For the Coffee Table - 405 Magazine

For the Coffee Table

Inspiration blooms in Shane Connolly’s “A Year in Flowers.”


A Year in Flowers

By Shane Connolly, photos by Jason Lowe

(Clearview Books, $38.44)


As Spring Arrives And Colder Temperatures

Go Back Into Hibernation

– now is the winter of our discontent with freezing weather, so to speak – nature begins to arrange its most colorfully redolent displays of blossoms across its fields and vales. It’s easy to get caught up in appreciation for the beautiful, bountiful potential of flowers this time of year. That enthusiasm is easily transferred indoors and maintained beyond the boundaries of this spring season, and indeed throughout the year.

Shane Connolly has operated a namesake floral company in England for more than 25 years, travels the world to deliver lectures and holds a Royal Warrant of Appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales (which is kind of a big deal). So when an expert of his credentials says that decorating the home with flowers is easy and rewarding all the livelong year, he knows of which he speaks. And while it might seem a trifle incongruous for the man who provided floral arrangements for the royal wedding to give his book the subtitle “Inspiration for everyday living,” Connolly spends these 150-plus oversize pages making a solid case.

Select the proper container to accent certain characteristics. Add an occasional pop of contrasting color – sorry, “colour” – as a highlight. Incorporate mushrooms into autumn arrangements, an idea he borrowed from Flemish still life paintings … “A Year in Flowers” spans suggestions for all seasons through thoughtfully assembled arrangements selected on natural availability, sustainability and affordability.

Connolly is meticulous about listing the individual components of each display included, and while that’s not always entirely useful as a recipe since the blossoms he harvests from his English garden aren’t always readily available here in Oklahoma, the principles of his arrangements remain sound on either side of the Atlantic, and the photographs are intoxicatingly inspirational. Jason Lowe’s lavishly detailed images are as instrumental in telling the story as Connolly’s words.

There’s a charm and a sense of ritual in observing the changes of seasons through decorating our homes, altering our personal environments slightly to echo the cycles of nature. With a bit of pleasurable effort, and inspiration from an expert, any of us can avail ourselves throughout the calendar of the joys of a year in flowers.