Branches and Blooms: Star Magnolia

Friday, March 17, 2017

Blooms and Branches:  Star Magnolia -

Star Magnolia is among the most dazzling of trees in our early spring garden. Its skeleton of branches features a profusion of stunning white flowers that brings the landscape to life. These double blossoms are also beautiful as cut flowers and can be used to add a seasonal touch to arrangements.

Blooms and Branches:  Star Magnolia -

Originating in Japan, the star magnolia (magnolia stellata) is a shrub or small tree that flowers on bare branches before its leaves appear.  Blossoms range from light pink to white depending on the weather and are easy to bloom in vases by cutting budding branches and placing them in fresh water near a window.  

Blooms and Branches:  Star Magnolia Arrangement -

Since the branches of this magnolia are distinct, swirling and curling in all directions, they create a dramatic display on their own when placed in a pedestal vase like the one shown above.  This simple arrangement also highlights the different stages of bloom, showing the buds as they open and the blossoms as they whiten with age.

Blooms and Branches:  Star Magnolia -

The velvety texture of the petals are an outstanding feature of this flower and add to the overall character of the plant.  Near the end of the bloom cycle, green leaves begin to grow under the flowers providing a new layer of color.

Blooms and Branches:  Star Magnolia Arrangement -

When flowers are in full bloom they are lovely in bud vases and can be displayed on a table or nightstand for an elegant accent.  However, if the flowers are cut from the tree when fully open they will only last about a day and the blooms are extremely fragile.  

Magnolias are just one of many beautiful flowering branches that can be grown in the spring and then styled for indoor display.  To learn more about flowering branches, see the 26-page feature article about them in the new Spring 2017 issue of Garden Design magazine.  You will find tips for growing, harvesting and arranging these lovely gifts of spring.

If you'd like to subscribe, friends of The Gilded Bloom will get the first issue free!  There are no ads in Garden Design and each issue is filled with gorgeous gardens, informative text and outstanding photography.  To subscribe go to or call (855) 624-5110 Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm PST.  Be sure to mention The Gilded Bloom to get your free issue!

Garden Design Magazine- Spring 2017

Disclosure:  This post contains an affiliate link which means that if you choose to subscribe through the link provided The Gilded Bloom will receive compensation.

Flowering Plum Trees

Friday, March 3, 2017

Plum Blossoms-

It is that beautiful time of year again when the trees are starting to bloom and fill the air with the sweet scent of spring.  I like to walk in the mornings and take in the beauty of the season.  

Flowering Plum Trees-

Last week I brought my camera along and found this flowering plum tree to photograph.  The blossoms are a very subtle pink and catch the light beautifully.  Later this tree will grow dark purple leaves that are lovely until the fall.  

Flowering Plum Trees-

After coveting these branches (which would look gorgeous massed in a big vase in our living room) I'm seriously considering planting a flowering plum tree like this one in the backyard.  They are so pretty throughout the year...

Flowering Plum Trees-

Flowering Plum Trees-

But until then I'll be enjoying the landscape on my morning walks.  Also...

Darling Ducks-

These adorable little ducks are often my companions during these a.m. strolls.  They are visitors to our neighborhood this time of year and are usually found in pairs sleeping on lawns or waddling down the street on rainy days.  Although they don't like to pose, I managed to snap a picture of them just for you.

Daffodils in Distinctive Containers

Monday, February 27, 2017

When daffodils start to emerge from the ground they bring with them thoughts of spring.  After many weeks of much needed rain here in California, winter is coming to a close and flowers are beginning to bloom again.  These daffodils are among the first to color our garden with spring by bringing a pop of yellow to the flower beds.

Daffodils in Statement Containers-

Since daffodils always make a strong statement due to their vivid color and unusual shape I decided to display them in equally unique containers.  This brightly colored heirloom porcelain piece is from Sweden and belonged to my great-grandmother.  It looks like a piece of kitchen crockery so I used it for a kitchen arrangement.  To support the flowers in this low container, I cut the stems about 3-4" and massed the daffodils into the base which was filled with water.  The country style of this arrangement makes a simple statement and is very easy to maintain by changing the water daily.

Daffodils in Statement Containers-

Mixing different kinds of daffodils forms an interesting arrangement with various colors and textures.  However, since daffodils secrete a sap that can shorten the life of other cut flowers, it is important not to include them in mixed bouquets unless you have soaked them in a vase of water by themselves for at least 12 hours. This will prevent them from affecting other cut flowers.

Daffodils in Statement Containers-

Another simple idea for styling daffodils is to use small decorative bottles or vases to hold a single bloom.  This blue and white porcelain tea jar provides a rich textural backdrop for the orange and lemon yellow "Tahiti" daffodil.  This double blooming variety with layered petals is one of my favorites and its exotic coloring fuses beautifully with blue and white.


Here a larger jar holds multiple blooms.  The Tahiti and petite daffodils are excellent companions in the garden and also in arrangements.  Enjoy!

Special Delivery

Thursday, February 9, 2017

February has been a camellia-filled month so far with the garden starting to bloom and pink camellia flowers everywhere.  As the buds pop open, I find myself bringing them inside to admire while planning new ways to style and display them.

One afternoon as I was outside clipping camellia blooms my mail arrived. There I saw the new issue of Garden Design magazine, a subscription I always love to receive. So of course I immediately took a break, made myself a cup of tea, and opened the pages only to discover this fascinating article on- you guessed it- camellias!

The opening words said it all. "Camellias have captivated gardeners for centuries but new forms and cold-hardy versions have added pizazz to this beloved genus. Prepare to dream and ponder as you revel in over twelve pages of Ngoc Minh Ngo's astounding photography."

So dream and ponder I did. The stunning photos by Ngoc Minh Ngo (author and photographer of In Bloom: Creating and Living with Flowers and Bringing Nature Home: Floral Arrangements Inspired by Nature) along with the interesting text by Jenny Andrews started me thinking about this flower in a whole new way.  I was inspired to style it creatively.  And so I began...

According to the article, the camellia was considered sacred in ancient Japanese culture, so I chose an antique Japanese teacup to hold this bright pink bloom. 

Camellia in Teacup-

Then I designed a tray of Debutante camellias in a bit of water around a set of lit votives for an elegant candlelight display.

Tray of Camellias with Votive Candles-

Next I used this vintage glassware, recently given to me by a dear friend, and created these fanciful vases to scatter across the table for an upcoming brunch.  

Camellias in Vintage Glassware-

Then I designed a ruffled ring of multilayered camellia flowers to encircle the new Pink Champagne candle I bought for Valentine's Day.  Again I kept the flowers moist with water at the base.  The fragrance was beautiful and the candle more glamorous surrounded with blooms! 

Camellias and Candlelight-

I hope you'll try some of these simple ideas to enjoy your camellias.  Styling them was such fun!   

Also, if you'd like to get your own subscription to Garden Design magazine so that you can be inspired, I am happy to announce that friends of The Gilded Bloom will get the first issue free!  There are no ads in Garden Design and each issue is filled with gorgeous gardens, informative text and outstanding photography.  To subscribe go to or call (855) 624-5110 Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm PST.  Be sure to mention The Gilded Bloom to get your free issue.

Disclosure:  This post contains an affiliate link which means that if you choose to subscribe through the link provided The Gilded Bloom will receive compensation.

A Camellia Arrangement for Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Pink Camellias-

Camellias are blooming in abundance now and filling the garden with pink- just in time for Valentine's Day!  To bring some of their lovely color indoors I created a mixed arrangement of camellias and other winter blooms.

Pink Camellia Arrangement-

Because camellias are heavy and delicate flowers I find it is best to follow their natural habit in the arrangement, letting them drape and twist as they please.  Touching the petals of these flowers may result in brown marks and gashes appearing on the blooms.   So, to prevent overhanding them, I added the camellias to the vase first and then filled in the gaps with foliage.

Pink Camellia Arrangement-

Cutting the camellia stems in different lengths allowed for some blooms to hang near the mouth of the vase and others to drape out further creating a natural look.

Pink Camellia Arrangement-

Adding contrasting textures like snapdragons, pomegranate branches and hypericum berries gives the arrangement a contemporary quality to match the mercury glass vase.  The Safari Sunset Protea shown below emphasizes both color and dimension in the mix.  

Safari Sunset Protea-

The pink amaranth draping out of the side of the vase picks up the color of the lighter camellias in the arrangement.

Pink Amaranth-

Showing the camellias in different stages of bloom provides an additional level of variety and extends the life of the arrangement as camellias will bloom indoors when kept in fresh water.

Pink Camellia Bud-

Wishing you all a Happy Valentine's Day!

A Twist of Lemon...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Meyer Lemons-

Citrus season has been beautiful this year.  Even with heavy rains the lemons are fresh and robust.  These Meyers were just picked and are soon to be brought inside and displayed on our kitchen table.  I arranged them on a decorative cake plate and added sprigs of green foliage for accent.

Meyer Lemons-

Did you know that lemons are thought to have originated in Asia? The Meyer is a cross between a lemon and an orange or mandarin which makes it sweeter and a brighter yellow than other lemons.  The skin is also smooth and thin making it difficult to package for shipping, so they are rarely sold commercially.  But growing them at home is easy as long as you have good soil and plenty of sunshine!

Lemons are delicious in aromatic dishes and also make an excellent addition to winter floral arrangements, when the garden is still bare and one has fewer flowers available.

Lemon Floral Arrangement-

I purchased these light yellow roses at the market and worked them into an arrangement of lemons and winter berries with a few budding citrus blossoms that have just started to appear on the trees. Arranging flowers and fruit in a low bowl like the one shown above makes a simple and lasting display.

Lemon Roses-

I like to have floral designs indoors that reflect the spirit of the season and these lemon yellow roses and deep blue berries provide a striking contrast.  They remind me of winter days when just a bit of pale sunlight pops through a clouded sky.

Lemon Roses-

In the Studio: Spring Flowers and Vibrant Pastels

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"Cascading Tulips", 9 x 12-

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely holiday and that you are now enjoying the beautiful quiet days of winter. For me this season provides a break from the many tasks that pile up in the garden and I find myself in the studio more often exploring the process of painting.

One of the highlights of creating art is choosing a palette of color and these fresh and spirited tones of pink, blue, green and yellow are bringing the essence of spring into the studio on these cold winter days.

"Cascading Tulips", 9 x 12-

The first painting of 2017 was this watercolor tulip study.

"Cascading Tulips", #wip-

Here you can see its beginning as a watercolor sketch.  The finished work below is highlighted with iridescent paint to catch the light.   The colors in this piece remind me of the vibrant pastels that often tint tulips as they bloom.

"Cascading Tulips"-

You can follow my progress as I create more paintings for the new collection on Instagram @gildedbloomstudio or visit the studio website at

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