Clinton Smith’s ‘The Romance of Flowers’

Veranda Romance of Flowers COVER

I am certain that most people who work in interior design – either as designers themselves or as members of the press who chronicle our work — have a fondness for flowers, for flowers are as integral a part of an interior as furnishings and art.  The color of flowers, the scale and silhouette, often in juxtaposition, can work magic to enliven a room with any number of moods – including passion and intrigue. The effect can be alchemical.

That is the premise of Veranda editor Clinton Smith’s new book, ‘The Romance of Flowers’, with page after page of rooms which include a wide variety of blossoms that all call to mind affairs of the heart….


Succulents, anemone and ranunculus combine in a study of green and white

“White is not a mere absence of color; it it a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red and as definite as black.”

~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton

In chapters as loosely organized as many of the pleasingly casual bouquets, Smith’s book showcases a range of floral designs — each centered on an emotional premise: glamour, romance, exuberance, simplicity, and honesty to name a few.

Of particular interest to me is the chapter titled ‘Simple, Honest, Effortless’, in which the clean architectural arrangements that speak to my personal design aesthetic are highlighted.


Yet there are color schemes and stylish vignettes that would inspire anyone with an interest in flowers to experiment with new ideas in their own home — which marks this volume, at least for me, as a great success along with it’s contemporaries from the likes of Bunny Williams, Charlotte Moss, and Carolyn Roehm.


Glenn Gissler Flower Shopping

After receiving my copy of the book, I was inspired to visit New York’s Flower District (just 3 blocks from my design studio) to see what might look good at my Thanksgiving table. It requires an early morning expedition, but if you’ve not had an opportunity to visit any one of the many storefronts on West 28th street between 6th and 7th avenues, you should. It’s a paradise of color and visual stimulation teaming with creativity (and characters!)

Here are a few of the arrangements I created for my still- pretty-new-very-old-house from the morning’s bounty.


Orange ranunculus asiaticus paired with mountain ash branches play well off the terra cotta wall above the mantel in my office/library


open peonies

lactiflora cultivar, or ‘Mrs Euclid Snow’ peonies in a Christopher Dresser vessel.

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2 shades of purple lisianthus mixed with ferns from my property and Gomphocarpus physocarpus (commonly called ‘hairy balls’) in Alvar Aalto’s iconic ‘Savoy’ vase.

open ronuclus

Subtle color changes characterize the architectural rhythm of a single ranunculus blossom


Whether you’re a fan of deliriously abundant Vermeer’esque arrangements, or a devotee of Axel Vervoordt’s less-is-more sensibility, Clinton Smith’s ‘The Romance of Flowers’ would make the perfect gift for any aesthete on your holiday shopping list.

Which reminds me — there are only 24 shopping days left until Christmas. I’d better get cracking!


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