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.

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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.

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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

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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


meadow outside/inside

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Meadows, even if we love them, the reality is not all of us have the space for one, or even a garden for that matter.  A simple and easy arrangement is take a handful of meadow* and take one cut with your pruners/secataurs.  Using a glass frog, disperse the cuttings throughout, putting the tallest pieces in the center and add water.  The arrangement will last over a week; giving that relaxed romantic look we admire the meadows for.

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*Please make sure you are not cutting any rare or endangered flora and have permission from the meadow owner.

Dutch Delight

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Traditions regularly weave their way through our lives, being passed from one generation to another without written instruction, following what those have done for ages before us. Some of these we enjoy, others not so much.  One beautiful Dutch tradition takes place on birthdays and is usually orchestrated by your immediate family members.  On their birthday, the person is celebrated with their very own flower chair, when it is tradition that the family decorates a chair with seasonal flowers, paper streamers, paper flowers and balloons. It is customary in my friends’ family to use fresh flowers only, taken, of course,  from their very own cutting garden. I had a hand in helping to continue this celebration once, first harvesting any blooms we wanted to use from the garden, keeping in mind to choose flowers that have longevity and that would not wilt immediately or stain clothing. To create the chair a base of grapevines, sans leaves, were weaved through the frame of the chair, which was used as the anchor for the rest of the blooms and foliage that were to follow.   The more densely packed the chair became, the easier it was to insert more flowers, from annuals to perennials, grasses and foliage, we piled it on, barely leaving a place to sit.  Once finished there was no denying the smiles this seat elicited from the birthday girl and the others in this wonderful Dutch celebration. Gelukkige verjaardag!

besides narcissism

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In keeping with the narcissus theme this week,  we turn to another use for a mirror besides fawning over your own reflection. Who doesn’t love a good mirror trick? Anytime there are large drifts of snowdrops I can’t resist to cut some to bring indoors.  The soft sweet smell they emanate is similar to honey, and the fine beauty can be appreciated once brought closer to eye-level.  There is more beauty when you look under the bloom, at the inner segments, where one can appreciate the different details, in markings, shapes and colors many of them possess.  These differences are what drive galanthophiles crazy when collecting the tiny bulbs.  In order to see these differences more easily I have started placing the arrangements on top of a mirror, getting the best of both worlds.  I have heard that when visiting gardens, some galanthophiles walk around outside with mirrors attached to canes and just move the mirror underneath the blooms so they can forgo having to get on their knees while still noting the unique traits each clump has.  Saves for dirty knees too.

This trick works well for a table during a meal or drinks with friends, plant lovers or not, who can enjoy the blooms more than they would outside. It can be used for other downward facing blooms, like Helleborus, which are just as beautiful when admired up close and am sure there are other blooms that would benefit from this arrangement too. Any suggestions?  – James