Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Week 24 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Sunday, June 21st, 2015
A garden-sourced Father's Day bouquet for my husband, Bruce

A garden-sourced Father’s Day bouquet for my husband, Bruce

A bucket filled with lovelies from my garden.

A bucket filled with lovelies from my garden.

Greetings and here’s to SUMMER’S arrival today, June 21st! I couldn’t be more inspired to celebrate the Solstice than to take a walk in the garden. I clipped each stem for today’s Slow Flowers Challenge from my Seattle yard this morning and spent a glorious (and blissfully meditative) hour or so arranging.

And since it’s Father’s Day, I’m using the arrangement for tonight’s dinner we’re preparing for Bruce, my husband and the father of our two boys.

I’ve always loved pairing lime and wine colors together, in garden borders and beds, as well as in container gardens. No surprise that the deep burgundy Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’) looks terrific with the acid green Lady’s Mantle ( Alchemilla mollis). Stems from those two create the textural and high-contrast foundation for this design.

Steps one and two: Insert foliage to create the foundation.

Steps one and two: Insert foliage to create the foundation.

By the way, this is a vintage Haeger American-made vessel, a creamy ivory piece that I brought home with me from a trip to Iowa a few years ago. I love the proportions – perfect for a centerpiece. (Here’s a similar one on Etsy  – they’re not too difficult to find.)

To create this design, I placed a large cage-style metal flower frog (also vintage) in the bottom of the bowl. The grid has 5/8-inch openings, ideal for a combination of woody and herbaceous stems as I’m using here.

Steps three and four: Adding garden roses, a sweet pairing of a peachy-pink rose with a bicolored white-ruby rose. I inherited these two unknown roses when we moved to this garden four years ago.

Steps three and four: Adding garden roses, a sweet pairing of a peachy-pink rose with a bicolored white-ruby rose. I inherited these two unknown roses when we moved to this garden four years ago.

After I added the roses, I wanted to take advantage of some wispy pieces to bring a playful dimension to the design. I incorporated a beautiful, mauve-colored Astrantia and several stems of a burgundy-petaled tickseed with great yellow centers ( Coreopsis sp.).

Steps five and six: Astrantia and Coreopsis for their wispy textures.

Steps five and six: Astrantia and Coreopsis for their wispy textures.

Two final and rather unexpected touches utilize other garden stalwarts: Crocosmia in bud – love the strong lines of it at this stage; and bronze fennel. Now some may argue that bronze fennel is a garden thug, and it is. But the flouncy, lacy texture is pretty fantastic in an arrangement, so I always allow a few stems of it to remain after weeding out the volunteers.

Steps seven and eight: Crocosmia buds and bronze fennel stems.

Steps seven and eight: Crocosmia buds and bronze fennel stems.

British Flowers Week – Days 3 & 4

Thursday, June 18th, 2015
A Trunkful of Alliums by Bloomsbury Flowers L-0368

A Trunkful of Alliums by Bloomsbury Flowers (c) Julian Winslow

It’s a busy week and I wanted to devote yesterday’s blog post to our podcast interview with Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement.

So here, for Thursday, June 18th, are beautiful British-grown flowers in the hands of top floral designers! The New Covent Garden Flower Market commissioned these stars of British floral design to interpret and create designs using the best domestic crops available.

Thanks to the team behind British Flowers Week for sharing these gorgeous (and inspiring) creations:

DAY THREE June 17th

Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks of Bloomsbury Flowers (c) Julian Winslow

Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks of Bloomsbury Flowers (c) Julian Winslow

Welcome to Day Three of British Flowers Week 2015, the third year of the industry-wide, nationwide campaign in support of British cut flowers, founded and organised by New Covent Garden Flower Market.

Please enjoy the work of Stephen Wicks and Mark Welford of Bloomsbury Flowers, using British alliums.

Clouds of Alliums by Bloomsbury Flowers (c) Julian WInslow

Clouds of Alliums by Bloomsbury Flowers (c) Julian Winslow

There is a distinct sense of the theatrical in the work of Stephen Wicks and Mark Welford of Bloomsbury Flowers. They celebrate the natural, organic beauty of flowers with their unpretentious design style with masculine twist. (c) Julian Winslow

There is a distinct sense of the theatrical in the work of Stephen Wicks and Mark Welford of Bloomsbury Flowers. They celebrate the natural, organic beauty of flowers with their unpretentious design style with masculine twist. (c) Julian Winslow

DAY FOUR June 18th

Portrait of Jay Archer (c) Julian Winslow

Portrait of Jay Archer (c) Julian Winslow

Jay Archer of Jay Archer Floral Design and the British Lupin are the fourth sweethearts of British Flowers Week. Jay has created three wonderful designs exclusively for this pro-British Flowers campaign:

Rockin' the Lupin (c) Julian Winslow

Rockin’ the Lupin (c) Julian Winslow

The Wedding Bouquet by Jay Archer (c) Julian Winslow

The Wedding Bouquet by Jay Archer (c) Julian Winslow

Ceremonial Arch (c) Julian Winslow

Ceremonial Arch (c) Julian Winslow

Week 23 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Saturday, June 13th, 2015
Sea holly (Eryngium sp.) looking dazzling!

Sea holly (Eryngium sp.) looking dazzling!

This week’s arrangement comes to you courtesy of a special event in which I participated to benefit the King County Library Foundation.

Called an “Author Salon,” the private gathering was one of several offered at the Library Foundation’s recent annual Literary Lions Auction. Library supporters  Elaine & John Hogle  and  Felicia Dixon & Lucas Hoban  hosted the Author Salon last weekend at theBellevue Botanical Garden – one of my very favorite public gardens in the Seattle area. Landscape architect Liz Browning of Swift Company also participated by leading a tour of the newest garden BBG installations area designed by her firm.

The Author Salon team, standing, from left: Felicia, Liz and Elaine; I'm seated in front.

The Author Salon team, standing, from left: Felicia, Liz and Elaine; I’m seated in front.

What a beautiful venue! I was asked to talk about Slow Flowers, the book, as well as the slow flowers movement to source domestic and local flowers rather than rely on imports.

Local flowers and the Slow Flowers book go together well!

Local flowers and the Slow Flowers book go together well!

My publisher, St. Lynn’s Press, generously donated copies of Slow Flowers so that everyone in attendance took home a signed copy. And all the proceeds of the afternoon benefit the King County Library Foundation. Cindy Sharek and Andrea Quigley of the Foundation ensured that we had a lovely reception to hear the message of supporting literacy education!

And about the flowers you see here. I asked – and received special permission – to cut from the famed Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden for my demonstration.

While you might think I focused on which blooms to choose first, it was the oak leaf hydrangea that caught my attention before anything else.

My vase had a fairly wide opening of about 7 inches, so I needed larger, structural branches and leaves as my design’s starting point. Plus, I absolutely love the hydrangea’s stage right now. The leaves are large and supple and the flowers are still in bud so they’re the same color green and the foliage.

Susy Hutchison took home the Slow Flowers bouquet.

Susy Hutchison took home the Slow Flowers bouquet.

See my entire plant list below. As I was basically designing on the fly, (I only clipped the blooms 30 minutes before the event!), it occurred to me that I had three primary hues and three secondary hues of blooms — and naturally, that gave me an organizing structure to discuss a bit of color theory.

I had a few longtime friends in the audience who surprised me by attending, people I hadn’t seen for years!

How cool that my friend Susy Hutchison, former news anchor for KIRO-TV (CBS affiliate) won the doorprize to take home my arrangement. Seriously, it was not a fix!

Susy reported to me that the bouquet was “still going strong,” one week after she brought it home. Yes, folks, that’s another great reason for sourcing locally – your arrangement’s vase life will be extended!

The finished "color wheel" bouquet - clipped just steps away from our event.

The finished “color wheel” bouquet – clipped just steps away from our event.

Three sets of complements: Blue & Orange; Purple & Yellow; Red & Blue (with lots of green thrown in for good measure)

Three sets of complements: Blue & Orange; Purple & Yellow; Red & Blue (with lots of green thrown in for good measure)

Three sets of complements: Blue & Orange; Purple & Yellow; Red & Blue (with lots of green thrown in for good measure)

Three sets of complements: Blue & Orange; Purple & Yellow; Red & Blue (with lots of green thrown in for good measure)

Here's that essential oak leaf foliage

Here’s that essential oak leaf foliage

Here is the recipe, with all ingredients from the Perennial Border at Bellevue Botanic Garden:

  • Oak leaf hydrangea foliage & flowers (Hydrangea quercifolia)
  • Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
  • Red/Maroon: Astilbe
  • Green: Allium ‘Hair’ (a mutation of  A. sphaerocephalon)
  • Orange: Geum (Geum chiloense) possibly ‘Totally Tangerine’
  • Purple: Catmint (Nepeta sp.)
  • Yellow: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Blue: Sea holly (Eryngium amethystinum)
  • Bonus stems: I added a few beautiful stems of pale orange and yellow foxglove
The lady's mantle and oak leaf hydrangea blooms add a touch of lime.

The lady’s mantle and oak leaf hydrangea blooms add a touch of lime.

Week 22 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Saturday, June 6th, 2015
A cool-toned combo for early June, including Acanthus mollis, baptisia, cerinthe and sweet peas - all offset with fragrant mint foliage.

A cool-toned combo for early June, including Acanthus mollis, baptisia, cerinthe and sweet peas – all offset with fragrant mint foliage.

Here's how the entire bouquet turned out. I used a large trophy-like urn to accommodate the scale of the bear's breech.

Here’s how the entire bouquet turned out. I used a large trophy-like urn to accommodate the scale of the bear’s breech.

This week I couldn’t take my eyes off the gorgeous flower stalks of two bear’s breech plants ( Acanthus mollis) growing between our back porch and the pond in a shady area.

This perennial typically belongs at the back of the border where the large glossy foliage can offset smaller and more delicate companions. Deeply lobed, the acanthus leaf is a classical form in art and architecture. I’ve actually used the leaves in winter floral arrangements before. In my Zone 8b garden, the leaves are basically evergreen and winter hardy.

The blooms are also arresting. They are tall and pointed with an overall spiny form and purplish-green bracts. I will say this: They don’t LOVE being cut and plunked in a vase.

The five stalks I cut and used in this bouquet had mixed performance from between one to three days. So if you have bear’s breech in your perennial border, consider it a day-of cut flower.

'April in Paris' sweetpea, grown by Jello Mold Farm. If only you could inhale its perfume!

‘April in Paris’ sweetpea, grown by Jello Mold Farm. If only you could inhale its perfume!

Baptisia (love the sweet pea-like flowers on the tall stem), with honeywort (Cerinthe).

Baptisia (love the sweet pea-like flowers on the tall stem), with honeywort (Cerinthe).

Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis)

Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis)

Curled just like a little shrimp, Cerinthe has a fabulous blue-green/purple flower

Curled just like a little shrimp, Cerinthe has a fabulous blue-green/purple flower

Here is the recipe::

  • Garden mint, grown by Ojeda Farms in Ethel, Washington
  • Honeywort (Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’), grown by Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington
  • Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis), Jello Mold Farm
  • ‘April in Paris’ Sweet Peas, Jello Mold Farm
  • Bear’s breech (Acanthus mollis) flowers, from my garden
Trophy_1_IMG_3954

Everything came together beautifully, including the addition of the mint foliage!

Just for fun, here’s how the Acanthus mollis foliage lent much-needed drama to a December arrangement. I paired it with Callicarpa, curly willow and camellia foliage.
Note the large, glossy Acanthus foliage on the right side of this winter arrangement.

Note the large, glossy Acanthus foliage on the right side of this winter arrangement.

And on its own, the foliage of Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) is also fantastic. Long after the beautiful flowers fade, you can keep cutting the leaves for arranging:

Baptisia foliage in an August bouquet.

Baptisia foliage in an August bouquet.

An Artist’s Relationship with Floral Design, Abbie Zabar: Ten Years of Flowers from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Episode 196)

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015
In this pencil study, Abbie Zabar captures an exuberant floral arrangement from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Great Hall.

In this pencil study, Abbie Zabar captures an exuberant floral arrangement from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Great Hall.

50kdownloads This week we’re celebrating the 50,000th download of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

As of today, we’ve produced 97 episodes bringing you the leading voices in the American Grown floral community – from flower farmers to floral designers, the inspiring people working to save flowers as part of our nation’s agricultural heritage and keep our flowers local, seasonal, sustainable — and American grown.

I am grateful to my past guests, each of whom has shared his or her story with listeners. And I’m so thankful to listeners who regularly tune in, comment, share and like this endeavor.

Students at Sarah Pabody's floral design workshop learn about the origin of the flowers in their lives. (c) Elena Slesarchuk, courtesy of Triple Wren Farm.

Students at Sarah Pabody’s floral design workshop learn about the origin of the flowers in their lives. (c) Elena Slesarchuk, courtesy of Triple Wren Farm.

Before we meet Abbie Zabar, this week’s guest, I wanted to share a text that I received this week from my friend Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms located just north of Bellingham, Washington.

Sarah and her husband Steve Pabody are big promoters of the Slow Flowers Movement. When Sarah leads design workshops at Triple Wren she does something for which I’m so grateful.

Each student is handed one of the Slow Flowers infographics that reads “Where do your flowers come from?”

Then Sarah leads a short discussion about the frightening statistics revealing the small percentage of domestic flowers in the marketplace versus imported flowers, as well as the cost of those imported flowers, both environmentally but also economically, to local communities.

She texted me photos of last weekend’s workshop, which I have permission to share with you.

Even the youngest floral design student learns about the Slow Flowers Movement at Triple Wren Farms! (c) Elena Slesarchuk.

Even the youngest floral design student is introduced to the Slow Flowers Movement at Triple Wren Farms! (c) Elena Slesarchuk.

 

 

Said Sarah: “I thought you’d like to see your Infographics in action – at every workshop, I issue a challenge to each person to casually ask another person in their lives (grocery florist, family member, however they can work it into their daily conversation),”Do you know where these flowers were grown?”

If anyone listening to this story feels moved to do the same with their own customers, please follow this link to our graphics, which you are welcome to download and copy. Thanks for the inspiration, Sarah!

SFlowersInfoGraphic_Page1_Web

Abbie Zabar, captured in a familar pose by Rod Marton. She's sketching in a garden, with paper on her lap.

Abbie Zabar, captured in a familar pose at Rodmarton Manor in the UK. She’s sketching in a garden, with paper on her lap. (c) Sylvia Martin

Okay, today’s guest is thoroughly inspiring in a completely different way. When I first read the news that the work of Abbie Zabar, a New York-based artist and longtime virtual friend in the garden-writing world, was going to be celebrated this coming weekend with the opening of an exhibit of her floral drawings, I had to share her story with you.

As you will hear in our conversation, Abbie is a close observer of nature and of flowers, especially. She captures what she observes with colored pencils on sheets of rather ordinary paper or cardboard.

from June 23, 2002

from June 23, 2002

For one decade of her life, from the early 1990s to the early 2000s, Abbie walked from her apartment in New York City’s upper east side to the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue. She entered the impressive Great Hall during the early hours, found a place to sit, and proceeded to sketch the grand floral arrangements on display there each week. (I feel quite an affinity for someone who honored such a creative ritual week after week; after all, I managed to make a bouquet each week for one year and ritualized that practice, but Abbie’s ten-year observance is hugely impressive).

Abbie Zabar. December 6 1994. Collection of the artist

Abbie Zabar. December 6 1994. Collection of the artist

Abbie was enthralled by the five enormous flower-filled urns that stood in the Met’s Great Hall. At the time, the pieces were created by Chris Giftos, the Met’s former Master Floral Designer and Director of Special Events. For more than 30 years, Mr. Giftos was responsible for the beautiful arrangement in the Great Hall. And, as Abbie describes, the flowers occupied four large niches carved from the central piers, as well as the centrally located Information Desk. The weekly arrangements of fresh flowers appear, thanks to an endowment provided by the late Lila Acheson Wallace, who was one of the Museum’s largest single benefactors.

Abbie Zabar. February 4 2002. Collection of the artist

Abbie Zabar. February 4 2002. Collection of the artist

It’s no surprise to learn that Abbie and Chris became good friends. The fondness she had for this floral artist are reflected in each drawing she made in response to his work. Incredibly alluring, her diminutive floral portraits are breathtaking in both their simplicity and their complexity. Abbie’s own experience as a gardener and her innate knowledge of the flowers, fronds and leaves before her allowed her to capture the splendid bouquets with a sure and deft hand, well before the Museum opened its doors for the day.

Abbie Zabar. October 16 1999. Collection of the artist

Abbie Zabar. October 16 1999. Collection of the artist

Working in situ and in pencil—the only implement allowed in the space —her drawings showcase the vibrancy, variety and vitality of the displays, as captured in one quick sitting.

Abbie Zabar at the Manhattan Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society's Plant Sale, where she was passing around saxifraga "favors." Photo courtesy of Yukie Kurashina.

Abbie Zabar at the Manhattan Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society’s Plant Sale, where she was passing around saxifraga “favors.” Photo courtesy of Yukie Kurashina.

You will hear more about her process in our conversation, and please visit debraprinzing.com to see examples of the pieces that will be unveiled in this upcoming exhibition.

The show is called Abbie Zabar: Ten Years of Flowers, on view June 7 through October 4 at Wave Hill, a beautiful public garden and cultural center in The Bronx. The event is free with your admission to the grounds.

And here is a little more about Abbie’s background:

Abbie Zabar is an acclaimed artist, graphic and garden designer, and the author of five books. Her first book, The Potted Herb (1988), is now considered a gardening classic.

She has created garden and graphic designs for numerous prestigious companies and organizations, including Bergdorf Goodman, Daniel Boulud’s restaurants and PS 198.

Her landscape collages have been represented by Allan Stone and BlumHelman, and Flowers in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art series has been represented by Ursus Books & Prints and the Horticultural Society of New York.

Abbie Zabar. May 18 1995. Private collection

Abbie Zabar. May 18 1995. Private collection

Abbie’s artwork has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Parrish Museum, the International Paper Corporation, the Louvre, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) and the Vigeland Museum (Oslo), and is part of the permanent collections of the Mead Paper Corporation of America, the Brooklyn Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation and the Smithsonian Museum.

Abbie Zabar. May 17 2003. Collection of the artist.

Abbie Zabar. May 17 2003. Collection of the artist.

Abbie’s illustrated articles have appeared in Garden DesignHorticultureFine GardeningGourmet and The New York Times, as well as in numerous esteemed British publications. She received the 2010 Award for Best Newspaper Writing from the Garden Writers Association for her piece “A Vine in the Sky,” published in The Forward.

Abbie Zabar. September 24 2000. Collection of the artist

Abbie Zabar. September 24 2000. Collection of the artist

In 2014, she was honored with the North American Rock Garden Society’s Carleton R. Worth Award, given to an author of distinguished writings about rock gardening and rock garden plants. Zabar is currently the Program Chairperson for the Manhattan Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society and a Learning Leader at P.S. 198.

Jar with green hyacinths

Jar with green hyacinths

White roses in straight-sided jar.

White roses in straight-sided jar.

White roses, little creamer

White roses, little creamer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Abbie and I discussed, not only is the exhibition at Wave Hill available for public viewing all summer long, continuing to October 4th, she has a second show in the works, which will run September 16th to October 2nd at W.M. Brady & Co., a gallery at 22 East 80th Street, just a few steps from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This collection of drawings includes the series of small floral studies that Abbie and I discussed at the close of our interview (and she generously shares a sneak peek of a few of those pieces here).

From the grand floral arrangements at the Met to these intimate moments of singular blooms captured in small vases, Abbie’s gifts as an illustrator of flowers are evident. And I know you’ll be as enchanted as I am. By the way, many of these pieces will be available for purchase, so please follow the links to the two institutions (Wave Hill and W.M. Brady & Co.) to inquire if you’re interested in a list of available works.

Thank you, Abbie Zabar, for showing us flowers in a new way. Not everyone is an artist or has the ability to use a pencil so masterfully as my friend Abbie. But this conversation has moved me to use my innate skills of observation more acutely, whether I’m on a walk in the park, purchasing flowers from my favorite flower farmer, or tending to plants in my own backyard.

Thanks again for joining me today for another wonderful conversation about flowers. Listeners like you have downloaded the podcast more than 50,000 times. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Week 21 // Slow Flowers Challenge with Mock Orange and Garden Peonies

Saturday, May 30th, 2015
Back Porch Bouquet - with every bloom clipped from my garden.

Back Porch Bouquet – with every bloom clipped from my garden.

After all the traveling I’ve done since March, it’s so nice to be HOME. So for the last week of May, the Slow Flowers Challenge has stuck close by. All of these flowers are straight from my garden. You could call it the “5 Step Bouquet.”

I wish you could inhale the light fragrance of the peonies combined with the sweetly scented mock orange blossoms (Philadelphus coronarius). Wow! It’s a perfect pairing to grace the small table in our home’s entry, allowing me to share the garden perfume and perfection with anyone who might stop by this weekend.
Two types of peonies, a profusion of mock orange, and young hydrangea buds.

Two types of peonies, a profusion of mock orange, and young hydrangea buds.

I especially love using this vintage American-made vase. It is also featured on pages 50-51 of Slow Flowers, where it holds beautiful garden roses that I paired with smoke tree and the ‘Black Knight’ Queen Anne’s lace. The 7-inch tall McCoy jardiniere is from the 1940s era and has a raised design of vertical bands (maybe suggesting picket fencing?) and a rim of flowers. It’s the ideal scale vase for such blousy bouquets!
By the way, here’s that design from Slow Flowers where you’ll spot the familiar vase:
Analogous color palette of pinks, mauves and purples! This design was originally published in my book, Slow Flowers

Analogous color palette of pinks, mauves and purples! This design was originally published in my book, Slow Flowers

Below are a few more images from yesterday’s bouquet. The ingredients:

  • Two types of peonies, both inherited when we moved to this home. So I don’t know the cultivars. I love the pale pink with the fringey yellow centers, but I think I love the single white variety even more, especially for its dense centers, some cream; some rose-tinged.
  • Mock orange branches and blossoms
  • Immature hydrangea stems, used as a lime green accent.
Quite delicious to the eye and fragrant to the nose!

Quite delicious to the eye and fragrant to the nose!

More delicious details!

More delicious details!

Slow Flowers in the UK: A visit to Petersham Nurseries in Surry

Monday, May 25th, 2015
The Garden Shop at Petersham's Nurseries

The Garden Shop at Petersham Nurseries

Lovely spring urn with heuchera, ferns and more.

Lovely spring urn with heuchera, ferns and more.

After a harrowing taxi ride (one hour for 12 miles?) from London, my mom and I arrived on Wednesday at Petersham Nurseries. And once we discovered what was inside the gates, we concluded that our 40 pound fare was totally worth it!

We took the journey in order to meet up with Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement, an up-until-now virtual flower friend, who had invited us to spend a few days with her in Yorkshire.

She was also in London for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and made the brilliant suggestion that we use Petersham as a meeting place before driving to Hebden Bridge, where she lives and designs flowers (and more on that later!).

Petersham Nurseries dates to the 1970s when it was a local garden center carved out of the Petersham House estate.

After years of neglect, the nursery reopened in 2004 after extensive restorations by Gael & Francesco Boglione, the current owners of Petersham House.

Plant displays on old carts - what's more perfect?

Plant displays on old carts – what’s more perfect?

Foxgloves galore! It is spring, after all.

Foxgloves galore! It is spring, after all.

Lunch at Petersham Nursery: pea-and-mint soup with tomato and burrata salad.

Lunch at Petersham Nursery: pea-and-mint soup with tomato and burrata salad.

Beautiful garden furniture, gifts, tableware and antiques can now be found amongst the plants which adorn the vintage glass greenhouses.

In a ramshackle wooden teahouse we found delicious pastries and homemade cakes (as well as lunch!).

There is also a popular restaurant to which I would love to return some day.

This is a thoroughly charming destination not far from London.

It has history, an obviously talented team of horticulturists, beautiful plants and that timeless character you can’t get in the U.S.

The cutting garden, where we met up with Caroline and Rosie. This lovely long raised bed supplies flowers for Petersham House, as well as the Restaurant and Cafe.

The cutting garden, where we met up with Caroline and Rosie. This lovely long raised bed supplies flowers for Petersham House, as well as the Restaurant and Cafe.

Sarah planned a huge surprise for us – a private tour of the Petersham House grounds. Her friend Caroline is gardening here as a volunteer, working alongside Rosie, who is the genius behind many of the landscape plantings you see in these images.

Not much more to say than this: Please gaze upon the beauty of a 150-foot-long English garden double-border in May. Few can replicate this, due to lack of time, money, or land – but please feel free to borrow a few ideas for your own patch! And if you will be in London on June 7th, you can visit the private grounds of Petersham House as part of the National Gardening Scheme charitable program.

Petersham House, as seen from the long border.

Petersham House, as seen from the long border.

The glorious Petersham double border. Sublime!

The glorious Petersham double border. Sublime!

Week 20 // Slow Flowers Challenge with #Britishgrown flowers

Sunday, May 24th, 2015
Beautiful Yorkshire-grown blooms from the garden of Sarah Statham and James Reader

Beautiful Yorkshire-grown blooms from the garden of Sarah Statham and James Reader

I promised to share an uniquely British-themed arrangement for this week’s Slow Flowers Challenge  and the floral offerings you see here are indeed straight from the garden of Sarah Statham, my host these past four days.
Sarah is the owner of a wonderful enterprise called Simply by Arrangement, a floral workshop-culinary experience created with her friend Christie Buchanan.
I met Sarah “virtually” when introduced by Gill Hodgson of Flowers from the Farm. Gill is the champion behind the organization that promotes British flowers and the farmers and florists involved with the renaissance of their domestic floral industry (sound familiar?). When I told Gill that I would be in England to tour the Chelsea Flower Show, she arranged an ambitious itinerary for me and my traveling companion, my mother Anita.
After four days in and around London, we headed to Northeast England with Sarah. She and her husband James hosted us at their lovely home in the Yorkshire village of Hebden Bridge.
We’ve had many wonderful moments together, including joining a gathering of the Yorkshire flower farmers and florists who are part of Flowers from the Farm. They graciously asked me to share the story of Slow Flowers and news of the American grown floral movement. And that was a rare privilege made more special by the service of afternoon tea, in the most proper fashion.
On Friday, Sarah gave me a pair of clippers and a bucket and let me loose in her garden. Together, we both designed truly local and seasonal Yorkshire arrangements to share with you here.
The green glass vase contains an exhuberant display of spring Yorkshire flowers - and captures a moment in time as I clipped and designed with flowers from Sarah and James's garden.

The green glass vase contains an exhuberant display of spring Yorkshire flowers – and captures a moment in time as I clipped and designed with flowers from Sarah and James’s garden.

The flowers and foliage used above in my bouquet include:

  • White Centranthus ruber ‘Albus’
  • A type of acid-green euphorbia
  • Rodgersia foliage (large, dramatica and a beautiful dark rust color)
  • Astrantia blooms (whitish-green)
  • White bleeding heart (Dicentra) – flowers and foliage
  • Meadow rue (Thalictrum) flowers
  • Peach tulips
  • Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’ – a NEW perennial to me with deep burgundy, thistle-like flowers and long prickly foliage.
Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'

Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’

Here's Sarah, putting the finishing touches on her lovely design.

Here’s Sarah, putting the finishing touches on her lovely design.

Sarah made me thoroughly envious when I saw her collection of vintage copper containers, including a few she picked up at a Chelsea Flower Show vendor who I’d completely overlooked. The copper informed her designs, as she opted for a sultry burgundy, plum and apricot palette.  

It is stunning, as you can see below:

A copper-inspired bouquet by Sarah Statham - so gorgeous!!!

A copper-inspired bouquet by Sarah Statham – so gorgeous!!!

Here are the ingredients Sarah selected:

  • Two types of Japanese maple foliage
  • A variety of tulips, including peach, plum, white and almost-brown
  • Geum with an apricot flower
  • White Astrantia
  • White-flowering Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Raven’s Wing’
Here are the ingredients Sarah selected: Two types of Japanese maple foliage A variety of tulips, including peach, plum, white and almost-brown Geum with an apricot flower White Astrantia White-flowering Anthriscus sylvestris 'Raven's Wing'

Up close, Sarah’s design is completely shimmery.

The photo shoot: In the courtyard of Sarah's ancient stone cottage in Yorkshire. So magical to be there!

The photo shoot: In the courtyard of Sarah’s ancient stone cottage in Yorkshire. So magical to be there!

Week 19 // Slow Flowers Challenge with Flowering Branches

Friday, May 15th, 2015
Some of Springtime's most alluring flowering branches include: Magnolia, Dogwood, Apricot, Quince and Plum.

Some of Springtime’s most alluring flowering branches include: Magnolia, Dogwood, Apricot, Quince and Cherry.

We’re digging into the archives this week for the  Slow Flowers Challenge. That’s what happens when I find myself on too many airplanes, which is ironic, isn’t it? It’s sort of the opposite of my “Slow” aspirations!

However, I’m just back home from speaking and teaching in Orlando, Florida. And now, after recharging for the past five days in Seattle, I’ve re-packed and am heading to the airport tonight to fly to London!!!

That’s right! I’m off to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. I’ll also be meeting many of the people active in the British Flowers scene – U.K. flower farmers and florists who have many of the same objectives that we have here in the U.S. To put local, seasonal and sustainably-grown flowers at the center of our tables!

Stay tuned, because I promise that next week’s Slow Flowers Challenge will be decidedly British!

The acid green of variegated hostas and euphorbia create a "skirt" effect for flowering magnolia branches.

The acid green of variegated hostas and euphorbia create a “skirt” effect for flowering magnolia branches.

I absolutely love the images you see here. I created these arrangements for a national magazine story that was, sadly, never published. The editors, as they say, went in a different direction.

But my photos live on and I’m delighted to share them with you here.

The vase at left is filled with Pieris and Dogwood; the vase at right has both flowering Dogwod and twig dogwood.

The vase at left is filled with Pieris and Dogwood; the vase at right has both flowering Dogwod and twig dogwood.

Flowering Cherry with Snowball Viburnum.

Flowering Cherry with Snowball Viburnum.

Simple: Quince in two hues, plus swordfern.

Simple: Quince in two hues, plus swordfern.

Flowering plum, paired with Lamb's Ear foliage.

Flowering plum, paired with Lamb’s Ear foliage.

Spring hellebores paired with flowering apricot branches.

Spring hellebores paired with flowering apricot branches.

Week 15 // Spring Awakening

Sunday, April 19th, 2015
The pods and buds are waking up. They're shouting, "we're here!"

The pods and buds are waking up. They’re shouting, “we’re here!”

It’s been a crazy week here in Slow Flowers Land, but after 8 days of travel, I’m so delighted to be home in Seattle for a week. Seattle has been good to us, with mid-60s to 70-degree weather.
 
Today was no exception. I clipped a bit of this and that – all from my awakening garden. It truly is a Spring Awakening here!
Just unfurled: a vivid yellow poppy

Just unfurled: a vivid yellow poppy

The delicate leaves and flowers that are pushing up through the April soil are each special in their own way. Here’s what I included in my spontaneous spring arrangement:

Variegated hosta leaves
Acid yellow smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’)
The young tips of deer fern (Blechnum spicant)
Green-and-rust-variegated Epimedium leaves and a few flowering stems
Yellow poppies, flowers & buds

The final arrangement - all from April 18th in the garden

The final arrangement – all from April 18th in the garden

Love how all the season's new foliage works together.

Love how all the season’s new foliage works together.

A word about the vase. Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers turned me onto“Wine Punts,” 100% recycled, made in USA, these beautiful vessels are wine bottles that have been repurposed into drinking glasses. Or, small vases. Available in sets of 4 in many colors. Love the size and the pale green hue.