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Green Acre #124: What Are Fronds For?


AS I was saying.

We packed up the tropics last week and brought it indoors. The little solarium off my office is filled, more than filled in fact, thanks to friends Robert and Judith, who sent over their geraniums, all lovely and deep red, to spend the winter with us. I don’t mind. I don’t grow much color. How cheerful they are, dotted here and there amongst the greenery.

Something I particularly love seeing, elsewhere in the house, are the parlor palms, in position behind the living-room sofa. These are now 3½ years old, though you might not think it since they’re not very big. All year long I snip their feathery branches and pop them into vases, sometimes as part of arrangements, sometimes alone. They last for months, if I remember to add water.

The palms were two of six or seven beauties that I bought at the supermarket Harris Teeter for about 12 bucks each for Baby’s wedding-reception centerpieces. A florist had given us a quote for what were really quite simple arrangements and after I scraped myself off the floor I thought, Surely there’s a more reasonable way . . .

The wedding theme was a 1940s supper club, set in the contemporary industrial-chic dining room of Jimmy V’s Osteria in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, where Baby and her Personal Prince Pete live for reasons too exhausting to get into.

Palms, it turned out, were brilliant. A clutch of stems in tall glass cylinders on each table and . . . hello, Palm Court! They were airy against the brick walls, exposed pipes  and wall of glass window, turning the chill space into a hot jazz club.

That afternoon the bridesmaids clipped and arranged the leaves in these jelly-like bubble, called hydro-beads, which inflate when soaked and act as luminous flower frogs, keeping the branches straight. A single 8-ounce jar produces up to 65 cups of beads (says the label), leaving enough left over for a future anniversary arrangement . . . or 10.

With white linens, champagne glasses and silver, nothing more was necessary.

It didn’t break the bank, either. The vases, ordered online from Amazon, a dozen for maybe 50 bucks, so the whole shebang came in at under $150; reasonable no matter the size of your wallet, and as special as anything a florist could concoct.

The bonus? Every time I look at the plants, set against the wooden shutters, I’m reminded of the wedding and that gorgeous bride, my Baby.

Turn up Sinatra and swing.

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird Stephanie reports on her personal plant relationships every Thursday.


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2 thoughts on “Green Acre #124: What Are Fronds For?

  1. Jindra Cekan says:

    “flower frogs”, “…after I scraped myself off the floor I thought, Surely there’s a more reasonable way . . .” not only funny but also so loving about your daughter. Lovely, Stephanie!

  2. Carol says:

    A tribute to love! Thanks!

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