Constance Spry in the 21st Century

  • Post published:03/04/2011
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Recently I was able to find a used copy of Constance Spry’s book Flower Decoration which includes a few black and white photos of her arrangements. Actually, she did not use the word arrangements, but decorations.

If you look really closely at the decoration on the cover of this book you can see that it includes fruits, seed heads, and grasses in an almost invisible vase. I suspect this is not one of her own arrangements by a  painting by an artist the publisher has not chosen to identify, however Mrs. Spry was influenced by the painters of this sort of still life.

When she came to the US in January of 1938 on a speaking tour the press had a field day with headlines like “Decorator for the Windsors Uses Vegetables or Weeds if They Are Ornamental.”  She was unruffled and said, “Provided the plant is beautiful, I cannot see why I should not use it for decoration just because it has the added advantage that it can also be eaten.”

Barbara Wise does not arrange or decorate flowers for indoors but she designs hundreds of containers a year at the Southern Land Company. When she is not creating and planting she is on the loose admiring other arrangements. On her blog she has been documenting plantings she has created and visited. She knows that Constance Spry’s theories are alive and well outdoors as well as indoors. This container is a perfect example. Mrs. Spry loved urns and was alway on the alert for old urns, and she was notoriously famous for her love of kale as a decorative element.

I had to reduce this photo that Barbara sent me to get it to fit but the kale is clear and if you look closely you can see that the planting contains chard as well as pansies, grass and other graceful foliage plants.  A tour of Barbara’s blog, bwisegardening, will inspire you with many more container plantings.

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