Anatomy of Flora: Summer I

Anatomy of Flora: Summer I | CLOTH & KIND

I grew up on the beach in South Carolina in an L-shaped modern house with a pool in the front yard and the ocean only a hundred feet or so off my back patio. Many of my earliest memories are of the natural landscape, of the sea oats that stood like bastions on the edge of my back yard, anchoring the sand dunes from washing away due to the daily high tides. I grew to love the vibrant hues of the coastal flora and fauna, the colorful natives along with many of the flashy potted patio varieties. Now, twenty three years later as a transplant in Georgia, my own garden is as lush a tropical display as Zone 8 will allow. On numerous occasions I have plucked plants from the sandy soil of my mother’s garden in Pawleys Island, South Carolina in hopes that I can push the boundaries of suitable conditions in which to propagate certain species of plants (lots of luck with the loquat, no luck with the hibiscus). The bottom line is, I want a verdant and colorful garden in the summer months and have created a landscape that allows for that. To that end, I have planted varieties of plants that are showy in color or form, ideally both.

The canna tropicanna and equisetum hyemale featured above are two of my favorites, always garden stunners. The bright orange flash of the canna tropicanna flowers are truly exotic and coupled with their yellow and chartreuse striped foliage, are showstoppers. Although the equisetum hyemale is notoriously an aggressive spreader due to creeping rhizomes, I willingly plant it just to have access to those sculptural evergreen, bamboo-ish black banded stems. Plus I love that equisetum is the sole survivor in a class of prehistoric vascular plants dating back 350 million years, and due to its high silica content, was commonly used by early Americans for scrubbing pots and pans, thus came to be known as scouring rush. It’s like having a dinosaur in the garden who can do the dishes.


Fresh cut and paired together in a low and curved vase, I delight in the bright hues and textures of these garden beauties. What’s growing in your garden lately?

IMAGE CREDITS | Floral arrangement & photography by Tami Ramsay of CLOTH & KIND

Anatomy of Flora: Spring IV

Anatomy of Flora: Spring IV | CLOTH & KIND

Lady spring is soon to close her shades, and with that will bring to an end a particular, but short lived, soft clear light and warm bask. The bounty of lush flora that truly defines spring will give way to long, hot summer days and, at least in my neck of the woods, leave fauna wilting on the vine from the weight of the heat and humidity. As a gardener, the best part of spring is sharing the wealth of that lush bounty with other gardeners. The antique english roses and peonies above, snipped from the garden of friend, coupled with a trailing vine of wild honeysuckle, pretty much say everything you need to know about spring.

So, as we find ourselves on the heels of the summer solstice, let’s soak up these last few days and bask in the soft clear light and warm sun of spring. Another season awaits.

IMAGE CREDITS | Floral arrangement & photography by Tami Ramsay of CLOTH & KIND

Anatomy of Flora: Spring III

Anatomy of Flora: Spring III | CLOTH & KIND
It’s a rainy day in New York City and while we are so happy to be here shopping & scouting, we’re dreaming of sunny days & freshly cut flowers.

It’s hard to ever go wrong with nodding blooms and glossy greens gathered in a vase, but we are gobsmacked over the beautiful pairing of this antique yellow English rose snipped from a friend’s garden gate paired with the delicate yet bold and deeply veined fatsia japaonica leaf. As in life, sometimes simple is the most sophisticated. This is definitely the case here where flora and fauna gather to float in a pool of water, all nestled in a footed venetian glass vase.

Anatomy of Flora: Spring III | CLOTH & KIND

So while we trudge through the rain in the Big Apple, here’s to brightening your Monday morning where ever you are.

IMAGE CREDITS | Floral arrangement & photography by Tami Ramsay of CLOTH & KIND

Anatomy of Flora: Spring II

Anatomy of Flora: Spring II | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

My memories of the early years of my marriage to Robert are in so many ways tied to the garden we first created together. Our first home was a tiny cottage, built in the early 1930s originally as a mother-in-law suite for another home, in the historic Cobbham neighborhood in Athens, GA. The original property, a wide and deep old pecan grove tract, had been divided at some point in the past to separate the main house from the cottage, leaving the lion’s share of the land to the latter. When we acquired the cottage, built from field stones collected from local terraced farm land, it was barely visible from the street, obscured from view by seventy plus years of unbridled overgrowth. It had literally become a beast of the southern wild. We cut our teeth the hard way clearing away tenacious invasives like bamboo, ligustrum, potato vine, and Chinese privet along with enough liriope to fill several dump trucks. The experience turned us into gardening snobs in the process and thus we decided we would only grow natives plants, or highly prized imports, in our new garden landscape. We were young and in love and childless and had time to be haughty, and ridiculous, about such things.

Anatomy of Flora: Spring II | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND
We had many gardeners who influenced our choices but we made most of our decisions based on the native plants propagated and sold at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia spring plant sale. One of our first purchases was a Flame Azalea above, or Rhododendron calendulaceum, a deciduous native plant that can be found in abundance in the wild of the southern Appalachians. We took great pride in choosing this variety of azalea for our garden, over the more common, albeit gorgeous, other azalea varieties found in our Piedmont region. It was more about plant selection then and less about the simple beauty. What I see now, 14 years after we first planted it, is how those upright branches give way to orangey-coral clusters of vase shaped flowers and the stunning silhouette it casts against a crystal blue sky.

Anatomy of Flora: Spring II | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

One of the reasons this property so appealed to us was our discovery of a stone walled sunken flagstone patio with a tiny pond, long forgotten and abandoned, which was nestled beneath a canopy of old growth dogwoods and pecan trees. As we unearthed the patio and its perimeter beds, we discovered the peeking heads of southern shield fern fronds (Dryopteris ludoviciana), another native to the southeastern United States, buried under deep leaf mulch. We also found the non-native buttercup english ivy (Hedera helix), starting its tentacled climb up the craggy patio walls, an across the pond visitor that earned its stay by being just too freaking cute with its miniature variegated creamy yellow and chartreuse green leaves. Gathered together unselfconsciously in a vintage medicine cup above, against the stunning backdrop of Katie Ridder‘s Moonflower wallpaper, this floral triumvirate of flame azalea, hairy fern shoots, and ivy just takes my breath away. And I couldn’t care less about the horticultural pedigree.

Anatomy of Flora: Spring II | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

My current garden now includes only plants that make me happy. I certainly have lots of natives but plenty of the plants in my garden are simply visitors to the area that tolerate the climate well. I avoid invasives like the plague, but will invite just about any other plant to my garden so long as a brush past it makes me stop and smile. And, of course, if it looks good in a vase.

IMAGES | Floral styling, arrangements and photography by Tami Ramsay of CLOTH & KIND

Anatomy of Flora: Spring I

Anatomy of Flora: Spring I  by Guest Editor Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

It’s Spring, well, technically. Marked by the Vernal Equinox on 20 March 2013, relative equal days and nights are upon those of us in the Northern hemisphere, whether your sidewalks are still covered in snow or your native azaleas are in full bloom. Invariably though, I liken Spring to a slow boil, the kind that takes forever when you are pot watching, and only bubbles when you finally walk away to visit the loo. Spring is a bit of a flirt too, teasing you with enough warm and sunny days to ensnare your loyalty, but then like a classic photo bomb, ruins a good thing of tank tops and flip flops with a cold snap that makes you regret that recent seasonal overhaul of your closet.

Alas, though, I am a willing mistress to Spring and hang on to all that it promises, even when I come up jilted and cold. Some of the first early Spring bloomers in my region, known as Zone VIII, are the tulip magnolia, the loropetalum chinense, and the common flowering dogwood. Each of these beauties appeals to me for different reasons but when combined and artfully arranged together, I am overwhelmed by their modern and graphic effect. Pair that with sun streaming through the window, casting its golden glow on buds in bloom, and it’s got to be Spring o’clock somewhere.

Anatomy of Flora: Spring I by Guest Editor Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

The tulip magnolia, also known as the Japanese magnolia, is actually a deciduous shrub, but presents rather as a small to mid-sized tree, that kicks off early Spring with a profusion of large pink to purple provocative flowers, all before shedding them and assuming its role as a common, less than showy and leafy specimen. But when that bloom erupts on that woody stem, its like Heaven and Hades meet, with a splash of love and heat.

Although the white variety of loropetalum has its place in the garden, the pink flowering variety featured above, often referred to as a Chinese fringe flower, is my favorite. When this deciduous shrub is left unattended, sans pruning to a tight hedge, a subsequent leggy-ness prevails which leaves the branches swaying at the mercy of the wind’s movement, and encourages the long eyelash-like petals to flit and float this way and that. The combination of those hot pink strappy petals, along with their lilt and lightness, totally slays me, every time.

Dogwood | Anatomy of Flora: Spring I by Guest Editor Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND
Relatively synonymous with Spring and the Southern landscape is any variety of Cornus florida, or the flowering dogwood, and its characteristic petal bearing flowers–a total showstopper in all its glory. Nothing screams new beginnings and beckons warm days more than the budding of millions of tight little fists of dogwood flowers, just trembling with anticipation of busting out of their nubby incubators; but, it is folly to be fooled completely by these blooms. Commonly referred to in the Farmer’s Almanac as a Dogwood Winter, a colloquial term used in the American Southeast, farmers knew it wasn’t safe to plant their crops without fear of frost until after these blooms had come and gone. Even still, those tightly packed pink and green tinged flowers make for a very textural and graphic accompaniment to the tulip magnolia and loropetalum below, nestled in a silver compote and finished with black shredded pine mulch.

Anatomy of Flora: Spring I by Guest Editor Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

Whether you are sipping hot cocoa by the fire or drinking ice cold sweet tea in the garden, Spring has sprung. Let the show begin!

IMAGES | Floral styling, arrangements and photography by Tami Ramsay of CLOTH & KIND.