Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘interior design’ Category

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Media entrepreneur Margot Shaw, creator of flower magazine (Episode 147)

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Before we get started with today’s awesome guest, I’ve got a little self-promotion to share. The Slow Flowers “brand” is a lovely bouquet with several unique blooms in the vase.

PodcastLogo There is this podcast, of course, and we’re coming up on our one-year anniversary on July 23rd (we’ll have an exciting announcement from a special guest to celebrate our 52nd episode!).

  Web

And there is the Slowflowers.com online directory, which is growing every day – up to 325 vendors on the site as of this week.

600_600_SLOWFLOWERSFrtCvrrev But it all started with the book: Slow Flowers, four seasons of locally-grown bouquets, from the garden, meadow and farm. St. Lynn’s Press published this little gem in early 2013 and it has been the creative inspiration to launch the Slow Flowers Movement.

14-silver-logo We just got word that Garden Writers Association has awarded Slow Flowers with one of two Silver Medals of Achievement for Overall Book product this year. I couldn’t be happier and I’m so pleased to receive the recognition because it reflects what together our American grown floral community has achieved in changing the dialogue and changing the relationship consumers have with their flowers. Congratulations to the entire St. Lynn’s Press creative team for making my words and images into such a beautiful little book: Paul Kelly (Publisher), Catherine Dees (Editor) and Holly Rosborough (Art Director). They are the dream team! 

TODAY’S GUEST: MARGOT SHAW, flower magazine

Margot Shaw, "flower magazine" founder and editor-in-chief

Margot Shaw, “flower magazine” founder and editor-in-chief  


"To Flower" ~ the definition embodies the spirit of this magazine.

“To Flower” ~ the definition embodies the spirit of this magazine.

Now, it is entirely fitting that I introduce you to Margot Shaw of flower magazine, my interview subject today. Margot has coined the phrase “a floral lifestyle,” a term I thoroughly embrace – and I know you will, too.

 

Margot calls herself a “late bloomer” when it comes to the art of floral design. A self-proclaimed “call-and-order-flowers girl,” Margot’s “a ha moment,” her view of flowers, changed when planning her daughter’s at-home wedding.

Working alongside the floral and event designer, she recognized the artistry and inspiration involved in “flowering” and soon began apprenticing with that same designer.

After a few years, enamored with all things floral but unable to locate a publication that spoke to her passion, she set about creating one. 

With a clear vision, a deep appreciation for beauty, a facility with words, a hometown uniquely geared towards publishing, and the advice and counsel of generous industry professionals, Margot launched flower in March of 2007. 

I snapped this photo of the flower magazine staff back in January 2011 when I visited Birmingham, Alabama, for a get-to-know meeting. That's Margot, second from the left.

I snapped this photo of the flower magazine staff back in January 2011 when I visited Birmingham, Alabama, for a get-to-know meeting. That’s Margot, second from the left.

Originally filled with floral, garden, and event design, the niche publication has gradually broadened to include content that trumpets a floral lifestyle—interiors, art, travel, fashion, jewelry, and entertaining.

“It has something for everyone who likes flowers—and who doesn’t like flowers?!” Shaw proclaims.

Since its debut, flower has continued to grow at a steady pace, recently moving from quarterly to bimonthly, and available in all 50 U.S. states and 17 countries.

Here’s some more information on the publication and its influence on our floral community:

Here's what you'll find on the pages of flower magazine ~

Here’s what you’ll find on the pages of flower magazine ~

 

Here's who reads the magazine.

Here’s who reads the magazine.

 

Here's more about the circulation and geographic distribution.

Here’s more about the circulation and geographic distribution.

Want to check out the current issue of flower magazine? Margot has generously shared the “secret” log-in password with listeners of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast. Click here to read the digital edition and use TUBEROSE as the password. 

Next week’s guests are Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt, partners in Field & Florist of Chicago. You won’t want to miss it!

Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded 13,700 times.

If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. 

The slow flowers podcast is engineered and edited by Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

Floral design in Tuscany

Friday, September 27th, 2013
The approach to Montisi, a small Tuscan village that has been our home this week.

The approach to Montisi, a small Tuscan village that has been our home this week.

 

Detail: An autumn bouquet from a Tuscan garden. Olives, roses, hydrangeas, scented pelargonium leaves, Rex begonia leaves - seen here.

Detail: An autumn bouquet from a Tuscan garden. Olives, roses, hydrangeas, scented pelargonium leaves, Rex begonia leaves – seen here.

This morning at the villa, two friends went off for watercolor lessons with resident expat artist Liz Cochrane.

After walking down to Il Barrino for hot tea and a croissant, I came back totally determined to make a bouquet for our group’s last night together.

We have a dinner coming in from Allesandro, the local chef (Marty organized the menu, which includes Ribollita, a Tuscan soup; sliced pork with balsalmic vinegar; zucchini flan; and that popular italian desert, Apple Pie!)

The Flower Arrangers’ Guild of Tuscany commenced its first session.

This garden is in its waning moments of late summer-early autumn. But it does not disappoint. So much to work with and we judiciously snipped, without hurting or denuding a single plant.

I had spotted a copper urn, weathered and slightly dented, sitting on the floor in the Lemonaio (the garden room). It inspired my palette – faded, tarnished and of the moment.

A rustic wooden garden bench, a perfect place to display and photograph my Tuscan bouquet in a timeworn copper vessel.

A rustic wooden garden bench, a perfect place to display and photograph my Tuscan bouquet in a timeworn copper vessel.

Here are the ingredients I began with:

1. Scented pelargonium foliage

2. Papyrus stems from the water pond

3. Hydrangeas – two types

4. Roses – two types

5. Olives branches w/fruit

6. Marguerite daisy foliage

7. Rex begonia foliage

Mary Watson joined me in the garden, eager to make something beautiful. She made two adorable bouquets:

Mary Watson, a new friend who I met through Marty Wingate. She is an art educator and bon vivant! Right when I started arranging this morning, Mary jumped into the fun.

Mary Watson, a new friend who I met through Marty Wingate. She is an art educator and bon vivant! Right when I started arranging this morning, Mary jumped into the fun.

 

READ MORE…

SLOW FLOWERS: Week 16

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Fresh and Fragrant

Lilacs and more

A yummy spring bouquet – straight from local farms and fields

Beautiful blooms

Another closeup – I can’t resist!

 

Ingredients:

10 stems purple lilacs (Syringa vulgaris), grown by Oregon Coastal Flowers

10 stems garden hellebores (Helleborus orientalis), grown by Jello Mold Farm

10 stems Fritillaria assyriaca, a spring-flowering bulb, grown by Choice Bulb Farms

Vase:

17-inch tall x 7-inch diameter cream urn

From the Farmer

Hellebore how-to: Anyone who grows hellebores in their garden knows how frustrating it is to cut a few blooms and bring them inside, only to watch them wilt in a vase of water. Now I enjoy success when I use hellebores in my bouquets, thanks to an important lesson shared by Diane Szukovathy, co-owner of Jello Mold Farm. “Harvest hellebores after they have matured past the flower stage and the seed pods are beginning to form,” she advises. “By then, the petals have started to leather up and those hellebores will be rock solid in an arrangement for ten days.”

 

Floral urns that earn my admiration

Friday, April 5th, 2013
Two types of Vivian's delicious anemones

Two types of Vivian’s delicious anemones

With the arrival of spring here in Seattle, we flower lovers have lots to celebrate! That’s because the wistful beauty coming from our local flower fields, meadows and farms are simply sublime.

When I stepped inside the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market two days ago, I was stopped in my tracks. The botanical abundance in each stall made me catch my breath with happiness~ A new season is upon us – hurrah!!!

I brought home arm-loads of goodies, enough to make three lovely arrangements of three different sizes. The common threads are these blooms, including some clipped from my own garden. and the style of vase. I cannot resist a footed urn!

  •  Three bunches of anemones, including 2 clusers of a luscious, velvety maroon variety and one bunch of the coveted black-centered/white petaled variety, grown by Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, Washington.
  • One bunch of the *first-of-the-season* snowball viburnum, grown by Patrick Zweifel of Oregon Coastal Flowers in Tillamook, Oregon
  • One bunch of the *first-of-the-season* bridal wreath spirea, grown by Charles and Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co. in Eugene, Oregon
  • One bunch of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ and one bunch of garden hellebores, grown by Dennis Westphall and Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington
  • From my garden: salmon pink tulips, grape hyacinths, delicate and pale-yellow flowers from epimedium (a ground-cover) and camellia foliage.
More yummy flower details

Hellebores play so nicely with snowball viburnums, anemones and more.

As noted above, my vase(s) of choice are footed urns or bowls. All three used here are vintage and quite dear to me.

I hope that seeing how I used them inspires you to snatch up a footed vase or bowl, an urn or anything with a pedestal base – they are indeed the superior vessels for showcasing flowers. If you frequent vintage sites online, flea markets or garage sales . . . maybe you’ll be just as lucky as I have been. I’ve used vintage metal flower frogs inside each. The frogs are like half-dome cages and because they are metal, they’re heavy enough to just sink to the bottom of the vessel (no tape or stickum required).

Constance Spry wrote about one of her favorite vases – a footed marble bowl – in her 1933 book Flower Decoration. I can only imagine how pricey one of these vases would be today! Here’s what she had to say:

“This vase is beautiful to look at whether empty or filled with flowers. It is so heavy that it is not disturbed by the heaviest branches of fruit or blossom, and its soft, pale-brown colour enhances whatever one chooses to put in it.”

Here are the designs that gave me so much pleasure:

Bouquet One

Green Floraline Pedestal Bowl

A Green Floraline Pedestal Bowl, featuring snowball viburnum, hellebores, anemones, Anthriscus foliage and bridal wreath spirea.

After I created and photographed this arrangement, I decided to see how it looked WITHOUT those spikey branches. So here’s version 2 of the same bouquet:

 

Green Pedestal Bowl and Turquoise Bud Vase

The spirea moved into the teal blue Haegar (vintage) bud vase, while the green Floraline footed bowl contains the remaining blooms.

Bouquet Two

Olive Glass Urn

With hellebores, white and burgundy anemones, salmon pink tulips, Anthriscus foliage, camellia foliage and bridal wreath spirea.

 Bouquet Three

Bronze Flea Market Pedestal Bowl

With Anthriscus foliage, hellebores, epimedium flowers, grape hyacinth, anemones and bridal wreath spirea.

Coming to Southern California

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Thank you, Constance Spry

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
Yes, I have her signature in my used copy of "Flowers in House and Garden," published in 1937.  Signed in pencil, the inscription is dated February 1939.

Yes, I have her signature in my used copy of “Flowers in House and Garden,” published in 1937. Signed in pencil, the inscription is dated February 1939.

 

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the first celebrity floral designer, Constance Spry.

The famous Mrs. Constance Spry

The famous Mrs. Constance Spry

If you haven’t heard about her, check out the newish biography called The Surprising Life of Constance Spry, by Sue Shephard (2011). Mrs. Spry was at her peak of popularity between the two World Wars, and I loved reading about her magnificent cutting garden that supplied her London studio and shop called Flower Decoration in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s.

Speaking of Flower Decoration, that is the name of a volume that Mrs. Spry wrote in 1933. Re-issued in 1993, you can find it online used, filled with her strong opinions, witticisms, and black-and-white photographs of floral arrangements. These are a little dated, of course, but what stands out to me is the eclectic lineup of ingredients, which includes many flowers, foliage and edibles that today’s hip floral designers think they’ve popularized.

Guess what? Mrs. Spry did it first!

The rest of us have just discovered the ingredients with which she created lush, naturalistic, unfussy bouquets. Cherry tomatoes, grape clusters, gourds, fig leaves, sea-kale, agapanthus seed heads, amaranth, rhubarb and artichokes are wonderful floral elements showing up in couture bouquets and magazine spreads. But Constance Spry used them first – and that’s quite fun to RE-discover.

READ MORE…

Great plates

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Here’s a photo of my dining room wall, where I’ve organized a medley of rounded objects, mostly plates and one vintage mirror that I inherited as a girl in the 1960s:

Debra’s dining room wall. The paint color is aptly named “Pod,” chosen by my design guru, Jean Zaputil.

This is what you do when a large wall needs to be filled and one does not own large artwork! Each of the pieces has a back-story. Clockwise, from left:

  1. Round gold-framed mirror, given to my parents and migrated to my possession since the 1960s.
  2. Dark purple pottery plate, a gift from my college roommate and her former girlfriend.
  3. Celadon plate, imprinted with a real lotus leaf, gift from same college roommate, who purchased it for me when we visited Lotusland.
  4. Red-and-teal platter, a gift from the owner of Fireworks Gallery, years ago, as a thank you after I wrote a story about her Pioneer Square shop.
  5. Another wonderful celadon plate, a gift from my friends Kathleen Brown and Sara Anderson when they visited us from DC years ago.
  6. Teal, white and purple platter, hand-formed and painted by the Berkeley artist Keeyla Meadows. I purchased it from her on a visit to her garden in 2008.
  7. Tiny vintage Majolica plate, purchased from an antique shop in Madison Park.

Let’s just say the men in my household were less than excited to see this installation. The day after I created my plate-platter vignette, my spouse left for work, saying: Please do NOT hammer any more nails into the wall today!

So the following weekend, we were in Chicago visiting our college-aged son for family weekend. We had breakfast at a cool neighborhood spot and what do you think I noticed on the wall there?! Check it out: 

Nice plates!
Many small plates add up to one large work of art!

I am definitely onto something. You can be, too. Plates or dishes, inexpensive plate hangers & a few nails. Voila! 

Julius pot from Potted gets its groove back

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Pot-ted's JULIUS Pot

The Julius pot is back – and with it a tale about just how hard it’s becoming for California designers to manufacture their latest looks locally. 

In 2009 Annette Gutierrez and Mary Gray, owners of Potted in Atwater Village, introduced the Julius — “a modern, sexy pot with a curve and a little pedestal,” Gutierrez said, and a tribute to the late architectural photographer Julius Shulman. Back then, Potted worked with a small, local ceramics factory to produce the planter. “We did a couple runs, and then he went out of business,” Gutierrez said.

In its short life, the retro planter was popular with landscape designers who liked how it graced the poolside and the patio. The Julius was used at the Geffen Playhouse and in the model residences at the W in Hollywood.

“It was our best seller, but suddenly we couldn’t find anyone locally to make it,” Gutierrez said.

Pot-ted's Circle Pot, inspired by a mid-century hanging ashtray!

So the Julius was shelved as Gutierrez and Gray looked for another local manufacturer who could turn out consistent colors and forms in small quantities. “Every year, the number of Los Angeles ceramics factories has dwindled,” Gutierrez said. “And because of its size, the larger Julius design doesn’t even fit into most local kilns, so that made it even more difficult.”

Potted recently teamed up with Steve Gainey to reintroduce the Julius in aqua, avocado and matte or glossy white ($149 for a 16-inch-diameter pot, $89 for a 12-inch). Gainey is a third-generation California ceramics maker and president of LaVerne-based Gainey Ceramics, a 60-year-old venture that is one of the last ceramics factories in Southern California. He said he recently changed his business strategy after losing a large percentage of his commercial customers.

“My established banking, real estate and shopping mall market has gone away, but we’re a versatile facility that’s able to change,” Gainey said. “I decided we needed to focus on consumer products and reach out to artists in the ceramics community who have no ability to produce their designs otherwise.”

The Potted partnership is one of several similar arrangements with local artists who appreciate that Gainey is high-quality and homegrown. Gainey said he also has started producing his own designs, including a vase called X-Factor, which the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona recently added to its permanent collection.

Gainey’s embrace of the consumer market follows the national success of Janek Boniecki, who in 1998 acquired the original Bauer Pottery facility in Highland, reissuing classic Bauer pieces for the tabletop and garden, as well as the work of other artists.

A rainbow of retro colors for the Circle Pot.

I am seriously in love with the Wedding Cake Planter!

Gainey Ceramics also produces Potted’s 12-inch Circle pot ($89), right, inspired by a 1960s hanging ashtray that Gray found at a flea market. Suspended from an 18-inch stainless-steel cable, “it’s perfect for displaying succulents like burrow tails, string-of-pearls or an echeveria,” Gutierrez says.

Earlier this year, Potted and Gainey introduced a matte-white Wedding Cake planter, a three-piece, stacking flowerpot, below. The bottom piece serves as a saucer, while the top and middle “layers” are deep enough to hold plants. The set ($125) measures 11 inches in diameter and is 9.25 inches tall.

“This is our take on the cake platter as a tabletop planter,” Gutierrez says. “Whenever you can lift something up slightly with a pedestal, it looks lighter and fresher.”

Potted plans to develop more products that will be produced by Gainey Ceramics. But Gutierrez is circumspect about the challenge of remaining local while facing the inevitable competition of less expensive knockoffs. “We can’t compete with China on price,” she said. “We can only compete with our originality.”

Potted, 3158 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 665-3801.

Gainey Ceramics retail operations, 1200 Arrow Highway, La Verne; (909) 593-3533 or (800) 451-8155.

Link to LA Times @Home story 
– Debra Prinzing

On location with Jamie Durie for Better Homes & Gardens

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

On location in Los Angeles with Jamie Durie - photographed by Edmund Barr

On his popular HGTV show The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie, stylemaker Jamie Durie uses interior and architectural design tricks to amp up dreary backyards.

By the end of a whirlwind 30-minute episode, you’re energized and inspired. Of course, nimble edits have compressed a couple of days of dirt, sweat and (possibly) tears into a dreamy landscape for the small screen. But still, there’s always a takeaway, a “lesson” that catches the viewer’s imagination. “I could try that,” you say to yourself. “Oh, what a simple way to disguise that ugly wall,” or “That’s brilliant!”

Some of the projects conjured by Jamie and his design team are complicated and require professional assistance to execute. But many others fall into the DIY mode: affordable and requiring only a discerning eye to add polish, such as using color, texture or materials to unify otherwise disparate objects.

That’s one reason why I really wanted to see Jamie’s garden firsthand. When I visited his Los Angeles outdoor design laboratory (aka his humble backyard) last spring I loved what I saw.

My assignment was to interview Jamie and help produce the Better Homes & Gardens “Stylemaker” story that appears in the September issue – out on newsstands right now.

Art director Scott Johnson and I both flew into Los Angeles to work on the story. We were very fortunate to team up with LA photographer Edmund Barr and LA videographer Adam Grossman for the shoot. You can see my article and Edmund’s photos in the September issue; you can watch a fabulous how-to video with Jamie shot by Adam on BH&G’s digital edition. And a special thanks to Edmund for snapping this cozy portrait of Jamie and me, lounging in his outdoor living room. Fun, huh?

Many of Jamie’s best design concepts are ones he previously tried out for clients of Durie Design, his studio in Sydney, Australia, and Los Angeles. Some have been executed on previous episodes of The Outdoor Room, or in the pages of his new book by the same name.

We zeroed in on the ideas that move plants away from the obvious “ground plane” and onto other surfaces, such as living walls, green roofs and in the unexpected niches of garden structures. Jamie’s passion for plants is contagious – and you can see it spill over onto BH&G’s pages. Here’s an excerpt:

Outer Sanctum: HGTV star Jamie Durie uses unexpected designs to turn the barest backyards into green oases. 

“Once you create an outdoor room, you’ll fall in love with your backyard again,” says Jamie Durie, the star of HGTV’s The Outdoor Room.

A popular designer and TV personality in his native Australia as well as North America, Jamie encourages everyone who has a small patch of earth — or even just a patio or deck– to re-imagine their exterior environment as a functional, eco-friendly living space.

Jamie combines a passion for plants, sustainability, and the outdoors into a zeal for landscaping. He grounds his designs in green practices, using local materials, plants that tolerate the region’s climate, and clever techniques to put plants in almost every imaginable nook and cranny. Hanging planters cover his fences and walls, and pergolas support green roofs. Surrounding yourself with nature this way “can improve your health and inspire positive thinking,” says Jamie, who meditates every morning on the patio outside his bedroom.

Check out Jamie's new book for more tips and ideas.

Recently settled in Los Angeles, Jamie used the same advice he offers clients: Increase living space by creating more rooms outdoors rather than indoors. Instead of enlarging his modest 1950s house, he coaxed his once-ordinary backyard to live larger, with outdoor spaces variously designed for cooking, dining, lounging, and chatting. “Your spaces should accommodate your life,” he says. “Not the other way around.”

 “I have a new outlook when I open the doors,” Jamie says. “This house feels bigger than it is, since the lush garden is part of my home.”

The popular HGTV host and landscape designer shares his ideas, techniques and recent projects in Jamie Durie’s The Outdoor Room (Harper Collins, $25.99), a guidebook to creating beautiful exterior spaces.

Inspiration comes in many forms

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

A spring bouquet in a Mason Jar inspires . . .

The other day, while talking with my friend Lorene (one of the most creative people I have known since we were college classmates together), I described some of the cool design ideas I’ve spotted in the past few weeks. My own enthusiasm for all this visual stimulation made me realize my “list” could be a blog post here.

After seeing these ideas in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York, my own idea-bank has been rekindled. Witnessing the talent of others doesn’t ever make me envious. No, it makes me want to up my own game and push myself further to do something wonderfully better as a writer, a gardener, a designer.

The type of inspiration I’ve seen lately has been truly exquisite. Great design is great design, whether in the garden, the home, or the restaurant. When you see it, you know it!

There may be no other response than to gaze in awe and say – WOW. But if your muse can be stirred or awakened by these ideas, by all means, use them as a starting point for your own artistic expression. I hope you enjoy where all this beauty takes you!

A TEENAGER WINS

17-year-old garden designer Courtney Goetz won a Gold Medal at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Her mom, designer and writer Sue Goetz, is one of her influences.

At last month’s Northwest Flower & Garden Show, one of my most favorite annual events, I was invited by Julie Chai of Sunset Magazine to help “judge” the Sunset Outdoor Living Award.

We were smitten by a small but extremely innovative garden called “Paradise (to be) Regained . . . borrowing Thoreau,” which we honored with the Sunset award.

The critera recognizes a garden that exemplifies “fresh, useful and achievable ideas.” In this instance, the designer was 17-year-old Courtney Goetz.

Courtney, the daughter of garden designer and writer Sue Goetz, grew up in the garden-making business. In 2005, when she was 11, Courtney helped mom Sue design a display garden named “A Child of the Garden Grows .  .  .  .” for this same show. Now, she has made a garden herself – and guess what? In addition to the Sunset Award, the show judges honored Courtney with a Gold Medal.

This half-circle garden floor treatment by Courtney Goetz shows how to pair salvaged metal grates with colorful groundcovers to create a "welcome mat" at the entry to a garden shelter.

As her Senior Thesis Project for Gig Harbor High School, Courtney wanted her design to be all about “recycling, re-purposing, and ‘re-characterizing’ used materials for use in the garden,” she says. “My goal and intent for this garden is to have green ideas for everyone to instill in their lives. I want the message to get out that not everyone can buy solar panels or hybrid cars, but anyone can and will make a difference by using a little bit less and utilizing what we already have.”

One of the many wonderful – and really clever — details of Courtney’s display garden was the checkerboard “floor” treatment, combining recycled metal grates with ground covers and rocks.

We loved this idea as a modern twist on a “welcome mat.” Courtney selected varieties of sedum and sempervivums in gold and dark green, as well as smooth rocks and the metal grates. It all adds up to a really gorgeous detail in the garden.

Look for exciting things to come from this young talent. We can’t wait to see more!

ROUGH AND SMOOTH TEXTURES

Openings between each paver makes room for a permeable detail of smoth stones.

Design detail

Another wonderful “floor” treatment appeared in a garden called “Wrinkle in Time,” designed by Karen Stefonick of Karen Stefonick Design. Her garden won the Best in Show Award, also called the “Founder’s Cup.”

Since I was able to tour it up close during the judging, I realized how truly creative Karen is when it comes to working with landscaping materials. She devised a patio using two simple ingredients: Concrete Pavers and Tumbled Stone.

Look closely at this pattern created by the slightly offset 1-by-2 foot concrete pavers. By staggering their placement and filling a 2-inch gap at either end of each paver with small rocks, Karen has accomplished two things.

First, she uses the texture of stone to contrast with the smooth concrete, which results in an attractive pattern. Second, this treatment turns a patio into a permeable surface for collecting rainwater into the ground rather than allowing it to stream down to the curb and disappear. Very cool!

BIRTHDAY BOUQUET

What a gorgeous grouping of flowers and vases!

During all the Flower Show activity, including giving three talks in two days, I almost forgot to celebrate my birthday. But thankfully, my friends and family didn’t forget.

Flower detail

One of the best surprises was the delivery of flowers from a local West Seattle shop called Fleurt Studio.

The gift-giver was my sister-in-law Sandra B. Henriquez. Her touching gesture of sending flowers was made more amazing because instead of resorting to the generic, 1-800 route, Sandi did her homework to find a local flower shop that offers unique, one-of-a-kind gift bouquets. She called (long-distance from Washington, DC) and spoke with Samantha, the owner, and discussed exactly what would be included in the delivery.

And here’s what arrived: A “floralscape,” an eclectic grouping of five differently-sized vases holding mostly purple and plum ingredients. I loved the whimsical inclusion of two canning jars, a bud vase, a vintage bottle and a miniature glass cup. Together, they created a floral display that no single bunch could equal. Magical, huh?

LOS ANGELES VIBE

Stunning!

After February’s Flower Show madness, March welcomed a trip to Los Angeles, my former home town. Living there for the past four years was an amazing adventure, especially when it comes to learning about design with new eyes. The city, and in fact all of Southern California, was for me a big design graduate school – with lessons in architecture, industrial design, sculpture and history.

While living in LA, I spent a lot of time scouting homes and gardens for the Los Angeles Times HOME section, as well as visiting retail sources for plants, furniture, gardening accents and more.

Rolling Greens Nursery in Hollywood is one of my favorite haunts. It was the site of our Garden Design magazine Hollywood Issue party last April – one of those exciting moments when I said to myself: I can’t believe I’m living here and doing this type of work I love!

Teabags, thousands of them!

When I returned to LA last week to work on a photo shoot for Better Homes & Gardens, I took our art director Scott Johnson to visit Rolling Greens. I wanted him to see several of the area’s cool nurseries. We stocked up on some plants for the next day’s shoot, and poked around buying ourselves tiny agaves to bring home to our colder climes (Seattle for me; Des Moines, Iowa, for Scott – yes, I know. It’s really futile, but we try).

But the wow-factor occurred when I walked into the large space where cookbooks and culinary/gourmet products are typically sold. There along the far wall hung a new installation that I can only describe as a Tea Bag Curtain. One of the staffers told me that the artful treatment had just been hung by Rolling Greens creative director Angela Hicks and her crew.

Hundreds (maybe thousands!) of hand-dyed tea bags, attached to long strings create a beautiful semitransparent cascade, suspended from rods attached at the ceiling. I can only imagine how much time and care was taken to create this rosy-melon masterpiece.

Organic and delicate, this “curtain” is so charming. I am eager to figure out how to replicate it somehow. Simple ingredients paired with masterful execution . . . it adds up to something truly remarkable. This Tea Bag Curtain isn’t “selling product,” but who cares? It goes miles at saying to Rolling Greens customers: we care about design and we’re a place where you can be inspired.

ON TO NEW YORK CITY

Anthropologie's lavish zipper gown - look close and see how it was made with straight pins!

Here's how the crushed paper skirt emerges from the tight, pastel-colored bodice....

Only days after spending 48 hours in Los Angeles, I flew to New York City. I’ve previously written about visiting the awesome High Line Park, but here’s another visual treat, shown purely for its beauty and innovation.

I turned the corner on my way to the Chelsea Market, a huge warehouse-turned-hipster food mall, and there on the corner was a gorgeous Anthropologie window display.

Some super-creative designer turned a dressmaker’s form, yards of zippers, straight pins and crushed butcher paper into a fanciful ball gown. The way the separated zippers form the bodice so the gold and silver metallic zipper teeth sparkle in the light . . . dazzling. But at the top of each zipper, the “end” has been spiraled into a little rosette.

Just take a look and feast your eyes on the charming way a few simple ingredients become Cinderella’s new gown!

Now, go out and do something uninhibited and artistic today. I dare you! I’m going to try it myself.