Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30, 2011--little blue stem, etc.

This little concoction looks very November to me. In it are some stems of little blue stem (a native grass with white, fluffy seed heads), some winterberry (red berries), and a cluster of florets from a dried hydrangea blossom. The hydrangea blossoms look almost bronzy in the sun. And some of them have been skeletonized by insects so they are lacy. Quite pretty. But thing I enjoyed most about doing this arrangement was seeing the sun create a shadow of the flower heads on the curtain. It doesn't show in the first photo (which is probably the better photo), but it does show in the second one.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 29,2011---Brocolli Raab

This is three stems of brocolli raab jammed into a green vase. It's as pretty in a vase as it is on a plate. Or in the garden for that matter. I learned something interesting about brocolli raab this weekend. I've been harvesting only the unopen flowers and short stalks, but a friend told me the best part of brocolli raab is the greens and that the open, yellow flowers are also edible. Sure enough, I stir-fried the leaves and they were delicious! I had been thinking my plants were producing little I could eat when, in fact, they were producing lots. And it's just so much fun to see something so lush and green in the garden in November. Wendy (my friend who knows about brocolli raab) calls it rapini. She thinks brocollini is an entirely different thing (maybe the second, side shoots of regular brocolli?). We're still puzzling over that.

As you can see, if you were only to eat the unopen flowers of brocolli raab, you wouldn't get much.

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011---greenbrier and buttercups

I tried again with the greenbrier--this time positioning my stick horizontally, cutting the greenbrier vine into segments, and dropping those segments into a series of small vases. Then I added some gourds and mushrooms. I fear this is another example of "I keep adding things and it's still too compllicated!" There is something interesting in this conglomeration, though. I found buttercups blooming on my walk this morning and added them to the mix. It's just so much fun to have yellow buttercups and fall greenbrier foliage at the same time! 

I tried combining just the buttercups and a couple of greenbrier leaves in a vanilla bottle.  The arrangement is sort of lackluster, but the leaves and buttercup flowers are not. In fact, as my brain was registering how highly reflective the greenbrier leaves are, I was also noticing the reflection of the shiny buttercup flowers in the window. Look closely and you can see it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 27, 2011

The "arrangement" below is just a stick jammed into a pin holder with a greenbrier vine wrapped up and around it. (The pin holder is in a low, black dish.) The leaves, especially with light coming through them, are beautiful, but I couldn't seem to capture that in the photo.

Here's a closeup that captures the color of the greenbrier leaves better.

Beside the stick (with greenbrier climbing it) is a mushroom I found on my walk. There are dozens of these mushrooms in ditches along the railroad tracks right now.They look like bowler hats and are about as big as grapefruits.

Friday, November 25, 2011

November 25, 2011--purple wings

Too bad this photo is out of focus, because this is a pretty little thing. One pansy blossom, a couple of leaves (of different forms and shades of green), and grasses. The pansy is the star. I bought the one plant this flower came from while visiting a nursery with a friend. It's her favorite pansy, called Purple wings.  I see why she likes it so much; it's just so cherry. The flower below is fading, but you can see how pretty it is.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 24, 2011--Happy Thanksgiving (and Easter)

Well, here is your basic array of Thanksgiving stuff in the windowsill. The most interesting thing in the mixture is an absolutely gorgeous greenbrier vine. And the gourds and squashes are fun because some of them I grew on purpose, others I harvested from plants that were volunteers. I also stuck a sprig of rose hips in the middle to fill an empty space.

But here's what really moved me on this Thanksgiving day. In my walk along Center Street, I found henbit blooming in a ditch. It's not all that unusual for henbit to bloom during a warm fall or winter spell, but it's a spring wildflower/weed that I associate with Easter (it's ALWAYS blooming on Easter), so it was fun to find it blooming today. With it I've combined some pepper grass I also found along the roadside.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 23, 2011--rose hips, Japanese maple foliage, daylily leaves

This is a mishmash of material gleaned from earlier arrangements. The only new material is the one I like best in this: the daylily foliage which is the twirly yellow-brown stuff reaching out to the right. This is all in a fake-crystal cruet--one of my favorite containers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 22, 2011--tickseed sunflowers

Found these tickseed sunflowers blooming in a ditch on my walk yesterday. Got my feet wet picking them, but it was worth it.  The vanilla jar is sitting on another tile I bought yesterday (this one is sort of brown with black edges).

And here's the whole windowsill. Left to right: trumpet vine pods, tickseed sunflowers with green tomato, sweet gum leaves, autumn fern, ginkgo leaves with nandina berries, red oak leaf.

And this is yesterday's arrangement again. I'm just determined to get a photo of it tha makes the tree reflections in the tile show up! This photo captures it better than yesterday's, I think.

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011-- new perspective

Today, my 64th birthday, I gave myself a present. I gave myself the time to go to Home Depot and look at the tiles that I thought might make good platforms for my windowsill arrangements. I bought one for $2.97 (which seemed expensive, since some were only 39 cents each). This 4 by 4 inch square of reflective material yielded more than I could have ever imagined -- the reflection of my next door neighbor's trees! If only the photo could capture it. Look closely (above) and maybe you can see it.

In the little green bottle are greens from Pieris japonica (leftover from a previous arrangement) and pretty pink blossoms of cyclamen, from the garden. The photo above fails (as a photo) because of the distractions in the background. Below is a somewhat better photo, but it erases the ephiphany that made this arrangement important--the trees reflected in the tile!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20, 2011---seriously seasonal

     When John and I left for the beach on Friday, all the leaves were still on our ginkgo trees. We arrived home tonight to find them all on the ground. Every single one. "A squirrel pulls a lever and they all fall off," someone has said about the way ginkgo leaves fall all at once. Sorry I missed it! 
     The ginkgo leaves are in two vanilla bottles. I had emptied them (using the vanilla for baking) before I left. Also included are some very small clusters of nandina berries. All this is so November---the ginkgo leaves, the nandina berries, the vanilla bottles (which emerge from my spice cabinet almost exclusively at holiday time). Strangely enough, though, it is very warm out tonight, and the sounds I heard as I gathered the ginkgo leaves off the ground were spring frog and insect sounds.

November 19, 2011

Oops. I'm a day late posting this. At the beach with family, and this is an arrangement my daughter, Kate, did yesterday. It's all material we found on our walk--a pretty piece of driftwood, a string of welk egg cases (I think), pale yellow lantana flowers, and an electric pink flower that may be ice plant (?). I'm really unfamiliar with the flowers down here. 65 degrees and sunny outside. Amazing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 18, 2011

I've been wanting to use my hot peppers in an arrangement, and this morning I decided it had better happen soon becasue the fruit flies were hovering. Tried a couple of different ways of using them, all of which seemed too contrived, so I finally just plopped them down on this little cutting board and put a piece of greenery (variegated aucuba) behind them. The aucuba is in a roll of covered wire from Michael's craft store. A floral tube holds water inside it. 

It's a good thing I picked this little piece of aucuba late yesterday, because right now the entire shrub is stiff as a board after a hard frost last night. And these hot peppers probably  represent the last hot color I'll get from the garden for months.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011--prissy, prissy

This is the time of year when all sorts of prissy things you'd forgotten you had tumble out of the cupboard! Came across this little china pitcher this morning when hunting for a serving dish.  The other little china things were nearby, too, so I gave them air time on the windowsill.  It is absolutely miserable outside right now--rainy and cold--but, amazingly enough, I still had a few prissy things blooming in the garden--half a dozen snapdragons and three fall-blooming camelia bushes. I also put a bit of foliage from Pieris japonica in the pitcher, but thought I needed more yellow-green, so I picked what you can see through the window--some forsythia foliage.

 It's sort of amazing that flowers this delicate-looking are still blooming on Nov. 17.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16, 2011---Japanese maple

November belongs to Japanese maples. Everybody has already finished their fall foliage trips to the mountains when the Japanese maples say--yoo hoo, don't forget about me! My husband, painting on the roof today, had the most extraordinary view of the one I harvested this branch from today. This is just one small branchlet I brought into the  house to enjoy. Imagine the whole tree!!  The challenge in "arranging" it was to keep the branch horizontal, the way it appears on the tree outdoors. Oh where, or where, is an Ikebana container when you need one?  You can sort of see here how I solved the problem. I positioned a pin holder (the type that holds water) on a cant in another horizontal container; then I cut the Japanese maple stem on a sharp angle;  then I jammed it into the pinholder and pressed downward. (Easier to demonstrate than describe.) It's a jerry-rigged solution to an age-old problem--how to get water to a horizontal stem--but it works. As the light changes outdoors, so does the color and luminescence of the leaves on the windowsill.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15, 2011

If I  had two more ounces of energy tonight, I'd work on getting a better photo of this, but I don't. I'm just glad I had put these winterberry wands in a vase this morning, because I'm too tired to come up with anything else tonight!

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011--oak leaves

These are straight from my walk this morning--red oak leaves that were postively firey with morning light behind them. Recently heard a good way to help people tell the difference between red oak and white oak leaves: red oak leaves are bristle-tipped (like the arrows red men shot) and white oak leaves have rounded tips (like the bullets white men shot). I fear there is a racial slur in there somewhere (is it offensive to American Indians to be referred to as red men?). If so, someone please tell me before I repeat this again!

Couldn't stop. Added a gourd and a winter squash to the windowsill.

The colors of these leaves--all from the same tree--really are extraordinary.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November 13, 2011--rose hips

The rose hips on rugosa roses are as big as cherry tomatoes and so gorgeous right now. I should be using them to make tea (way high in vitamin C, I'm told), but I'm just looking at them. The way the leaves on each rugosa rose stem are arranged is so pretty (they surround the stem in postures that look good from every direction), all you have to do to make one look good in a vase is cut it and drop it in! Below are three small vases, each with one short Rosa rugosa stem in it.  In the vase on the far right there are also two tiny green tomatoes I filched from yesterday's arrangement, skewered on stiff twigs. and added to the vase. To its left is an osage orange, which is fun to look at no matter where it is. I gathered dozens of them this year, but I left some on the ground where they've rolled into the woods, because if children happen to find them, they'll think they've discovered alien eggs!

Here are those rugosa rose hips up close.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November 12, 2011

This little dish garden was inspired by an arrangement I saw at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden yesterday. Laura Anne Brooks had created an arrangement in an orange bell pepper; it included woodland moss, pine, rose hips, and some a couple of chrysanthemums. Her arrangement was beautiful, and because I happened to have a couple of pretty orange bell peppers, I tried to imitate it, but some reason I wasn't happy with the way my bell pepper worked as a vase.  So I switched to a pin holder like the one below.

My little dish garden includes moss, one orange marigold (this last of the season), rose hips, yellow brocollini flowers, tiny black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia triloba), and a couple of small green tomatoes. It doesn't really show up in the picture, but the yellow leaves of some kerria shrubs outside the window were sort of pretty blowing around as I photographed this, and the shadows on the curtains and couch were wonderful.

Pine--I almost forgot the pine! It was the pine I liked best in Laura's arrangement, and mine includes some, too. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

November 11--November light

The most fun part of doing this arrangement was watching the light change as I tried to photograph it.  It created stripes on the windowsill and wall that shifted every few seconds.  In the brown bottle are orange and yellow viola flowers picked this morning plus lots of materail culled from previous arrangements---a red pepper, a couple of liriope stems (with black berries), brocollini florets and leaves.  The little yellow pepper in the foreground is sitting on a hydrangea leaf that fell off a larger arrangement earlier this morning.

The pepper in the foreground  is a Doe Hill Golden Bell Pepper, one of the most delicious peppers I've ever eaten. Seeds came from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011--arranging like a freegan

Did you know there are "freegans" as well as "vegans"? Freegans eat only free food (and yes, it is possible to live on only free food). I thought about that this morning, because, on my walk, I came across two free "vases."  One was a big gin bottle, the other a Smirnoff vodka bottle (one of the tiny, airplane-sized ones). The latter actually makes a great little vase. Anyway, everything in this first "arrangement" is something I picked on my walk this morning and dropped into a free vase (a.k.a. the gin bottle I found along the roadside). The plant material is winged sumac, goldenrod, aster seed heads, and some grasses.

The second "arrangement" includes wild asparagus I found along the roadside a few days ago, combined with the pansies I used in yesterday's arrangement. Some of the asparagus, which has two green berries on it, is in a sauce bottle, but the material in the foreground is in the tiny, plastic vodka bottle I found along the roadside this morning.  Here's a case where I wish I either had more time to work on a better photo or knew how to take a decent photo more quickly (or both!), because the yellow-green asparagus foliage with the blue-violet pansies is really gorgeous, and I can't even seem to photograph it properly. (Can't even get the highlight from the flash out of the photo.)  People who know how translate what their eyes see into what the camera sees are so lucky.   

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9, 2011---brocollini, etc.

This is a combination of materials I picked from the garden this morning--brocollini leaves, stems, and yellow flowers; two pinkish-lavender petunia blossons; a couple of stems of obedient plant (which have very few florets left on the stem); and a cluster of pansy blossoms (those are in a floral tube tucked into the other materials).  These materials seem so consistent with the day--fall, for sure, but warm, bright, and conducive to the last flowers of summer, new flowers of fall.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 8, 2011--Swiss chard

The most interesting thing about this is where the idea came from. I was culling through a pile of catalogs, when I came across the one pictured below. "I've got that [Swiss chard]" was the message that registered in my brain when I looked at the catalog cover.  In truth, I like the "arrangements" on the catalog cover -- with just the Swiss chard stems in jars -- better than my own arrangement (which includes leaves), but I didn't have as much Swiss chard as they did! Of course, it's amazing (to me) that I have any Swiss chard growing in the garden at all.  Most people probably don't, but this post is still relevant, because it proves a catalog cover can serve as windowsill arranging inspiration

I also learned something from trying to arrange these leaves and stems. I felt the way I imagine an elementary school chorus teacher must feel when trying to stage a production. I needed to move the showiest stems (best voices) to the front, but the stems with the best leaves (tallest kids) needed to be in the back. A conundrum I didn't have time to solve!

Monday, November 7, 2011

November 7, 2011--what lasts

One of the things I learn by putting plant material in windowsill arrangements is how long the material lasts. Sometimes the things you expect to live longest wilt first, and sometimes the things you expect to fade first endure longest.  Today I reorganized some plant material that has been in various windowsill arrangements for a long time. The climbing spinach has been in a vase over ten days and shows no signs of wilting. The gentian, which I also expected to have a short vase life, still looks great a week after I cut it.  The liriope berries and arum leaves are almost immortal. The hickory leaf, which I put upright in a vase when it was fresh, has withered, but I've used it in a new way to accommodate its new shape. The only material in these concoctions that I hadn't used in a previously posted arrangement is the celosia in the last photo, but it, too, lasts indefinitely.  I picked it over a week ago, left it on the back porch where it endured at least two frosts, and it still looks great.  So: this is all plant material that lasts a long time.

gentian and grasses

climbing spinach

hickory leaf with liriope berries

celosia with arum leaves

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 6, 2011

Martha Wertz and Rhonda Roebuck were at Flower Camp yesterday, and, like the good sports they are, they agreed to do windowsill arrangements. Here's Martha bringing her flowers in>

And here are her arrangements, which include Rudbeckia triloba, celosia, butterfly weed pods, sedum, borage, and (far right) a nicotiana flower. Proves how much interesting stuff you can find even after a hard frost!

And here is Rhonda playing with her plant material--a yellow zinnia, a grass seed head, crocosmia foliage (the yellow-green spears), a a garlic mustard seed head, and a stem of Jester millet (the blackish, spear-like seed structure). 

Please forgive me, Rhonda, for this bad photo of your arrangement. I tried to move it to a windowsill where I thought it would show up better than did in the windowsill where you left it, and I jostled it in the process.

And here's my Nov. 6 arrangement. This is a single stem of Jester millet that I pulled out of the garden today but couldn't seem to throw away. It has multiple seed structures probably because I cut the central one for an arranement earlier, the stem branched and rebloomed. This is so very much prettier than it looks in the photo. The seed structure is a deep, dark, blackish maroon, some of the foliage is yellow-green, some bleached tan, and all of it beautifully weathered. Another thing that doesn't show up in the photo is the plant's roots. I pulled it up by the roots and plopped it, roots and all, on top of a pin holder in this vase.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 5, 2011

This is a sycamore leaf I found on my walk this morning. So lacy, so pretty. I think this "damage" is done by the caterpillar of the sycamore tussock moth. Does this qualify as a windowsill arrangement? I say "yes"!