Plethora of purple petals…

Susan DetjensLate August gardens split into divergent color camps of either vibrant yellows or elegant pinks and purples. In front of The Barns, there is Buddleia, Plectranthus, Perovskia, Thalictrum with natives, Joe Pye Weed and a pale Monarda, dotting the fields.

 Wallpapering the tubesEarlier in the month, I had fun making a long container of paper-covered test tubes. The tubes ( were held at various heights on wire rods and zip-tied in place. Then they were covered with a group of artist papers in soft neutral patterns, glued and sealed with Modge Podge (a decoupage sealant).

Paper and tube containerThe base was made from a slab of leftover insulation foam (see “Curling Up” May, Archives), edged with bass wood strips, painted with a nickel colored spray paint. The inside of the base was filled with small pearl like stones (Michael’s Crafts).  A water bottle with a spout helps fill all the test tubes which have to be refilled daily.  Annuals are thirsty!!!

Perovskia at The BarnsThe purple flowers in the garden inspired this post. Just how many varieties of flowers in purple shades could I find?

Susan DetjensThanks to weeding project in the Sharon Audubon Herb Garden, a late-day visit to gorgeous Twin Maples and a bouquet from Thornhill plus my own garden, I collected over two dozen!

 Gomphrena, Verbena, AgastacheHow many can you recognize?

Phlox Ageratun PerovskiaSalvia, Ageratum, Celosia, Zinnia, Gerbera, Thalictrum, Plumbago, Angelonia, Gomphrena, Phlox

Zinnia, Echinops, BuddleiaHyacinth Bean, Echinops (commonly called globe thistle), plus a really tiny no-name thistle from the fields, Monarda, Perovskia, Plectranthus,, Verbena bonariensis,

Susan DetjensBuddleia, Allium, Agastache, Nepeta, Joe Pye Weed, Astrantia and lavender!


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The Kindest Cuts

Susan DetjensClose observers might have noticed the black and white place cards on the summer table in the last post. These were created using the Scherensnitte craft technique.

 BBG Cutting silhouetteEarly in the month, I took a workshop in Scherensnitte (literally ‘scissor cut’ ) at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. They often offer these unusual courses taking advantage of the fact that so many artisans live in the Berkshires.

c Pamela Dalton

c Pamela Dalton

Pamela Dalton, our master teacher, is an uber-talented artist with a real feeling for her work and the generous ability to teach it to others. Her work is collected avidly by many, and she has illustrated several books like the one above. The cover illustration above was cut from a single sheet of paper which she then hand-painted.

c Pamela Dalton

c Pamela Dalton

This is an end paper from another of her books, “Giving Thanks”. Because of the neutral colored paper, the exquisite precision of the cutting is more visible but it still seems slightly diminished on the printed page. In person, these cut paper pages look like wonderful pieces of lace! This design repeats in quarters, so the entire border would have been cut from one page folded in quarters!

 Scherensnitte GirlsThe workshop began with trees and girls, using folded, thin origami paper which is easy to cut with an Exacto knife. The paper is folded in half vertically and the designs are mirror images when completed, rather like the snowflakes the children make.

BBG Cut paper and patternPamela provided the templates for us to use. Some, like the girls, were cardboard and were traced around before cutting. More elaborate patterns like this were drawings on paper traced with graphite carbon paper before cutting out.

 Cutting traced patternBBG finished pageAt the end of the workshop, we ‘graduated’ to the most complicated of the projects. The cutting was all done with an Exacto knife with a #11 blade on a cutting mat through the folded paper, thus cutting two pieces of paper at once. The cutting mat, green – in the second photo, is self-sealing and seems to really help in keeping the knife from slipping and wrecking the whole thing. This double plaque is 5”X 7”.

Summer table place cardsThe cut work design of the ‘Dahlia’ placemats (by Chilewich) inspired me to do Scherensnitte place cards. With no origami paper to hand, I used plain Xerox paper for my printer. It is heavier than the origami so a little harder to cut both pieces of paper cleanly at once.

 Cutting vines and  circlesI used circle templates to trace the shape of the design and the inner circle. And then copied some of the branching from one of Pamela’s templates for the design itself. The template and graphite carbon paper were stapled to the paper so nothing slipped while the cutting is happening.

 Gluing and NamesAfter all were cut, the names were written and all were glued to folded pieces of black paper. Only in August does one have the time for this kind of delightful workshop and project.





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Summer Tables…

Susan DetjensPretty flowers are one of the joys of summer tables. Farm stands and farmer’s markets add to the bounty from which to choose. Green and white linen place mats are a great foil for the hot colors of zinnias, tansy, and yarrow standing tall in cut glass celery vases.

Hunt Club Dinner Rockaway Hunt Club dinnerTwo tables at the Rockaway Hunt Club on Long Island shimmered in the June evening with vases of roses, yarrow, stock, hydrangea centered on pristine white linen with sparkling crystal.

Susan DetjensThe imminent birth of a son was celebrated at baby shower cum cocktails at the Cosmopolitan Club in New York City. Blue hydrangeas sat in green and blue colored blocks over clear ones filled with toys.

Susan DetjensThe delights of August from a New York cut-your-own flower stand include purple to pink cleome, cosmos in several shades of pink, blue ageratum and a spiky little button of a flower (name unknown) about the diameter of a nickel, best seen top middle. Anyone?

Susan DetjensTaft Farms in Great Barrington has wonderful cut flowers, grown by Sue in the field across the street. These are two of her charming groupings – white cleome, white cosmos, yellow zinnias and a reddish-brown rudbeckia.

Susan Detjens

c Ann Vroom Lank

I liked it so much I ordered bunches of each flower to use for a dinner last weekend. The cleome is sticky to clean up and doesn’t last more than two days but I find it quirky and fun…plus it is so nice to have unique flowers only in their fleeting season.

c Ann Vroom Lank

c Ann Vroom Lank

The full moon rose as we were having dessert – a beauty!

Tanglewood GAla OrchestraThe Tanglewood Gala is a highlight of the music season in the Berkshires. Cocktails and dinner are in huge tents away from the music shed.

 Tanglewood Gala Bouquet of Roses Tanglewood Gala RosesThe tables always have sumptuous cloths and lots of candles (breadsticks too) but the flowers are always very simple. Bright pink roses in various containers were centered on each table. The dinner is always very delicious – this year’s menu was a tribute to Julia Child’s 100th birthday.

 Gala FireworksAfter the concert, fireworks erupt over the Stockbridge Bowl. Hope your summer is full of fireworks too!


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