Charlotte Moss in her comprehensive book Garden Inspirations committed ten-plus pages to the topic of flower containers. Committed is the right word; we flower lovers should all be committed to an asylum for the passion that containers inspire. Other than coffee table books, my single most favorite “collection” is my flower containers, urns, and vases that line the shelves in my mud room (and overflow into the china closet and other nooks and crannies throughout the house).
Why do they inspire such a passion? Because each container is more than just a decorative accessory; it additionally serves as the means for having flowers throughout the home at any time of the year. And that, for me, is the definition of a life well lived. Whether it is a single small vase of one precious rose…
or a dramatic urn of difficult-to-find lilies…
…flowers make a house a home. Make this gesture first for yourself, rather than saving them for special occasions. Consider keeping a list of key “focal points”around your home, by room or order of priority…a short version as well as a dressing-the-house-for-a party-or-house- guests scenario (along with these lists in my mud room, I also keep a collection of note cards to accompany flower arrangements that I’ve created as gifts for friends on sundry occasions).
Case in point…the first landing on our stairwell is just such a focal point for there is constant traffic up and down the stairs. It has become a game to see how many different arrangements in how many various containers will grace the little antique painted console…in early summer a favorite is Clematis ‘Betty Corning.’
In late summer long stems of aesclepias fruiticosa inspire bemusement;
and in late fall, graceful branches of purple salvia provide a delicious shot of color.
Any flower can be a star in the right container. And the right flower can lend caché to many a container.
As with any collection, it’s as much about the memories that accompany each piece– where you found it, who gave it to you, the circumstances surrounding how it came to be in your possession. A few of my favorites, and why.
On my first trip to Paris, I bought Arpege perfume first because I fell in love with the bottle; filled with two or three stems, it joins other perfume bottles on my bathroom sink.
Placing the lid beside its container filled with daffodils adds the final touch to a mantle vignette.
My husband commissioned this painted tole “bucket” as part of a set of garden-related gifts the Christmas we broke ground on our new home.
The kitchen island is on my short list of spots that always deserve a seasonal arrangement (like Kangaroo Paw and Alstroemeria).
As a child my mother’s vase absolutely fascinated me; those large sterling silver tulips wrapped around the spacious frosted glass vase (very Lalique) now contain flowers from my garden (tulip jaap groot).
Who doesn’t adore baskets…especially of the French wire variety?
New York floral designer Ronald Maia created these bud vases way back in the 1970’s — glass versions of classic Chines urn designs.
Potter Francis Palmer takes “ceramic” up another notch with her madcap creations (holding a bouquet of peonies).
TIP: A container is the perfect gift for any hostess who loves her garden and arranging flowers.
Margot Shaw of Flower Magazine well-appreciates this. When she visited me last year for the Newport Flower Show, she brought three unique, colorful vases from Alabama glass blower, Orbix Hot Glass. They were filled immediately and placed around the house; one was just perfect for hot pink peonies (below). Now I think of Margot each time I use these.
On a finishing note…keeping a selection of small vases or flower holders on hand is invaluable for many reasons…
When you’re arranging, they are just the right size for a collection of “cast off” stems.
TIP: If flower heads droop, pack the throat of the container with saran wrap (as we do at flower shows) to keep them upright.
They can provide a spot of floral presence without the effort of “doing an arrangement.”
They are easy to nest in among favorite vignettes.
Someone didn’t want to be left out of the photo shoot…