Thursday, January 15, 2009

Let's bring the outdoors in ...

I found a wonderful blog today that truly inspired me! It’s funny because the name of the blog is actually Things That Inspire. She has just written a piece entitled “Flowering Quince.” In it, she features lovely images of cut branches of flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) displayed in vases in varied and beautiful indoor settings such as this:

This photograph from Things That Inspire features a room designed by Michael Smith, the new Interior Designer selected by the Obamas. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of his work in the future! To read the rest of this fabulous blog and view more of these lovely images go Here.

I am inspired by this for several reasons. First, what a fantastic way to bring the outdoors in! In terms of composition, we call this linkage. By placing the vase with branches next to a window or in a room with windows, we are linking the indoors to the out. The branches indoors link to those outdoors. Not too scientific, but extremely effective!

I recently posted an article here entitled Plants for Winter Interest. Many of the plants that I wrote about in the article make spectacular cut flowers or stems that are more than suitable to bring indoors. Let’s take a look.

First, here is the bush that provides the stunning cut branches of the flowering quince we saw above. This one is in red, of course.

Photo by Muddy LaBoue

What makes this so beautiful is that the flowers bloom on the wood before the plant leafs out in late winter.

The Pussy Willow (Salix discolor) is another late winter/early Spring blooming plant that is quite suitable for cut arrangements indoors. Look at these lovely displays:

Photo by Nellie Vin

Photo by Jade * Jstahippygrl

These Pussy Willow arrangements created by the photographer are striking in this context and look at the texture they add to the room!

Now, here is what the Pussy Willow plant looks like, although this is a small speciman.

Photo by Garthmoore

Forsythias are another late winter/early spring bloomer that I grow solely for the purpose of cutting those bright yellow beautiful branches off and bringing them indoors each winter! Here is the effect ….

Photo by denovich

And here is the plant:

Photo by Crusader

What a spectacle it makes in late winter! These shrubs are stunning as specimans!

Another winter-blooming plant that looks just as great indoors as it does out is the Winterberry Holly or Sparkleberry Holly (Ilex verticillata). Here's a photograph from another great blog called My Notting Hill. It's a display of Winterberry in a store called Hudson in Boston.

Here is the Winterberry plant in winter:

Photo by Natural Newscapes

Finally, I would be remiss to not list another winter-blooming favorite in the south that makes a lovely addition to any indoor space. It is the camellia (Camellia japonica).

Photo by tanakawho

And, the plant:

Photo by Peterson Farm

How beautiful is that in the midst of winter?!

I hope you all will be inspired, like I have been, to go outside and find one of these plants to cut and bring indoors. It's a beautiful way to bring the outdoors in!

Many thanks to my new friends at Things That Inspire and My Notting Hill for sharing your lovely photographs and blogs with me. You truly are an inspiration and I hope to be inspired by you for many months to come!


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, and an interpretation of my post from a horticultural perspective! I also am fascinated with the concept of linkage. I am sure Michael Smith knew exactly what he was doing!

    I was very taken with the Winterberry Holly when I saw it on My Notting Hill's post, so I immediately thought to send it to you when you commented on my post.

    It is sometimes hard to find cut branches in the local flower store that do not cost an arm and a leg! Next December, I am going to be on the lookout for Winterberry Holly.

  2. Thanks for stopping in TTI! I am looking forward to a lot more inspiration from you!

    To learn more about the Winterberry Holly go here:
    It's a striking plant, indoors or out and especially in winter!

    We link spaces through repetition in form, line, color, texture, etc. For example, when I am designing landscapes adjacent to a salt marsh, I will often times use perennial grasses because their form links beautifully to the tidal grasses of the salt marsh beyond. By using the flowering quince in the vase, I'm sure Mr. Smith was linking it to the out of doors, thus effectively bringing the outdoors in (in more ways than one).

  3. Great post!!! Things that Inspire is one of my favorite all time blogs. Sarah's blog has a definite look and feel to it - very soothing and calm. Thanks for showcasing it!!!

  4. Very nice blog entry! I love flowering quince and forsythia because they are the harbingers of spring. They help bring me out of the winter doldrums.

  5. So great to see the winterberry as a plant - beautiful! Really beautiful - I'll have to check if it would like our DC weather. And, also thanks for mentioning my blog. Michele

  6. Michele, you are most welcome! Thank you for sharing it with us! The Winterberry will most definitely grow in your area. However, because it is a holly, the female plants are the ones that will set berries and in order to do this, a male plant will also be needed.

  7. Hey Scar! You're making quite an impact on blogland with your posts - it really has been a great and well-designed blog so far.

    My wife has been quite interested in your blog as she loves gardening as well. We both, though, don't have the greenest thumbs around so suggestions and ideas are always welcome as to what we could or should plant in our backyard and front when spring rolls around in April. Climate zones, plant names, etc. are all 'Greek' to us...

    Keep up the great work so far!

  8. Thanks for your kind words, Pepe! Sure, I'll be glad to help the LePew family in any way I can! It's not Greek, Pepe, but Latin! ;-)

  9. Great post!!! Things that Inspire is one of my favorite all time blogs. Sarah's blog has a definite look and feel to it - very soothing and calm. Thanks for showcasing it!!!
    backyard design


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