“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”
Claude Monet had a passion for colorful blossoms that impacted and shaped the world of art. Sarah Swinson Shell of Fern Studios is like minded; however, vases are her canvas. When asked where her love of flowers comes from, she replies, “Because I grew up in my mother’s garden and rode horses in the country, the outdoors has always been a big part of my life. I officially started as a florist in the garden city of Savannah, but my fondness for arranging flowers began as a child, making daisy crowns in my backyard.”
My mother, the late Betty Vardell, or “Bee,” as my children so lovingly remember her, also blossomed in her love for flowers. She used the garden as her artistic palette. She spent hours selecting plants from local nurseries, planning her beds, and mixing the right nutrients in the soil for perfect growth. Each plant was a building block, and each flower was a brush stroke.
Miniature boxwood hedges meandered behind well-defined brick borders encasing an array of color in every season. Well-clipped fig vines became backdrops amid textural foliage so the eye could move whimsically, catching the heart of the artist. Subsequently, symmetry was often surrendered to surprise, and joy was born from the soil. When I think of my mother, I envision her in a wide brimmed hat, tennis shoes, trowel and clippers in hand. And always close behind was my sweet, gentle father with the gardening hose to insure each small shoot was well watered to begin its addition to Bee’s garden.
We are fortunate to know artists like Sarah and Bee, who have surrendered their passion in the garden — arranging the order of God’s beauty for us to feast our eyes and enjoy.