blooming: new favorite flower books

onthresholds_peonies close up

I’m not entirely sure why, but flower books seem to lift the spirits almost as much as the flowers themselves. It might have something to do with how flower books allow us to cross so many thresholds:  what I mean is the blurring of boundaries between home and garden that happens on the pages and in our minds as we read and look at the photographs—for we are invited into the world of living a flower-inspired life no matter what our real circumstances are. So that even if we have no garden or cut flowers that particular day, we have the book itself to cheer us on.

Here are three recently published flower books that I have very much enjoyed poring over.  I hope you will too. Read more

the Easter Lily

Easter Lilys on table in porch

The first Easter Lily bulbs (Lilium longiflorum) were brought to the United States in a suitcase in 1919. A soldier returning from Japan during WWI had the lily bulbs with him, and it seems that he gave them to his friends as gifts. This happened along the southern coast of Oregon and California, where they have been cultivating them ever since. Sometimes they are called Bermuda Lilies because they are grown there as well. Read more

the scrapbook: to daffodils

daffodils in Abby's room_onthresholds

daffodils close-up_onthresholds

Robert Herrick was appointed as vicar of Dean Prior in Devonshire, and as a city dweller he did not take to the country life at first (he was known to curse through a few early sermons). But the story goes that he learned to care deeply about the people and the landscape and the rural way of life. His poems are often a kind of prayer, and often one or two long sentences, like “To Daffodils.” Read more

the open window: an arrangement inspired by Matisse

onthresholds_front-view-of-matisse-arrangement

Henri Matisse came to Baltimore on December 17, 1930. He was visiting his good friend Etta Cone for the first time since Etta and her sister Claribel had begun collecting his art many years earlier (He called them “my two Baltimore ladies”). By then, Claribel had passed away, but Etta was still acquiring art and antiques and living among them in her large two-suite apartment on Eutaw Street. She was delighted to host the great artist, for the first, and what would also be the last time. Read more

a snow day

brick path and snow_onthresholds

We have had a late snowfall, and now, for a moment, the sun is shining on the snow and the ice and my words on the page. But really it has been a bit of a flop of a snowstorm; we are very underwhelmed with it, for we thought we would be watching it come down for hours and that there would be mounds of snow and snowdrifts and heavy winds. The forecast was for a blizzard. Read more

sweet peas (and a small digression)

sweet-peas-2_onthresholds

A long time ago I read something, somewhere about sweet peas that has stayed with me. (My first inclination is to give Martha Stewart credit for this tip even though she seems to get the credit for everything in the “Home and Garden” world…did she really come up with it all? Or is it that she knows how to get the word out in a stylish, fresh way? And yet, when she is instructing us about something, it feels a bit awkward, if you know what I mean…). Read more

not in love with Valentine’s Day?

ellicott-city-shop-window-for-valentines-day

This morning was cold and the sun was shining and maybe I fell a little in love with Valentine’s Day (I’ve never been a big fan) when I went window shopping (which, like walking the streets of my town and looking at old houses and gardens, is something I do when I’m stuck in the middle of a sentence or a paragraph or a thought that is more muddled than clear). Read more

winter shadows

onthresholds_pops-bookshelf-in-monks-house

Finally the sun has come out after days of gray rawness. And even though it has not been bitter cold, this is the time of year when our patience is tested—another threshold—the space between winter’s lingering moodiness and spring’s approaching spiritedness. Read more