Wednesday, 27 May 2015

What Constance Spry said about flowers in 1934 still works

Spring fever has got the better of me and I have been Druid like in my reverence of all the blooms that herald my new favorite season.

Add caption

Simply said, I have gotten the garden bug but without the garden.
 But I am fortunate because I still have the lackadaisical bug as well so am doing a lot of backseat gardening and buying flowers as those who see my Instagram feed are well aware.

Long time readers may remember I collect vintage books so this afternoon
I chose to read this edition of Constance Spry. ( click on link for more info)

For those who are not familiar with her, the only facile example of her modern day counterpart would be a mix of Carolyne Roehm and Martha Stewart - 
she was a florist /floral decorator/ designer / teacher.  
She had some famous commissions such as doing the flowers for the coronation of our present queen but also got to do the flowers for the Duke of Windsor's wedding.

She also has a rose named after her.

The edition I have of this book must be at least from 1936 
but one of the earlier trustees of this book marked 
their custodianship with the year 1938.

I must confess that I originally bought this book in my twenties and the main draw was the author herself and the patina of the book.
( as shown in the first picture )

Today was the second time I read this book and with all things I appreciate aspects of this that passed me by when I first got it.
I love the categories of the books.
The chapter I found a bit boring was the yellow, gold, cream and brown one because those colors in flowers apart from yellow remind me of disease.

This as you will see was a book to be read and not viewed and flipped through.

At first it seems stern until one realizes that printing pictures was a difficult process and that Madame Spry does show a sense of humour and is not at all strict in her views.

What surprised me is that she had no pretensions and was inclusive in this art of floral design because she didn't include expensive or fiddly flowers or rather accentuate the importance of them.

She was quite an egalitarian florist and not at all a snob even though
she was considered THE society florist.
Lady Montagu Scott's wedding to Duke of Gloucester Via

Below was one of my favorite paragraphs of the whole book and 
in fact I read this several times because this is how I feel when 
I write but just not about flowers.

There were snippets that made me laugh 
due to its anachronistic nature.

And then other points on cultural floral design were so avant-garde and showed critical thinking which 
showed how she set her mark in this niche world.

So much of what she wrote about floral design could have been applied to any category of design be it furniture or architecture.

There are stereotypes and prejudices I had to fight when reading her words because I kept thinking she would be so conservative 
but she showed her sense of humour.
In the chapter about table decorations, 
she says that perhaps one should break the rule of low decoration in certain family gatherings!

There were times when an explanation of every flower of a bouquet she once did was not successful for many reasons: 
my lack of knowledge of flowers and visualization.

And yet sometimes she would be succinct and state her point.
Luncheon tables should have blue flowers.
Don't stress, just go blue.

In modern gardening and flower books, 
most of the editorial layout are pictures and yet here all the pictures were grouped at the back for reference.

Frankly, this looks like a bad Instagram filter but 
am sure this was much appreciated and peered over by 
most British people who bought the book.

I must say that one type of vase that I still have strong opinions are about mixed bunches and
I prefer them in Dutch still lifes and in real life tend to go purist with a few exceptions.

They look black but the caption says red so just go with it.

I liked what she said about red flowers and while I did say 
I don't like mixed bunches, if it is a lack of options then 
I also don't think green should be a supporting act in a bouquet of red otherwise it ends up being too Christmas-y.

A true testament to a classic book is when the writer captures an age old problem -
the little vase with one weak stem on a restaurant table!

I agree with her and would concentrate the flower in one area rather than a feeble flower on every single table only to be removed.

I leave you with some more pictures for you to enjoy and now am off to reread one of her old cookbooks I have of hers!

Here are some more examples of her work.

The caption got cut - it is camellias.

This Christmas tree is one of the oddest ones I have seen.

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Chelsea Flower Show Highlights / Lowlights 2015

I had so much expectation for the Chelsea Flower Show that I had bought tickets back in January - especially as the surrounds of the neighborhood of Chelsea was getting into the spirit and displaying their homage to this institution of an event.

Sloane Square had installed a fake wisteria tree with a bar and even organized rickshaw tours that would take tourists around the best of the shop windows in the area.

The best strip was this section where two shops next to each other created a great visual that stopped traffic.
The gown of flowers and the golden coach belied the hailstones and got me into the spirit.

It is the 150 year anniversary of Alice in Wonderland and there were homages inside and outside the show.  This was the most amusing and fun bit of the whole show.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Royal Kensington Gardens in bloom, Tales from the French Riviera andother stuff

Forgive the poor editing but if I don't get this out then I never will and that might become a habit so this will be a pictorial stream of consciousness/diary sort of thing.

This was the lovely tulip planting situated in the Italianate section of
Kensington Gardens which is by Lancaster Gate.

It's one of my favorite bits of Kensington Gardens.
Not only were there great flowers but it's birthing season.
Dotted around the Serpentine were new families of ducks.
Speaking of birthing...

And of course in the edifice on the way left is Apartment 1A which is the London home of the Cambridges.
Looks peaceful here but...
 It was surrounded by Japanese press, Australian channel 9, the AP, ITN and a few passing people like moi.
You forget it is a "royal" park sometimes but there are reminders.
Here are some guards practicing for the Queens Parade in June.

Went to the South of France for a few days.
I forgot how nice it is - off season.
Otherwise during the heights of summer it really isn't to my liking and way too crowded and all the angst and insecurity of city folk gets magnified.
Maybe it's the shedding of clothes into swimwear or the hopes and dreams of possible mating that applies to both men and women.

It's pretty now but it can get pretty ugly in other ways.

It's been years since I went.
I told myself twice I should never go again.
First was when the Siberian ex gulag prisoner / bodyguard told my friends and myself that we could not lean on a column by our table in a St Tropez nightclub because some gangster bitch (literally) had paid 250,000 euros for the privilege of dancing on the podium exclusively for the month of August.
This was a decade ago when 250,000 euros was a lot of money.
( I am being facetious people.)

Then I made an exception and went to the Riviera with Mr CSW a few years after that incident.
We were staying in a lovely hotel for some R&R and some Russian magnate insisted on flying his helicopter and parking it by the hotel pool.
With people like that, you can't exactly have a word with anyone.
But he did make us laugh because he wore animal print speedos with a sailor's cap and smoked a cigar like Popeye by the pool.

But you get my drift.

There is architectural evidence of some characters that are down these parts.
Very dirty rotten scoundrels.
Do you see the almost ancient Roman villa above and below?

It has been deserted for more than a decade because an Arab multimillionaire decided he would just build what he wanted and just pay the penalty by not adhering to planning permission.
But the socialist French council kicked in and didn't give him the easy option of paying the fines but deemed it uninhabitable and is still empty.

Was it W Somerset Maugham that said about Monaco - where the weather is sunny but the people are shady? Well with pink cars like this...

This pink building is part of the Monagesque government buildings.
Doesn't it look like it's in Vegas pretending to be in the south of France almost?
Speaking of shade, it was a refreshing change to need it.
But I rediscovered the beauty of the south of France and was reminded how it became such a popular destination.

There are lots of walks by the coast that offer incredible fresh air and views.

My friend who lives there knows a lot of spots and paths known only to locals and took me for the first swim of the season.

The Jack Russell joined us too.
It was just the three of us!
Yes the water was about 14 degrees but the plus side is we had it to ourselves.

This is what you can do in a park in Monaco.
You are allowed to walk with your dog and throw rubbish away.
It's a blast!

Here is a picture of a boat that is sinking - sorry for the blur.
But the Med is actually quite treacherous.

This is the famous hilltop villa where Karl Lagerfeld has used as a photoshoot for many of his personal work and Chanel ads.
It's one town out of Monaco.

Monaco reminds me a bit of Hong Kong.
Dense high rises and ridiculous prices of homes.
But it was quite nice to wake up to the beach.

The preparations for the Monaco Grand Prix were already in place.
These pics are for you Louise!

It was fun driving pretending we were in the race.

This next picture won't mean anything unless you play the video game.

We went to the finals of the Rolex Masters which is the Wimbledon of Monaco.

It rained and I got blamed for bringing it over.

But playing resumed and Prince Albert was there in this royal box.
Without Princess Charlene...Rumour mills are busy!

Yellow is gorgeous.
Loro Piana never gets it wrong.
Here is the yellow turned apricot with the sun blushed roses in my window box.

I have been posting pics called live rose cam on my facebook and I got a few messages from a few friends that I was turning into an old lady.
Aren't we all!?

I need a spiralizer because strips aren't the same.

But considering we got a Vitamix and now aren't using it I am reluctant.

Fresh almonds ain't all that.
Such a disappoitment.
Plus almonds use so much water so now this is the new guilt food and eating it or drinking almond milk is the new not recycling apparently.

I can't get over how much I love Millie.