Wednesday, March 28, 2012



so many stones

my engineer


Some photos from last week at Worlds End. Things are bananas there. If I thought I was in tune with the seasons before, I had no idea. My sensitivity has been increased a hundred fold. I have to make more space in my brain for the input of nature.

The struggles we have with the farm are outweighed by the pleasures and small triumphs. The place demands so much from us. Eric stresses, I dream too big, the girls extend themselves to assist with weddings and studio work and tasks like ordering truckloads of compost. (Did you Asheley?) I'm on the road a lot lately and their stellar work shines brighter in my absence. I'm tired but love my job even more than I could have ever imagined.

Last week Eric and I were there working on the hellebore garden - setting to rest the plants that Barry sold us for cutting in a recent Little Flower School Class. I've always dreamed of having a place to bring such refugees home to...resting their roots in solid ground instead of my over-crowded city container garden.

The farm is funny. This place, newly turned over to knows what it wants, and what it wants is lots of checks. I feel like all I do write checks and checks and checks. I could write pages on the endless supply of cash that a farm requires, here in only my seventh or eighth month of playing this game. I try not to think about the finances too hard. Money is just money, and when we run out, we'll work hard to make some more to feed it.

So when Eric and I found ourselves digging rocks all day in the hellebore garden last week, and making a little patio out of those rocks, using only our own hands - I felt relief. Relief to realize that there are some projects we can complete without many resources. Make a patio, brush it off and remember that the next time we break for coffee around 4pm we can sit here amidst the shade plants, swatting mosquitoes and looking out to the yard at the myriad of other projects that await us patiently.

Speaking of coffee breaks and work days - do you have any interest in coming up for a day and working along side us? It would make me so happy to have you come and see the newest part of Saipua. We're thinking the Saturday before Memorial Day - May 26th. You can camp out with us and Nea, and although the house won't be nearly done, we'll have two working new bathrooms (god willing) and a pig roast to celebrate our efforts. Maybe the water iris will be blooming by then. Think about it, and email me if you're up for it.


working outside my normal color scheme, experimenting with some stems from a new clematis grower. yes, the word clematis sounds like a venereal disease to most of us. can't wait to see what kinds of spam comments that little figment gets me.

tired tonight.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

World's End Update; INSIDE

the parlor.

This needs to be split in two parts; Inside and Outside.
I'll start with inside, since the outside part has to do with hellebores, and I feel you may be sick of them at the moment, or at least reading about them here.


At some point it became clear to me that this is actually my house, that I will live in it, that I am at liberty to make my own aesthetic decisions about it...and that it is not just another project that I'm managing for a client. Which means I can choose to have no shower, or I can choose to have a laundry shoot. So much at the farm has been about efficiency, moderation and synergy - the renovation on the house the same...I've had the attitude of whatever works, whatever is cheapest please god! until the other night when - and it pains me to say this but it's true - I uttered to eric:

"Do you want to drink wine and look at renovation blogs with me?"

He declined.

And I suppose I'd rather research garden stuff and let the house fall where it will, the detritus of our lives filling the corners eventually. It will be great, I know, regardless of whether I spend a few too many fruitless hours researching clawfoot tubs (predictable?) - resulting in a downward spiral of delusion: suddenly a salvage yard in Buffalo, NY "is not that far!" and minor cracking around drain is an "acceptable compromise!"

After all, early in the process we walked through the house with a copy of World of Interiors flashing it around each corner like a smudge stick and whispering words of encouragement.

There are a total of 4 rooms under construction right now. 2 bedrooms, one for Eric and me, one with bunks for Asheley and Deanna who can never marry or date too seriously, because there will be no room for significant others! A few weeks ago we were all there and I looked out the window up at the north field, the girls were out taking soil samples. They looked so small like little ants. I hope they stay around forever but at least long enough to see big real things happen at the farm.

I'm loosing my train of thought...There's a bathroom and a parlor where I will take my cocktail hour. My parents want to get rid of their piano and we're going to throw it in there, make it seem regal. I need to learn how to play the piano. Maybe I can find a teacher near Albany who will barter for flowers. Mom and Dad, when you come and stay you can have our room, and we'll sleep with Nea out in the yard, barking at the slightest noise, because it could be a dear fixing on my tulip bed...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012






We had the pleasure of assisting floral god Thierry Boutemy and his crew at an installation to end all floral installations last week. The man is beyond. And his crew, a french speaking fun bunch - some of Europes most talented...

On the corner of 5th avenue and 52nd street we assembled close to 3,000 pear, quince and cherry blossoms to adorn the new flagship Zara store. I've never seen such a sight - or been subject to so many queries from 5th avenue tourists...

By the second day we joked that we should have made t-shirts lettered with the answers to the most common questions fielded:

Yes, they are real.

No, they are not dogwood, but white cherry blossoms.

No, the store is not open yet.

To be knee deep in unruly branches, arms raw with quince thorn scratches and hearing hundreds of excited pavement pounding new yorkers repeatedly exclaim: "It's SPRING" was overwhelming, if not slightly seasonally unappropriate. It was, in fact, still winter.

Happy Spring, my dear readers.

*And many thanks to my girls; Alicia, Brittany, Katie, Liza, Ashely, and Louise for joining me on this adventure. Thank you Ben, Chris and Gus; my best branch suppliers for coming through with great material. And Thierry & Hiromi; I'll see you someday in Brussels.

{A great interview with the floral artist here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

on dogs


10:42 pm
listening to eric talk to his sister.
he mentions to her that we're planning on getting another dog.
he says "we need another farm dog, a better working dog. but Sarah also wants an old pomeraian, one she can take in a bag to Barneys."
[let the record show that I have been to Barneys about 10 times and have only purchased perfume or lipstick; emotional purchases that come from the dark depths of self pity.]

In all seriousness we do need more dogs: dogs to chase deer, dogs to protect sheep and chickens (to give quick comparison - Nea responds to the command "CHICKEN!" in reference to her tug toy), dogs that sleep outside all night...real dogs. I want a dog that works as hard as we do. That eats as infrequently as we do, that ignores us and that belongs to the farm. Nea can watch, privileged from the sidelines. She'll likely always be an inside-at-night sort of girl. Barney's...a vague figment of our imaginations...

Thursday, March 15, 2012





couldn't resist.
thursday 10:01 am

been drinking coffee in my chair by the window, made breakfast (instead of just taking a long glug from the keifer jug at quarter to 6...) looking at all of your beautiful flower blogs on the internet. I got out of bed at 8:39 this morning!!!


The question is, will I be able to keep myself from going down to the shop to play with the most insane hellebores I purchased yesterday??? We'll see.

I have so many things to write about; I'm so excited and caffienated and exhausted at the same time.

It's been a long hard winter, I've been sick a lot which is unusual for me, I've been working too hard I'm afraid. I have a plan for more balance, and more time off but it's hard to stick to plans. For me at least.

working hard

The farm is out of control. Remember the beautiful pictures that once graced the pages of this blog? Forget them! Erase them from memory! Now what we have on our hands is a war zone, and a muddy one at that. But from destruction comes rebirth, and hopefully in a matter of a few months we'll have a livable farmhouse (complete with my dream of a water softener and windows that open) a stabalized barn, a tiered kitchen garden, and a lot of deer-eaten tulips. (I've called in a nuisance permit with the DEC subsequently making our hunter friends very very happy. I could write pages and pages on fencing but it would be interesting to .1% of you.)

Back in brooklyn at saipua headquarters things have been a little upside-down. We're all resting today, reassembling ourselves tomorrow. I've called a 9:30 meeting to brainstorm some big changes that I want to take place. I love change.

I hope you all have great days. It's 45 degrees with dense cloud cover in nyc this morning. My mother writes me this morning: "Enjoy this cloudy day." She knows me so well. I'm going to walk the dog, something I've missed doing the last few days; something that always makes me feel calm and sane.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

wedding work




There are a lot of things going on in Saipua land lately, today is all about weddings -- it's the first day of our Weddings 101 Workshop (internally dubbed "weekend warrior") and I'm surrounded by syllabus, some of the most beautiful march flowers and a pump pot of coffee. Students arrive in 1 hour...I hope they are ready because we have a lot of information to throw at them.

If you told me 7 years ago that I would be in this industry I would have laughed at you. Life is funny. Above are some outtakes from a Martha Stewart Weddings shoot I worked on - if you're so inclined you can check out the feature in the spring issue. I feel very lucky and proud to be considered an expert by that gang.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

too much is not enough





flowers are on fire right now. everyone should get married in March.
magnolia, hellebores, ranunculus, jasmine, love-lies-bleeding.
i like fewer things in arrangements lately.

also I wrote about our virginia trip to Barry Glick's hellebore farm over on the school blog...

Friday, March 2, 2012













keep on moving don't stop.