mini-tutorial: autumn bedside bouquets

Two things: Flowers bring life to a room, and big projects involve many little projects. 

I’ve been away from this space (for too long) while working on a large project. This mini-tutorial is an off-shoot of that project. For the Inn at Mary’s Land Farm, which we have been decorating, we created some bedside bouquets.  Because I really enjoyed the process and was delighted by how much these little arrangements brightened the rooms, I thought I’d share them with you. 

Continue reading “mini-tutorial: autumn bedside bouquets”

how to arrange sunflowers (because they can be divas)

We are in full sunflower season here.  And while sunflowers are certainly show-stoppers and crowd-pleasers (think sunflower festivals), sometimes it’s hard to handle them.  The sunflower is easy to grow from seed and glorious in a field or tucked in the back of a garden.  But, as a cut flower she can look stunning one minute and then quite dismal the next, her large head bent over like she has overstayed her time at the party.  Depending on the variety (and there are many), stems can be thick and curved in odd ways, and heads can be heavy and large and, well, awkward.  As my sister says of the sunflower:  She wants to do what she wants to do.

Continue reading “how to arrange sunflowers (because they can be divas)”

Christmas at Ladew Gardens: a country manor house drawing room

655A2FC3-E133-447B-9885-A9708C73590DThe manor house at Ladew Topiary Gardens was built in 1820 and purchased by Harvy Ladew (1887-1976) in 1929. For the rest of his life Mr. Ladew (as he is lovingly referred to by the staff at the Gardens) restored and decorated the house, while creating the exquisite gardens on the property. Both the house and gardens are open to the public  from April-October. The house is re-opened for its annual Christmas Open House with each room decorated by a designer or garden club. This year we took part in this special event and decorated the drawing room.


When decorating a historic house we think it is important to respect the style of the period and incorporate designs that enhance the original architecture rather than distract from it. For this large, centrally located drawing room, traditionally used for entertaining and socializing, we chose a neutral palette of whites, brown, and taupe to compliment the pale green chintz on the furniture and the dark cherry antiques.


Mixed evergreens served as the backdrop to the featured white flowers: magnolias, paper whites, and amaryllis. Blue and white decorative pieces were used as accents. We incorporated natural and garden elements with plaid and gingham ribbon, and hung handmade stockings in hunting scene toile as a nod to the equestrian lifestyle that Mr. Ladew lived and loved.




Mr. Ladew’s manor house is a place of tradition, character, and moxie: you feel this as you walk through the rooms that are just as he left them: thoughtfully decorated and collected. If the house is haunted, it is by ghosts of the creative spirits who passed through its rooms like interior designer Billy Baldwin and musician Cole Porter (who actually played the piano in the drawing room). And of course by Mr. Ladew himself, who certainly knew about the art of living well.


Thanks so much to all of you who attended the open house. We appreciate your support of  Ladew Topiary Gardens and ECS!

(* all photographs by Michael Sneeringer, Jr.)


Holly and Brooke

September wedding flowers

We were honored to design the flowers for our niece’s mid-September wedding at the Old Westminster Winery.  The romantic spirit of the vineyards and the glimpses of rural life in the distance were the perfect backdrop for the simple, elegant, and seasonal atmosphere the bride and groom hoped to create. 

Our role in this wedding was just one part of a much larger story (I have no doubt the bride will write it one day).  Within that story there are two aunts (known for fussing at each other about flowers), a much-loved niece, a wedding dress ordered spontaneously during a flower meeting, lots of texting (dahlias or not?!), lots of laughing, and I could go on. 

But, I will let the images speak for themselves because they tell a story of finding beauty in many ways and attention to detail (you will notice a faux butterfly placed in the bridal bouquet and a real one that flew into it). The images also speak to the thoughtfulness of this couple and the community that they brought together for their very special day. 

Using an ivory, mauve, sage, and navy palette, we created a semi-formal hand-tied bridal bouquet with garden roses, astilbe and orlaya, astrantia, scabiosa, September aster, seeded eucalyptus, amaranth, cosmos, and dahlias.

The bridal party carried simple tied bouquets of white astilbe, seeded eucalyptus, white orlaya, and jewel of opar.

For the ceremony we hung a garland of mixed greens and hydrangea on a white birch arch and lined the aisles with pewter lanterns and white mums in white washed baskets.  The tables at the reception were decorated with farm grown seasonal flowers in simple glass hurricane vases. Hydrangea blooms topped the homemade cakes as well. 


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Fenker Wedding

Flowers are just one element of special occasions.  We think they are an important one, the thing that can be the finishing touch, like the perfect icing on a cake.  They have the ability to provide cohesion and meaning too. They strike a chord.  They lift the mood. In this case (despite the wind blowing over the statement urn about twenty times), everything came together beautifully, the rain held off, and the entire evening was magical.   


Holly and Brooke

(Photograhy by Kimberly Florence)

a flower farm (and a summer bouquet)

ECBC9125-0173-4645-AF69-C11D9CCEC3D6Butterbee Farm is tucked away along the edges of a residential community and a thirty-minute drive from Baltimore City proper. Owned and operated by husband and wife team, Jascha Owens and Laura Beth Resnick, Butterbee Farm provides locally grown flowers to the Baltimore/DC region and the Chesapeake Bay area.45636728-891C-4046-93DE-C6949F64C9310A99F8CB-E151-4619-A653-0B9ACD078F10And this past Saturday the flower farm hosted its first tour of the season. Most of us have seen dairy farms and large vegetable gardens, and we’ve seen or had personal cut flower gardens, but many of us have not seen a large-scale farm that only grows flowers.C6B340BB-7633-4FF5-B692-29E1D338E5D5530AE340-B94B-41C8-AA2E-540E8AA78BF395FBE2B1-C6D0-4EB6-91C1-E18FD677E4CC30610C67-E40F-47ED-B4A9-BC7AF3E492D3Our tour started just after 9 AM on a warm, sunny day. Led by Laura Beth, we started in the new green house (built recently so that flowers can be started early and grown during the off season), we walked around the centrally located farmhouse (where the couple lives) taking in the various sections of the farm where bulbs, herbs, woody stem flowers, perennials, and annuals are grown.74B5187E-DDA4-4AB0-B54A-29D770F6F4E5C129FE62-5F7E-4D17-8513-4C834493957DLaura Beth explained what her flower farm does: grows flowers and foliage for florists, floral designers, and DIY brides and grooms. As we walked she told us how she decides what to grow (she meets with florists who tell her the latest trends), and about the farming style she prefers (organic, sustainable, and one that involves an ancient method called occultation).4C46CABD-F260-4B84-A3D3-F0FE4D67357266774DB6-DE73-4F91-983C-ECE9066AF7E92D20B123-0A88-4109-A577-FF8E65637749The farm is small but looks out over acres of cornfields and rolling hills. And it is full of charm. Not just because of all the flowers but also because of the hosts who are clearly passionate about flowers, farming, and community. On our tour guests asked lots of questions, children wandered around, and at the end we made summer bouquets to take home.E05BA654-1309-4EFC-9AE6-C5B35C2C92F99EDDB029-7356-4F5C-9EA0-D9112B854F5CI saw straw flowers in colors and forms that I’ve never seen before, rows and rows of lanky, delicate cosmos, bright snapdragons, and lacey carrot flowers. The spring flowers were mostly gone. The sunflowers and zinnias were just beginning to bloom.9D8B1F7B-BBD5-497E-A47A-8F167D2805D46D7D038F-CFCE-41C4-B441-B6CA97481951The tours were on the half-hour and as we were leaving more folks were filing in to have a look and make a bouquet. I can’t think of a lovelier way to spend a summer morning. I highly recommend it. Click here to find out more!F7E63930-49F6-4A9D-8890-DFB46638B14AE20086C7-6484-4144-8D5B-C798C3F03A78ED14478F-E133-41B2-AB69-45DFCE1B1FD2


(All photographs by Michael Sneeringer, Jr @elsneero)