Archive for October, 2019

Monday, October 7th, 2019 | Leave A Comment

Bringing Yucatecan Flavor to Longwood Gardens




We recently led three classes at the famous Longwood Gardens in Kennet Square, Pennsylvania.

Longwood Gardens, one of the most wonderful gardens in the world, was the former home of Pierre S. DuPont, part of the wealthy DuPont business family. They have a world-class water garden and the largest green wall in North America among other magnificent attractions.  I encourage everyone to come and explore this magical place.



Matthew Ross, Director of Continuing Education at Longwood, approached me to develop some classes based on my love of the Yucatán Penninsula of Mexico and the influence it has had on my work in Beverly Hills.




The first class, Yes, Yu-ca-tán

We told the story of Henequen or Sisal fiber in the Yucatán.


Known locally as green gold, it fueled the economic growth of the 19th century making the city of Mérida, for a short time, home to more millionaires than any place in the world.



Students selected their own colorful hand-woven sisal tortilleros, or tortilla warmers, from Mérida to use as an armature.




Colored braided sisal twines and raw henequen fiber were materials to make flowers and woven braided loops to add to the floral bouquets.



The class was enthusiastic creating Yucatecan flavored hand-tied bouquets.




The second class,  Tropical Tiles

We created tropical planters using the local “Pasta tiles” also known as encaustic tiles.

This is a type of concrete tile that has been made in the Yucatán for hundreds of years.



We assembled planters from the pasta tiles for students to select from.



Then we created tropical planters using an assortment of exotic orchids, bromeliads, and succulents.



We shared tips on how to attach the Tillandsias or air plants so they appear to be growing in nature.  We discussed how the orchids and, the bromeliad plants can be styled to have a natural effect.  Then students let their creativity flow.



It was so interesting to see all the different variations created by the students.




The Third class   “Get on the A-List”

the focus of this class was on special events and larger arrangements.

First, I shared images of the party and film work that I have done in Los Angeles.

Then we created suspended pieces and tall centerpieces using Accent Decor’s amazing containers.



We demonstrated how to use unwoven sisal rope fibers sculpted over a PVC pipe canopy frame.

Here we are creating decorative caps from Tillandsia xerographica, Sabal palmetto palm, and dried water lilies.



All the years I have grown water lilies, I never knew you could dry them in Silica gel. Thank you to all the horticultural interns who dried these beauties for the class. Look at the color from this dried flower. Amazing!



Then,  we worked on the components of making a long table decoration.

We discussed the importance of event lighting and how metallic finishes capture the light in an evening party setting. These round metal sphere forms from Accent Decor were painted gold.



These Exotic Sunanda Vandas,  this variety is called Lava, were used in bud vases to meander down the table.



photo Longwood Gardens

These gorgeous and fragrant Miyabi Garden Roses, in the foreground, were developed by the breeder, Keiji Kunieda in Japan at Rose Farm Keiji and are now being grown at Alexandra Farms, in Bogotá, Colombia.  Alexandra farms also supplied the David Austin roses, Darcy, Juliet, and Tess,



Using Accent Decor vases, we showed how using a simple votive candle becomes a beautiful element to the design.



Then each of the students made a floral napkin ring that can be used as a cocktail ring favor for party guests.



The students enjoyed this fun cocktail ring idea.



Here we are adding the final touches to the tall centerpieces.


I was so happy to share my experiences this weekend and wanted to thanks all the wonderful students.



The following Monday before Longwood Gardens opened, Matthew Ross introduced me to Tim Jennings, Senior Gardener responsible for Longwood’s outdoor Waterlily Display.



They invited me to have a “Bucket List Experience”, to wade in the Victoria Water lily ponds.

There are 2 known species for these water platters, not referred to as lily pads, and only a few hybrids, one being the famous Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’




Beyond the gigantic scale and amazing beauty, there are so many interesting things about this plant.


For one, the flowers open for the first time at dusk. The flower is female, white, and strongly fragrant like pineapple. The second night, the same flower opens pink and is male. This plant is one that I hope to grow in my pond in Mexico someday.


The waterlily collection was a religious experience for me.

Make a point to visit remarkable Longwood Gardens.