Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31, 2011--pomegranate and pine

I had already done an arrangement for today when I noticed the pomegranate sitting on the counter. I'd cut a wedge out of it to harvest some seeds, but suddenly it looked like a vessel, not a fruit, so I jammed some pine into it. The feel of that pine stem penetrating the pomegranate flesh was crazy. And then, another interesting thing happened: I turned on the light over the counter and that created a great pine needle shadow under the pomegranate.

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30--geranium, again

This morning I discovered I'd left a geranium clipping on the kitchen counter overnight---something I'd edited from yesterday's arrangement. So I put it in water. Then, tonight, transferred it to a hot sauce bottle.

Then I decided to tranfer the big geranium blossom I'd used in yesterday's arrangement to a different vase, and I put a brown, woven coaster under it. Voila--a whole new look.

It's really amazing how much plant material you can harvest from one geranium plant overwintering in the windowsill.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29, 2011

What interested me here were the chartreuse leaves. I got back late from NY with little energy for windowsill arranging and decided to use only materials already in the house. I had used these geranium leaves in an arrangement before Christmas, and they were looking pretty shot, until I realized that "shot" in this case meant they had turned chartreuse green--a leaf color I LOVE in arrangements. So I decided to put them center stage. The chartreuse geranium leaves are combined here in a vanilla bottle with one red geranium blossom. A vanilla bottle makes a great vase for windowsill arranging because its base is so narrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28, 2011

Still in NYC where there are cut flowers for sale just blocks from us, but foraging is so much more fun! In this red vase (which I bought at Pearl River yesterday) are an ivy leaf (which I pinched off a vine), chopsticks (which I also bought at Pearl River), and a lemon wedge, which I begged off a waiter in the hotel lobby. My iPad doesn't take very good pictures (or at least I don't know how to take very good pictures with it), but my ineptitude led to something interesting here: In the photo, the notices on the hotel room
door (reflected in the window) remind me of the chop marks on Japanese scrolls!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27th 2011

This is a windowsill in The Roosevelt Hotel, NYC. The evergreen twigs came from a discarded Christmas tree on the sidewalk. The little red bag ($1) came from a store called Pearl River. We (Kate, Eliza, and I) were on the lookout for other greens all day but never found any.

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011--Santa in his skivvies

This was a gift for a friend who loves clotheslines, but I had to take a picture of it in the windowsill before giving it away.  The only natural material here is moss--two kinds, a sheet moss and a cushion moss from Flower Camp.  Santa and his clothes came from an old-fashioned sheet of paperdolls I bought at a Christmas tree farm near Howardsville. The clothesline poles are wooden skewers; the tiny clothespins came from Michaels (the craft store). This may be too clever by half, but it sure was fun to create. Just cutting out the Santa paperdoll clothes took me back to cutting out paperdoll clohtes from McCalls magazine.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25, 2011

Oh, my. I am posting this from my new iPad. And this photo was taken by my granddaughter Eliza with her new phone. My glass is definitely more than half full.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24, 2011

It seems like a long, long time ago now, but here's what I was playing with this morning. I took the leftover ribs of collards and used them like spiky leaves in a small, brown vase.

While I was photographing this, I noticed a wonderful shadow on the wall. It was created by an arrangement on the kitchen table.

Moved the arrangement creating the shadow over to the window to photograph it there. It includes lots of leftovers from earlier windowsill arrrangements: an oxeye daisy, some red twig dogwood twigs, and a stem of hemlock.

I grabbed a dish (stacked on the table in anticipation of company) tu put under the vase to keep it steady on the radiator, and it turned out to be really pretty with the contents of the vase (because there's the image of an evergreen sprig on the plate). Sort of a fun coincidence.

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23--buttercups and dandelions!

Christmas had me my the throat, so I decided to take a walk to loosen the noose. Good idea!  Look what I found-- a blooming buttercup and lots and lots of blooming dandelions. If you want to focus the mind, walk a mile with cars and trains zooming past while you're trying to keep a head of dandelion seeds from blowing away!  Every breeze feels like a gale. I'm mighty proud of the undisturbed dandelion seed heads in this arrangement, Other things in this conglomeration include a particularly pretty stem of blackberry leaves, a wand of honeysuckle, and a stem of red-leaved greenbrier. Under the vase is a cookbook I couldn't resist including. A gift from artist Betty Gatewood (who illustrated the cover), it's called Dandelion Salad, And More Recipes from the Frontier Culture Museum. On page 38 is Betty and her husband Mark's recipe for Dandelion Greens Salad (which calls for a "loose gallon: of leaves). I didn't pick enough to make a salad of dandelion greens alone, but I'll add those I did pick to other greens tonight. I'm almost embarrassed to say how smug I felt foraging greens along the roadside while those passing me were dashing to the grocery store. (Unfortunately, foraging will get you only so far, and I'll be back in the car soon myself-- pursuing foods much less nutritious than dandelion greens.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22, 2011--fog

It was the fog that got me scrambling out of bed this morning. Surrounded by really thick fog, the trees looked so pretty outside. I tried to quickly pull an arrangement together (geranium flowers in a cruet) so I would have the fog in the background when I photographed my windowsill arrangement. Unfortunately, it took a while to clear the windowsill of geranium petals and other debris that had gathered there (this is the south-facing windowsill where I overwinter geraniums in pots), and the fog had lifted a bit before I could snap the picture.  Still, for my effort, I have a visual record of the weather and a cheery little vase of geranium flowers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011

How to explain this. I had piled onions gathered from the garden in an old egg basket. We ate most of the onions, but at the bottom of the stack was an immature onion I had gathered really small. Oh, how much it wanted to grow! It wanted to grow so much that it insinutated itself through every relatively-sunny space it could find, including the spaces between the reeds in the old egg basket. So, in second photo below, you can see how it stitched itself  to the basket. I propped this up in the windowsill with other stuff (already there) just because I liked it so much.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20, 2011--ball of twine

This "vase" isn't exactly a ball of twine; it's a ball of something that seems to be a cross between thread and twine. I found it while rummaging around in some of my mother's old sewing materials. So many odd things shuffle to the surface at Christmas! I have a fantasy that this ball of "twine" is really old and may have been handed down to my mother from the real seamstress in our family, my great Aunt Bessie. Anyway, I have no idea why I've held onto it all these years, but I have, and this Christmas it seemed like a treasure, so I used it as a vase. I dropped a little floral tube into the hole in the middle and filled the hole with mint leaves and a cluster of pyracantha berries. I was headed across the yard in pursuit of holly leaves I spotted the mint--so amazingly green for this time of year, Spring green, really.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dates off--oh, dear! Dec. 19 + pomegranate

Well, this is my REAL post for Dec. 19. It seems my date was wrong yesterday (which proves how unnecessary the numbers are). Today, Monday, I visited Libbey Oliver, who had this array in her Williamsburg windowsill.

Libbey's windowsill made you want to eat it, but on her kitchen counter was something even more enviably edible--a pomegranate!

And this wasn't a pomegranate from the grocery store; it was a pomegranate from Libbey's garden. How did she grow it? It sprouted as a seedling from her compost heap. How did she know it was a pomegranate seedling? "I don't know; I just knew it." Below is photo of pomegranate tree/shrub in Libbey's Williamsburg, Virginia garden.

Oh, my! Williamsburg isn't Richmond (much less Howardsville), but the thought of growing pomegranates is pretty alluring. The little ornamental ones (like the ones on a shrub I found in front of the Virginia Historical Society), no problem. But REAL, BIG, EDIBILE  pomegranates? Be still my heart! Libbey gave me a seedling (offspring of the pomegranate she found in her compost heap), and Santa will have to work really hard to give me a gift I appreciate more.

Below is photo of yummy nibble Libbey created with seeds from her pomegranates: pomegranate seeds on liquer-enhanced cream cheese inside kumkuats. Hard to believe something this scrumptious (and locally grown) is legal.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 19, 2011--another ribbon spool

No wonder I am sometimes overwhelmed by the holidays: I can't even throw a ribbon spool away. See Dec. 6 for my first use of a ribbon spool as a vase. Today, it was the red label on the spool that appealed to me. This should have been easy: I decided to just wrap a grapevine around the spool to make it appropriate for my windowsill, but grapevine proved too brittle. Instead, I had to search for some Japanese honeysuckle, but the search, as always, proved worthwhile. It reminded me how many green leaves hang onto Japanese honeysuckle through  the winter. No wonder it grows to fast; it's nearly evergreen.

OK, the bar code is a little distracting. Just think of it as a graphic element in the design.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 18, 2011--mystery leaf

Found this gorgeous leaf on a walk in the rain yesterday afternoon. I know most of the trees along the trolley line (where I walk), but don't know which tree (or shrub) this leaf came from, and neither does my husband, who is a better tree-identifier than I am. Now I've got not just a great leaf but a mystery to go with it! I've got the leaf propped up with tip end down because I like it best that way. A thin stick through a hole in the leaf (and standing upright in the vase) keeps it upright.

Friday, December 16, 2011

December 16--red twig dogwood

This is just a glass container with redtwig dogwood branches in it. This particular variety is Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire,’ and it has peachy-orange twigs. I have cut every twig I dare cut from this shrub (for myself and others) this year, and I'm afraid I may have cut too much. Experts say prune about a third of the shrub almost to the ground each year in late winter, but it seems I always cut more and cut it earlier. I once lost a whole hedge of redtwig dogwood to something--maybe improper pruning. If I had my act together better, I'd hedge (!) my bets by planting a backup to this variety, which I really love. The closup shows its color best.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15, 2011--pile of gumballs

Here are the gumballs that were in my hat yesterday. I decided to try to display them better, and when I reached for an appropriate vase, this is the one I came up with.  It's one of those vases with a platform supported by a round pin holder, and, although I'm not taking advantage of the pin-holder feature, it's perfect---sort of rusty-rustic looking.

Here's what the gumballs are sharing the windowsill with--the oxeye daisy I picked on Dec. 7 and some red twig dogwood stems I also used in an earlier arrangement. There's a hemlock sprig in the jar, too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011---this hat is not yellow

Yesterday, as I was walking, I collected gumballs in my hand. It was a day for doing that, because many gumballs seem to have released their latches and fallen to the ground. Then I realized I had too many gumballs to carry in my hand, so I took off my hat and put them in my hat. This morning they were still stashed in my hat, and tonight, when I felt too tired to do a windowsill arrangement, they were still sitting in my hat, so I just moved my hat to the windowsill. These "gumballs in hat' represent as good a time marker/recorder-of-things-going-on-outside as any arrangement I could have done. Only problem was that I couldn't get color right (my hat is off white--not yellow), but you get the picture.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011

Two fun things today. #1: Early this morning, I thought I'd go out and pick something green. The greenest thing I saw was privet with its leaves still on. Cut a stem off a big shrub, then spotted a tiny seedling with prettier, smaller leaves. I pulled it straight out of the ground, which shows you how wet the soil is. It came up with every inch of its root intact. I'm hoping, hoping you can see the root in the photo below, because that's the most interesting part of this conglomeration. Also in the bottle are a couple of Virginia pine cones and pyracantha berries.

Fun thing #2: I went to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond today, and on my way up those very imposing steps in front, I spotted a ragged shrub with pomegranates on it! There is a hardy pomegranate that grows well in Richmond, and but it was sort of an odd shrub to find growing in front of the Virginia Historical Society. It had almost completely lost its leaves, but a few tiny pomegranates (this ornamental shrub has only tiny pomegranates) were hanging on the bare branches; others were rotting on the ground. I picked one from the shrub, others from the ground and brought them home. Here they are in vanilla bottles.

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12, 2011--pine and rose hips

On my walk today I picked these multiflora rose hips. Then, later in the walk, I came across some loblolly pine twigs lying on the path. Combined them in my hand, then, when I got home, started thinking about a vase to put them in. I liked them horizontal, and was considering putting them in my hibiscus holder, which allows things to lie horizontally, when I realized they didn't need to be in water at all. So: I just tied them up with a piece of ribbon and laid them in the windowsill.

It was fun to look at the clusters of pine tags up close. Three per bundle, every single bundle. Still startles me that each pine species has its distinctive number of needles per bundle.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11, 2011--Johnny jump-ups

These little Johnny jump-ups were stiff with frost when I picked them this morning. They obviously thawed, and I used them to garnish a salad. No one ate them, so I washed them off and stuck them in a vase.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 10, 2011---greenbrier and daisy

This one greenbrier leaf was the natural material I wanted to showcase today. It had almost no stem, so, to hold it upright in the vase, I threaded a daisy stem through a hole in the leaf.  (I pulled the petals off the daisy, which was one of two I picked on Dec. 7. The petals of this one had wilted; the other one still looks pretty good.)

Here's how the daisy stem goes through the leaf.  And what a leaf it is! It should really be in a museum somewhere!

Friday, December 9, 2011

December 9, 2011--back to bling

This is my Dec. 3 arrangement with two shiny Christmas ornaments added.

The kichen seemed to be calling for more bling, because the arrangement below was sitting on a nearby counter (waiting to go to my sister's on Sunday).

The windowsill itself now looks like this.  

December 8, 2011--rabbit apples

I'm posting yesterday's arrangement a day late, becasuse of a problem with Internet connection.  Rosanne Shalf created this windowsill arrangement yesterday in about 5 minutes. It includes several stems of coralberry, also known as rabbit apples (Symphoricarpus orbiculatus).  This wild, wonderful, shrubby plant is in fruit every December at Flower Camp, but some years it's fuller-of fruit than others. This year each stem is loaded with magenta berries. Here, Rosie has combined it with some epimedium foliage (reddish leaves near the lip of the container) and a snippet of Baggsen's Gold honeysuckle (the chartreuse green leaves). Very pretty!

Taking the photo above took longer that doing the arrangement, because of challenging light, cars in the background outside the window, etc.!  The berries don't really show up as well as they should, so here's closeup to show you their color.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7, 2011--December daisies

What I had wanted to say about yesterday's arrangement (below) is that it included a tiny spring of nandina berries leftover from a big arrangement as well as a couple of stems of  a native grass with fluffy, white seed heads  (l;ittle blue stem). I dropped them into a partially-used spool of ribbon, also leftover from the larger arrangement.  So very easy and pretty dramatic. 

But what happens when you introduce red to the windowsill is that every subtler thing is visually overpowered.  I experience this every Christmas when I start decorating and introduce the first red ribbon. Game over: red wins. Today I had intended to just go with it--to play with nandina berries all over the place, but on my morning walk I encountered something not red that deserved a  place on the windowsill--several oxeye daisies. It's not all that unusual to find a few of them blooming in December (I remember journaling about the first I ever encountered, thinking I'd never see such a thing again), but they do usually bloom in early summer, so these late, late, late bloomers are worth noting. Anyway, I picked two and put them in a little bottle on the windowsill. They don't show up very well in photo below (partly because of the window mullions), but they do prove one thing: that white, particularly when it's out of season,  can compete with red.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6, 2011--ribbon spool

Long day that involved lots of ribbon and nandina. Better explanation tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5, 2011

The windowsill looks spare right now, and I like it. To the right is redtwig dogwood in a pickle jar.

To the left is an old bollle with a spring of blooming spirea in it. Spirea blooming in December! How much fun is that?!

In between are the ripening tomato and climbing spinach vine from yesterday.

You can't really see it in the photo, but there's one cluster of red winterberry berries in the bottle with the spirea. They sort of jazz things up--like a cardinal in a tree.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4, 2011--long-lasting tomato, climbing spinach

I was vacuuming when I found material for today's "arrangement."  It seems a green tomato I'd used in an arrangement on Nov. 22 had dropped behind a radiator, where I encountered it this morning. It was no longer green but blushing red, and too pretty to throw away. I put it on top of a little liquor bottle, where it looked fine, but the real drama didn't occur until the morning light showed me its shadow on the cabinet nearby.

And look what has happened to the climbing spinach vine I used in windowsill arrangements on November 7 and October 29!  It has rooted! Talk about a surprise. This is a plant material I had never thought would hold up well in a vase, but not only has it lasted over a month, it shows absolutely no signs of wilting. I feel compelled to plant it in a pot of dirt and see if it will continue to grow over the winter (indoors), but it's so happy where it is, I sort of hate to disturb it.