Wordless Wednesday—Sunny Container Annuals

Velocity Blue Salvia (blue sage), white Angelonia

Velocity Blue Salvia (blue sage), white Angelonia

Velocity Blue Salvia (blue sage)

Velocity Blue Salvia (blue sage)

Velocity Blue Salvia (blue sage)

Velocity Blue Salvia (blue sage)

Container with Angelonia, Salvia, Phlox and Petunia

Container with Angelonia, Salvia, Phlox and Petunia

Angelonia (white)
Petunia grandiflora ‘Sophistica Blackberry’
Phlox ‘Intensia Blueberry’
Phlox ‘Intensia Cabernet’
Spikes
Velocity Blue Salvia (blue sage)

Phlox 'Intensia Cabernet', Phlox 'Intensia Blueberry'

Phlox ‘Intensia Cabernet’, Phlox ‘Intensia Blueberry’

In A Vase On Monday— Hydrangeas

In A Vase On Monday - Hydrangeas

In A Vase On Monday – Hydrangeas

Monday brings the chance to share cut flowers from the garden by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday.

Hydrangeas began blooming last week and I am thrilled. The flowers have a way to go before they are fully open but I could not wait. Hydrangea macrophylla generally bloom on old growth. In the previous two years late cold snaps ruined the buds, so this is the first promising display ever from these passalong shrubs.

Often arrangements of flowers require many more blooms than one would expect. I had to return to the garden to snip a few extra hydrangeas to complete the vase.

These flowers were so luxurious and satisfying to arrange.

In A Vase On Monday - Hydrangeas

In A Vase On Monday – Hydrangeas

Perhaps an odd use of concealer foliage, I first lay out a collar of pink achillea around the perimeter of the vase and then added the layer of leaves above. I chose Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ for its beautiful red coloring on the undersides of the leaves to complement the other pinks and reds in the arrangement.

Folded leaves of Heuchera villosa 'Big Top Bronze' reveal reddish underside

Folded leaves of Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ reveal reddish underside

Heuchera villosa 'Big Top Bronze' foliage with Hydrangeas

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ foliage with Hydrangeas

Penstemons are also blooming this week and I used several colors as filler flowers. Husker Red has dark red foliage with white flowers and self-seeds generously. Pike’s Peak Purple is my favorite. Originally planted along the path of the meditation circle only one plant remains there. Last summer I managed to divide it and plant a piece in a section of the border, where it is blooming but not really thriving.  Red Rocks is the third penstemon, and as is often the case with plants named “red,” the bloom color is pink, not red. Red Rocks is blooming well though.

Center: Penstemon x mexicali 'Red Rocks', Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple', Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'

Center: Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’, Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’, Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

Penstemon x mexicali 'Red Rocks' (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Also featured in today’s vase are three stems of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’. These large clusters of oak leaf hydrangea, which open white, should gradually turn pink and eventually darken to a rich dark rose. This has never happened. Instead the flowers turn brown and dry up before reaching that stage. Maybe there will be enough rain to keep the plant happy this year.

White clusters of Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'

White clusters of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

Materials

Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)
Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) – foliage only
Hydrangea macrophylla (from Jayme, March, 2013)
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’  (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)
Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Container Notes

I found a new ceramic vase at my neighborhood’s garage sale a few weeks ago. The selling point was its matching lid with holes to help secure the flowers, like a flower frog. The lid works but with limitations.

To begin this design I edged the container with a low soft border of Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow). Supported by remnants of feathery foliage, the achillea stayed precisely where I put it.  But the taller, heavier hydrangeas were less cooperative. At the beginning the hydrangea stems had a lot of wiggle room in the openings, shifting around and adjusting as I inserted other flowers.

Eventually I managed but this arrangement might have been easier with a stronger base of Oasis or another anchoring system. The lid does lift up easily to add fresh water.

Vase lid with holes

Achillea filipendulina inserted into holes of vase lid

This view shows how the initial edging of achillea and heuchera leaves support the hydrangeas in the arrangement.

In A Vase On Monday - Hydrangeas

In A Vase On Monday – Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Color Notes

The pink color of my mophead hydrangea is surprising. I grew up in an area where hydrangeas were always blue. I have never had the soil tested here but there are plenty of pines in the neighborhood so I had assumed the soil was acidic. When Jayme gave me the plants, I think there were 2 or 3 blue flowers the first year, 2013; 1 or 2 small pale blue ones in 2014; 1 or 2 small white ones, 2015. So the flower color has been transitioning as the plants grew and became established.

Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla

For blue flowers hydrangeas require acidic soil (pH 5.5 or lower) and for pink, neutral to alkaline (pH 6.5 and higher).  To change pink to blue flowers, applying aluminum sulfate to lower the pH and add aluminum to the soil is recommended.

Whew! The End

You deserve a medal if you managed to read this far. Thanks for stopping by.

And as always, thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly flower obsession. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and other gardeners are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Overhead view of Hydrangeas

Overhead view of Hydrangeas

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – May 2016

It is time again for Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides.

Near the back steps, a passalong dahlia is preparing for its second year in my garden, courtesy of Libby at An Eye For Detail. The foliage looks strong and flowers are forming. I neglected to dig the dahlia last fall so am relieved to see it made it through the winter.

Dahlia

Dahlia

In the upper left of the image above, fragrant Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) is inconveniently growing up through where the garden hose is stored and needs to be reined back. In front of the monarda, a few dark red leaves of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are visible. Also here several plants of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) are pushing upwards through some impertinent clover and a ground cover of Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft). Foliage of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) peek through as well. The Aquilegia’s last remaining red flowers nod their heads.

Here is a closer look at the Echinacea and Aquilegia, with seeds formed on Iberis. The textures were not planned but do look interesting together.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

The other side of the steps features a long, sunny border fronted largely by Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy).

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Across the garden in its shadiest corner, several Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) responded well to the recent rains and have grown substantially. Their multi-hued foliage is rich and full for the moment. Meanwhile Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not) finished blooming, but the smaller silvery, patterned leaves add a bright pop to this planting area (lower left of image). In back at left fern-like foliage of Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy) and sword-like iris leaves add height and texture.

Heuchera villosa 'Big Top Bronze' (Coral Bells)

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells)

In a small nearby border with a bit more sun grows more Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’. Its companion Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ has similar coloring. A stand of self-seeded Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) with long green, leathery leaves gives a change in texture and color.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue) and Heuchera villosa 'Big Top Bronze' (Coral Bells) with Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) and Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) with Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Silvery shades of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and soon to bloom Lavender complement more leaves of Bearded Iris.

Bearded Iris, Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear), Lavender

Bearded Iris, Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear), Lavender

Four Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’ have been planted for about three years. Most are finally getting some size and buds are forming.

Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

One of the August Beauty gardenias has been eclipsed by its aggressive neighbors.  Soon the monarda will explode with red, inviting hummingbirds to sip its nectar, and dark pink flowers will grace the echinacea. But for now this spot is a relaxing green with Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ providing white accents—a cool, calm, peaceful interlude.

One Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty' has become swamped by surrounding plants.

One Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’ has become swamped by surrounding plants.

Thanks to Christina at Garden of the Hesperides for hosting. Read her foliage update and see more links to foliage perspectives from many parts of the world.

Views From Last Wednesday

I have been wanting to record some garden views from last Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Bearded Iris Guard Meditation Circle

Bearded Iris Guard Meditation Circle

Lynn's Iceberg Rose

Lynn’s Iceberg Rose

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)- black iris

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)- black iris

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Tradescantia (spiderwort), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Tradescantia (spiderwort), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

In A Vase On Monday—Cherished Red

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

Each Monday brings the chance to join Cathy’s In A Vase On Monday to share an arrangement using materials gathered from the garden.

As frequent readers will know, I admire and value pass-alongs and the memories they contain. For today’s design I have featured cut peonies in a striking red color. These were shared by a friend last week and came from a plant originally grown by her mother.

A search to learn the name of the peony yielded dozens of possibilities, so I nicknamed it ‘Cherished Red’ for today.

Peony, foxglove and cilantro

Peony, foxglove and cilantro

Recently in other Monday vases I have seen herbs used to create a soft, airy effect. I used last year’s cilantro that has been flowering for several weeks to lighten the red.

From my peonies I cut several stems of P. ‘Festiva Maxima’ and a pink anonymous one. A branch of Ruby Glow Foxglove broken during a severe evening storm provided more blooms than I would have ventured to cut myself.

Pink and white peonies and foxglove grown in pbmGarden

Pink and white peonies and foxglove grown in pbmGarden

The red peonies had lovely long stems, but not so the others. To use them all I divided the flowers between two ceramic containers of differing heights. The only foliage used was a small number of peony leaves kept on the stems to help keep them fresh (a tip I picked up from a floral designer’s talk last month).

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

Here is another view after giving each vase a quarter turn.

Vases rotated a quarter-turn

Vases rotated a quarter-turn

I perhaps like the overhead view best.

In A Vase On Monday - Overhead view

In A Vase On Monday – Overhead view

Materials List

Coriander (cilantro)
Digitalis Foxlight ‘Ruby Glow’ (Ruby Glow Foxglove)
Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’ (white)
Paeonia (pink peony, name unknown)
Paeonia (red double peony, name unknown)

Thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly flower arranging addiction. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday and feel free to join in.

Peony In Pink

Pink Peony

Pink Peony

A mixup with two mail-order peonies several years ago left me with a Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’ instead of Paeonia lactiflora ‘Duchess de Nemours’ and masquerading as Paeonia lactiflora ‘Black Beauty’ (Nightlife Peony), this lovely pink mystery.

I think I went ahead and labeled it P. ‘Black Beauty’ last year when if bloomed, but it cannot be accurate. If you recognize it I would appreciate knowing its name. This is the pink mystery peony in and out of the garden.

Pink Peony with Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear) and pale yellow Iris

Pink Peony with Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and pale yellow Iris

Veronica spicata 'Rotfuchs' (Red Fox Veronica) is companion to the pink peony, but mostly hidden by the peony foliage.

Veronica spicata ‘Rotfuchs’ (Red Fox Veronica) is companion to the pink peony, but its first blooms are mostly hidden by the peony foliage.

I included white P. ‘Festiva Maxima’ in Monday’s vase of Hippeastrum, but also had filled the house with vases of many other flowers, including the unknown pink peony.  Joining the pink peony in a Fenton vase are Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox), Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris), and Digitalis Foxlight ‘Ruby Glow’.

Pink Peony Vase

Pink Peony Vase

Pink Peony Vase

Pink Peony Vase

Pink Peony Vase

Pink Peony Vase

Pink Peony Vase

Pink Peony Vase

Pink Peony Vase

Pink Peony Vase

In A Vase On Monday—Sisters’ Flowers

In A Vase On Monday - Sisters' Flowers

In A Vase On Monday – Sisters’ Flowers

Each Monday brings the chance to join Cathy’s In A Vase On Monday to share an arrangement using materials gathered from the garden.

On Saturday I visited my two sisters in Fayetteville and returned primed for a Monday vase. My sisters grow spectacular Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) in a garden bed near their front walkway. When this past year they had to remove several shrubs from the area, their amaryllis responded to the more open, sunnier situation with a profusion of blooms.

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) in Sisters' Garden

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) in Sisters’ Garden (pink rose in background)

My sisters generously offered the clippers and encouraged me to help myself.

“Oh, yes, thank you. I would love some!”

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) in Sisters' Garden

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) in Sisters’ Garden

I chose four tall stalks and smiled all the way home.

These flowers are simply amazing, but creating a floral design and taking photographs that do justice to these beauties has proved challenging. Had I cut them short the Hippeastrum might have been easier to arrange. Maybe later in the week I will experiment, but for now I wanted to keep the stems long so I could use a special, deep vase of clear glass.

Hippeastrum, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’, Euphorbia 'Shorty'

I did cut all the stems the same length and used florist’s tape to bind them near the top.

Hippeastrum, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’, Euphorbia 'Shorty'

Hippeastrum, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’, Euphorbia ‘Shorty’

Included with the Hippeasturm is one stem of Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’ and two stems of Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ in separate pastel glass vases complete the arrangement.

Hippeastrum, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’, Euphorbia 'Shorty'

Hippeastrum, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’, Euphorbia ‘Shorty’

Materials
Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ (Shorty Spurge)
Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)
Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Because the peonies put up with such excessive rain last week and some still managed to open unharmed, I felt one deserved to be included in the vase today. I am not convinced it contributes to the design.

Hippeastrum, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’, Euphorbia 'Shorty'

Hippeastrum, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’, Euphorbia ‘Shorty’

Without the peony the result felt incomplete. Perhaps some ribbon or burlap tied near the top of the middle vase?

Hippeastrum Flanked By Euphorbia 'Shorty'. (Perhaps a cleaner design without the Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’.)

Hippeastrum Flanked By Euphorbia ‘Shorty’. (Perhaps a cleaner design without the Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’.)

The Hippeastrum and the peony hold their own without the euphorbia.

Hippeastrum, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Hippeastrum, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Eventually I had to stop fussing.  Thanks to my sweet sisters, Judy and Cindy, for today’s flowers.

Thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly flower arranging addiction. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday. Feel free to join in.