protea, lizzy, lizzy, rose

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but there’s a painting by John Singer Sargent that I adore.  From the name, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, to the way he used pigment to recreate light, everything about this piece amazes me.  Hence the post title.  I didn’t have quite the same flowers: mine are protea, lisianthus (which in the shop we call “lizzy”), and roses.  And in that order….

yellow and red pincushion protea in a clear jar

These pincushion protea are in nicer shape than the last two I brought home, so they’ll give you a better idea what this plant should look like!  The details are stunning.  All flowers have something beautiful about them, but these strike me with the glory of their weirdness.  Each plant bristles with tiny torches of color.  If you want to read more about pincushion protea, check out this engaging and photo-rich article by Brian Johnston.  I learned some new facts from it–for example, each of those vertical tendrils is its own flower.  I had no idea!

yellow pincushion protea up close

Moving onto something softer, I recently had the pleasure of bringing home a bucket–not a vase, a bucket!–of lisianthus, or, as we call it in the flower shop where I work, “lizzy.”  Before it fully opens it’s easy to mistake for a rose, but its petals are more delicate and ruffled than most roses’.

white lisianthus up close

More differences become evident as lizzy opens.  See how thin the petals are?  Like poppies almost.

I barely knew what to do with my magnificent haul of lizzy.  I stood in the kitchen, cutting and cutting and cutting, going back to the living room to dig in the closet for more vases.  And by “vases” I mean jars.  For some reason I hoard glass jars–we’re talking jars from salsa, olives, etc.  Why do I do this?  I think it’s because I imagine myself doing craft projects that I rarely get around to completing starting.  But I did create a little tableau between the living room and dining room:

tableau with white lisianthus in a glass, white frame, green wine bottle with twigs, bowl of oranges, and white Gurgle pot

I scattered lizzy all around the apartment.  Two little clutches made it to Lovey’s and my nightstands.  One of life’s sweetest luxuries, I think, is to wake to the sight of flowers.  (Try it sometime!)

white lisianthus in a glass jar on a red tabletop with a yellow book

The same week I was living with lizzy in every room we had some “blown” (aka overly open) roses left from designing we’d done for a big party.  So I got to add one big splash of red to the floral palette.  Could a girl be luckier?!

The white urn I put the roses in is one I bought at a thrift store with the intent of having something nice-looking but childsafe.  (I was still nannying at the time.)  Its shatterproof plastic is this vase’s most winning attribute, but I forgot to account for the fact that it takes a lot of flowers to fill it!

a dozen red roses in a white urn on a red tabletop

In fact, a dozen roses amounted to just enough space filler that nothing slipped sideways.  If the roses hadn’t been so blown this might have looked a bit roomy.  But as it turned out everything fit snug-as-a-bug, resulting in a lush look by Lovey’s side of the bed.

I enjoyed having so many flowers around, even for a short time.  It had been a while since I’d brought home flowers, and then the riches all rained down at once!  In between times like these forget how good it feels to look around and see pretty bouquets here and there.  Maybe it’s a good thing I forget just how much pleasure I gain from flowers–that way I don’t spend money on something so ephemeral.  At retail these would have cost a lot, so  I really look forward to when I have a house where I can garden.  Then I’ll have “free” flowers!  All in good time.  For now I’ll enjoy flower-shop castoffs as they come.

How about you?  Do you love to see flowers scattered around your home, or is that a frivolity that doesn’t do much for you?  If you do like flowers, which ones are your favorites?  I think it’s interesting how people are drawn to different things.

Leave a comment


  1. Diana Fahrenholtz

     /  August 30, 2012

    I have the same attraction to the beauty they bring. I often will buy the “Manager’s Special” at City Market and adorn my table. I actually have some baby carnations (yellow & white) there right now. This brought back a memory of GramE when they lived in the big house: she often had flowers blooming in her yard and would bring in some when we visited – usually huge peonies. What a love she was and she spread it to those around her!

  2. Diana Fahrenholtz

     /  August 30, 2012

    Brian’s article is fascinating, BTW.


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