Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Follow Your Star

One of my readers asked if Bunny Mellon ever wrote a gardening book.  While she hasn't, I can recommend the book The Surprising Life of Constance Spry.  Ms. Spry (1886-1960) was a floral designer and business woman at a time when most women weren't working outside the home.  She also wrote books not just on flower arranging but also cooking, gardening and entertaining.  I'm beginning to think she was the original Martha Stewart.  Her big claim to fame came from designing the flowers for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor whose home in France she also filled with her artful arrangements.  Constance Spry created masterpieces of not just fancy flowers like roses but weeds and even kale.  I love a good story about a gutsy woman who blazes a new trail.  My favorite quote of hers sums things up best, "I want to shout out, "Do what you please, follow your star: be original if you want to be and don't if you don't want to be.  Just to be natural and gay and lighthearted and pretty and simple and overflowing and general and boroque, and learn and learn and learn. Open your minds to every form of beauty."  Amen sister!

A mass of lilacs, 1951

Constance Spry and her needlework

Constance Spry arrangement

Constance Spry and a reporter, 1951

June Morning, 1951

Her students at work.

Arrangement of fennel and orange lilies, 1951

More students arranging flowers

White arrangements in the white living room of Syrie Maugham

Rose felecite et perpetue, 1951

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor in front of a Constance Spry arrangement. 

Wedding flowers for Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott to the Duke of Gloucester, 1935

Wedding flowers for Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott to the Duke of Gloucester, 1935
There is also a rose named after Constance Spry which were planted along the 100 yard fence outside of Pixar Studios by Steve Jobs.  I think Ms. Spry would definitely approve! 

Photos from the Design Museum and Google


Heidiopia said...

Marvelous!! I love the quote as well-- inspiration from the past is a beautiful thing.

Teresa Hatfield said...

Love this story. Thank you for sharing!
Teresa (Splendid Sass)

Dobbygirl said...

I need to pick this book up - I've always wanted to know more about her and her work, plus we share a last name. There aren't many of us Spry's out there so it's interesting to me. Thanks for the post!

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

Thank you for the introduction to this charming book. I will get a copy. Amen, sister is right!

pavlova said...

Aha....i have a magnificent "Constance Spry" rose bush in my garden and now I know the background of its name. Thank you....and love the quote!

Ragland Hill Social by Gwen Driscoll said...

this looks like such a great book. have so missed the world of blog this summer. i'm back and so glad. hope you are well.

The-Countrypolitan said...

She sounds like she must have been a real character... I love stories about people who dare to blaze their own trail... ~Terri

Karena said...

Heather, I love the quote, how true. Beautiful to see a woman of that era find her own way! And quite the road she traveled.

Art by Karena

Alice said...

So interesting... definitely adding this to my book list!

Flotsam Friends said...

Wow, this sounds really inspiring. Great shots. Pruxxx

mary said...

I keep rereading the quote. I can feel it lighting a fire under me. Thanks for a great start to this gorgeous summer day. Mary

In Full Bloom Photography said...

I love this...and I absolutely LOVE your blog!!

Anonymous said...

If I could get a lilac bridal bouquet that would stand for 12 hours, I would get married tomorrow.

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