There is a park just up the street from us where I take every innocent visitor who flies out from the East Coast. I say "innocent" because to get to this park you must first walk up a series of blocks so steep there are small steps etched into the incline to help you make your way from one end to the other.
Once you make it, huffing and puffing at the top of the hill, you find yourself in a quiet woods under the cool shade of towering Eucalyptus and Cypress trees. Along the backside of the park are thick groves of nasturtium, wild dill, and blackberries. It's almost hard to believe you're steps away from the noise and motion of the city.
The park is full of wild, tendrily, swaying things that carry the melody of the changing seasons. I recently bought a used copy of Ken Druse's book on propagation "Making More Plants" and his opening quote captures my feelings on the changing seasons perfectly:
Over the course of the season, the dill in Buena Vista park morphs from green towering stalks to yellow pollen flecked blooms, to crunchy tan then black umbels. The blackberry transitions from petite white blooms, to green red and black berries, to bug eaten, purple spotted sparse foliage. I enjoy incorporating the overgrown viney elements and delicate, dried out ones that you could find in the park (clipped from my own garden or an ethically foraged source) into my arrangements. These are the bits that really bring a sense of place to your flowers while also creating the illusion that your arrangement has always lived in it the spot where you've set it down - it's flowers, branches, and leaves entangled with the vase they are living in or the table where they are resting.
If you've ever wanted to try your hand at this thoughtfully unruly approach to floral design, I'll be teaching a class at my friend Lennie's farm in Sebastopol Sunday, June 12th. As I write this I believe we still have about 10 spots left, which I'm hoping will go quick. So get on it! You'll get to go home with your own beautiful arrangement that you can twirl and tangle around your bed post or lamp base or mantel. Until next week...