In A Vase On Monday—Late Summer Basket

In A Vase On Monday - Late Summer Basket

In A Vase On Monday – Late Summer Basket

Today, the first Monday in September, is designated as Labor Day in the United States. It has been a federal holiday since 1894 to recognize the importance and contributions of workers. It is also time again to join in Cathy’s challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.

Although I love blue-hued flowers my garden most often seems to be filled with pink ones. Since for today’s arrangement I avoided reusing multicolored Zinnias and yellow Rudbeckia, today’s Monday vase is also filled with pink flowers.

Everlasting Sweet Pea is blooming better than it did at springtime and Obedient Plant is in its prime. Most of the Echinacea is attractive now only to the American goldfinches, but I found one large, fresh bloom to include. For a touch of blue I also chose a handful of  Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ and more pink, a few stems of Verbena bonariensis.

Pinkish hues dominate the garden's blooms: Everlasting Sweet Pea, Obedient Plant, Echinacea

Pinkish hues dominate the garden’s blooms: Everlasting Sweet Pea, Obedient Plant, Echinacea

 

I collected a mix of greenery to support the arrangement, so much in fact I later had to remove quite a bit to allow the flowers to stand out. The foliage is dark green Japanese holly, bright yellowish-green, Wintergreen boxwood and silvery Dutch Lavender.

Dark and light green and silvery foliage was used for this late summer arrangement.

Dark and light green and silvery foliage was used for this late summer arrangement.

The arrangement was created using floral foam in a shallow, plastic dish. The vase today is a small potato basket.

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

The basket is one of the first baskets I made one autumn many years ago during a 4 or 6-week program at The Arts Center in Carrboro.

Potato basket-detail

Potato basket-detail

Potato basket-detail

Potato basket-detail

Materials
Flowers
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting Sweet Pea)
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Foliage
Buxus microphylla var koreana ‘Wintergreen’ (Wintergreen boxwood)
Ilex crenata (Japanese holly)
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender)
Mechanics
Lomey 6″ clear designer dish
Floral foam
Handmade basket

I found this old photo of my baskets. Commercial dyes were used to color the reeds and the color has faded considerably. The egg basket handles were formed of wisteria vine, a material easily found in my yard at the time. For several months my kitchen was filled with basketmaking materials. I made baskets for my daughter, my sisters and a special friend and gave them as Christmas presents that year and then never made another one.

Susie's Baskets

Susie’s Baskets

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

In A Vase On Monday—Flowers and Pods

In A Vase On Monday - Flowers and Pods

In A Vase On Monday – Flowers and Pods

Monday rolls around quickly it seems. Time again to join in Cathy’s challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.

For a few days I have been planning to create an arrangement using mostly the young, green florets of Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy).

Star-shaped flowers starting to open on the Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Star-shaped flowers starting to open on the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Once I started putting the vase together I quickly realized I was not prepared to cut enough stems to fulfill my original vision, preferring instead to allow the sedum to mature for a colorful display in the September garden.

Autumn Joy will turn dark rose and eventually deepen to coppery-red. It is already beginning to show some pink color as the star-shaped flowers open.

Pink hue of young Hylotelephium telephium 'Herbstfreude' (Autumn Joy)

Pink hue of young Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy)

Taking a cue from the pink hue, I paired small vases of sedum with a Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower). This single stalk of cleome features flowers in varying stages of openness, as well as interesting leaves and seed pods.

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) Inflorescence

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) Inflorescence

Leaves and Seedpods - Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Leaves and Seedpods – Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

More variation in height between the two smaller vases of sedum might improve the arrangement’s overall balance.  I had already shortened the sedum stems, so could not have them sit taller in the vase. Given more time I would have tried placing a prop underneath the green vase to lift it upwards or experimented with different vases.

In A Vase On Monday - Flowers and Pods

In A Vase On Monday – Flowers and Pods

Materials
Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)
Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy)
2 glazed ceramic pots and 1 slender, sapphire blue glass vase

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Beginnings

A First Garden

A First Garden

I recently came across this photograph that shows my first garden. The same summer I was married I planted this little flower bed at the very edge of our property near the driveway.

Silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row. Or in my case, a back row of gladioli, two rows of red salvias, and a front row of zinnias, all meticulously outlined in small stones collected from around my yard. Both gladiolus and zinnia were well known to me, but the red salvia was not and it seemed terribly exotic.

These little plants were a rectangle of joy that summer and so looking back at it now, I have to say this was quite a successful garden.

A year before our marriage my husband had bought a small house on a dirt road, down in a valley on a one-half acre, heavily wooded lot. The land was once farmland, but had returned to young pine forest by the time our house was built four years earlier.

The trees were mostly loblolly pines and unfortunately, over the years we learned a lot about how freshly broken pines smell after ice storms and hurricanes. Long after this photo was taken, the sweet gum tree visible on the left became a Hurricane Fran victim. The resulting light that streamed in after the tree was removed brought us an interesting surprise—after nearly two decades of living there a yucca plant bloomed for the first time in this little corner.

That yucca, discernible In the middle right of the photo, lay at the base of a large pine. It was planted before we had moved there by Dr. Harold, our neighbor who owned the adjoining property. His wife’s first name was Fern and perhaps to honor her or just because he liked ferns, he also had dug up ferns of some unknown type and placed them, earth and all, atop these two tall stones, where they thrived during our years there. Dr. Harold had a deep love of the land and often walked his property and the surrounding woods with a beautiful English Sheepdog and later, his Golden Retriever, Lance.

Though only three miles from town, my newly married self felt isolated and lost on this land “out in the country.”  I did appreciate the azaleas and the many fine native dogwoods growing there, but being unused to anything wild, I did not even recognize what poison ivy looked like. Thankfully a wise friend finally took pity on me and announced one day she was coming over to walk me around our property to point out the poison ivy, so I could know what to avoid. It took a while but we eventually managed to get that pesky plant under control.

There were too many trees in my opinion and the soil—in addition to being covered with tree roots, the soil was heavy clay, quite opposite the rich, loamy soil of my parents’ vegetable garden.

The first year we were married my husband and I used large (and heavy) stones picked up from along nearby roadsides to create paths and to delineate islands around groups of trees.  At the sunniest edges of these islands I tried to grow flowers, but gardening was not easy for me in this shady location. Everything I wanted to grow needed sun.

Though I did not consider myself a gardener at this time, somehow the few sunny spots in our yard soon became flower beds. They were mostly filled with irises that had been passed along by my across-the-street neighbor, Henrietta.  Many years later when enough trees had fallen to allow plenty of sunlight through, I decided to turn the entire front yard into a garden with islands of perennials and these irises were the starting point. The garden I created at that time is still my favorite.

By that point I had learned enough to hire someone to bring in lots of planting soil and compost to form raised beds. No more scratching around tree roots in hard clay. The year before my good friends and accross-the-street neighbors, Bill and Cecy, had made a wonderful garden in their back yard, exuberantly full of shasta daisies and yarrow, among other things They had started with loads of compost recycled from the town’s food waste, so I took a cue from them.

When Janice, my friend who earlier had taught me how to tip-toe past the poison ivy, saw the beginnings of my perennial garden, she dropped off lots of ephemeral wildflowers and other natives, such as Monarda.

I am not sure what sparked the idea to create that perennial garden. Over time I think I had become a gardener without being aware it was happening. In my memory it stands out as a respite from work and simply a beautiful place to busy my hands and free my mind.

I was fortunate to have a true gardening mentor, though when she was living, I did not know to think of her in such terms. Through the years my mother’s cousin, VIrgie, shared dozens of plants from her garden, including sweet shrub, spirea, Turk’s cap lily, phlox, tradescantia, everlasting sweet pea. When we moved to our current home many of Virgie’s plants came with me. It was the wrong time of year to be able to bring Janice’s ephemerals,  but her Monarda came along and so did Henrietta’s irises.

Sadly my digital images of my previous perennial garden were lost during a painful hard-drive crash. I am still hoping to come across a printed photograph of it sometime when I take time to go through my boxes of pictures. For now I remember it circuitously by looking at this image of my first little garden near the driveway—the beginnings of a love of gardening.

 

 

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – August 2014

I missed last month but today I once again join Christina of Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides for Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD). To my dismay after many attempts I do not have deep or wide vistas where foliage is the main highlight, so I will concentrate on the foliage of individual plants.

After seeing how other gardeners rely on Brunnera, I added this silvery-leaved plant in spring and am pleased with the way it brightens up a dark corner. Its name is Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not).

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not)

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower) is towering above the western border, adding welcome height and structure to that area.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) flowers profusely in spring but its foliage is attractive all summer.  Here it is still covered in early morning dew.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

The native Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) is forming flowers and will make a delicious meal later in the fall when the berries ripen to teenager purple.

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

The fern-like leaves of Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy) add nice textures to the border. This plant is very aggressive, but I have learned to be aggressive in pulling it out when it wanders too far.

Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)

Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)

Near the Tansy, something is eating the Ageratum. It has looked like this most of the summer. Most years I try to pull up the Ageratum so it does not overrun the border, but I have not been attentive enough to the garden this year. A few remain and the purple flowers will provide some relief to the autumn border. This is the first year the leaves have looked so poor.

Ageratum

Ageratum

In spring I began planting sedum in the hell strip between the sidewalk and the street where the grass refuses to grow. The sedum has not performed spectacularly but I think it is very slowly filling in. Before the homeowners association sends us a letter this fall telling us we need to replant our strip, I tried to get ahead of the game by also planting Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Mondo Grass) . It has been so miserably hot since I bought it last week I could only manage to get a small portion of it planted so far.

Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nana' (Dwarf Mondo Grass)

Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Mondo Grass)

Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nana' (Dwarf Mondo Grass) and sedum in the devil's strip

Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Mondo Grass) and sedum in the devil’s strip

 

Also near the street is a small planting of shrubs encircling crape myrtles. I would very much appreciate it if someone can help identify this shrub. It is not one I love, but it requires very little maintenance and survives rain or drought equally well.

Unknown shrub

Unknown shrub

Unknown shrub

Unknown shrub

Visit Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides for more Garden Bloggers Foliage Day features.

In A Vase On Monday—August Mingle (Take Two)

In A Vase On Monday - August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday – August Mingle

Yesterday’s In A Vase On Monday was completed too late to photograph the flowers in natural light. This afternoon I set up the arrangement on the sunny back porch and made a few more images.

I wanted to include them today for my own record because the colors are so much more vibrant and truer to life than I was able to capture indoors last night under artificial light. The rich hues of Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ are especially more obvious and in general, the natural light makes it much easier to see all of the flowers in detail.

Zinnia, Rudbeckia and Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Zinnia, Rudbeckia and Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

In A Vase On Monday - August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday – August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday - August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday – August Mingle

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Zinnia, Rudbeckia and Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Zinnia, Rudbeckia and Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Orange Zinnia Cut and Come Again

Orange Zinnia Cut and Come Again

Lantana camara (Common lantana) and  Orange Zinnia Cut and Come Again

Lantana camara (Common lantana) and Orange Zinnia Cut and Come Again

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ and Yellow Zinnia Giant Flowered

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ and Yellow Zinnia Giant Flowered

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ , Yellow Zinnia Giant Flowered and Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ , Yellow Zinnia Giant Flowered and Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

In A Vase On Monday - August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday – August Mingle

Materials
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender)
Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells)
Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)
Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Pale yellow and orange Zinnia Cut and Come Again Mix -Burpee- 24” height
Canary yellow Zinnia Giant Flowered -Burpee-30” height  Huge 5” blooms
Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)
Rosa ‘Iceberg’
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’
Lantana camara (Common lantana)
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient plant)

In A Vase On Monday—August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday--August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday–August Mingle

Monday is nearly over, but I have been hurrying this evening to join Cathy’s challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.

In between errands and rain showers I finally managed at midday to gather flowers for today’s vase, leaving them in water to condition.  After dinner at last I had a few minutes to assemble an arrangement for today. Fortunately it went together quickly.

First I affixed florist oasis to a shallow dish. Using a single stalk of euphorbia and multiple stems of Coral Bell flowers and lavender leaves, I outlined a basic circular shape for the design. It would have been nice to have some concealer leaves, but it was too late to gather any. I made do with a few fern-like tansy leaves and a bit of the lavender.

Outlining the arrangement

Outlining the arrangement

Next I emphasized the outline using Black and Blue salvia, then added rich canary yellow giant zinnias for focal flowers. The salvia is actually very blue, not purple as the photograph makes it seem.

Next Black and Blue Salvia and Yellow Zinnias were added.

Next Black and Blue Salvia and Yellow Zinnias were added.

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Then came red-orange coneflowers (Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’), orange zinnias, and lantana. The lantana seems mostly orange at first glance, but its blooms are actually multi-hued clusters of orange, yellow, and pink flowers.

I finished the arrangement with yellow rudbeckia with green-cone centers, and Rosa Iceberg.

This iceberg rose did not really bloom well in spring, but recently it has tried again. Its flowers are very small and stems are weak, but I used them today for their fragrance.

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient plant) is starting to bloom this week and I used a couple of stems draping downward.  To complete the arrangement I set the flowers atop an inexpensive bone-colored ceramic novelty vase that is stamped Vintage 4.

In A Vase On Monday--August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday–August Mingle

It is easy to lose track but as I was arranging I tried to work from all sides of the arrangement.

In A Vase On Monday--August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday–August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday--August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday–August Mingle

I do not usually work with so many different flowers in one arrangement and still cannot decide if it is easier or harder. It is surprising that such a variety was available today in my garden.

Materials
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender)
Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells)
Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)
Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Pale yellow and orange Zinnia Cut and Come Again Mix -Burpee- 24” height
Canary yellow Zinnia Giant Flowered -Burpee-30” height  Huge 5” blooms
Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)
Rosa ‘Iceberg’
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’
Lantana camara (Common lantana)
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient plant)

In A Vase On Monday--August Mingle

In A Vase On Monday–August Mingle

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.