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4 In Floral Design/ Flower Show/ Garden Parties/ Horticulture/ House and Garden/ Hydrangeas/ Lifestyle/ Nantucket/ Sconset/ Travels

Nantucket Garden Club’s Community Green Thumb Flower Show 2017: That’s a Wrap!!

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??

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In Benefits-Boston and Nantucket/ Garden Parties/ Historic Preservation/ Horticulture/ House and Garden/ Lifestyle/ Travels/ Uncategorized

Flowers Bring Historic Preservation to Life: Betsy Gibson Design for Carrère and Hastings and the Olmsted Brothers Firm

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.

End of the Party…and still quite the crowd!

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!)

Tabletop arrangement in the Ballroom. ©Betsy Gibson Design

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

Centerpiece of Roses and Pittosporum. ©Betsy Gibson Design

Detail of large arrangement for side table. ©Betsy Gibson Design

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.

Small tabletop arrangement. ©Betsy Gibson Design

**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!!


Desktop design. ©Betsy Gibson Design

1 In Historic Preservation/ Horticulture/ House and Garden/ Lifestyle/ Travels

Of Horticulture and Historic Preservation

108.DSC 0217©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.

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2 In House and Garden/ Lifestyle/ Travels

To Richmond We Go…

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:

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In House and Garden/ Lifestyle/ Travels

Miss Virginia

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:

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In House and Garden/ Travels

Spring Has Sprung–It’s Garden Tour Season!! Let’s Start with Virginia…

Spring Has Sprung–It’s Garden Tour Season!

Let’s Start with Virginia…

Virginia’s State Flower-Dogwood –

Historic Garden Week in Virginia is my favorite week of the year. It takes me out of the damp, dreary and miserably raw Boston weather and gives me a glimpse of the things I love so much. Flowers, gardens and historic houses. Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to be asked to help with the festivities. Last year, I created an Art in Bloom arrangement for the Williamsburg Garden Club, and the year before that, I found myself as a tour guide at The College of William and Mary’s President’s House. I never know exactly what awaits me, but it’s always fabulous, and it’s always fun.

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In Travels

Before Hitting The New England Garden Tours…Check out Botticelli (Yes, Botticelli!)

I live in Boston, but Historic Garden Week in Virginia (or, simply, “Garden Week”, as I call it–because, really, there is no other Garden Week that can even approach Virginia’s in terms of its magnificence) is my favorite week of the year. My flight is always booked months in advance, and I eagerly count down the days until I can leave the cold, gray, Boston “spring” behind for the beautiful blooms of my home state. Even if only for a short time. This year, however, instead of waiting until late April, I made a “preview trip” down to Williamsburg in early March. I wanted to see the daffodils and the hyacinth and the flaming forsythia before they all disappeared for the season. But I also wanted to make sure I caught a very important exhibition at the College of William and Mary’s Muscarelle Museum of Art, one that has been lauded in the press since its Opening Day and one that I hope everyone interested in florals and botanicals will try to catch at the MFA in Boston. Not only because it’s fantastic, but because it also happens to dovetail nicely into Garden Tour season here in New England.

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