Friday, February 28, 2014

use 'em or trash 'em

These chrysanthemums have been sitting around my utility room for over a month. They were part of a florist's bouquet I bought for other flowers in the bunch. They are way, way too flashy and artificial looking for my taste (and, as I discovered earlier, they have been dyed, which is one reason their color is so extraordinary). Still...I couldn't bring myself to throw them away and this morning my husband commented on how spectacular they were. So: I decided to use them in these blue bottles. Now I think I can throw them away! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

hickory twigs

I was in Lancaster County, Virginia today, where a very fine naturalist took me to see a very fine hickory. These twigs, which huge, gorgeous resting buds, were on the ground under the tree. Can't for the life of me now remember whether it was a pignut or a mockernut hickory. If I weren't so tired, I'd go look it up.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

best seed packet

Well, my award for prettiest seed packet I've received this year goes to the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Trailing Nasturtium seed packet. Love it! Decided to use it as prompt for a windowsill arrangement, but there's nothing blooming in those wonderful summer colors at this time of year, so I combined the seed packet with a stem of aucuba bearing red berries (from outside) along with a stem of variegated aucuba I'd been rooting inside. This afternoon was so full of mid-winter/early spring things like washing pots and moving Christmas decorations off the seed-starting tables in the shed (why so late with that this year?!). My hands feel chapped and damaged from cold water--just as they should be at this time of year.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

pussy willow + root children

The visual highlight of my day was opening a package from Seed Savers Exchange that contained not just the seeds I'd ordered but a little book I'd ordered, too. The book itself was sort of a disappointment--it's a tiny, $10 version of a beautiful series of prints from The Story of the Root Children that I used to own. The minute I saw it in the catalog, I added it to my order form thinking I'd give it to young daughters of my goddaughter. But it seems I was really ordering it for myself! And, although the book itself is not much, the endsheets are GORGEOUS! I could look at them all day, which is what I intend to do! On the endsheets are silhouettes of little lichen-green root children lined up holding flowers against an olive green background. I've opened the book to the endsheets and put some pussy willow twigs behind it. Pussy willow and root children seem so compatible! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

brussel sprouts

This had to be easy, because I didn't have the energy to deal with anything hard tonight. I always, though, seem to have time to cook when I'm hungry and tonight's tastiest dish was roasted brussel sprouts. These few were left uncooked, so I dropped them into a tin container that once held loose tea.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

pussy willow

It's so crazy the way the things that should be easy never are. After an absence of almost two months, I spent the day at Flower Camp cleaning, carrying away garden debris, and otherwise trying to whip the place into shape. It was only as John and I were pulling away from the property that I noticed my treasured pussy willow (one with larger than normal catkins) was in full bloom. I jumped out of the truck and yanked a few twigs off the tree. Back home, in Ashland, I thought it would be a snap to drop those twigs into any old vase and photograph them for my blog post tonight. Wrong. For some reason, every vase or bottle  I tried seemed to overwhelm the pussy willow twigs. Only this seemed to work--dropping the twigs into a wooden spool.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

winter aconite plus scented geranium leaf

Same flowers from yesterday (plus a few more from the garden) in a different vase with a scented geranium leaf under the vase. I LUV that scented geranium leaf and not just because it comes from a plant I've been shepherding through the winter on the windowsill (although that counts for a lot!).

Friday, February 21, 2014

winter aconite, rearranged

These are the same flowers I photographed yesterday, but I've clipped a few of them off and dropped them into brown bottles. The foliage is boxwood, the twigs and tiny rose hips from an earlier arrangement.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

winter aconite!

I knew as soon as the weather warmed up even a little the garden was going to explode. You can almost see the daffodil foliage growing! Today's surprise was a patch of winter aconite--beautiful little early spring flower that looks something like a buttercup but grows only a few inches tall. I dug up one little clump of it (complete with cold soil and some brown leaves) to bring inside.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

bye, bye winter

This morning it was still winter. And when I was walking around noon, with my stocking hat on, it was still winter.And as I walked, the debris along the roadside reflected the heavy, cold rainstorm we had had last night. Large bundles of pine tags and other tree debris on the ground. I picked up a few of the big pine tag bundles and carried them home with me, in my hat (because by the end of my walk, it was warmer and I no longer needed a hat). See hat and pine tags below. By this afternoon, such things seemed like an anachronism. I't's now warm and spring-like. Please tell me I can pack my stocking hat away for the next nine months!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


There is still a fair amount of snow and ice on the ground, but the temperature this afternoon was in the 50s, so I sat outside on the porch for a while. While there, it occurred to me that enough snow might have melted to reveal some snowdrops, so I walked over to check, and there they were--only about 3/4 inch out of the ground but blooming! I picked just these two and dropped them into the tiniest vase I could find. I think I once found this tiny bottle (all crusted with something mineral) in the garden (or maybe an old trash heap). Boy, was it perfect for these wee snowdrops! I was determined to photograph it outside, but the snowdrops didn't show up on the exterior windowsill, so I moved them over to a horizontal surface on the shutter. I love everything about this--but especially the shadows, which mean the sun is out!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

old sycamore leaf

I'm not sure why I've  been saving this sycamore leaf, but I have. Found it in the utility room this afternoon and decided to drop it into a brown vase for a quickie, wintry arrangement.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

neglected collards

This is what you get when you leave a bunch of collard leaves in the crisper drawer too long. In my defense, the drawer has been broken and very hard to pull in and out. I actually discovered these yellowed leaves about a week ago, then left them out on the counter to dry a bit, because I had a feeling I'd want to use them in an arrangement eventually. Today I did. When you're desperate for color, any yellow--even that of a neglected collard leaf--is welcome.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

fake pink

I knew there was something unnatural about the color of the pink chrysanthemums in yesterday's arrangement (made mostly with leftover flowers from a grocery store bouquet). They must have been DYED! Look at the water in this jar. It's pink--from dye leached from the flowers.

Friday, February 14, 2014

fashion statement

I keep running into people wearing sneakers in slushy, deep snow--the mailman, the man trying to push his son's car out of a ditch, several ladies at the grocery store. I, on the other hand, have been sensibly decked out in these rubber boots, which makes me feel invincible. Linda Cole gave me these boots years ago (I think she bought another pair) and while they are a little to big for me, every time we get wet snow, I am thrilled to have them. OK...they're not glamorous, but they work! The flowers I dropped into the top of the boot are leftovers from other arrangements plus some florist flowers that were part of a bunch I bought a week or so ago. Happy Valentine's Day my beloved boots!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

pink flames

This breaks so many arranging rules I can't even list them all, but this seems to be what I wanted to play with today--pink flames. I had dropped some very short-stemmed pink alstromeria flowers into a green juice glass just to hold them until I decided if I might use them somewhere else. But as I looked through the green plastic at their tightly-packed, pink petals, I sort of liked the way their orientation--upright like flames--looked. That led me to add a few more things that looked sort of flame-ish (like begonia leaves from a houseplant). See the snow on the fence in the background? Brrrr!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

dollar for a daffodil

Most years, I have daffodils blooming in the yard by this time in February, but not this year. Not even close. I've been starved for that cheery yellow, so yesterday, when I had a gift to shop for, I wanted to find some potted daffodils just so I could enjoy them until I gave them away. That turned out to be a harder mission than I had imagined. The only ones I could find were nearly spent, with only one or two blooms still looking happy, or all in the bud stage. I bought a pot of daffodils in the bud stage then talked the salesperson into selling me a single bloom from one of the "over the hill pots for $1. I put that stem in a floral tube and nested  it in the dirt with the budding daffodils. And you can't really tell its a cut stem among the growing ones. I also nested the plastic pot in a clay pot, camouflaged the foil wrap with some green tissue paper, and added some pretty green ribbon to the not-so-pretty yellow bow that came with the pot. Voila! A daffodil pot makeover. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

January revisited

I was removing photos from my camera when I realized I had never posted this windowsill arrangement. Can't remember why not! Anyway, this in includes (right to left) a pinecone, a piece of euphorbia, an Edible Weed book, a pear, an orange with an ivy leaf behind it, and a vase of hellebore flowers and ivy. I think I had used the edible week book as invisible support for a catalog in another windowsill arrangement and then let it be dominant here because I loved its color.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

fresh eggs

I met the hens who laid these eggs in Maryland this morning. What a treat (and the eggs are so beautiful!). Thank you Audrey Suhr!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

gerbera daisy with ivy twirl

This gerbera daisy is another florist flower leftover from a larger project. As usual, it wants to be a prima donna--calling all attention to itself. There's no fighting that, but I did want to add some seasonal materials to this in order to make it look at least a little less "floristy." So: I added some pine needles and a hellebore leaf borrowed from an earlier arrangement. The twirling vine came from another arrangement, too--it's the ivy vine in my Feb. 5 arrangement, stripped of its leaves.

Friday, February 7, 2014

bits and pieces--with roses

I should have made a movie of the process I went through to create this arrangement, because it was definitely not linear (A did not lead to B)!  I tried several things in different combinations before this finally came together. Contents are: a couple of Angle Wing begonia leaves I harvested from a houseplant, three blush pink roses leftover from a a larger arrangement I did this week, one hellebore leaflet (leftover from a windowsill arrangement earlier in the week), and a few pine tags tucked into the back of the vase. I love the way these colors work together. And, strangely enough, I love the pine tags peaking out from behind the begonia leaves. I knew there was a reason I couldn't bring myself to throw them away!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

road kill

Well, this isn't exactly road kill, but that thought came to mind today when I picked these dead materials up today as I walked. The first thing I picked up was this beautiful, brown sycamore leaf. Then a clutch of mustard-colored pine tags. Then something I don't usually encounter--a sword of yucca leaves somehow detached from its base. Somebody must have run into that plant and severed the leaves.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

red vase, green flowers

This gray day seemed to demand a bright arrangement. The green flowers are Helleborus foetidus (stinking hellebore). This is actually just one big hunk of them--all  the flowers are on the same fat stem. They've been blooming for a month or so, but only now are their big blooms trying to stretch upward. Give them a day or so of warmer weather and sunshine and they'll be glorious. For movement, I added a couple of pieces of variegated ivy in this arrangement.

Monday, February 3, 2014

berries in spool of rustic wire

As penance for not doing an arrangement yesterday, I did three today. The first is a spool of rustic wire (used for trellising when unwrapped) filled with nandina berries. The second is actually a revision to an arrangement I'd done earlier. I just added a pine cone to it. And the third is a little brown vase with a piece of sycamore bark poking out of the top. The latter reminds me of a Thai sailing vessel of some sort!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

radishes and savoy cabbage (from the grocery store)

I'm sure it's because I've been looking at savoy cabbages and radishes in my seed catalogs that these veggies in the produce isle jumped off the shelves and into my grocery cart today. (And, of course, it didn't hurt that the radishes were RED, when we winter-weary folk are starved for color.) A bunch of radishes cost me 99 cents and this cabbage cost me 63 cents. This is so much cheaper than buying cut flowers to chase the winter blahs, AND, after I've enjoyed these beautiful items on the windowsill to my heart's content, I can eat them!