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Book Review-Flower Arranging the Winterthur Way

“Flower Arranging the Winterthur Way” by Alberta A. Melloy with an introduction by Maggie Lidz. It was published by Winterthur.

The book is dedicated to Henry Francis Du Pont, founder of the Winterthur Museum--a man who loved nature and surrounded himself with its beauty.

It is beautifully illustrated with color photos of floral designs along with historic illustrations, all of which reveal the full beauty of the estate. There’s a lovely photo of engraved Tiffany bud vases, which Pauline Foster Du Pont received as a wedding present in 1874.

The foreword and preface explains how the Du Pont family created Winterthur, an American country estate, and how Du Pont directed that the estate continue to have flowers in the various rooms after his death. For each of the main reception rooms, the staff creates two new designs every week.

The introduction provides an intimate look at the origins of the estate, the different styles of designs that were in vogue at Winterthur, and the preferred flowers by the various owners of the estate as well as the pivotal role Henry Francis Du Pont played in creating naturalistic gardens and flower-filled rooms.

The rest of the book presents different type of arrangements for different situations, such as ones to use in period rooms, in front of the nature-inspired, hand-painted European and Oriental wallpapers, mirrors, and windows. One chapter gives step-by-step instructions for creating suitable designs for the various seasons of the year. The holiday arrangement using poinsettias is particularly memorable as is the one with tulips for the spring.

Readers will find the chapter on dried flowers is very helpful. The interesting thing is that the Christmas tree at Winterthur is decorated with everlastings, which was inspired by Du Pont’s love of flowers. The book provides instructions for drying the flowers, and a list of suitable species.

At the end of the book there’s a practical glossary featuring the different flowers used in arrangements at Winterthur. These are arranged alphabetically by Latin name.

Those who’ve visited Winterthur will especially like this book, but others will find it is very useful indeed because the arrangements are just timeless.


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