21 Dec2011

Lila Acheson Wallace and Dewitt Wallace were the amazing couple that created and grew the Reader’s Digest publishing empire. In the 1960’s and beyond, she and her husband became generous philanthropists with a soft spot for the arts and education. The Metropolitan Museum of New York was one of her favorite beneficiaries and one of her most unusual and stunning gifts was a permanent endowment that provided for fresh floral arrangements in the main lobby of the Metropolitan, presumably for as long as the funds lasted. If for eternity, I would guess that such a fund would have to be valued at say $3-4 million dollars or more today, in order to fund say an annual floral budget in the neighborhood of $150-200,000! Gosh, a PHP150 million fund for flowers? The cynic in me would say I could start several top quality schools with that kind of money, but the other side of my brain would be seriously in awe of this woman (and husband who made it on their own efforts), and gave away much of their wealth for the enjoyment and edification of millions of total strangers… At any rate, over the recent Thanksgiving holiday week in New York, the massive arrangement in the center of the lobby was the one pictured above, and the four alcoves nearby had matching and equally massive arrangements, below next two photos…

I am sure it is relatively rare, but not unheard of, that some palatial homes today still have weekly fresh floral arrangements in their entrance halls, main rooms, etc. It seems wasteful in a way, but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. It all boils down to what you enjoy and what you can afford…

These arrangements above were of a massive scale, with branches, eucaplyptus, greens, hydrangeas, etc. From what I understand from a previous museum insider who was touring us that evening, the flowers are changed once a week (on Mondays when the museum is shuttered?) and so the flowers essentially have to be hardy and look good throughout the next 6 days…

Back at home, a combination of serendipity and curiosity led to this Marketman effort to create something similar, but on a smaller home scale… I happened to be at Waling-Waling looking for lilies when I ended up bringing home 6-7 foot long freshly delivered pussywillows and curly willow branches. I also had several bunches of fragrant eucaplyptus…

…which I combined with Dimasalang finds a couple of days later, giant deep purple milflores or hydrangeas, grown in the Mt. Province, purple and white lisianthus blooms and another flower whose name escapes me. They were all placed in an old ceramic garden plant holder.

The arrangement was placed on our Christmas candy or sweets bar…Most of this arrangement will keep for weeks, and you would have to replace only a few of the perishable flowers in order to keep this massive arrangement going through the Christmas holidays…



  1. Dragon (Melbourne) says:


    Happy holidays to you, Mrs MM, the Teen, Sister & the rest of your family!

    Wishing all the MarketManila readers a wonderful, safe, healthy, prosperous and joyous Christmas season!

    Dec 21, 2011 | 6:34 am


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  3. ami says:

    Beautiful arrangements. Plus the eucalyptus has the added bonus of repelling insects. I may not live in a mansion but we do have fresh flowers in our house weekly for our Sto Nino. Nothing fancy, just the common malaysian mums, chrysanthemums and lilies.

    Dec 21, 2011 | 8:34 am

  4. millet says:

    wow! your arrangement is truly stunning! i had to go back to the pictures to look at what was under the arrangement (yes, the flowers were THAT stunning) and now i see that it provided the perfect foil to all that red and white. ang galing, MM!

    Dec 21, 2011 | 9:37 am

  5. Betchay says:

    Wow! almost a perfect replica….I think I even like yours better with the red and white candies around! :)

    Dec 21, 2011 | 10:21 am

  6. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Stunning!! love your home version with the addition of colors..just lovely,my luxury is buying fresh flowers for our home which i think is so worth it!! i find this subject truly inspiring!!!

    Dec 21, 2011 | 12:39 pm

  7. sophie says:

    i love your arrangement MM, whoa i think much better, eye catching, stunning than the one featured earlier (hahahaha)… i love it, quite inspiring for me to continue having a flower in my small place.

    Dec 21, 2011 | 1:12 pm

  8. jack says:

    ang gaganda po ng flower arrangements. MM’s arrangement complements with the festive color of the sweets bar :)

    Dec 21, 2011 | 1:17 pm

  9. natie says:

    lovely colors! even lovelier since it’s surrounded by sweet tableau….so festive!!

    Dec 21, 2011 | 7:35 pm

  10. chinachix says:

    Breathtaking arrangements! Do you make Christmas-themed outdoor arrangements as well?

    Have a very merry Christmas and wonderful 2012 ahead!

    Dec 21, 2011 | 8:04 pm

  11. vicky says:

    I prefer your version, with all the colours. Great replica!

    Dec 22, 2011 | 2:38 am

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Fresh flowers are always the best! Hydrangeas are among my favorites. Thanks for sharing the story about the Wallaces. Happy Holidays, Mr. MM and family!

    Dec 22, 2011 | 4:32 am

  13. Junb says:

    Beautiful arrangement….love them!!!! Merry Christmas Everyone!

    Dec 22, 2011 | 12:56 pm

  14. lei says:

    i totally agree on the simple joy and beauty that flowers bring into anyone’s home.

    Dec 23, 2011 | 8:03 am

  15. sonny sj says:

    Merry Christmas to you MM, Mrs. MM, the Teen, the Crew and to all the MarketManila Family!!
    Stay safe during the Holidays!

    Dec 23, 2011 | 3:35 pm

  16. Lambchop says:

    It’s gorgeous!

    Dec 24, 2011 | 7:53 pm

  17. m filart says:

    ung isang flower po jan na hindi na mention ay agapanthus.

    thank you for inspiring me with your arrangements… very stunning!

    Apr 9, 2012 | 6:40 pm


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