April 21, 2014 in flowers
I have so many favourite flowers but one that comes up very high on my list is the snake’s head fritillary – Fritillaria meleagris. I have been fascinated by this spring bulb ever since I was at art college in Edinburgh and came across a beautiful drawing of one made in 1915 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The pattern fascinates me, as I’m sure it did Mackintosh, and they really are a miracle of nature.
As a long-time member of Kew Gardens there are swathes of them located in an area that I hunt out each Spring to see them growing en masse. Some are pure white with the faintest trace of a pattern, but mostly they are the richer shades of purple with their contrasting chequerboard.
I photographed them against simple backdrops devoid of fuss. The vase above is by Akiko Hirai and the black cup in the last photo is by Kaori Tatebayashi, both from Flow Gallery. In the photo below you can see how these flowers get the name snake’s head from their shape and pattern just before they open up.
I grow them each Spring in my own tiny garden and always get excited to see their little heads poke up in the flowers beds or in pride of place in pots on the garden table. Nature is amazing.
Today I’m featuring a new book written by friends Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring: Decorate with Flowers – creative ideas for Flowers and containers around the home, as part of the UK blog book tour.
Books started my friendship with Holly four years ago after she wrote the sweetest review of my first book The Homemade Home and I emailed to thank her. We kept in touch and met for a drink a few months later when she was in London. A year or so later I helped Holly with the London launch of her first book – Decorate. That is where I first met Leslie and we, and our respective husbands, had lots of fun for a few days in London – they are the ones who talked me into starting this blog! So as books have featured so importantly in connecting our lives it seems fitting to post about their lovely new book and congratulate Holly and Leslie on the fruits of their collaboration.
Decorate With Flowers is packed with images, ideas and useful information and tips to keep your home full of life and scent with the addition of flowers. It really reflects Holly and Leslie’s personal styles and their love for flowers, craft and decorating – it is bright, light, fresh, colourful and pretty.
The book is divided into sections to suit different interior styles, such as happy brights, neutral pop and girly glam and has a craft section in each chapter showing you how to upcycle vessels for displaying flowers. There are pages showing you how to create large flower arrangements in easy-to-follow steps, so you too can create a large impressive centerpiece, but really what shows through is a love of flowers from both of them. They mix shop bought with sprigs snipped from the garden, showing you that you can bring flowers into any space with any budget.
The book itself is also well designed on tactile, uncoated paper and there is always something new to grab your eye as you flick through.
You can see lots of colourful photos and spreads from the book over on the Decorate With Flowers website.
The chapter that appeals most to my own interior design aesthetic and the way I live, is chapter 8 – Black & White. I photographed some of the pages to show here.
In this section Leslie and Holly present graphic and organic schemes influenced by Scandinavian style. Black and white interiors with flowers and foliage in whites and creams with greens and touches of yellow and deep purples.
One of my favourite projects is the graphic stamped bags, seen above.
After reading through the book I couldn’t help but nip outside to add a few cuttings from my own garden to my photos, all in the spirit of the book!
My husband helped me film a little flick-through video to give you a peek inside, although by coincidence my friend Caroline posted one on Tuesday but I thought I would share this one too as we had already filmed it. Click the settings cog to HD for better quality.
A huge amount of time, thought, love, work and energy goes into creating a book like this with so many photographs, ideas, projects and information and my congratulations go to Holly and Leslie for producing a lovely book they can be really proud of.
I took these pictures last year. I had popped into Made London, an event held at One Marylebone where European designer makers exhibit, to see my friend Grainne Morton who had a stand there. After we caught up I browsed the show and bought a few new objects. I still had my favourite hired photo shoot surface at home and couldn’t resist taking some photos before it was returned to the prop house the next day. My new purchases all had a monochrome, geometric and graphic quality that I contrasted with a handful of natural items picked from the garden.
This delicate metal ring is by jeweller Kirsty Pearson, another of the Crafts Council’s Hothouse designer makers in 2013.
Craft shows are a great way to buy unique, hand made items for your home or to wear and to support designer makers at the same time.
Made London is being held at the same venue this year on 24-26 October 2014.
There is something about the intensity of a really electric blue in a paint or a flower that just sings when placed against a pure deep black. Recently photographer Beth Evans and I spent a day testing some ideas we wanted to explore for still life images, one of which was using this vivid but moody combination of blue on black. Here are some of the results.
I used some of my paintings on canvas that I had done previously using oil, acrylic, spray paint and household paint as as backdrops. The flowers in such dramatic colours were purchased at Scarlet and Violet and Beth worked her magic creating a richness with her camera.
There is another food-related series we shot that I will share soon, so do pop back.
The tropical colours of Singapore were amazing as we passed through gardens and areas like Chinatown and Little India: Hot pinks, citrus oranges and acid greens, sky blues and metallic golds. Flowers were everywhere, popping out against the urban landscape along roadsides, in parks, temples and for sale on market stalls.
I’ve loved using a close-up macro lens and playing with depth of field since I bought my first 35mm SLR film camera whilst at art college, and flowers are my perfect muse for this kind of abstraction. I can’t help myself and find wherever I travel I am drawn to photographing flowers, so in Singapore I was in heaven.
Singapore was the most wonderful place to stop over on our way home from Australia. We broke up our return journey with a two day visit to this amazing city. We had heard some reports of it feeling a little sterile, but we found it fascinating and absolutely loved it. They have embraced modern architecture (we felt as if we were part of a science fiction film set at times) and, in contrast, other parts of the city felt like you were immersed in the old mysterious Orient.
Our first stop was the newly opened Gardens by the Bay. The Cloud Forest dome was fantastic with a 90 foot waterfall cascading from the man-made mountain inside, mossy trees nearby and walls filled vertically with an enormous range of tropical plants and flowers. There must have been every type of Orchid in all shapes, sizes and colours. The mists were ‘switched on’ at various times and the whole dome enclosed you in its artificial cloud which my children absolutely loved. The Flower Dome next door was also wonderful.
There were also towering, tree-like sculptural metal structures with plants growing upwards around their trunks. The walkway linking these metal trees allowed great views across the gardens but even these towers, which felt high from the top, were dwarfed by the huge hotel next door – The Marina Bay Sands.
We walked through the Heritage Gardens, over the foot bridge and took the lift to the 58th floor observation deck where the view was out of this world, across the city and out over the bay; tankers in the shipping lanes below us looked like ants and the sheer volume of them was unexpected.
I love the juxtaposition of tropical flowers with modern buildings and Singapore did this so well.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for almost 20 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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