Garden Bouquets and Beyond

Although I have never met her, Suzy Bales feels a bit like an old friend. The prolific garden columnist (Family Circle, Homes & Gardens, New York Times, Huffington Post) is the author of 14 books, including the Down-to-Earth Gardener and, my favourite, The Garden in Winter. The words and photographs in her books have kept me company on cold winter days when I'm home alone. She always gets me thinking about the outdoors in new and creative ways.

Over the years, Suzy has been kind enough to send me advanced copies of her books, some of which have been sweetly autographed, and her most recent offering arrived in my mailbox last week, much to my delight. The new book, Garden Bouquets and Beyond, is a fine showcase of the best blooms and foliage plants the northeastern garden has to offer with instructions on how to grow them and arrange them in gorgeous bouquets.

The book has a classic feel to it. After reading several chapters I emailed Suzy to let her know that I think it is timeless, both in its style and its advice. Make no mistake, though: the book is not 'modern.' If you're looking for asymmetrical arrangements in edgy, monochromatic tones in angular vessels you're looking in the wrong place. The arrangements are derived from the flowers grown in Suzy's own garden in Oyster Bay, New York, and reflect the pastoral, country life she has so happily created. But, the knowledge she imparts will serve any gardener well, especially one who is anxious to learn more about the art of arranging what she grows.

Bouquets and Beyond is divided into two parts: Seasonal Gathering from the Garden and Tricks of the Trade. The first portion deals with the practical ideas on how to plant a cutting garden that will offer the best colours, textures and scents all year round. (No, Winter is not ignored. The "Beyond" element incorporates arrangements, garlands and wreaths with twigs, coniferous boughs, winter berries and pinecones.) She troubleshoots, too, and discusses some of the dilemmas of the gardener and flower-grower, always managing to find optimistic solutions. In the second portion, Suzy examines the specifics of the art of arranging, including the principles of bouquet design, wreath making, garlands, using foliage correctly and how to use flowers in all sorts of projects, from mock topiaries to fashion accessories. This section also includes a very useful guide with tips on how to prolong the vase life of each and every single flower Suzy mentions in the book. It's indespensible!

I'm reading the book slowly, taking time to smell the proverbial roses, as it were, as I turn each page. The book is available now at bookstores.

Suzy Bales in her New York garden sets the scene for one of her famous garden parties. (Thank you, Suzy, for all the wonderful books and timeless advice!)
The photographs by Steven Randazzo bring Suzy's garden to life on the printed page. The reader can almost drink in the fragrances.
The book offers advice on how to make traditional tabletop arrangements as well as nosegays and posies. Be sure to visit Suzy's website for more: suzybalesgarden.com


Anonymous said...

wow what else do you get for free as a blogger? this blogging business sounds like a great racket. the book looks great hope she sells lots and gets her own tv or radio shoe. cheerio

Anonymous said...

What beautiful photos. I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

How beautiful, thanks for the review of this book. I ordered one from Amazon and after looking through it ordered several more as gifts for my gardening friends. The photos are inspiring as are the ideas!

Anonymous said...

I am also a big fan of Ms. Bales and this book has inspired me tremendously. A must have!

Jan from New Hampshire