Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30, 2011--pink sky, flowers, leaves

Everything changed today--the weather, the angle of light, the sky colors. The treetops were lit by yellow light late this afternoon, the temperature was cool, and the sky was striped with pink. It was the pink and deep rose in some coleus leaves that drove my windowsill arrangement, but as soon as I dropped those leaves into a vase, I started seeing pink everywhere. The backsides of Virginia creeper leaves (which I added to the vase) were particulary pink, as was the color in celosia leaves and stems. (In the first photo, I stitched a Virginia creeper leaf onto a celosia stem), in the second, the leaf is placed more conventionally. And, of course, the roses are putting out another, last, flush of bloom before frost. The rose in these photos is one of the Knockout roses--so pretty at this time of year.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29, 2011

I'm still in the thrall of that hydrangea stem. Pulled it closer to the plum so the blackish red color in both would be more apparent. Then decided to pull the hydrangea stem out of water altogether so I could view it in all its glory. Did that last night, and the foliage hasn't flagged one bit.  This is one tough piece of plant material!  Neither phto is very good, but the second one shows the color better than the first one. Have no idea what variety of hydrangea this is (it was included in a bucket of flowers someone brought to a flower arranging workshop), but if I could find it this morning, I'd pay a king's ransome for it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011

Today the windowsill drew a plum to it.  The plum--which needed ripening anyway--seemed to want to be next to a plum-colored stem of hydrangea leaves, which I'd already dropped into a vase. I'd love to know which hydrangea these leaves came from. They were among buckets of flowers and greens available at an arranging workshop this past weekend, and I'd used them in a big arrangement I was dismanteling. This particular stem, with some burgeoning buds at the top, was just too pretty to throw away. The foliage is unusually stiff and colorful for hydrangea foliage, and if I knew who brought it to the workshop, I'd try to beg a piece of the plant it came from!

Here's a closer view of that beautiful hydrangea stem.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 27, 2011---change of heart

This morning, as part of cleaning up the windowsill, I dropped that orange rose into a different vase with a remnant celosia stem in it. That location was supposed to be temporary, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it.  Can't say exactly why, but somehow the orange rose insists on being alone (such a prima donna!), and I like the "strong emptyness" of the tall, upright glass vase paired with the rich fullness of the rose.  The rose is also much prettier (and more interesting) to me as an upward facing flower than a frontal-facing one.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011--long story

Following wonderful weekend at Shrine Mont, I had a few materials I brought home that I wanted to put in windowsill. There was only one "florist material" among them (an orange rose), and it wanted to steal the show.  In fact, there was no way to keep it from stealing the show in a photograph, which is why such things so often show up in magazines, on TV, on websites, etc.  Much, much harder is to make something subtle, like a beautiful pear, show up in a photograph. Second photo shows my unsuccessful effort to do that.  Materials are yellow celosia (showier than the pear, unfortunately) and beautfful floliage and spent flowers of a hydrangea someone brought to Shrine Mont. Somehow I think THE EYE can see the edible pear for what it is--very important---better than a camera can, but I suppose the best photographers can make this point, too.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another arrangement (to make up for not having one tomorrow)

I'm going to be gone--away from computerland--for the next couple of days, so I decided to post a second "arrangement" today (Sept. 23). These are some scarlet runner bean leaves I stuck in this vase just to carry them to arranging workshop this weekend, but I sort of like their modern, minimalist, Georgia O'Keeefey look.  Something about those two short stems pointing down reminds me of feet, and their color is just scrumptious.

September 23--okra leaves

Bad news: I realized this morning that what I'd thought were new hibiscus plants coming up were actually red okra plants I'd forgotten I'd planted.  Amazing how similar they are.  Good news: I harvested lots of the young  red okra this morning for an arranging workshop this weekend, and the leftovers (leaves pulled off to keep them out of bucket water, etc.) wound up on the windowsill. The little plants had lots of wonderfully red leaves almost at ground level.

Most beautiful of all were the stems.

Here's the whole array of "okra leftovers" I harvested and stuck in the windowsill.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011---hibiscus pod

The most interesting thing in this arrangement isn't the thing you see first. It's the greenish hibiscus pods (to lower right in first photo).  I wouldn't have picked them, because I was leaving them to mature and hopefully drop seed for new plants, but today, when I went out to pick, I discovered I have a nice new colony of hibiscus already coming up! Total surprise. They're already 3 feet tall and have some buds on them, even though they are surrounded by weeds. It was a great surprise, because all I've been able to think about recently is how out-of-control the weeds are.

Anyway, I didn't really want to add the red geraniums to this little arrangement--wanted the hibiscus pods to be the focal point---but they just weren't going to show up in a photo, so I added the geraniums (all  scavenged from a single  flower in a pot).  Also included are some perilla leaves and seed structures, and I've threaded all the stems though a woody ivy vine the way I did in another recent windowsill arrangement. The woody ivy vine is propped on top of three little glass vases.  This is so easy to do and I love the way it ties the three vases together.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sept. 21, 2011

This had such potential, but I'm too tired to retrieve it! One little container was supposed to hold one rescued zinnia (with broken stem), some hollyhock stems that I was throwing away (because they have a disease), and a perfectly beautiful arched stem with one red fruit on it from lily of the valley (something Louise Witherspoon alerted me to). But--this kind of thing always happens when you're pressed---the thing I liked best---the lily of the valley fruit--fell out of the container, landed behind the radiator, and, even with a flashlight, I can't find it!  So--I picked another lily of the valley stem--this one with multiple berries and not as pretty as the one with a single berry--and somehow ended up with two vases of material (some recycled from yesterday) that aren't half as pretty as the original one was. Grrrr!  There's also a tiny Lady fern stem in vase (actually one of those alcohol bottles you get on an airplane) on right.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011--back to the basics

I was trying to sort of get back to the basics with this. My sense of windowsill arrangements is that they are often most satisfying when they include three things--flag, filler, and focal point (or something linear that points up, some leaves, and a flower).  At least that's an idea to start with.  Today's arrangement started when I inadvertendly broke of the spear of an unfurling arum leaf. I had been trying to dig it up and didn't go deep enough.  I decided to use that spear (which I was so sad to have broken off) as my flag. Then I picked one little sprig of perilla leaves for filler, then a geranium floret for focal point. Dopped them into a coffee mug while I went to get a more appropriate container, but I sort of liked them in the mug so I photographed that first! Then photographed them in a vanilla bottle, which makes an almost perfect vase for this kind of arrangement.

(I like the holes in the perilla leaves!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19, 2011--colchicums and runner bean leaves

It's sort of fun the way this evolved. Kate came over to dig plants today and we discovered, under weeds and Irene debris, some colchicums blooming. (They look like fall crocuses.) I decided to cut some to bring in and display on windowsill with my second favorite thing in the garden today: leaves of scarlet runner beans. They are a wonderful combination of acid green with rosey-purple undersides and edges.  First I put them in three separate vases. Then I added three sprigs of dried coxcomb from yesterday's arrangements to each of the three vases. Things were getting better, but this combo didn't really gel until I pulled all the materials together into one vase (third photo). Fourth photo shows just how beautiful the scarlet runner bean leaves really are. I particularly like their holes!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18, 2011--recycled stuff

This is a mixture of materials from previous arrangements. The magnolia pod is from Sept. 12, the coxcomb and sedge from Sept. 13.  The coxcomb is the little piece that was in the top of Sept. 13 arrangement. It wasn't in water so it dried and turned a darker color.  I couldn't throw it away so I tucked it in under a magnolia seed pod. The colors are really rich together, especially at night. Nothing is in water and it doesn't need to be.

As you can see, some of the magnolia seed pods that were tight on Sept. 12 are now spilling red seeds, and it has been so much fun watching this happen on the windowsill.  I like this photo because the reflection of the kitchen light in the window looks like the moon!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 17, 2011--crazy, crazy

Louise Witherspon was visiting Flower Camp when I asked her if she'd be willing to do a windowsill arrangement. I think we were snacking on green olives with a nasturtium decorating their plastic container at the time. She suggested olives on a skewer with a nasturtium at the top, which was easy enough, but the skewer needed a base, which turned out to be a pear, which was originally too tippy, but Louise suggested wacking off its base with a knife to make it flat and so.... voila....olives on a skewer with nasturtium at the top.

Don't for a minute think this was really that easy, though. Before finding this perfect little niche on an outside windowsill, we tried half a dozen other venues for this photograph. I love it when people discover how hard it is to photograph an arrangement on a windowsill! To my delight, Louise agreed that we should bend the windowsill rules a bit to allow me to slip a slate under the screen of one window to make a platform to hold our olives on a skewer.

I'm definitely going to use this little cheating platform again!
And the "olives on a skewer" arrangement appearing outside the window was even more fun to view from INSIDE the cabin we call "the baby house."

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011--old materials, recycled

I didn't like my Sept. 14 arrangement (or at least the photo), but I loved the materials, so I decided to try again. I gave each stem a fresh cut and rearranged it in smaller vase (a vinegar cruet) and added a red zinnia (also recycled from a previous arrangement) and a little red morning glory v ine. I like this much better. And the colors are prettier than they appear in photo--yellow green goldenrod, apricot-colored snapdragon, lavendar false dragonhead/obedient plant/Physostegia.

Then, because I still had flowers leftover, I decided to arrange them in a little orange baking dish (I think you call it a croquette?).  With wide mouth, I really needed floral foam but didn't have any (or at least would have had to walk farther than I wanted to walk to get some), so I cut an eggplant to the appropriate dimension and stuffed it into the croquette to use as "organic floral foam"!  Although it doesn't have the absorptive capacity of Oasis brick, it works like a charm for providing stem support!  Notice that the red zinnia in lowest in this arrangement actually has its face pointing up toward the ceiling. I like that.

And here are the two arrangements on same windowsill.

Where oh where is a photography coach when you need one? The challenge of trying to photograph things with light behind them is driving me nuts!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Septemver 15-- 4 o'clock

This photo may be a little hard to read. It's a salmon-colored four o'clock in a glass hibiscus holder. (Remember hibuscus holder from Sept. 6?)  I was coveting a hibiscus holder like the one Louise Witherspoon had when she gave me this one! It's really amazing. It actually manages to hold a flower almost horizontally while also offering its stem a little water. Almost defies the laws of gravity. Anyway, today I put a four o'clock flower and a few gourd leaves w/tendrils in it. So pretty. I'd been wondering when 4 o'clocks actually open (they seem to be closed way more than they are open), so today I watched them pretty closely. They were open at 9 a.m., but closed by noon and they were NOT open at 4 p.m. Today they opened at 5:51 p.m., which, even allowing for daylight savings time,  made them an hour late!

This particular four o'clock is just a gorgeous color. I bought the seeds from Select Seeds last winter, but this year I'll save my own, because Louise showed me where to find them (nestled in chalice-shaped flower bracts). They're big and look almost like peppercorns. I'm in love with both this flower and my new hibiscus holder, which I'm also going to try to use for displaying morning glories, too.

Here's a better view of the glass hibiscus holder.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sept. 14, 2011

What was an easy arrangement to create today turned out to be a hard arrangement to blog about tonight. I went into the garden to pick some filler flowers to add to another, larger arrangement, but I decided I liked the way the flowers in my hand looked--the filler flowers alone--better than the big arrangement I was working on. So I dropped those flowers--goldenrod, apricot-colored zinnias, purple asters, and some lavendar false dragonhead---into a glass vase. I should have stopped there, but, instead, I tried to add a dish of veggies---purple eggplant, orange peppers, reddish winter squash---as "accessories."  Unfortunately, the original flowers don't show up well in the bright window light, the eggplants look like beached whales in their dish, and something that was quite simple and pretty now looks sort of contrived (a consequence of trying too hard).  And not only that, but tonight I'm dealing with computer troubles that made posting this entry take FOREVER.  I'm trying to remember that sweet moment this afternoon when I looked at the goldenrod, zinnias, asters, and false dragonhead in my hand and thought "ah, I like this."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13, 2011--coxcomb

This isn't exactly what I'd wanted to do with this coxcomb, but it's close. I had wanted to pave the top of a footed bowl with it then have the sedge coming out of it like fireworks, but, alas, my bowl is at Flower Camp and I'm in Ashland. So I tried the same sort of thing in a different contaner. Result below. I usually have lots of sedge coming up in weedy areas at this time of year and I love to use it in arrangements, but this year, for some reason I have little, so I added a couple of stems of umbrella grass to the sedge to bulk it up a little. They have the same umbrella-like shape.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sept. 12, 2011--much better!

From yesterday's mess came today's triumph. I cut off the pinkish magnolia pods and dropped them into three little wide-bottomed glass containers. Too boring. I'd saved lots of woody ivy vines from tree that came down in Irene, so I went to retrieve one of those from the shed.  Removed magnolia pods, placed woody vine across the top of the containers, then returned the pods to the vases by slipping them through slits in the sort of plaited vine. Still needed something, so I went out and picked three little Carefree Beauty rose buds and one hydrangea flower. Added one rosebud to each vase, then deconstructed the hydrangea blossom to turn it into half a dozen smaller blossom clusters. They didn't even need to be in water, because they'd pretty much dried on the shrub. I love the combination of all these materials because of their different colors and textures, and this amalgam really speaks to me of this time of year: hurricanes, reblooming roses, drying hydranges, blushing magnolia pods.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

I'll try to do something with these magnolia pods tomorrow. Today, because I don't have time to fiddle with them, my only lesson is that some magnolia seed pods are already  spilling their shiny red seeds, but mine aren't. I needed some pods with spilling seeds for a demonstration tomorrow, and I had to go to a neighbor's yard to get them, because mine aren't that ripe yet.  I put them in containers on the windowsill, hoping they'd miraculously double as windowsill arrangements, but they didn't.  And trying to rearrange them made their seeds start falling off.  Not good.   So: I'll try to find a more satisfying way to display magnolia pods in the windowsill tomorrow.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 10--satellites

Put marigolds (B.J's Heriloom) and some whitish celosia sprigs in three little vases this morning. They're cute by themselves, but I really like them with yesterday's arrangement, which I moved over near them.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 9, 2011

This is one of those arrangements that I arranged in my hand as I collected flowers in the garden, then went to find a vase appropriate to fit it. The flower choices are amazing right now, because it has rained at Flower Camp this summer every single time we needed it. In 35 years, I've never seen such a summer. Water is the key to a great garden, I now know, but no sprinkler system ever delivers water the way real rain does. Peggy Singleman once told me that thunderstorm rain actually picks up nitrogen on the way down, which may or may not make scientific sense, but I believe it. And watering targeted areas is nowhere near as effective as watering an entire property--as our last two hurricanes have done. Anyway, included in the arrangement below are marigolds, a really pretty whitish-green celosia, white snapdragons (you can't really see those in photo), zinnias including some striped ones and a pale, lemony yellow one I love, perilla foliage, and feverfew flowers (the little, white daisy-like flowers).  There's a sunflower with petals detached on the backside of this arrangement, but only a peeping Tom would see it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sept. 8, 2011--round robin

Flowers, okra pods, etc. on this windowsill are the same as they were a couple of days ago, with the exception of gourd which has moved in to take the place of sunflower pods I used in a different arrangement yesterday. And on the subject of that arrangement: as I was moving it downstairs to a better home than bedroom windowsill, I temporarily sat in on table in the living room where it has stayed. Looks sort of pretty there.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sept. 7, 2011--hunk of honeysuckle

Yesterday, it was so much fun finding a nice big hunk of honeysuckle blooming in the garden--in the pouring rain! Brought it in and stuck it in a vase. This is just one central stem of honeysuckle with multiple side shoots--some blooming, some just leafy. I thought it would look pretty whereever I put it, but I can't seem to find a proper home for it. First photo shows it on a kitchen windowsill. second shows it on a bedroom windowsill where I like it much better. Second arrangement also includes a couple of sunflowers with their petals removed. I stole them from another windowsill arrangement just to help anchor the honeysuckle stem in the blue pot, but I think they also add something to the design.  Part of the problem with both arrangements  is that the longest leafy stems are so long they require an uncluttered background to show them off. It's hard to find that on a windowsill, but I seem to be unwilling to cut them off!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sept. 6, 2011--hibiscus in holder

On August 17, I was wondering whether or not hibiscus flowers last more than a day. Learned they don't.  Also learned later, from Louise Witherspoon, that there is a glass container called an hibuscus holder that is/was used to hold hibiscus flowers out of water (where they last pretty well for about 12 hours). The vase itself is shaped like a flower, and Louise has two of them (see below).  I will definitely be on the lookout for an hibiscus holder at antique shops from now on! Or maybe they still make them? These were Louise's mother's, I think.

Anyway, photo and arrangement below are by Louise Witherspoon--hibiscus in hibuscus holder in windowsill (with okra)! Thanks, Louise!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sept. 5, 2011---better than yesterday

Well, I took the flowers and okra from yesterday's disaster and used them differently in a different windowsill.  I like this much better. With much shorter stems, the sunflowers weren't as uncooperative.  The petals of some of the sunflowers had wilted, so I just pulled them off and used the seed heads with green bracts in the middle vase. I like this little lineup of sunflowers and okra at different stages of development. And I like that fact that it wouldn't have happened without yesterday's failure.