Floral Fridays: Antipodean Arrangement


The seedheads of Dietes grandiflora (South African iris relative commonly known as fortnight lily) break up the round contours of the protea flowers and Corymbia ficifolia capsules.


Blomsterskuret, Copenhagen, Denmark

We still have a long way to go before we appreciate cut flowers as aesthetic necessities the same way as the Europeans do. The floral locavore movement that is currently running strong in United States has done much to elevate the beauty of cut flowers, as well as their seasonality, although we still import a large number of flowers from Central and South America. Cut flowers can dramatically animate and enliven an otherwise drab room – I purchased three dozen white tulips from Whole Foods last week, and watching them assume a different life in their fluidity towards light was an experience that brighten the dark mornings.

Perhaps the way the supermarkets and some florists market their flowers can use a styling revision inspired by the small floral boutiques in Europe. In warmer months, the floral bounty is let loose, flowing out of the storefront onto the street where the scents, colors, and shapes entice pedestrians to linger and even walk spontaneously into the store to explore more. It was a successful ploy I fell for several times in London, Paris, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.


Wooden trays, wicker baskets, terracotta pots, and galvanized steel drawers are rarely without plants, and arranged at different levels in that seemingly haphazard, but attractive way. It advertises the shop well by letting the urban dwellers that small apartments need not to have naked windowsills. In addition, the dark grey front shows off the silver lettering of the store name well. The contrast of rusticity against the inherent chicness of its floral work sends a strong message about what the store is about.

Copenhagen was one city where the florist storefronts seduced me over and over, and the Danish Martin Reinicke’s Blomsterskuret (“flower shed” in Danish) may be modest in size, but seems larger  when spilling forth with container plants and cut flowers styled in that enviable Nordic way. Located in the hip Vesterbro district, Reinicke’s actual shop is a black shed adorned with gooseneck light fixtures.Stand alone shelving appears salvaged from different sources and placed around the shore, and every imaginable plant and container are crammed on the ledges as if the shed is literally growing.


Gooseneck light fixtures illuminate the plants and accessories when it is dark. They have that unpolished patina, a disheveled naturalism not far from Martin Reinicke’s work. The shelves do not conform to one style, differing in material and height.

Once you step through the doorway of the store, the light-filled interior is lined with shelves of different containers and vessels, and a central table is crowded with tiers of cut flowers, each grouped in its individual vase for function and comparison.  Light is natural, and the artificial illumination produces a flattering cast on the flowers and plants. How many times do we see cut flowers in the lurid yellow light of the produce section in supermarkets here? It doesn’t help that the colored cellophane wrapping look garish. Lead by example of how the cut flowers would look at home in natural light, and sales then may begin to materialize. The female shop assistant, while preoccupied with making a bouquet, did not hesitate to smile and strike up a friend conversation. It is not simply adequate for a store to create a strong aesthetic impression, as friendly service helps heighten the initial interaction outside. I left Blomsterskuret, wanting to be a patron shall I boldly uproot my life and move to Copenhagen.  ~ Eric


A posy of pansies


Modern pansy hybrids (Viola x wittrockiana) often lack the fragrance of older seed strains, which gardeners in earlier eras enjoyed and picked for tussie-mussie or nosegays. These strains have delicate brush-like markings that appeared obliterated into indistinguishable blobs in modern strains. Some have attractive ruffling that recall the edge of crinoline skirts, giving the flowers a certain graceful femininity. Last spring, I grew some plants from seed, and took the liberty of picking a few to enjoy and smell indoors. Their scent was delicate, like that of a first June rose precociously welcoming summer.  ~ Eric

Foreign Gardeners: Grace, From New York to Hawaii

Grace and I have been friends for years due to common ties. We were both born and raised in New York City and somehow, amidst all the city chaos, we found ourselves immersed in the field of horticulture. Meeting through a mutual gardening friend, we originally bonded over our horticultural educations, learning that Grace had studied at New York Botanical Garden. Often, back then, I would visit Grace in her gorgeous shop that was located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where we would talk about plants, ideas, and drool over all the new books and vases and plants she was selling. More times than not I’d leave with something, as her passion for plants was infectious.  Thank you Grace.

Grace Martinelli a horticulturist, floral and garden designer

Grace, in her element, in Hawaii

Thank you for agreeing to let us interview you for our Foreign Gardener series. If you don’t mind, could you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what your focus is:

Hello, thank you for the interview. Hello everyone, my name is Grace Martinelli and I am a horticulturist, floral and garden designer.

Where are you from and where did you move?

I am originally from New York, was living in Brooklyn and I moved to Maui, Hawaii.

Grace Martinelli for Graceful Gardens

Grace’s shop, the original paradise in Brooklyn, Graceful Gardens

When did you and why was it that you decided to move to Hawaii?

I moved almost two years ago in November of 2015.  I lost the lease of my flower/plant shop in Brooklyn and  I could have continued on in a studio doing events and garden design work but knew that it would not be as fulfilling as I wanted.  I had always dreamed of living in Hawaii since it is a plant and natural beauty paradise, so I used that moment as the opportunity to follow a dream.

Grace Martinelli-Lilikoi Grace-Tropical-arrangements

What is your current job?

I am currently working as a florist at the Four Seasons where we also take care of the potted orchids and anthuriums around the resort.



I am sure there are many differences you’ve encountered by trading NY for Hawaii. What are some of the benefits to being a gardener in Hawaii as opposed to New York City?

The benefits of being a gardener in Hawaii is definitely getting to have the year round growing season here, causing plants to grow quickly.  Maui has the most temperate zones of almost any place in the world and you can grow almost anything here because of that.  Also, due to the volcanic breakdown, the soil is really good here too.  GraceMartinelli-Hawaii-LilikoiGrace

Most people realize that living in NYC can be difficult but wouldn’t necessarily see Hawaii as anything else other than a living paradise. What are some of the difficulties you have encountered in your new environment with your profession?

The difficulties have been the wages in ratio to the cost of living.  Old-school mentalities when it comes to running a business and people stuck in their ways.  There are a lot of  ‘farmers’ on this island but the farmers market is pretty pitiful compared to NYC.  I was surprised at how few specialty plant growers there are here as well, considering how much wealth is here.  There are few landscape designers though there are a ton of ‘mow and blow’ landscapers.  The ones that are running businesses that I have worked with, surprisingly, did not know about any of the growers I found while living here in Hawaii. Cane burning is a big disappointment to me and I discovered that Oprah uses pesticides on her property but claims she is organic because her vegetable farm is organic.  That was a huge disappointment to me.


Grace and the children of Haiku Elementary


On the flip side, I am sure there are many benefits to living where you are now. What were some surprising changes that you have welcomed/enjoyed in your new environment?

The pace is slower and the real local Hawaiians are kind.  I love that you can make positive changes to the community without having to jump through red tape and a lot of paperwork.  A while ago, I found out there was grant money for an orchard at the elementary school and thought it was a good idea to get something set up for the school children. So after looking into it, I messaged a pro surfer (Ian Walsh)  and asked if he would help rally friends  to come down and plant it up with us and within the span of 6 months, I can say that Haiku Elementary now has an orchard.


the New York days working on set in photographer Mario Sorrenti’s studio

We always imagine a perfect life when we envision living somewhere as beautiful as Hawaii, but that is not always the case. What have some of the personal day to day struggles that you have encountered while living there?

Finding full-time meaningful work that pays you well has been difficult though I have found jobs with each of those qualities but rarely one that has both.   I have struggled with co-workers – who I think might be threatened by my NYC experience and ambition (which by NY standards I am not that ambitious.).  On the personal note,  I am single and connecting with other single people, both male and female, has been difficult. I think because I am older this makes it difficult too.  Friends from back home are smart, funny and full of character, so it is quite the adjustment to find a circle of friends like that again too.

How did you find your current job? Friends, internet, work relations, word of mouth…

Originally the job was posted on Craigslist,  like all the jobs I have found here.  I applied for my current job months before I was called.  She pulled my resume up from her files and called me for an interview.

 To others that might be making a similar move, what advice would you give to them to contemplate?

Honestly, it is really difficulty to live here on your own with a single income.  So either come to Hawaii young and live with people, come with a mate or come with some money stockpiled.

 Did you do anything to prepare yourself for this change?

I secured a job before I came here and I had a place to live with people that are like my family.  The job ended up not being what it was supposed to be, since I was mostly sitting in front of a computer, but it did get me here to where I am now.HaikuElementary-School-GraceMartinelli

 Hawaii has always been recognized by the world as a beautiful green paradise..  So share with us some of  the great memories you have made so far that make you smile?

Gardening with the children (keiki) of Maui – the kids are really special here. I think this is because of the connection they have with the land and the ocean.  Family life is also hugely important here.  I hope as long as I am in Hawaii that somehow I can continue to work with the youth and gardening.

  If you could give your younger self some advice for this change, what would it be?

Not to younger self:  Don’t fuck up your credit- you’re going to need it 🙂


Passiflora on Passiflora on Passiflora…

I can only imagine how much the plant palette must have changed when you moved from NYC.  What would you say is your new favorite plant(s) that you can grow now that you weren’t able to enjoy before?

Well my favorite plant is passiflora- Hawaiians call it lilikoi.  I grew it in Brooklyn for ornamental purposes but now i get to grow it to its fruition and it is so Ono!! (delicious) .  I am also infatuated with night blooming jasmine,  Cestrum nocturnum – you haven’t lived until you smelled that plant- it’s divine.   I just love that I can grow things like citrus, avocados, mangoes and bananas …. This place is amazing.GraceMartinelli-Hawaii-bananas

Thank you Grace for agreeing to be interviewed and for sharing your story with Plinth et al..  If you’d like to reach out to Grace or to see and know more please click on her links below. Thank you….

Website: Lilikoi Grace

Email: lilikoicreative@gmail.com

Instagram: @Graceyam


Floral Wizardry of Riz Reyes

A familiar face in the Pacific Northwest horticultural scene, horticulturist Riz Reyes increasingly concentrates on his floral art outside of his full-time job as the garden manager for McMenamins Anderson, Bothell, Washington State. Reyes employs flowers and foliage locally as much as possible, and his adroit skills in creating sumptuous floral arrangements can be witnessed in his top ten favorites. He offers the following three tenets of his design philosophy:

1.) Cut flowers are a gateway to the art and science of horticulture celebrating the diversity of botanical wonder all around us.

2.) Whether it be texture, scent, or serendipitous movement as the bouquet is being held, floral designers always possess a natural element inspired by nature so anyone can fully engage with the composition.

3.) Acknowledge the hard work it takes to plant, nurture, and harvest the bounty available to floral designers by letting very little go to waste and allow what’s not used to come back to earth to nurture the following season’s growth.

Those who reside in the Seattle metro region are fortunate to have Riz’s talents at your tip of the hat as he is available for floral commissions. Riz can be reached by email at riz@rhrhorticulture.com.

Thank you, Riz!    ~ Eric

Left: Rosa hybrid unknown Clematis 'Etoile de Violette' Achemilla mollis seed heads Cornus elliptica, Lathyrus odoratus vine Phlox paniculata 'Nicky' Astrantia hybrid Allium 'Summer Beauty'; Right: Brunia albiflora Asclepsia curassavica, Schinus molle Akebia quinata 'Alba' Echinacea Supreme(TM) Elegance Fatsia polycarpa 'Needham's Lace' Celosia hybrid

Left: Rosa hybrid unknown, Clematis ‘Etoile de Violette’, Achemilla mollis seed heads, Cornus elliptica, Lathyrus odoratus vine, Phlox paniculata ‘Nicky’, Astrantia hybrid, Allium ‘Summer Beauty’; Right: Brunia albiflora
Asclepsia curassavica, Schinus molle, Akebia quinata ‘Alba’, Echinacea Supreme(TM) Elegance, Fatsia polycarpa ‘Needham’s Lace’, Celosia hybrid

Rosa 'Auspastor' PATIENCE, Rosa 'Helga Piaget' Zantedeschia hybrid, Agonis 'After Dark' foliage, Blechnum spicant foliage, Jacobaea hybrid foliage, Papaver somniferum pods, Scabiosa stellata pods Tillandsia xerographica

Rosa ‘Auspastor’ PATIENCE, Rosa ‘Helga Piaget’, Zantedeschia hybrid, Agonis ‘After Dark’ foliage, Blechnum spicant foliage, Jacobaea hybrid foliage, Papaver somniferum pods, Scabiosa stellata pods, Tillandsia xerographica

Left: Leucodendron 'Inca Gold' Hyacinthus orientalis 'Blue Jacket' Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' Eucalyptus sp. Grevillea 'Ivanhoe' Brunia albiflora Tillandsia xerographica; Right: Dahlia 'Versa' Nelumbo hybrid pods Schinus molle Sorbus forrestii fruit Sorbus caulescens fruit Jacobaea hybrid foliage Euonymous fortunei 'Emerald 'N Gold' Hedera hibernica Eucalyptus sp. Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy' Tillandsia abdita

Left: Leucodendron ‘Inca Gold’, Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Blue Jacket’, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Eucalyptus sp., Grevillea ‘Ivanhoe’, Brunia albiflora, Tillandsia xerographica; Right: Dahlia ‘Versa’, Nelumbo hybrid pods, Schinus molle, Sorbus forrestii fruit, Sorbus caulescens fruit, Jacobaea hybrid foliage, Euonymous fortunei ‘Emerald ‘N Gold’,
Hedera hibernica, Eucalyptus sp., Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’, Tillandsia abdita

Rosa 'Ausdrawn' The Generous Gardener Lathyrus odoratus hybrid, Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost', Astilbe hybrid, Dryopteris felix-mas 'Cristata', Cornus alba 'Elegantissima'

Rosa ‘Ausdrawn’ The Generous Gardener, Lathyrus odoratus hybrid, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, Astilbe hybrid, Dryopteris felix-mas ‘Cristata’, Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’

Actaea 'Black Negligee' foliage, Clematis 'Etoile de Violette', Lilium 'Dimension', Allium hybrid seedhead, Astrantia hybrids, Jacobaea hybrid flower buds, Lonicera japonica 'Halliana', Alchemilla mollis seedheads, Lathyrus odoratus tendrils

Actaea ‘Black Negligee’ foliage, Clematis ‘Etoile de Violette’, Lilium ‘Dimension’, Allium hybrid seedhead, Astrantia hybrids, Jacobaea hybrid flower buds, Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’, Alchemilla mollis seedheads, Lathyrus odoratus tendrils

Rosa hybrid unknown Equisetum hyemale Cornus elliptica Papaver somniferum pods Jacobaea hybrid flowering buds Echeveria sp. Sorbus forrestii fruit Polystichum setiferum 'Plumoso-Multilobum' Blechnum spicant

Rosa hybrid unknown, Equisetum hyemale, Cornus elliptica, Papaver somniferum pods, Jacobaea hybrid flowering buds, Echeveria sp., Sorbus forrestii fruit, Polystichum setiferum ‘Plumoso-Multilobum’, Blechnum spicant

Left: Vitis cognetiae branch with lichen Zantedeschia hybrid Jacobaea hybrid foliage Brunia albiflora Aeonium arboreum hyrbid Akebia quinata 'Alba' Eucomis comosa Tillandsia xerographica x brachyculous Right: Tillandsia xerographica Aeonium arboreum Eucalyptus sp. Leucodendron hybrid Cymbidium hybrid Cornus sericea

Left: Vitis cognetiae branch with lichen, Zantedeschia hybrid, Jacobaea hybrid foliage, Brunia albiflora
Aeonium arboreum hyrbid, Akebia quinata ‘Alba’, Eucomis comosa, Tillandsia xerographica x brachyculous Right: Tillandsia xerographica, Aeonium arboreum, Eucalyptus sp., Leucodendron hybrid, Cymbidium hybrid, Cornus sericea

Floral Friday: Petal-covered Sweets



At Rosendals Tradgard in Stockholm, Sweden, the garden cafe sold and served these beautiful confections rolled in coconut flakes and flower petals. Without the petals, the confections would have looked ordinary. Using edible flowers such as roses gives a colorful lift for the eyes! As stated in a previous blog about edible flowers, be sure not to use flowers that have been sprayed!  ~ Eric

Floral Friday


An arrangement for Floral Friday was the challenge for me today, restricted to using only materials that I was able to find on my terrace.  At first I was frustrated, due to lack of flowers and foliage but find creativity comes easier to me when faced with limited resources.  I started filling my teal colored Chinese pot with Salvia officinalis (sage), then some large headed Tagetes (from seed collected at Gravetye Manor), orange and peachy Zinnias and then I felt I had something but wasn’t finished yet. Layering more colors in with Artemisia foliage, a few small soft pinkish Dahlia blooms (unknown cultivar from DeWiersse), some Jasmine foliage and then filled out the rest with the sun faded blooms of Allium sphaerocephalon. Challenge met and pleased. – James


Edible Flowers

DSC_0587Early summer brings a myriad of floral delights – not to mention the beginning bounty of produce. We often use flowers for decorative reasons that we sometimes forget how some flowers are actually edible. Whenever I have access to such flowers, I always enjoy sprinkling them in salads and rice dishes since the jewel colors can animate sedate-looking dishes. Edible flowers should be harvested from unsprayed plants. Be sure to check prior to using them in salads and other dishes. Check for insects unless you want an unsuspecting source of protein!

  • Borage (Borago officinalis) – A cool refreshing shade of blue, borage surprises with its cucumber flavor.The hairy calyces are unpleasant to eat and should be removed gingerly from the flowers. I like the flowers for cocktails, especially those with gin or Pimms. People sometimes will freeze the flowers in ice cubes for color in cold beverages.
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – Bright orange or yellow, calendulas are the ‘spice’ of edible flowers. I prefer to separate and sprinkle the petals into green leafy salads – the orange against the bright greens of lettuces is an exciting jolt for the eyes.
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) – We get fixated on harvesting chives for its leaves that we overlook the flowers, which have the same strong onion flavor.
  • Marigolds (Tagetes sp.) – Tagetes lemmonii has a pronounced citrus fragrance that is noticeable from rubbing its leaves. However, the culinary species in Mexico and South America are Tagetes lucida and T. minuta. Called pericón, the former is used in medicinal tea by Mexicans.The latter, known as huacatay in Incan language, is used primarily in the South American potato dish ocopa. Some liken the flavor of Tagetes minuta to basil, tarragon, and mint with hints of citrus, and sometimes steep the leaves for medicinal tea.
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum sp.) – Nasturtiums, unrelated to watercress which uses the name for its genus, are the first edible flowers people think of. Their bright orange or yellow flowers have a distinctive peppery taste like the leaves.
  • Rocket or arugula (Eruca sativa) – White flowers are as edible as the leaves, having the same spicy taste.
  • Viola (Viola tricolor) – More for its color than its taste, viola flowers look delicate nested among the leafy greens. it is not to be confused with Viola odorata more popular in confectionery as sugared violets.

~ Eric

Floral Friday: Group Show

Euonymus japonica 'Aureo Variegata'

Euonymus japonicus ‘Aureo Variegata’ and Helleborus x hybridus, highlighting a self-portrait.

After a few years of purchasing ceramics, my collection has grown to a considerable size, constructed of many different periods, styles and shapes.  My justification for a new addition is that it must be a striking piece on its own, with or without flowers. Sometimes I enjoy grouping single arrangements of different styles together, similar as to how I would display a grouping of pots of annuals. If I can play with the colors and shapes to match a piece of artwork, then it’s another win.  With this type of display I can easily put more pieces of my collection out rather than one at a time while still showcasing beautiful blooms or foliage, and tying it in nicely with the surrounding art, making for a nice group show.  – James