Monday, August 13, 2012

O Girasole...

Sunflowers by any name – girasole, tournesol, or himawari - may not smell sweet as the saying (kinda) goes, but they always make us smile.  Here in the hills between Lakeville and Sharon CT, two huge fields have been blooming away, transporting us to Provence or Kansas, depending on your worldview.

Googling sunflowers, you will find over 40 varieties of Helianthus annus in yellows, reds and bronze, providing much grist for the designer’s mill.

A gentle subscriber in Rochester gave me these fabulous red milk bottles (see "Summer Marches Down the Table", June).  What a fun and easy setting they make for these cheery faces.

For a small dinner, this is a quieter version with tapered square glass containers sitting on square mirrors with candles. I am not a huge fan of colored candles but the white does look rather lame here.

With bronze sunflowers a more dramatic, if less summery, statement can be made.  This handsome piece of pottery was created by Michael Humphreys.  It is a striking piece even on its own and a very versatile container.

Added to the pot-et-fleur box used last week (see "When Pot meets Fleur", July), these yellow centered sunflowers create a sunshine in a box.  They are sitting in a water filled container which has been placed in back of the potted plants.

For something really different, a piece of garden art is brought to the table.  The sunflowers are stripped of their bright petals.  This is very sticky work so slather your hands with hand cream so the sap doesn't stick or use disposable gloves.  The less freshly picked the sunflowers are, the easier it is to remove the petals - a gentle back and forth at their base and then slip about 4-6 petals at a time.

Sunflower stems are cut very very short, with skewers used to help hold them into the oasis. Only a little of the stem needs to be in the oasis to keep them hydrated.  Above, you can just see the leaf covered tuna can that raises this design up as it sits in the sculpture.

Lily grass is used to emulate the iron.  The tough end is poked into the oasis, and the softer tip is looped over and pinned to the oasis between the flower heads.  

First, find your sunflower!  Cheers!

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