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.
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.
So it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Cathy B. Graham, my winsome and talented friend…
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.”
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…
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.
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.
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.
Hope your summer is going along swimmingly…
Featured image credit, Nicholas Mele Photography.