Monday, January 25, 2016

The Wonder of it All.

Thank you winter storm "Jonas" for depositing over 3 feet of snow in my yard, this past weekend!  This is my driveway and looking down the hill towards the road, this past Saturday evening...what driveway and what road???

Strands upon strands of embroidery floss, threaded and stretched from floor to ceiling play off of light to create a fabric kaleidoscope.
Susan and me on a winter's day enjoying the Renwick Gallery.

These first months of the year bring dark days of winter or bright, frigid sunshine.  A time when I turn my attention from the lavender field and gardens and get a little rest and refocus on the coming growing season. Even on days like this, with 39 inches of snow staring obliquely at me outside my window, taking the time to appreciate all of the sights and adventures that wait just beyond my own backyard can be luxuries that I don't often take advantage of.

Getting off of the Farmlet, when we are in season can be a real challenge and takes lots of preplanning.  However, January through March is a relatively quiet time here--if you ignore all of the snow that is waiting to be shoveled--as Blooming Hill is closed during the winter months.  After all, who is thinking about lavender, other than P.Lorenz and myself? So, when someone just happens to suggest a road trip, believe me when I say, "I'm all in"!  

The artists intent was to evoke an image of a tsunami.  I saw an ever changing desert sky at dusk in this darkened, peaceful room that beckoned gallery visitors to sit and stay, even lay down on the softly-patterned carpet that resembled windblown waves.  It became a place to dream, if only for a while.
Imagine having to cut out all of these little cardboard paper pieces to make giant stalagmites coming to life and taking shape as an indoor canyon--and I thought pruning lavender bushes was tedious work--geesh! 
Pods of twisted willow branches make inviting spaces to dwell in for mythical and practical everyday creatures, alike. Windows and doors are fashioned allowing people to walk in and out of them.
That is just what happened last week when my friend, Susan, invited me along to see the Wonder Exhibit  at the Renwick Gallery, a Smithsonian American Art Museum, located at Pennsylvania Ave. and 17th St, NW  in Washington, D.C.  The Renwick Gallery, founded by William Corcoran back in the middle 1800's, is renowned as America's first building dedicated specifically as an art museum and, while this gallery normally houses a permanent exhibit showcasing arts and crafts stemming from early America to the present, currently the Wonder Exhibit has taken over the place and features nine different artists who have created expansive art forms, from re-purposed materials or things taken from nature, that mimic or enhance in new and different ways, things, that already are not so ordinary in and of themselves, like giant redwood trees, the dessert sky and even life-size gnome houses buried deep in the forests of our imaginations.

Shimmering, shooting stars dangle in this rather delicate looking chandelier.  I kept thinking about the person who has the honor of dusting and polishing each strand of mirror, glass and light--I guess that is just the O.C.D. cleaner in me.
This is only a tiny portion of an entire room wallpapered in insects arranged in intricate patterns.  So, if you don't know what to do with those pesky stink bugs that Northern Virginia seems to have all over the place, especially during the autumn months, here's a rather ingenious idea...Just a thought.
Made from the plaster casting of a hemlock tree, the sculpture itself was recreated using strips of cedar.

What a wonderful cure for cabin fever--snow or no snow.  The Wonder Exhibit will be on display at the Renwick Gallery until this summer.  Of course, by then, the natural wonders of nature expand 100-fold all around my place, as I'm sure it does in your yard, too. Come to think of it, even on this snow day, wonder and beauty can spring out of the most usual of places I see everyday.
I so enjoyed the Renwick Gallery last week but I must say that I also enjoy the artistry and wonders that occur daily in my own backyard, no matter the time of the year.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Beautiful Mess

Creamy, white roses for a wedding.

Pale pink ranunculus.
My finished arrangement back home.
Last Wednesday, I took a field trip with my fellow "Night Bloomers" Garden Club members and spent the afternoon visiting Rick's Flowers in Sterling, Virginia where owner, Rick, not only talked flowers for every occasion, but also gave us a class on making an architectural flower arrangement that we took home to enjoy and remember our gathering by.

It started as a beautiful, sunny but typically cold January day that warmed up with each flower we added to our arrangements and even though we all used the same flowers in the same order, each person's sweet bouquet of pink roses and gerbera daisies along with steel blue eringium (sea holly) and seeded eucalyptus, took on it's own unique personality and appearance as we built upon a foundation of glass and green oasis. Rick was (and is) a great teacher.  You could tell he spends a lot of time working weddings as he patiently guided us through the art of flower arranging while a gaggle of women continually talked over him. However, we did manage to stop talking, here and there, long enough to allow him to give us instruction.  "Cuddos" to him!

"Decorating for a wedding is like dressing a woman.  You can have a beautiful dress but putting all of the right accessories, jewelry, shoes and things together to make an entirely, wonderful and truly lovely presentation is what everyone will remember long after they have seen it.  The same principle holds true when planning the flowers and decorations for a wedding celebration. Whether you spend a lot or a little, make sure the flowers are beautiful to compliment the occasion."                  Rick of Rick's Flowers
Rick (far right) showing some of the group how to first get started on our arrangements.  Can you feel the creative juices beginning to flow?
Everyone's flower arrangements taking shape.

Before we got started on our flower creations, he gave us a peak into the busy and complicated daily life of a florist, balancing weddings to funerals and every other occasion in between, big and small, that calls for beautifully arranged flowers.  I might add, he did this whole presentation in a very cool, calm and collected manner even though he had a huge wedding event, out here near in my neck of the woods, at the Salamander Inn, in Middleburg, VA this past weekend.  Rick's workroom was filled with frilly hydrangea heads, delicate wax flowers, unfurling white roses, fragrant stalks of stock, dreamy ranunculus and so much more, all lined up and waiting patiently in buckets of cool water, making the work space an extremely pleasant place to be.

A beautiful mess.
Frilly and fluffy hydrangeas waiting to take their proper place in upcoming wedding arrangements.

While we made our arrangements, Rick told us about his life with flowers that began when he was just thirteen, back in his home town of Atlanta, GA.   One of his first jobs entailed working for a demanding florist who taught him the ropes and furthered his love of this creative, fulfilling and sometimes, highly stressful profession.  How many people go to work every day and do what they love to do for thirty years and counting?  If you, like Rick, are one of those people, consider yourself very fortunate!
"The earth laughs in flowers." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lunch time and a toast to our gracious host.  Our arrangements paraded down the center of the table, making the January day a floral and culinary affair we will remember for a long time.
One of the finished arrangements waiting for lunch to be served.

So, we laughed, we talked, we listened, we arranged and learned more than a thing or two about the art of flower arranging and enjoyed ourselves immensely, finishing the day with a beautiful luncheon among the flowers, sitting at our banquet table that was dressed in pastels decorated by us, largely thanks to Rick.  The delicious fare was prepared and coordinated by fellow "Bloomers" Kim and Mary. This fresh January floral outing could not have been more perfect!  Really--if you do not belong to a garden club and think you may want to join one, call me--I have connections.  Besides that, any and all garden clubs are always welcoming and looking for interested people eager to share and learn about the natural world of flora and fauna. It's worth your time, believe me.

Rick and Arlene.
We also made simple yet elegant boutonnieres.

Showing off the boutonniere I made.  Yes, I know it would look much better on the jacket lapel of a handsome groom (or perhaps my prom date?) but this is what I had to work with. 
In any case, thank you Rick of Rick's Flowers for your generosity, knowledge and patience and thank you fellow "Bloomer" Arlene, who works for Rick and arranged the outing for us.  It was hardly a beautiful mess but truly a beautiful time!

Monday, January 11, 2016

De'ja' Vu!

Fashion, Home + Interiors - Shop Now
2016 Pantone Color(s) of the Year.

Pantone Fashion + Home - Cotton Swatch Library
Any of these lavender hues would be my pick.
Drum roll please...Pantone has announced the 2016 color of the year and it is actually two colors; Rose Quartz (pink ) and Serenity (lavender-blue). Together, they naturally blend, creating an ombre effect of blushy-pink to powdery-blue.  While it may look, to some people at first glance, that Pantone just could not decide between the two, in my mind, they blend together, almost transforming into an iridescent lavender.  In fact, I've seen both of these hues many times before--fresh out of the lavender field here at Blooming Hill and absorbed into the purple haze where the many shades of soft lavender and pale pink grow in abundance.

Looks like Rose Quartz to me.
So, Pantone calls these two shades Rose Quartz and Serenity.  I call them just two of the many shades of lavender that brighten my summertime love.  No matter what you may want to call these shades of  "pinky-bluey" lavender inspired by Mother Nature, Rose Quartz and Serenity reflect a innocent and tranquil auras, hearkening to beauty within and bringing these colors out into the light.

 Lee_Eisemann Pantone Color of the Year 2016 ROSE QUARTZ & SERENITY

 Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence', budding in blue but will soon
turn lovely lavender at it's peak bloom.

Rows of pink dusty pink Lavandula angustifolia  'Melissa'.
Rose Quartz and Serenity?  It's really a patch of
soft pink and hazy blue lavender that comes with
a tangy sweet fragrance enhancing the beauty of
intermingled colors even more.
Serenity in the form of Lavandula angustifolia 'Blue Cushion', a
beautiful smal lavender that reflects the color of a sunny
summer sky.

Rose Quartz as only Lavandula angustifolia
'Coconut Ice' can portray.

Summertime rhapsody in Rose Quartz and Serenity blending harmoniously together
in one of my favorite varieties, Lavandula angustifolia 'Rebecca Kay'.

So, this is where I see Rose Quartz and Serenity--in the colors of a lavender field that stretch out into other garden beds, the trees and even the Blue Ridge farther afield.  Where do you see these Pantone colors for 2016? Look around.  Even on the coldest, bleakest, darkest days of winter, I think you will see them, too.