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“Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.”

Luther Burbank

You win my heart immediately with a gift of beautiful flowers. no baby breath filler, please.

I have a portfolio of flower pics that I need/want to share with you.  Unfortunately, they’re not scratch ‘n’ sniff. On the other hand, they require no water.

Maybe it began with my dance recitals.  Receiving flowers was the frosting on the cake for those events.  I remember preferring what was called then an “”  In Europe it was called a tussie mussie.  My mother thought they were too expensive, so I didn’t get one often.  That didn’t stop me from wanting one and letting Mom know frequently how beautiful how thought they were.  She was largely unmoved.

old fashioned bouquet guaranteed to make a young dancer happy!

My floral history

In the early 80’s I traveled daily from Thousand Oaks to the Flower Mart in downtown LA to take an 8 week class in flower design.  It was pretty predictable but served to whet my appetite for some design instruction  a little wilder.  I traveled to the English countryside to take a month long class at the Constance Spry School of Flowers.  It was substantial and challenging. On weekends, I ventured into London to visit as many flower shops as I could.  England is the land of abundance when it comes to over the top arrangements.  They’re billowy, full-throated, natural looking and fabulous. Greens from the hedgerows form the basis of most bouquets. We’d just step outside of our classroom.  The hedgerows provided an unlimited source of greenery.

The Influence of Japan

Japan showed me that less can be  more.  One perfect bloom in one perfect container can be a show stopper and make a power seasonal statement.   I thought the fresh flowers for sale in the shops were so perfect, that they must be artificial.  With a single bloom, you get to focus on the miracle that each flower is. I was eager to try this way of incorporating flowers in my home.  I wouldn’t win a competition, but I liked it!  Plus, you really need not buy a lot of flowers!

I wonder if bees take any notice of the flowers they’re entering.  I hope so.  It would make their job much more pleasant.

ranunculous bouquet

autumn leaves in ceramic cup  (arrangement by Dianne)

The pristine perfection of a white water lily.

Iris at pond’s edge in spring

the always captivating water lily

Camelias are the winter flower in Japan.


David Austin roses

epidendrums blossoming  at Santa Barbara orchid grower

apple blossoms in Norway

beloved hydrangeas, rainy season flower in Japan

simple fall arrangement for wall.

Tortu in Takashimaya

The French flower shop owned by Christian Tortu of Paris that was on the first level of the now closed department store on 5th Ave., Takashimaya, was for years, my go-to first stop when I came to the big city.   Each time I walked into that space, I would take in a deep breath then drown in its beauty.  I liked just hanging around there, watching  the clerks fill their orders, while trying hard not to look like I was gawking, which of course I was.  The clerks, true New Yorkers or maybe Parisians, paid little attention to me.  Everything in that space managed to intrigue me.  Each season was celebrated as well as anticipated.  The flowers were in a class of their own.  I’d come to see the  freshest and most unusual varieties of flowers, the containers, the use of branches, the blend and contrast of colors etc.  I’d always leave inspired. When Takashimaya closed, that thrill vanished as well. It was a big loss.

Christian Tortu flower arrangements.

When we first moved to California, I could not believe the varieties and the abundance of flowering plants in the nurseries.  I could not believe that pansies are a winter flower here, planted in the fall!  I was introduced to primroses.  Long elegant stalks of dendrobiums arrive before Valentine’s day,  very affordable, and always with an impact. Masses of orange poppies and blue lupine pop up everywhere after a series of rainstorms.

I’ve always love fields of wildflowers.  My New England background.  Fields of daisies, Queen Anne’s lace and black eyed susans adorn almost all vacant fields in season.  Their appearance means it’s summer!

I’ve worked in a few flower shops. A floral designer in a shop had to be fast.  I like to linger and move at my own speed. My mind goes into another zone. They tolerated me, but my output wasn’t so good.   Not so good if you’re in business to turn a profit.  These days, I buy flowers at the farmers market, or at nurseries and enjoy them just at home. That way, I only have to please myself. There’s no ticking clock.  I like to always have fresh flowers around me.  It really does bring a room to life!

My motto:

“Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.”…Luther Burbank



Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Eleanor Moriarty says:

    Beautiful photos arrangements. I did a lot of plantings where I live over the years. Springs shows summer and Fall. Impressed with your pursuit of learning of arrangements in different cultures. Xo

  • I love flowers as much, Dianne, and vicariously experienced your sauntering through Takashimaya’s in London. So sad they’ve closed! I, too, don’t like the pressure to move quickly while arranging, but I’m always delighted when arrangements effortlessly come together in no time, kind of like jazz improvisation. The slow, meditative placement of things is more my speed though, incorporating two things I cherish so much: beauty and balance. Your Nature pics are always refreshing, but my fave here is your arrangement of autumn (Japanese maple?) leaves. More of your own arrangements, please! You’ve got the eye for it.