Going Orange

Peggy Zablotny displays her cosmo seeds, all of which she harvested last fall.

If you are on the receiving end of Peggy Turner Zablotny’s annual bookmarks, then you already know the power of the petal. Each year, Zablotny mails out bookmarks, to which she attaches personally harvested seeds from her garden. She simply wants to share the seeds with family members, friends, and clients, because she feels that it is a good way to communicate. This year’s seeds come from the Klondyke cosmos, a vivid, orange flower that blossoms at three to four feet tall.

a&i_fob-peggy-zablotny_4mvt-with sun and rainZablotny’s well-known botanical collages are composed using hand-pressed flowers from her garden. After choosing the flowers, she presses them on a custom-made press, catalogs them, and fits them together into one piece of art. She describes this process as “intuitive,” because she has been doing it for almost twenty years now. After Zablotny completes a piece, she photographs it and has it reproduced in Boston as an IRIS (giclée) print that reveals as much of the true color and texture of the flower petals as possible.

Zablotny has always loved cosmos; she grows a variety of species in her lush garden, which she often incorporates into her artwork. Last year was an especially prolific year for her garden, as her harvest yielded more seeds than she knew what to do with. Even after mailing an estimated 1,000 letters, each with fourteen seeds attached — in the spirit of 2014 — Zablotny’s box of seeds remains full. This box contains seeds from all of her annual flowers, including an assortment of cosmos and sunflower species, a pouch of zinnia seeds, and many other types of seeds, all of which vary in color, height, shape, and size from one another and give her art the vibrancy she seeks.

While mailing 1,000 letters seems like a daunting task, collecting countless seeds is assuredly more work. Zablotny’s “labor of love” brings her into her garden every day. “It’s what I do,” Zablotny stated simply. “I deadhead the flowers all summer to prolong the blooming, and then at some point I stop deadheading to collect the seeds.”

After all of her hard work, Zablotny simply hopes that her cosmos seeds will “grow for other people, who will continue to grow and share them, and together we’ll turn the world orange.” With 14,000 seeds gifted just this year, it’s probable that our little Island will be sporting quite a bit more orange in the near future, thanks to Peggy Turner Zablotny’s generosity, and the power of her green thumb.

tagged in Peggy Zablotny

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