Ceramicist Aviva Rowley

Interview by Eric Hsu

Photography by Aviva Rowley (except credited otherwise)


A born and bred-Brooklynite, Aviva Rowley studied fine arts in Cooper Union during which she worked as a florist and continued to do so after graduation. Desiring something less temporal, Rowley turned to ceramics as a medium for holding flowers. She builds her vessels backwards, using her floristry background as an inspiration, and because her work is handmade, no piece is uniform and one of a kind. Texture and shape dictate her style while the matte black glaze unifies it. Please visit her site (www.avivarowley.com) or IG: @avivarowley.


For someone whose taste tends towards macabre, your ease and preference with clay as an artistic medium seem worlds away because clay, once fired, does not project rigor mortis. Clay feels alive and vital within one’s hands, hence why did you elect to work with it?

I never really thought of myself as macabre necessarily.  It’s funny because clay, while it is alive and vital in one’s hands while wet, once you fire it, it definitely does project rigor mortis. Frozen in time. A huge part of why I started to make ceramics was the experience of building these huge events as a florist, just to watch everything die within a day or two. I wanted to create something more permanent and unchanging as a vessel for things to grow, fade, eventually die…


My parents have been a huge inspiration to me throughout my life.  My mom is a psychologist and self-taught ceramist as well.  I grew up playing with clay, and water and plants and weeds and dirt, with the backdrop of the wild city skyline.  My father is a brilliant painter and scholar, who definitely leans towards the darkness.  They both have been an incredible influence in my life as a creator. I grew up in Brooklyn and my kiln is still at my parents’ house, in the house I grew up in, next to my mother’s wild overgrown flower garden.

Constance Spry, perhaps the fore runner of the wild untamed floral style popular now, worked closely with Fulham Pottery in London to design and develop a series of ceramics for floral work. How did your florist training shape your perception towards ceramics, and has it influenced the form you prefer to work with?

It has completely changed how I think of the “vessel,” I consider what goes in my vessels while I am building them.  I like to create lips and shapes that will speak to flowers.  Some of my favorite forms I’ve built dictate the way the flowers fall – the slit vase, for example, lets flowers fall in a really elegant mohawk.

She-oaks (Allocasuarina) drape around one of Rowley’s vessels like strung fishing nets. Styling and Photo Credit: Phillip Huynh

There needs to be a conversation between the vessel and what you put in it.  Our mutual friend Phil has been one of my biggest inspirations.  He would hate that I’m saying this, but he’s really been my muse for the past few years.  I make vessels thinking about how he would use them, I add snakes and handles and knobs and gaps for him to twist around.  While my own floral work is very simple, when I build a vessel I imagine so many possibilities – yet I’m always surprised how different florists use them.

A cascade of Clematis seedheads from another Rowley vessel in a friend’s nursery greenhouse. Styling and Photo Credit: Phillip Huynh

Many of my dearest friends are still florists, which is a fascinating resource.  I am working on a collaboration with another of my floral friend Sophia Moreno-Bunge.  She lives in California so we have been doing a snail mail back and forth.  Making vessels with her in mind has been such a fun experiment, and I’m creating forms that I never would have imagined otherwise.

In addition, you have started a Keiki-Club “to create an open social community for friends and flora fanatics to come together and grow plants, share knowledge, and trade collections”. Does this exposure to different plants and individuals besotted with them inspire your work in interesting directions? 

One of the first ceramic pieces I built was a hanging saucer because it was an answer to a plant problem that had not been answered before.  Being a part of such a positive community, where people can get together and tell stories, and introduce one another to new things… I never thought of it as an inspiration to my pottery, but now that I think of it, it is. I tend to like older plants, ones that have a past, and have been growing and adapting to their environments.  I like to imagine my vessels as homes.

GPHGreenInteriorSTEIDL0784 1_RS
Photo Credit: Phillip Huynh

Some ceramicists experiment regularly with glazes because they feel that the functionality, which underwrites the vessel form, is an artistic limitation. You have deliberately kept your glazes to a matte black or a weathered beige despite how varied you have manipulated the forms. 

I’ve always created intentional limitations in my art.  I chose the gun metal / matte black glaze because it really speaks to flowers, and definitely lets me experiment more wildly with my shapes.  When you see my vessels in person, there are a lot of slight imperfections in glazes; I’ve actually been experimenting a lot with different textures while keeping the black as a basic language.


Photo Credit: Phillip Huynh

I like how they appear as silhouettes, and work well on their own… when you add plants or flowers it adds a whole other dimension which is generally out of my control.

If an Aviva Rowley ceramic was a plant or garden, what would it be?

I would be an undiscovered underwater ruin, left alone for so many years and enveloped in overgrowth. My partner said I’d be Psychotria elata… look it up!

Thank you for the interview Aviva!

Ceramicist Alana Wilson

Interview by Eric Hsu

Photography by Phillip Huynh


** Her exhibit “T:  Exploration & Experience of the Teabowl”- with Romy Northover (pictures featured here) goes until  November 26 at FLOATING MOUNTAIN 239 W72nd St, New York NY 10023. Pieces are available for purchase and can be viewed at https://www.floating-mountain.com

`                    Photo Credit: Alana Wilson

Swimming brings one’s body with the water’s buoyancy, yet the process of molding and shaping clay is an anchoring force with hands. Where do you see the cross dialogue between the two activities?

Both are very meditative, predominantly done in solitude and combine physical movement and awareness of the body with a required mental acuity to work through a repetitive process. Both connect with a natural element – earth and water – which I find quite calming and humanly intrinsic. Over time, the wiring between brain and body becomes so ingrained that you can let your mind wander whilst the body is in automatic mode of a learnt technique. Both activities require a sense of technique, which is similarly soft, efficient, streamlined, responsive to the least amount of touch, and both techniques rely on a sense of flow and refining the surface resistance of the body against the elements.



Your work belies the exacting but unpredictable process of overlaying different substances and glazing. What do you find fascinating about the alchemy?

There are endless parallels between the ceramic surfaces and surfaces and textures that exist in nature. Of course, ceramic materials all exist and are derived from natural resources but the process of firing results in a more compacted environment with the kiln’s heat and the firing speed. Scientifically, all of these ceramic results exist somewhere in nature that have occurred through varying means and all natural surfaces and materials will depict a chemical story of creation and destruction, as do the ceramic pieces.

As a child I would get lost in observing rock pools full of geological and marine life, collecting seashells and interesting rocks to study. This childhood fixation has informed my interest in the minute details of elemental decay and natural observation. Over time I have come to recognize stronger analogies between the natural destructive process and environments comparative to those in the medium of ceramics.

Within the ceramic process there are numerous aspects left to chance and susceptible to variation. Different materials will have specific reactions within the firing – how it transforms through heat exposure, how fast it is heated, its melting point, vaporisation point, oxygen content in the material and the atmosphere and its reaction with the other glaze ingredients it is mixed with.




In its elemental form, the vessel projects functionality that people have difficulty divorcing when it comes to appreciating ceramics as an art equal to painting or sculpture. How do you hope to have someone see your piece beyond its basic purpose?

I used to look at this viewpoint as a hindrance, always trying to prove something with the vessel. There is an inherent conditioning when dealing with the vessel throughout anthropological, art, and social history. Functionality not only alludes to a use but also to a relationship to the human body and human life. I now embrace the steadfast connotative functionality of my work and prefer it over purely conceptual art (in terms of what I create myself, not necessarily as to what interests me as a viewer).

Having a pre-conditioned utilitarian context allows a certain scale of intimacy for the works to intersect the viewer’s perceptual / experiential process on a different level. Sociologically the viewer forms some sense of connection to it and hold it in a perceptual realm relative to their everyday life as opposed to a more conceptual work, in which they may feel separate from in terms of anthropological connection and conceptual understanding.




The difficult concept to divorce from the vessel is its ability to hold something, therefore an empty vessel is often perceived as incomplete. I seek to highlight the emptiness and twist the conception to depict the potential to be filled, within which there are various possibilities – both physical and conceptual ‘fillers’. The depiction of the unused or empty vessel allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions based on their individual conditioning. In a sense this conditioning (towards an utilitarian object such as a vessel) is on a different level to the conditioning to comprehend conceptual or abstract art.



Throughout this consistent questioning within my own work, I have looked at and questioned other forms of art, architecture, design etc and its relativity to humankind. I am interested in its ability to intersect with the everyday life of the everyday person, to not exist only in the vacuum of a white box gallery or as a material commodity, financial investment, or interior decoration. Within my work I aim to honor the history of the vessel and the different historical values – emotional, cultural / historical, technical, conceptual – that all correlate to the final result.


There is a consistent duality of logic vs reason, cultural vs individual; but in the sense of attempting to draw attention to the importance of humanity and humankind there is the critical requirement for communication, which is community. The viewer’s perception is a moment in time, yet can be long-lasting in terms of their recollection of reality and how it affects them. The majority of viewers would not be aware of their own perceptual process to this extent but I find the relationship between functionality, physicality, conceptual understanding and conditioning an extremely interesting area to observe and study in relation to my work, art and life in general.

Pot Plant, which was curated by John Tebbs for the Garden Edit, and Lilies of Forgiveness, placed your work in relation to ephemeral plant material. Did either exhibits re-center the focus on how florists utilize your ceramics?

As discussed in the above answer, I primarily look for highlighting an emptiness and the potential of completion based on societal conditioning towards and empty vessel. However, I love working with ephemeral plant material as it truly represents natural beauty and its decay, and takes away that sense of ownership or forever-ness that so many people crave. These ideas are constantly embedded within my work, so with the right people who appreciate these ideas I am always keen to collaborate. John Tebbs from The Garden Edit, Simone Gooch of Fjura, and Alia & Ezra from Regime des Fleurs all create beautiful work, utilizing nature as creator and transcending nature as decoration or pure product.


There is an old Chinese saying ‘滴水穿石’ which translates to ‘dripping water eats away the stone’. It alludes well to how your pieces bear the corrosive effect of water almost to the point of close disintegration. Is it a mediation on the transience of humankind and material goods?

Absolutely. More so an exploration of the innate impermanence of everything and attempting to break down the societal attachment to completed or beautiful things; to encourage an acceptance of the process of continuous transformation and inevitable decay, in all things – physical and otherwise.

The marine environment is unforgiving to terrestrial plant life, but what would be an Alana Wilson ceramic personified as a plant or garden look like? 

This is an interesting question, and each ceramic piece has its own identity in a way … possibly a rockpool or reef, could that be classified as a garden?

Thank you Alana for the interview!

Floral Fridays: Antipodean Arrangement


The seedheads of Dietes grandiflora (South African iris relative commonly known as fortnight lily) break up the round contours of the protea flowers and Corymbia ficifolia capsules.


Blomsterskuret, Copenhagen, Denmark

We still have a long way to go before we appreciate cut flowers as aesthetic necessities the same way as the Europeans do. The floral locavore movement that is currently running strong in United States has done much to elevate the beauty of cut flowers, as well as their seasonality, although we still import a large number of flowers from Central and South America. Cut flowers can dramatically animate and enliven an otherwise drab room – I purchased three dozen white tulips from Whole Foods last week, and watching them assume a different life in their fluidity towards light was an experience that brighten the dark mornings.

Perhaps the way the supermarkets and some florists market their flowers can use a styling revision inspired by the small floral boutiques in Europe. In warmer months, the floral bounty is let loose, flowing out of the storefront onto the street where the scents, colors, and shapes entice pedestrians to linger and even walk spontaneously into the store to explore more. It was a successful ploy I fell for several times in London, Paris, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.

Wooden trays, wicker baskets, terracotta pots, and galvanized steel drawers are rarely without plants, and arranged at different levels in that seemingly haphazard, but attractive way. It advertises the shop well by letting the urban dwellers that small apartments need not to have naked windowsills. In addition, the dark grey front shows off the silver lettering of the store name well. The contrast of rusticity against the inherent chicness of its floral work sends a strong message about what the store is about.

Copenhagen was one city where the florist storefronts seduced me over and over, and the Danish Martin Reinicke’s Blomsterskuret (“flower shed” in Danish) may be modest in size, but seems larger  when spilling forth with container plants and cut flowers styled in that enviable Nordic way. Located in the hip Vesterbro district, Reinicke’s actual shop is a black shed adorned with gooseneck light fixtures.Stand alone shelving appears salvaged from different sources and placed around the shore, and every imaginable plant and container are crammed on the ledges as if the shed is literally growing.

Gooseneck light fixtures illuminate the plants and accessories when it is dark. They have that unpolished patina, a disheveled naturalism not far from Martin Reinicke’s work. The shelves do not conform to one style, differing in material and height.

Once you step through the doorway of the store, the light-filled interior is lined with shelves of different containers and vessels, and a central table is crowded with tiers of cut flowers, each grouped in its individual vase for function and comparison.  Light is natural, and the artificial illumination produces a flattering cast on the flowers and plants. How many times do we see cut flowers in the lurid yellow light of the produce section in supermarkets here? It doesn’t help that the colored cellophane wrapping look garish. Lead by example of how the cut flowers would look at home in natural light, and sales then may begin to materialize. The female shop assistant, while preoccupied with making a bouquet, did not hesitate to smile and strike up a friend conversation. It is not simply adequate for a store to create a strong aesthetic impression, as friendly service helps heighten the initial interaction outside. I left Blomsterskuret, wanting to be a patron shall I boldly uproot my life and move to Copenhagen.  ~ Eric


A posy of pansies


Modern pansy hybrids (Viola x wittrockiana) often lack the fragrance of older seed strains, which gardeners in earlier eras enjoyed and picked for tussie-mussie or nosegays. These strains have delicate brush-like markings that appeared obliterated into indistinguishable blobs in modern strains. Some have attractive ruffling that recall the edge of crinoline skirts, giving the flowers a certain graceful femininity. Last spring, I grew some plants from seed, and took the liberty of picking a few to enjoy and smell indoors. Their scent was delicate, like that of a first June rose precociously welcoming summer.  ~ Eric

Foreign Gardeners: Grace, From New York to Hawaii

Grace and I have been friends for years due to common ties. We were both born and raised in New York City and somehow, amidst all the city chaos, we found ourselves immersed in the field of horticulture. Meeting through a mutual gardening friend, we originally bonded over our horticultural educations, learning that Grace had studied at New York Botanical Garden. Often, back then, I would visit Grace in her gorgeous shop that was located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where we would talk about plants, ideas, and drool over all the new books and vases and plants she was selling. More times than not I’d leave with something, as her passion for plants was infectious.  Thank you Grace.

Grace Martinelli a horticulturist, floral and garden designer
Grace, in her element, in Hawaii

Thank you for agreeing to let us interview you for our Foreign Gardener series. If you don’t mind, could you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what your focus is:

Hello, thank you for the interview. Hello everyone, my name is Grace Martinelli and I am a horticulturist, floral and garden designer.

Where are you from and where did you move?

I am originally from New York, was living in Brooklyn and I moved to Maui, Hawaii.

Grace Martinelli for Graceful Gardens
Grace’s shop, the original paradise in Brooklyn, Graceful Gardens

When did you and why was it that you decided to move to Hawaii?

I moved almost two years ago in November of 2015.  I lost the lease of my flower/plant shop in Brooklyn and  I could have continued on in a studio doing events and garden design work but knew that it would not be as fulfilling as I wanted.  I had always dreamed of living in Hawaii since it is a plant and natural beauty paradise, so I used that moment as the opportunity to follow a dream.

Grace Martinelli-Lilikoi Grace-Tropical-arrangements

What is your current job?

I am currently working as a florist at the Four Seasons where we also take care of the potted orchids and anthuriums around the resort.



I am sure there are many differences you’ve encountered by trading NY for Hawaii. What are some of the benefits to being a gardener in Hawaii as opposed to New York City?

The benefits of being a gardener in Hawaii is definitely getting to have the year round growing season here, causing plants to grow quickly.  Maui has the most temperate zones of almost any place in the world and you can grow almost anything here because of that.  Also, due to the volcanic breakdown, the soil is really good here too.  GraceMartinelli-Hawaii-LilikoiGrace

Most people realize that living in NYC can be difficult but wouldn’t necessarily see Hawaii as anything else other than a living paradise. What are some of the difficulties you have encountered in your new environment with your profession?

The difficulties have been the wages in ratio to the cost of living.  Old-school mentalities when it comes to running a business and people stuck in their ways.  There are a lot of  ‘farmers’ on this island but the farmers market is pretty pitiful compared to NYC.  I was surprised at how few specialty plant growers there are here as well, considering how much wealth is here.  There are few landscape designers though there are a ton of ‘mow and blow’ landscapers.  The ones that are running businesses that I have worked with, surprisingly, did not know about any of the growers I found while living here in Hawaii. Cane burning is a big disappointment to me and I discovered that Oprah uses pesticides on her property but claims she is organic because her vegetable farm is organic.  That was a huge disappointment to me.

Grace and the children of Haiku Elementary


On the flip side, I am sure there are many benefits to living where you are now. What were some surprising changes that you have welcomed/enjoyed in your new environment?

The pace is slower and the real local Hawaiians are kind.  I love that you can make positive changes to the community without having to jump through red tape and a lot of paperwork.  A while ago, I found out there was grant money for an orchard at the elementary school and thought it was a good idea to get something set up for the school children. So after looking into it, I messaged a pro surfer (Ian Walsh)  and asked if he would help rally friends  to come down and plant it up with us and within the span of 6 months, I can say that Haiku Elementary now has an orchard.

the New York days working on set in photographer Mario Sorrenti’s studio

We always imagine a perfect life when we envision living somewhere as beautiful as Hawaii, but that is not always the case. What have some of the personal day to day struggles that you have encountered while living there?

Finding full-time meaningful work that pays you well has been difficult though I have found jobs with each of those qualities but rarely one that has both.   I have struggled with co-workers – who I think might be threatened by my NYC experience and ambition (which by NY standards I am not that ambitious.).  On the personal note,  I am single and connecting with other single people, both male and female, has been difficult. I think because I am older this makes it difficult too.  Friends from back home are smart, funny and full of character, so it is quite the adjustment to find a circle of friends like that again too.

How did you find your current job? Friends, internet, work relations, word of mouth…

Originally the job was posted on Craigslist,  like all the jobs I have found here.  I applied for my current job months before I was called.  She pulled my resume up from her files and called me for an interview.

 To others that might be making a similar move, what advice would you give to them to contemplate?

Honestly, it is really difficulty to live here on your own with a single income.  So either come to Hawaii young and live with people, come with a mate or come with some money stockpiled.

 Did you do anything to prepare yourself for this change?

I secured a job before I came here and I had a place to live with people that are like my family.  The job ended up not being what it was supposed to be, since I was mostly sitting in front of a computer, but it did get me here to where I am now.HaikuElementary-School-GraceMartinelli

 Hawaii has always been recognized by the world as a beautiful green paradise..  So share with us some of  the great memories you have made so far that make you smile?

Gardening with the children (keiki) of Maui – the kids are really special here. I think this is because of the connection they have with the land and the ocean.  Family life is also hugely important here.  I hope as long as I am in Hawaii that somehow I can continue to work with the youth and gardening.

  If you could give your younger self some advice for this change, what would it be?

Not to younger self:  Don’t fuck up your credit- you’re going to need it 🙂

Passiflora on Passiflora on Passiflora…

I can only imagine how much the plant palette must have changed when you moved from NYC.  What would you say is your new favorite plant(s) that you can grow now that you weren’t able to enjoy before?

Well my favorite plant is passiflora- Hawaiians call it lilikoi.  I grew it in Brooklyn for ornamental purposes but now i get to grow it to its fruition and it is so Ono!! (delicious) .  I am also infatuated with night blooming jasmine,  Cestrum nocturnum – you haven’t lived until you smelled that plant- it’s divine.   I just love that I can grow things like citrus, avocados, mangoes and bananas …. This place is amazing.GraceMartinelli-Hawaii-bananas

Thank you Grace for agreeing to be interviewed and for sharing your story with Plinth et al..  If you’d like to reach out to Grace or to see and know more please click on her links below. Thank you….

Website: Lilikoi Grace

Email: lilikoicreative@gmail.com

Instagram: @Graceyam


Floral Wizardry of Riz Reyes

A familiar face in the Pacific Northwest horticultural scene, horticulturist Riz Reyes increasingly concentrates on his floral art outside of his full-time job as the garden manager for McMenamins Anderson, Bothell, Washington State. Reyes employs flowers and foliage locally as much as possible, and his adroit skills in creating sumptuous floral arrangements can be witnessed in his top ten favorites. He offers the following three tenets of his design philosophy:

1.) Cut flowers are a gateway to the art and science of horticulture celebrating the diversity of botanical wonder all around us.

2.) Whether it be texture, scent, or serendipitous movement as the bouquet is being held, floral designers always possess a natural element inspired by nature so anyone can fully engage with the composition.

3.) Acknowledge the hard work it takes to plant, nurture, and harvest the bounty available to floral designers by letting very little go to waste and allow what’s not used to come back to earth to nurture the following season’s growth.

Those who reside in the Seattle metro region are fortunate to have Riz’s talents at your tip of the hat as he is available for floral commissions. Riz can be reached by email at riz@rhrhorticulture.com.

Thank you, Riz!    ~ Eric

Left: Rosa hybrid unknown Clematis 'Etoile de Violette' Achemilla mollis seed heads Cornus elliptica, Lathyrus odoratus vine Phlox paniculata 'Nicky' Astrantia hybrid Allium 'Summer Beauty'; Right: Brunia albiflora Asclepsia curassavica, Schinus molle Akebia quinata 'Alba' Echinacea Supreme(TM) Elegance Fatsia polycarpa 'Needham's Lace' Celosia hybrid
Left: Rosa hybrid unknown, Clematis ‘Etoile de Violette’, Achemilla mollis seed heads, Cornus elliptica, Lathyrus odoratus vine, Phlox paniculata ‘Nicky’, Astrantia hybrid, Allium ‘Summer Beauty’; Right: Brunia albiflora
Asclepsia curassavica, Schinus molle, Akebia quinata ‘Alba’, Echinacea Supreme(TM) Elegance, Fatsia polycarpa ‘Needham’s Lace’, Celosia hybrid
Rosa 'Auspastor' PATIENCE, Rosa 'Helga Piaget' Zantedeschia hybrid, Agonis 'After Dark' foliage, Blechnum spicant foliage, Jacobaea hybrid foliage, Papaver somniferum pods, Scabiosa stellata pods Tillandsia xerographica
Rosa ‘Auspastor’ PATIENCE, Rosa ‘Helga Piaget’, Zantedeschia hybrid, Agonis ‘After Dark’ foliage, Blechnum spicant foliage, Jacobaea hybrid foliage, Papaver somniferum pods, Scabiosa stellata pods, Tillandsia xerographica
Left: Leucodendron 'Inca Gold' Hyacinthus orientalis 'Blue Jacket' Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' Eucalyptus sp. Grevillea 'Ivanhoe' Brunia albiflora Tillandsia xerographica; Right: Dahlia 'Versa' Nelumbo hybrid pods Schinus molle Sorbus forrestii fruit Sorbus caulescens fruit Jacobaea hybrid foliage Euonymous fortunei 'Emerald 'N Gold' Hedera hibernica Eucalyptus sp. Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy' Tillandsia abdita
Left: Leucodendron ‘Inca Gold’, Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Blue Jacket’, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Eucalyptus sp., Grevillea ‘Ivanhoe’, Brunia albiflora, Tillandsia xerographica; Right: Dahlia ‘Versa’, Nelumbo hybrid pods, Schinus molle, Sorbus forrestii fruit, Sorbus caulescens fruit, Jacobaea hybrid foliage, Euonymous fortunei ‘Emerald ‘N Gold’,
Hedera hibernica, Eucalyptus sp., Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’, Tillandsia abdita
Rosa 'Ausdrawn' The Generous Gardener Lathyrus odoratus hybrid, Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost', Astilbe hybrid, Dryopteris felix-mas 'Cristata', Cornus alba 'Elegantissima'
Rosa ‘Ausdrawn’ The Generous Gardener, Lathyrus odoratus hybrid, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, Astilbe hybrid, Dryopteris felix-mas ‘Cristata’, Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’
Actaea 'Black Negligee' foliage, Clematis 'Etoile de Violette', Lilium 'Dimension', Allium hybrid seedhead, Astrantia hybrids, Jacobaea hybrid flower buds, Lonicera japonica 'Halliana', Alchemilla mollis seedheads, Lathyrus odoratus tendrils
Actaea ‘Black Negligee’ foliage, Clematis ‘Etoile de Violette’, Lilium ‘Dimension’, Allium hybrid seedhead, Astrantia hybrids, Jacobaea hybrid flower buds, Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’, Alchemilla mollis seedheads, Lathyrus odoratus tendrils
Rosa hybrid unknown Equisetum hyemale Cornus elliptica Papaver somniferum pods Jacobaea hybrid flowering buds Echeveria sp. Sorbus forrestii fruit Polystichum setiferum 'Plumoso-Multilobum' Blechnum spicant
Rosa hybrid unknown, Equisetum hyemale, Cornus elliptica, Papaver somniferum pods, Jacobaea hybrid flowering buds, Echeveria sp., Sorbus forrestii fruit, Polystichum setiferum ‘Plumoso-Multilobum’, Blechnum spicant
Left: Vitis cognetiae branch with lichen Zantedeschia hybrid Jacobaea hybrid foliage Brunia albiflora Aeonium arboreum hyrbid Akebia quinata 'Alba' Eucomis comosa Tillandsia xerographica x brachyculous Right: Tillandsia xerographica Aeonium arboreum Eucalyptus sp. Leucodendron hybrid Cymbidium hybrid Cornus sericea
Left: Vitis cognetiae branch with lichen, Zantedeschia hybrid, Jacobaea hybrid foliage, Brunia albiflora
Aeonium arboreum hyrbid, Akebia quinata ‘Alba’, Eucomis comosa, Tillandsia xerographica x brachyculous Right: Tillandsia xerographica, Aeonium arboreum, Eucalyptus sp., Leucodendron hybrid, Cymbidium hybrid, Cornus sericea

Floral Friday: Petal-covered Sweets



At Rosendals Tradgard in Stockholm, Sweden, the garden cafe sold and served these beautiful confections rolled in coconut flakes and flower petals. Without the petals, the confections would have looked ordinary. Using edible flowers such as roses gives a colorful lift for the eyes! As stated in a previous blog about edible flowers, be sure not to use flowers that have been sprayed!  ~ Eric

Floral Friday


An arrangement for Floral Friday was the challenge for me today, restricted to using only materials that I was able to find on my terrace.  At first I was frustrated, due to lack of flowers and foliage but find creativity comes easier to me when faced with limited resources.  I started filling my teal colored Chinese pot with Salvia officinalis (sage), then some large headed Tagetes (from seed collected at Gravetye Manor), orange and peachy Zinnias and then I felt I had something but wasn’t finished yet. Layering more colors in with Artemisia foliage, a few small soft pinkish Dahlia blooms (unknown cultivar from DeWiersse), some Jasmine foliage and then filled out the rest with the sun faded blooms of Allium sphaerocephalon. Challenge met and pleased. – James


Edible Flowers

DSC_0587Early summer brings a myriad of floral delights – not to mention the beginning bounty of produce. We often use flowers for decorative reasons that we sometimes forget how some flowers are actually edible. Whenever I have access to such flowers, I always enjoy sprinkling them in salads and rice dishes since the jewel colors can animate sedate-looking dishes. Edible flowers should be harvested from unsprayed plants. Be sure to check prior to using them in salads and other dishes. Check for insects unless you want an unsuspecting source of protein!

  • Borage (Borago officinalis) – A cool refreshing shade of blue, borage surprises with its cucumber flavor.The hairy calyces are unpleasant to eat and should be removed gingerly from the flowers. I like the flowers for cocktails, especially those with gin or Pimms. People sometimes will freeze the flowers in ice cubes for color in cold beverages.
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – Bright orange or yellow, calendulas are the ‘spice’ of edible flowers. I prefer to separate and sprinkle the petals into green leafy salads – the orange against the bright greens of lettuces is an exciting jolt for the eyes.
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) – We get fixated on harvesting chives for its leaves that we overlook the flowers, which have the same strong onion flavor.
  • Marigolds (Tagetes sp.) – Tagetes lemmonii has a pronounced citrus fragrance that is noticeable from rubbing its leaves. However, the culinary species in Mexico and South America are Tagetes lucida and T. minuta. Called pericón, the former is used in medicinal tea by Mexicans.The latter, known as huacatay in Incan language, is used primarily in the South American potato dish ocopa. Some liken the flavor of Tagetes minuta to basil, tarragon, and mint with hints of citrus, and sometimes steep the leaves for medicinal tea.
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum sp.) – Nasturtiums, unrelated to watercress which uses the name for its genus, are the first edible flowers people think of. Their bright orange or yellow flowers have a distinctive peppery taste like the leaves.
  • Rocket or arugula (Eruca sativa) – White flowers are as edible as the leaves, having the same spicy taste.
  • Viola (Viola tricolor) – More for its color than its taste, viola flowers look delicate nested among the leafy greens. it is not to be confused with Viola odorata more popular in confectionery as sugared violets.

~ Eric