Photos by Maxwell Tielman
Joni Mitchell’s iconic, revelatory album Blue is the inspiration for today’s edition of Sound Garden. This highly personal, raw album by the Canadian folk singer is considered one of her best by critics the world over and appears on just about every list of “best,” “most important” or “greatest” albums in the history of modern music. A little publication known as the New York Times once described Blue as one of the “pinnacles” of 20th-century music. The music is somehow both spare and rich, heavily driven by rhythmic acoustic guitar, and the songs detail a range of emotions dealing with relationships. The songs are said to be inspired by her difficult breakup with Graham Nash (yes, THAT Graham Nash), which immediately preceded the album’s production. It has been suggested that the cover art for Blue was created as an homage to jazz great Miles Davis’ seminal album Kind of Blue, which has a similar shadowy cover image.
Though simple, the cover art evokes a melancholic winter mood. There are a million things you can read into the dark image of Mitchell’s face. Because we will be focusing on white flowers for the month of January, the chilly midnight blue cover seemed like a nice juxtaposition.
I selected basic white and ivory blooms for today’s arrangement. Above, from left to right: peony, unripe blackberry branch, freesia, veronica, allium, tulip, seeded eucalyptus and mini calla lily. Follow along with me after the jump as I demonstrate how to create an invisible tape grid on a white container, combining white and ivory flowers and the use of textural elements to create a winter garden arrangement. —
For today’s all-white arrangement, I chose a personal favorite vessel: this white ceramic cylinder with sculpted gardenias. Because the vessel is white and I didn’t select much foliage that could hide green floral tape, I decided to use this clear floral tape to create a grid structure. You can find this tape at floral or craft supply stores. It is NOT regular scotch tape, but stretchy, durable floral tape.
TIP: Make sure the vessel is dry when you apply the tape, or it won’t stick! You might choose to fill the container with water, wipe it down and then create the grid, or you can make the grid and then use a small watering can to carefully fill the vessel in a slot between the tape.
For this arrangement, I chose hearty winter greens with abundant texture. Because we are working with delicate white hues, selecting a more substantial and earthy foliage makes it a bit more interesting.
The music on Blue is mostly mellow, so I thought the flowers should take on a languid character. I draped some of the face flowers at low angles. As always, I recommend a nice mix of round face flowers (such as the peony) with tubular blooms (such as veronica).
To elevate a monochromatic arrangement, try mi different shades along the same spectrum. This can be done even with all-white flowers. You can see here that the peonies are more in the ivory range, while the allium, veronica and tulips are a brighter white.
You can also see the power of the tape grid — even heavy blossoms are easily propped up in the center of the arrangement.
Joni Mitchell flitted off to Europe for a spell after her breakup with Graham Nash and came home to write one of the most gorgeous albums I know. I like to imagine this arrangement was made with flowers plucked from a French or English garden that she might have wandered through during that journey. Set against that glowing, deep Blue background, this all-white creation really stands out.
I am constantly encouraging experimentation, and this post is no exception. Peonies are expensive and out of season in most places right now, so try roses (always around) or a similar round bloom for your prime face flower. Tulips are an inexpensive and readily available “tubular” blossom. Simply choose elements in all white and ivory, mix large-headed blossoms with delicate ones and add some kind of heavily textured green. Spend $20, if that is what you have allotted, but work with the same concepts described here, and you will continue to boost your skills!
Join me back here in two weeks for our next adventure with music and flowers.