Saturday, November 30, 2013


I've been hanging onto these pretty brown eggshells thinking I would do something creative with them. But as they collected on top of these little glass vases, I decided I liked them just the way they were. There's something about their repeated forms and colors that appeals to me.

Friday, November 29, 2013


I've got some nice, long branches of winterberry waiting outside in a bucket, where they'll stay until I use them in Christmas arrangements. But before I put them in water I pruned off a few twigs so they wouldn't be under the water. These three tiny ones wound up on the windowsill in a brown bottle (with an old oak leaf under it).

Thursday, November 28, 2013

from complex to simple

Having left several arrangements and assorted debris there, the windowsill looked festive but complicated when I woke up this morning.

So I pushed most of what was there aside a created something really simple. I took the collard rib out of the glass vase in the middle and gave it a home alone in a brown bottle. Very satisfying. Hope I can simplify the rest of the day as well!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

adding collard midrib

So: A little vase with a Tree-ivy (Fatshdera) leaf was sitting on the windowsill this morning when I started to fix breakfast. I usually add some greens to my morning egg, and this morning I added chopped collards. The white midrib I carved out of the collard leaf before chopping it was too pretty to throw away, so I dropped it into the vase with the Tree-ivy leaf. In this photo, they look almost like one leaf, but this is actually a Tree-ivy leaf with an arrow-shaped collard midrib in front of it. The combination is more dramatic than it looks in the photo.

I finally took time to look up the common name for Fatshedera. It's Tree-ivy, not to be confused with English ivy that grows up trees.

Monday, November 25, 2013

catalog, fabric, fruit come together

This is a mishmash of things I encountered today. The catalog is one I happened upon this morning when I was throwing old seed catalogs away to make way for new ones. I loved its colors and decided to save it. The fabric is a 1-inch, ragged swatch I picked up at the fabric store today while searching for fabric to make a table cloth. Loved its colors, too, and they were similar to the colors on the catalog. (That's probably not a coincidence; I bet the catalog colors were tumbling around in my brain.) Decided to combine them by scrunching the fabric up into a makeshift bow and positioning it under the passion flower fruit still sitting on the windowsill.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

recycled oak with begonia pods

This is oak leaves I pulled from Friday's windowsill arrangement combined with hardy begonia pods from outdoors. I keep wanting to use oak leaves because they are just so gorgeous outside right now. There are also some fatshedera leaves in these bottles (with the oak and begonia pods).  I wish I could just call them ivy leaves, because that's what they look like, but they're actually from a related plant with the off-putting name "fatshedera." Ivy leaves would have worked almost as well, but they're smaller.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

way leads on to way

These are yesterday's passion flower fruits with fatshedra (ivy-like) leaves from earlier in the week. I love this combination, and the greens are prettier than they appear in the photo I jammed a piece of rosemary (also used in an earlier arrangement) behind each fatshedera leaf to make it stand up like a high collar in the back. This trio would be more satisfying to my eye if the vase on the right were a little bit shorter than it is, but I can imagine it that way! I'm going to post two photos. Neither one of them gets the greens quite right, but maybe between the two of them you can imagine the accurate green!  

Friday, November 22, 2013

passion flower fruit

These three orbs, which look like green eggs, are passion flower fruits. Many are still hanging on vines in the garden, but  most have fallen to the ground, where, when you step on them, they pop. Lined up like this the phrase "three little pretty maids all in a row" comes to my mind, although these are more like bald guys!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

oak leaves and pine tags

The fun thing about this is that I collected all the material on a walk. The pine tag clusters were on the ground (I think squirrels detach them when then gnaw at the stems) and I gathered the colorful oak leaves from trees along my walking path. They unusually small (maybe because the trees along the public path were sprayed with a herbicide last spring) and they were arranged in beautiful, bouquet-esque orientations on the twig.

P.S. Some of the pine tags are green, some brown, some (a very few) almost yellow  I tried to arrange them in sort of a progression of color, but you can't really see that.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

same roses, organized differently

These are the same roses and ivy-like leaves I photographed yesterday, but now they're organized into sort of a tight bouquet in a bottle.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

roses and ivy-like leaves

Two roses were still blooming yesterday, so I picked them. Then, on the way into the house, I passed some pretty fatshedera leaves, and I picked them, too. (Fatshedera looks like ivy on steroids.)  I dropped both the leaves and roses into a plastic cup. where they have stayed because I love the combination of the deep, deep color of the rose and the dark green fatshedera leaves. This isn't really an arrangement; it's a chance encounter between two pretty plant materials!

Monday, November 18, 2013

morning light through forsythia, daylily leaves, blanket flower

This is why I love windowsill arranging. From one minute to the next the light coming through the window changes and the arrangement changes with it. I could have watched this "arrangement" all morning. Actually the first photo isn't actually an arrangement--it's just a plastic glass full of flowers and foliage I picked yesterday. And the way you see them is exactly the way they landed in the glass for "holding." When the light struck them this morning, they looked as pretty as anything I could have arranged, though. The materials are forsythia foliage (so colorful right now!), daylily foliage (the two strappy leaves), and one blanket flower. Blanket flower (Gaillardia) is still blooming up a storm outside.

Here's the result of deliberately arranging with the same materials. Still pretty, but quite different.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

ready for takeoff

This white pattypan squash was already sitting on the windowsill when I started cleaning out the frig and came across an almost petrified lime. It was headed for the compost bucket when I realized I liked its color and dropped it onto the pattypan squash, just to look at it a while. While there, it seems to have attracted some rosemary (I just jammed the rosemary stems into the squash) and now the whole thing looks like some sort of space ship or flying creature! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

oak leaves

These oak leaves are almost as pretty inside as they are outside. There are also a few blackberry  leaves in this, but you can barely see them.

Friday, November 15, 2013

shredded tree, tarp

Yesterday I attended one of the best--and free-wheeling-- Ikebana demonstrations I've ever seen. I'm sure it's responsible for the fact that when I walked outside this morning I couldn't resist picking up shredded wood beside the road. Evidently, in my absence, some rogue tree-trimmers had come by and whacked low branches off some of the trees on my street, and the roadside was littered with raw, split wood and other debris (like a blue tarp) that got ground up by the mower. Mysteriously (and miraculously), no damage was done in front of my house (perhaps the mowers knew a crazy lady lived there?), but there was plenty of debris elsewhere for me to use in a windowsill arrangement.

I kept thinking what this arrangement needed (based on what I'd seen yesterday) was a while carnation or chrysanthemum at its base, and, wouldn't you know it, I had just thrown out the white carnation I had on November 11! Anyway, I decided to create a flower for the base by pulling an okra pod apart. Not sure if this really adds anything. 

Oddly enough, every time I walk into the kitchen and see this, I think, at first, that I'm looking at an iris. 

krazy for kale

This arrangement of a chrysanthemum and kale was created by Debbe Peck. Debbe has this particular kale growing in her garden, and she included it in the most delicious vegetable soup I've ever eaten yesterday. Debbe had brought this kale to a September arranging workshop for use as an arranging green, and, having seen how beautiful it looked in arrangements, I already wanted to grow it, but now, having tasted it, I'm crazy for it! It has unusually bright, blue-green leaves. Debbe doesn't know what variety it is (she bought in a 6-pack of plants and didn't save the label), but she promises to let me know the name if she ever finds it again. If anyone else has a clue, please let me know!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

more leaves, great light

More fall leaves in a simple vase. This time, a tulip-poplar leaf, two sassafras leaves, a ginkgo leaf, and a maple leaf. (I think there's also a sweet gum leaf in the back of this somewhere!) I tried hard to capture the beautiful light outside in this photo.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

sycamore leaf, bell pepper

It turned cold, cold today in Virginia, and I was glad I had harvested what was left of my peppers earlier. Pulled this one out of a bucket this afternoon and placed it on a beautiful, deep brown sycamore leaf. Love the mottled color of the pepper (half green, half red), because it seems caught between seasons, as we were today.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ginkgo leaves

I started to drop just one ginkgo leaf into this black pin holder, but one looked so pretty I added a few more, then more and more because I liked the way the light looked coming through the fan of leaves.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

new vase, pink camellia

John and I took a road trip to Manassas today, and, in the course of our travels, I encountered (and bought) this little vase made by Laurie Mosier. Yes, it's a little off kilter, which is what I love about it! I tried dropping some parsley into it before deciding this camellia looked prettier tumbling out of its spout.

Friday, November 8, 2013

surprise harvest

I was in bed last night when I realized I had forgotten to post this. I was in the garden pulling out old vines and spent plants when I realized there were still a fair number of peppers that could be harvested. I'd taken no gathering basket with me, so I loaded them onto my shirt, which I'd shed earlier. Carried them inside like that--in sort of a hobo pack. When I dropped them onto the kitchen table, they looked so pretty with the plaid fabric of my shirt, I moved them over onto the windowsill (where they obviously spill over onto the radiator!).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

florist arrangement, revisited

This florist arrangement, which I sort of inherited, was so typical--glass budvase, carnation, Baker's fern, baby's breath--that I decided to see if I could deconstruct it in a way that made it look, well, less floristy. Result: two vases holding only the baby's breath and fern (pictured in second photo). I'm still trying to find a way to use the white carnation that doesn't look stiff and unnatural.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

leaf combo

I think I liked them better separately, but I dropped the last two days' leaves into a bottle together just to see how they looked together. Here they are: red fothergilla leaves and acid green mulberry leaves. I'm not crazy about this, but I like it better than an arrangement I saw today with over a dozen gigantic red roses and all manner of other florist flowers in it. I need to face it: I'm a wildflower snob!

Monday, November 4, 2013

today's favorite leaf: mulberry!

This is the time of year when the mulberry leaves turn acid green and the trees look lit from within. The color doesn't last long--soon all those yellow-green leaves will be on the ground--but for the short time it does, wow! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fothergilla leaves

More great fall leaves. These are from a shrub called Fothergilla, or dwarf witchalder. It grows on the north side of a building at Flower Camp, where it doesn't get much attention unless I cut it and use it in an arrangement. It glows both inside and out, though.

Friday, November 1, 2013

sassafras leaves

Found these beautiful sassafras leaves on my walk yesterday and pressed them between paper towels last night. So pretty. Need to teach this to my grandchildren--the three shapes of sassafras leaves.