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At Lily Pond, Martha’s 19th-century cottage in East Hampton, New York, the gardens flourish in the rich Long Island soil. Here, she shares her inspirations and insights when it comes to creating bouquets -- whether they are large or small, exuberant or understated.
In the living room, the walls are painted a unique shade of yellow and the ceiling a specific shade of pink. Both reiterate the pink-and-yellow Venetianglass chandelier. I often refer to the room as a cabinet of curiosities. The giant mounted tarpons, trophies from early-20th-century sports fishermen; vintage glazed-linen furniture; metal tables; groupings of mercury glass; and East Hampton literature are offset by a large arrangement of sedum (also known as ‘Autumn Joy’), faded hydrangeas, and snowberries.
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A Tabletop Seascape
A combination of botanicals, sourced from land and sea, is set atop my antique “in-the-rough” Swedish marble-topped console. A big handful of seaweed from nearby Georgica Beach floats in an oversize hurricane vase alongside a single giant dahlia. The flower’s color matches the orangey pink of the sea fan and the bright, bleached white of the branch coral. Focus is the modus operandi here -- one of this, one of that, just so long as everything is special.
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The Height of Elegance
Another Scandinavian table in the airy second-floor landing is enhanced by a lofty large-scale display. It’s composed of hydrangeas, including the oak-leaf and mophead varieties that line the property. To balance the height of any arrangement, tuck long, romantic vines, such as autumn clematis, into the top of the vase and drape them around the base.
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To prepare your home for weekend visitors, set out small arrangements of freshly cut flowers in guest rooms. Here, I keep it simple with a small bouquet of ‘Chocolate Cherry’ black sunflowers and chartreuse foliage -- a ground cover called creeping Jenny. The color combination is unexpected but also understated, setting the scene for a calming, restful beach weekend.
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A Charming Trio
Everywhere in the house, which was built in 1878, are unusual tables -- some tin-topped, some enamel-topped. Tables like this one are perfect for displaying toiletries, hand towels, and, of course, flowers. This cluster of small vases isolates interesting shapes for an artistic grouping. In the tallest arrangement, spherical star scabiosa seed heads and willowy gooseneck loosestrife are surrounded by hosta leaves and grasses from the shade garden. Smaller bud vases, meanwhile, are the best way to display clippings of pink roses and white lacecap hydrangeas.
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My bathroom is a serene room, completely wainscotted and painted a dusty beigy-pink. The white marble floor adds coolness, and the baseboards of statuary marble make for easy cleaning. The proper vessel is essential for displaying sculptural stems. Here, yellow wax-bells are positioned in a heavy-bottomed Venetian-glass vase to showcase the plant’s dainty blooms and bright green foliage (which resembles oversize maple leaves). A pedestal elevates the flowers to just the right height, so they can be admired during a soak in the bathtub. Venetian blinds are one of my favorite window treatments because they let in filtered light at all times of day.
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On a Pedestal
The original front hall, with lovely paneling, delicate balusters, a padded built-in bench, and shiny fir flooring, is always cool and quiet. Ebonized pedestals are a common furnishing throughout the house, elevating large containers and even larger arrangements. This towering container makes a statement with just two varieties: the deep rosy-pink love-lies-bleeding (a summer annual), and palm fronds clipped from a houseplant.
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Dahlias en Masse
The kitchen, with teal-blue tile floors, a 14-foot-long marble-topped table, and 16 Grange chairs, is the friendly gathering place for most meals and conversations. Old French glazed pottery is often used for oversize arrangements like this one, composed of late-summer dahlias -- some from my garden and others from the local farm fields of East Hampton. Breakfast is always luxurious, plentiful, and for a crowd.
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