Tuesday, December 30, 2014

gourd forms

This evolved out of  yesterday's kerria stems in straight-sided jars (left), creating a green arrangement in a gift mug (center), and searching for more straight-sided vases to put  kerria stems in. The vases on the right fit the bill, but by the time I got around to using them,  two greenish gourds had made their way into the kitchen and I decided to prop them on top of the vases instead. The gourd forms are interesting--together they look sort of like a shy, mating couple!

Monday, December 29, 2014

so straight, so green

Both this plant material and these bottles came to me as a result of John's and my shed cleaning and refurbishing yesterday. John was painting the side of the shed, so I had to cut down a large kerria bush. John hauled the green stems to the brush pile, but when I visited the brush pile for another reason (to dump something), I found them irresistibly green and straight. So I took some back to the house. The bottles, too, came from the shed, where they were sitting on a shelf full of neglected glass containers. These three sort of appealed to me because of their straight, upright sides, so I washed them and put them in the windowsill where they attracted, like magnets, the green kerria stems, which I shortened and stood upright in them.  All very satisfying.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

okra hoarder

You know you might have a hoarding problem when you can't throw your okra pods away even after you've plied them open and stripped them of their seeds. Here are some ravaged okra pods that probably should have gone in the compost heap yesterday.

And here's my stash of okra seeds. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

renegade colors

Howardsville artist Pam Roland sent me this beautiful card with a poinsettia painting on the front. I loved it not just because the painting is beautiful (and Pam did it) but because it happens to include the colors I've been using all over the house this Christmas-- peach, yellow, red, and green. So pretty! And I think it's the yellows and yellow-greens that excite me most--because they're sort of outside the norm.

P.S. The greens in the little yellow watering can are mahonia, cryptomeria, and leatherwood.

And here's that same card used elsewhere.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chinese holly berries, honeysuckle berries, pear, etc.

These are the colors I keep playing with this Christmas--red, melon, black, green, yellow. The black berries on the vine in the red vase are honeysuckle berries. And the pear is real!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Barb Sawyer's radishes

Hanover gardener Barb Sawyer sent me this photo of a recent windowsill arrangement of hers. LOVE it! But I'm so jealous of the radishes. Why, oh why, didn't I plant some this fall??

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

berry boats

These cobalt blue berries are so extraordinary, but they're usually overlooked because they nestle deep down in tufts of mondo grass. I was determined to give them some "showtime" so I gathered a bunch of them up a couple of days ago and dropped them into cupped holly leaves. Haven't had quite so much fun since I made leaf boats in mud puddles as a child!! Anyway, here are those berry boats sitting under a vase of blue thistle (sea holly) and cryptomeria foliage.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

yellow nandina foliage in Japanese vase

This beautiful little vessel, and its slate platform, were gifts from a friend who brought the vase back from Japan. And the little sprig of yellow nandina foilage decorated a gift from another friend. The light streaming in the window and the color of the forsythia outside the window were gifts from Mother Nature. How lucky can I be?!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

thistle in melon-colored vase

The florist calls this blue flower thistle. I call it sea holly, and I have it because I created some wedding bouquets last weekend, and this was left over. The vase came from my daughter, Kate, who sells vases at thearrangersmarket.com and was sort of disappointed in the color of this one when it arrived.  Both my photo and the photo in the catalog she ordered it from are inaccurate in their color; the actual color is smokier, but it's a color I love, especially with blue, so it was sort of a miracle that it landed in my kitchen at the same time the thistle/sea holly did.

Friday, December 12, 2014

more leatherwood, with some threaded arborvitae

This is another twig of leatherwood, this time combined with a snippet of some leftover evergreen foliage a friend gave me. The evergreen is some sort of thread-leaved arborvitae--very graceful.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

leatherwood resolution

I'm jumping the gun on New Year's resolutions, but here's one I want to make: I'll look for a source of leatherwood (Cyrilla racemifolia), a native shrub I love and haven't been able to find in nurseries ever since I bought my first one from Burt Shoosmith. Or maybe I'll need to propagate it myself, because I just love this shrub and I've never seen it anywhere other than my own garden and Burt Shoosmith's nursery (which is long gone). It has long white racemes of flowers in the spring and scattered bright red leaves in late fall and early winter. They are just so welcome right about now! Here's a tiny arrangement made with a two leatherwood twigs.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ancient Swiss chard

Gosh, I wish my record-keeping were better. If I took the time, I could probably figure out from my blog how old this chunk of  Swiss chard is. Instead I'll make a guess, which I'm sure is an underestimate: three weeks old since I picked it.  I harvested this thick, almost woody stem of Swiss chard from the vegetable garden because its leaves and stems were so gorgeous. And it has continued to flourish in water -- sort of like a carrot top. Today, two of its leaves were looking ragged, though, so I just tucked them into the coffee mug. The beautiful thing about this is that I could now harvest the healthy leaves to eat if I wanted to.

anemone and pussy willow

This would take forever to explain. Suffice it to say, this one little anemone was leftover from a huge batch of wedding flowers I was working with last weekend. And the pussy willow -- ah, the pussy willow! That came from my garden, because Mary Garner-Mitchell showed me that THIS is the time of year to harvest it. Seems way early, but she's right. If you carefully pinch the buds and pull their bud scales off, what's revealed is a silky, white pussy willow bud. And by picking it this early you avoid what usually happens with more mature buds--they shed pollen all over the place as they continue to mature inside.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

window full of greens

I was packing up for a talk tomorrow and, after removing some things from the windowsill, I rearranged what was left--mostly greens. It's a nice restful display of (left to right):  scented geranium leaves, bloody dock leaves, purple coneflower stalks, tiny pieces of leftover cryptomeria, big stem of camellia foliage, and some rooting aucuba. Funny what accumulates while you're not looking (and when you can't throw even a half-dead thing away)!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

strawberry leaves with hairy bittercress

I was really thrilled to find this perfectly beautiful strawberry leaf in the garden yesterday. And because I wanted to remember that the little spring weed hairy bittercress was also growing in the garden right now (Dec.2!) I tucked a little clump of that into the bottle with the strawberry leaf.

Monday, December 1, 2014

mulberry leaves

This morning I had a "heightened moment" when I found these mulberry leaves between sheets of newspaper, where I'd dried them. They were gorgeous. I put one in this wooden "vase"--it doesn't hold water, but with a dried leaf, that doesn't matter--and one under it. With morning light streaming through the upper leaf, the browns and acid greens were spectacular. Tonight, all that luminosity is lost, but you can sort of see how pretty the colors are.