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Wing Haven symposium includes hands-on sessions

Aloe recipe
Aloe recipe Baylor Chapman

Baylor Chapman is on a mission to bring gardens – at least in miniature form – indoors.

Think of them as your grandmother’s “dish gardens” with a modern twist.

An avid gardener and floral designer, Chapman has collected 100 of her striking ideas into “The Plant Recipe Book” (Artisan, 2014) with step-by-step instructions to enable even the most brown-thumbed among us to create beautiful arrangements of live plants.

She will share her expertise during two hands-on design sessions sponsored by Wing Haven gardens in Charlotte. It’s part of the 13th biennial symposium to benefit Wing Haven, “Continuing the Legacy: Bird Dreams and Verdant Themes,” to be held Oct. 21-22.

Fresh cut flowers are great decorating features, Chapman says, but grouping entire plants, roots and all, in unusual and attractive containers can transform indoor spaces from average to outstanding.

The “recipes” in her illustrated book are organized alphabetically by plant, covering most popular varieties and their soil, light and water requirements.

In a telephone interview from her office at Lila B. Design in San Francisco, Chapman spoke of the living design concept and how it can be applied to everyday homes.

Q. How did you discover your love affair with living arrangements?

A. I started making the transition from cut arrangements to container gardening while I was in school for garden design and later when I worked as a gardener. Cut flowers do give instant gratification, but then I realized that if you wanted flowers to really last, they needed to be planted. I learned tricks to make various plants look like they’ve been living together compatibly for a while. I learned that you’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to designing wonderful living centerpieces.

Q. What kinds of materials can you use?

A. Absolutely anything! I love the idea of using repurposed, sustainable ingredients. Once you find the plants you want to use, think about what you can plant them in – recycled cookware, a basket, box or canvas bag lined with plastic, a ceramic dish, to name a few. Or maybe you’ve got a container that inspires you, so you start the other way around. You can easily find things around the house to use for “garnish.”

Q. What demonstrations will you be doing in Charlotte?

A. It’s going to be a very experiential workshop. Wing Haven is supplying all the materials, including the plants, and the people who sign up will play in the dirt under my guidance. I’ll be making several arrangements during the session. Hopefully they’ll be inspired by what they see and hear. Everyone will go home with two living arrangements they’ve made themselves.

Q. To whom do your “plant recipes” appeal the most?

A. I think anyone who wants to bring nature indoors would find this type of gardening appealing. But it also has a great application for older people, for example, who may no longer be able to physically manage the rigors of gardening outdoors. And condo and apartment dwellers who don’t have their own patch of ground – they can create miniature gardens indoors. And best of all, living plant décor is not only less expensive than cut flowers, but it’s sustainable.

Want to go?

The 13th biennial symposium to benefit Wing Haven Gardens, “Continuing the Legacy: Bird Dreams and Verdant Themes,” will be held Oct. 21-22.

Michele Raffin, president of Pandemonium Aviaries near San Francisco and author of “The Birds of Pandemonium,” will speak on her transformation from high-tech business executive to conservationist. Cocktail event begins at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 in Wing Haven Garden, 248 Ridgewood Ave. Limited to 100 guests; $75 per person.

Michele Raffin and Baylor Chapman will discuss their passion for conservation and sustainability on Oct. 22; check-in begins at 8:45 a.m. at Charlotte Country Club. Space is limited;.$95 per person.

Chapman offers two hands-on design sessions, 2-3:30 p.m. and 5:30-7 p.m. in Wing Haven Nursery. Space is limited to 20 per session; $140 per person.

For more information, visit winghavengardens.com or call 704-331-0664. Registration deadline is Oct. 8.

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