A Last Look

winter containers with flame willow and bleached leaf stems

lacquered birch twigs and lavender eucalyptus

curly flame willow and aouthern magnolia stems

boxwood pyramid

 stone mason’s Christmas gift to his wife

winter arrangement with mixed eucalyptus

holiday front door

red twig dogwood and Michigan holly

 holiday packages wrapped by Jenny

Next To The Last Look

I finally got back to check out and take pictures of the last of the holiday and winter work we did this season.  Some time and the dispassionate light of day can reveal a detail not quite right, but by and large I was happy with what I saw.  This contemporary version of the traditional red and green holiday is vividly colored.  The tall thin steel topiary forms are strung with chartreuse and white lights, and chartreuse glass ornaments.  I will have to go back at dusk to take more pictures.


Lots of red picks, and lots of oregonia makes for lots of pop.  Their collection of Italian pots from Francesca del Re is beautiful.   

A concrete pot at the corner of the garage features an elongated steel topiary form dressed in a swirl of similar lights and ornaments, a pair of red and chartreuse ornaments and chartreuse glitter picks.  Sassy, this. 

This creamy taupe house and front door gets quite a visual boost from these winter containers.  That vivid splash of color is a great chaser for the winter blues.

I landscaped this newly renovated house last year.  The window box centerpieces are a deliberate play on the form and color of the PJM rhododendrons below the box.  A little white pops the merlot colored eucalyptus. 


This closer look at a companion window box on the side tells the same tale.  Just simple and amply proportioned.

I posted some cell phone pictures of this project which were probably just fine.  But I especially liked the look here.  It is a substantial walk from the drivecourt to the front door; the “welcome to our home” is equally substantive.  The green sinamay affixed to the arch looks like pistachio meringue.  

The brick face of a garage is a narrow, but important spot.  This client drives out and up to this every day.  A combination of materials that will withstand the winter weather, and entertain the eye was the order of the day.  There are better than great odds that these pussy willow stems will bloom in the spring-willow has a very special will to live.  

A giant limestone wall and fireplace mantel is greatly warmed by a holiday expression.

 Winter is a dark time in my zone.  This picture was taken at 4:20 in the afternoon.  The douglas fir reads every bit as dark as the chocolate stained concrete pots. The tallest stems-flame willow.  The shorter stems-pussy willow.  The combination is is subtly celebratory.  If you have not filled your pots yet for winter, you are not too late to the party.  A celebration can be any time you choose.

An Addendum To That Celebration

This Christmas tree decorated with vintage ornaments, garland, and tinsel is stunning.  Their living room, a discussion between the austere and the abundant.  Treasured topiaries made an appearance for Christmas, set in the windows.


Their packages are wrapped as beautifully as their table is set.

They are simple, elegant, and lavish, all at the same time.

Their choice of holiday flowers –  green and white cabbage florets, and white hydrangeas.

I would have had no idea what I was looking at here, but for M’s explanation. Buche de Noel is a classic French dessert served at the holidays. This seemed a natural choice, given the French heritage of one side of this family. The cake is “prepared, presented and garnished to look like a log ready for the fire used in an ancient fire festival of the winter soltice”-this from Wikipedia,  Additionally, this from The Oxford Companion to Food:

“[In France] where the buche de Noel, a roll of light sponge cake, is covered in chocolate or coffee buttercream textured to resemble bark. The conceit is carried further by mounding the cream over small pieces of cake stuck to the main roll, to represent trimmed branches. The ends of the roll and the cut faces of the branches are finished with vanilla cream, imitating pale newly cut wood, and the whole is decorated with leaves made from icing, or meringue mushrooms.”
Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 184)

I learned from my friends that the creation of this dessert occurred over a period of three days.  Is it not spectacular?   

I am sure every one of their Christmas Eve guests enjoyed themselves.   

To my friends: thanks again for inviting me to your holiday.

A Christmas Eve Celebration


You may recall a post I wrote just before Christmas entitled “Gifts That Gardeners Give”.  I pictured a wreath I had made as a gift for two very good friends.  They live on and love a big wild piece of property in what I call “the country”.  They were very enthusiastic about the gift-enough so to suggest they would make it an integral part of their traditional Christmas Eve dinner celebration.  Of course I asked for pictures.  I got more than that.  I got the story of the evening in pictures.   

The mercury glass candlesticks I had seen before.  Their 19th century stone house features generously deep window sills that are perfect for collections.  The simple wood bird sculptures I had not seen.  How elegant they are, each holding a sprig of holiday greens in their beaks.    

The candlesticks and birds dressed for the occasion ran the length of the holiday table.  I like that height that captures one’s attention and sets the mood upon entering the room.

They would do little to obstruct the seated views across the table.  I was delighted to see that the wreath was most definitely part of their holiday celebration. 

The table setting was exquisite. The silver and linens, quite formal.  The arrangement of all of the elements, rhythmic in a purely personal way.

Arranged around the bases of the birds and candlesticks, an assortment of fruits, ornaments, and bits from the garden. The nest in the wreath was handmade by some unknown bird with various grasses, twigs, and other natural detritus. I added a lining of milkweed seeds still attached to their fluff.  The surface of the table was similarly decorated with an assortment of like-spirited objects of their own choosing. 

I think their table was breathtaking.  The rickrack over the mercury glass calls to mind the string that could easily be part of a bird’s nest.  Fruits, nuts, and ornaments in various colors and shapes are the unexpected underplanting to the silver, white and glass dinner service.

The photographs are as beautifully composed as the table. 

 

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to my friends for permitting me to share the photographs of their Christmas Eve dinner table.  It is gorgeous, is it not?