There is no lack of flowers for arranging and enjoying at Cantitoe Farm, my 150-acre property in Katonah, New York, and no shortage of incredible opportunities to grow more of everything. I have planted masses of my favorite kinds: a giant bed of pink-colored peonies; a very large perennial garden filled with all of my favorite lilies, poppies, and irises, among hundreds of others; two long gardens filled with many kinds of lilac shrubs; and borders of hydrangeas, Japanese maple trees, clematis, shade plants, and tulip beds.
Over time, I have become more interested in variety, more picky with color choices, and more critical of each and every thing I have nurtured, wanting each plant to be healthy, each flower to be usable, and the gardens to be a constant source of inspiration to others, notably my friend and colleague Kevin Sharkey.
As we walked through my gardens years ago, it became clear to both of us that I was the grower, and he was the cutter and arranger. It was as if I wrote the music, and he wrote the lyrics. We started our collaboration at Turkey Hill in Westport, Connecticut, and then continued it in East Hampton, New York; in Katonah; and in Seal Harbor, Maine. Kevin knows my gardens almost as well as I do, and he knows exactly what will look good in the planned location and what will not. I trust him with scissors like no other, except for my daughter, Alexis. When he ventures into the landscape to pick and combine what I have grown into coherent “wholes,” he creates beautiful bouquets that fit the spaces allocated, the season, and the occasion.
The arrangements in this book resulted from our close planning and envisioning— and luck—in growing spectacular blooms that combine well with one another, or with foliage, to bedazzle a room or call one’s eyes to attention.
We are thrilled with the result of our labor, and hope you will be, too. And my motto for this book remains the same as in my first gardening book: Pour l’avenir, from the French, meaning “for the future.”