Sunday, July 31, 2011

High Summer

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


  1. Still waiting for my Midsummer's invitation. Oh wait, the time has passed. Oh well, next year:). I have sunflowers growing in my rose bed, as volunteers. I let them sprout, it bolsters my little-supported sense of rebellion.

  2. Hello Reggie:
    Summer indeed! Sunflowers are to us also the epitome of summer when, out in the countryside, the fields are full of them, acres and acres stretching as far as the eye can see and at their peak at this moment. In another week or so they will start to go over and by late summer will be almost completely brown, their seeds ready for harvesting.

    Boy's arrangement in the blue and white ginger jar is perfect, a classic combination of blue and yellow which works so well as you have it. Alas, we are without a similar container or we should be tempted to copy!

  3. Very beautiful, Reggie, and very cheering! Years ago, the Celt and I drove down from Amsterdam into France towards Provence flanked on either side of the road by field after field of sunflowers. Utterly magical. The perfect combination, isn't it, the blue-and-white jar with the yellow flowers?

  4. Reggie it a perfect arrangement! Of course Sunflowers are our Kansas State flower. I love the ginger jar



    Art by Karena

  5. A very successful arrangment, and the colors also give a little hint of fall with all this heat...most welcome. BTW, love the toad!

  6. That's a stunning arrangement! I've always loved those Chinese ginger jars. It really sets off the boldness of the sunflowers beautifully. Yes, the frog does seem to be enthralled.

    I have several pieces of antique Canton china that my Grandmother picked up in her travels, blue willow, very "rustic" and hand-painted. Wish there had been a ginger jar or some container that would double as a vase among them.

  7. You are so lucky. It is so dry here, I have lost my herbs and they have dropped the lake close to 4 ft!. Hi 90's since May.

    Love the flowers & the frog. How creative of you!

  8. what a nice display! in a former life i was a florits and still keep a market badge so i can go on flower arranging sprees everr so often. of course here in san francisco it's all about the fog. my summer blooms are the masdevalia orchids that love the moist air.

  9. Sunflowers in blue & white porcelain are a hard-to-beat combination. I don't even mind the flowers a bit past their prime, enjoying the arrangement to the head-hanging end. Although I did not plant sunflowers this year, I still have hydrangeas blooming in the garden.

  10. Boy did a marvelous job with the arrangement!! The sunflowers against the blue and white is such a lovely combination - very provencal!!

  11. Looks like a perfect summer statement!

  12. Happy high summer Reggie.

    I snuck quite a few ginger jars from my mother's house a few months ago - alas I have just been informed that my loan period is up!

  13. Funny how summery this arrangement is, when the palette is almost autumnal.

    I am seriously jealous of the frog--is it an old one?

  14. Perhaps the sunflowers will release the inner Van Gogh in you and you'll be inspired to take up painting?



  15. Proof once again of Mark Hampton's dictum that all blue and
    white ceramics, whether authentic Delftware or Pottery Barn,
    make a pleasing impression.

  16. van Gogh would approve!
    van Essche approves too....

  17. Gorgeous! I aspire to have fresh flowers in my home on a regular basis one day. Sadly, I'm currently too scatter-brained, and when I do have flowers I forget to remove them when they die and get gross. But one day I will be a responsible flower owner!

  18. I've just returned from fields and fields of sunflowers in France. So beautiful!
    Happy High Summer to you and Boy, Reggie Darling.

  19. That is a beautiful arrangement! Classic colour pairing....could be in Monet's Dining Room.Stunning!!
    PLEASE share photos of your flower arranging room and it'so rganization.
    I am green with envy!!

  20. How beautiful. Just found your delightful blog!


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