Artist and landscape designer Paula Hayes chose lilacs at the deli partly because they’re only in season for a few weeks, and partly because the scent reminds her of the country. In the end, she chose two bunches of lilacs and one allium. “Normally I don’t have cut flowers,” she said. “I try to keep things alive. Cut flowers are about color. It’s like a still life.” Inside the store, she found a bag of wasabi-covered goji berries. “You have to have treats when you give people flowers,” she said.
In the studio, Hayes unpacked her shopping and spread out the flowers, looking for the “right branch.” She concluded the lilac branches were different varieties, and at different stages of development. “This should create a little narrative,” she said. After trimming the branches, Hayes shifted to the double-mouthed glass vase she had designed herself. “To me it’s like a heart or something biological,” she said. She laid out the flowers and studied them. She put two stems in the vase and adjusted them. “They really seem to have a relationship,” she said. “When you’re with flowers, you want to see them from all different angles.” She scattered the goji berries on one side of the table. “They look like seeds,” she said. The arrangement began to read from right to left: seed, bloom, decay. She adjusted the branches slightly. She walked around to view the table—now covered with petals, branches, and goji berries—from another angle. “You know,” she said, “the whole setting is nice.”