Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spiritual & Inspirational Sunday May 31, 2009

Welcome to my Spiritual & Inspirational Sunday post. For over twenty-five years I have collected quotes.  The nature of these quotes tend to be spiritual, religious, business, relationships, or sports. My hope is that by reading this post it will cause you to pause and reflect on what you read. Perhaps you will share it with a friend who just so happens to be in need of reading this very quote.

Today I am listing several different quotes which resonated with me when I heard them.  Unfortunately I do not know the author of such quotes. If you do, please contact me and I will give credit to the author. 

When Praying, consider all answers, not just the one you expect.  How many times do we pray for the answer that we think is best and consider no other ones?

The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet. I am sometimes guilty of reflecting back on the past with rose colored glasses .

Life will not always be what I expect. Sometimes it will be more and other times it will be less. For me, the main thing is to set realistic expectations and then let go and let God.

Happiness is an inside job.    How true it is that my happiness is totally dependent on me.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.   Reminds me of the Law of Attraction.

What about you-do you have a favorite quote you want to share or do you want to comment on one of the quotes listed above?  Blessings.  …susan

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

10 Floral Design Tips + Design Photos

In my last post, I shared photos from a presentation my neighbor, Marc Bass AIFD did for the Monterey Garden Club. At one point in his young career (he is only in his mid-thirties), Marc co-owned Nashville’s finest floral shop creating beautiful flowers for Nashville’s elite. He has been commissioned to do designs for celebrities such as Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Natalie Cole, and Donna Sumners (including a show for Garth and a wedding for Natalie). Marc currently is the creative director/floral designer creating trend setting designs for a Chinese company. He travels to China six to eight times a year working with the factories to create his visions. Once a year he assembles a team of European designers meeting in China where they create the trend including design and color for Christmas the following year. Additionally, he travels to Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas where he installs the showroom design he created for the company showrooms showcasing the new products. He usually wins the award for Best Showroom Design at each market.

I am joining Julia’s Hooked on Friday party as I am hooked on learning floral design tips! Click here to go to her party.

Some of Marc’s designs can be found in the Florists’ Review book: 101 Silk & Dried Designs with how-to instructions which is shown further down the page.

10 Floral Tips I learned from Marc in Monterey

1. If you ever place a stem or stick into the oasis and decide you do not like the position or it is broken, do not pull it out, instead cut it off at the top of the oasis. By pulling it out you are weakening the density of the entire piece of oasis.

2. The interior of the buckets in which you place the flowers and foliage for processing as well as the interior of any vase or urn you use should be very clean. You don’t want any bacteria that will get into the stems and shorten the life of the flowers.

3. If you are ever using a feather bird and the bird’s beak breaks off, you can cut a thorn of the stem of a rose and glue it on the bird for a new beak. 

4. There are two types of oasis: a regular one used for hard stems and a Spring Time Oasis used for soft tenders stems such as daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths.

5. When soaking oasis the word OASIS which is stamped on the brick should face upward. Just place the oasis in the water. Do not submerge but instead allow the water to soak upwards. If you submerge you will create dry air pockets with no water in them.

6. Fresh flowers in a vase should have fresh water daily and the stems should be cut on a diagonal every other day. The reason the stem is cut on a diagonal is because a stem cut straight across and standing on the bottom of a vase prevents water from being soaked up the stem. On a diagonal, even if the stem is on the bottom of the vase, there is an opening for water to enter the stem.

7. Add water daily to any floral design using oasis.

8. Crown & Glory is the name of a spray product used to keep flowers fresh. You spray it directly on the bloom.  Do not use on deep colors such as red or burgundy as it will leave a white film on the bloom. It can be purchased at a floral shop or wholesale floral store.

9. If you are creating a large arrangement using oasis, lay poultry mesh/chicken wire across the oasis to give extra support when inserting the flowers and foliage into the oasis. This is especially important if you are transporting the arrangement.

10. Try out the new hybrid colors of carnations. They are no longer considered the funeral flower. Not only are the new colors bright and unique, they are budget friendly and last a long time.

Marc is one of three designers featured in the book below. Some of his designs found in the book are shown below. On the page opposite the floral design is how-to instructions. Unfortunately you probably are unable to read the text but you can see the how-to photos.


















If you are interested in purchasing the book please send me an email at  The book has 204 color pages. It retails for $24.95 special offer is $17.95 including shipping & handling in the U.S.

I forgot to thank Tamara Cobbins for providing almost all of the photos used in the Monterey Garden Club Presentation post. Tamara, who is from Canada, was visiting a relative in Monterey and attended the presentation. She so graciously offered to take photos during the presentation. Thanks Tamara!

My next post will be on paper towel holders.  Blessings.  …susan

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monterey, Tennessee Garden Club Presentation

Up on the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee is the quaint southern town of Monterey located 80 miles east of Nashville off of Interstate 40. This is a town where you can still charge your gasoline at the local gas station where Earl comes out and greets you as he pumps gas in your car. It is also a town where the exit on the interstate just had lights added. The 2,700 residents of Monterey were thrilled and many residents gathered for the ceremony to turn on the lights. I have come to know and love Monterey due to two of my dearest friends, Franny and W.T. Ray, who are long time residents.

Last December my neighbor and I were driving back to Nashville from the Carolinas and we stopped by the Ray’s home. My neighbor, Marc Bass, AIFD, is an international floral designer and trend setter. Franny asked Marc how much he would charge do to a garden club presentation. He surprised her when he said “you wouldn’t want to know but I will come do one for your garden club for free.”  They set the date of May 12, 2009.

Having an international floral designer coming to town was the buzz of Monterey.  The garden club was kind enough to invite the Cookeville, Tennessee Garden Club members as their guest to the presentation. Mayor Richard Godsey attended. He introduced Marc and gave him a key to the city. Both local newspapers from Monterey (Hilltop Express) and Cookeville (Herald-Citizen) sent reporters to covered the event. It was an exciting time in Monterey and I was thrilled to be a part of it.


^This is the First United Methodist Church in downtown Monterey where the garden club presentation was held.

DSC01412^This is the view as you walk into the church hall. Those attending brought a brown bag lunch. The long table were used to serve sweet tea and yummy desserts provided by the Monterey Garden Club members. Over 50 people attended.

Below are photos of some of the various native foliage and flowers that were used in the floral designs as well as the floral supplies. Many of the Monterey Garden Club members brought native foliage with them at Marc’s request for him to use in his designs.


Marc, Franny, and I walked around Franny’s property gathering native tree branches shown in the photo above. The leaves were removed and the branches were used in the first floral design shown further down.

DSC01401 Left is grapevine which can be harvested or bought at a local crafts store or florist.





^A garden club member brought Marc a native birds nest. The feather birds can be found at a local crafts store.


^Supplies that Marc used include counter clockwise beginning at bottom left: green floral wire, shish kabob bamboo sticks (these can be bought at the grocery store), paper wrapped floral wire, green waterproof floral tape, copper aluminum wire, and green floral wire on a spool.

DSC01404 Copper aluminum wire is attached to a plastic water tube.



^Marc, Franny, and I  picked the foliage in the above photo from Franny’s yard: Japanese maple, spiraea,  lambs ear,  and hosta.


^Lavender roses


^Magnificent lavender rose (front center), charlotte red rose, blue iris , white ball mum, and allium.


^Phalaenopsis Orchid


^Watermelon peonies and blushing hydrangeas.


^Carnations, lavender and hot pink roses.


^Kangaroo Paw and solidago (goldenrod).  Avoid getting kangaroo paw near your eye or touch your eyes after working with it.)


^Hybrid orchid and sunflower.

Here comes the fun part… Marc’s floral designs!


^Using a rectangular container, Marc took those native tree branches and stuck them into the oasis. He hung plastic water tubes from the grapevine and sticks secured by copper wire.


He added the grapevine to the tops of the native branches securing them with the paper wrapped floral wire. He then began a pave’ design with the carnations.


^Next he placed a watermelon peony in each of the plastic water tubes securing the peony stem to the branches and grapevine using the paper covered floral wire.

He titled the above design “Hanging Around.”


^He stacked bricks of oasis in the urn securing them to each other using the bamboo skewers. He also used green waterproof floral tape to secure the bricks to the urn and each other. It is important that the oasis bricks are straight and not leaning. The oasis was soaked in water before he put them into the urn. The lid to the urn rests on top of the oasis.


^Marc cut most of the stem off of the carnations leaving a short stem to randomly stick into the oasis. I love the variety of carnations he used. I have never been a fan of carnations because I had only seen pink, red, and white ones and usually at funerals.. Since being my neighbor, Marc has taught me to love carnations. He shared with me that there are now many many new hybrid colors of carnations. My favorite is when he mixes them with roses. He said they are budget friendly and long lasting. He also said you can pull the blossom off the carnation and use the green calyx in an arrangement for a European look.


^Next he added roses to cover every inch of the oasis. I love the mixture of colors he selected.


^Finally, he added some variegated ivy hand selected and provided by one of the Monterey Garden Club members from their yard to cascade outward and downward from the urn.  He titled this one “Lid Up”


This design began with an urn which had a couple of oasis bricks stacked inside. On top of the oasis, Marc added a natural moss ball securing it to the oasis with the bamboo skewers. Next he took some of the grapevine and laid it on each side of the oasis and moss ball using the paper covered floral wire to secure the ends to each other. Then he covered the moss ball with butterflies and tied the rest on the grapevine to simulate them flying and hovering.

IMG_0653_e[1] Marc added roses, and dahlias. Next he added native honeysuckle vines plus filled in with green flock and seeded spiraea. Seeded spiraea is spiraea after the blossoms have fallen off.


He titled this one “Butterfly kisses, butterfly wishes”


^Marc modified the chandelier hanging basket shown above by having Jimmy  from Monterey make the iron base. Now you have the option of hanging the basket and lamp shades or putting the basket in the iron base and placing it on a table. Votive candles fit under the lamp shades creating a soft light.


^Begin with stacking oasis bricks in the poultry basket sticking several of the bamboo skewers through each oasis brick to secure them.  Next he added spiraea which we cut from Franny’s yard.  He pierced ears of corn with the bamboo skewers and inserted the skewer stick info the oasis.


He filled parts of the poultry basket with potatoes. He took paper wrapped floral wire and wrapped it around bunched of green onion and tied it to the poultry basket. He pierced a couple of onions with the bamboo skewer and added those.  He took several sunflowers and removed the yellow blooms leaving only the black center and used those in the design. I had never thought of doing that to sunflowers and found it to be a great look.  He  added green wheat bundles, green flock, and more spiraea.

This one is called “Vege Chandelier”


^Marc not only creates floral designs while in China but also urns and other items associated with home decor.  Marc designed the pair of urns in this next design which were made to look old and they do. They are also quite heavy. He mentioned he would like to design these in other colors. I hope he does.


Mars said ultimately one should begin stacking bricks of oasis from the bottom of the urn for stability. Note how high the oasis brick sticks above the rim so that he can add several layers of flowers and foliage. He began by sticking kangaroo paw into the top of the oasis. He cautioned everyone to be careful not to get your eye too close to the kangaroo paw or touch your eyes with your fingers after handling it.


^ Next he added sunflowers below the kangaroo paw. Then he added solidago (goldenrod).


^Because of the old look of the urn, he calls this one “Urn Earthed”


For the next presentation, Marc created a design in a two faux wood fiberglass vases. He used Lady Amherst pheasant feathers which in China are called the Mercedes of feathers. The pheasants give two feathers every two years. They are quite expensive; those use in the arrangement retail for over $10.00 a piece. They are pliable and long lasting. In order to curl the feather, Marc took the stem in his hand and ran it outward to the end of the feather several times creating a curl. He used one brick of oasis in each container. (Though butterflies are shown in this photo, they were not used in the particular design).

Next he added charlotte red roses, burgundy carnations, Japanese maple, and some burgundy foliage. He then added the Lady Amherst pheasant feathers.


That’s me working as Marc’s assistant. I was affectionately called “Vanna White” by those attending.

He called this one the “Man Arrangement” due to its masculinity. 


The next design started with a hydrangea vase made from fiberglass plus a simple white vase both filled above the brim with oasis which is secured with the green floral tape.


Marc began by randomly sticking green flock into the oasis. I had not seen green flock before and I fell in love with the texture and the color! It is a new introduction to the floral world.


^Next he put the green apples on the shish kabob bamboo skewers and stuck those into the oasis. Using the bamboo skewers allows you to be able to eat the apples if you desire. He added fresh romain lettuce by piercing the lettuce with the bamboo skewers. He then added white peonies. Marc’s use of flowers, foliage, and fruits and vegetables in his designs makes quite a statement.


He added the gorgeous phalaenopsis orchids to finish off the masterpiece.  He refers to this one as “Lettuce, Apples & Orchids.”


Marc likes the look of using a simple small white vase along with the larger white hydrangea vase. He paveed the top of the vase using candlelight roses.


Next he added white mums, and then white orchid branches.  This one is named “White Flash.”



^For a 4th of July picnic or outdoors cookout, Marc used a mood moss container with a bowl inside. You can see that the oasis is once again above the rim of the container.  He began this design by using red painted bamboo sticks placed vertically into the oasis.


^Next he added charlotte red roses arranged close to the oasis and tightly together. He added the yellow vanda orchid inserted into the side of the oasis.


^Native white pine and lucky bamboo foliage were then added.


^He finished it off with red bell peppers which were pierced by a bamboo skewer and then the skewer went into the oasis.


^Completing the design, he added a pair of candlesticks and two bow tie roosters. Marc has taught me how to use non-floral items to enhance a design. In this case, the red painted bamboo sticks, the candlesticks, and the addition of the roosters gave a whimsical feel.

He calls the one above  “Cock of the Walk.”


Marc’s grand finale began with an oval urn filled with oasis and one natural moss ball. Native branches were stuck into each side and then rounded up to the center where Marc used paper covered floral wire to tie them together to form the large circular pattern. He then added the native birds nest. He took the birds which have two pieces of wire coming out of them and made a couple of twists of the wire tight to the belly of the bird. Then he straddled the pieces of wood with the two pieces of wire beneath the twist and once again twisted that wire to secure the bird to the branch. I helped Marc do this and it took a few tries to get the hang of it. At first my birds would end up hanging upside down. 


He began by adding the magnificent lavender rose. Doesn’t that name fit the rose?


Next came the blue iris, followed by water color pink rodadendrum with some of its foliage and then allium. Truly a spectacular arrangement to see in person.


“Birds of a Feather flock together”

In my next post, I will share some floral design tips I learned from Marc as well as some photos of his designs in a book titled Florist’s Review: 101 Silk & Dried Designs with how-to instructions.

 I hope your enjoyed this garden show presentation and learning about Monterey, Tennessee “Where the Hilltops Kiss the Sky.”   Blessings. …susan

Do you have a favorite floral design? If so, please leave a comment if you are so inclined!