There is nothing I love more than creating Christmas and other holiday arrangements and decorations. For myself and for friends and clients. I start as early as I possibly can, which means that within a few days of Thanksgiving, I’m on my way to the wholesalers, the retailers, the online shops…anywhere I can find inspiration for what will be my daily creations for the next four weeks. I’ve already spent several months thinking about the possibilities for the upcoming season and creating various prototypes of some of the more “standard” seasonal requests, but I still get excited about discovering new things that can enhance (or even totally change!!) my design vision. I’m not married to any of my ideas, despite the sketches and recipes and prototypes I’ve come up with from July through Thanksgiving. They guide my process, but they don’t govern it. So, while other people use this time after Thanksgiving for holiday shopping, I use it for scooping up gorgeous greens and identifying unexpected elements that I’d like to incorporate into my designs. And along the way, I always remember to savor each new discovery, to try new things (even if I hate them and tear them apart after completing them…it’s a process!!) and to enjoy this one time of the year when I’m just as happy working inside as I am working outside. I just LOVE all of the creative opportunities that this season offers!! And with that…
I had planned for this post to be a mea culpa, of sorts, to the world of “mums.” I have been made aware, through the incredible photographs sent to me by one of my wonderful Instagram friends, as well as through my recent work with mums, that I should have been more discerning with the tone I took in last month’s post . I did not mean to disparage ALL mums. Only some of them. So yes, the mea culpa will come, but not today. Today, I am going to take advantage of the fact that this is my very own website, and I am going to use it to introduce you to my daughter, Merritt, a singer/songwriter/musician who is just about to release her first album.
As you can imagine, I was thrilled to take to FB, Instagram and Twitter this afternoon to announce that Merritt had launched her album campaign. I did all of the “Shares” that you would have expected me to do, which was no easy task for a non-tech savvy person like me. After about an hour or so, I thought I was finished and had shared the posts well enough for full coverage across all of my accounts. But….lo and behold, I did not know that Merritt’s website had *also* gone live. But suddenly, there it was! I had not yet seen it, and I was so excited to see the finished product and to read her musical bio. I have no idea where this sweet, smart, talented girl came from, but here she is. Please take a look at her website, and follow her on Facebook @MerrittGibson, on Instagram @merrittgibson and on Twitter @merrittgibsonxo for news and frequent updates.
**And I’ll issue my mea culpa another time. Right now, I’m going to go listen to Merritt’s soon to be released single!
It is October 15. A little late for my fall window boxes and urns, but that’s ok. If there are still apples on the trees (which I discovered to be the case yesterday when I went apple picking with some of my favorite people!), then the time is still right to install some fall plantings and floral displays. And my window boxes certainly deserve to have some life injected into them after my summer of horrible neglect. (Actually, I was performing an experiment with them…I called it “Weeds or Winners? Established Plantings and Benign Neglect.” Let’s just say that Proven Winners are Proven Winners for a reason!! And Sweet Potato Vine is a Betsy Winner for the 7th year in a row…it goes straight from summer right into fall. Love it! Oh, and I’ve found one really great looking weed, too. I just can’t figure out what it is…a project for another day.)
The Nantucket Garden Club’s Community Green Thumb Flower Show has wrapped for the year! It was a beautiful success in every sense of the word.
Held at the Sconset Casino, the village’s gathering spot since its opening in 1900, there was plenty of room to accommodate all of the entries and to move from arrangement to arrangement or from hort entry to hort entry with ease. The latticework inside the Casino, which I have always loved for its simplicity, elegance and understated “tell” of sophistication, was a fitting backdrop to the gorgeous plants and flowers on display. The Casino looked simply gorgeous! Now….where shall I begin??
UPDATE TO BELOW POST COMING SOON! (ERG 7/21/17)
Just a quick note…
If you are on Nantucket today (7/20), and if you happen to have time to make your way to Sconset, you might be interested in checking out the NGC’s Flower Show. As a former member of the Nantucket Garden Club, I know how much work goes into every event the NGC puts on. (I resigned during my Provisional year, as work had decided to heat up, robbing me of the time that I’d always had in years prior to help with NGC activities. I’m probably the only person in the history of the NGC to do more work as a non-member– before I became a member and then since having resigned–than I was ever able to do as a member!) In fact, I was over at the Casino yesterday helping to set up for the judges’ luncheon. While I didn’t see any Provisionals, I saw many of the lovely and dedicated long term members of the Club working away to make sure that things were categorized properly, displayed beautifully and ready for public view. I took lots of pictures and hope that you will enjoy them with my later post. I don’t want to post any here quite yet, as the show opens at 10AM TODAY (!!), and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for those of you who are interested in attending. Admission is free, but donations are always welcome. Oh! And there is also a fabulous boutique–I was the first customer yesterday. I got my third copy of a great book about Nantucket wildflowers; the most amazing candle I’ve ever smelled (I am NOT a candle person, but this candle would be snapped up in a flash if I were to have hesitated); some beautiful notecards; and a darling little porcelain box for my daughter. Basically, this is a GO TO event! You’ll see fascinating arrangements, beautiful horticulture entries and breathtaking photography entries. It’s at the Casino–10 New Street in Sconset. 10AM-4PM today! Photographs for those who missed it will be posted as soon as I can get them up!! Xo betsy
Wow!! It has been a very busy few weeks! Now that things have settled down a tiny bit, I am thrilled to report that we had a terrific turnout for Mass Hort’s Second Annual Garden Party (about which I wrote in my last post). A crowd of close to 300 enjoyed wonderful food and music and were also fortunate to have had Kathleen Fahey, Curator of the Wellesley Historical Society, speak about the history of the Cheney-Baltzell Manor House, a Carrère and Hastings design, and about the Olmsted Brothers’ incredible Italianate Garden.
As for me, it was an honor and a tremendous privilege to have created all of the floral arrangements for the party–not only for the interior of the beautiful Carrère and Hastings designed Manor House that sits so elegantly on the property at Elm Bank, but also for each and every one of the garden tables in the Olmsted Brothers’ designed Italianate Garden. For someone who loves historic houses, classical architecture and bespoke gardens, designing and executing over 30 arrangements for this event was exhilarating, challenging (in a good way!) and more fun than “work” should ever be. In the end, I calculated that I had created the indoor and outdoor arrangements from over 70 different kinds of flowers, plants and trees, most of which were taken from the gardens on the property–plus the wonderful daisies that we found on top of a compost pile, of course. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with so many different kinds of flowers at one time, but it was so much fun, and I’d gladly do it again. (And never fear, the compost pile was only an hour or two old and contained nothing but flowers and weeds that were getting ready to make their way over to the *real* compost pile!)
Almost two weeks after the fact, I am still enjoying the thrill of having created the floral arrangements that brought life and joy back to the Manor House, even if only for one night. I hope that Alice and William (and, of course, Carrère and Hastings and the Olmsted Brothers) would have approved. I like to think that they would have. After all, it is so important to preserve our past that we should all do whatever we can to take care of the glorious treasures left to us. But in addition to all of that, if we get involved with the work necessary to preserve the beauty created by others in the past, we
may also find that we make new friends. An added bonus to helping to preserve our rich cultural heritage. I made several new friends with whom I really enjoyed working, and I’m thrilled that we share so many common interests–in flowers, gardens, architecture and historic preservation. You know who you are, ladies! I had a great time with all of you.
**I’d also like to take some time to thank two ladies in particular for their “over and above” help: Penni: On what was perhaps the hottest day of the summer to date, and in a workroom with no air conditioning, Penni helped me with the arrangements that had been added at the last minute and kept me company with her good humor, excellent advice and numerous attempts to teach me that what I have always viewed as “Thistle” is, in fact, not Thistle. It’s something else, but I’ve already forgotten what. Thank you, Penni! Hannah: As the Senior Horticulturalist at Elm Bank, Hannah is incredibly knowledgeable, extremely funny and immensely patient. She showed me around all of the gardens one day, answering all of my questions and backtracking several times when I decided that I should probably look at an area again…and then one more time. Can you imagine? She then graciously allowed me to sit in the golf cart the next day while she did all of the cutting of the plants and flowers I had chosen for my arrangements. But there’s more! In an admission that gave her SuperHero status in my eyes, I learned that she is not plagued with the same horrible phobia of ticks that seems to consume me once the weather starts to warm up here in New England. Her bravery in walking right into high grasses and through the depths of several plantings to get just the right cutting for me was astounding. Thank you, Hannah. And thank you also for all of the additional buckets of gorgeous flowers that you brought to the workroom so that Penni and I could finish up with those extra table arrangements. You are a Horticultural Rock Star!
If you can’t tell, I had a ball working on this wonderful party for Mass Hort, and I think you should join us next year to see what all the fuss has been about! But you should be sure to get your tickets early, because we reached capacity fairly soon after offering the tickets for sale. In fact, maybe you should get them now directly from Mass Hort…just to be safe. We’ve already set next year’s date!!
©Mass Hort Bressingham Garden. North side of the garden, featuring Eryngium ‘Big Blue’, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’.
How would you like to step back in time and take a sneak peek into a stunningly beautiful Carrère & Hastings-designed manor house (open to the public for only the second time since the 1982 Decorators’ Show House) while being surrounded by award winning Olmsted Brothers-designed gardens and enjoying beautiful food, drinks and music on a warm June evening? I know that I certainly would! And I hope that you will join me in supporting the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Mass Hort) as it offers a rare opportunity to visit the Cheney-Baltzell Manor House at Elm Bank in style.
I’m so glad to be back!! I have missed this happy space….!
I had my “next” blog post all written, and I was looking forward to posting it after Historic Garden Week in Virginia had wrapped. I had the post after that one written, too. I was ahead of schedule and moving at a rapid clip (for me). But then my world stopped short, and I stopped with it for a few beats. In my case, the unexpected and tragic loss of a brilliant mind and a gentle soul, the loss of someone who had been such an important part of my life as a young adult, hit me hard. Those first few days were governed by shock. I could not speak, I could not think and I certainly could not write. But soon the days grew brighter, acceptance set in, and I realized that I was ready to move forward with happiness and gratitude. I also noticed something that I hadn’t paid much attention to as a younger adult….
The Richmond portion of Historic Garden Week in Virginia should be wonderful this year. The tour focuses on houses and gardens in the Windsor Farms neighborhood, which was created as a planned residential development in 1926. It was modeled after a similar development in New Jersey, and it was sited just on the James River. Having lived directly across the street from the River when I was very young and then having spent my later childhood just up the hill from the James, I know how lovely the setting can be. Certainly “buggy” at times, but always beautiful.
The James has been an important body of water for so many, and for so long–as we all know, it was crucial to the Native American Indians and the English Colonists, with the Jamestown Settlement having been established on the banks of The James and the first colonial capital of Williamsburg having also occupied frontage on The James. The River also hosts the modern day capital of Virginia at Richmond. In addition to its status as “landmark”, The River has also served several of the needs of those living on its shores. It has provided drinking water, shipping lanes, a shipbuilding enterprise, as well as recreational space for sailing, fishing and swimming. It seems as though the James has always been part of my life as a Virginian. (How about you? If you’re a Virginian, I would love to hear your thoughts and memories about The James.) And so I’m happy that it plays such a big part of this year’s tour. If you’d like to learn more about the James River and its tributaries, canals, etc, please hurry over to Amazon and order a wonderfully researched and written book entitled Cabell’s Canal: The Story of The James River and Kanawha. It was written by my former father in law (whom I still view as my father in law!), Langhorne Gibson, Jr. I believe in full disclosure!! Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Cabells-Canal-Story-James-Kanawha/dp/0965762114
I arrived in Richmond in the pouring rain on Monday morning, ready to soak up all that Garden Week has to offer. Literally and figuratively.
Today (April 25) is Williamsburg’s day in the spotlight. And although it’s still raining, and the wind is howling outside, it’s a whole lot better than the weather in Boston. According to my husband, it’s basically a November day at home. So I’m glad I’m here. Green abounds!!
Before I head out with my mother, here’s a quick link to the Williamsburg portion of the Guidebook: http://www.vagardenweek.org/main/tourdetails?id=329