Home & Design

Green Acre #142: Read It and Reap

AS WINTER FOLDS into spring, the eye is starved for color, the nose twitches for beguiling scents, and the lust for fresh home and garden inspiration grows.    

Living Floral, Entertaining and Decorating With Flowers by Margot Shaw, editor-in-chief of Flower magazine, celebrates the seasons with abundant tips from the supremely cultivated sensibilities of a cornucopia of Southern-bred designers and artists.

Some are well known, like interior designer and masterful gardener Charlotte Moss, who provides the introduction and flamboyant Renny Reynolds and his partner Jack Staub, whose South Florida home and garden go right over the top.

This is one of those wonderful Rizzoli coffee-table titles, swooning with color and ideas, that are terrific host/ess gifts and also perfectly timed for Mother’s Day. Rizzoli never fails to delight.

Whether the subject is living in New Orleans, Los Angeles or the Hamptons, easy Southern living and hospitality inform each chapter—particularly helpful for those who are new to entertaining or obsessive about preserving their fine things.

It’s okay to relax, these designers say.

Stop fretting over fragile china—accept the fact that things will break, and enjoy them until then. White linens will be doused in red wine, and dog hairs will be on the sofa, and so what about that door that’s still missing in the kitchen (that last would be me). Guests are not there to pick over your home, they’re there because they like you and want to have fun (at least we hope so).

As Staub and Reynolds put it: “ . . . if the soufflé falls or the power goes out, just laugh and your guests will too—order pizza and light more candles . . . ”

These are wonderful homes, filled with fabulous things, and gardens that have taken years and hefty wallets to create. But it doesn’t require cash to develop panache. Take your cue from event planner Mindy Rice and create a tablescape of rocks, feathers and jars. Or march a row of tiny vases with single stems down the tabletop.

Without a vase, LittleBird Nancy resorts to an alternative vessel for her flowers. / MyLittleBird photo.

Worry not about being matchy-matchy—charm lies in the odd bits. Thanks to clean-up queen Marie Kondo urging people to toss out the things they don’t regularly use, thrift shops have an abundance of treasures with which the rest of us can play. There are napkins and tablecloths and whimsical objects to be found—glassware cheap enough to smash in the fireplace, should you wish to make a grand gesture.

No flowers? Heap shiny red apples in a bowl or pluck a large leaf or three from the philodendron and stick it in a vase.

You don’t have a vase? Do as MyLittleBird managing editor Nancy McKeon did: Having recently

moved to a new apartment in New York, coming home with a bunch of flowers she realized the vases were still packed, so she plunked the flowers into the powder-room toilet tank, which, of course, is always filled with fresh, clean, cool water perfect for those thirsty stems.

No, that’s not a tip from the book, but is it brilliant or what? And the water is automatically changed with every flush!

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

When LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” isn’t entertaining using her own plants and flowers, she is picking up tips from the extravagant ideas of others.


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