It is now high summer here at Darlington House. The gardens have peaked, and we must now water the lawns between rainfalls in order to maintain their greenness. Fortunately, we do not suffer from drought or water shortages here in the Hudson River Valley. Our lakes are full, our water tables are high, and the well on our property flows abundantly.
Nothing quite says "high summer" to me like sunflowers do. This was the first Saturday when there was an abundance of them at the farmers' market in the nearby town. Boy bought every bunch of sunflowers from one of the vendors there and brought his bounty home with him.
He arranged the sunflowers in a large blue-and-white ginger jar that I bought in New York's Chinatown many years ago. It is one of pair. I think I paid all of twenty dollars apiece for them. I bought the jars to place on top of a Georgian secretary-bookcase that I had at the time, along with a grouping of other large blue-and-white Chinese vessels. I had seen such an arrangement in an English country house and admired it. I am confident that the vessels arranged in the house that inspired me were far finer and more valuable than mine, but my attempt at recreating the "look for less" was a success, and I was quite pleased with it. While I no longer have the secretary-bookcase—a victim of changing tastes and circumstances—I have kept the ginger jars because they are useful for displaying large bunches of flowers, such as Boy has done here. When the jars are not being used to hold flowers or branches we store them on a shelf in our flower arranging room, the luxurious presence of which is this flora lover's dream come true.
The arrangement of sunflowers Boy made is a substantial one, standing just shy of two feet tall. It is shown sitting on top of an antique tole tray on our screened porch, where it has quite a lot of impact. The cast-iron frog, also seen on the tray and one of a collection we own, appears to be quite interested in the gorgeous sunflowers, don't you think?
Happy summer, Dear Reader.
Photograph by Boy Fenwick