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)”

rediscovering our favorite design books

For me, these days of sheltering-in-place have been both confusing and clarifying. I know I’m not alone in that feeling, and I also know that many of us have had the good fortune of rediscovering many things about the place we call home. I have found comfort in revisiting well-worn, well-loved design books full of beautiful homes and gardens. And I was curious about what books others return to for comfort and inspiration.

Continue reading “rediscovering our favorite design books”

Friday mood board 1.24.20

Sometimes we create in order to find something that we are searching for. This mood board is inspired by a color—hyacinth blue—that I have heard of but that I cannot exactly pin down. The hyacinth flower, a spring blooming bulb with a strong fragrance, comes in a range of colors and a variety of blues. The blues go from deep blue (close to purple) to light blue (close to periwinkle). I believe the color referred to as hyacinth blue is a lighter shade like the color in the Vermeer painting. In my quest for the true hyacinth blue I have gathered images of the various hues and other things that it brings to mind, like hyacinth vases and porcelain bulb bowls, Dutch interiors, and soothing patterns in this shade. If I’m not mistaken, my grandmother once had a bedroom in hyacinth blue, or something very close. Perhaps I am remembering that and the coming of spring.

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Scalamandre Chi’En Dragon Hyacinth Blue

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Savannah Skirted Ottoman One King’s Lane

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Girl In Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

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Antique Porcelain Bulb Bowl

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Stroheim Biron Strie Check in Hyacinth Blue

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Hyacinth vases and jars

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House & Garden UK

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Graham & Brown Fresco wallpaper Hyacinth Blue

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Cheers and happy Friday!

Holly

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

Cheers,

Holly and Brooke

what we love about November…

Falling leaves in shades of red, orange, and yellow, country walks, apple orchards, mulled wine, heirloom chrysanthemums, cornucopias, cozy sweaters, planting bulbs, Thanksgiving, pheasants, afternoon naps, sheaves of wheat, plaid everything on these “soft-dying days” as Keats called them…

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We hope you are enjoying these November days…

Cheers!

Holly and Brooke