One of the seasonal songs that keeps ringing in my head is the refrain, “It’s the most wonderful time … of the year.”
While it can be somewhat unnerving for us horticulturists in the northern temperate climates when the season demands we change out our sunscreen for windscreen and bandanas for winter scarves, I honestly embrace the opportunity to design something different than the garden beds brimming with perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs for my garden client’s exterior -- and bring the garden to the interior designs.
I’m excited to create seasonal container compositions, entrance decor, and tablescapes -- showcasing the beauty of the garden and how plants -- and bit of fantasy -- can help tell their personal and family stories.
Every design is different. No two garden clients’ look is the same -- each is unique because we are all special in our own way -- just as a plant or blossom is..
This season, one of my dearest garden design clients --and a muse -- needed to prepare for a one-two series of family gatherings: for both Thanksgiving and again for Christmas and Hannukah. What good fortune!
So too, there was a series of design and work stages in a series to produce the look she was hoping for.
We started by walking the property and noting where she wanted to change and boost the look. That turned into establishing a border garden on one side of the circular driveway (curiously, the other sides all possessed border beds of mixed plantings.)
Welcome Entrance Design
In terms of the welcome entrance decor, I started by creating a private Pinterest board for my client to respond to. I selected a number of images that we could use -- a little of this, a little of that, and of course, adding our own personal touch and her special personality and taste -- that is her love of beauty.
Once we had a working composition, I set out to source the material to create the design.
That included the floral district in New York City -- those that Martha and Ralph Lauren use for their compositions - not far from my Gotham apartment - in addition to local craft stores, our own backyards and gardens, too.
My client and I determined we’d use/repurpose lanterns I suggested and she purchase some years ago from Restoration Hardware to highlight the pool.
That was backed by two very large flameless candles that my client already had.
In addition, I made three sheave designs for each side of the door -- two each of wheat-color stalks of cereal grass and the center was her favorite color (besides white) of a potato vine bright green.
It was an elegant composition even before I did the posts and door frame!
Later, I wrapped the posts in a spiral of burlap ribbons overlaid with gold silk flowers and berries. Over the door we hung faux Chinese Bittersweet berries -- that glorious, rich, cinnabar, smash-pumpkin hue. Brilliant -- and glowed off client’s signature hair color.
The door was caressed / wrapped in a kind of spun white and gold microfiber that has a life of it’s own -- all the better to nestle sweet moss-covered little bird’s nests and gold and white feathery little birds, perched in the nests and looking to welcome guests in a regal “love-bird” kind of way.
The custom-made pumpkin topiaries are tiered like a three-layer cake.
For the designer pumpkins I used ghost, Cotton Candy, Blue Moon, Pump Ke Mon (white with green or yellowish stripes), white, the Tiger Tiger and very stylish Brode Galeux d’Eysines -- an heirloom pumpkin from France that boasts a pebbly texture that makes you want to almost pet the pumpkin!
I chose a mix of pumpkin styles with each layer a smaller size to create four distinct pumpkin topiaries.
We created this layered look by drilling a hole into each of the pumpkins in a set, then inserting a rod to hold the topiary together.
Cinderella should’ve had it so good!
We anchored silk leaf “ropes” around the bespoke address light posts on the street side.
The entranceway was special, seasonally-appropriate and looks good in the day or glowing at night.
In the same way, when asked to create a tablescape for the dining table using a crystal vase that measured just shy of a foot tall, I started by selecting some photos to post to the private Pinterest board in order to gauge the client’s reaction to a look and style.
I knew we should do a mix of ornamental and edible - given it was for a Thanksgiving celebration - so it should be about the harvest.
I also knew the flora from both silk and fresh can be maximized. This means the look can be de-constructed as the fresh flowers wane and the guests depart for home (whichever comes first!)
For the centerpiece it was a mix of rich hues: purple, bright green, pink, lilac, blue and white and gold was agreed upon.
Here too, I shopped the markets in the floral district in New York City where … plus sourced the fresh flowers from a local florist and flower friend. I picked them up from her storybook home cum workshop and home-crafted greenhouse.
I arranged the centerpiece with the silk flowers: ranunculus - green and burgundy red, peony, followed by the fresh: amaranth - red and green, roses, sea holly, ranunculus, two kinds of kale (love that frilly, ruffled leaves look). On site, I added the silk edibles: artichokes, clementines, and a few real purple turnips.
Around the centerpiece I placed faux grapes, gold baubles and beads to add just the touch of elegance this truly glamorous tablescape demanded.
In a room this grand, tall centerpieces can be almost be necessary.
And yet, those low vases facilitate the conversation - so good to have both low and high tablescape designs to accommodate guests.
Cheers to seasonal plant decor, tablescapes that sparkle and Finishing Touches. Remember, the eyes eat first - so be sure to design your home to welcome your family and friends with beauty and love.
Border Beds to be continued…