Green Upon Green

Green Upon Green – Flowers and Leaves Equals Endless Inspiration

When I return to Aspen every summer, I’m continually (and happily) astounded with the green on green surrounding me. I realize that this is the third of my posts on the subject of green, but as the foundation of nature, and the perfect counterpoint to every color, I can think of nothing more deserving of this attention.

The catalyst for this topic, however, was not Aspen, but a lunch I held recently at Weatherstone for the patrons and director of Delaware’s Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, who were in the area on a gardening and architectural tour. Having spoken before at this spectacular source of beauty, I was excited to have these old friends stop by.

I’ve mentioned before that most of my inspiration comes from nature, and when it comes, it is usually spontaneous, and cannot be predicted. This happened once again when I spied a number of extraordinary hydrangeas being unloaded at the garden nursery and farmers market in Sharon. Some of you will recall my dreams of having enormous blue and pink snowball hydrangeas grace my garden, but I have long given up on this, surrendering to Mother Nature, who clearly would prefer we stick to the green varieties called Limelight here in north west Connecticut.

Along with these beautiful specimens, I included many varieties of leaves in the table arrangements. Here I must explain that my obsession with leaves has reached epic levels, and I can only put it down to the observation I now partake in when using my watercolors. Previously in the fashion world, my eye was trained in color and texture, but nothing in comparison to what one must note in painting. I am now so easily transfixed with the shades and textures in even the most simple of leaves, and have a renewed understanding of how basic greenery has inspired great artists throughout history. Even the seemingly mundane cabbage acted as a powerful muse for the famous 18th century French and English porcelain designers. Is it any wonder these pieces are some all time favorites of my collection?!

So, my thanks for bearing with this green bent of mine, but as a major part of every flower, I think it qualifies for some coverage of its own, cr.

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Around the pool at Weatherstone – the contrast of the shades makes it interesting. Different textures absorb light differently, with the chairs and the pavilion reflecting more blue and black.

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More green on green fusion with boxwood in the process of being clipped, Clematis around the statue, with lindens and lawn in the background.

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Standard hydrangeas find a perfect home in blue and white pots. These start as a chartreuse and open to soft green.

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Stark white makes the green pop. Silver lindens, and the sun through maples in the distance.

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The cutting garden in summer, an example of green and the range of colors bouncing perfectly against it. Marigold, onions, peppers, sunflowers – all with distinctive shapes and textures yet harmonizing beautifully.

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A palette of multiple greens in every hue and different textures from the vegetable garden.

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So much simple beauty, one does not need to always rely on flowers for an enchanting bouquet, the different greens and shapes and textures make a bouquet themselves.

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The  greenish yellow and white tablecloth was from a previous party, and  it still feels so pretty  and fresh on a summer day.

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Simple white pots, napkins and table items ensure that green is the star.

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I clipped 3 varieties of hosta leaves (yellow, white boarder, blue green) to add to  the hydrangea bouquets .

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Apples and pachysandra – another two completely different greens, with the bud  on the  pachysandra somehow  matching the Granny Smiths.

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We were 24 for lunch, starting with cold green pea soup, then a cold buffet, finishing with flourless chocolate pecan cup cakes.

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Monkey, one of my beloved Havanese, looking on at Mom (me)  pottering and no doubt contemplating more green!

I couldn’t resist some more video practice!

82 thoughts on “Green Upon Green

  1. When I am blessed enough to get to Heaven, my mansion over the hilltop will be a Weatherstone replica!

  2. Thank you, Carolyne, for another lovely post. I love waking up to an email from you and your beautiful Weatherstone. I too adore green!

  3. Thanks Carolyne, you are always a source of inspiration. The time I share with you reading your notes (and books !) and admiring your photos makes me confident that a world of beauty and harmony still exists.
    Love from Italy.
    Paola

    • Thank you Paola, and I believe you’re right. There is definitely still much beauty and harmony out there (plenty in Italy!), sometimes we just need to remind ourselves, cr

  4. Carolyne, the hydrangea centerpieces are stunning. Ive never seen green look so captivating as the way you have presented it. Kudos to you for creating such an elegant atmosphere!!! Did you grow all those hydrangeas?? Can’t wait to add that color to my hydrangea collection next spring.

    • Thanks Peter. I can’t take credit for the hydrangeas, as I actually found them at the local market! The Limelight variety starts of lime green and transitions to white, and their color is not affected by soil pH levels – I’m sure they would be a great addition to your collection, cr

      • Carolyne, every time I buy hydrangeas from the florist or market the blooms always get droopy and dead looking right away, even if I cut the stems under water like roses, any suggestions on keeping them looking good??? I stopped buying them due to this happening all the time.

        • Hi Peter,
          I think we all have that problem. What I discovered after mine drooped is to gun a sink full of cool water and submerge the stems and petals completely underwater sometimes for2/ 3 hours and they do revive. Not for long but it does work with most of the stems. That has been my experience hope it works for you. also because the heads float to the surface I use some utensil from the kitchen to lightly hold them down. good luck carolyne

  5. Carolyne,
    Your gardens and table scrapes are so beautiful- I’m always inspired by your creativity. Thank you!

  6. Dear Carolyne,

    I love the green hydrangeas and the table looks spectacular. Your garden looks so green, you must get a lot of rain.
    I love seeing your tablescapes. Have you done anymore decorating at Charleston. Look forward to seeing it when you have time.

    Love,
    ????. Marie ????.

    • As always, thank you for the kind words Marie. Yes, we have had quite a lot of rain here. Nothing more to report from Charleston for the moment – too hot there in summer! cr

  7. Dear Carolyne, I know I have a lovely country home! But, yours is so beautifully breathtaking, I’d be pinching myself if I lived there, it’s amazing. Love everything you’ve done to accomplish your magnificent “Weatherstone”, Simply Amazing!

  8. Thank you for a wonderful start to my day! Love the photos. It is very HOT here on Long Island and the beautiful photos feel so cool and refreshing.

    • Thank you Eve, it has been hot up here too, but I know before long we shall be complaining about winter! cr

  9. Dear Carolyne,
    Gorgeous table! Is that another hydrangea as the centerpiece? I am not familiar with that yellow green color which is so refreshing. Here in Ma they tend to be white, pink or blue. Also, how do you minimize insect pests when dining al fresco? Thanks!
    Karen

    • Funny I do not seem to have many pests when dining outside —or perhaps I don’t see them. The center piece is also a Limelight hydrangea it starts as a strong chartreuse and then fades to a light green/white as it opens and ages. -cr

  10. These are simply gorgeous GREEN photos. I could look at them all day long! No apologies necessary!

  11. You never cease to amaze me. You manage the most chic looks with the most mundane elements – simple green apples and pachysandra! I’ve always loved the fact that you champion simple flowers like marigolds and carnations above frou-frou expensive flowers from the florist. The fact that you are able to use the simple in extraordinary ways really speaks to your design talent.

    Thanks for another beautiful post. Please keep the videos coming, too. They are a lot of fun. And I’m going to make your tomato tarts from your last video.

    • Thank you Kelley, and I’m so happy to be sharing these ideas with you. Enjoy the tarts! cr

  12. I hope you will give Hydrangers a try in Charleston. I have had good success! Love your post! LR

  13. I absolutely love the white armchairs on your porch in the 4th photo. Were they custom made for you or are they available for ordering? As always, your taste is exquisite! Thank you!

    • I am not sure if they are still available. I bought the first pieces at the Chelsea flower show years ago and then Century furniture reproduced them. They are from the Chatsworth collection of the Duchess of Devonshire. I do not think century makes them anymore but if you look up Chatsworth you might see if they still make them. cr

  14. Such a beautifully groomed garden. My favourite gardens are many shades of green with white flowers. Simple, yet elegant. Very serene to my eyes and senses.
    . I never thought of cutting hosta leaves for my flower arrangements. Thank you for the inspiration.
    Are we to see any of your latest paintings? I do love to see what you are creating. Such artistic talent should be shared, no?

    • Thank you Joanna. I’m painting right now, but nothing yet for public consumption! I shall definitely do a post when I have sufficient material working on this very project while I am have some down time ( tho not enough!!!) in Colorado-cr

  15. Green for August! The spring and summer annuals are dying down and the interesting fall colors haven’t started coming in yet. Green is such a relief for the eyes in all that hot sun. Out here in drought country even our evergreens are looking dingy- your yard is a solace! Thanks for the pictures!

      • Carolyne, can you please tell me how you cultivate and winter-over the large potted boxwoods that you have on your property? Green is my favorite garden color, too, and Boxwood is my favorite plant. My challenge in our climate (the Midwest, cold winters, sometimes dry) is how to preserve them for the winter so they can become large, established plants and topiaries. Do you have a greenhouse on your property? If so, is it heated? Do you have any ideas for someone without a greenhouse? Thank you ~ I so enjoy your blog!

        • Hi Paula,
          My topiaries that are in pots have to go into the hoop house and yes it is heated. Being in cold zone 5 I must put them inside. It is hard enough to keep winter hardy boxwoods in the ground protected and I have lost many of those. The topiaries in pots, as you know must be moved inside. My hoop house is very large as I have many plants that cannot weather the cold of New England. Being from the Midwest I know how severe winter can be. If you have things in pots you might want to consider a small hoop house… depending on the size of your property. They are very affordable as a structure —the expense in the heating. The hoop houses can be built in about any size and of course the smaller it is the less costly in construction and heating cost.- cr

          • Carolyne, thank you so much for this information! One more question, where do you find nice sized boxwood topiaries and balls for pots? Our nurseries rarely have any stock taller than 2-3 feet, and never topiaries. Thank you again.

          • Yes Paula it is hard to find larger topiaries —mine are around 8 years old and I bought them pretty large from a wholesale nursery in New York state. I do not know where you live but one plant company that occasionally has larger ones is Monrovia out of California. They are a wholesaler bustle nation wide. cr

  16. Great idea to use the pachysandra leaflets w/ Granny Smith apples. Funny how commonplace pachysandra is in the NE, but I don’t see it here in Middle TN. It might just be too hot for it. My English ivy groundcover is YUGE, here, though;-) We need rain but not like what’s happened in Louisiana this week. That’s so sad.

  17. wonderful job on the video ! so nice to watch one that has been filmed slowly enough to take in
    the gorgeous visuals. i have been lucky enough to have heard you speak a couple of times and
    noted your charming personality and total unaffectedness. with that background i enjoy your
    blog more because i can imagine just how you are ” speaking ” the words you are writing.
    thank you for putting so much of yourself into this blog.

    • Hi Sandra–That is so kind of you to say those things because I try to speak from the heart and not like a politician with a practiced and scripted message. I appreciate that you realize that these things: blogs, speeches, books , even Instagram are a time consuming endeavors. best, carolyne

  18. Beautiful table setting and arrangements – what we have become to expect from Carolyne. My favorite color for flower arrangements – green & white.

    • Peter: When that happens, (they die soon after purchase) put them in the bathtub, full of lukewarm water and let them soak for at least 1/2 hour.
      They should come back beautifully.

  19. I feel validated! I had to host a dinner last week. I have a lovely but mismatched set of chintz ware (flowers galore). I used a tablecloth in cream but edged in a colorful embroidery bouquet. So I question myself what flowers to use. I found these beautiful lime green pompoms that even though cheap, massed in a beautiful crystal vase made the most talked centerpiece I ever had. Green Power! Thanks Carolyne for being a source of inspiration.

    • Delighted to be a source of inspiration, thank you Jose. The centerpiece sounds perfect! cr

  20. It all looks so lovely. The different shades of green look so elegent en masse. You have a stunning garden

  21. Carolyne,

    Your table for the “Winterthur” luncheon is beautiful! I live in Delaware and Winterthur is my favorite museum and garden. I’m sure your guests enjoyed your gardens at Weatherstone. I had the pleasure of touring your garden in May and thank you for sharing the beauty of your garden with others.

    I hope you will return to Winterthur in the future. Perhaps your next book could be released there.

    Brenda Brady

    • Thank you Brenda. I’m certain to be at Winterthur again, you couldn’t keep me away! cr

  22. What a wonderful fantasy. A fountain of greens and whites and your adorable little monkey too. Thank you !!!!!!!’ Your lovely pictures were the perfect antidote for my hectic week.

    • Thank you Kevin. As you’ve probably noticed, it’s hard to keep my four legged friends out of the posts! cr

  23. Carolyne,

    The images are splendid. I become excited when you post. Since you mentioned the mundane cabbage, there is a memorable one in the Prado painted by Juan Sanchez Cotan in 1602 titled “Still Life with Game Fowl, Vegetables and Fruit.” Cotan meticulously dissects the green tone variations in that cabbage. And I agree, observation drives this process. Think also of Caravaggio’s handling of the delicate veins in the leaves in “Basket of Fruit” of 1596.

    What is blooming in the urn In the background of your garden background, the urn sits behind the sculpture and boxwoods, under the lindens ?

    Virginia Billeaud Anderson

    • Hi Virginia,
      Thank you for this very informative comment I shall look up those paintings you mentioned ( took a screen shot of your comment). The flowers in the urns behind the statue are just some left over geraniums that I have not as yet replaced—good eyes you have. best carolyne

  24. Carolyne, your talent never ceases to amaze me! The hydrangeas remind me of my late mother. With her green thumb (pun intentional), she had stunning blue and pink hydrangeas at her home in South Carolina. Thank you so much for reminding me of her lovely flowers!
    Linda Ladd Foley
    (Friends & family call me Dixie – you must, too, my friend & muse!)

    • Hi Dixie ( thank you for that) Your note gives me hope that I may also have big blue blossoms in Charleston! Must check soil ph. thanks carolyne

  25. You made my day today! I’m inspired to get out in my garden. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Lynn

  26. I just love love love your porch. Your home and property. So lovely. So I tackled my perennial garden and decided to re do it. I tore out pretty much everything. Replanted some in other spots but now the quadrants are empty. It had grown into a huge jungle. I have saved all my iris’s to have in a certain section, moving my peonies all together, trying to make it simpler and more organized. I will be replanting once I am back home in September. Currently I am in our shore home. But I am frustrated trying to plan what to plant so that when spring moves into summer I have different blooming yet still simple and organized. I had in the past everyting so overgrown it was exhausting and overwhelming to even walk inside. I know that I am moving my vegetable garden inside the perenial and have peonies and irises and I ordered lovely tulips from Dutch gardens. Any suggestions? Will be sonsulting your notebooks when I return home. For now I am relaxing and dreaming of what my garden will be like. Hopeful. Love Lisa

  27. Carolyne, my “heart jumps up” when I see an email from you. I feel refreshed with a renewal of creativity after viewing all of your ever so lovely gardens and table settings. You inspire me to jump right into new ideas for floral arrangements based on
    your outstanding photos of arrangements and garden design. Nothing like “shades of green” (not grey) to make one
    feel the joy of God’s gift to us all. You certainly “pay it forward” with your beautiful blog!

    • Hi Judi, that is such an honor to hear, thank you. And yes, I would take shades of green over grey, any day! cr

  28. Dear Carolyne,

    My solution to stop hydrangeas from wilting is to crush the bottom of the stem after cutting. I rarely have one that wilts.
    Hope this helps.

    Love,
    ??? Marie. ???

  29. Dear Carolyne,

    At a Trinity Forum evening, Makoto Fujimura argued for the importance of creating and conserving beauty as an antidote to much of our cultural brokenness, and asserts the need for cultural generativity in our public life. He also asserts that beauty is vital to the “soul care” of each individual, and offers a new vision for artists, supporters and “creative catalysts” of the power of artistic generativity and generosity to inspire, edify, and heal. And he advocates the creation of new “cultural estuaries” to nurture and cultivate that which is beautiful, imaginative, and hospitable in culture.

    You are one of “cultural estuaries” who give beauty and respite to the readers of your books and blog.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Dear Betty,
      Thank you for sharing that wonderful piece of advise. I have always believed that beauty helps the spirit and thus the soul. This beauty, whether coming from nature or the beauty that man created is a gift to all of us. I must admit I did not know the exact meaning of generativity( neither does spell check as it tried twice to change the word) but I have taken a screen shot of the definition to place upon my desk top.
      Both of my parents were in education and I suppose that is part of my “DNA” as they say– to teach. As an aside when I graduated from Washington University my parents were not crazy about me, as their only child, going off to NYC and asked me ” are you sure you don’t want to try teaching? I promptly said no way I want to be a fashion designer. After all those years in fashion, doing books, gardening designing many products I have ended up in my sixties being somewhat a teacher….life is funny…
      I go go on forever on the subject of beauty in the creative process as it has brought so much joy and an education but…also anxiety, defeats of sorts and a lot of self criticism in my life as well the, the artist path is a rocky and at times painful one.
      I must get back to my painting now and gazing at another glorious day in the mountains. Thank you so much for your comment I do appreciate it and it helps me to continue to try at life.

      Thanks for the new word and introducing me to Dr. Erik Erikson’s definition.best
      carolyne

      • Dear Carolyne,
        Generativity was a new word for me also.
        Makoto Fujimura in addition to being an artist is the Director of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary. An interesting individual to say the least. But I am sure you already know him or have looked him up on the web.

        Hope to see more of your paintings

        Encouragement always given . . .

      • Dear Carolyne,
        It was a new word for me also.
        Much encouragement in your try at life!
        Betty

        • hi Betty—-I do love learning new things and although I was not aware of Mr. Fujimura. I am thrilled to know of him and i instantly felt that he is on a very positive track and we would be wish to pay attention and to follow. So very much to learn!!!!! Best, cr

  30. I want the chap who trims your boxwood to come to my house! (And was Placico Domingo at your elegant lunch??)

    • The man who does my box wood is so very good at the topiaries he is from Portugal and he and his wife have years worked for me for years. they are fabulous hard working folks …who love dogs as much as I do. -cr

  31. Carolyne

    Thanks for sharing all these beautiful photos. I live in Louisiana and consequently have a very difficult time maintaining a flower garden due to the heat and humidity. Your photos and books bring me such joy that I forget my garden woes.

    • I understand most roads have potholes —and gardening really tests our perseverance and adaptability —good luck cr

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