botanicals feat

Exclusively for Our State, Anna Passarelli used the tools of her trade — both stemmed and sharpened — to create interpretations of landscapes across North Carolina.

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Landscape photo by Scott Hotaling • Floral photo by Charles Brown

 

Max Patch Mountain // Hot Springs

In the frigid months of winter, the hues of blue give way to lavenders, grays, taupes, and golds, as freshly fallen snow stealthily claims the ridges, valleys, peaks, and forests of the Pisgah National Forest.

Mountain Mirror

Tinted peaks find a perfect pairing in purple gomphrena and lavender veronica, and what better than snow-on-the-mountain foliage to echo the frozen mounts? In a cherished piece of North Carolina pottery, white roses lend a soft, pillowy aspect of winter’s hush, but the diminutive spikes of grape hyacinths, which spring from bulbs the size of a pinky fingertip, speak of the spring to come.


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Landscape photo by Ned Leary • Floral photo by Charles Brown

 

Edenton Bay // Edenton

A spectrum of sunrise casts the graceful landing
of Canada geese in silhouettes as dark as the bald cypress trees behind them. Calmed at dawn, the bay water temporarily ruffles and laps at ancient roots.

Bay Blooms

A bouquet of blues, silvers, and oranges is garlanded with ribbony silk strands custom dyed in Charlotte to match the flowers’ hues. A forager with a master’s degree in horticulture, Passarelli gathered the deep purple privet berries from the NC State University campus and the rusty-colored sedum from a friend’s garden. The state’s higher altitudes encourage the heavy, nodding heads of peachy dahlias, a fluffy contrast to the upright sternness of a cattail. Fitting, too, for the watery image opposite, is the eucalyptus species “moon lagoon.”


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Landscape photo by Jimmy Wiilliams • Floral photo by Charles Brown

 

MacNair’s Country Acres // Raleigh

On 280 acres just minutes from downtown Raleigh, a pair of mares greet each other and the day, their coats unwitting mirrors of the moody gray fog and earthen brown fence.

Stablemates

What better to mirror horses than a boxy container made from weathered barn boards? Passarelli finds many plant species in backyards — her own and others’. Evidenced here by bursting bittersweet berries, cotton bolls, rose hips, and nandina leaves crowning roses named — what else, to match our equine theme? — Polo. The narrow-leaved Kay Parris magnolia leaves come from Weston Farms, breeder of specialty magnolias, and is a variety beloved for the rich, velvety brown on the leaves’ undersides.


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Landscape photo by Tommy White • Floral photo by Charles Brown

 

Blue Ridge Parkway // Blowing Rock

Stark sentries, winter-bare trees on the Blue Ridge Parkway seem to encircle one another as protection against the season of snow. Their symmetrical beauty in a monochrome landscape speaks of endurance, and winter’s stillness.

Twinned Motifs

Coolly colored — but hardly cold — multi-petaled beauties of bursting peonies and roses are massed in a silver vessel. Here, too, find spiky, stalky, fall-blooming clematis and astilbe amid the silvery elegance of dusty miller and eucalyptus.


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Landscape photo by Emily Chaplin • Floral photo by Charles Brown

 

Currituck Beach Lighthouse // Corolla

Creating a contrast in soft curves and defined perpendiculars, dawn gilds a dune in the far northeastern corner of the state. Like the sun, a landscape of sand and sea oats is both seasonless and timeless —unchanging, yet forever shifting.

Shoreside Echo

Creating a contrast in soft curves and defined perpendiculars, dawn gilds a dune in the far northeastern corner of the state. Like the sun, a landscape of sand and sea oats is both seasonless and timeless —unchanging, yet forever shifting.

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Kelly is a contributing editor at Our State. She is the author of By Accident and the novels Now You Know, The Last of Something, Even Now, and How Close We Come, winner of the Carolina Novel Award and an alternate selection of Book-of-the-Month Club. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in Greensboro.