Emergency roadside services…

Wild parsnip in the fieldThe roadsides and fields around The Barns are filled with many wild flowers and grasses, lush with our abundant rains. When an emergency centerpiece was needed on Monday, I went out with my clippers. This chartreuse umbrel is wild parsnip (Pasticaca sativa) which looks like a flat headed Queen Anne’s Lace and blooms at the same time. In looking up the botanical name, I was surprised to see that the leaves are toxic. OY! I have been picking the flowers without gloves for years. You can see that they stand out way above the foliage so that’s perhaps how I’ve escaped any rash. Whew!

Rumex turns bronzeCommon dock (Rumex obtusifolius) bloomed in June and is now going to seed. It is handsome from its green flowers through its transition to bronze seed heads.

Physocarpus on the driveOn the drive and next to the road but not a wild roadside plant is this striking shrub ‘Ninebark’ (Physocarpus opulifolius “Diabolo’ which I love for its dramatic colored foliage which stands out amidst all the farm greens.

 Flowers waitingPicking anything in summer means in the cool of the morning and plunging them into cool deep water to hydrate for several hours.

 Green ceramic containerThe cool green ceramic container seemed to be in harmony both with the plant material and where they would be displayed…..

Rattan basket cache-pot… in a rattan basket, kind of a cache-pot, sitting on a pale green runner.

Wild parsnip in the basketThe wild parsnips were cut to various lengths and placed to fill the rectangular container, slightly spilling over the sides.

 Wild parsnip plus PhysocarpusShort stems of Physocarpus were placed close to the oasis to fill in and to link the rattan color to the design. A little late for this, I decided on adding the dock for more interest – as it should have been put in first.

 Dock, parsnip and basketsFinally the long seed heads of dock were added to give the whole design additional height and enrich the color with the baskets. The second flat basket (which is an old kimono basket) adds more presence in relationship to the height.


Posted in floral baskets, floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, flower vases | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jane’s a Natural!

Biedermeier designLet’s take one last look at the Newport Flower Show weekend and see the inspiring designs created by the uber-talented Jane Godshalk to a post luncheon standing room only crowd.

Flower Arranging SecretsEveryone was charmed by Jane’s warm, engaging manner, the sign of a natural teacher, which in fact she is, being on the faculty at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square PA. Her new book, Flower Arranging Secrets – Natural Designs for Everyday Living, is filled with countless ideas to bring flowers into your home year round. It is available on her website www.janegodshalk.com and from the Longwood Gardens gift shop.

Jane between Rock and a Hard placeFull disclaimer here for the photographic problems experienced sitting at the lunch table (lower than Jane) and trying to photograph between a rock (the transformer on the left, and a hard place, the microphone on the right). It has made for some odd cropping in a long post with lots of photos. I hope you’ll bear with me.

Parallel in silver vaseA lustrous silver rectangular vase was the vessel for this parallel design begun with black pussy willow and Equisetum (horsetail) placed in varying amounts in three separate groups.

Parallel with allium, liliesIn a harmony of lovely color, Gentian, monkshood, Allium, Ornathogalum have been added. All of these stems are in sand, not Oasis. Jane said to use “play sand, not builder’s sand” and add about 1/3 water to 2/3 sand. The play sand comes in 50# bags. Maybe try it out with a couple of decorative sand bags from Michael’s before you invest in that much sand. Jane probably goes through a bag a week!

 Parallel adding a second vaseIn a dramatic finish, a second low silver container with similar flower heads was placed in front to give the design more punch and great depth.

Vase with braided topUsing a low black classical ceramic urn, Jane made it took more contemporary and increased the design area by adding a wreath-like structure of woven vines.

 Low Urn adding smokebushSmoketree or smokebush, Cotinus coggyria, is in bloom now in New England. It is a rarely seen magical addition for distinguished designs. Jane placed them in an asymmetrical form to elongate the container even further.

 Low Urn with smokebush and euphorbia Urn peonies and roses addedThe low urn was filled additionally with dog-eyed Ecucalyptus (showing well on the right, top) and other foliage before red roses were added. Finally, bottom,  magnificent yellow tree peonies were tucked among the roses in this breathtaking design!

 Horizontal design structureHardest to photograph was this horizontally structured design which was my favorite. The container was a long low plexi-glass rectangle, surmounted by Jane’s intricate construction of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick and Manzantita. The succulents were Haworthia which are slightly striped adding more wonderful pattern.

 Horizontal detail of tiesA detail of the construction shows the several binding materials including this wonderful tawny twine. The construction was solid!

Horizontal with Green Goddess CallasHuge ‘Green Goddess’ Calla Lilies were placed to emphasize the horizontal thrust of the design, while green hydrangeas and pale green and red roses were placed often in groups of two or three.

Horizontal with branchesI had a chance to photograph this away from the microphone and lights, closer at a reasonable height. Vines and the dog-eyed Euphorbia have been place on this side. I can’t wait to try something like this. The best teachers make you want to run out and try things immediately!!

WAFA construction WAFA Construction with Amaranthus CarnationsWAFA Construction Gloriosa LiliesThe piece-de-resistance for the day was this dramatically gorgeous design which began its life as a square construction of chicken wire and angel-vine (Muehlenbebeckia complexa ) suspended on black dowels. Jane began to add all manner of beautiful blooms in a progression seen above: Alstromeria, Colylopsis, Viburnum opulus, Hydrangea, Delphinium, Dianthus, Rosa, and ending with the aptly named Gloriosa Lily.

WAFA Construction GAthered UPWith her trusted flower-Ninja removing the dowels, Jane brought the house down when she gathered the entire design up into a massive bouquet and placed it in a deep tulip shaped vase!! BRAVA!

Newport bouquetIf you are like me and will follow Jane anywhere, go to Longwood Gardens (July 1- Oct 30) and see her work in a light show called “Nightscapes”. She and her partner, Cres Motzi (of the much missed Bouquets in Motion), created a 10 foot in diameter orb, covered in vines and lichen, which is hung and rotating over the pond in the East Conservatory.  WOW!

Red white and blueHappy holiday weekend Cheers!.

Posted in floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, flower show, flower vases, Newport Flower Show, Party flowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

American Beauty…timeless style part three

Marble HouseAlthough it was a bit of a damp night, it wasn’t raining for the Newport Flower Show’s Judges Cocktail Party and Dinner. Nothing could dampen our spirits at walking up the driveway and entering Marble House for the beautiful party! It was a wonderful dinner and a great prelude to judging the show.

American Arts & Crafts FIRSTAmerican Arts and Crafts – countless was staged in a gray niche with a challenging oval opening 32” wide and 28” wide, seen easily in the top photo. This class required all plant material be grown in the designer’s own garden and included a ceramic container or tile reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts period. First place, as you see, went to this design which included a beautiful celadon and brown container and a geometric background.

American Arts & Crafts Second Pardee Award with Rosa seraceaIt’s not often you see Rosa sericea ptericantha, Wingthorn Rose, much less in a flower arrangement. Also in the design was smoke bush, peach, peony, Spirea, Allium, Heuchera, and just left below, Baptisia sphaerocarpa ‘Screamin’ Yellow’ – can you imagine how beautiful this garden must be?? This design of unusual materials won the Bettie Barden Pardee Award for a design featuring all fresh plant grown and arranged by the exhibitor.

 American  Beauty Mass FirstAmerican Beauty mass designAmerican Beauty – timeless was a design class calling for a mass design in tribute to George Bancroft in whose garden in the original Rosecliff the American Beauty Rose was first discovered. The designers had to create traditional mass designs which included roses, inspired by the timeless American Beauty Rose.

American Bridesmaid FIRSTAmerican Bridesmaid  SECONDWith wedding cakes and wedding dresses, could bouquets be far behind? American Bridesmaid – strapless focused for a bridesmaid’s bouquet to today’s times ‘that a bridesmaid would be happy to carry’. These two designs captured the stylishness of today’s bouquets with asymmetrical designs and contemporary grouping of flowers.

 July FourthHappy Fourth of July!! Cheers!

Posted in floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, flower show, Newport Flower Show | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments