Susan Swanson’s silk flower arrangements personalize homes year round.
It’s a defining characteristic of life in New England: the seasons change around us, and we experience the best and worst of all four. It’s not surprising then, that New Englander’s find the rhythm of their year and the inspiration for their lifestyles in nature’s cyclical calendar.
But while some of us grumble about trudging through snow or swimming through heat, Susan Swanson joyfully takes to her flower-filled workshop regardless of the weather. Fueled by the changes in the air, she sets about creating silk flower wreaths, baskets, swags and centerpieces that, despite their delicate appearance, stand up to any of the elements nature delivers.
In her East Greenwich, R.I., shop, The Green Door, Swanson’s enthusiasm for the natural world bursts from every corner. Step inside this rambling old Main Street storefront and you will find a cornucopia of gifts and goods for the quintessential New England lifestyle displayed throughout several rooms. Beyond the jewelry, the housewarming gifts, the home decor and the children’s toys, The Green Door’s real showstoppers are its silk floral arrangements.
So realistic are these flowers that the whole space has the feeling of an English hothouse. Says Swanson, who only selects the highest quality, botanically accurate blooms, “I’ve fooled many customers who have walked into The Green Door thinking it is a live florist shop.”
In New England, decorating your door is a whimsical form of seasonal celebration that extends beyond the traditional holiday wreath, which explains why Swanson stays busy making pieces year round. “In many cultures the front door is thought to be the ‘mouth’ of the home that opens to greet family and friends,” Swanson notes. “Today, especially in New England, we give our doors importance with welcoming decorations that reflect our interpretations of the changing seasons.”
For Swanson, every door presents an opportunity to be playful and personal, and that kind of whimsical individuality is bound to stand out. “Just as you choose the clothes you wear, the way you dress your front door reflects your personal expression,” she says. “It is the ultimate way for your home to grab attention.”
Article published in 2014-15.