favorite things: peonies

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There is something about peonies: their lush, feathery petals, their intoxicating smell, their rich, dark green foliage, their old-fashioned beauty…and they don’t get as much attention as the rose, but they should. They don’t have thorns, and they are easier to grow. All you have to do is stake them when they flop or better yet, clip them and bring them inside. I’d love to have a field full of peony bushes like Martha Stewart does at her country house above, but since I don’t, here are a few of my favorite things that would add a touch of elegant country style to a home wherever it might be.

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Stylist and author Tricia Foley, using a simple straw bag in the photo above, highlights the striking beauty of pink peonies freshly cut and ready to be arranged. Click here for a similar bag that I love from Dreamy Whites (which of course can be used for many other things as well).

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Try floating the flower heads in a pretty bowl on a coffee table (I learned about this first from writer Katherine Mansfield, who did this often and notes it in her diary). And click here for a video from Martha Stewart with other tips on arranging peonies.

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Colefax and Fowler’s Tree Peony linen fabric is a favorite. It comes in three colors and I like them all, but this version in a muted pink and green would be perfect on throw pillows for a summer refresh on a porch or in a bedroom or family room.

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Lili Bermuda is a perfume shop in St. George’s, Bermuda where you can find notes of peony in their Pink perfume and scented soaps (and they ship to the US).

E8D46364-FDC8-4BC9-B53A-46904CC2375BInspired by 17th century Dutch still life paintings, Liberty London’s Peony tablecloth makes a perfect gift this wedding season, or a new addition to your own linen collection.

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Antique botanical prints are a way of bringing the garden inside. Here is a gorgeous white peony by artist and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redoute (1759-1840). You can find an unframed book page version on Etsy here and another printed version here.

Enjoy the rest of May and the peonies however you find them…

the gardens at Monticello

 

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Monticello was Thomas Jefferson’s attempt at creating an American villa rustica, or gentleman’s farm. Jefferson wrote: “…cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, & they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty & interests by most lasting bonds.”

peacocks and potted hydrangea

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This is what I would call an enchanting entrance, and it leads (so I am told) to an enchanting place. Who wouldn’t want to follow that dirt road?

Furlow Gatewood, in his late nineties now, was born and raised in Americus, Georgia and his cluster of houses, where he currently resides, are part of his families’ original property. There is a main barn, three houses, and several outbuildings and gardens. After some time in Manhattan and Savannah, Gatewood returned to Americus and began his work designing, decorating, and living here.

He is self-taught and often begins a project without planning but relies, he says, on his vision and instinct. His knowledge about architecture, design, and antiques (not to mention “the art of living”) is widely respected and sought after. Those who know him describe him as the quintessential Southern gentleman with an exquisite eye for what is beautiful and interesting to him. There is a touch of whimsy to his style that is utterly inimitable. (See one of his rooms in previous post here.)

What I admire so much about Furlow Gatewood’s philosophy is his unstudied, yet classical approach to outfitting a room, and his willingness to take small risks that seem to say: “Just don’t take it all too seriously.”