gardener Nancy Ross Hugo has always been in the habit of
putting little snippets of plants and ripening fruit on
a windowsill at her home in Ashland, Va.
have a windowsill right above my kitchen sink, and I’ve
always enjoyed looking at plant material backlit
there," she says.
it really goes back further, to when she was six years
old and her mother started her making little flower
2011, she began creating windowsill arrangements daily.
just wanted to see what would happen if I practiced this
activity the way other people do poetry or drawing or
music," she says.
helped me pay much closer attention to what was going on
outside. That’s the biggest payoff — making you a
better observer and keeping you in closer touch with the
Hugo hopes to pass on that passion through her new book,
"Windowsill Art: Creating one-of-a-kind natural
arrangements to celebrate the seasons." In
Virginia, she’s a well-known author, having earlier
written "Remarkable Trees of Virginia." In
Howardsville, Va., she also operates Flower Camp, a
50-acre retreat where she once offered flower-related
programs but now rents it to nature lovers at www.flowercamp.org
177-page windowsill book takes you on the journey of
choosing containers, finding plant material, combining
and shuffling materials, playing with leaves and vines
and breaking away from bottles as containers. She even
shows how a blade of grass or a pile of apple peels can
be arranged into art. A month-by-month photo gallery
makes it easy to duplicate what you like for your own
home. Her blog http://windowsillarranging.blogspot.com
provides ongoing ideas.
Art" is $18.95; published by St. Lynn’s Press, it’s
available at www.amazon.com
if you don’t have a garden, you can still enjoy
vignettes from nature. On morning walks, Nancy looks for
seasonal tidbits like a sweet gum leaf or a discarded
bottle in a ditch. She brings home branches of colorful
foliage in the fall or stems of roadside wildflowers in
them into a bottle on the windowsill, and you have an
instant arrangement," she says.
can, however, practice this art form without a
windowsill, she adds. Any spot will do.
here’s what I like about windowsills — they are a
bridge between the outdoors and indoors," she says.
provide gorgeous backlight and shadows, and they are
usually narrow, so you can’t let your arrangement get
too big, which is good."
windowsill arrangements, containers make the difference,
and a chapter in the book offers tips on choosing them.
For instance, a vase with a broad base and a narrow neck
is definitely easier to use because it requires no
mechanics like floral foam to keep everything upright. A
vanilla extract bottle or cruet is perfect, but Nancy’s
daughter has a website at www.thearrangersmarket.com
that offers some of the oddball, hard-to-find containers
she uses, including a test tube container Nancy’s
book also stresses that no skills are needed to do
a tree person, I’m particularly keen on getting people
to observe, and celebrate, all sorts of tree parts —
from the lowly, but gorgeous, gumball to the exfoliating
bark of the sycamore," she says.
is always something worth celebrating in the woods, on
the edge of the woods or even just under urban trees. If
people would think of the things trees shed —
including leaves, seed structures, and cones — as art
objects as opposed to debris to be removed — they’d
be much happier.
really hope the book appeals to anyone who loves nature,
who wants to see more and who wants to play with plant