This attractive little book is one you will love to pick up for inspiration from time to time. Mainly a picture book, it isn’t just eye candy. It has plenty of information on cutting and keeping flowers plus all sorts of material you might never have thought to put in a vase. It is all about small designs in little containers that fit on windowsills. “When I find myself adding more than three materials to a single vase on the windowsill, I know I’m heading into ‘regular’ flower arranging territory and I try to rein myself in,” Nancy Ross Hugo.
We gardeners often find ourselves with small pinched off cuttings that we just cannot throw away. These often end up on a windowsill in clear vases of water. There is nothing wrong with adding a flower to this foliage to brighten up the vase and add a little color to the greenery.
Don’t be rigid in your designs. Hugo describes a photo as, “The windowsill on page 28 started out as a collection of blue flowers, until the dogwood flowers insisted on being included.” As far as materials for your mini-designs, Hugo shows how to use leaves, vines, vegetables, and fruit in pleasing small arrangements. One Swiss chard leaf shows up in a couple of ways without any water, since, as Hugo explains, Swiss chard leaves can last a long time out of water.
If you have ever been to a flower show and admired an Ikebana arrangement, check out page 92’s beautiful design and easy instructions.
The minimalist designs are captured in monthly images, beginning with January. Here I found a little bowl of gumballs especially inspiring. If you own a gumball tree (Liquidambar styraciflua also known as sweetgum), you could easily construct, for yourself, a dozen of these little arrangements and never put a dent in the fallen seed balls. Obviously, Hugo has ready access to gumballs. She uses them in arrangements throughout the book. One especially interesting design shows off long pine needles fastened in a dark pin cup surrounded at the base of the needles with the ubiquitous gumballs. This little arrangement is backed by a small dinner plate. Many of the tiny designs show off better with kitchen plate backdrops.
You will find intriguing ideas for small containers while you enjoy the photo array. A brown bottle (could be a beer bottle, or a root beer bottle if you are a teetotaler) holds one branch, an Alder twig attractively sporting catkins and cones. In another photo, a clear glass vanilla bottle holds one eye-catching rose bloom. A vinegar cruet and a clear glass inkwell are other innovative flower holders.
Daffodils are cheery vase and windowsill companions. Just remember to keep daffodils in their own water. Their presence with other flowers will hasten their companions’ demise. One way to accomplish this is shown on page 113. Pale yellow daffodils and lavender violas can mingle separately in connected glass tubes. Shot or shooter glasses, bulb holders, and antique bottles all make for interesting but unobtrusive bouquet holders. The stars should always be what they hold. Check for ideas on where to find glass vases in this GardenSMART article, WHERE TO FIND BARGAIN VASES. From fern fronds to roses to autumn leaves to brown eggs, you will find plenty of vase inspiration in this little book of big ideas.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. When I am outdoors, I will be looking at leaves, twigs, grasses, and veggies with a "new eye." What can I use in a windowsill arrangement?
NOTE: From time to time, I receive a free copy of a book to review. This is one of those times. I am not asked to give a favorable review but am left to my own conclusions on how valuable the book is to our readers. Available from booksellers everywhere. Published by St Lynn’s Press, 2014. ISBN-13: 9780989268851
Posted December 12, 2014
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