Elizabeth Karageorgevich: A princess’s green fingers to open our Handwork column
Kalenic market was full of flowers that day. My Instragram feed was full of photos of the flowers, and I liked every single one of them. Yes, I’m into flowers, but not ikebana, or the ones arranged to be laid onto graves, with lots of rough green leaves. I like my bouquets to look like they’ve come straight from the field.
I began my search, albeit a bit different this time. I was looking for a bouquet for a princess. Although I haven’t spent much time with princesses up until now, I felt like somehow, I knew what I was doing. I went straight through the alleys of cut flowers, into the endless array of seedlings. I spotted a particularly long and elegant lavender plant in a muddy plastic pot. In the pottery shop next door, I found a slightly elongated clay pot- and that was it! Perfect for the roof terrace of my tonight’s hostess. I grabbed a handful of hydrangeas on my way back and hurried to get ready for the visit.
I met princess Elizabeth at an art performance, a few times after at various shows and concerts, and finally at Kalenic market, while she was buying flowers and fish. That’s when she told me gardening was her hobby, that she loves flowers, and I should definitely come see her roof terrace. I accepted the invitation, she accepted to be on the cover of our Handwork column.
Handwork is where we’ll try and show a modern take on this old concept. We’ll look back, with all due respect, to the traditional patterns of our grandmothers, but look for new interpretations and possibilities- the ones we like to call “design” nowadays. Handwork is sometimes a hobby, a daily routine, a fancy lifestyle. For some, it becomes a source of extra income, and with lots of perseverance, talent, or a bit of fairy dust- it can become a virtuosity, a professional orientation, a successful company…
Princess Elizabeth’s roof terrace is a special place indeed, cozy and comfortable, with a romantic view of the old part of Belgrade. Our hostess was glowing in a blouse made of traditional Serbian linen with golden hand embroidery, and a pair of white jeans. “I thought I’d dress appropriately for the occasion! Handwork, right?”, she said while showing off the details of the virtuous needlework on her sleeves. Does anyone even do gold embroidery anymore? Can you buy gold thread in a store? I had always admired Chanel’s collections covered in such golden thread, gorgeously elaborate and somehow decadent. The one the princess was wearing was completely different: lively, flowing, authentic, possibly because it was sewn by peasant women with white hands and rosy cheeks, early in the morning, before the men woke up, like in the poems.
As this June night was one of the fist very hot ones, Elizabeth poured us fresh lemonade and served cold, dark red cherries. She spontaneously gave us the recipe, which starts with a lemon seed.
“Do you see the lemon tree back there? I just planted a pit and now we’re drinking lemonade! I blended two whole lemons, rind and all, and just added ice cold water. No sugar!”
As great as it was, I knew I wasn’t about to plant lemon pits at home, nor was I about to blend the dirty, greasy rind of supermarket lemons. For me, “Lemon tree” was always just the rock band, one I never listened to but knew it was important to know about.
This particular lemon tree, planted from a seed at the hand of a princess, in a roof garden in our chaotic metropolis, felt like a fairytale illustration came to life – a princess eats a piece of fruit, plants the pit, and makes a magic potion for curious visitors.
Except our princess isn’t the kind that helplessly waits for Prince Charming – more likely, she belongs to the corpus of women who pull strings, make miracles happen, rule kingdoms, and are regularly portrayed as witches and evil stepmothers, so knights in shiny armor beat them to a happy ending. Nevertheless, our hostess is a princess indeed, so we won’t doubt that for a second.
As we moved on, we stopped alongside the even more wondrous Bodhi tree. Walking through the mountains of Jamaica, the princess ate a rose apple and kept the pits. You know the rest. I suppose in the Proust questionnaire, when asked what she’s most proud of, Elizabeth would answer: when my Bodhi tree blooms!
We moved onto strawberries, tomatoes and culinary herbs, we ate cherry tomatoes wrapped into freshly picked basil leaves. When she finished showing us around, the princess returned to work- pruning her roses. We kept her company, chatting along while she skillfully cut off the wilted flowers, making room for new ones.
We had our cover story. Next time, she’ll join us in Our circle for a hearty chat. You’ll all be invited.
On my way out, after a firm handshake with Elizabeth, I took a cherry pit. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky. And I can serve my guests with refreshments of royal provenance.