A Good Home, Decorating skills, Domestic Divas, Flower Arranging, Flowers, Gardening, Gardens, Interior Design

Inferior Design — A Natural Talent

If I call to invite close relatives to supper, their reply goes like this:

“Oh! How nice…”

Blog Photo - Hostas and Clematis

A long pause follows.

Blog Photo - flowers in glass vase mixed


“Er… Who’s cooking?”

So — naturally — I reply: You have nothing to fear. Husband is cooking.”

Joyful sounds erupt from the telephone.

Blog Photo - flowers in Brown Vase closer

Me, take offense? No way.

Blog Photo - Hostas and wieglia

I’m the untalented one in a family of creatively gifted domestic divas and I know it.

My mother, sisters, cousins and daughters  — all are fabulous cooks and bakers.

All were born knowing how to arrange a room artfully.

Clothes and hair? Fabulously stylish. Floral arrangements? To sigh for.

Blog Photo - Flowers in vase nice

And then there’s me. I have to work really, really hard at all these things – with surprisingly strange results.

An expert at inferior design, is what I am.

Blog Photo - flowers with alium closer

My greatest talent was in designing and planting our gardens.  Really nice gardens — if you like the lush, exuberant kind.  There, I seem to know instinctively what flowers and colours go together.

But, these days, I mostly pick the flowers, not plant them.

So — naturally — I recently decided to try floral arranging.

You may remember that I once ruined a very simple Christmas arrangement.

But hope springs eternal.

So — naturally — I decided to channel my inner Christiane, and Karen B. – two wonderfully creative, flower-loving women.  I love their blogs.

I stuck some flowers in a vase. Peonies and Solomon’s seal.

Blog Photo - Peonies and Solomon's Seal

“Beautiful”, said my sister.


So — naturally — the next arrangement was — hmmm…..

Blog Photo - Peonies in tall vase

Friends Lydia and her daughter Sarah kindly gave me a book on floral arranging.

The designs seemed so simple that only an idiot could fail to grasp them.

So — naturally — I failed to grasp them.

I’ve been hiding from Lydia and Sarah ever since.

Blog Photo - flowers white daisies in vase

Along comes my daughter, to shore up my confidence.

I’ll cut the flowers, we agree.  She’ll take the lead on arranging them in vases.

They were all very pretty.

So — naturally —  I went and stuck allium heads into one of them and ruined her creation. (See the sixth photo from the top.)

But all she said was: Nice, Mom.

Encouraged, I stuck another allium head  into a few flowers in a thin vase.

Blog Photo - Hostas in tall vase

And all of that explains why this post is full of flowers in vases.

The nice ones are my daughter’s.

In case you were wondering.


Dedicated to my creative relatives, and Lydia and Sarah. And to creative divas Christiane and Karen B.






67 thoughts on “Inferior Design — A Natural Talent”

  1. Thank you, my dear. I’ll have to do a story one of these days soon about your many creative talents. and you know I’ll be making your Lady Cynthia cake this fall. The apple trees are loaded.

      1. No, my friend gets to do the posh ones, she did a course in London. I’m a very casual sort of “arranger”. Just fortunate to grow up surrounded by flowers…. And a bit slow, “I don’t have a cutting garden” mmmm, just lots of flowers!

  2. I was just going to say, that I thought several of those arrangements are very nice. I am also no good at that sort of thing, while it comes very easily to both mother and sister. My thought is that, “they’re my flowers — I’ll arrange them how I want to” and then just damn the mess. 😀

  3. I used to work for people who had a lot of dinner parties and absolutely refused to buy cut flowers. Instead they sent me out into the yard to forage for what I could and then throw it all in vases. I was shocked when they told me how many compliments the “arrangements” were getting. Yours look a lot like mine did, so I like all of them.

    1. Gee whiz. Thanks so much! So now I could go from having an inferiority complex to getting a big head! Ya gotta watch it with people like me…. But seriously, “throw it all in vases”? I know this means you’re talented.

  4. Lol. Sharing your gift, I cannot tell which arrangements are yours and which are done by your daughter. Keep the gardens up – they are lovely. 😉

    1. Thank you, Aggie. I love those gardens. My daughter did all except the peonies and Solomon’s seal, the peonies in the tall creme vase, And the ones with the allium heads, which I ruined. I “helped” her with the others.

    1. You see? Right there, Gallivanta, I’ve figured you out. That casual reply means that you are one of those who are really, really good at floral arranging. Which puts you in a whole different species from me. And here I thought we had so much in common…..

      1. I wish! No one would ask me to do the flowers for their wedding, but, mostly, I like what goes in to my vases. It’s almost impossible to ‘uglyify’ a flower/foliage. Although I expect your answer to that would be, “Not for me!”

    1. Gee whiz, Jim. I walked straight into them at church today. Unfortunately, guilt was written all over my face. I finally blurted out: “Don’t read my blog! I wrote something bad!” Guilt makes a person do strange things.

    1. A great idea – he insists on planting his vegetable garden, but I water it and help him harvest. And I actually darn socks and replace missing buttons, and the like. And I make darned good jelly. And I’m the one who cuts up the apples for his apple pies.
      Geez – that’s another talent I have. You helped. I feel better now.

  5. Very amusing! I am an expert inferior designer too and feel for you! Baking is improving slowly ( I know my limitations and don’t attempt anything too difficult) but flower arranging!!! My, oh my, those poor flowers.

    1. Those poor flowers, indeed. I almost felt like apologizing to mine.

      I’m pleased to hear the baking is coming along, Clare. Very pleased. You might go far, young lady.

      1. Ho ho!! Young lady indeed! Thank-you! I haven’t been called that for many years! I have been trying to bake since I was a young girl but I just can’t get it right and I’m easily disheartened. I have to do a lot of baking for church fund-raising cake sales and for special church services with refreshments afterwards. There are very few of us at our church so I am included despite peoples’ better judgement! I have a few recipes that are easy to follow and don’t often go wrong so those are the ones I use. Flower arranging is something else though. I am on the church flower rota as well for the same reasons (so few of us) Fortunately my months are March and April and a bunch of daffodils in a vase are my contribution. I do cheat sometimes and ask the florist to arrange some flowers for me so all I have to do is find a vase and place them in it as carefully as I can.

      2. A woman after my own heart. But tell me – is cheating at the church flowers somewhat like lying in church? My priest can ask me absolutely anything if we are even one step inside the church, and I cannot lie…. Outside the church now, might be an entirely different matter…..

  6. Some are made to plant and grow, others to cut and arrange. I struggle with the simplest issues of helping plants thrive, but can make them look great in a vase, (if they ever grow enough to cut any.) We all have our gifts and talents; what a boring world it would be if everyone had the same ones!

      1. I absolutely do.
        I’ve had visitors since yesterday, so a bit slow in replying. Funny, I’m also getting email notes from people saying: “I can arrange flowers easy-peasy! But I cannot get anything to grow.” so I think you’re right.
        But I’m stubborn. I’m going to keep trying. So wish me luck, and know that if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be quoting your pithy saying!

  7. Cynthia, you may claim to be inferior at arranging flowers, but you are definitely superior in other ways. You are a great friend, you encourage people and give them confidence. You are one of those people to whom every goose is a swan.

  8. If it helps, I take to that sort of thing like a duck to quantum physics. McOther paints the house, chooses colours etc. his mum is an Olympian house keeper but I am rather more in your camp… I can cook and that’s about it. When I clean the place it often ends up looking worse than before hand…. So.. What I’m trying to say is… You’re not alone.



  9. I cannot lie in church either and as I get older I am finding it easier to tell the truth elsewhere as well. As for the flowers – if anyone asks me I tell them what I’ve done. They all know that I can’t arrange flowers so they must assume I’ve had help!

    1. Hah! I hear you..

      To quote an elderly woman: “My tree of shame has upped and died.”
      I think that’s why I poke fun at myself so much. And why I’m finding it much easier to tell the truth in other areas of my life too.

  10. You must have beautiful gardens to have all those flowers, love how the hosta leaves were added for the colors! Love hostas! All of the arrangements are very beautiful, I sure wouldn’t worry about by sisters, cousins, daughters!! 🙂

  11. Are you familiar with the advertising slogan which Salman Rushdie ( of all people) created here in England in the 70’s to help promote cream and dairy products and in particular cream cakes? Well…..it was “Naughty, but Nice”. And I think that’s exactly what this fabulous post of yours is!
    “Naughty”, because in reality you ooze creativity with your garden, flowers and your perfectly crafted words. And “nice”, because you paid myself and Christiane such a totally wonderful compliment!
    But most of all, you made me laugh out loud!
    Bless you for that and for including me in your post.

    1. You are welcome, Karen.
      Thanks for the compliment. I do see my garden as a bit of a painter’s canvas. Except, it continues to surprise me. This morning, for example, I saw that one garden bed bears only white flowers during June. I can’t remember planning that.

      I look forward to every one of your blog posts, and I am always in awe of your sense of design and composition. Did you learn it or did you have that gift naturally?
      I am always curious about this when I come across people with obvious flair for design.

  12. Thank you so much for your interest in my background and my blog.
    I attended Art College but walked out after only a few days! After that I worked in a commercial art studio designing book illustrations and cards for many years. I then built a career as a water -colourist before running a successful restaurant and inn with rooms. I have never had any training to do any of the things I have done.
    I love interior design and developed a style in the business which attracted journalists from many top magazines. I am so proud of the fact that Chris Petkanas, a freelance journalist who I had followed in the American House Beautiful magazine once travelled to England to do a feature on the business, alongside a few others in the area. I was the first person to open a Boutique at the inn where I sold Swedish glass and linen, together with vintage linens and French and English furniture. tI was such fun and it was my whole life.
    Sadly, because I am now divorced, I no longer have the business. I guess I now channel all of my efforts into my garden and blog.
    The connections with people such as yourself, are a life line which I value more than I could possibly say.

    1. Karen, thank you for answering my question. You’ve had a most interesting life, with many great accomplishments. And now you are reinventing yourself, using those terrific creative skills. I knew there was a story there, because your blog reflects “the eye” of an artist, and I thank you very much for sharing this.
      Your blogging network may be a whole different thing from the appreciative clients/audiences you had before, but I think you can tell how much we appreciate you.

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