After reading Petal & Twig by Valerie Easton, I wanted to run outside and gather twigs, seed pods, and pine cones, holly and evergreen boughs, and try my hand at an appropriately wintry arrangement.
I also wanted to throw out 99 percent of my vases. Suddenly, they're boring!
Easton's book (Sasquatch Books, $16.95) is a celebration of seasonal bouquets, a topic many gardeners find irresistible. It appeals to our frugal natures - no need to buy any flowers or greens - and allows us to enjoy the garden year-round.
The author lives on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, and she describes her latest book this way: "This little book isn't about wiring or manipulating plant materials, interior decorating, or impressing guests. It's simply about taking a delight in flowers, leaves, and what nature offers up."
Although hothouse flowers can be showier, she insists there's nothing more local or in tune with the rhythms of nature than flowers we grow and gather ourselves.
Easton includes a recipe for homemade floral preservative, although she's not convinced it really prolongs a bouquet's life span. It does prevent slime and stink, she says.
Other tips: Cut flowers in the cool of the morning. Immediately put them into a bucket of tepid water that you carry with you. Like pie dough, handle flowers, leaves, and stems as little as possible.
Use humble materials. And be guided by the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, which finds beauty in imperfection, messiness, decline, and decay.
That said, Petal & Twig is bursting with color. Love the pale-pink sweet peas of spring and the brownish-green hellebores in winter.
But it is the vases that drew my eye - pitchers, metallic orbs, and tiny bowls shaped like blossoms, each matched by color, finish, and shape with flowers in season. Much to think about.
- Virginia A. Smith