Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
To help prevent consumers from running up lots of extra debt for the holiday season, some consumer counseling agencies are holding workshops, and encouraging people to be realistic about what they can afford to spend. For flower lovers, there are many affordable gifts, such as books and calendars.
“Specialty Cut Flowers” by Allan M. Armitage et al is a title people will use for years to come. Timber Press published the revised and enlarged second edition of this comprehensive guide to all sorts of cut flowers, including everything from woody plants to bulbs. This will be especially useful to those with cutting gardens. It features a hundred color photos along with nearly as many line drawings and handy charts for reference. The introduction has details on drying and preserving flowers, postharvest care, and information on the cut flower industry. With the A-Z format, floral designers can locate the plants in a hurry, and learn when to harvest the flowers, the vaselife, and how to grow and care for the plants with a complete listing of the different cultivars.
The second edition of “Floriculture-Designing and Merchandising” by Charles Griner from Delmar/Thomson Learning is a perfect choice for anyone who has a serious interest in floral design. It is a suitable textbook for floral design courses, but is also a good choice for those interested in learning on their own. With this book, one can learn the basics on floral design and flower care as well as how to set up a flower shop or work in the floral industry, and price merchandise. It also has complete instructions on drying flowers, and an engrossing history of floral design.
For rose lovers, the perfect title is “Easy & Elegant Rose Design-Beyond the Garden” by Ellen Spector Platt from Fulcrum Publishing. Platt is a member of the American Rose Society, and teaches classes on herbs, flowers and floral design for the New York Botanical Garden and elsewhere. Platt’s designs are so distinctive that every designer can learn from this book. She’s particularly talented when it comes to displaying the designs. Among the color-illustrated projects are topiaries, wreaths, seasonal ideas, potpourri, and even edible flower designs. In addition, she provides complete details on preserving roses as well as tips on growing roses along with lists of rose societies and public rose gardens. This book is destined to become a classic for both rosarians and floral designers.
In addition to books on cut flowers, several other titles would be of interest to floral designers. Henry Francis du Pont, founder of the Winterthur Garden, had a genuine love for cut flowers. The touching story of how he came to create the gardens is told beautifully in “The Winterthur Garden-Henry Francis du Pont’s Romance With the Land” by Denise Magnani from Harry N. Abrams in association with the Winterthur Museum. The author is curator of landscape at Winterthur, and brings the 60-acre garden to life in this title. She gives an engrossing account of how du Pont created this fabulous landscape, and the plants he used. In addition, the book features essays by other experts on Winterthur.
Floral designers have a special love for wildflowers. For every part of the country, there are regional wildflower guides, and I do mean that. Though we may think of Alaska as cold, it too has its share of native flowers. “Wildflowers of Unalaska Island-a Guide to the Flowering Plants of an Aleutian Island” by Suzi Golodoff was published by the University of Alaska Press. This reader-friendly, comprehensive guide features complete descriptions, ethnobotanical background, and habitats along with color photos and sketches of over 160 different species. It is useful as a field guide, but is also suitable for armchair travelers. The introduction provides information on the natural history and geology of the area.
Sara Steele is a renowned American artist who is known widely for her floral paintings. Cedco Publishing Company has published “In Bloom-the Floral Art of Sara Steele.” The stunning paintings are organized by type of flower. Steele included chapters for orchids, iris, and gladiolus. Other miscellaneous types also have their own chapter. Some of her works have been used to benefit various organizations, such as the National Wildlife Federation. Each of the 117 paintings is beautifully reproduced in gorgeous color. In addition, there is an informative introduction on Steele’s art by independent curator Terri Cohn.
Dietmar Busse is a portrait, fashion, and art photographer known widely for his highly original portraits and paintings. These have appeared in prestigious American magazines. A collection of his flower-based works have been reproduced in “Flower Album” by Busse, and was published by powerHouse Books. These works were created in association with the Saks Project Art and the New York Botanical Garden. They provoke our interest in nature, and reveal a side to fashion that rarely appears elsewhere. For his highly original art, he covers various parts of his body with flower petals, and the result is haunting and evocative.
Breathtaking photos are the subject of “Flora Photographica-Masterpieces of Flower Photography” by William A. Ewing. The paperback version of this was published several years ago by Thames & Hudson. Of the 215 flower portraits, 127 are in black and white. For each of the photos, the author, a highly acclaimed photo-historian, provides complete details on what techniques the photographers used. Among the renowned photographers are Edward Steichen, Ansel Adams, and Cecil Beaton. All kinds of flowers are represented, some in vases and still lifes, while others are shown in nature.
Floral designers love to surround themselves with representations of flowers in their home furnishings and décor. The wonderful projects in “Cross Stitch Quilts” by Eleanor Burns from Quilt in a Day are especially suitable for flower lovers. Among the nine projects are wall hangings depicting nosegays, floral baskets as well as different sized quilts, including one with floral wreaths. It features all the basic quilting techniques and easy, color-illustrated instructions for each project. They’re all made with 1½” squares of fabric.
There are more ways than one to display floral projects in the home. Design Originals has released “Table Runners of the Month-All-Seasons Quilt & More” by Judith Lester et al. by the folks at the Lone Star House of Quilts in Arlington, Texas. A number of the projects feature floral themes, such as holly, hollyhocks, pumpkins, sunflowers, and morning glories. In addition to the table runners, the book features complete instructions for other related items, such as pin cushions, house slippers, coasters, and others. For each project, there are patterns with complete instructions. They’re simple enough that you can easily make one every week or month.
Calendars make wonderful gifts. Most bookstores will have shelf after shelf of titles from which you can choose. For flower lovers, the ideal calendar is “American Wildflowers” with exquisite photos of roses, lady’s slippers, lilies, and more by highly acclaimed, award-winning Canadian wildlife/nature photographer Bela Baliko. Check his website for other titles of interest.