Tastemaker: Katharine Brown; From hobbyist to flower professional
Q: Are there some fundamental rules for making a more attractive flower arrangement?
A: One rule I try to follow, although not always, is to make the height of the arrangement one and a half times the height of the container, to make it really full. Having said that, sometimes you want to do something different. And it looks better to have odd numbers of flowers in a bouquet. Also, I like asymmetrical bouquets. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people like that [balanced look].
Q: So, the highest point isn’t in the middle?
A: Exactly! The highest point doesn’t have to be in the middle. And let the plants that you’re using help dictate that. If you’re using peonies, for example, you could do more of a uniform shape, but if you’ve got delphiniums and peonies and tulips, let them naturally drape; look at the way they are in nature and kind of follow that.
Q: Do you have favorite flowers?
A: Wow, that’s a hard one.
Q: You just love them all, right?
A: (Laughing) It’s true. But there are some that, en masse, just make more of a statement. And that’s another piece of advice; something like a Marguerite Daisy, for example, looks so much better when there’s a mass of it—a billowing cloud of it. So, instead of one plant, plant five, so there will be plenty to cut to bring inside.
Recently, there’s one plant that I really fell in love with. It’s called Rudbeckia maximillian, and it gets to be seven feet tall. It’s this spire jutting out of the garden. So, amongst this drift of daisies and Russian sage and Echinacea, you have this [really tall plant]. It’s like you’ve created this bouquet right there in your garden.
Q: Is the planting zone [here] different?
A: When I first moved here, it was zone four, and now we can get away with zone five almost, thanks to global warming, not!
Q: How do you keep the critters out?
A: A dog helps. We’re always outside, so that also scares them away. And I have been known to shoot a woodchuck. We’ve never had much of a problem with rabbits, but I have a cat now that’s becoming a good hunter. You can still have a pretty garden. You just have to do deer resistance. There’s nothing totally deer-proof [though] as everyone who lives around here knows. It’s a nightmare for everybody.