Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lecture and Luncheon at Lake Bluff Garden Club

The Lake Bluff Garden Club recently invited me to give a lecture on creating centerpieces with vegetables and flowers.
Chaired by Sue Hetzel and Corinne Torkelson (my daughter), the event was held at the beautiful Elawa Farm in Lake Forest – and was attended by 60 members. Coming on the heels of the recent photo shoot for Fine Cooking magazine, I felt energized and full of ideas.
Artichokes, a variety of onions, including scallions, ornamental kale, radishes, broccoli, baby eggplants, asparagus and brussel sprouts were soon being placed in the four centerpieces we’d later auction off. Roses and rose hips, hydrangeas, berries and orchids came next, adding color and texture.
I trust the participants left the lecture armed with my “how to” tips and eager to jazz up their Thanksgiving tables. Thanks to Corinne, a most accomplished professional photographer, for capturing these finished product.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Loretta Stagen Floral Designs featured in the current issue of Fine Cooking Magazine

When Teresa Fernandes, the Art Director of Fine Cooking Magazine, asked me to design two Thanksgiving centerpieces for the October/November issue, I turned to specimen artichokes, asparagus, onions, turnips and ornamental kale for a mélange of autumnal color and shapes. Broom and seeded eucalyptus did yeoman duty as filler, while arachnea and cymidian orchids and hypericum berries were show stoppers, adding dazzling elements of surprise.
I loved that this centerpiece captured in microcosm the essence of a bountiful table…

…and hope that my work inspired the readers of Fine Cooking to consider new ways to celebrate this special holiday.

Photos by Loretta Stagen

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

American Gold Cup Equestrian Event

Summer ended with a dream assignment, one that challenged me creatively, and called upon quick thinking. The destination was the American Gold Cup Equestrian Event, an exquisite four-day affair at The Old Salem Farm in North Salem. My part was to create 80 centerpieces of varying sizes that would match the excellence being displayed in the ring on the difficult jumping course.

Container by Rustiek

Container by Rustiek
Artichokes, succulents, thistles, hydrangeas, hypericum berries, roses, mini calla lilies, pin cushion flowers, cock’s comb, arachnid orchids, kangaroo paws and single magnolia leaves joined forces for a veritable cornucopia of shapes and autumnal colors.

Container by Rustiek

And I used custom troughs of reclaimed barn wood for containers. These truly stunning assemblages added bursts of color to linens in shades of green, terra cotta and deep plum. I like to think that while the world class equestrians made their mark, my centerpieces helped make the experience of attending this event all the more spectacular.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Summer Floral Designs

What a nice mix of jobs I had this summer.  I loved every bit of it, and I guess it showed. Merchants in New Preston and Washington, CT, turned to me to create window boxes and planters that would go the extra mile for the busy tourist season.  I had fun coordinating the entrance D. K Schulman Design in New Preston –with window boxes of black and papaya petunias.  This striking combination captured the eye of an Artscope Magazine photographer illustrating an article on Litchfield County.  I worked the ever-faithful angelonia, vebena, lantana and millions bells; these are the Percheron draft horses, the mainstays, and come in many varieties and colors. Needlepoint ivy and a few surprises added the finishing touches. Sometimes flowers and foliage really CAN draw pedestrian traffic, and this was exactly what happened the day I arrived in Larchmont, NY, and began creating a large planter for Sweeets, a new candy emporium. “Would you come do mine next year?’ one of the neighboring merchants asked. The yellow, orange and blue flowers in the arrangement matched the sign in the shop’s glistening plate glass window to a “t”.

There were elegant parties and a variety of weddings in Connecticut and Manhattan. I used flowers that would have been at home in a local garden for a country wedding. Some of my favorite custom ordered gems made for an elegant dinner at Manhattan’s Bryant Park Grill. And I had fun playing with sunflowers s in glass containers, and fiery roses, Bells of Ireland and hydrangeas for a wedding reception held at an art gallery – they seemed to capture the very essence of summer.

Now I’m moving on to a large and exciting new project. Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Thinking outside of the Vase: Vegetables and Fruits

Snapdragons, baby mums, phlox, roses and asters are staples in many home gardens. But have you ever considered some ways to build upon these flowers in arrangements that are fresh and contemporary?
Recently at The Smithy in New Preston I gave a workshop in which we explored some possibilities. To a bouquet of phlox and dusty miller I added stems of raspberries. For a burst of color how about purple asters. I place them in orange peppers-as-containers. Fresh herbs in a rectangular glass container were lovely all on their own, but adding a bed of river stones to the base of the clear container and several stems of colorful snapdragons upped the ante.
Why not mix roses with vegetables, and onions with frilly kale? How about using aspidistra leaves to conceal the oasis in a clear container? Arranging really offers us a chance to tap into our imaginations and to play. As an aside -- I use organic vegetables and herbs in my arrangements. Why? I know I’ll be chopping them up and using them for soup in a few days. What a fitting final destination.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cutting Edge is Nontraditional

I’ve had a lot of fun in recent months creating a series of nontraditional arrangements. Sometimes they have been asymmetrical works like this one created for a round entry table
In which I mixed tall camellia branches with Hawaiian dendrobium orchids, garden roses and oranges on natural stems.
Other times I’ve made sleek, modern combos in glass cubes and rectangles. When you have top quality flowers, focusing on one or two varieties can pack a wallop.
I’ve embellished a hot-colored centerpiece with fiddleheads, and played with unusual color and flower combinations. I’ve wrapped oasis in tropical foliage, and turned to bamboo, grass and curly willow for spirited finishing touches.
 As you see, white, green and sienna callas became showgirls when they are set in sea glass or river pebbles. Similarly, how could this line of lush coral peonies not make a lasting impression?

And how wonderfully exuberant and mysterious this arrangement of green and while callas, Hawaiian dendrobium and cymbidian orchids, bamboo and grass became. I thought afterwards, it was like injecting a bit of the Rain Forest into the equation!