I’ve been to Lowes five times in the last three days. Isn’t that always how it goes when you are working on projects? I never seem to be able to account for all the contingencies for which I will need materials.
This week was (is) kind of nutty. In addition to my own regular writing deadlines and ongoing book work, my daughter is the lead in the school play and it is tech week (for those of you – like me- who haven’t been through producing a play – this is the week when it all gets seriously-hardcore-insane right before the real show). My parents are visiting as well, which means two things – construction projects are getting done in record time and the bourbon in the liquor cabinet is just about gone.
I’m trying to navigate it all by keeping everyone on track, where they need to be, and with the right tools to get their jobs done. It’s part super-mom, part general contractor, part hostess with the mostess, top-chef and part writer. I’m taking moments of solace in my garden and reaping the last of the harvestable goodies for some seasonal decorations.
I showed you this vase a couple weeks ago (here). Want to know how it was made? After a hike in the woods where my son (who has a habit of gathering so many ‘interesting’ things that he generally can’t carry them all by the end of the walk) I saved this coil of birch bark from the collection. To make it into a vase, I wet it (softening it slightly) just enough to be able to slip a plastic water cup into the center. I have been changing out the mix every few days adding something different to pair with the fake red berries. This time, I gave it my best effort ikebana effort by adding stems of Callicarpa.
I am obsessed with Callicarpa americana (Beautyberry) since the shrub I planted a couple years ago is mature and laden with gorgeous eye-catching purple berries. I redressed the container by my front door with a combination of Callicarpa and other garden cuttings to include red-twig dogwood, boxwood, lavender, lighted branches.
I also added a couple inexpensive globe glass light covers (turned upside down) and stuffed with a string of lights to illuminate.
I can’t wait until this evening (hopefully amidst the madness) where I can set up the camera at twilight to capture a picture of how pretty these look when they are lit up. I’ll post an update with those pictures as soon as I can.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lowes. This is a series that I am doing through the end of the year. I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own. See the other posts in this series.
Last week I held an early little holiday preview party with Lowes (who sponsors a monthly column on this website) which I am excited to tell you about (later). The event was a pre-season sort of get-ready thing that comes with the territory of being involved in the media (logically, holiday stuff is done way before the holidays). Despite my initial hesitation to start thinking about christmas even before the Halloween costumes were finalized, I am now without hesitation ready for festive season.
So when I stumbled across these silver and gold food sprays (that also come in blue and red) I immediately started thinking about foody christmas presents and possibilities for photo shoots. Golden strawberries and blueberries and just beginning. I want to do lovely things to cookies and cakes, and I think it would be fun to actually gild lilies (did you know you can eat daylilies? how fun would that be?).
What sorts of interesting things would you do with edible golden and silver food spray?
Images from the deli garage where you can also order the spray.
There are a couple of stories in the current issue of Martha Stewart Weddings that caught my eye. One story was about Poppies and Posies (a NYC flower shop) and their fruit filled flower arrangements and the other focussed on using mixed foliage in arrangements.
Both stories left me with a new and refreshed list of possible pickings for summer arrangements. Clematis, for example has never made my list of cutting flowers – I am always too busy running around looking for something with nice sturdy stalks — but this is beautiful and I am imagining dainty white flowers draped through my chandelier later this summer.
Similarly I had not considered raspberries either — but now I am not only thinking of those clusters but also of blueberries which should be ripening any day now.
This sweet arrangement features barely-blushing tomatoes. I’ve seen apples used in this way before…so I have no idea why I hadn’t previously considered tomatoes…but now I am also thinking of the great oranges that habanero peppers turn. I certainly can’t stand to eat all that one plant produces…so this would be a lovely way to show them off.
And if you can’t wait for the tomatoes to turn….green seems pretty nice too.
I know that those are green seed pods on the left of this arrangement….but they could pass for prickly pear pads in a heartbeat. I used to see prickly pear pads in the market all the time back in Colorado…occasionally they show up here…next time I see them I will have to try a little produce aisle floristry and give them a try.
What kids of off beat materials have you been gathering for displays? Anything interesting? Do share.
Photos by Sylvie Becquet and Bryan Gardner. Courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings. Copyright ©2013. For more ideas, check out www.marthastewartweddings.com.
I am in one of those moods today. You know the mood we all sometimes get into where you feel like you should pre-warn every single person you come in contact with that you might at some point feel compelled to bite their heads off? That is me today — and I hate it. But I often find that I can blog my way out of this feeling…and I am hoping today is no exception….
As a trolled around the webs looking for some inspiration and and a thing to put me in a better mood, I came across all this….
And it is certainly working – at least a little. This is a public art installation called bloom that was done in the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC) in Boston in 2003.
The building has since be demolished (and I not sure if it has been replaced), but before it went away, artist Anna Schuliet to help memorialize it by installing over 28,000 potted plants and flowers through its corridors.
Anna was struck, after an initial tour of the facility, with the lack of life and color in the building and the installation was created to respectfully infuse a new hopefulness. The flowers that were brought in would fill almost every square foot of the MMHC including corridors, stairwells, offices and even a swimming pool. The public was invited for a limited 4-day viewing where they could reflect on the 90+ year history of the building and hopefully enjoy the optimism of re-birth.
Read the full post
In case you have not noticed a trend, I am being drawn to red hot colors and tropical foliage as the Maine winter comes in upon us. I am looking out the window now from my office with about 8″ of snow on the ground. I get the feeling that the snow might be here for a month or two, judging from the future temperature forecasts.
This would be a good time to dream about one of my favorite genera of plants, Kniphofia or “red hot pokers.” Their common name comes from the spiky, bright colored inflorescenses. The flowers can come in various, brightly hued shades of orange, red, and yellow. The first time that I saw Kniphofia was at the exit ramp of Interstate 40 West from Raleigh to the Durham Freeway in North Carolina. There, in the triangular shaped median was a mass planting of Kniphofia. I loved the colors along with the fact that it was different from the ubiquitous mass plantings of anemic daylilies that you would normally encounter along the sides of the highways.
Kniphofia are in the Asphodel family or more exactly the Xanthorrhoeaceae (if you want to impress your friends) and most are native to South Africa. Among the extremely diverse flora of South Africa, most of these plants should not be hardy in New England, but some of the red hot pokers do grow and thrive at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. That is pretty amazing considering that Kniphofia‘s closest relative are the aloes. The major difference between the two genera being that Aloe have the fleshy leaves renown for their burn soothing abilities.
We are currently growing three different Kniphofia at CMBG. In this new year, I would like to add more of these spectacular plants to our gardens. One plant on my wish list is Kniphofia uvaria ‘Red Rocket’ PP21905. This is supposedly an improved selection of ‘Nancy’s Red.’ It was bred by Pieter Schreurs from the Netherlands. I am also planning on growing more Kniphofia northiae. We have a few plants of K. northiae growing in our Alfond Children’s Garden but I would love to add some more. This red hot poker is worth growing for the large, strap-like foliage alone.
Have you grown Kniphofia before? What are your thoughts on the plants and do you have any favorites?
Images: dancingoaks.com, jparkers.co.uk, and www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca
Mandalas have been used since ancient times to represent spirit and life’s journey. A symbol of wholeness and unity, the word ‘mandala’ is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘circle’ or ‘container of sacred essence.’ Inherent in the mandala are all the layers of existence: the macrocosm, the microcosm, infinity, impermanence, and the interconnectedness of all things. Cultures throughout the world for as long as we can remember have created mandalas as a spiritual expression of our part in the universe and the universe that dwells within us.
The mandala finds its roots in ancient India, where they were not even a visual art but rather were infused in the hymns or sutras; the universe was said to arise out of these original sounds. They soon became a visual tool throughout the East and were used for meditation, contemplation, a way to express and make sense of the universe and our place in it. The cosmos itself is circular, the earth, sun and planets are round, nature abounds with circles, spirals, arcs and curves. These geometric themes sound found their way into mandalas.
While they are certainly a form of art, the creation of a mandala is at its core a spiritual practice or meditation. Patterns and symbols usually revolve around a fixed point at the center. Radiating outward from that center are deities, the elements, the directions, geometric shapes, and the many wondrous aspects of nature. Sand, powders, and clays are common materials used for creating mandalas, although they can be painted, chalked, constructed, made of rock, wood, shrubs, flowers, herbs, fur, fabric, feathers. Sculpture, stained glass, labyrinths and even architecture can be created as a mandala.
The experience of making a mandala is transformative. What story might you have to tell through your mandala? How can you express something about yourself and relate it to a larger whole? What materials speak to your intent? What textures, colors, objects call to you? Give it a try, tie it into an auspicious day or time such as the Solstice, the Equinox, the full or dark moon, a special ritual or celebration. The Sufi poet Rumi once wrote, whatever circles comes from the center. Indeed, when it comes to mandala making, that’s the perfect place to start. - Jen
Have you signed up for the Mandala Wreath Making Class in the Barn on Dec 12th (only 3 days away!) ? Spaces are still available…to join us go here…
In the months leading up to agreeing to write a book, I have had this weird sense of needing to nest. I feel sort of like I did when I was pregnant; I want to clear out lots of stuff from the house and make everything super simple and clean in preparation for a time when I needed clarity, organization and mental space.
Now that I have begun the task, this emotion hasn’t left, and I am all about easy these days – but I still want it beautiful.
Easy, to me, means going out into my garden rather than going to the wholesaler, and it means taking one thing and seeing it’s inherent beauty and celebrating it. I am looking forward to our mandala wreath making class (have you signed up? — spaces are going fast) – but that is representing a whole different kind of art making and creative expression…That wreath will be a centerpiece and a focal point — but the rest of the decoarion this year will be simple and reflective of my garden and what is on the other side of my windows.
I gathered up these images of (mostly) single plant wreaths so you can see what I mean. And, am I the only person who wants to just rip those bows right off a perfectly great wreath. I am 100% over ribbon this year…it is (to my mind) too fussy.
And not of the single ingredient variety is that beautiful top wreath. Even though it is appears to be about 4 ingredients (twigs, berries, grasses and feathers), I wanted to share because it made me think about my chickens (who just molted) and had I been ready, I could have rounded up a few feathers to make something similar. I think its inky darkness is still enough for me.
Here is a quick list of plants and materials used in these images to give you ideas:
- Sorbus Berries
- Pine cones
- Magnolia Branches (though cutting now will reduce blooms in the spring!)
images from inspiration lane, life is beautiful, feather wreath from living-on-lovee, moss from loveliegreenie, white berries and twigs from dream on, apples from creative decorations, oat and burlap from keeping up with the times.