Hardie Newton is the in-house floral designer for Airlie Center and I just had a quick visit with her as I stopped by Airlie to watch her transform their dining room for the romance of Valentine’s Day dinner. Following is a sort of “photo essay” of the magic she has created at Airlie on this cold winter day, and a few photos as well of their Garden Bistro room, with some whispers of spring.
There is a beautiful sitting room just behind the front desk which she takes over completely with her flowers and arranging materials every Thursday as she prepares the arrangements for the week. Today the beautifully decorated room, complete with a crackling fire, was filled with roses and other makings of romantic table arrangements.
Hardie carefully crafts a garden and flower contemplation for each issue of the Piedmont Virginian, celebrating what her Madison county garden produces in each season. Her in-depth knowledge of what seems to me to be every single thing that grows in the ground, and her ability to harvest plants at their peak, turn them into works of art, and share that in her writing is her gift to us every issue. An excerpt from her article in our winter issue follows.
Never having actually taken seriously the fact that many growers plant seed solely to produce seed, the idea encourages contemplation. Plantsmen and farmers who, through the ages, have dedicated their lives to collecting, growing and hybridizing seeds, are involved in lifetime work, a gift to future generations. Having personally limited myself to planting seeds to solely produce beautiful flowers and vegetables, seems mindless when compared to more lofty ambitions. Saving heirloom seeds for next year’s planting is an ingrained habit. They are expensive and the habit a practical one. All the while, however, a goal of growing varieties useful for both eating and decorating has not been considered.
Photos by Jan Kamphuis