Ladies Hat Day at the Devon Horse Show

Ladies Hat Day competitors and winners with Carson Kressley (judge) photo by Brenda Carpenter

Ladies Hat Day winners with Carson Kressley (judge) photo by Brenda Carpenter

Heard of the Devon Horse Show? If you’re from the Philadelphia area, you have!  It’s been around since 1896, when it began as a way for the newly migrated wealthy business men of the Main Line to discuss the need of better horses for their vehicles.  In 1919, it was decided a Country Fair should be held in conjunction with the horse show, and that the event should benefit Bryn Mawr Hospital.  Women were gaining their rights all over the country and with the Country Fair, they proved their strength and organizational skills with a successful fundraiser that to date has raised almost 14 million dollars!

Ms. Betty Moran at Information booth, one of the many volunteers

Ms. Betty Moran at Information booth, one of the many volunteers, photo by Devon Horse Show on Facebook

To this day, the Devon Horse show still raises money for Bryn Mawr Hospital, and one of the Country Fair Special Events that contributes to that donation is the Ladies Day event, where elegant ladies don their best hats to compete for Best of Devon, Most Fascinating, Best Hat to Toe, and Best in Show.  This year’s theme was “Ribbons and Pearls,” and was held on May 28th.

But wait, where's the lady?

But wait, where’s the lady?

In addition to all the voluminous chapeaus, the Ladies Day event features floral centerpieces donated by area floral designers such as VF Flowers, Beautiful Blooms, Robertsons, Cottage Flowers, Fleur, and…Roots to Blooms! (That’s me.)  Our centerpieces would be displayed in the preferred seating tent with a luncheon included, and then moved to the blue room where the box holders have dinner.

Preferred seating and Luncheon area displaying floral centerpieces in hat boxes

Preferred seating and Luncheon area displaying floral centerpieces in hat boxes

I was contacted by the lovely and energetic Karen Meehan to be a part of this event, and was thrilled to participate in the hat box challenge.  Here were a few of the other hat box designs:

Robertson's design

Robertson’s design

Heather, from Cottage Gardens

Heather, from Cottage Flowers in Malvern, chose delphiniums, clematis, and peonies; and mossed the hat box herself.  This was my favorite design as I love the more ‘gardeny’ feel.

Juliet roses in this peachy display

‘Juliet’ garden roses in this peachy display!

I chose to visit my local Peony grower, Eleanor Tickner, for the bulk of my floral material, as it is peak peony season and not only was this a cost effective choice, but an eco-friendly one as well.  You just show up with a bucket and get your stems ($1.50/stem and up.) Everything is in full swing right now at A Peony Garden in Glen Mills, and with the help of Eleanor’s daughter Butch, I was able to cut many varieties including Red Charm, Raspberry Charm, Battle Flag, Coral Charm, Do Tell, and Festiva Maxima, to name a few. The peonies are well grown, well loved, and enchanting to say the least!

Me with my peony design (thanks Heather!)

Me with my peony design (thanks for snapping this, Heather!)

My design using peonies with a little hat netting

Mine got to sit at the judges’ table!

First, I lined the hat box (bought from Amazon) with plastic, added a thicker plastic liner, and yes, I had to use floral foam for this.  There was no way around it.  After doweling together my foam, which rose three to four inches higher than the lip of the box, I added the base foliage of dusty miller and variegated pittosporum… and then I just kept adding peonies.  It was a delicious experience to work with so many peonies (the white peony edged with pinky/red ‘Festiva Maxima’ has the most wonderful fragrance!) I added filler such as nigella, blue cornflower, Queen Anne’s lace, some spray rose and a few fronds of maidenhair fern.  I tucked a few black feathers in for accent, as well as some lacey hat netting and some black bows and a few pearl thingamabobs.

25 peonies all in one hat box, with pittosporum, nigella, cornflower, waxflower, dusty miller and queen anne's lace

My design used twenty five peonies all in one hat box

All in all, I was pleased with the result and think I will definitely do more hat box designing in the future!  I couldn’t have done it without my trusty assistant Julie, and wouldn’t have been included if it hadn’t been for Karen.  Thanks, you guys! I hope to participate next year.  It was so much fun, and all for a good cause!  Three cheers for Ladies Hat Day.

Karen, Devon volunteer extraordinaire, and my trusty drop-off assistant Julie

Karen, Devon volunteer extraordinaire, and my trusty drop-off assistant Julie

The Devon Horse Show and Country fair will continue throughout the rest of the weekend and there are lots of cool exhibitions and vendors to check out.

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It’s Almost Peony Time!

Wondering if the peonies are blooming at A Peony Garden yet?  Almost.  “I give it until next Thursday,” says garden maven and peony expert, Eleanor Tickner.  (That’s May 29th, and I’m counting the days.)  We met Eleanor two seasons ago while on the hunt for peonies as cut flowers, and succumbed to peony mania in the process.  Read the BLOG POST describing all the details.  Right now, there are many buds and a few blooms over at the garden in Glen Mills, and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse!

Meet 'Sunny Boy,' a peony within a peony.

Meet ‘Sunny Boy,’ a peony within a peony and quite a rare find.

'Laning Peach'

This peony’s a peach!

'Raspberry Charm' is so bright I have to wear shades.

‘Raspberry Charm’ is so bright I have to wear shades.

And of course, no visit would be complete without a greeting from our old pal, Riddler, who is still going strong.  But don’t worry, his humans are very responsible with dog-shy visitors.

Enter as strangers, leave as friends.  Like the sign says.

“Enter as strangers, leave as friends.” Like the sign says.

See you in a little over a week, Eleanor! Thanks for creating a little slice of heaven on earth for us to visit.

A Peony Garden address: 1739 Middletown Rd. Glen Mills, PA 19342 – about 20 miles SW of Philadelphia.  4.6 miles NW of route 1 on 352.  tel 610.358.1321 call ahead for large orders.  Cut flowers offered as well as peonies in containers.  A must visit for any peony lover!

 

Mother’s Day Jars Of Love

This Mother’s Day was a real miracle, from the moment I was commissioned to create these “Jars of Love,” to the hour we spent delivering them.  To all those who donated your money or time, you are part of this incredible story of giving!

A couple weeks ago, Emily Malloy of falls flowers was contacted by the Little Sisters of the Poor.  They were looking to get Mother’s Day floral designs for the low-income, high-risk residents of Holy Family Home, an assisted living facility in Philadelphia, PA.  When the shop was unable to accommodate the request due to the high volume of Mother’s Day, Peicha, the owner of falls flowers, contacted me. (I used to work there and do freelance work now.)  A few email chains later, and we realized that there really was not enough money in the budget for what they were asking for.  So – sitting at home on my couch later that night, wishing I really could do this work, an idea came to me:  we could just raise the money through social networking, and then the residents would get their flowers for Mother’s Day!  Peicha and Emily pitched in, and with the help of our families and friends, we ended up raising $988 – more than what was needed for the wrist corsages they wanted!! So the plan changed to create 50 mason jars filled with a lovely assortment of floral material.  And I had a lot of work to do.

Finished "jars of love" ready to be delivered

Finished “jars of love” ready to be delivered: lilies, larkspur, ranunculus, roses, waxflower

After picking up materials through Peicha’s wholesale connection, the 50 Jars of Love were completed over two days.  When it was nearing time to deliver, I got a call from the home – there was a miscommunication along the way, and they needed 80 designs, not 50!  Uh oh.  I had been meditating earlier that morning and decided my mantra for the day was to “be in the moment.”  Well, for the next hour while I divided materials out of the completed designs to create 30 more, there was nowhere else to be!  This is where some angels came in and made the rest of the story happen.

Todd and his son Ryan flew in from above to help load and deliver designs

Todd and his son Ryan flew in from above to help load and deliver designs – THANK YOU!!!

Captain Mac (my Dad) lent his car, his strength, and his support

Captain Mac (my Dad) lent his car, his strength, and his smiling support

Riding in our little caravan on the way to Holy Family Home, my Dad and I singing along to old songs, with Todd and his son Ryan following behind us in their fabulously huge vehicle, I knew the best part of all was about to happen.

Riding the elevator to give out the Mother's Day flowers

Riding the elevator to give out the Mother’s Day flowers

When we arrived we were greeted by the smiling faces of the Sisters of the Poor, including Elizabeth Ann who hails from the Boston area.  She got us carts and we made the trip up the elevator to stop at every floor and give out our floral jars to the residents while they were eating lunch.

Sister Elizabeth Ann distributing arrangements

Sister Elizabeth Ann distributing arrangements

You will not believe how tickled the female residents of Holy Family Home were when they received their flowers!  Here are a few pictures from the delivery:

 

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Dad chatting up the ladies

Dad chatting up the ladies

The last woman I handed an arrangement to was Margie.  She is 102 years old.  When I asked her the secret to her longevity, she replied, “It’s all in God’s hands.”

Margie, 102 years young

Margie, 102 years young

There are many people to thank for their generosity in making our charity project happen, including Todd, Ryan, my Dad, Peicha, Emily, and all of our donors (last names omitted for privacy): Motria L., Aaron B., Elizabeth C., Shannon O., Jen S., Amy K., Walter B., Emily M., Carolyn D., Josh L., Lise N., Mandy G., Mary F., Emily M., Vincent T., Jason H., Joseph K., Michael B., Joseph K., Amy K. (2nd time!), and Rebecca M., Penny B., Julie S., Dan B., Eunice F, Elvira G., and Sandy F. I should also thank my own mother who was an example of giving.  I think she would be happy that we did good for the ladies at Holy Family Home.

Sister Elizabeth Ann and her garden - come back and visit!

Sister Elizabeth Ann and her “gah-den” – COME VISIT ANYTIME!

This could be an annual tradition, don’t you think? Let’s do it again next year.  Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Mother’s Day, Here We Come

Well I’m so excited…thanks to all of your kind donations, I was able to order some lovely materials, and Peicha of falls flowers helped me procure them.  As you know, I’m creating 50 Mother’s Day designs for the ladies over at Holy Family Home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Philadelphia.  The nuns didn’t have enough money in the kitty for flowers this year, so we raised it ourselves, and you guys came through bigtime.  I can’t wait to get started!

Peicha and her lovely daughter Naima get the positive vibes going!

Peicha and her lovely daughter Naima get the positive Mother’s Day vibes going!

It was great to be back at falls flowers today, picking up our materials for this weekend.  I got: lilies, larkspur, ranunculus, stock, waxflower, rose, and artemisia, to name a few.

Mother's Day Flowers after processing - condition for a day

Mother’s Day Flowers after processing – conditioning for a day on my enclosed porch

I processed them (re-cut the stems, took off any leaves below the water line) and stored them on my enclosed porch.  I’ll make the designs over the next few days, hopefully with some help from my dog Larry.

King Larry presides over the floral realm

King Larry presides over the floral realm

Did I tell you, we raised at total of $988!!  Here’s our most updated Hero List of awesome donors (last names omitted for privacy): Motria L., Aaron B., Elizabeth C., Shannon O., Jen S., Amy K., Walter B., Emily M., Carolyn D., Josh L., Lise N., Mandy G., Mary F., Emily M., Vincent T., Jason H., Joseph K., Michael B., Joseph K., Amy K. (2nd time!), and Rebecca M., Penny B., Julie S., Dan B., Eunice F, Elvira G., and Sandy F.  Thank you everyone.  You’re the best.

Ranunculus Smiles

I’ll leave you with some ranunculus smiles xoxoxoxo