The BLOG: Lifestyle

Summer solstice and the powers of flowers

(Courtesy of The Breakers)

(Courtesy of The Breakers)

The last cruel cold shoulder of winter is only a memory. This week we celebrate the summer solstice!

As temperatures warm and we’re increasingly sun-kissed, we remember how divine summer lovin’ can be. For New England gardeners it’s time to tend the wanton beds that have been a fertile wellspring of our verdant dreams. Over the next few months there will be lawns to mow, shrubs to trim and finally, flowers that fulfill our flora fantasies. Wild or cultivated they’re ready to be seduced out of dormancy and into every kind of consorting container imaginable.

In this season of sensual and scent-ual beauty, voluptuous stalks can dance, fragrant fronds can frill and painted petaled faces find welcoming places inside all sorts of baskets, bowls, and vases. Together they mingle in an earthly dance as casual as the twist, as formal as a minuet, as sexy as a samba.

(Courtesy of The Breakers)

(Courtesy of The Breakers)

Boston-bred Christopher Casey, Design Purchasing Manager for the Breakers Hotel, says of floral creations “flower displays should be exciting, different, universally appealing, and be a bit off the beaten path!” The hotel’s grand facade and palm tree’d allé frame the resort that fills its lobby, restaurants, and guest rooms with large and small bouquets as imaginatively choreographed as a ballet. Guests of the palm and beach oasis include the famed as well as families from around the world. There’s an easy elegance to the busy portico where bejeweled local chics arrive in limos as frequently as crowned royal sheiks depart by Lear. Interpretations of the fusion-ed atmosphere infuse Casey’s eclectic floral inspirations. Together the colors, scale, and fragrance of his celebrated creations universally express excitement, difference and are surprisingly — very, very much off the beaten path.

Inside the elegant lobby of the Breakers, an old grist-stone from a local farm serves as a pedestal elevating a wishing well retrieved from a nearby plantation. Guests from around the world pause beside the humble stones that are used as unlikely container-compliments for the hotel’s six-foot floral display. Together the stone pedestal, the patina’d wishing well, and the unpredictable floral presentation tower over guests under a crystal chandelier. Casey and his talented staff balance informal and formal materials to add an unmistakably approachable character to the welcoming tableaux designed to play an important part in photographable memories.

After working for Copley Marriott and the Lafayette Suisse Hotel — now known as the Hyatt Boston Harbor Hotel — Chris Casey arrived at the front door of the Breakers and has been joyfully coordinating the independently owned hotel’s floral displays for 18 years. Spending time with Casey and his experienced team of multi-talented floral engineers inspires a gardener to see the ordinary magically transformed by extraordinary presentation. Inside the hotel’s floral work space, plastic buckets of commonly known flowers are conditioned while others wait in brown-papered bundles to be coupled and displayed in simplicity and in grandeur. Casey’s flare epitomizes how an artistic mix of the common with the uncommon, the expected with the unexpected, creates a dazzling effect.

Arraignments in production.

Arraignments in production.

His obvious delight in his work is consistent with the feelings of many New Englander’s who flirtatiously celebrate the summer solstice by bringing bouquets into our homes. Learning from the master-designer’s style, it’s wise to plant flowers and greens in abundance across a wide palate of color, texture and scale. Rules that limit creativity limit the ultimate satisfaction of inspiration’s first blush.

Floral decoration is so much more than a simple past time. Our nation was founded on waves of Mayflowers, our prurient consciousness was aroused on Wisteria Lane and medical miracles take place by the minute on Blossom Street at Massachusetts General Hospital. Collectively, we celebrate the appeal of flowers that articulate our days in a universal language of their own. In this season of sensual and scent-ual beauty adding stalks, fronds, and petaled faces to spaces in unlikely vases will add an approachable charm to our homey displays.

We’ve spent months longing to embrace and inhale these objects of desire. Perhaps it’s wise to take a leaf from Casey’s book of flower arranging, and swing from the trellises to create something exciting and a bit off the beaten path. After all, seasoned New England gardeners know each voluptuous arraignment will last no longer than a sun-kissed summer fling.

Contact at Diane Kilgore at [email protected].