Tuesday, December 31, 2013

not fireworks in Dubai

OK, this isn't fireworks in Dubai (or even NYC), but it's the best I could come up with quickly in Ashland, VA, USA, on New Year's Eve, 2013. This is actually something (a box, a lichen, and a Christmas tree ornament) that had been sitting on my mantelpiece until I moved it onto the windowsill tonight. Fireworks enough for me.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Windowsill in NYC

Beautiful windowsill in great Italian restaurant in Greenich Village: De Andrea Risoorante. With permission, I moved this arrangement from our table over to the window to photograph it. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

ivy leaf, wish bone

I decided to do one last windowsill arrangement before leaving the house this morning. The result: this ivy leaf I'd picked yesterday (one of the biggest I've ever seen) combined with a wish bone that has been sitting around the kitchen for a while. There's one little sprig of holly behind the ivy leaf to make it stand up straight.

And here's the whole windowsill, picked clean of anything that might rot while I'm away, but looking sort of pretty filled only with green leaves, a winterberry twig, and a grass seedhead (far left).  I'd forgotten the grass seedhead was on the windowsill until I looked closely at this photo!

Friday, December 27, 2013

boxing day--a day late

Because I'm going away tomorrow, my Christmas ornaments are going away early. This ornament looked so cute peeking out of its box, I decided to put it on the windowsill. There's a little leftover piece of aucuba foliage in the box with it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

fern in olive oil jar

I'm cleaning up today--actually taking down some Christmas decorations that have been up too long. So far, I'm enjoying it, which is good, because I have a rule that I'm now allowed to put up more decorations than I'm willing to also take down in good humor! I saved this little green olive oil bottle from Christmas Eve, when I used up the remaining olive oil in it. Loved the bottle and knew almost immediately what I wanted to put in it--fern fronds. These look so fresh, because I have a couple of ferns overwintering in the shed, where they stay until I can put them outside again in the spring.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

leftover leeks

These leek greens were leftover after I sliced the white parts (for potatoes au gratin). Jammed them into a salsa jar where they look really pretty--so sculptural!

Monday, December 23, 2013

geranium with lights

I guess this counts as a windowsill arrangement. I have some potted geraniums blooming on my bedroom windowsill, and this afternoon I draped some white lights around them so the windows would look pretty from the outside. Here's how one looks from the inside.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

red ranunculus, green hellebore flowers, and American wisteria vine

It's a good thing it was warm--crazy warm--outside today, because I had to open the window to accommodate this arrangement. Inspired by yesterday's bouquet for Grace, I dropped one of my artificial ranuculus flowers into a bright green vase with some green hellebore foliage. Then it seemed to require something round (maybe the shape of the ranunculus suggested that?), so I went outside, harvested a pliable American wisteria vine,  and twisted it into a roundish shape.

fresh, dried, artificial materials

This photograph looks like it's cockeyed, but it's not. I set this little bouquet down on a windowsill outside SkateNation before going in to watch the performer it was intended for--my granddaughter! Took the photo with my phone, because I realized there would be no other opportunity do a windowsill arrangement that day. The concoction is actually sort of interesting because it's a combination of dried material (some pussy willow wands), artificial material (the red ranunculus flower), and a stem of fresh, green hellebore flowers. Long story re why I had an artificial ranunculus in my possession. The short of it is that, while in WalMart earlier this week, I encountered a guy trying to create a funeral arrangement from artificial flowers and he asked for my help. We ended up creating a really pretty arrangement together, all from artificial flowers. He was so into it that when I told him he could turn one bunch of fake hydrangeas into three by dividing the main stem into three with wire cutters, he went and bought wire cutters so we could do it right there in the store. Much fun, actually. Anyway, the ranunculus we used in his arrangement were so pretty, I bought three for myself. So cheery. As my husband said, fresh ranunculus look fake anyway, so why not use artificial ones!

Friday, December 20, 2013

paperbush, sycamore bark, winterberry

This is sort of an incoherent mess, but it has some interesting material in it: buds from paperbush (Edgeworthia), which are white and silky-looking, a piece of sycamore bark, and a sprig of winterberry leftover from an earlier arrangement.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

more moss, with yellowed kale

 I think I was just playing with forms and colors when I created this. First I just wanted to put some emerald green moss on a small black plate. Then I wanted to elevate it on a triangular vase. Then I wanted to add some color and the first thing that offered itself was a ruffly piece of yellowed kale. So glad I'd saved that kale leaf!  It looked pretty awful when I pulled it out of the refrigerator, sandwiched as it was between aging green kale leaves, but it provides a great spot of color here!  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

moss ball

I had what I thought was a great idea--to fill some metal bowls I'd bought as gifts with moss balls. It would sort of personalize them and add something natural to an otherwise "too shiny" gift. But have you priced styrofoam balls recently?!? They start at around $5 in the craft stores near me. Too expensive, thought I. So I decided I'd cover some red plastic balls I already had (see yesterday), but I soon realized that was way too hard. You really need something  you can pin (not glue) the moss to as you go along. So I bought some less expensive but still pricey (by my standards) desert oasis balls and covered them. The thing that really holds the moss on, though, is green thread wrapped around the ball like yarn. It's totally invisible among the moss. On the top of the ball below is a sprig of holly and a tree-ivy leaf (leftover from a previous windowsill arrangement). And a word about moss: I harvest mine from a brick walkway where it is easy to remove (it actually rolls up like a rug) and should be removed (although it comes right back!). I'm not sure moss you buy from the store is harvested so sustainably. I'll never forget a line I read in a Theodore Roethke poem in which he described moss-gathering as "ripping flesh from the face of the living earth." Ouch. Don't do that. I do sometimes harvest moss from my woods, but I take very little each time I do, and I "reseed" the bare patch with little pieces of moss. It, too, fills right back in.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

three frying pans, twelve red balls, and some rose hips

When my husband walked in the door Sunday night, he was bearing all the things I'd asked him to bring home from the country: three frying pans (left at Flower Camp by friends who stayed there over the Thanksgiving holiday), twelve red balls (which he used to use in team-building initiatives but I wanted to recycle as bases for moss balls), and a handful of rose hips (which Robert Llewellen wanted to photograph for a book he's doing). It was a weird haul, but John looked pleased with himself, having retrieved everything I'd asked him for, and I couldn't have been more pleased if he'd been Grizzly Adams standing at the door with fresh kill for dinner on his shoulders! Ah, the things we do for love! Anyway...before the rose hips go to Bob, I decided to use them in a windowsill arrangement. So simple, so pretty!

Monday, December 16, 2013

state of affairs

The windowsill is chock full of stuff, but I don't seem to feel like creating anything new tonight. Finished a big writing project today and feel mostly like collapsing in a heap! If you look closely at the window, you may even be able to see my reflection--holding camera, wearing stocking cap. I'm wearing the cap because I don't feel like building a fire either!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


The prettiest thing in the house tonight was this--a pomegranate.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

cone crafted by squirrels

As a rule, you have to resort to to all sorts of devices to get a cone to stay in a vase--things like tying it to a stick. But this cone was vase-ready because squirrels had nibbled all the seeds off the bottom, giving it a "stem."  I found half a dozen of these on my walk this morning and brought them all home in my pocket.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Balsam fir, Pieris japonica

These two things--a sprig of Pieris japonica (Andromeda) and a round of Balsam fir wood gravitated to the windowsill today, and I combined them. The round of wood came from the bottom of my Christmas tree. The seller gave the tree a fresh cut for me, and I brought the leftover round of wood home with me just because it smelled so good. Turns out it has some visual appeal, too!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

clematis seed structure

This is another little "arrangement" created at Robert Llewellyn's yesterday. It's the seed structure from a clematis vine displayed in a tiny little bottle. Bob (Robert Llewellyn) took the photo, which is why it is so gorgeous!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

how things happen

Sometimes, the joy of creating a windowsill arrangement evolves from the circumstances surrounding its creation. Or (to be more precise) the fun is in the doing. That was definitely the case today, when I spent most of the day with my photography mentor Robert Llewellyn and his assistant Miranda Karpoe, and we, together, had a ball creating the photo below.

 This is the seed structure of a purple coneflower, and I love it in this simple little bottle, positioned on a windowsill in Bob's Earlysville home. Imagine, too, that in order to see this, you had to subtract it from the enormous array of gorgeous seed pods in Bob's studio (first photo below) and that Miranda had to lend her hand to photographing and lighting the process (second photo below). Suffice it to say that we all thought this gorgeous seed pod, so often overlooked, was worth the effort.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

winterberry, euphorbia, edgeworthia, pears

Oh, my--this is an interesting mix of materials! A friend, Susan Roth, and I walked outside this afternoon, picked the first things we saw that interested us and added them to the pears already in the windowsill. Susan (a photographer) even even shot the photo. The green, feathery stem is euphobia, the red berried-branch is winterberry, and the stem with whitish buds on it is edgeworthia. I'd never have thought to pick the edgeworthia at this stage had Susan not been with me.

Monday, December 9, 2013

rearranging during power outage

Ice storm left us without power, and, although I took some great walks during the storm, I wasn't eager to collect ice-covered plant material. So I just rearranged some materials already on the windowsill. Added red berries (previously in eggshells) to a piece of stemmed glassware and moved a tree-ivy leaf over to the same goblet. Hope you can see the ice-covered shrubs out the window!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

more of the same

Don't know why I went back to this this morning--red berries in eggshells. I think I just like the repeated forms--and maybe the absurdity of spending time dropping berries into eggshells! The leaves in the back are aucuba leaves.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

berries in eggshell

This is sort of fun to look at and took all of about two minutes. The leaves in the far vases are aucuba (stripped from the bottom of some longer stems I used in a big arrangement) and on the near vase is an eggshell filled with holly berries.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

grass light

After a long day otherwise occupied, I walked outside tonight to fill a bucket with water. Near the pump I saw (without a flashlight or other illumination) this tender grass which had been growing in a pot and I'd forgotten to take inside. For some reason, the knobby "cowlick" of the grass was totally whitened, the rest of the blades almost black. Gorgeous outdoors, so I decided to bring it in where it was equally amazing.

This isn't the pot the grass was growing in. That pot was much bigger. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

crape myrtle in brown bottle

Someone (a Secret Santa?) left a beautiful collection of brown bottles on my front porch yesterday, and this is one of them. I used it as a home for this crape myrtle twig, which dried in an earlier arrangement and is now so pretty it looks almost artificial.

Monday, December 2, 2013

pine in red vase

Someone gave me a box of vases yesterday and most of them were things I would discard myself (bud vases from the florist, etc.), but one was this great red vase. Used it on the windowsill this afternoon with only pine (pine I picked up on my walk) in it. I'm now sure squirrels gnaw the stems of bundles of pine needles like this, because you can see where they've gnawed and there are bundles like this all over the ground. This is actually half a dozen bundles.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

pears with collars

I took some pears ripening on the windowsill and added them to these vases that already had tree ivy in them. To the vase on the right, I also added one cyclamen leaf I'd pruned from a plant I gave a friend. I love this combination and might fiddle with it again tomorrow--adding pears or subtracting one, because two doesn't seem quite right.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I've been hanging onto these pretty brown eggshells thinking I would do something creative with them. But as they collected on top of these little glass vases, I decided I liked them just the way they were. There's something about their repeated forms and colors that appeals to me.

Friday, November 29, 2013


I've got some nice, long branches of winterberry waiting outside in a bucket, where they'll stay until I use them in Christmas arrangements. But before I put them in water I pruned off a few twigs so they wouldn't be under the water. These three tiny ones wound up on the windowsill in a brown bottle (with an old oak leaf under it).

Thursday, November 28, 2013

from complex to simple

Having left several arrangements and assorted debris there, the windowsill looked festive but complicated when I woke up this morning.

So I pushed most of what was there aside a created something really simple. I took the collard rib out of the glass vase in the middle and gave it a home alone in a brown bottle. Very satisfying. Hope I can simplify the rest of the day as well!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

adding collard midrib

So: A little vase with a Tree-ivy (Fatshdera) leaf was sitting on the windowsill this morning when I started to fix breakfast. I usually add some greens to my morning egg, and this morning I added chopped collards. The white midrib I carved out of the collard leaf before chopping it was too pretty to throw away, so I dropped it into the vase with the Tree-ivy leaf. In this photo, they look almost like one leaf, but this is actually a Tree-ivy leaf with an arrow-shaped collard midrib in front of it. The combination is more dramatic than it looks in the photo.

I finally took time to look up the common name for Fatshedera. It's Tree-ivy, not to be confused with English ivy that grows up trees.

Monday, November 25, 2013

catalog, fabric, fruit come together

This is a mishmash of things I encountered today. The catalog is one I happened upon this morning when I was throwing old seed catalogs away to make way for new ones. I loved its colors and decided to save it. The fabric is a 1-inch, ragged swatch I picked up at the fabric store today while searching for fabric to make a table cloth. Loved its colors, too, and they were similar to the colors on the catalog. (That's probably not a coincidence; I bet the catalog colors were tumbling around in my brain.) Decided to combine them by scrunching the fabric up into a makeshift bow and positioning it under the passion flower fruit still sitting on the windowsill.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

recycled oak with begonia pods

This is oak leaves I pulled from Friday's windowsill arrangement combined with hardy begonia pods from outdoors. I keep wanting to use oak leaves because they are just so gorgeous outside right now. There are also some fatshedera leaves in these bottles (with the oak and begonia pods).  I wish I could just call them ivy leaves, because that's what they look like, but they're actually from a related plant with the off-putting name "fatshedera." Ivy leaves would have worked almost as well, but they're smaller.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

way leads on to way

These are yesterday's passion flower fruits with fatshedra (ivy-like) leaves from earlier in the week. I love this combination, and the greens are prettier than they appear in the photo I jammed a piece of rosemary (also used in an earlier arrangement) behind each fatshedera leaf to make it stand up like a high collar in the back. This trio would be more satisfying to my eye if the vase on the right were a little bit shorter than it is, but I can imagine it that way! I'm going to post two photos. Neither one of them gets the greens quite right, but maybe between the two of them you can imagine the accurate green!  

Friday, November 22, 2013

passion flower fruit

These three orbs, which look like green eggs, are passion flower fruits. Many are still hanging on vines in the garden, but  most have fallen to the ground, where, when you step on them, they pop. Lined up like this the phrase "three little pretty maids all in a row" comes to my mind, although these are more like bald guys!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

oak leaves and pine tags

The fun thing about this is that I collected all the material on a walk. The pine tag clusters were on the ground (I think squirrels detach them when then gnaw at the stems) and I gathered the colorful oak leaves from trees along my walking path. They unusually small (maybe because the trees along the public path were sprayed with a herbicide last spring) and they were arranged in beautiful, bouquet-esque orientations on the twig.

P.S. Some of the pine tags are green, some brown, some (a very few) almost yellow  I tried to arrange them in sort of a progression of color, but you can't really see that.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

same roses, organized differently

These are the same roses and ivy-like leaves I photographed yesterday, but now they're organized into sort of a tight bouquet in a bottle.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

roses and ivy-like leaves

Two roses were still blooming yesterday, so I picked them. Then, on the way into the house, I passed some pretty fatshedera leaves, and I picked them, too. (Fatshedera looks like ivy on steroids.)  I dropped both the leaves and roses into a plastic cup. where they have stayed because I love the combination of the deep, deep color of the rose and the dark green fatshedera leaves. This isn't really an arrangement; it's a chance encounter between two pretty plant materials!

Monday, November 18, 2013

morning light through forsythia, daylily leaves, blanket flower

This is why I love windowsill arranging. From one minute to the next the light coming through the window changes and the arrangement changes with it. I could have watched this "arrangement" all morning. Actually the first photo isn't actually an arrangement--it's just a plastic glass full of flowers and foliage I picked yesterday. And the way you see them is exactly the way they landed in the glass for "holding." When the light struck them this morning, they looked as pretty as anything I could have arranged, though. The materials are forsythia foliage (so colorful right now!), daylily foliage (the two strappy leaves), and one blanket flower. Blanket flower (Gaillardia) is still blooming up a storm outside.

Here's the result of deliberately arranging with the same materials. Still pretty, but quite different.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

ready for takeoff

This white pattypan squash was already sitting on the windowsill when I started cleaning out the frig and came across an almost petrified lime. It was headed for the compost bucket when I realized I liked its color and dropped it onto the pattypan squash, just to look at it a while. While there, it seems to have attracted some rosemary (I just jammed the rosemary stems into the squash) and now the whole thing looks like some sort of space ship or flying creature! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

oak leaves

These oak leaves are almost as pretty inside as they are outside. There are also a few blackberry  leaves in this, but you can barely see them.

Friday, November 15, 2013

shredded tree, tarp

Yesterday I attended one of the best--and free-wheeling-- Ikebana demonstrations I've ever seen. I'm sure it's responsible for the fact that when I walked outside this morning I couldn't resist picking up shredded wood beside the road. Evidently, in my absence, some rogue tree-trimmers had come by and whacked low branches off some of the trees on my street, and the roadside was littered with raw, split wood and other debris (like a blue tarp) that got ground up by the mower. Mysteriously (and miraculously), no damage was done in front of my house (perhaps the mowers knew a crazy lady lived there?), but there was plenty of debris elsewhere for me to use in a windowsill arrangement.

I kept thinking what this arrangement needed (based on what I'd seen yesterday) was a while carnation or chrysanthemum at its base, and, wouldn't you know it, I had just thrown out the white carnation I had on November 11! Anyway, I decided to create a flower for the base by pulling an okra pod apart. Not sure if this really adds anything. 

Oddly enough, every time I walk into the kitchen and see this, I think, at first, that I'm looking at an iris.