Beautiful Botanica

| May 31, 2012 | 0 Comments

Even though I have been writing this column for 13 years, I always learn new things at every meeting of the Mission Hills Garden Club. The April meeting was no exception. Scott Northcote was host to 51 Garden Club members at Little Italy’s Botanica. (They used to be on the southeast corner of West Lewis and Stephens.)

Instead of stressing design principles, Northcote demonstrated his personal style with three different arrangements. His style is quite different from styles of other floral designers about whom I have written. The first arrangement began with a large glass vase whose interior Scott had wrapped with large leaves, giving the impression of a solid green vase. Northcote often uses leaves to cover the glass, thus hiding the stems and whatever structure he is using as well as keeping his materials in place. Most floral designers I know of place each stem individually. However, Northcote makes bunches a group of the same type of flower, which he then sets in a vase. It seemed to me that using flowers as a group instead of using each flower individually was somewhat like making a painting with a very fat brush. It creates an impact. Northcote says placing bunches of materials speeds the process of arranging; he may be making hundreds of arrangements for weddings on any given day. Saving time is essential. His workers follow his design almost like an assembly line.

For this demonstration, Northcote chose bird of paradise as his first material.

For this demonstration, Northcote chose bird of paradise as his first material. He added orange Protea with some green leafed stems (again in bunches) directly across from the bird of paradise. Continuing with the same color scheme, Northcote’s next addition was a clump of exquisite chartreuse anthurium flowers with bright red-orange stamens. Large leaves of philodendron lay across from the anthuriums.

Northcote’s second arrangement was my favorite. He began with a square tray on which he arranged three pairs of square vases; each pair was a different height. A few reddish-pink orchids sat on the small pebbles separating the square containers. Using blue hydrangeas, dark pink carnations, deep red dahlias, and hot pink gerbera daisies, each vase made a statement. Northcote let the stems show in this design, but because the blossoms clustered, the stems also made a statement through the glass and complemented the design.

Northcote’s final arrangement was a study in white and green. Four large white hydrangeas, each with a few leaves remaining, sat with their stems crossed making two “X” shapes in a clear stemmed glass vase. Five white roses went into the vase between two hydrangeas, and five more roses nestled across from the first five. White mums found their way into the vase. Carefully opening a spot in between roses and mums, Northcote added white parrot tulips with a leaf or two attached to a few. White freesias provided another texture. The arrangement’s final addition was a fuzzy “Dianthus Barbathus,” a flower related to the carnation (aka Green Ball or Green Trick). It grows in Holland, Israel, Ecuador, and Colombia. Naturally, I have fallen in love with it. These were not bunched but used as contrast to the various whites. The arrangement was quite lovely; I do love white flowers.

A wonderfully catered spread organized by Wally and Frankie Hartwell augmented the ambiance of the meeting. With interesting hors d’oeuvres, both hot and cold, cheeses, fruit, and drinks ranging from exotic coffee and tea to wine, no one should have gone hungry.

This month we will welcome the Urban Chickens. It is possibly one of the most entertaining meetings ever.  They are not a music group; they are chickens owned by Shelly Stewart. Stewart and her chickens will be at the Mission Hills church at 4070 Jackdaw between Fort Stockton and West Lewis. Meetings begin at 6 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. Members are free, and guests pay $10.00.

It is also time to join or renew your membership. Guests may use the $10.00 guest fee towards their membership should they decide to become members after the meeting. Members pay $35.00 for a year with benefits including all meetings (and accompanying refreshments), coffee or wine in the gardens of various members, and a ten percent discount at Mission Hills Nursery. It is $35.00 well spent.

Category: Life Style

About the Author ()

Barbara Strona is a native Californian who grew up in the Mid-West and Los Angeles. She and her architect husband, Carl, came to San Diego in 1968 and have lived in Mission Hills since early 1971. Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College with a major in English, and a minor in Art. She attended UCLA graduate school and received a General Secondary Credential. She taught English in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and at Point Loma High School. She has been a Realtor specializing in residential sales since 1984. Her passions include her job, reading, writing, foreign languages and foreign countries, animals (feathered or furry), theatre, and her family: husband, two adult children and two grandsons.