Monday, September 30, 2013


I hate it that the more beautiful photo sometimes triumphs over the more accurate photo in this blogging process. Tonight I decided to go for accuracy. This is a fall-blooming colchicum (sometimes called a fall crocus) that is absolutely gorgeous in the garden right now. It's sort of a lavender-pink that doesn't show up well in a photo unless you let the camera interpret it as hard pink. I guess a professional photographer could capture both the accuracy and the drama, but this is the best I could do. The one thing that is indisputable, is that, in a simple bottle, even a single blossom like this, is gorgeous.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

coneflower, honeysuckle foliage, sticks

Leaf, stick, flower: that's my basic windowsill arrangement recipe. Today's concoction includes honeysuckle foliage and an anemone leaf (harvested from Friday's arrangement), a coneflower (it's an oddball color and shape; purchased the plant at Ivy Nursery), and a couple of curly willow sticks stripped of their foliage.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

same anemones--at night

 These are the same anemones I photographed yesterday in daylight. They are even prettier, tonight, against a black background.

Friday, September 27, 2013

fall anemones

These fall-blooming anemones are so pretty! I don't have many of them blooming in the garden (most people who have them have lots of them, because they spread), but those I do have I love. Usually, when I cut them, I use them with long stems, because they do have really long, staunch stems, but I like them sort of abbreviated like this, too.

At Shrine Mont, the fall anemones grow almost like weeds, and they are so tall you can cut them with 2 1/2- foot stems. The seed structures that follow the flowers are pretty in arrangements, too.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

dead sunflowers

These are small sunflower heads. Their petals have all fallen off, but their green sepals and dark centers are still visually interesting. There's something spooky-looking about this! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

last rose of summer (?) with meadow beauty pods

This may not be the very last rose of summer, but it's close. And so pretty on this cold morning! I dropped it into a vase that already had Virginia meadow beauty seed pods in it, then added a piece of curly willow (that's the vine sort of surrounding the rose). LOVE the tiny meadow beauty seed pods. Hope you can see that they are shaped like vases? Meadow beauty used to grow in all the ditches around Ashland, but it's getting harder and harder to find as more people mow their ditches. I've got a little patch of it blooming in my garden, where I guard it with my life.

Monday, September 23, 2013

kale is the new tea rose

At an arranging workshop this past weekend, kale was the star. Debbe Peck brought this particular variety (blue green and curly) to the workshop and both she and Ellen Hardy used in arrangements that took your breath away. At the end of the workshop, some of the same kale was about to be discarded, but I grabbed it and brought it back to Ashland, where it is now displayed in my windowsill. What a fabulous plant! People at our workshop wanted to know the name of this particular kale the same way people must have wanted to know the name of the 'Peace' rose in the 1940s. And my husband tells me he heard (on NPR) that kale is now so popular among veggie gardeners that it's hard to find seeds. This is surely a good thing, because you can't eat a 'Peace' rose, but you can (and I will) eat kale after displaying it on the windowsill.

The "vases" are plastic cups I bought at Food Lion years ago. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

syrup bottle, lantana flower, remnant stem

This proves you don't need anything fancy to make a great windowsill arrangement. Yesterday, at Shrine Mont, 10 flower arrangers all made windowsill arrangements, and this was one of my favorites. It's in a little syrup bottle from Cracker Barrell, and the plant materials include one lantana flower, some nandina foliage, and a straight stem leftover from earlier trimming.

Friday, September 20, 2013

hibiscus in hibiscus holder

I actually photographed this a couple of days ago, but decided to post it today, because I'm traveling. It's a red hibiscus flower in a clear glass hibiscus holder. The amazing vase was a gift from Louise Witherspoon, who has several of these. It's an incredible contraption because it holds water in a way that will deliver it to an almost horizontal stem. Perfect for the windowsill!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

one little zinnia, some goldenrod, and a begonia leaf

This is even smaller than it looks in the photo--only about 6 inches tall. Stole the goldenrod from yesterday's arrangement and the begonia leaf from a trash pile I'd created stripping leaves from some longer stems.

Oh, and this also has a hibiscus pod in it--also stolen from yesterday's arrangement.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

weeds, wildflowers, wildlife

I picked flowers most of the day today for a workshop this weekend, and by the end of the day, if I wasn't sick of flowers, I was at least sort of tired of looking at them. So when it came time to put what interested me in the windowsill, it wasn't to the garden flowers I went but rather to the weeds and wildflowers. This is a combination of smartweed (narrow wands of pink flowers), goldenrod, and hibiscus seed pods.

When you spend a lot of time creating windowsill arrangements, you also spend a lot of time looking out of the window (a good thing), and I've seen all sorts of wildlife--birds, butterflies, etc.--pass by as I was fiddling with a windowsill arrangement. Today's wildlife was larger: my husband!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

today's array

This is all so pretty--a combination of the past few days' arrangements, which look great all lined up together on the windowsill. Problem is, it's so hard to photograph. Had a great time today trying to do just that with my daughter--standing on chairs, trying different angles--but, so far, I haven't figured out how to make the camera see what my eye sees. To use a phrase I love "that's a whole nother problem"!

Monday, September 16, 2013

sunflower meets castor bean leaf

The only thing I don't like about dealing with flowers is traveling with them, because they often suffer in the process. Sometimes it's a heat issue; others it's the jostling that breaks stems and weakens necks. Case in point: this pretty sunflower broke at the neck yesterday while being transported from one garden to another in my car. Couldn't throw it away, so I sort of propped it up in this vase, where its head could rest on the lip of the vase. Later, I added the castor bean leaf, which was one of many I stripped from some stems I'm going to use in a big arrangement later this week. A good use for both, I think!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

gourds added

Worked outside almost all day today, and I'm beyond tired. Added gourds to yesterday's windowsill arrangement, which was all I had energy for, but, as usual, I discovered the most satisfying arrangements aren't always the ones you work hard on. I like the gourds with these flowers! So autumnal!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

beautiful companions: asters, lantana, goldenrod

These flowers are all growing together in the garden, where they look so pretty! Decided to bring the mix of purple and pink asters, orange-ish lantana, and goldenrod inside. There are also a few sprigs of blue mistflower (ageratum) in this.

Friday, September 13, 2013

photography as a second language

Oh, how I wish I could capture in a photograph what my eye sees in this combination of a zinnia flower with several celosia blossoms harvested from yesterday's arrangement. It's the deep magenta/black in the center of the zinnia that drove this combination. And it's all so pretty together, but I fear my camera isn't capturing it. What anyone can see, though, is the depth of the color in the center of those single-flowered zinnias most hybridizers don't value.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

the many faces of celosia

I don't even like magenta celosia that much, but, because I let such things set seed into my garden every year, I seem to have a truckload of it. In these three bottles are four different forms the flowers take: sort of a dense plume, feathery, a spikier feather, and coxcomb-like. The celosias I like better are the yellowish and pinkish ones, but, naturally, those are less prolific!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I wasn't at home today but took this photo (with my cell phone) of a kousa dogwood twig on a friend's windowsill. Although you can barely see it in the photo, the pinkish-red fruit is really pretty.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

embryonic squash, zinnia

This is why it takes me so long to weed the vegetable garden. Yesterday I was trying to reposition some squash vines to get them out of a path, and this stem with embryonic squash attached broke off. It was so pretty, I had to walk it to the house and put it in water. I had leaned it up against a mullion in a salad bowl when I realized that combo could use some color, so I pulled a zinnia out of yesterday's arrangement, cut it stem even shorter, and added it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

same zinnias, now with basil & celosia

I still like my first mug of red zinnias best--they're just such an electric red, and today I paired them with a vase of basil to which I later added a stem of yellowish celosia. It was amazing the way the graceful shape of the celosia added movement to the mix. I can see now, from the photo, I probably should have "edited out" some of the basil foliage after the celosia went in, but it's pretty this way, too.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

more of the same--zinnias

Repeated the same thing I did yesterday with different colors of zinnias. This isn't a bad use for zinnias with broken stems or zinnias that are a little over the hill.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

rescued by a mug of greens

I was arranging flowers most of the day today and feeling too tired to create something new in the windowsill tonight, when I realized I didn't have to.... I could just add some pretty red zinnias to my mug of greens from yesterday.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Just greens

This makes me think of the title Mary Garner-Mitchell came up with for an all-green arrangement: 50 Shades of Green. In this green mug are parsley and basil that I'd been "storing" there, plus a couple of pale yellow peony leaves I snagged from day-before-yesterday's arrangement.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

blue mistflower, yellow marigolds

I had a couple of marigolds leftover from yesterday's arrangement and I had dropped them into a carafe, where, today I added some blue mistflower (ageratum). The two arrangements look really pretty together.

The blue mistflower is really pretty, and unusually big, this year. Due to all the rain, no doubt.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

marigolds, sunflower

This vase (three bottles in a cage) is just too easy to fill. In it tonight are a single sunflower (one I picked because it had fallen over onto the ground), a couple of rose hips (far left), some yellow-green peony foliage, some yellow marigolds, and a sprig of flowering basil, which I can now see is drooping (far right). 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

knotweed order from knotweed chaos

First, here is the mess I was dealing with today: I pulled six wheelbarrow-loads of knotweed out of a border around the shed. I do this every year--sometimes twice. This year, please, please, I'll be sure to Roundup the knotweed before it gets big again.

Unfortunately, I love using knotweed in arrangements--its bamboo-like stems and, at this time of year, its dainty white flowers. So I'll miss it if I ever do really get rid of it. Today, though, I just grabbed a few stems, pulled the leaves off of them, and dropped them into a vase. (The vase I wanted to use was out of reach and I was too lazy to go get the stool, so I grabbed this vase just to keep the stems in water temporarily. Turned out, this was the better vase for them.) Also in the vase are a few stems of kerria (stems with green leaves and one tiny orange flower), which was growing near the knotweed. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

asters & lantana

These pink asters and neon orange lantana flowers are in a Kleenex box. The box has a plastic jar nested in it to hold water. I grabbed the box off a shelf because I thought it will look pretty with some zinnias in it, but they seemed to overpower the polka dots, so used asters and lantana instead. Very cheery!

Sunday, September 1, 2013


This is a bowl of sweet and hot peppers. Like most every other vegetable gardener I know, I'm wearying of produce I can't eat fast enough and don't have the energy to "put up.:" Hence this bowl of peppers, which is much easier to create than a jar of roasted peppers but still triumphantly beautiful.