Gather – Flowers for your table


Wildflowers collected from our fields in White Stone, VA

I firmly believe that when you gather friends and family at the table you should always have fresh flowers there too.  They elevate the experience and can be done simply and inexpensively from gathering wildflowers in various shapes and sizes to pulling together one flower, in one color, to make a statement.


Wildflower arrangement by Jamie Campbell for Decoratop

You can pick one vase to fill for a center arrangement or find various jars, cups and vases in varying sizes to place organically around the table and house.

When I have a special event, dinner or meal and want that extra help I love collaborating with a florist in order to get more unique flowers than are readily available in the yard or at the local market.


Photo by Will Hawkins / Flowers by The Wild Bunch

It’s also fun to add in fruit and vegetables as part of the table decor.

Think about what season you are in and pull from what is growing at that time.  Lilacs are my favorite flowers and I love to fill vases of them in the spring all over the house for their soft color and lush scent.


Mason Jar Vase and Lilacs by Country Living 

If you have a large group, it’s fun to have flowers run down the entire table so that everyone gets to enjoy them like I did last summer for a large family gathering in the photo below.  I worked with Cindy at The Wild Bunch in Kilmarnock, VA.  She does amazing work.

If you do not have a garden or yard to pull from, visit your local market or grocery store.  When in Boston, I love what Trader Joe’s keeps in store year round and look for groupings of one type of flower to mix and match colors as opposed to the prearranged bouquets.  Another favorite – peonies…


Peonies / Photo by Amber Lilyestrom

When creating your own arrangements, you must strip the stems of all leaves for the part that will be below the water line.  This slows up any bacteria growth and keeps the water clean longer.  I like the flowers to be cut shorter in the vase, so that the flowers are poised just above the top of the vase and often tie the vase or jar with twine or a ribbon.  Cut each flower individually to fit your vase in order to have various heights and place them loosely for the look you want.


Flowers by The Wild Bunch


Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Lisa Wong – Seeing in Different Dimensions


Steve Seidel
at the Harvard Graduate School of Education talks about how arts education trains us in  “bifocalism:” the ability to see in different dimensions –  alternately focusing on the smallest detail while still appreciating the larger picture.


Contemplate a single flower – at first glance it seems to be  perfectly formed, uniformly colored – but on longer contemplation one finds that things are not as uniform as they seem – is this intentional? Are these flaws? Imperfections? Or the variations that make each flower unique?


At a time of social instability, when looking ahead and looking around makes us anxious it becomes even  more important for us to stop and seek out the small moments, images, and opportunities for beauty around us, if only for a moment.


Photos by Lisa Wong

Lisa Wong is a Boston-based physician, violinist, and arts education advocate with a passion for bringing the worlds of art and health ever closer together. She has been a pediatrician at Milton Pediatric Associates for over 30 years – and appreciates the hard-won milestone reached by a child with special needs, the opportunity to laugh and the privilege of finding something beautiful in the dynamics of every family.


Donna L. Gassie – Garden: Art & Life

Flowers. I love flowers.  The colors. The shapes.  The fragrances.  The shear variety.  And this from a city girl growing up in apartments.  I never experienced many fresh flowers or gardens when I was a kid.  They were exotic and something that occasionally showed up for special occasions.


I’m a photographer.  And at some point in my adult life, I became acquainted with these flowers and I could not stop taking photographs of them.  I believe it was after my mother retired at a place at the lake….she cleared out large parcels of the yard and planted flowers.  Bulbs, beginner plants, cuttings….a big mix of types and species.  And it was lovely. It was in progress and changing monthly, looking different every visit. And my mother was lost in the work of her garden, happy in her floral explorations.

And at some point, I finally lived in a house and there was room…for a flower garden!  We cleared an area and mixed in rich soil.  I bought loads of annuals and perennials.  I drew page after page of garden blueprints and then I stood over that plot and mulled over the possibilities.  I finally measured out my rows, dug in with my trowel and transplanted the little plants.  And in the midst of developing my first garden, my younger brother unexpectedly passed away. That garden became a place of peace and with every flower I situated in that first garden, I planted a memory of him.  I cried and I smiled in that garden.  It was life and growth.  It was sustaining.


I have owned 4 houses since that first one.  At every house I have turned the earth and created flowerbeds.  Big, puffy blue hydrangeas. Bright red poppies. Fragrant, purple Russian Sage, hearty and wild. Perky, yellow daffodils bringing us Spring. Flowing Butterfly Bushes. Fall Sedum.  The beauty of flowers, the symmetry and wonder of what nature creates, the gift of getting lost digging in the dirt and how it provides the opportunity for meditation and contemplation…a flower garden provides us all that.  And so much more.

Donna L. Gassie is a photographer, gardner, social worker, writer and occasional performer living in Richmond, Virginia.