Entertaining, Everyday Chic, Seasonal, Summer


Bellinis and Blossoms and a Second Bloom

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Given our love of gardens and flowers, Cathy B. Graham and I were destined to meet — but actually, it was Instagram that first brought us together — where so many wonderful friendships have been forged. Once we started chatting in her intriguing Upper East Side studio, there was no stopping us…from flower tips to Wm. Hodgins to authoring coffee table books…and everything in between.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vendome & Photographers Quentin Bacon and Andrew Ingalls

Soon we were talking about a summer trip to Newport and a book signing party (I already knew the theme). In her thoughtful way, she offered to design the invitation…

And bring the flowers to create her fanciful arrangements.

Photo Credit: Nicholas Mele Photography

So it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Cathy B. Graham, my winsome and talented friend…

Photo Credit: Nicholas Mele Photography

And author of the evocative Second Bloom… all about artful floral landscapes, with their own “wild” charm, from the hands of a most creative lady.

Second Bloom is meant both literally and figuratively — but most significantly as a silver lining in an unexpected divorce that prompted her to return to her long dormant graphic design career and a new lease on life.

This new career has proven cathartic as well as emboldening for Cathy; it has also provided us  with simply charming takes on home entertaining at its best  and most elegantly relaxed (as seen here in her New York townhouse). And anyone who says about her tablescape creations, “I always put in one controversial item; it makes people talk” is a girl after my own heart. You’ll want to buy her book just for a look at her whimsical take on “controversial.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vendome & Photographers Quentin Bacon and Andrew Ingalls

The day of our party had threatened rain, but just as guests started arriving, the sun came out and the sky turned azure blue.

Cathy’s favorite pastels had inspired the decorations — the swaying ribbons behind the Parterre Bench, the celadon burlap tablecloth, the gerber daisies in the fountain pool…

Photo Credit: Nicholas Mele Photography
Photo Credit: Nicholas Mele Photography

And, surprise, surprise! Even an old Chinese garden seat that I’ve had for years sat perfectly at the front of the table, looking as though it’s colors and whimsical designs had fallen off the book’s cover.

Photo Credit: Nicholas Mele Photography

I couldn’t let Cathy slip out of town without asking her three questions so relevant to our love of creating with flowers…

What makes a good flower arranging room?
For one month a year in Nantucket I have an ideal flower room (seen below) with a deep sink, lots of open shelves for my bottles, drawers for supplies ,lots of counter space, my favorite high table to do my arrangements on  and light pouring in from the windows. The other eleven months I work in the basement laundry room in NYC and love it; since flowers make me happy it doesn’t matter where I arrange them.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vendome & Photographers Quentin Bacon and Andrew Ingalls

Your favorite clippers?
Back when I worked for Robert Isabel we used Swiss Army knives;
excellent for the flowers but too many bloody accidents so I stick with ordinary clippers.

How to clean containers, especially glass?
I use either bleach or, believe it or not, a woman in DC suggested denture cleaner. Fill the container with water and Polident, which works wonderfully.

Lastly, just a taste of the fun we have in Newport…my Matisse-flower-clad-single-earring friend Alice skoots around town in her bicycle with attached basket “caboose” to hold everything from groceries to her doggies.

Photo Credit: Caitlin Hill of C&C Consulting

Hope your summer is going along swimmingly…


Featured image credit, Nicholas Mele Photography.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

8 thoughts on “Bellinis and Blossoms and a Second Bloom

  1. J’adore the photo of the two of you. She is so talented, and pretty as a flower herself. It looks like a very lovely party. I’m sure she was thrilled.

    1. Thank you, we were both as happy as we looked. Cathy is indeed one of the loveliest ladies I have ever met and was so very appreciative of her book party…such a yummy book. Do be sure to buy one for yourself, and a friend.

  2. What a beautiful, book, flower arrangements, water colors and illustrations…everything! Every time I see photos of your home and garden, Bettie, I am just knocked out. They are just so darned gorgeous! Please tell me what is that resting on your parterre bench? It looks like a very large floral painting of some sort. Or is it part of the bench?

    1. Thank you so much, Laura, for your kind words! I will pass them along to Cathy Graham,fro whom I gave the book signing party. And thia is the poster of her book cover that is sitting on the Parterre Bench.

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