Saturday, May 02, 2009

Botanically Challenged

My second article for the Kansas City Star, published 5/3/09

Botanically Challenged
Maybe your imagination should do all the growing.

Awe, it’s Spring! Lawns are turning green, tiny buds are blooming and the nurseries are buzzing with weekend gardeners ready to get their hands in the dirt. Not me, I am scrambling for the sunscreen.

Allergies aside, if you do not like the look of lovely flowers and fresh plants something might be wrong with you. If however, you cannot decorate with them for fear of the inevitable, then come join my club for the Botanically Challenged. Each time I think I’ll buy a little planted something for the interior of my home, it lasts about seven days. Where did I go wrong? Too much water or not enough? Should it have been morning light or afternoon? I give up. I’ll nail a seed packet to the wall and dream.

As a retailer it is nearly impossible to keep things alive in my semi-lit store. And as much as faux flowers are so, well, not cool- I admit there are a lot of great brands out there than can argue the point. Lately I have discovered ways to negotiate decorating with nature and I have to say, my way has much less maintenance.

Pressed botanicals
The Europeans had this figured out a long time ago. Explorers would travel the world, collect plant clippings and flatten these specimens under glass and store for research in Herbarium houses. Little did they know they would become great works of art. Today many affordable reproductions are available as well as antique originals.

Tree and shrub branches
Roam your own back yard or the local park for fallen branches or clip a few sprigs from your favorite flowering shrub. When used in a giant glass bottle they make the perfect centerpiece.

Natural accessories
Adding a touch of nature can be accomplished in almost any room by adding a tiny nest or feathery bird. A large bowl of hedge apples make a colorful display as well.

Although there is nothing botanical about it, adding an object indoors that is normally found outdoors helps give the illusion to garden living. A concrete pot, fence piece or birdhouse can be used throughout your home tucked in the most unlikely of places for stronger impact.

Bringing the outdoors in is not a new concept and can also be achieved with illustrated fabric, beautiful floral prints and preserved boxwood. I believe keeping it maintenance free is just what Mother Nature had in mind all along. Let her do all the work, after all, she’s better equipped!

is the owner and creative director of Curious Sofa in Prairie Village. When not in her shop she travels, antiques, and blogs- all with her beloved pet Bichon, Pearl by her side.