Category Archives: In a Vase on Monday

In a Vase on Monday–October 16, 2017

This “vase” breaks all the rules, beginning with the fact that it’s not a vase but a wooden box, probably about the same age as I am, that was made to hold shotgun shells.

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A mix of fun textures and fall colors make this container perfect for the season.

When I found the discarded box I knew it would come in handy one day and it did. It served as inspiration for a lunch table I coordinated for a Greenville Museum of Art event, which was held late last week.  Hunting is still an important sport in the South and in my mind it interweaves with the excitement of the harvest season and the many holidays that are celebrated in the coming months.

A “Harvest Pumpkin Tablecloth” from Pottery Barn was laid with green Bordallo Pinheiro pottery from Portugal, wine glasses made from Mason jars, napkins embroidered with chickens from the gift shop at West Green House (home of Marylyn Abbott), my best silver, small pumpkins painted with white chalk paint, and this colossal arrangement.  If only I’d remembered to take my camera!

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Surprisingly, boxes like this one sell for about $75 online.

The plants, found at Roots on Augusta, include a large rosemary, ornamental peppers, mustard, and cabbage, with a couple of variegated crotons and golden creeping Jenny. The dramatic grass-like plant, which maintains its golden brown color throughout the growing season is Carex flagellifer ‘Cyperacea’, commonly called weeping brown sedge. The arrangement is highlighted with the colorful berries of bittersweet.

Pulling everything together for the table was a fun effort, but not one I want to repeat anytime soon. Now, I hope life will begin to quiet down a bit and that the cooler weather arriving this week will be here to stay.

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The small pumpkins, covered in white chalk paint, were gifts for those at the table.

To enjoy what others have made for their vase, visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

And, please, keep the good people of Ireland and Britain in your hearts and prayers today and tomorrow, as hurricane Ophelia pays them an unwelcome visit.

 

 

IAVOM and more…

Please don’t say, “Oh no, another Hippeastrum!”

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Hippeastrum ‘Ambiance’

Well yes, but it’s the last one. Besides, it’s so beautiful with its clear white and clear red feathered together to create a blazing star. Unfortunately, the flower has no fragrance. The bulb does, however, have two bloom stalks, so it get’s a gold star for productivity, as well as this highlight for In a Vase on Monday.

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Wow, what drama! Notice the very fine line of red outlining each petal.

Ordered just before Christmas from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, ‘Ambiance’ has taken it’s time, but I think it was worth the wait, don’t you? Even though many value these flowering bulbs as holiday embellishments only, I enjoy them best in the slower months of winter when I have time to savor their day-by-day growth and fabulous blooms.

One other note about these photos before moving on. I often complain about having too much shade (all shade really) in the garden, but you can see why my husband, Tim, and I fell for this home the minute we walked in the door. Though this sunporch was added just last year, we have similar views from the kitchen and bedroom. Since the land slopes away from the back of the house down to the river, we have the effect of living in a treehouse, with fabulous views (especially in winter) of the park-like golf course on the far side of the Reedy. It’s not only a beautiful setting, it’s also a wildlife haven. Blue herons and a variety of hawks are frequent guests.  Coyotes, deer, and raccoons are not uncommon, and we’ve even spotted owls, wild turkeys, otters, and beavers.

Here’s something else happening on the sunporch.

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‘Chantilly’ seedlings under the grow light.

Tim has fixed a clamp to the window frame for a grow light, as I’m attempting to grow ‘Chantilly’ snapdragons from seed for an early April flower show. The seedlings get a short period of early morning light (as seen here), plus about 16 hours from the grow light each day, and are fertilized with dilute fish emulsion once a week. They look awfully spindly to me, though. Any suggestions?

I’m also registered for the Photography portion of the event, Class 2, Flowing Water, “A monochrome photograph of flowing water in any form.”

I’m having trouble deciding.  Which of these images do you think is a winner?

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Beach Walk: Sunrise on Pawley’s Island

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Winter Reflections: Ashmore Heritage Preserve

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Solitude: Glacier Bay, Alaska

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Fresh Catch: Bald Eagle in Clover Passage, Katchikan, Alaska

 

 

Flower Play

With Valentine’s Day just ahead, I took advantage of the many bargain-priced blooms currently available to offer tips on flower arranging in my Saturday garden column in The Greenville News.

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Store-bought blooms and foliage are in abundant supply because of Valentine’s Day.

I can’t name retailers in the newspaper, but I can tell you here that most of the flowers were found at Trader Joe’s and a few, such as the mixed group of roses, were from Costco. In all, I bought 114 stems, including 32 roses, for just under $75. The most expensive were white hydrangea clusters, which cost $2 each. Others, such as iris, alstromeria, stock, heather, tulips, and lilies, cost much less. For filler, I also bagged a few bundles of eucalyptus foliage and cut a variety of evergreens from my garden, including stems of camellia foliage with fat flower buds. Glass vases, which I think make the prettiest gift presentation, had been collected from resale shops.

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Despite imperfections, or perhaps because of them, homemade arrangements are especially pleasing.

With these supplies at hand, I created five offerings for Valentine’s Day, plus a handful of more modest arrangements to use at home. None are perfect, but luckily perfection is not required or even desired when “making your own.” A homemade bouquet is always the most charming…and the most appreciated.

Though many of you likely know the basics of combining blooms (from your gardening experiences), arranging in glass (without the benefit of a frog or block of foam) can be a bit tricky, as a number of crossed stems are required to hold a design in place. I begin with several cuttings of foliage, crossing their stems in the middle of the vase, before outlining the shape of the design with its dominate flowers, and then layering in smaller flowers, more foliage, and any decorative details like berries. A Lazy Susan, if you have one, makes the job easier.

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Colors near each other on the color wheel create a harmonious mix. As you can see, red works well with either purple (between red and blue) or orange (between red and yellow).

When combining colors, I prefer those that fall next to each other on the color wheel. White blooms, I’ve discovered, look best when softened with gray foliage, such as eucalyptus.

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Soften the “light-bulb effect” of white flowers with gray foliage.

What are your best tips for flower arranging?

To see what others are showcasing today for In a Vase on Monday, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

IAVOM and More

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Hippeastrum ‘Blossom Peacock’

After spending nine mid-January days in Washington, DC, I was thrilled to arrive home early last week to find blooms, inside and out, including the first flower on a Hippeastrum I ordered just before Christmas. I chose ‘Blossom Peacock’ from Brent and Becky’s online catalog because it was described as Brent’s favorite for its incredible symmetry, color, and mildly sweet fragrance. Now, I think it’s my favorite too.

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‘Blossom Peacock’ illuminated by the morning sun.

As soon as the bulb arrived, I “planted” it in a container of pebbles, but as the flowers opened and the top-heavy stalk tilted one way and another, and I worried I might have to cut its stem before finding it could be squeezed, bulb and all, into an upright glass vase. Moved from the kitchen window to the sunporch, where it shines each morning in the early light, I can barely take my eyes off it.

Today, it’s perfect for In a Vase on Monday, hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

The first warm welcome home, however, was hailed by ‘Peggy Clarke’, a Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume), which I spied even before turning into the driveway.

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Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’

Although the small tree’s common name would lead you to believe it’s native to Japan, where it was first found in cultivation by Europeans, it’s actually indigenous to China and Korea. In China, the plant is commonly called mei, or plum, and it’s known as one of the three friends of winter along with pine and bamboo.

Like others of its kind, ‘Peggy Clarke’ blooms January to March when the weather is mild. Its 1-inch wide, rosy-pink, double flowers, each accented with a red calyx and many long, thread-like stamens, perfume the garden with a spicy-sweet fragrance. Today, which is rather warm for the season, the tree is buzzing with a variety of bees and other insects in search of nectar and pollen. Some buds, however, are still tightly closed, waiting for winter’s next warm spell.

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‘Peggy Clark’ close up.

Surprisingly, I also found paper bush (Edgeworthia chrysanthia) beginning to open its fragrant flowers and ‘Wisley Supreme’ witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) in full regalia, with epaulets flying.

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Edgeworthia chrysantha (so hard to photograph!) with it’s bell-like clusters of flowers just beginning to open.

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‘Wisley Supreme’ Hamamelis mollis

In the week that followed, I was glad to have these cheerful friends as I was caught off guard by a debilitating cold while struggling with a full schedule of meetings, appointments, and work. Then, when the weekend arrived, I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy to enjoy a quiet Saturday and Sunday.

Now, it’s time to be up and at ’em again, and I’m excited to see a week of fine weather ahead. Fingers crossed for an afternoon or two in the garden.

For those hoping to hear a little about the Women’s March on Washington, I’m happy to share. It was an amazing event, though I was sad to see later (on television) that much of the rhetoric from the rally was not representative. Madonna….really? I don’t think 1 in 10,000 would say she speaks for them.  Certainly I wouldn’t.

It was a great crowd, very friendly, patient, and upbeat, and lots you didn’t see in the
media. Varied ethnic and religious groups participated, as well as disabled persons. There were lots of young families with children, many mother and daughter pairs, and an astounding number of young people under 30, including young men.

All in all, it was a positive and hopeful experience. The March on Washington might not make an immediate impact on policy, but I believe it will make all the difference for those engaging in human rights for the first time.

Here’s my favorite image of the day–a little girl named Maeve promoting equality on her third birthday!

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Marching on Washington, January 21.

 

 

New Year’s Dinner in Review

How can I be so far behind when it is only the third day in January? Perhaps it’s because I spent most of yesterday lounging about and taking cat naps after cooking a New Year’s feast for 10 on Sunday. Honestly, how do people on television shows like 17 Kids and Counting ever get out of the kitchen?

Nonetheless, New Year’s was celebrated with a fabulous meal and special evening with friends. Here’s a quick peek…

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Cutting the country ham before company arrives. Have you ever seen a more hopeful expression than the one on little Bella’s face?

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Happy New Year!

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Oh goodness, I had a plate full, didn’t I? From top: collards, country ham, spoon bread (sort of a cornbread souffle), scalloped potatoes, hopping John, bits from the relish tray, and deviled egg.

Thankfully, I had the forethought to make a few things ahead, which gave me more time to fuss over the tablescape.  To celebrate January’s new start, I wanted the table to sparkle and I think I hit the mark with white, silver, and a touch of fresh green.

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Can you spot the ‘Josef Lemper’ hellebores from the garden?

These low, rectangular vases with eight small openings (now moved to the table on the sunporch), are perfect for dinner parties. Though they were bought on a whim at a clearance sale at Roots on Augusta, they are now great favorites.

When the IAVOM posts began to pop up yesterday, I was surprised and pleased to see the similarity of Cathy’s vase at Rambling in a Garden. Be sure to check out the blog there to see what she and others have made to celebrate the New Year.

Cheers!

In a Vase on Monday, sort of

As I was admiring and enjoying my blogging friends’ Monday vases this morning, I suddenly realized I could share my Thanksgiving centerpiece. Not technically a vase, not technically blooms…but sort of, kind of, stretching the limits…in the ballpark.

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A succulent-packed pumpkin Thanksgiving centerpiece.

This type of project is what you resort to after 15 years of writing for the newspaper and are desperate to produce another weekly column that’s worth reading.  It’s the end of autumn, the most difficult time of year for a garden writer; you’ve already done the “leaf mold” thing, the “late bloomers” thing, and the “put the garden to bed” thing.  There is nothing new, especially when nearly everything in the garden is dead from drought, unless you pen a tell-all, “Confessions of a Plant Killer.”  Your head is empty of any and all clever ideas. Then, you discover an amazing photo on the internet and think, “I can do that!”

So, $287 and 4 hot glue-burned fingers later, you have this!  Yes, it’s fabulous.  Yes, the column is put to bed for another week.  Yes, it’s a blessing in itself that the Thanksgiving centerpiece is done with time to spare.

Now, the only question is this…

What color can I paint this pumpkin on November 25th so the arrangement works for Christmas too?

As you ponder, take time to visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, to see what other vase makers are up to this week.