mid-week inspiration: late summer mood

It’s late summer here and it’s been an odd one, so perhaps that’s why half of me wants to let it linger and the other half really wants to move on.  As school starts (whatever that looks like), schedules change, summer flowers begin to fade, and the views from our windows begin to alter, our homes are already shifting their mood.  Can you feel it? (Do you remember when rugs were taken up and heavy curtains were replaced with light panels and houses really had a different air about them in summer? And all that work!)  Anyway, there’s still time for summer things like dining al fresco, taking a dip, lounging lazily on the lawn, going for ice cream, or doing whatever keeps you in the summer mood.   

Here are some of my favorite spaces with a nice summer vibe.

Continue reading “mid-week inspiration: late summer mood”

A is for auricula theater

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When you are my age you think you have seen it all. But I have a new favorite thing—the auricula theater. They’re so whimsical and wonderful I can’t believe I have never seen one in real life. I’ve read about them and seen photographs. And they are exactly what they sound like: a kind of stage for potted auriculas. Because apparently auriculas (a type of primrose) are quite the divas. Their blooms are exquisite and delicate, and they will not tolerate direct sun or wind or rain.

Thus the showcasing and shelter of the theater.

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Originally from the mountainsides of Europe, auriculas have been collected, cultivated, and coveted since the 1500s. Then some imaginative soul came up with the idea of a theater for these showstoppers (this happened in the 1700s). The theaters can be simple or elaborate, and to this day auriculas have starring roles in flower shows (plant collectors, like Simon Lockyer, win trophies for their auriculas and have dedicated their life to them).

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28090E74-184F-42C5-88DA-2A0462AE6540Vita Sackville-West had a small auricula theater made at Sissinghurst (above). And each spring for the last four years The New York Botanical Gardens opens its auricula theater designed by garden historian The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury (below).

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I am determined to have one (bought or built). Even if I’m not successful with the fickle auricula, imagine the possibilities of the theater.

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the stunning amaryllis (potting and styling ideas)

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The amaryllis is a show-stopper. But—you’ve got to get busy if you want to have the show for the holidays. You can usually find amaryllis bulbs in kits in grocery stores and in nurseries this time of year. They are pre-frozen and ready to go. And don’t worry: they look very grand—and they are—but they are simple to pot up and put around (so go ahead and let your friends think you have done something extraordinary). Continue reading “the stunning amaryllis (potting and styling ideas)”

how to add plaid this fall (and make it chic)

93AFC296-6D1F-470C-ACEB-95B34C20050APlaid is having another moment this fall. Despite its ancient status (I won’t go into it now, but a brief history of it can be found on Smithsonian.com), or maybe because of it, plaid has had its ups and downs. Some years it’s wildly popular and other years it’s pushed aside as being too frumpy and that type of thing. But I’ve always been fond of plaid. Somewhere there is an old photograph of me wearing plaid hip hugger, bell bottom pants (which I adored). And there are several photographs of my brothers in plaid shorts. My mother did a kitchen in black and white windowpane plaid wallpaper. It’s in my blood, and right now plaid is everywhere I look: on the pages of fashion magazines, in shop windows, on tablescapes, and in our homes. Continue reading “how to add plaid this fall (and make it chic)”

ornamental cabbage: unexpected and (yes) elegant

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When fall begins to arrive, we expect to see potted mums and pansies and pumpkins, but more and more we are also seeing ornamental cabbage as part of the autumnal shift in our gardens and our decorating repertoire. I don’t remember when I first became so fond of them. Never a big fan of the potted mum to ring in the season (my mother and I had a long standing debate about this), the ornamental cabbage must have caught my eye as an antidote and it has risen in status in my mind and around my house. Continue reading “ornamental cabbage: unexpected and (yes) elegant”