Sound Garden: 3 Feet High and Rising

Welcome to the D.A.I.S.Y. AGE!  This week on Sound Garden I am inspired by yet another of my desert island discs called 3 Feet High and Rising, from the “old school” hip-hop group De La Soul.  As with many of my selections, this 1989 album made its way onto just about every laudatory list out there as one of the “greats” and “essentials” – Rolling Stone, Source, Village Voice – the critical acclaim goes on and on.

3 Feet High and Rising is the debut album from the heady, yet wacky trio De La Soul and is still considered not just their opus, but an album that marked the zenith of the short-lived (but musically rich) era of hip-hop before gangsta rap came to dominate.  This album carries a primarily positive message and De La Soul (suburban guys from Long Island) were branded as a “hippie-hop” group because of their jovial, “smell the roses” approach.  They included a track called on the album called, D.A.I.S.Y. Age (DAISY = “da inner sound, y’all”) which served to cement the “flower children” characterization.   There are some more confrontational songs on the album, such as the track “Ghetto Thang,” which bemoans the struggle of the inner-city, but mostly Mase, Posdnous and Dove rap about spreading love, girls, fashion and enjoying life.  All this set against a theme of a ridiculous, fake game show.  I could continue to describe it all to you, but even as I write, I realize how preposterous it must all sound.  BUT, PEOPLE, THE MUSIC IS SO GOOD AND SO INVENTIVE.  Just go get it and your life will simply be that much better.

The album’s cover art was done by Toby Mott, the founder of the British Art Collective, “The Grey Organisation.”  The “GO” were a group of multi-media artists who burst onto the New York scene in the 80’s and participated in the street art zeitgeist of the time.  Toby described having De La Soul lay down on the floor on their backs and photographing them for the cover while balanced on a step-ladder (the days before Photoshop!).  Toby recently said, “The intent of the design of De La Soul’s, 3 Feet High and Rising LP cover is to be new and bright, with the overlaying of the fluorescent flowers and text reflecting a synthetic pop cartoon look […] This is a move away from the prevailing macho hip hop visual codes which dominate to this day.”  There is a 2013 exhibition planned of Toby’s album art work from this period, including original sketches and memorabilia from 3 Feet High and Rising.

Follow along with me after the jump, as I create a bright, spring “field flower” arrangement and demonstrate a technique for working with branches. -Sarah

From Left: kumquat, hellebores, daffodil, anemone, variegated geranium


From left: French lavender, forget-me-nots, butterfly carnation, calendula


THE TOOLS: small hammer for branches, floral knife, floral clippers



To allow spring branches or any, tough, woody stem to hydrate you need to split them open, exposing the softer, inner flesh to the water.  Splitting the branches also provides greater surface area for the stem to “drink.”  First, cut the branch at a nice, sharp angle.



Then, take a small hammer and simply pound the base of the stem a few times.  You will start to see the outer layer split away, revealing the more absorbent inner stem.  Take care not to complete macerate the stem, but don’t be afraid to really split it.  Woody stems and branches prefer warm water, so if you are conditioning them or using them by themselves, fill up a vase or bucket with warm water, hammer the stems open and plunk them in.  They will “drink” more when the water is warm as it will soften the stems even further and allow the water to travel up to the blooms or fruit.

For the purposes of my mixed arrangement, I started with a funky flowered tin vase.  I placed kumquat branches and variegated geranium in to form a sturdy structure of foliage.  Because the branches are fairly heavy and tend to flop over, it is helpful to cut them short and use them low in the vase.  The design concept is a “free love” gathering of blooms.


I added hellebores and French lavender, looking fresh-picked from a nearby field.



And there’s that saturated yellow from the daffodils and calendula! I placed these featured elements front and center and clustered them together for added punch.  Juicy purple anemones provide a solid background for the yellow stars of the show.



I scattered around the blue, forget-me-nots and butterfly mini-carnations to highlight the wildflower theme.



Such a fresh and sunny arrangement!






OH, that butterfly carnation is so lovely and delicate.


Want to change your mood?  Your day?  Your decade?  Throw on 3 Feet High and Rising.  Your booty will shake and your spirit will be lifted.  It might even inspire you to create a bright, spring flower arrangement!  Join me back here in two weeks for another edition of Sound Garden where I will continue this foray into bright color.



  1. Inspiration can be found anywhere! This is so cute and such a great idea.

  2. Fantastic post! One of my favorite albums, and now to see it reimagined as a floral arrangement — just brilliant!

  3. MarT says:

    But it should have daisies in it…three is the magic number…

  4. Sarah says:

    @mart: absolutely! i fudged it with the calendula and their daisy shape.

  5. Amberly says:

    So beautiful and so whimsical! Love the hellebores and butterfly mini carnations. (They are totally new to me!) Love these posts so much! :)

  6. Roger Riddle says:

    Wow! Inspiration from one of my favorite Hip-Hop albums! This was a really fun read, and a beautiful arrangement by you.

    Best wishes.

  7. Doug says:

    Great post! I loved that album — practically wore out the vinyl!


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