Coming Home

As much as I enjoy travel, nothing quite feels as comforting as coming back home. Refreshed from time spent away from the usual routines and inspired by all the new experiences and encounters, there’s an eagerness to settle back down and reboot life anew. Not a new life but the same one infused with new energy and ideas. It feels exciting and rich with possibilities.

In the familiar confines of home, surrounded by all the things that provide joy and/or motivation, I sit with a head full of thoughts and schemes. I look at innumerable photos and a slew of cryptic notes made hurriedly during my travels. Unlikely color combinations, creative products, newly discovered foods, ancient customs witnessed, styles and patterns of traditional clothing, architecture, music, gardens, home décor – everything is fodder for creativity. How to best implement what I’ve seen and learned in my garden, home, art and personal life is a thrilling challenge. As my eyes wander around home and garden, I see the results of what past travels have inspired. To others the connections may not be clearly apparent but its all there. Just with my own twist or interpretation.

Key features in my garden such as the espaliered fence of fruit trees, the lush vertical garden, the pergola with native wisteria sprawled over it are obvious examples but adapted to suit the location and climate. The checkerboard garden came from seeing a huge chess board installed in a garden in France – not directly related. The design of the walkway was inspired by a pattern of piping in a blouse worn by a woman selling fruit at a market in Sweden.

In recent years, the colors of the tulips that bring great cheer in the spring, are inspired by art works in various museums. The color choices have evolved over the years. No doubt they will continue to do so.

It is similar in the house. Colors, furnishings, meals and music stand testimony to how travel opens the mind and enriches lives.

My own art is influenced more subtly – I’m not always aware until much later how I’ve been influenced by the light, colors and styles of the landscapes seen.

Unlike how it is when I come home from a summer trip, a winter homecoming is a gift of time. No pressing garden chores await. While the garden is asleep, I have the luxury to take my time to think, plan, design, source, schedule, create.

I returned very early Tuesday morning just as the snow had begun falling. The drive home was slow as the roads were already icy. Now, with unpacking done, accumulated mail sorted, laundry completed, I’m at leisure to harvest what inspirations I’ve picked up from my trip.

As the garden lies coated in white, the bones are sharply visible – my imagination has free rein to think about new plants to introduce, edits to make, colors to experiment and, revel in a most spectacular garden that lives for the moment only in my mind.

Everything is possible.

I present my ‘blank canvas’ –

(c) 2024 Shobha Vanchiswar

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Prêt Pour Le Printemps?

Ready for spring? Of course you are! The season officially starts with the happening of the equinox on March 20. Open windows, put away blankets, swap out clothes, freshen up house … heck, redecorate. Bring in flowers, plant up the garden, prepare for celebrations and milestones. Easter, Passover, Mother’s and Father’s Days, Memorial Day, graduations, weddings, showers, birthdays – the list goes on. So much to look forward to. So much to do. Despite the eagerness and anticipation, it can feel somewhat overwhelming. A little inspiration, a splash of motivation is needed.

Enter the annual Lyndhurst Flower Show and Antique Show. Lyndhurst is a beloved treasure in my neck of the woods. I adore the house and, the grounds are absolutely sublime. And the river view! A total stunner. Well worth visiting at anytime but, there are seasonal events that quite simply put it at a much higher level. Aforementioned flower show is one of them. The beautifully proportioned and furnished rooms are spectacularly decorated by local florists. Each florist brings their unique artistry to appoint the spaces as they see fit. The visitor is promised an experience that will delight because after all we’re talking flowers here.

However, one gets more than that visual pleasure. Knowingly or unknowingly, we get to learn about colors, best combinations and complementary hues. This lesson can be extrapolated to the garden for planning new flower borders and beds. Sometimes a flower one never paid much attention to can be viewed in a new light and join the garden. Ideas abound in the flower show.

Indoors, it gives suggestions on how to translate the colors in our own homes and furnishings. I pick up novel ways to use flowers in the house. Because the florists are local, if you’re looking to hire one for an upcoming wedding or other event, this is an opportunity to review the style of several all at once in real time. Saves so much ‘interview’ time too! I heartily approve the decision to give area florists a chance to strut their stuff.

Armed with ideas and notes, move on from the flower show to the Antiques Show in the Carriage House – where one can get choice articles for both home and garden. You can pick up that elusive garden ornament, rare urn or add to your collection of period silver. Most times, all it takes is a single object to transform a space. Some of the best loved pieces in my garden are those I purchased at antique shows like this one. If your budget does not permit any purchase, you can still pick up more decorating ideas at this show. When the time is right, you will know exactly what you want and what will work best.

If these two shows are not enough, there is a plant sale! I feel giddy with anticipation when I’m at a plant sale. I invariably find plants I need but I secretly look forward to some impulse buys. A real guilty pleasure. And pretty harmless if one doesn’t get carried away.

By now, a visitor is more than likely feeling a bit peckish. A toothsome piece of cake, a flaky scone or a light sandwich accompanied by a strong cup of tea would hit the spot you think. Fear not, that situation has already been covered. High tea is served! Elegant, restorative and delicious. Exactly what you need right now. However did they know?!

Have I convinced you to catch spring fever by going to Lyndhurst April 6-7, 2019? Come on down! Shake off the winter apathy, envision your home and garden as you’d like them to be, grab your list, camera and note pad, pick up a friend or two to go with and, head to it. You’ll have yourselves a lovely time. Maybe we’ll even run into each other. And at that time you can thank me. So there.

Note: I’m sharing a few images of my garden as it looks right now. Spring is a stirring!

First Snowdrops!

In the greenhouse –
Orange blossom

(c) 2019 Shobha Vanchiswar

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