Photo by Eric Striffler
Richmond native and Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Charlotte Moss is an internationally known interior designer and tastemaker who has written eight books. Her ninth book, Garden Inspirations, is slated for release on April 28, the same day she will appear at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for a lecture, book signing and luncheon in conjunction with the exhibit “Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower.”
Moss will discuss how gardens are incorporated throughout the home and will most likely share stories of growing up in Richmond’s West End.
Garden Inspirations Lecture & Luncheon with Charlotte Moss
Leslie Cheek Theater and Marble Hall at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Tuesday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
$70 (VMFA members $60), includes luncheon
Visit vmfa.museum for details and tickets.
R•HOME: Tell me about how your childhood in Richmond shaped your interest in gardening?
Charlotte Moss: It all started with my grandmother and my mother. [My interest] was probably more [from] my grandmother’s yard, memories of her bearded iris and long crape myrtle-lined driveway, and also seeing her fuss with it.
R•HOME: Among other things, your book chronicles the 25-year evolution of the 3-acre garden at your East Hampton, New York, home, Boxwood Terrace. How has the garden and your view of it evolved over time?
Moss: You start out with something that is based on what you know at that time. …. But just like everything else, your taste evolves. Traveling and seeing other things really opens your mind to possibilities. I think that’s what gardeners are all about — being optimistic and open to the possibilities. There are specific things I have seen in my gardening travels that I have tried to include in my own garden. It might be as simple as a fabulous ground cover I saw somewhere, or using more hornbeam, which is definitely a French influence.
R•HOME: Are you able to grow crape myrtle in East Hampton?
Moss: We actually have a fair amount of crape myrtle. We get a lot of sun. But hornbeams line the driveway, not the crape myrtle.
R•HOME: You are a busy woman. How do you find time to enjoy your garden?
Moss: This garden does not happen without a village of help — we have two crews: one does detail work and watering, and the other crew does weeding and staking. I like doing a lot of the detail work myself: I maintain a lot of the topiaries, I do the flowers for the house and a lot of work in the kitchen garden.
R•HOME: You say in the book that your garden has become more about green than about flowers over time. Why this shift?
Moss: Living in New York City and traveling as much as I do, there’s enough chaos and frenetic activity that I needed that peace in the garden. Peace to me was more green, more clarity and also a less demanding garden. I didn’t need anything else to demand more of me.
Photo by Charlotte Moss
Moss says creating floral arrangements is one of her favorite aspects of gardening.
R•HOME: What part of gardening do you most enjoy?
Moss: I really enjoy picking things and making arrangements for everybody. It is the fruit of your gardening. I also love taking my Black & Decker electric shears to my boxwood, or working on my topiaries with my clippers. That, to me, is a Zen moment. It’s just me and the tree, so to speak.
R•HOME: Tell me about how you bring the garden into your interiors. Having fresh flowers on hand is one obvious way – what are some others?
Moss: It happens when you don’t even know it’s happening. You find yourself drawn to things of a botanical nature, whether it’s a painting, a set of porcelain, the reading you do, fabric. I think once you are inclined and that is your interest, the garden will just find its way into the house.
Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower will be on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from March 21 through June 21. Co-organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and the VMFA, it is the first major American exhibition to consider the French floral still life across the 19th century. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for students and youth ages 7 to 17. Free for museum members. Visit vmfa.museum for details.