Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 30, 2011---Irresistible stripes

So: Last night I dropped a single greenish-white hydrangea blossom into my green striped cruet and poked some feverfew flowers into the top of the hydrangea blossom, using it like a pin cushion.  Next to that Dr. Seussy creation above is the wine glass with leftover parsley and basil sprigs in it I'd set on the windowsill June 27.  THEN, this morning  I looked over at a bunch of vegetables John had harvested and a striped zucchini seemed to be begging to be moved onto the windowsill near that green striped vase. Hence ....well....see below. This windowsill "arrangement" will not be making the pages of Martha Stewart Living, but it makes me laugh!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 29, 2011---squash, peppers, rudbeckia

It's funny the way this arrangement evolved. It started with just maroon rudbeckia flowers and comfrey leaves. Then I added some bronze fennel, then a flashier rudbeckia flower, then baby squash and green peppers on sticks!  As time markers, the baby squash are best---first squash of the season.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 27, 2011---other?

So, what do you think? This is a) leftover parsley and basil immersed in the closest "vase"  available,  2) leftover parsely and basil immersed in the closest "vase" available, 3) leftover parsely and basil immersed in the closest "vase" available, or 4) other?

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011---poker mix

So here are yesterday's flowers "rearranged." I'm going to give them away this afternoon, so I needed a trowaway container. Where is one of those glass florist vases when you need one?! I could find nothing, so finally I threw away the last dregs of pretzels in an UTZ Poker Mix container, cut off the top half of it, and used it as my vase.  As I worked on this, I thought the arrangement wasn't much different from the Poker Mix---dribs and drabs of leftover materials that weren't going to result in anything of very high quality even when you combined them. But the arrangement turned out better than I might have hoped. It includes magenta celosia and orange cosmos weeded out of Flower Camp paths yesterday, pretty magenta snapdragons (I'm deciding they're easier to grow than I thought), a few stems of clary sage, a few stems of perennial sweet pea, two stems of yellow-flowering lismachia (I think that's its name), and some really pretty mauvy pink flowering tobacco, which you can't really see in the photo.  That should release its fragrance indoors tonight, and I hope it will waft around nursing home room like a dream, bringing my friend joy from he knows not where. 

Below is view through the bottom of the "vase." I love 1) the mix of green stems and magenta celosia stems and 2) the fact that you can see the TZ inscribed on the plastic. That's what's left of the UTZ inscription!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 26, 2011

This is yesterday's arrangement with today's morning light coming through it. It has less plant material in it than yesterday because I gave the love-in-a-mist flowers away. I still like just the butterfly weed/wood poppy foliage combination---orange and lime green.

This is a bunch of flowers, most of which I picked out of the paths at Flower Camp today (rescuing them before John sprayed the path with Roundup).  Too tired to arrange them this afternoon, so I just put the whole plastic pitcher of flowers in the windowsill!  I'll do something with them tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 25, 2011

This morning, I decided you couldn't see the pretty curve of the nigella (love-in-a-mist) blossoms in yesterday's arrangement, so I pulled the river oats out. Another change: as you can see, yesterday's daylily blossom has died. Who would use daylilies in an arrangement? Me! I love them, even though the blossoms of most daylilies live only a day (the blooms of some new cultivars actually live longer). Who cares about flower longevity if you're arranging for yourself (as opposed to arranging for paying guests in a hotel lobby)? Actually, when you use a daylily blossom, there are often gravid buds on the flower scape that are ready to bloom the next day anyway. And I LOVE the structure of daylily buds. No new bloom today, but maybe tomorrow. What I really enjoyed about this arrangement this morning wasn't blooms at all; it was the light through the wood poppy leaves.

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 24, 2011---butterfly weed, daylily, love-in-a-mist

I'm using this post as a reminder to myself that I like butterfly weed with red daylilies and blue love-in-a-mist. I'd already pulled off the love-in-a-mist/butterfly weed combination in the garden (letting love-in-a-mist seedlings grow up around butterfly weed), but today was the first day I noticed the orange butterfly weed/ red daylily combination and liked it. Actually, this is more complicated than it sounds, because although the three flowers are now blooming together (in time, not geograpy) in the garden, this is the second blooming of butterfly weed (I cut it back after first blooming around Memorial Day, to get this second flush), and most of my love-in-a-mist has stopped blooming and gone to seed. Only a few blue-blooming plants remain. Still, if I keep cutting back my butterfly weed to get secondary bloom, it will reliably bloom (second flush) with the red daylilies, and I want to make sure I keep them in proximity to each other. Of course, the way to pull this combo off more easily is to create it in the vase, not the ground! There are also some river oats and a wood poppy leaf in this arrangement.

In real life, this daylily is redder than it looks in photo. Here it looks like the regular, roadside daylily, which isn't as dramatic with butterfly weed as this redder variety.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 23, 2011

Marion David actually created these windowsill arrangements yesterday, but I'm just getting around to posting them today. Little vase on right includes black-eyed Susans and a sprig of cedar. Middle vase includes Queen Anne's lace, moiuntain mint, river oats, and clary sage. Vase on left includes Queen Anne's lace, bee balm, and butterfly bush. Marion says she's not a flower arranger, but she jumped on the chance to create not one but three windowsill arrangements, and they're all so pretty!  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22, 2011--elderberry

Giesela Carson created this arrangement. She's at Flower Camp with other members of the Women's Batteau Guild.  But that's only half the story. In addition to using elderberry flowers in her arrangement, Giesela created a gorgeous confection with them for breakfast. I'll post those photos later. For now, know only that Giesela dips clusters of elderberry flowers in an egg batter, fries them, then dips them in powdered brown sugar. Yummy.

There are also some crackerjack photographers in this group, and I've been picking as many brains as much as I can. What I learned from taking this photo, though, occurred almost by accident. I couldn't get Giesela's arrangement to show up against the busy background outside the window, so, even though she'd be on the other side of the screen (standing on the porch), I asked her to pose behind it.
That helped tremendously!

Below are photos sent me by Judy Morrill that I'm adding on June 23. First one is of elderberry flowers on foil waiting to be battered, second is of battered elderberry flowers being fried. I think someone who was present to eat these delectable fritters has photo of them browned and on a platter. I'll try to track down such a photo and add it later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21, 2011--feverfew

Window is open this morning---first day of summer---but I bet it won't be by this afternoon. This arrangement is all feverfew (with one small hosta leaf).  Seems the perfect flower for first day of summer.  I'm especially enjoying this particular feverfew, because I started it from seed in February. It's the kind with flowers that look like yellow-centered daisies, as opposed to the more common feverfew with all-white blooms that look like little mums. I like this variety, which I learned about from a friend, MUCH better than the mum-y variety.  Both smell like chrysanthemums, and I love the fact that their fragrance lingers on your fingers long after you've stopped fiddling with them.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20, 2011

Back in garden land, I had too many choices, which really made the arranging harder. I decided to just pick a few of my favorite things: crepuscule rose (a climber with small, apricot-colored flowers), blue campanula (weedy in some people's gardens but not too aggressive in mine), and one red hot poker stem. Most of the red hot poker flowers are too big for a little arrangement like this, but this one flower was relatively small. There's also one pretty stem of passion flower vine in this. Unfortunately, the passion flower itself, which was the most fragrant thing in the garden this afternoon, wound up in a different vase.

I wish I'd included the whole vase in the photo. It's a tall, green cruet. It's easy to fill (because it has a narrow neck) and nice and stable (because it has a relatively broad base).

This photo is our of focus, and the colors are off, but at least you can see the whole vase.  (Photo taken after the sun went down.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19. 2011--more beachy things

Today I tried my own beach arrangement. Slim pickin's here in the land of sand and sun, but it was sort of fun finding a couple of gaillardia flowers and then some juniper berries on the shrubs around the cottage. Also picked a couple of pieces of eleagnus (with their beautiful, buff-colored leaf undersides). My favorite, though, were the tops of some dead grasses that I bundled up like a broom and plopped into one of these "vases" bottom end up. The "vases" are jiggers, I think.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 18, 2011--beach flowers

Here is Linda Armstrong coming inside with flowers picked around her cottage at Nags Head.

And below is her windowsill arrangement in a tervis glass. It includes oleander, gaillardia (blanket flower), basil, and some grassy thing (not sea oats).  She had to work for it!  The gaillardia, she says, was "sittin' in the cactus. I didn't realize it [the cactus] would reach out and grab me!"  I, like Androcles, removed the inch-long cactus thorn from her foot.  Linda has now also learned the challenges of photographing arrangements in windowsills. We had to rearrange the porch furniture and take the screen out of the window to get a reasonable photo of this pretty combination. I particularly love the gaillardia, which seems to make other flowers look wild and wonderful no matter what it's combined with.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011---jaws of the whale

This morning I started fiddling with yesterday's arrangement---editing out leaves to the point that the stick began to look like a grotto---or maybe the jaws of a whale! Then I noticed the white petunia flowers had all lined up in a way that seemed to lead upward, so I decided to rotate the stick, orienting it upward the way it usually sits in the windowsill. The result was less than wonderful (see below), but all of this has taught me to do something I hadn't thought to do before, which is put a horizontal dish under my mountain laurel stick and use it as a container occasionally. I'm also going on a hike to get a new mountain laurel stick first chance I get, because my old one, much as I love it, has lost some of its grace as I've broken off its tips.

I do love using petunias as cut flowers! Their stems are weak and break easily, but the vining varieties have nice long stems and live a surprisingly long time in the vase.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16, 2011

This is a tiny little bouquet I made for my grandaughter's 5th grade graduation. I photographed it in windowsill as insurance (in case I didn't have time to do another arrangement today). It really is tiny (in a saltshaker) and in addition to the little red roses, it includes some green pearl bush seed pods. They're interesting because they're sort of shaped like jacks.  But I DID have time to do something else, although the only plant material calling me in the garden was some blooming knotweed and some vining white petunias. Cut them and brought them in just to see what I could do with them. They seemed to want to be horizontal, so I found the narrowest horizontal dish I could find, turned my mountain laurel stick sideways (the first time I've done that), and anchored the other stems under it. The result was pretty dramatic for a 5 minute effort!  Unfortunately, however, the most interesting thing going on in the kitchen windowsill right now is flies---more than a dozen of them that must have hatched last night.  I was swatting at them as I arranged. The flies aren't pretty, but their hatching is a summer phenomenon worth recording.  I think I see one in the photo!

I should edit the green knotweed leaf on the far right out of this arrangement. Funny how such things are easier to see in a photo than in real life.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15, 2011--poppy hitchhiker

This looks like a bad version of yesterday's arrangement, but actually, the only thing they have in common is the blue ageratum. Now that I've seen this photo, I'd tweak this in lots of ways, but what exists in current photo is mixture of money plant seed pods (I love the light coming through them), lilac seed structures (they're a beautiful bright green right now), blue ageratum, and a curly wisteria vine I picked several weeks ago (and have used in half a dozen arrangements since). As I looked through my camera lens, I also discovered there is a single poppy pod in this conglomeration, and I'm not sure how it got there! I've been harvesting poppy pods all day to dry, but, honestly, I had no idea one had snuck into this jug until I saw it there through camera lens.  I'm guessing it was in my hand (a leftover from previous harvesting) as I cut the lilac seed structures and entered the jug with them.

P.S. Notice the window is open. Yay!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 14, 2011---blue and green

The ageratum needed cutting back, which is why I had all these pretty blue flowers on hand. It's an annual ageratum called Blue Horizon that I learned about from Amy Hicks (who sells it in her bouquets at farmers' markets).  My stems never seem to get as long as Amy's, but I still love to grow this plant for cutting, because its flowers are such a clear, beautiful blue. They combine well with just about anything, but here I've been restrained (for me) and combined them with only one other plant material--some parsley seed heads.  You can hardly see them in the photo, but in real life their texture and acid green color adds lots.  Color-wise, this arrangement seems to reflect what's going on outside---much cooler and the air is almost crisp compared with last week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13, 2011---high summer

This is just a little jar of summer-blooming stuff. Dropped it into jar almost exactly as the stems arranged themselves in my hand as I picked them. Love the big black-eyed Susans (fancy Rudbedkias), which have just begun to bloom.  Also included: lavendar beebalm, blue ageratum, Queen Anne's lace, feverfew, hosta leaves, perennial sweet peas, old-fashioned vining petunias.

June 12, 2011--evolution

I'm posting this on June 13, but the evolution I'm going to describe actually happened yesterday. Had two arrangements from previous days that still contained some material I liked (the green apples, the red celosia stem), so I took them and combined them into a new arrangement. That's the first photo, with sidewise celosia stem. Sort of wacky, but fun. By the afternoon, though, I was tired of that and decided to cut down the celosia stem, add two magenta snapdragons and some hardy begonia leaves. The colors are amazing, and even just the stems through the glass are interesting to look at.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 11, 2011---hot chicken broth

Erin, my godchild, says the air yesterday was like "hot chicken broth." Ditto for today. Still...I gardened almost all day. I'd go out for 30 minutes to an hour, come in dripping wet, and reward myself with a chapter in The Good Priest's Son (Reynolds Price), then repeat. Plant material that interested me most today was 1) new apples on apple trees and 2) pink catchfly that bloomed in ragged area where I'd thrown out some leftover seed. I added an apple twig to yesterday's windowsill arrangement and like it much better now. If I were more particular, I'd edit a some leaves out of this arrangement and cluster the poppy pods, but until I saw the photo, I hadn't realized that would help. I'm also learning that I really need to overexpose lots of my photos to make them look the way I want them to. For some reason, I love having learned that.

The next conglomeration (a better word than "arrangement" for what I do) includes the catchfly I picked, plus a castor bean stem from a previous "arrangement" and two bold red stems of celosia that deer had almost but not quite completely defoliated. I'm amazed at how well castor bean leaves hold up after being cut---even in hot weather. Most such fleshy leaves would wilt after being cut on a "hot chicken broth" day. I also love the fact that many of the leaves in these conglomerations are already ridden with insect damage. That's a time and conditions marker, for sure. Everything is harder in weather like this--even just reaching for a jar/vase in the barn I have to screw up my courage, because the wasps are so active and snakes waiting to get me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10, 2011--"hot as boiled hell"

In this glass vase I used tiny poppy stalks that I weeded out of the garden this morning. Their pods are tiny because I didn't thin the seedlings enough, but they were too sweet to throw in compost heap. As I looked around for something to combine them with, I realized I didn't feel like hunting very hard. Picked some Russian arborvitae foliage because it was in the shade and three stems of a euphorbia because they weren't far out of the shade. It's really wicked outside. I'm reading a Reynolds Price novel in which a character just described an afternoon (like this one) as "hot as boiled hell."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 9--drop 'em in, fluff 'em up

The only way I could get these "arrangements" to look in the photo the way my eye sees them on the windowsill was to overexpose the photo. To my eye, they just look like washes and spots of summer color. These are flowers that have been in the previous days' arrangements. I just keep pulling out the dead stuff, washing off the stems and giving the living flowers a fresh cut (making their stmes shorter), and providing them clean water. Today I put them in bigger jars so they'd have even more water--to compensate somewhat for all the heat coming in the window.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June 8, 2011

The best I can say for this is that I did it (and didn't spoil my streak of creating a windowsill arrangement every day). This includes leftovers from other arrangements in the house (plus one red lily from outside). The heat outside has been hard on flowers on the windowsill. Even though they're in air conditioned house, they suffer from the hard, harsh sunlight. Snapdragons are the most ironclad of the flowers I've been using.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June 7, 2011---windowsill arrangement (with beach towel)

I tweaked yesterday's arrangement by adding a few more coreopsis, snapdragons, and grass seed heads. Looks much better now (and the photo is better, too).  But the really fun thing that happened to this arrangement today was getting a fancy new accessory: Rosanne Shalf wearing beach towel! Rosanne came over to swim,  I marveled that her beach towel matched my flowers (one track mind!), and she sashayed over to the sink to pose.  So chic!*%$#@

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 5/6--Array

This is just too weird. First, here's a photo of the array of flowers I carried back to Ashland with me on Sunday. My intention was to make at least three arrangements from these for others, but I used some of the snaps in my own windowsill arrangement.

Below is my windowsill arrangement, which includes not only all the flowers I used in June 5, Buckingham, windowsill arrangement (all those flowers were jammed into right side of this crock) but also selected flowers from yellow buckets of flowers. It's really quite pretty, and I just love the colors of the snapdragons (which are a pain to grow in Virginia), but in photo it just seems complicated (esp. compared to June 1 simple collection of roses). Is this because photos lie or because I'm seduced by complexity?

Coreopsis (to left) provides the yellow that California poppies provided in June 5 arrangement. The blue is Blue Horizon ageratum, an annual that makes a great cut flower.  For some reason, orange butterfly weed looks red in this photo. And orange snapdragons doesn't look half as dramatic as it does in real life.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

June 5--subtle vs. flashy

Well, this is pretty interesting. Today I had an embarrassingly rich array of flowers to choose from, so I let my instincts rule. Created something subtle (with a pale apricot-ish snapdragon combined with a curvy wisteria vine used in previous arrangement and castor bean leaves (from seedlings thinned from the garden). Through camera lens, the subtle beauty of the colors was lost, so I added some brighter pink gaura and catchfly (Silene armeria).  Lesson 1 in how flashiness is more important through camera lens than it is through eyes. Then, just because I had them, I decided to create a second arrangement with more dramatic flowers. It included an orangish snapdragon, orange butterfly weed, castor bean leaves, morning glory leaves, grass seed heads, Blue Horizon ageratum, purple larkspur,  and yellow California poppies (California poppies seem to hold up better in arrangements than other annual poppies, including opium poppies). This second arrangement makes my first arrangement seem lackluster, but in truth, it's flashier but not prettier. Lesson 2 in the way cameras distort real perception.  I'm going to post both arrangements, and a detail from each.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

June 4, 2011--Larkspur

Spent most of the day pulling out larkspur so I'd have free beds for planting summer annuals. Big job, because larkspur not only seeded into lots of beds but into almost all paths, and I let it grow until it bloomed. Now is time to cut it and hang it upside down to dry. Took most to the barn, where, as usual, I got stung by wasps as I pulled down old dried material and tightened ropes to hold new bunches. Hand still smarting from one sting. I hate that part of the job. More pleasant: bringing a couple of bunches of larkspur inside and hanging them from curtain rod. It's a temporary location for them---they, too, need to go to the barn---but I'm enjoying looking at them now. I think this should count as a "windowsill arrangement."

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 3, 2011--Point and Shoot

It had to happen--the night when I had energy neither to create nor carefully photograph an arrangement. This is what's left after I pulled the dead (or at least discolored) magnolia flowers out of previous day's Flower Camp arrangement. All that's left is that one stalwart stem of Queen Anne's lace. In a different windowsill are some flowers I brought from Ashland, but we (John and I) ate the basil from that arrangement on pizza, so it's a little off kilter. Best thing that happened tonight was observing peewee on branch near the cabin porch. We've seen its tail feathers move up and down before, but tonight John observed that it must have "restless tail syndrome." Medication might be warranted, but with that, our little phoebe might also develop a propensity to compulsive gambling. Etc.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June 2, 2011---magnolia and Queen Anne's lace

It's really just as easy to do a big arrangement as a little one when the container has a broad base and a narrow neck.  I dropped one tall, branched stem of Queen Anne's lace and two magnolia flowers into this contemporary container. Too easy!  And so fragrant. I associate both southern magnolia flowers and Queen Anne's lace with high school graduations. Trumpet vine is always blooming for early June arrangements, too.

Too bad you can't see the tops of the Queen Anne's lace stems in this photo. They're way tall, and very graceful.