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Cut Flowers with Susanna Gamble

Allen and SusannaSusanna Gamble is a flower arranger in Carmel, California. I admire Susanna's arrangements because she truly puts the bounty of nature to work in her arrangements. I visited with Susanna about her skill. Here are some excerpts from my conversation with her.

Allen: Susanna, how long have you been arranging flowers?

Susanna: I have been arranging flowers all of my life, but we've been doing the flower farm for 18 years.

Allen: Really? Has it been that long?

Susanna: That's a long time.

Allen: Gosh! It's a gorgeous place.

Susanna: Thanks.

Allen: And that really leads your designs, the farm and what's blooming at any given time.

Susanna: Right. We specialize in garden roses. Got addicted somewhere along the way to garden roses. They are so wonderful!

Allen: That's easy to do. What kind of an arrangement are you creating today?

Susanna: Well, it's for a party tonight. It's a bountiful harvest.

Allen: Wonderful theme.

Susanna: Some of the fruits that we have here - these are grapes, zinfandel grapes. These are blackberries, we have a few pears left, and some apples.

Allen: What about some of the flowers?

Susanna: It seems that most women want this 'Just Joey'.

Allen: These are just spectacular. Look at the size of them! So what do we need to do to get started?

Susanna: For a large arrangement like this you have to have the oasis higher than the container, otherwise everything sticks up like this - you want to get that nice, natural, from the garden look.

Allen: Right. That graceful flow. I think that's the look that everyone wants.

Susanna: And so, since we're going to be using heavy apples and things, I've secured this with some of this bowl tape (green florist tape).

Allen: Do you use any rules of thumb when creating these for a dinner party like keeping it low so that people aren't hidden behind all of the foliage.

Susanna: Right. I don't have a measuring tape here, but you shouldn't have it any higher than 12-14 inches so that you can see over the top.

Allen: Sure. And you're going out with it, making it a rectangle, following the shape of the table.

Susanna: Right.

Allen: Now this lazy Susan that you have this arrangement sitting on is very handy. And, of course, the little stool allows you to work on the arrangement with these long elegant wisps.

Susanna: Right, and two it allows me to sit down and view it like I am a guest at the dinner table talking to the person across the way.

Allen: Yes, you don't want it to crowd the view. Now these flowers, I just can't believe that your husband Carl grows all of these roses.

Susanna: He does.

Allen: Boy, aren't you lucky?

Susanna: I have the best life that anyone can have.

Allen: Well he does a magnificent job, I just can't get over the size of those roses. Now from the largest rose you move to an intermediate size, and then eventually to a smaller rose.

Close up of the FlowersSusanna: That's right, just like the bush grows them. The little buds are up higher than the full blown, and then the ones that would last about three or four days in a vase are next, and then your big full blown that are about ready to fall.

Allen: Lower, right. Just following nature, following the garden. So now you're adding how many of these intermediate sized roses?

Susanna: Oh, five to seven.

Allen: Well it's just looking great! What's next Susanna?

Susanna: Well, I guess I need the container.

Allen: All right. Lift it up… oh, it's just beautiful.

Susanna: Get those grapes to hang over.

Allen: OK, I'll hold them out. I see how the fruit has completed the fall harvest theme. It's beautiful.

Susanna: Thank you.

Allen: Blackberries, apples…

Susanna:apples, and grapes.

Allen: And of course the grapes, yes, gorgeous. Now you've used a single color family as the theme here, I see.

Susanna: Yes, I wanted to keep it simple so that it wasn't distracting, you'd see the roses and fruit.

Allen: Right, oranges, terra cottas, purples and a little pink.

Susanna: Um hum.

Allen: Marvelous! Susanna, this is just magnificent. What I love so much about your style is that you use so much diversity from the garden. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Susanna: My pleasure.