Collecting things from my garden, and bunging them in a jar – this is my version of flower arranging, and it might not be pretty, but it’s an activity at once fascinating, inspiring, and cathartic.
I can’t pretend that it’s a practice I’ve come up with myself. Rather, it’s something in which I’ve received encouragement from two sources – firstly, Dan Pearson, who wrote in Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City of how he himself picked up the habit from a childhood friend. And secondly, from the ceramic artist Elisabeth Barry, several of whose beautiful porcelain creations brighten small corners of our home, including three exquisite tiny churns which make perfect posy jars.
For those times when life decides to remind you that you’re not really in charge of anything – an uncomfortable truth we try our darnedest to forget – may I recommend flower arranging? Even if, like me, you’re not particularly good at it. In this case a small posy jar, a few garden finds hastily snipped, and two feet or so of clear workspace in the house were all that were required to pull myself our of that internal tailspin. Order restored – kind of... a bit messy, a little lopsided and undeniably gone to seed. But back on track with a little planty swag. Happy Friyay folks. 🌱🌿😎 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #desaturatemyfeed #heitermoments #getyourposyon
The rules are (as the man in Grease says), there ain’t no rules. Or to put it as Dan Pearson does,
“The construction of the posy is not something you should think about too much, for it is more the act of pulling things together for closer observation that is the objective.”
This is liberating for those of us not particularly gifted, or well-versed, in the art of flower arranging. It’s really all in the collecting, the assembling and, finally, the observing. There’s not an awful lot of point in creating the posy if you’re not going to place it somewhere where you’ll see it several times a day, giving you the opportunity to mull over the properties of each plant, and how the combination of one works with the other, or doesn’t. Do these colours or shapes harmonise, or clash, and if the latter, is it a good, energising clash, or a nullifying cancelling out of respective charcteristics? So, either on your desk by your computer, where you can fix your eyes on it while waiting for an annoying progress bar to wander across the screen, or perhaps on the kitchen window ledge, for gazing at while doing the washing up. We each know best the places where we’re likely to slip into a daydream, and these present the perfect location for a random collection of vegetation culled from the garden.
“The posy enables you to keep an open mind and to take another look at combining colour, form or texture without having to worry about the practicalities. [It is} also a means of throwing together combinations of plants that are separated for some reason or other in the garden but which can be brought together in the pot.”
Everything goes a bit red in my garden at this time of year. I always associate the scarlet #Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ with the beginning of July, but the fuchsias and the zonal pelargoniums (old habits die hard) all chime in with the ruddy hues, and you don’t have to look far to find a dark red leaf in my borders. So... I chopped a bit of everything off and crammed as much as I could into a posy jar. As you do. ♥️♥️ Also lurking in the vase and blushing darkly, Potentilla ‘Monarch’s Velvet’, Physocarpus ‘Lady in Red’, sweet pea ‘Winston Churchill’ and the seedy bits of honesty and nigella. ♥️♥️ #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenf #mzuiko45mm #getyourposyon
And since there really are no rules, I don’t see why it must always be a collection of plants, although by definition, that’s what a posy is. Sometimes, one bloom is all that’s needed to encourage a floral reverie – I can’t imagine how adding anything to the contents of this bud vase would have improved the prospect.
Darkness Visible. Black Parrot, exploding into senescence, and going out in a blaze of glory. The first in a series of the Venerable #Tulip. 💀🌷Beautiful diamond polished porcelain bud vase from the ever-talented @eb_ceramics. #thevenerabletulip #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #abreathofwhitespace #getyourposyon
I described the process as cathartic at the top of this post and, for me at least, there’s a meditative simplicity in the practice of harvesting, preparing, and finally presenting each little collection, however unruly the result may appear. As a daily observance, I could see how a person might wander dangerously close to a state of mindfulness, which would be a wonderful way in which to spend your time, were it not so annoyingly fashionable at the moment (mindfulness, like beards, has been around for ever – those of us who knew about these things before they became de rigueur can’t help finding their sudden popularity a tad irksome, and are presently waiting for the wheels of fashion to revolve so we can once more savour the joys of being refreshingly off trend).
You don’t need posh flowers or fancy containers. Just an empty jar, a pair of scissors, and a few minutes in the garden, beside a hedgerow, or winning bravely flowering weeds from the cracks and crevices of the urban landscape – once or twice a week, if you can’t manage daily. Go on. Get your posy on.
Are you an inveterate posy maker? Or is it a habit you think you might like to cultivate? Let me know what you think on this burning question, either on twitter or in the comments below. And share your posy images across social media with the hashtag #getyourposyon.
If you’d like to receive blog posts in your inbox as soon as they are published, enter your email in the box below to be added to the Gardens, weeds & words mailing list.
Hello! I’m Andrew, gardener, writer, photographer, and owner of a too-loud laugh, and I’m so pleased you’ve found your way to Gardens, weeds & words. You can read a more in-depth profile of me on the About page, or by clicking this image.