Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer afternoon

 Garden party...

In “A Backward Glance” (1934), Edith Wharton quoted Henry James: “Summer afternoon,..summer afternoon; to me those have been the most beautiful words in the English language”.   Given that Henry lived those afternoons in England, that might have been a bit of stretch!  But what a lovely thought!  We probably have more consistent beautiful afternoons here in the Berkshires.  Garden parties on summer afternoons are two lovely thoughts. We had both for real for our garden club yesterday.  The late afternoon sun streaked across the lawns of our gracious hosts’ lovely home as the guests arrived. 
She is a renowed grower, plantswoman and GCA horticultural judge.  No surprise then that her gardens are breath-taking with handsome mature trees, lovely stonework and gorgeous plantings.  Originally designed by the Olmstead firm, they have evolved handsomely with their present owners and were much admired as guests strolled around, prosecco in hand. 

Rather gilding the lily here, various arrangements in the house, summer house and party tent used peonies, gladiola, high bush cranberry, lilies, lisianthus  plus more wonderful home grown cuttings of oak leaf hydrangea, on-the-way-to-dried allium seed heads, curly onion.

The dream headquarters of this operation turned the original butler’s pantry into the flower room for the day.  The table holds some of the many containers used on the bars, reception table, & mantle.

Beautiful verdigris copper urns were filled with oak-leaf hydrangea, allium, & white lisianthus – what someone called “those florist flowers, you know”, to Latin-lovers Eustoma russelionum.  By any name not my favorites. 

To keep them in place in the V shaped container, which would not hold a pinholder, I used the dried allium stems crossed just above the water level – an ikebana trick known as a kubari.

On the mantle, keeping these beautiful blue and white containers as the stars, only the cranberry was used in a cluster.  These containers do not hold water, so a plastic bag was put in first, filled with water.  The branches were wired in bouquet, slipped in and the plastic tucked in so not to show.

Home grown peonies and lilies in the corner of the same room show off gorgeous ceramics.

For the reception table, two charming ceramic creatures were used together – a snail and a hippo.  Filled with pink peonies, swirly onion, more cranberry, and..  The hostess and I thought the gardeners checking in would recognize our nod to the record crops of slugs in our gardens this month!

 This is Allium proliferum, Egyptian walking onion - adds wit and fun (and well, maybe a tiny, little smell) to the flowers.

A beautiful begonia in the summer house, where a rooster with an amsonia tail sat on the soon-to-be bar table. 

 With all this, however,  the gardens and the guests were the stars of the evening!  Cheers!

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