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Green Acre #84: Three Cheers for Florabundance

18th-century Dutch still life, oil on canvas. No carrots or other veggies here, but there’s a bird’s nest and eggs. / Courtesy Case Antiques Inc., Knoxville, Tennessee, caseantiques.com.

YOU KNOW HOW you can spend a lazy hour or eight wandering the Internet and not keeping track of which alley you’ve swept through, and then you’re sitting there having your eighth cup of coffee and a kernel of thought pops into your head and you think, Where the hell did I read that?

Well, the other day, someone, somewhere, said something like, If you put on some jewelry, say a dangling necklace and a pair of rhinestone-studded cuffs, and chandelier earrings, and assorted rings, and you look in the mirror and ask yourself, Is this too much?

The writer replied, something like, Certainly not!

Which is pretty much the opposite of Coco Chanel’s advice to look in the mirror before you leave the house and take one thing off.

If I have a philosophy it is that more is more, particularly as my chin inches closer to my knees. Consider Iris Apfel, the grande dame of damedom: Do you notice her chin? Not when she has 20 pounds of bracelets climbing her 97-year-old arms and a turquoise choker that could double as a neck brace, and quite likely does.

More is more is also how I feel about flower arranging. Here’s where having an actual print magazine comes in handy as an aid to memory—you’ll never lose a page in cyberspace.

I was flipping through the current issue of Veranda and was delighted to see an article on the exceedingly florid assemblages of several hot flower designers; extravagant, overflowing arrangements trailing bits of this and that, flinging slender branches skyward, and punctuated by little fruities and a veggie or two for good measure. And, apparently, a glance said to the designers’ eyes, Not enough! Because most were then nestled in such stuffs as bananas and artichokes, accenting the arrangements like sprigs of parsley on the chopped liver.

I like the use of vegetables, which I buy because I’m supposed to but seldom eat, just kind of paw at them on the plate, ho-hum. Unless they’re covered with cheese and butter. So sticking the carrots and such in amongst the flowers and leaves . . .

Oh yes, I sighed.

I was reminded that several years ago friends sent me a lovely thank-you for a dinner. Unexpectedly extravagant, it involved a pair of squat crystal cubes filled with the palest of pink baby roses, possibly 50 in each, so tightly packed they stood up on their own, and so neatly clipped that each bud was precisely the height of the next. There was a charming green satin ribbon wrapped about each cube, cinched with a Lilliputian pearl-tipped pin.

While ooohing and ahhhing over the beauty of these arrangements, I was also aware of a rising feeling of constipation. These were about the most anal flower constructions I’d ever seen.

“Polite” arrangements, Veranda calls these, as opposed to “unruly, overflowing blooms that capture the romance of the open field,” and the sensuousness of Dutch still-life paintings.

Such florabundance* also serves as a welcome reminder, on these frigid mornings, that summer’s riot of color will come again. It always does, you know.

*Not a word, but shouldn’t it be?

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” writes about all things botanical every Thursday.

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