Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere: flower Reader Meets Helen Dillon

Our former intern, Mary Carpenter, brightened our office and put a smile on our faces this summer, and we were thrilled to discover Mary’s family was equally delightful. Sally Carpenter, Mary’s mother and “flower” cheerleader extraordinaire, recently travelled to Ireland and made a point to seek out the gardens featured in our Spring 2010 issue. Below, Mary tells us about her mother’s experience visiting Helen Dillon’s beautiful gardens.

Being a flight attendant for over 30 years, my mom, Sally, has made a habit of seeing the typical tourist attractions in every city she lands in. So when the spring issue of flower made its debut, she planned her flying schedule accordingly so that she could visit Helen Dillon’s garden.

An avid gardener, my mom eagerly anticipated the flowers she would see in Dublin and the ideas she might bring back to the States. Only a short walk from her hotel, Mom rang the doorbell to Helen’s house and was greeted by her husband, Val, who showed her nothing short of what we might call “Southern hospitality.” They became instant friends and he showed her what he said was the best view of the garden, worthy of a picture from their drawing room. Then, Val led my mother outside to take her on a tour of the garden. She glimpsed over to see Helen Dillon in gardening apparel giving private tours. At one point, Mom went over to her, whisked out her copy of flower and told Helen how she ended up in Dublin.

As Mom’s tour ended and she started to walk home, Val insisted on giving his new friend a ride back, explaining that their dog, Daisy, was at the vet, and it was on the way to the hotel. Mom agreed and found herself sitting in the front seat conversing about the differences between driving in Dublin and America.

After a whirlwind experience of reveling in Helen’s garden, making two unexpected friends, and even meeting the family dog, Mom came back to Atlanta completely inspired and with a slight Irish accent.

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Bud of the Day

“Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers?”
– Maurice Maeterlinck

Photo Credit: Sheila Goode Photography via flower Summer 2008 issue

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Flower Finds: Flower Duet

Written by: Katherine Perry, publishing assistant

Los Angeles-based floral designers, teachers, and sisters Kit and Casey of Flower Duet have earned acclaim for making flower arranging approachable. Their multi-faceted business seeks to take the mystery out of floral design; their inventive products and services encourage people to enjoy not only the beauty of flowers, but the process of working with them.

In the Los Angeles area Flower Duet offers three to four group classes each month with lesson topics ranging from hand-tied bouquets to full centerpieces, succulent arrangements, topiaries, holiday creations, and much more. Kit and Casey also teach private flower parties and regularly lead students and flower enthusiasts on tours of the LA Flower Mart.

An exciting aspect of Flower Duet’s business, however, is that no matter where you live you can have the benefit of Kit and Casey’s valuable tips and thoughtful instruction. The sisters have released an instructional DVD called “How to Create a European Wrap Bouquet.” In the video, Kit and Casey show you how to choose the freshest flowers, how to prepare flowers to optimize their vase life, and how to create a hand-tied European wrap bouquet. You can get your friends in on the fun by ordering a custom “Flower Party In-A-Box.” The package includes the Flower Duet instructional video, three flower recipes for each of the three designs in the video, floral cutters for each guest to use and take home, to-go vases in a color of your choice, tip sheets for each party attendee, and a free email consultation with Flower Duet about what kinds of flowers to buy and where to find them.


We love that Flower Duet makes flower arranging accessible anytime, anywhere, regardless of prior experience. Make flowers a part of your next get-together, birthday party, or bachelorette weekend—learn a new skill and enjoy the beautiful product of your work!

Note: Look for Flower Duet in five segments on floral design on the PBS show “Creative Living” throughout the 2010-2011 season!

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Little Pick-Me-Ups (and a Hint of Things to Come)

Written by: Julie Cole Miller, managing editor

We may be wilting somewhat in this summer heat (101 here in Birmingham, home of our international headquarters), but when Abby returned from her Mediterranean cruise this morning with floral gifts for the staff, we perked up quite a bit. During her trip, our ever-thoughtful girl Friday couldn’t resist the aroma of lavender sachets from Provence and diaphanous cotton scarves from a Florence market. We couldn’t restrain ourselves either when she presented the pretty and aromatic gifts! Look for Abby’s blog posts of her floral adventures in the days to come. Thanks for the pick-me-ups, Abby!

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Jordan’s Favorite Flower

Written by: Jordan Staggs, intern

via flower Winter 2007 issue

If I recall correctly, I’ve always had a pretty eccentric sense of style. I don’t mean weird, although sometimes maybe my fashion choices have been a little out there; I only mean I’m attracted to a great variety of styles. One day I might go hippie-chic with a flowy, beaded skirt and vintage graphic tee, and the next I could be preppy in Ralph Lauren or sporty with my Nike shorts. You never know. I’m a fashion ninja.

I didn’t do it on purpose, but I think I chose a favorite flower that represents who I am in an almost eerie way. I was always attracted to orchids in design, even before I knew what they were. A self-proclaimed HGTV junkie, my design style varies as much as my clothing—modern, classic, chic, or whimsical. I love how orchids can fit in anywhere! They come in hundreds of colors; some with spots, some with stripes, some two-toned, some in colors I never even knew existed.

Another thing that intrigues me about these exotic, beautiful plants is the way they grow, in nature or in the home, with roots exposed to gather moisture from the humid environments in which they thrive (not unlike the Southeast US). Some even grow upside down, hanging from trees or rocks. How cool is that? I like to think I’m that way, putting myself out there for who I am and not trying to be, as Mr. Caulfield might say, “a phony.” I don’t like to be tied down to one thing or one place, like a plant stuck with its roots buried in the earth. I also love the aesthetic beauty of an orchid in a clear container full of coal or smooth stones—so much more interesting to me than a clump of dirt!

Orchids are just so zen and calming. I can picture myself one day, walking into my totally-overpriced-but-completely-fabulous New York loft, a potted phalaenopsis orchid—maybe white, maybe purple or jade green—lounging elegantly in its perch on my coffee table, gently bowed over a stack of magazines (including flower, of course!) and some well-placed trinkets. I’ll kick off my high heels and sink into the chic white sofa, mirroring my favorite flower as I relax after a long day of work.

Ahhh, perfect.

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Bud of the Day

Each flower is a soul opening out to nature.
–   Gerald De Nerval

Photo Credit: Christina Martin via Soul Aperture blog

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Petal Pointer: Ring Around the Rosie

Written by: Katherine Perry, publishing assistant

For a recent bridesmaids’ luncheon hosted by our editor-in-chief, I attempted to add a little punch to the punch bowl with a floral ice ring. With a few simple instructions from our ever-creative design editor, Sybil Sylvester, I set out to see if this project was really as foolproof as it sounded. Good news! This project is easy and impactful… and may become my signature party trick.

All you need is a round metal mold, water, and a botanical filler such as roses, impatiens, or mint. I borrowed a mold from Sybil and used pink and white impatiens from the backyard.

Begin by adding water to the mold until it is about 1/3 full.  Give your flowers/herbs a rinse and add some to the thin layer of water.  Place this initial layer in the freezer for a couple of hours until it is completely frozen. Once the first layer has frozen, add more water until the mold is approximately 2/3 full and sprinkle in more of your filler.  Allow this layer to freeze, then add your final layer of water and filler. Freeze overnight.

To remove the ice ring, wrap a hot towel around your mold to loosen the ice and slide the ring into the punch.  And yes, this entire process is just as easy as it sounds!

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