Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31, 2011--small marigolds

This is just a tiny pot with a mix of marigolds in it. The whole thing isn't much bigger than a tennis ball, It seemed to take forever for the marigolds to get going in the garden this year, but, in truth, I guess they're always at their best in late summer, early fall. This year I have a row of one variety, from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, that looks like shrub border it's so lush. The foliage is as useful in arrangements as the flowers. The ones in this little pot, though,came from seeds I collected last year. I was pleased to see I'd saved some seeds from red ones (and that they had come back true to color), because reds seem to make the yellows and oranges look richer (and sometimes it seems the reds revert to yellow or orange with open pollination).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 28- August 30, 2011--post Irene

Well, August 27 at around 2pm--we lost Internet connection (in addition to power lost earlier), so I couldn't post to blog, but I did take photos. Aug. 28 was big clean-up day--tons of downed wood in the yard including huge red maple that took out a corner of our roof. Seemed fitting to just put a piece of wood in the window. (Actually, it's a woody piece of ivy I pulled off the fallen maple.) Later in the day, I rotated the wood, added low vase and white Angel's Trumpet flower. That flower lasted only a day (as it does outdoors), but it sure was pretty to look at while it lasted.

If you look carefully, you can see some of the fallen red maple out the window. And below is wood formerly blocking back porch steps. Look at the ivy vines on the trunk, because they will show up some later day in an arrangement!

August 29, I did this arrangement in a different windosill. Irene contributed to it, too. The sunflowers were toppled by wind, so it made sense to cut them, but, because they didn't want to hold their heads up in vase, I had to make crutches for them. There is a piece of wood felled by the storm holding up every one of these sunflower stems. Plenty of wood with crotches in the right place to choose from!

Aug. 30, before leaving Ashland today, I pulled apart some flowers in kitchen windowsill with intention of throwing them out, but the zinnias were still too pretty to toss. Cut their stems way lower and gave them some fresh water in a jar. Also added more windfall from the storm--tufts of willow oak foliage that had tiny acorns attached.

P.S. We're still without power in Ashland, and I'm guessing we will be for a long time. I'm posting this from Buckingham.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 27, 2011

Electricity is out (due to Irene), but computer is operating on battery and wireless Internet connection is working. Yay! This windowsill array is a collection of all sorts of things from days past plus some pale yellow zinnias, a sunflower, and a couple of stems of blue salvia. Outside the window a sheet of rain is coming down, and, because I have a couple of windows open (the better to hear breaking branches), there is cool air coursing through the room. Weather is the story of the day, but my arranging attention is all wrapped up in these yellow zinnias, which John brought home to me from Buckingham. Flower delivery on a hurricane-filled day:  how lucky can you get?

Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26, 2011---rescued

I'm not talking about rescue from hurricane Irene. That hasn't arrived yet. Instead, I was rescued from not having a new windowsill arrangement today. The rescue was truly amazing. Yesterday, I arrived in Ashland to find cooler on my front porch. It was the cooler I'd transported my birthday arrangement for Rosie Shalf in (see Aug. 24). Rosie's returned my cooler, I thought. Very nice. Walked right past it and left it on the front porch. Today, late afternoon, after all-day meeting, I was about to walk by the cooler again without bringing it in when I realized Irene might blow it around, so I brought it in. Then I opened it, and inside was an arrangemnt in the jar I'd put Rosie's arrangement in! (And under it were melted cold packs.)  Rosie had returned my jar with flowers in it, a beautiful gesture like returning a dish with food in it. Only problem was that Rosie's arrangement had been sitting for over 24, maybe as many as 48, hours in a cooler on my front porch. Trust me, it was not cool when I opened it. However: the arrangement still looked good enough to put it on the windowsill (thank you, Rosie)!

The other fun thing about this arrangement is that it includes so many flowers I don't grow. Rosanne and I live so close to each other that you'd think we'd grow most of the same cut flowers, but the only things in this arrangement that I grow are the rosemary and the campanula, and I don't grow the campanula well.  Rosanne has given me the blue campanula a half a dozen times (it's a weed for her), but mine seldom grow well enough to bloom.  And I've never succeeded with monkshood (the pink flowers to the right).  There's also goldenrod and maroon petunia flowers with green edeges in this arrangement. The petunias were probably harvested from one of Rosie's pots.

Something else I like about Rosie's arrangement is the way it looks under the arbor created by the honeysuckle (Baggesen's Gold)  left in a bottle from Aug. 20.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25, 2011---quite a flower!

I was walking to the cabin with this sunflower in my hand when John saw me and commented, "That's quite a flower." I'll say! In preparation for hurricane Irene, I was cutting the heaviest flowerheads off some of the sunflowers (in hopes of preventing them from getting blown over), and this one I cut with a long enough stem to put it in a vase. It's such a great looking flower---all shaggy and sort of mischievously misshapen. From a tall, tall plant--maybe 8 feet tall. The flower is so big and so heavy I had to find a way to give it some support in the vase--to keep it from nodding over. Tree people are here today pruning our trees and there is dead wood on the ground all over the place, so it was easy to find a stick about 3/4 inch in diameter that had a crotch in just the right place. Nestled it under the flower head and, voila, huge upright sunflower blossom. Makes me happy just to look at it. AND it's in a great vase my daughter made in high school. It has petal-like decorations on it that give it just enough texture, but not too much, to suit the sunflower. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24, 2011

With the exception of a flagging Jerusalem artichoke flower, yesterday's windowsill conglomeration is still looking fine--if funky! Below it (in second photo) is little bouquet I'm going to give a friend for her birthday today. It includes Rudbeckia triloba, that tiny little black-eyed Susan I've used over and over again this summer, scented geranium leaves (which I've also used over and over this summer), orange/brown marigolds (which I'm using for the first time--more on them later, I'm sure), and Hydrangea tardiva (white flowers).  Prettier in real life than in photo, but I've got to stop saying that!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 31---earthquake flowers

Well, an hour ago I was experiencing an earthquake; now I'm arranging flowers. The contrast---and luck--isn't lost on me. Kate and I were in a Richmond restraunt when the earthquake (5.9) struck. Lasted and long time and was pretty scarry, but no damage or injuries. it was pretty interesting seeing everyone flee into parking lot, though.  A comaraderie of fear, confusion. Now all back to normal.  Three little companion arrangements below were created from material in yesterday's arrangement. I clipped off three okra pods and three scented geranium leaves and then tied the vases together with that wisteria vine I loved. In second photo you can see the "donor" arrangement looks not much harmed for having been canabalized!

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22, 2011

All those mulberry leaves from yesterday looked absolutely awful this morning, so I threw them out. This handfull of material went into the vase almost exactly as you see it arranged here. It includes pokeweed and scented geranium foliage, some okra pods and foliage, yellow Jerusalem artichoke flowers, and one beautiful American wisteria stem (no flowers, just foliage). That's actually the prettiest part of the arrangement, but you can't see it in this photo. The wisteria vine goes off to left where you can't see it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Aug. 21, 2011 -- mulberry leaves

The natural things that interested me most in the garden today were mulberry leaves.  I like the way all mulberry leaves turn yellow green and get spotty before falling, but these are particularly pretty. They're on a contorted mulberry and bigger than ordinary mulberry leaves. Brought a few in and first put them in long, low container. That looked ok, but you couldn't really see the beauty of the individual leaves, so I pulled one out and put it in vase by itself. In that photo (the second one) are two gourds, too. The gourds are fun, because I didn't plant them; they volunteered below a big viburnum and produced about 6 gourds before I pulled the vine out!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Aug. 20, 2011

This is just two pretty pieces of plant material I couldn't throw away. Both broke off as I was weeding today. (Weeding is not fun right now, by the way. It's too hot and there are too many weeds!) Anyway, the greenery is actually a honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida)  called Baggesen's Gold. It looks nothing like the "normal," familiar honeysuckle and, instead, is sort of a shrubby thing with reclining stems and yellow-green foliage. Great for arranging but I seldom cut it because mine is hidden under another shrub and I tend to forget about it. The flower (which youi can hardly see in photo)  is a late-blooming daylily that I love. It has very tall stems topped with small, graceful yellow flowers. Can't remember its name, but something makes me think it may include the word"autumnal."   This bloom will last only a day, but it was just too pretty to throw immediately in compost heap.  It's amazing how many things get crushed and broken off as I weed because I am not gentle when in weeding mode!

And here's a little bouquet I did for a friend in a nursing home (Rudbeckia triloba flowers with scented geranium foliage). I was delighted to discover  Bill's room has a nice, wide windowsill!

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 19. 2011---fiesta colors!

I just love these colors together! This conglomeration began with one sprig of ironweed---from the top of 8 foot stem I dug up by accident yesterday.  Then I picked some nasturtiums, celosia, and a few sweet peas to add.  It's all just so vibrant together.  And BTW, I've learned each hibiscus blossom (like the one I picked day before yesterday and put in vase) lasts only a day, whether it's been cut or not. I guess that means each Rose-of-Sharon bloom lasts only a day, too?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18, 2011

I tossed some red peppers onto the windowsill to jazz up yesterday's arrangements.

The hibiscus flower (from yesterday) has withered (see below), but now I'm thinking hibiscus blossoms may last only a day even in the garden?  Like passion flowers and morning glories, maybe? I've marked a bloom with a string today, and I'll check it tomorrow to see if it's still open.

There's also a sad thing in the windowsill today. I was weeding behind some aucuba shrubs and saw this tall, tall plant I assumed was a Jerusalem artichoke or some other weedy thing I pull out all the time.  I decided to be a really good girl and not just break it off but dig it out with the shovel. No sooner was it out of the ground then I realized it was ironweed---and blooming ironweed at that. The blooms were 3 feet above my head. I groaned out loud: OH, NO!!  The stem was broken in a couple of places and I tried to replant the part with partial root, but I doubt it will live. Ouch, ouch.  Anyway, I brought part of the stem in and put it in the windowsill.  The flowers would be pretty with eggplant, but I fear they're not going to hold up very well unless I shorten this stem.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 17, 2011--vases in waiting

I knew those two jars of leaves (from yesterday) wouldn't remain flower-less for long! These little black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia triloba) broke off or got pulled up as I weeded garden this afternoon. And how nice that the jars of basil and scented geranium leaves were waiting for them! I love this small-flowered black-eyed Susan. Each flower is no bigger than a quarter but stems full of them grow 3 to 31/2 feet tall. Unfortunately, they are thin-stemmed and fall over pretty often, but that just makes them easier to cut--because you aren't ruining a perfect plant when you cut them; you're harvesting a damaged one.  The green orbs are un-ripe passion flower fruits, also gleaned from my weeding today.

Prettiest thing blooming in the garden is this hibiscus, which I cut one flower from just to see how it would hold up in a vase. Badly, I predict, but I'll let you know tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16, 2011

Took down yesterday's pepper towers, then started looking for a different way to use some of the veggies. Put them in a footed glass container, and also in the container, I put a jar of basil and scented geranium leaves (you can't see that jar because its hidden behind the veggies).  Decided my favorite part of that "arrangement" was the jar of basil and scented geranium leaves, so I created another one (second photo). Then decided the whole thing looked just too complicated to suit me and decided to put the veggies in the frig and leave just the jars of leaves on the windowsill (third photo).  Can't explain exactly why I like just the leaves best this afternoon.


Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011--pepper towers

First thing I did in windowsill today was stack some wonderful veggies in a long, low container.  Peppers, eggplant, basil, etc.:  these beautiful veggies should be cooking in a pot somewhere, but they're not. I'm worn out from cooking other stuff--including Louise Witherspoon's fabulous roasted tomatoes. Promise I'll do something that relates to nutrition with these veggies tomorrow. Today, instead, I went in an even more frivolous direction and threaded hot peppers onto skewers to make the pepper towers in second photo.  I so love them visually and so don't know what to do with them epicurally (is that a word?)!  If I were to touch my fingers to my eyes right now, after handling them, I'd have a new version of hell, but I won't!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 14, 2011---new windowsill

Two things drove today's arrangement. #1: John has been replacing windowsills on the north side of the house at Flower Camp. Not an easy job by any means. It's hard because it requires carpentry skills, it's hard because it must be done on a ladder, and it's hard because the windowsills that need replacing are in second story windows of an unusually tall building. Those new windowsills seemed to deserve an arrangement!!! Second thing driving this arrangement was leftovers from weeding/deadheading. After being gone on vacation for a week, LOTS of things needed cutting back including Blue Horizon ageratum and rusty-colored rudbeckia. Everything in vase below would have gone in compost heap if it hadn't gone in this vase with the exception of some black cohosh pods I added (the very tall green stems) and some blackberrry lily pods I cut because I was tired of staking them to keep them off the ground. All this wound up creating a more complicated, and flower-rich, arrangemment than than my windowsill arrangements usually are, but I was determined to go with what I had--overly abundant though it might be!  The conglomeration ended up looking like just that--a conglomeration--when I saw something in the bathroom mirrow that I liked.  In the mirror, what I liked about the arrangement showed up better than it did in photo of arrangement on windowsill alone. Second photo shows mirror reflection better than first one, but, alas, what the camera sees is still not what I see.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 13, 2011--one thing leads to another

Today I took the blackberry lily stem I didn't quite know what to do with yesterday and used it as start of a new arrangement. Cut it into four sections, including one that was just a stem holding seed pods (they look like little green punching bags). To this, I added the thing that most interested me in the garden today--a stem of variegated daisy wingstem I came across while weeding. Daisy wingstem is a wildflower that I pull out like a weed (it gets 5 feet tall and will grow most anywhere), but this one with the variegated foliage is a plant I'd like to encourage, because I'll love using its foliage in arrangements. This was a fun little arrangement to pull together but not at all what I'd expected to do today. I was planning to do something lavish, with lots of flowers, but a thunderstorm drove me inside before I had time to pick and I clipped just the one stem of daisy wingstem foliage and a few black-eyed Susans. I decided not to use the black-eyed Susans, because I liked the "all green-ness" of this. Looks like outdoors right now: all lush shades of green.

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011

Why is everything harder when you're tired? Spent almost all day among beatiful flowers, weeding, deadheading, etc., and in the process pulled out, by accident, this gorgeous stem of burgeoning blackberry lily buds. The stem with buds attached is over 3 feet long. I groaned when I pulled it. Set it aside on wheelbarrow to use in an arrangement. But I don't have the energy to create an arrangement, and was hoping I could just sit this stem in a windowsill, alone, to fulfill my windowsill arrangement requirement. But the light is all wrong, the arranger too spent to come up with anything interesting. Know just this: the blackberry lilies are between bloom and fruit--a beautiful stage that deserves better press.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011---queen red lime zinnia, etc.

Yesterday, when I was pulling zinnias together in plastic cups. there were some I didn't include because I didn't like them. In fact, as I was picking zinnias the day before, I was bemoaning the fact that I had even bought seeds for "Queen Red Lime" zinnias from Johnny's Selected Seeds. In the garden, they looked really bad--domed, fully double flowers with sort of a washed out, dusky magenta petals on the outside and greenish ones in the center. Nothing like the picture in the seed catalog. But I couldn't seem to throw the flowers away and they wound up, bouquet like, in this glass vase (shown in photo above). My photo is even less accurate, colorwise, than the color of the Queen Red Lime zinnias in the Johnny's catalog, but I've decided I like the 'real life' color of these zinnias, because, indoors, it looks soft and subtle, the way a peach does. I wouldn't call it peachy, but it's dusky in the way a peach is. The Queen Red Lime zinnia that shows up best in this photo is far right in the glass vase, and below. The flowers in the taller green vase are cockscomb and the whispy things behind them that look like sea oats are river oats. Unlike sea oats, which you shouldn't pick, river oats are invasive, but I like to grow them to cut.

This color is SO wrong, and I don't know how to fix it, but this shows you the form of the flower.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Aug. 10, 2011--with and without sunflowers

I separated yesterday's flowers into three smaller bunches and dropped them into some plastic cups (first photo). I'd never used these cups as vases before, but I think their watermelon motif and color works well with the zinnias. More interesting, though, is how adding some small sunflowers to these three arrangements perked them up. Their yellow is like an alarm--waking the other flowers up. And I like the fact that these puny sunflowers--way small because they've been poorly grown (by me)--are just the right size for these arrangements (second photo).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 9, 2011

This is a bunch of zinnias pretty much "arranged" exactly as they fell into the bucket they're in. I picked them today just to keep the plants blooming. I have an idea about a way to arrange them tomorrow that may be more interesting.

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 1-8, 2011--vacation flowers

Well. here's how it went on vacation trip to Seattle with two teenage grandsons. First photo is of sweetpeas sitting on hotel windowsill. Bought them at Pike's Market, when I thought the wonderful flowers on the corner were all there were. They're still in their brown paper wrapper but dropped into a plastic cup of water.

Here they are again. So unfair that people in the Pacific Northwest can grow sweet peas like these with such ease!!!

Next day, just to do something different, I removed the white sweet peas and clustered the remaining sweet peas in two Subway cups. Thank goodness for Subway!

Next day we were in less posh surroundings. Grandson Adam suggested using banana as container and ran out to gather me some flowers, none of which felt filched, from around the Mill Valley Motel.  They include dandelions, red pieris japonica foliage, variegated euonymus foliage, salvia.

Next day we were in even less posh surroundings, in Castle Rock, WA. View from window was of old trucks and and an abandoned teepee structure, which I decided to reproduce (sort of) in windowsill arrangement.

Next day no time for arranging; we were white-water rafting, but Adam picked me a red geranium flower (from pots around the motel)  and I dropped it into a hard lemonade bottle.

I'm thinking I deserve extra points for even trying to arrange flowers in windowsills on this rafting/hiking expedition with grandchildren (we hiked Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens, too), when we finally get back to Pikes Market and I discover the corner where I'd found the sweet peas is just 1/20th of the expanse of flowers in the market. I've never seen more beautiful flowers offered more inexpensively. Flowers of this quality would be ten  times as expensive in NY!!!  Unfortunately, it's time to head back to Virginia, but here's a teaser photo re what's available, for $10 a bunch (or even just $5 a bunch if it's only sweet peas), in Seattle.