Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'd like to introduce you to.........Paula Pryke

A modern day Constance Spry.

Her book, The New Floral Artist (published 1993) was the first flower book I ever bought (1997). And I never looked back. I fell in love...fully and completely.

What fabulous textures and colours -- all of autumn in one wreath !

You see, prior to flowers, I had worked in the really rough world of politics. I had studied Political Science at university. And as you might well imagine, I wanted to see change in the world. So with the arrogance of youth on my side I embarked on a career in the political realm. Ohhhh, how naive I was. Without going into any great detail, suffice it to say, politics was not my calling.

This epitomises summer and romance for me.

Soooo,  in 1997 I was living in London (working for a politician) and one day I found myself in Paula Pryke's flower shop in Islington. I don't know why I walked in as I had never been in a flower shop before. Flowers didn't interest me. I thought it was a trivial waste of time and felt there were more important things to do. 

But somehow I was drawn in. Maybe it was the glorious window display. But I suspect it was more likely my stressed out state of mind. I needed to relax and not think about work. It was Christmas and the shop was so incredibly beautiful, overflowing with flowers, exquisite bouquets, breathtaking wreaths and sumptuous garlands. The florists in their black aprons were wrapping flowers in the most elegant manner with the prettiest tissue papers and ribbons. My head literally spinned in this grotto of beauty.

On one of the consoles was the book, the one that would change the direction of my life. I purchased it, went home and read it, studied it and then reread it hundreds of times over the next few months. I memorized the ingredients to all of the arrangements, the flower names and the histories Ms. Pryke told of this wonderful world of flowers. The styling, the colour combinations, the containers.

Detailed description of how to create a painterly floral still life.

Isn't this exquisite ?

A fantastic bouquet of delphiniums in an antique pot !
Paula Pryke has written many books since, but this was my bible. I literally learned all about flowers and flower arranging from this modern day Constance Spry and The New Floral Artist. She has certainly influenced a generation of florists.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dear Prairie Girl,

I've been meaning to post this for the past few days. It's been a little crazy here at Wild thyme. We've just finished our last wedding of the season and now we are just starting to prepare for the Holidays.

I want to thank you so much for featuring Wild thyme flowers on your lovely blog Prairiegirlstudio last Friday. I was thrilled to pieces !

I look forward to keeping up with your new Friday flowers post and I'm so glad I've found another great blog pal !

Most Sincerely

P.S. Congratulations to WASKADA, Manitoba for your win over Winnipeg on CBC Radio 2's Great Canadian Songquest. I LOVE this radio station !

Monday, October 19, 2009

to growing older, great taste and warm smiles....

A few years back (June 2006 to be exact), David and I were hanging out at home. He was reading the newspapers. Me, I had just received my latest issue of House & Garden (very sorely missed by the way)

After some time and nearing the end of the magazine I saw this picture and suddenly I said: "David, I really hope this is how we will look when we grow older..." 

This is Yves and Michele Halard

Up until this point, David had not seen the picture so he didn't want to know. All he heard was "older". Not a great word for most men. Or women for that matter. Then I quietly slipped the magazine in front of him. It took a moment, but then he smiled and said;"Yes, that would be very nice. Let's keep that somewhere to remind us".
Yves and Michele Halard are very famous French interior designers. Since entering the world of blogging I have discovered that quite a few bloggers have posted about them and their work. 

Their house in Provence probably sums up their taste and philosphy. It is a beautiful, eclectic, slightly eccentric home.

The entryway is painted in a sky blue mixed by Yves, features a wooden chandelier (a stage prop), Spanish urns and a bust of Christ. The console is covered in a glorious red antique silk textile. The photograph on the wall is by their son, photographer Francois Halard.
The dining room is a wonderful, mad clash of  garden style chairs, geometric rugs, noeclassical moldings, Italian marble on the mantel, a terra cotta pot of ivy trails and Royal Limoges dinner ware.

The Library holds a large number of books and magazines.  The white side chairs are from Versailles and the sumptuous carpet is a 19th century Aubusson. 

As you can see Yves and Michele love colour.

At the end of the article, they spoke about their work and life. One question and response caught my attention.

What is the secret to a welcoming decor?

" You need a little disorder to go with a little fantasy. If you are too neat, you'll never have a warm house. There should be magazines lying around. Perfection is intimidating".

Well said Madame Halard.

A Sidenote: When the H&G article was written, Madame Halard was still working, commuting from Paris to Provence weekly. All the photopgraphs by Francois Halard, their son.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hi there.....

Just a little busy with work at the moment. 

I must say I do love my work, but I have seriously fallen for this blogging stuff. So many swell people and great stories. And I'm really missing it the last little while.

Will be back next week and look forward to catching up with some of my favourite blog pals.

In the meantime, maybe you'd like to check out some old blogs o' mine.....they sure could use a little visit.....

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great Big Thank You !

I haven't blogged or checked my blog for several days now. 

My dear partner David dared me - no, in fact he double dared me to stay away from the computer for the entire long weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving). And of course, being a good competitor, I took the challenge. 

Mind you, it wasn't easy. My favourite day of the week is Sunday (mornings to be precise) when it's all quiet and cosy. I make myself a pot of tea and some toast, settle in  and do some catching up on my favourite blogs. 

However, I couldn't do so until this morning. And what a lovely surprise awaited me.

The delightful Miss Gigi of The Magpies Fancy  very kindly shared some of my posts on her blog. And said the nicest things. Thank you Gigi. You really made my day. No, you've made my week !

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just thought this was lovely.....

British designer L'Wren Scott
Image via

I don't think the green translated to my post, but it actually is quite beautiful. You may have to visit to get the true colour. I love the exaggerated boat style neckline, the 3/4 sleeves, the shapely style of the dress, and her cap is so chic - very Parisian, or could be 1930's New York. And the shoes..perfect complement. Very stylish indeed.

Tufting and buttons............

I desperately want to reupholster our sofa. To say it's fairly bland and tired looking is quite honestly, an understatement. I was going to take a picture for this post, but just looking at it left me uninspired to do so. However, I can tell you that it has good bones and shows lots of potential.

Now, I've always considered myself a bit of a modern gal. In the past I've dreamt of replacing my rolled arm sofa (with overstuffed cushions) with something cool and contemporary, perhaps in french grey or a deep charcoal. Something with clean lines and low to the ground. You know what I mean, one of those slick Italian pieces that can seat entire families (or parties for that matter) and completely take over a room.

But.... I've changed. Or at the very least my taste has evolved to a level where I now appreciate many styles. But I'm particularily drawn to the tufted, buttoned looks seen here.

Gorgeous couch from Fromental website. This is so terribly chic.

Love the dark, sexy vibe here designed by Ilse Crawford.

Kettners Brasserie in London again designed by the amazing Ilse Crawford.

Very pretty dove grey velvet.

The fringe and the sumptuous silk curtains add such glamour. Champers and oysters anyone ?

Well I have spoken to the upholsterers next door to my studio and they're ready anytime to work their tuft and button magic. 

Now all I have to do is convince David. Sigh......he's not exactly the tufting and buttoning type. Any suggestions as to how I could persuade him ?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mr. Mark Laird and his gorgeous book....

I cannot tell you how excited I am for my dear friend Mark Laird. He is the co-author of a wonderful book on the life of the fabulous British aristocrat and artist Mary Delany.

Mrs. Delany and Her Circle, 2009, Yale Press
The cover image is of the botanical Passiflora, one of Mrs. Delany's paper collages/mosaics.

The book will become widely available in November. However, lucky for me, Mark and his wife Sharon dropped by my studio today to show me the newly published copy. The cover is beautiful and the book itself is simply outstanding. It stole my breath away.

THIS is the mesmerising story of the life of one happening woman in the 18th century!

Portrait of Mary Delany at the age of 82 years by John Opie (1782)

Mary's friends included Handel, a close confidante and Jonathan Swift, a neighbour. She was courted by John Wesley and studied drawing with Hogarth and flower drawing with Georg Ehret. 

Need I go on ? Let's see..... she studied painting with Joseph Goupy and, as you have seen above, she had her portrait painted by John Opie.

At the age of 72, Mrs. Delany embarked on a series of beautiful botanical paper mosiacs. Her illustrations of plants and flowers are made entirely of coloured paper. The craftsmanship and detail are so accurate that it's hard to believe that they were created by a 70 year old woman.

Pancratium Maritinum 1778, Mary Delany 
Paper collage botanical illustration

Mrs. Delany produced close to one thousand botanical illustrations in the 10 years that followed. Astounding! There is a wonderful exhibition of her life and work being shown at The Yale Center for British Art from now until January 2010.  

In addition to her paper collages, the exhibition also pays tribute to a woman who led an extraodinary cultural and artistic life.

King George III 
Queen Charlotte

King George the Third and his wife Queen Charlotte were great patrons of Mary's work. She also had a circle of friends that would be the envy of most of us - as noted previously.

One of M.Delany's drawings taken from the book.

Mary was a great woman of letters, skilled at embroidery and shell work, decoupage, and marvelous gardener (A regular 18th century Martha Stewart I should think..... then some!). 

Edmund Burke called her "A woman of fashion for all ages". 

I'd love to see a film of Mary's life and art produced. What do you think ?

Her tools and bag ( a gift from Queen Charlotte).

My warmest congratulations to Mark.

I'm told that this is a most charming exhibition and that there are many good restaurants in that neck of the woods. Doesn't hurt, does it ? Plus all that academia and great buildings. Oooh, sounds fun.

An hour and half train ride from NYC will take you to Yale. Gosh I love train trips. Enough reason for me to go.

A Grand Day Out .....I should think.


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