Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31, 2011--tiny marigolds

The fun thing about this arrangement is how tiny it is.  The vase (a miniature watering can) is filled with REALLY tiny marigolds. I'll look up their name when I have a chance, because they are so much fun to grow. Each flower is about the size of a field pea and the foliage is diminutive, too. I did this arrangement for my granddaughter who loves tiny things. Unfortunately, I now know the vase leaks, but the arrangement held up long enough for her to enjoy it. Penny in photo below will show you how small this really is.

Or maybe this photo shows size better.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 30, 2011

This is the same pansy arrangement that was in the windowsill on Oct. 26, but now it has an Oriental twig mat behind it.  The mat, which I had been using UNDER something else, surfaced when I was shifting some flowers around. I propped it up in the windowsill in this upright way temporarily, then realized what a great backdrop it would make for my pansy arrangement.  Voila--a new take on an old arrangement.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 29--better

Yesterday I couldn't seem to bet my climbing spinach vines to work for me, but today I could. I like these two little arrangements much better than those I worked on yesterday. And, in the second photo, I think the camellia and rose blossoms work well together (which they refused to do yesterday).  The second arrangement also has a little piece of celosia and a hellebore leaf in it.

There is one thing puzzling me about these spinach vines. I have some growing up stakes in pots on the front porch and some growing up stakes in pots in the backyard.  The plants in the backyard have purpler stems. and bigger, often rosier leaves than the vines on the front porch and I don't think it's a matter of exposure. They look like two different kinds of climbing spinach, which is possible given how confused my seed orders sometimes are.  I want to save seeds from both to see what I get next year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28, 2011

I've been wanting to pick two pale pink things blooming in the yard: New Dawn roses and a Jean May fall-blooming camellia. Thought I'd combine them with just a few leaves, but I just couldn't make the flowers work together.  This is what I wound up with (no pun intended!).  The New Dawn roses are wrapped with a climbing spinach vine, which has pretty pink buds and blackish seed pods on it right now.

The camellia wound up in another vase with an old okra stem, but they don't seem too comfortable together. I tried putting some of the spinach leaves under the vase to jazz this up, but think what I wound up with (that expression again!)  is a mess.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27, 2011 -- sassafras leaf

This was really sort of pretty, but I couldn't seem to get a pretty photograph of it. I collected a beautiful sassafras leaf and some colorful grasses on my walk this morning. They, alone, were gorgeous in a vase. Moved them into a windowsill with my pansies from yesterday. Then, because I had moved it aside, I couldn't resist adding my nandina berries (the ones attached to a broken basket handle  in arrangement from a couple of days ago) to the mix. Hung that from the window latch.  Crazy, crazy. But there are worse ways to be crazy!

As I was taking these photographs, leaves were sliding down the roof outside.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 26. 2011--pansies

Today's bad news is that I broke the little crystal vase I had my violets in yesterday (trying to shift it too fast from one spot on the windowsill to another, it fell into the hard sink). Boo hoo. I'm going to miss that.

So I started fresh today with pansies straight from the flat that I bought myself yesterday. A psychologist would have a field day with the ways I convinced myself that each of three new varieties would make me happy, happy, happy. Anyway, this bronzy one is one I loved and it is incredibly fragrant. I've combined it here with some scented geranium leaves, so the whole shebang is an olfactory extravaganza. When I looked at this, the phrase that came to mind was "Hello, I've come to tea," which I think is one of those phrases some birds seem to say, but today, the pansies, with their bright faces, seemed to be saying it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011---field violets

Busy, busy day, but somehow one of my favorite flowers slipped into it.  Sue and Ritchie Watson and I were walking around their backyard, when noticed blue violets blooming in the grass. With flower stems no longer than an inch, they had somewhow managed to escape decapitation by the lawn mower. (I've read that dandelions are actually evolving with shorter flower stems to escape mowing.) Anyway, they were my favorite flowers of the day, and I've displayed them in a tiny crystal vase on a linen napkin to give them the status I think they deserve.

And, of course, it's so wonderful when these primarily spring flowers throwing a few more flowers in the fall.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011---the way things wind up in the windowsill

I'm sometimes more interested in the way things evolve than the outcome. For instance: this morning I retrieved an old basket from the shed hoping to fill it with veggies and a jar of flowers for a friend.  Two problems: the basket was falling apart, so I cut the damaged handle off (first photo), but, as it turned out, the basket wasn't big enough for both the flowers and veggies I wanted to include. So I put the flowers in a jar (second photo) and the veggies in a bag instead.  Couldn't bring myself to throw away the basket handle though (after all, it was handmade), so I walked around with it in my hand looking for a home for it.  What I found was a vase I'd jammed some nandina berries in to keep them from falling all over the floor.  I  worked the stem of the nandina up into the fabric of the basket handle and used it as a sort of wacky linear element in windowsill "arrangement" (third photo).  I don't think this is the best I can do with that handle but it's my best shot for today!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23, 2011--paper wasp nest, okra, Osage orange

What do these three things have in common? They're all sitting in my windowsill!  The thing they're each sitting on is a spool of woody wire from Michael's (the arts and crafts store).  I never unwound these spools because I decided I liked them better wound than unwound.  Too much to say about each subject, but suffice it to say this about the Osage orange (far right):  it's the most interesting round fruit on the ground right now (once eaten by mastodons and giant ground sloths!).  John and I have scores of them falling from one, young Osage orange tree we planted about 15 years ago.  The tree is not big (about 20 feet tall), but it's definitely prolific.

And below is a photo for Ann Bradford Marcero and her husband Todd, who visited Flower Camp last month. I can't remember how we got onto the subject of black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia) , but we did --- discussing the fact that it was the black throat of the flower that looked like the eye of "real" black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia).   I was bemoaning the fact that I'd grown black-eyed Susan vine successfully in the past but had none this year; Annie and Todd were saying how pretty the vine was all over San Francisco. Well, Annie and Todd, as I was weeding today, I discovered I did have black-eyed Susan vine blooming (albeit under a tangle of weeds)!  It is yellow- rather than orange-flowered, but that is often the case. I clipped a piece and put it in the windowsill where it promptly wilted, but it lasted long enough for a close-up of its calyx, which I'd never noticed before and  is as interesting as the black-throated flower.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 22, 2011--tweaks

These are the same violas I used in an inkwell yesterday. Today, as I was planting the plants, I loved the way they looked with nearby orange cosmos, so I picked some cosmos, spread the violas out into three vases, and plopped them all in together. I like the different stages of the cosmos in these vases--some going to seed.

And here's a redo of the Violet Music irises I dropped into a vase yesterday. They are almost too beautiful--and extraordinary--to monkey with, but as I was weeding today, I encountered a plant material I wanted to use and thought it might look good with them. That material was the seed pods of a weed--evening primrose.     I liked the idea of adding those green pods (which sort of look like mini green bananas lined up on a stem) to the irises, if only to prove that these irises really are blooming in the fall. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21, 2011--violet music

I bought a flat of pansies this morning and got to ride in the car with them for two hours. I nearly swooned from the fragrance! I really love the pansy below, which I haven't even planted yet (picked the flowers directly from the plants in the flat). This particular one is a little larger than a viola, smaller than a traditional pansy. I don't know its name. I usually buy the little violas, because I think they do better over the winter than the large-flowered pansies do, but if this one with medium-sized flowers does well, I'll buy it again next fall, because I love its color. Imagine how beautiful it will be blooming under redbud next spring!

And THIS is Violet Music--a reblooming bearded iris. It just doesn't seem possible that such a thing could be blooming in October, but it is.  These irises just love a moist summer (because unlike most bearded irises they never go dormant) and a warm fall.  They were in full bud when I left them last Sunday, and I was praying there'd be no frost to destroy them before I arrived back here today.  There's obviously been no frost and these irises are absolutely gorgeous. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 20, 2011--circus colors

This is just a riot of color. And it would be even more riotous if I had more tithonia (the bright orange flower in the vase second from the left) here in Ashland.  (Those I do have migrated to Ashland in an arrangement I'd brought home from Buckingham.)  The blues and oranges and reds remind me of the circus, as do the stripes in the gourd. There are winterberries, blue ageratum, purple salvia, marigolds, and zinnias in these little containers, too. One of the zinnias sort of sums up the feel of the whole array--it's a striped  or "broken" zinna with blotches of red splashing the yellow petals.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 19--2011--camellias

I'm usually trying to make the background disappear in my windowsill photos, but today I wanted it to show up. That's because the camellias on the bush in the background are the camellias in the arrangement in the foreground! It's a sasanqua camellia called Cleopatra. So pretty and smells so good. There are alsoo a couple of stems of begonia, from an indoor plant, in this bottle (which is actually a Teavana container for hot tea).  

I  love the fall-blooming camellias in general, but I like Cleopatra in particular, because, in addition to having lots of pretty flowers, it makes a nicely-shaped shrub. Some of the other fall-blooming camellias are sort of gangly.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18, 2011--farewell summer

This little arrangement was created by Eliza Binns, my almost-12-year-old granddaughter. We walked around the garden yesterday afternoon looking for what she might pick and I shouldn't have been surprised that she was underwhelmed by the roses, unimpressed by the coleus, and unmoved by the mums. What she loved, as she always does, were the tiny flowers--especially these pink salvia flowers (I think they're called Lipstick) and white fall asters.  I was thrilled that she gravitated toward the asters, because they are one of my favorite fall flowers, too. My friend Rosanne Shalf's grandfather taught her to call them Farewell Summer, which is one of the most poetic wildflower names I've ever heard.

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 16, 2011--more okra!

Honestly, I just can't get over my love affair with okra. Two red okra pods and a stem of rugosa rose, with large, mature hips (red fruit), are in this little vase. There is just something appealing about seeing okra combined with most anything. The rugosa rose stems are VERY thorny (one friend tells me I'm the only woman in America who can handle them without gloves), but they're worth battling for because their flowers, foliage, hips are all beautiful.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 16, 2011--borage

In this vase are some okra leaves I peeled off longer stems and some blue borage flowers. I love the way borage sort of wakes up and puts on a great flush of bloom in the fall. I think it flat out does not like hot, Virginia summers. Anyway, I found this little arrangement satsifying just because it was so simple (and sort of showed off borage's hairy stems).  Below that is photo of an arrangement I did for someone else today. It's a smorgasbord of flowers and quite lush, but I actually like my little windowsill arrangement better.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 15,2011--new vase

I went to Scottsville this morning and had all the time in the world to wander through Riverside Antiques. Saw all sorts of wonderful, inexpensive things that could be used as vases (or were vases), but when I thought about what, if anything, I wanted to buy, it was this vase I decided on. I'm sure part of its appeal was that it was modern and part was the fact that it's odd (canted toward one side). Arguing against it was its color---sort if a greenish mustard. I already knew that was a hard color to deal with. I bought some plant pots the same color early this spring and never was satisfied with what I planted in them. However: turns out this little vase looks really great in my bedroom, so I'm glad I bought it. (And I'm guessing it will look better another day when it's not so loaded with plant material.) In it today are orange tithonia, blue salvia, blue ageratum, a trumpet vine pod, and a tupelo leaf. I wasn't motivated to work very hard on this photo, but the time I did spend looking though the camera at this arrangement was really fun because the light kept changing. It's really windy outside and the sunshine kept breaking through the tree leaves, highlighting different parts of the vase/plant material.

Friday, October 14, 2011

October 14, 2011---okra in an inkwell

The sun has finally come out and the okra is taking advantage of it. Big yellow blooms on some plants, smaller pinkish-white ones on others. And beautiful red buds and stems on some plants. I think I must have planted two kinds of red okra, because although both have reddish pods, only one has the red stems and buds. All are beautiful in arrangements. This little bloom and bud were leftover from some larger arrangements I did this morning.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 13, 2011--mystery fern turns out to be.....

guess what. When I got out of the car at Flower Camp yesterday, it was pouring down rain but there was something incredibly interesting near my car door. It was a single stem of something that looked like a fern frond. But it wasn't familiar. I browsed my brain for which fern it might be, came up with nothing, then even entertained the idea that someone had visited Flower Camp in my absence and left this piece of plant material behind! It was so beautiful, shiny, dark green. Picked it up and looked around for clues as to its source and discovered it--a mimosa that had grown up near Flower Camp gate. I was a tiny bit disappointed--both that I wasn't savvy enough to know a mimosa leaf when I saw it and that a mysterious fern hadn't entered my life. (Last week, John ran into a vine with stinging prickles we'd never encountered before in our river bottom, so I was unusually open to the possibility of finding things at Flower Camp that I'd not encountered in the 35+ years previous). Anyway, as the most interesting thing I'd encountered all day, I dropped my mimosa "frond" into a vase last night. As expected, it was a shriveled mess this morning, but it was fun, thinking for a New York minute, that it was something extraordinary. And BTW: we just had an afternoon shower that resulted in a rainbow stretching from one side of our hillside to the other.


next day

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12, 2011

This is just one stem of perennial helianthus cut into two pieces (two flowers on each) and dropped into vases with a couple of snippets of poet's laurel. The raindrops on the window are my favorite part of this (that and the fact that it's so gloomy outside, so cheery inside).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 11, 2011---gin bottle + viburnum

The black gin bottle is back! I knew it would be. And in it now is a branch from one of my favorite shrubs, the tea viburnum (Viburnum setigerum).  It's a viburnum that looks best at the edges of woods where it can drape gracefully out into the light and display these wonderful, dangling red berries (they're equally beautiful when immature and orange). I bought at least three viburnums hoping to get this one when I discovered I already had it growing wild on my property!  Despite my protests, the power company cuts it down every 5 years or so (it sneaks out into the power easement), but so far it has come back robustly every time its been cut. I galls me when Dominion Power slashes it down, because I cut even a small branch like this one reluctantly.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October 10, 2011

This was fine--a little collection of nasturtiums and Nippon daisies in the windowsill.

But what I really wanted to make work were some fall anemone flowers I cut off plants a friend gave me today. Their stems were originally 2+ feet tall and, because they had flopped over, the flowers were bruised, but I sort of liked their beat up look. I cut their stems really short and tried to get them to look comfortable in a little brown vase.  They just wouldn't cooperate! I tried adding a pretty brown wisteria vine, but I could never quite get it to do what I wanted it to either.  Still, I like getting these anemones into the record!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 9,2011-- okra

I think you should match your arrangements to your energy level, and today, after gardening all day, I had little energy left for flower arranging. However: there were all sorts of things I wanted to celebrate and one was the absolutely beautiful pods of my red okra. Wish I could remember exactly when I planted it (very late, I think, but I decided to take a chance our Oct. would be as warm as this one), and my gamble paid off because I have okra just coming into pod right now.  I cut a couple of leaves off the okra stem to place them separately in the vase (below the pod and buds), but otherwise, this was a "one-clip and drop it in the vase" affair.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October 8, 2011

I just gathered these flowers up this afternoon and dropped them into a vase. The red flowers are pineapple sage, the dark maroon and orange ones are marigolds, and the little yellow ones are some sort of zinnia, I think. There is also a stem of daisy wingstem in this (its spent flowers look sort of mustard-colored.)  The little yellow zinnias (if they are zinnias) interest me because I first bought them as potted annuals a couple of years ago from Elizabeth McDade in Ashland. They've come up from seeds every year since, but they don't emerge until really late--sometimes not until August. Once they're up they grow and bloom really fast, though. The other thing in this collection of materials that interested me was a passion flower vine that was clinging to the pineapple sage. (It's the vine circling downward.)  I removed its leaves so you could see its wonderful tendrils better. I think I'll do that again!

Friday, October 7, 2011

October 7, 2011--seek and ye shall find

Remember I said I wished I had a black bottle on Oct. 4? We'll I found one on Oct. 7! In the bar of The Liason Hotel in Washington, D.C.  A BEAUTIFUL black Hendirck's gin bottle.  Mary Garner Mitchell and I , who were in D.C. to see Robert Llewellyn's photography show at the U.S. Botanic Garden, had to drink the whole bottle of gin to get it (or that's one version of the story; in another version we just sweet-talked the bartender).  Anyway, it's a perfectly beautiful bottle I'm sure I'll use over and over.  The only thing wrong with the Liason Hotel, which we loved otherwise, was the fact that its windowsills are only about 1/2 inch wide---defintely too narrow to hold a Hendrick's gin bottle.  So I just held it up near the windowsill.  Finding plant material for this "arrangement" was relatively easy. Went out early, walked around the block, and in the garden beds around the otherwise pristine Japanese War Memorial at New Jersey and Louisianna Avenues, I found these weeds, which I helpfully pulled up. (No one else was carrying an armload of weeds on New Jersey Avenue before breakfast this morning, but I sort of enjoyed the distinction!). I actually pulled up both some smartweed and some sedges but used only the sedges.  I shudder to think what the chambermaid is thinking about the smartweed I left behind in the trash.

Pretty label on the gin bottle, too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 6, 2010--- American wisteria foliage

Yesterday, as I was pulling  wisteria vines out of an American holly, this piece broke off. It's really a beautiful piece of plant material, as American wisteria stems typically are.  With smaller foliage and a bit different leaf posture than Asian wisteria, American wisteria vines are MUCH the more useful vines in arrangements, but climbing in a holly tree, American wisteria can be almost as much of a problem as Asian wisteria. Anyway, I liked the way it poured out of its bottle.  In second photo, I tried to jazz it up by bringing some nasturtiums over from another windowsill, but I actually prefer the wisteria by itself.

I have GOT to stop arranging flowers and paint this windowsill!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 5, 2011--hot peppers

The holly leaves in this arrangement are recyled from Oct. 1. The vase is a salt shaker that has "pepper" written in red on it. It's been on the vase shelf, not the dinner table, for a long time, but I don't think I'd every used it as a vase before. In fact, I grabbed it just because it was the right size to hold those holly leaves, which I didn't want to throw away as I was dismantling the Oct. 1 arrangement.  Today's arrangement just sort of evolved for there--a container advertising pepper in red seeming to call for  hot peppers, which needed to be harvested anyway.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October 4, 2011--forsythia and rose

Yesterday I finally got out in the garden to weed and, in my last wheelbarrow load of weeds, I noticed a forsythia twig I'd cut off while pulling grapevine out of the shrub, and the twig had two yellow blooms on it. A great season marker that: forsythia throwing a few blooms in the fall.  Below is the twig I rescued from the wheelbarrow. There's a stem of pachysandra in the blue bottle, too.  I kept wishing I had a black bottle to put this in, which made me realize I don't think I've ever seen a bottle made of black glass (dark brown, yes, but not black). That's something I'd like to have. Notice the maple leaf on the roof. Soon it will have lots of company!

There are actually lots of things blooming in the garden now, and the roses are particularly pertty.  This is Carefree Beauty, I think. I picked it because it was fun to be able display it in four stages--overblown flower, loose bud, tight bud, and petals-gone-only-calyx-remaining.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3, 2011---windowsill harvest

This was so easy and so much fun. I piled peppers of all sorts into salad bowls then put them in the windowsill, but they seemed to flat, so I unloaded them, placed a little vase in each bowl, then reloaded the peppers. Into each vase I put some marigolds and nasturtiums. If you don't count harvesting the peppers, this took about 5 minutes. There is also one flower in the vase farthest left that is important to me. It's a white bell pepper blossom. I doubt it would ever have formed a pepper this late, but I admire its pluck!