By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
When I was four or five I’d pick dandelions, violets, clover, whatever was in season to make tiny bouquets for my mom. She would trim the stems and put the flowers into a short, juice glass on a windowsill.
After college I moved into a tiny ranch home and recaptured that childhood practice. Alas, somewhere in the mix of young motherhood, a bigger house and a bad marriage, I lost my muse. As my sons aged and I got divorced, the muse returned. The first hot summer in my condo, I excommunicated invasive weeds and introduced coneflowers, white yarrow and purple everything to the garden.
This summer, my friend’s granddaughter, Allison, and I started picking weeds. Creamy Queen Anne’s lace, for example, makes a stunning presentation in tall blue glass vase.
But, different flowers need different vases, so I’ve been scouring garage sales and secondhand stores to build my stash. I have a blue collection, some green and a creamy, three-inch Lenox china vase. Among my interesting containers are little crystal toothpick holders and an odd shot glass. These look playfully elegant when grouped together.
Imagine my delight stumbling upon Nancy Ross Hugo’s Windowsill Art, Creating one-of-a-kind natural arrangements to celebrate the seasons (St. Lynn’s Press, 2014, $18.95). A talented floral arranger and writer Nancy has fast-forwarded my learning curve. She uses flowers, leaves, greens and even vegetables to create tiny vignettes. Why not herbs?! For example, of my favorite additions to a bunch of playful pansies are tall, spiky blades of chives.
“For me,” she writes, “windowsill arranging is almost a spiritual practice. When I am looking for materials to display and placing them on a windowsill, I feel like more like a poet placing words in a haiku than a flower designer placing stems in a vase. I love the limited space, the double connection to the outdoors (through the window and my materials) …” (Note: It doesn’t have to be a window. I use the ledge between the kitchen and dining area.)
Among her tips for these mini delights
Remember less is more … as in more than three materials verges on ‘regular” flower arranging.
Think 2/3 flowers, 1/3 vase for the best proportion.
Construct with a flagpole, a focal point and a filler. That means something linear (like chives or tall herb sprigs), a visually dominant element (a statement flower) and something that softens the transition (usually leaves).
Perhaps, the key piece of advice is: Know when to stop.
A hardback book, Windowsill Art is full of lush, color images and inspiration for stretching your creative muscles. I’m using it as a coffee-table book this summer.
Show us your pictures of windowsill herb art. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post images as we can.