Styling an Autumn Garden Floral

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Styling an Autumn Garden Floral-

The colors of fall infuse the garden with a sense of the moment.  Orange mums, burnt red dahlias and soft sage green hydrangeas reflect the hues of falling leaves and are simple to style and bring inside.

This easy arrangement was created using a small decorative pot and a few colorful fall flowers.  It is is less than a foot tall and the petite size is perfect to bring a bit of seasonal charm to an end table or nightstand.

Styling an Autumn Garden Floral-

Creating a petite arrangement like this one is very simple and requires just a few blooms.   After cutting and conditioning all the flowers, I first placed a large hydrangea blossom in the pot for a support.  Then the dahlias were added at different heights and angles.  Finally, orange mums were inserted as filler flowers in the empty spaces.  

Styling an Autumn Garden Floral-

A petite arrangement of seasonal flowers is a lovely way to bring the beauty of the autumn garden indoors.  I hope you will try creating your own! 

In the Studio: Dahlia Botanical Portrait

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It has been busy period in the studio as I am now creating a new collection of paintings and mixed media collages.  Recently, this robust pink dahlia became the subject of a botanical portrait to be painted in acrylic on canvas.  The flower was placed in a white embossed vase to enhance the clarity and contrast I wished to achieve within the background I envisioned.  It is shown in front of a new and inspirational mood board I created which has some similar colors and values.

A myriad of petals catching the light made this bloom particularly interesting to paint.  Also its large size was quite spectacular, nearly matching the width of a dinner plate.

I challenged myself to paint this image spontaneously and directly on the canvas rather than relying on a preliminary drawing.  It was fun to intuitively layer the petals with strokes of vibrant paint as shown in the unfinished image above. The resulting effect was a much looser and more painterly style in the final artwork.

The dramatic mood of this work pleased me.  Perhaps the painting of an object of such beauty could be seen to evoke a sense of hope and joy which can be discovered even in the presence of darkness.

I hope you enjoy this piece!

On My Bookshelf: The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh

Friday, September 16, 2016

For the legions of readers who were entranced by the playful pursuits of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh as they frolicked through the magical world of A. A. Milne, this book provides a delightful experience.

The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh is a charming and informative volume that connects the memorable stories with the environment of Ashdown Forest in England, which inspired the Hundred Acre Wood where Pooh lived. Written by expatriate author, landscape designer and historian Kathryn Aalto, whom I had the pleasure of meeting recently when she returned home from England and spoke at our local garden club, this volume is an extensive interdisciplinary and well-researched study of both literature and landscape.

When the book appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list, as an enthusiastic gardener and admirer of the natural world, I knew it was one I must read. During my years in graduate school, I managed the children's department of an independent bookstore. There I spent many Saturdays sharing the endearing stories of Winnie the Pooh with a sea of happy little faces at storytime. The children all loved the yellow bear and his adorable animal friends, as I did during my own childhood.

After a thorough and enlightening introduction, the book begins with a discussion of the creative collaboration between author A. A. Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepherd. Rich in biographical detail, the childhoods of both are highlighted, as is Milne's experience with fatherhood while raising his son, Christopher Robin.

Next, an exploration of Ashdown Forest leads readers on an armchair tour of the places in Milne’s world where the stories originated. A lovely mapping of landscape to literature, this section has photos of the legendary Poohsticks Bridge and the original walnut tree where Milne’s son, the real Christopher Robin, once played with his stuffed animals. There are also many "nice places for picnics" represented, reminding wanderers to stop and enjoy the beauty.

In the last section, a very helpful visitor’s guide to the flora and fauna of Ashdown Forest is provided detailing its many unique and beautiful plants, birds, insects and animals. Photographs of specific flowers, butterflies and creatures of the habitat entice those who choose to wander the public footpaths.

This captivating volume transports readers back through childhood memories into the wonderful world of Winnie the Pooh and explores the relationship between setting and story, landscape and imagination.

For more information about this book, please visit the publisher, Timber Press or Kathryn Aalto's website.

A Summer Garden Floral Arrangement

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summer Garden Dahlias-

In late summer our garden is filled with robust blooms of pink dinner plate dahlias and carpet roses.  They seem to thrive on even the hottest of days and are a joy to arrange and bring indoors.  Fresh flowers always add such life to a room!

A Summer Garden Floral Arrangement-

To create this arrangement,  in the early morning hours I cut several stems of carpet roses, a few sprigs of miniature roses, three or four fading hydrangea blooms and a couple of dazzling pink dahlias.

A Summer Garden Floral Arrangement-

After removing the lower leaves from the stems and trimming the thorns from the roses, I placed them in a simple pottery vase.  Then hydrangeas were mixed with the roses for texture and to provide structure for the arrangement.

A Summer Garden Floral Arrangement-

The dahlia blooms were added last to create a focal point in the arrangement.  These large unscented flowers make such a dramatic statement as a finishing touch.  Finally, a few loose sprigs of cherry laurel were worked in to the empty spaces for texture and to complete the design.  

Color Story: Ocean Inspired

Sunday, July 24, 2016

White Flowers and Shells-

On these hot summer days, airy ocean colors have a distinct appeal.  I find myself bringing soft whites, pale teals and blushing beiges into our decor to lighten the look for the season.  This chosen collection of seashells, amassed over many journeys to the beach, inevitably comes out of storage and gets strewn around the house.  It is a summer ritual that reminds me of beautiful days spent on the California coast.   

Shells and Blossoms-

These photos, taken of a tabletop vignette I styled, capture the serenity of the sea through color.  Faded mauve, warm beige and dusty taupe are all hues that conjure up memories of sand and shore.

Decorative Shells with Blush and Beige-

Soft teal encompasses the essence of water reflecting the colors of sky and trees on the northern coastline.  

Bowl of Blossoms and Shell-

White stock blossoms floating in a mercury glass bowl mirror the tones and texture of a nearby shell.

Sand Dollar and Anemone Shells-

A sand dollar, washed up on the shore and broken by the waves, is subtly accented by flowing lace and a soft pink anemone shell...   

How to Make a Hydrangea Wreath

Friday, July 1, 2016

How to Make a Hydrangea Wreath-

The midsummer heat is starting to fade the bright pinks and lavender hues of our hydrangeas to soft mauves and greens.   This is when I usually cut the remaining blooms to bring inside to use for decorating.  Last year I mixed them with seashells and made summery vignettes (See Summer Decorating:  Seashells and Hydrangeas) but this year I've decided to design a few wreaths to hang or give as gifts.

How to Make a Hydrangea Wreath-

I started by clipping the hydrangeas at daybreak when the blooms were fresh from the evening air. Then over my morning latte, I began stripping the leaves off the flowers and weaving the blooms into a grapevine wreath form I'd purchased at the craft store.  As you see, I added the mauve blooms first spacing them evenly throughout the wreath.  

How to Make a Hydrangea Wreath-

Then I worked the green blooms into the empty spaces until the wreath was completely covered with flowers.  After I finished, it was misted with water to keep the blooms hydrated as long as possible.  It will be misted each day until the hydrangeas start to dry.

How to Make a Hydrangea Wreath-

Here is the finished wreath!  It is now hanging indoors, still fresh and holding its color beautifully.  I would expect it to dry into a soft beige tone but I may be surprised.  And of course that is part of the fun!

Early Summer Peonies

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pink Peonies and Periwinkle Hydrangeas -

Pink peony flowers are spectacular in early summer.  I look forward to purchasing a bunch at the market to enjoy the large and showy blooms and their sweet floral scent.

Pink Peonies-

They are a pleasure to photograph because the many layers of petals on each bloom reflect the light.  These photos were taken in the early morning just after sunrise when natural light has a subtle glow.

Pink Peonies in Decorative Pot-

Peonies are beautiful on their own, placed in a decorative pot or vase with no need for filler or accent flowers.  The blooms are very fragile and often drop petals when they are handled so it is important to be gentle when arranging them.

Pink Peonies and Periwinkle Hydrangea Blossoms-

Softly colored garden hydrangeas or other flowers may be paired with them for a mixed bouquet.   Here the cool pink of the peonies is enhanced by soft periwinkle blue hydrangea blossoms.
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