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.