Monday, December 27, 2010

Buche de Noel

Christmas was just around the corner when I realized that my reliable Buche de Noel purveryor had closed her little French bakery.  What to do?  I had to create my very own and it wasn't hard at all.  Bought a deliciously moist jelly roll and decorated it with gusto.  Now that I got the knack of it and after looking at some outstanding examples on the internet, I can see this becoming a new Christmas tradition at Furball Cottage.  I may even think of making enough for friends and family.  Put your name down on the list if you're interested.  Remember, Christmas 2011 is just around the corner.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Advent is NOT Christmas.  No time yet for carols and merry-making.  Advent is a season of expectation where the cold, dry, dead-seeming earth is waiting for the arrival of the LIGHT.     We are all expecting.... the Mother has not yet met her Divine Child.  The Mother... The Rose of Such Virtue, the rose that bare Jesu: Alleluia.  In this rose contained was Heaven and earth in little space. 
Res Miranda [miracle of miracles].  That was the theme for our church's choir concert last Sunday.  The Cantor, David Harp, asked me to do the flowers to adorn the sanctuary, a great honor.  And a little later he  also asked me to read two poems during the concert.  Gulp!  For the flowers we decided on something stark and dramatic representing the rose that blooms in winter.  Two arrangements for the two front corners of the altar plus two swags hanging from the reredos.  I think the results speak for themselves.  The reading was harrowing but well worth the effort  to hear the Rev. Tim Wengert say to me later: "Hearing you read is like going to a gourmet restaurant, to savor every word".  Oh my!                                                

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Antique/vintage English teacups provided by David VanSciver for our class  last night.  Everybody's design was lovely, lots of spray roses - dark and light pink - something called 'ground pine' never seen before but a fabulous filler and it will last almost forever.  All too ladylike for me... had to jazz it up...  A spool of cool wire, some strange, shimmery fiber you pull with your fingers and attach wherever you want bling.  Would this work for a New Year's table?  Oh, you bet it would!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Several years ago, a friend gave me her collection of stoneware crocks, nine in total, which I added to a couple of very old ones given to me by another friend.  Never could do anything floral with them.  Didn't feel like doing the old cliché of dried grasses or great bunches of daisies, so they just stayed in the garden shed catching dust and serving as homes for winter mice.  When David VanSciver asked us to bring a troublesome but rustic container to our second lesson, I immediately knew what I should take.  This crock is not tall enough for its height and nothing had ever looked good in it until now.  The seed pods helped quite a bit and the colors blended nicely.  Thanks, David, for the wonderful seedpods and for waking up this old crock from a long slumber.  Oh, and the angled stuff is equisetum (horse tail) from my garden.



A little bit of cardboard, some glitter, a few hours of boredom... A putz is built.  Once finished, the little house looks forlorn in its snowy field surrounded by its picket fence. As in real life, a house without a garden is like a body without a soul.  So here comes a bit of dried-up moss... still something is missing... trees!  Two snippets from my beloved cryptomeria japonica that died this summer due to the merciless drought.  Now the wee inhabitants of this chalet can smile and I'm sure there will be smoke coming out of the chimney as soon as they settle down in their new abode.  Good night.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Looking for interesting ideas for a design on a windowsill at the HUMC Harvest Festival, of course I went to the thrifty woman's flower emporium, the nearest Produce Junction.  After looking at the unispiring variety of cut flowers, I fell in love witht the amazing colors of this calla lily and the rest, as they say, is history.  The dish is from the fifties, found at some thrift shop or garage sale long ago.  Never used before, waiting for its perfect complement.   No way I was going to cut those flowers, so decided instead to use the whole plant, roots and all, add mosses and lichens and let it all hang out.  A stiff backing of liatris was all that was needed.  I enjoyed the puzzled expression of so many people who stopped over and seemed to wonder if this was a mistake, a broken pot, an unfinished work.  A card explained it all: "A Naturalistic Design"  Hopefully at least a few read it and learned something new. 


David Van Sciver is a retired Methodist minister.  His reverence for God is wondrous to witness.  There's something else that makes David tick:  FLOWERS. 

We met through flowers and pretty much talk through flowers~  the never-ending conversation.

Some years ago he founded the Floral Arts Guild in his church in Haddonfield. This has grown and grown, has a great workshop-cum-gift shop, a fabulous refrigeration system that would be the envy of many a professional florist, and a corps of lovely volunteers that make every Sunday a marvel in the Sanctuary.

David, like any gardener worth his salt, loves to share.  He does this by teaching and spreading the gospel of flowers througout this area.  His classes start at 6:30 PM or thereabouts and end when the last student is gone.  Last night I left close to 11:00 and there were still several ladies working on their arrangements. 

I am learning all kinds of tricks and techniques that are never shared at the Philadelphia Flower Show or anywhere else.  I'm also learning the ins and outs of keeping a church flower guild moving in the right direction.  Sheer willpower and dedication have to be the first two items. 

This little all-green arrangement comes from our first class, one week ago yesterday.  The photo was taken right before going to the second class and as you can see, the flowers are still fresh.  Well, that's one of the tricks!  More information in future postings.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Bernie and Duane lost their spouses some years back.  They met in church and fell in love.  It was a joy to watch them as they slowly realized how much they cared for each other.  Their wedding was this June and I had the pleasure to do their flowers.  Here is the flower basket I made for Bernie's granddaughter.  It is very easy and inexpensive to make. If you want details, leave a message in this blog.  After the fresh flowers die, the basket will last for years, kind of a metaphor for these two love birds.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Late 1950's.
By government decree, every woman had to march at a huge rally honoring the dictator. All had to wear white dresses, shoes, gloves, summer hats. My mother had her seamstress make her a linen dress with mother-of-pearl buttons down the bodice. Before the dress was assembled, Mother took it to a lovely Chinese woman in the tiny Chinatown in Santo Domingo. This lady hardly spoke Spanish, but through signs and my mother's own design, flowers bloomed all over the bodice and pockets. There were calendars on the walls of this lady's tiny shop. One showed gorgeous, smiling Chinese girls carrying parasols and wearing sinuous silk dresses with high collars. Another had illustrations of strange, steep mountains coming out of the water. As a seven-year-old I made up my mind that Chinese artists didn't know what they were doing because obviously no mountain could look like that. This year I went to Guilin and sailed around those strange mountains and for the first time in over fifty years thought of that Chinese woman and her embroidery machine in a sultry little room in the middle of the Caribbean. The dress was gorgeous. My mother was gorgeous when she wore it. She didn't wear it the day of the rally. She was "sick" that morning and had to stay home. No member of my family would ever appear at a government rally and shout vivas to the tyrant. There are many ways to resist tyranny, I don't know how many of them require a new linen dress. This one has resided in my closet for many years to remind me of my beautiful mother and her indomitable spirit.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Who are you?

Squirrels have developed a bizarre appetite for certain compounds not found in nature. Fiberglass, which is used to create molded decorative elements impervious to weather, has become one of their favorite fast foods. I don't know if the squirrels die after such a diet, but the lovely statue of Budha, a gift to the garden by Cristina and Freddy de Castro, succumbed under the rodents' newfangled passion. After disposing of what was left of Budha, the space where he had stood for several years looked desolate but the idea of replacing him with just any old pot was unthinkable. On a shopping foray at Ross [dress for less, uhuh] I spied this blue, perfectly coiffed and bejweled entity. He smiled at me from high atop a shelf. I reached to touch him and realized he was pottery... squirrel-proof though most probably not frost-proof. Love at first sight. I looked up the price - since our trip to China I've been rather thrifty- oh baby, the price was right. He came home with me. Again there is a focal point on that crucial axis. He is not cobalt blue like everything else at Furball Cottage. Instead he is a turquoise color that brightens up the shady spot. As I'm a crazy lover of turquoise jewelry, this was a double mitzvah. Now I'd like to ask... who are you? What deity do you represent? Are you a young Gautama? Were you copied from some ancient temple in India? Will I ever discover your identity? Or are you just a melange of symbols made in China to feed the insatiable hunger for consumer goods of the American public?

How Sweet is This?

The ladies from the National Cathedral Flower Guild charmed us all at the Harvest Festival celebrated this Saturday at the magnificent Methodist Church in Haddonfield. In the morning they gave us a demonstration on how to do fabulous church flowers in what seemed no time at all. In one and a half hours they made four enormous designs plus three smaller ones. What talent! After lunch there was a hands-on workshop where we made these adorable topiaries. Although the plant material was the same, no two came out the same. And that, in a nutshell, is the joy of flowers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


What could be more rewarding than giving flowers to the glory of God? After all, He is the creator of all our wealth. All we're doing is giving it back to HIM. Everything but the little gourds in this arrangement and its twin came from the gardens at Furball Cottage and went to adorn the sanctuary at Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Moorestown. Let us give thanks for the bounty His generosity has bestowed upon us. All Glory to Him now and forever. Amen.


Fall arrived in all its glory. The fire bush [euonymus alata] looked magnificent. Call the firemen, my garden is on fire! Well, that was exactly one year ago. This year the drought has destroyed its beauty, branches have cracked and several of its neighbors, including a spectacular cryptomeria japonica which will have to be cut down. I'll have to enjoy pictures from years past because this summer was a bummer.



About Me

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Moorestown, New Jersey, United States
Let's talk about our gardens. Let's talk about all the flowers and critters that thrive within the confines of our personal paradises. Let's talk about those we love and love us back, although once in a while they scratch us and make us bleed a little. Just to remind us that we are alive. Those roses and cats and people that thrive in our gardens... How important... How important they are...