rocks and willow sticksThis black ceramic vase has a hollow base.   Hitomi used pan glue, Styrofoam and straight willow sticks from IKEA. Using the pan glue insures that the foam stays put and the sticks remain in place.

 Structure by Hitomi GilliamOrchids, midolino sticks and passion vine were woven and inserted in the willow sticks, creating an airy vertical design by the master, uh, mistress herself.

CornusFor the GC of Princeton last Tuesday, I used the same vase (brought home in my carry on) but without pan-glue, I had to use long wide glue strips to hold the Styrofoam in place.

 Glued Cornus sticksThe red sticks Cornus sericea, red-twig dogwood, were inserted into the Styrofoam through a dot of hot glue which helped them stay secure.

Cornus structure with zip tiesMore pieces of Cornus were shaped into an orb, using black zip ties to hold them in place. Fresh Cornus well hydrated is easy to bend and shape – gently!!  Later the zip ties were trimmed flush with the stems.

 Structure all together in PrincetonAt Princeton, a quantity of black rocks were placed over the Styrofoam, but only enough to barely cover them. If the Styrofoam had been pan-glued in, water could have been placed in the container and the lilies could have sat in it. As it was, they were tubed and zip tied on the Cornus. Finally, a fall of deep ruby colored Amaranth added another texture.

Susan DetjensOther designs in Vancouver used looped extensions of wire-wrapped midolino like this one which also contains horsetail, Oncidium orchids, and a majestic Alocasia leaf.

Structure with willow and helaconiaA stunning design of Heliconia with the willow sticks utilizes vibrant lime green loops of midolino coiling around the vertical thrust of the design. A big shout out to JJJ and Hitomi– thank you thank you – it was the best! And GC of Princeton – thank you too!!


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Unscrolled in Vancouver

Waterfront Park VancouverLucky me, last week I flew out of the polar vortex to wonderful Vancouver BC! This arresting sculpture, glowing blue in the night, lights up the park right in the center of downtown Vancouver on the waterfront.

Container 2012 Liu JianhuaDiagonally across from our hotel was the Vancouver Gallery of Art, so it was an easy hop, skip and a jump after a day of floral design to immerse myself in a fantastic show called “Unscrolled: Reframing Traditional Chinese Contemporary Art”. The Chinese ceramic artist, Liu Jianhua, created a mesmerizing floor installation called “Container, 2012”. In the exhibition, it was distributed more dramatically, especially as one wasn’t too sure if the containers weren’t actually full of blood as they appeared. The rich red glazes were so varied, liquid shining, and often translucent at the edges – as I said mesmerizing!!

 Inked Chandelier Jennifer Wen MaOne climbs up the stairs around Jennifer Wen Ma’s “Inked Chandelier, 2014”. This installation contains hundreds of indigenous Canadian plants, covered with black ink. The idea of hanging the chandelier is suggested by a set of slack cables rising to the roof. The plants continue to sprout and grow so the composition changes with the green sprouts of new growth.

 Detail Ten Thousand Li of Mountains and RiversThe big star is Xu Bing, and his “Ten Thousand Li of Mountains and Rivers, Reproduction” opens the exhibition proper. Nearby is the original hand-scroll (detail above), a treasure of great importance from the Song dynasty 1127-1279.

 Xu BingXu Bing has envisioned this hand-scroll as a 25’ long light box, above. On this the front side is an homage to the original work.

 Xu Bing LightboxOn the back side, the lightbox and its’ materials form a (interrupted?) work in progress with materials in and out of the box. Harsh fluorescent light strips line the box top (with a fringe of Chinese torn newspapers as an unlikely valance) and bottom.

Xu Bing Lightbox with MaterialsRaw materials are dried plants and branches, papers of all kinds, bubble wrap, the odd plastic bottle, wires, straw and tapes.

Light box details MountainsI hopped back and forth, front and back, to see how much relationship the materials had with the image, but they were mostly ghostly shapes, barely reading through the surface.

 Xu Bing branches or cloudsAmazingly, many people never saw the connection, only the large wall installation, which they walked right past.

Xu Bing Phoenix MassMOCAXu Bing is most memorable for “Phoenix”, two 12-ton sculptures, originally created for a large Shanghai bank lobby. The tale is Xu Bing visited the site as the massive building was going up and was fascinated not only by the smallest details of the building materials but also by the workers, who mostly lived at the site in lean-to’s made out of all kinds of leftovers. This formed the inspiration for the two huge birds made from steel cables as well as work gloves, buckets, ladders, stools, tools, cans, etc., all worked in their natural state to form the intricate patterns delineating the Phoenix.


 Xu Bing St John the DivineThose who commissioned the work were not so enchanted by these plebian materials for their commanding lobby. I saw the work first at MassMOCA. Now New Yorkers and visitors to the city can see these dramatic and inventive sculptures hovering over the aisle of the Cathedral of ST John the Divine (until February).


Ai WeiWei Bang, 2014But I digress, back in Vancouver at the Gallery, turning the corner from another Chinese artist, you walk into the gallery where “Bang, 2011” has soared to the rafters! This installation of 886 Qing dynasty three-legged footstools begs to be walked through and studied.

 Ai WeiWei Bang 2009Multiples of anything are always a powerful statement. Until the 1960’s when plastic versions replace them, these ubiquitous footstools were in every home and workshop in China.

 Footstools and the floorArtist Ai WeiWei has taken this common footstool to create a structure with no beginning and no end. From the wall description: “Any one stool in Bang can be interpreted as symbolic of an individual in relationship to the rapidly developing and complex structures of contemporary society”.

 Ai WeiWei FloorAlmost every stool has one replaced leg which joins it to its’ neighbor, with longer ploles creating axis for the structure. Despite the lofty thoughts, what I would have loved to have done was get down on the floor like the twenty-somethings were doing and look up through the whole thing!! However I spared anyone that ghastly sight!


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