In a Vase on Monday: Cutting Flowers in the Rain

It’s raining.

Or as I like to say, It’s *RAINING*! 

San Jose had the second driest December on record, dating back 124 years. 

I love the rain under any conditions, but today’s January storm feels downright celebratory after such a dry start to our winter. What better day to go out in the garden to clip some blooms while soaking up the negative ions that make us feel good.

I’m joining Cathy and Cathy today for a regular feature they call In a Vase on Monday. Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden and Cathy at Words and Herbs faithfully post a vase of flowers from their garden year round. It’s not always easy, especially when you garden in Bavaria, but these two are an impressive pair.

My vase features something old and something new, pretty fringe and a cat, too.

A year ago I received a bottle of blush wine in this charming, cat-shaped bottle. It sat untouched for a year as I’m not really a fan of pink wine.

Wine bottle turned vase

Wine lovers, please look away now.

I poured the pink wine down the sink, rinsed the bottle, and voila, a pretty glass vase.

Okay, you can look now.

The something old comes from my cherished green asparagus fern. In 1988 I bought a pair of ferns for 79 cents and kept them on my nightstand in my one-bedroom apartment for two years. I moved and the plants moved with me. By the time we bought this house 21 years ago, my sprawling fern could no longer be contained. It’s now growing happily along the back fence.

If that plant could talk, eh?

Cuttings from my asparagus fern

Something new is the fresh-fallen rain drops. Isn’t it amazing how everything looks lush after a decent rain?

Cat vase in the rain

The pretty pink fringe you see comes from a few branches of my Loropetalum chinense or Chinese fringe plant.

Pink and green leaves and small fringe-like blooms

It’s a nice complement to last year’s hydrangea blooms, currently faded to shades of cranberry and pink.

Last season’s hydrangea, faded to cranberry and pink

The cat speaks for itself. =^, , ^=

The cat vase on our dining table (the runner is hand-felted by my friend Randi)

I hope you have a terrific week. If you need me, I’ll be outside enjoying the rain.

A Garden Dressed in White

“The first of all single colors is white … We shall set down white for the representative of light, without which no color can be seen; yellow for the earth; green for water; blue for air; red for fire; and black for total darkness.” — Leonardo Da Vinci

When I studied color theory, it surprised me to learn that white pigment is the absence of color whereas in light, white is the combination of all color. Scientifically speaking, white isn’t a color at all, but as ‘non-colors’ go it’s loaded with symbolism and meaning.

I also learned today that white or pale flowers are more strongly scented than their darker counterparts. Who knew!

Come join me for a walk through my mid-autumn garden. The ‘color’ of the day, isn’t a color at all.

flowering basil

Flowering basil

The rest of the vegetable garden went to sleep in October, but this pretty plant continues to thrive.

bacopa

Bacopa: This survived the summer heat and very little water

I gave this potted Bacopa very little water this summer. Now that it’s cooler and we’ve had a bit of rain, the plant revived.

camellia

Camellia along the back fence

This gorgeous, Camellia is one of my favorite splashes of white this time of year.

cosmos

A fading Cosmo, one of the lasts flowers in the curb garden

This Cosmo looks tired, but it is November. She’s been pumping out blooms for some time.

hydrangea

Hydrangea, grateful for some rain

Again, one of the last blooms on this plant.

sweet alyssum and begonia

Sweet Alyssum and Begonias on the patio

There are a few begonias in the back of this pot, but the summer belonged to my Sweet Alyssum. As it goes to sleep, a pretty white shower drifts below.

amemone

The last of the Anemone. They’ve been flowering since August

Saying Goodbye to King Tut

My sister’s beloved kitty died yesterday. He’s been a wonderful companion to her and will be sorely missed. He had the whitest coat, emerald-green eyes and the cutest little ears. He also had a sweet personality to match. Farewell KT.

KT Eating Kitty Greens

KT Eating Kitty Greens

Additional Reading:

Sensational Color: All about the color white.

Wikipedia: White

Color Matters: Basic Color Theory

In a Vase on Monday: Shifting Focus

Today’s flower arrangement for In a Vase on Monday came together beautifully…in my head.  My plan was to arrange Hydrangea in my artsy glass vase. The Hydrangea are fading, turning from pink to pale green to a creamy white. Their blooms are magnificent, even when dried. Yes, I thought, they’d be perfect.

fading hydrangeas

Pink and fading hydrangeas

I just couldn’t get it to work. The glass vase is long and quite narrow so a bit of a challenge. It’s beautiful though, so I really wanted to use it. After several attempts, I knew my mojo was off. Time to reach for my standby: a pitcher/vase from my friends Doug and Laura.

Since the stems were originally cut on the shorter side to accommodate the glass vase I had to improvise. I put a small, square jar on its side in the bottom of the pitcher, then added a second jar on top. Now I had the height needed,and could use less water to fill the jar.

hydrangeas in a vase with book

In a Vase on Monday and The Sweet Life

A few sprigs of fern added volume and softened the edges. At last it all came together. The vase is on the deck, resting on my tie-dyed tablecloth, a project from a couple of summers ago.

Hydrangeas and Asparagus Plumosus

Hydrangea and Asparagus Plumosus

I added a ‘prop’ as Cathy often does, a special volume of quotes and charming illustrations called The Sweet Life: Reflections on Home and Garden by Laura Stoddart. This charming book makes me smile whenever I open it.  Thank you, Nichole.

pink hydrangeas

Here’s the quote from a randomly opened page:

GWENDOLEN  Quite a well-kept garden this is, Miss Cardew.

CECILY So glad you like it, Miss Fairfax.

GWENDOLEN I had no idea there were any flowers in the country.

CECILY Oh, flowers are as common here, Miss Fairfax, as people are in London.

Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) The Importance of Being Earnest

I constructed costumes for The Importance of Being Earnest many years ago, so lots of Serendipity here.

Special thanks to the Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for creating In a Blog on Monday. Thanks as well to Cathy at Words and Herbs for introducing me to the idea.

In a Vase on Monday creativity from around the world:

If I missed your vase, please post your link in the comments below.

Garden Wreath Redux

Wonderful things happen when you write a blog. Here are my top three:

Community, community and community.

Last week I posted photos of my attempt at a garden wreath. The wreath had a lot going for it, but it lacked volume and charm.

Garden Wreath Version 1.0

Garden Wreath Version 1.0

I asked for suggestions and received a tremendous outpouring of support.

The Contented Crafter had this to say:  Just this very morning I was discussing my art work with a friend and related how something Jane Davenport once said made a big impression on me and changed the way I viewed my creations.

Jane said [and I paraphrase] ‘Every creation goes through an ugly stage. Do not be put off, do not throw it out, do not walk away. Keep working at it until it becomes beautiful again’.

Not that I’m calling your wreath ugly – it isn’t. It is actually really pretty, and while still in development, shows enormous potential – it just needs more.

Which brings me to my second great life lesson – if a little is good, a lot is better 🙂 Bling it up Alys, bling it up!

In summary, don’t be discouraged.  Add some bling. Borrow seeds from the squirrels.

flowes and seeds

Flowers and seeds

Boomdeeadda added:

I would say you’ve got a lot of beautiful dried flowers but need a sturdier base to build upon. I especially love the hair pin, it’s a pretty detail and unexpected 😀 I also like that you used a loose triangle in your design. The rule of three always works best for arranging flowers. It’s going to be so awesome and I bet it smells really wonderful too.

  • Do you have any thin gauge wire? Here’s what a florist might do.
  • Take everything off and sort.
  • Spray Hydrangea with a bit of hair spray to lessen shedding.
  • make three mixed posies with your remaining dried flowers by wrapping stems with a bit of wire. Vary the sizes (S, M, L). Leave a length of wire to make a small loop.
  • Now, stuff the entire wreath with green sheet moss. Available from gardening stores. Winding thin wire around the wreath as you go. You hardly see it with the moss.

After reading Boomdee’s professional advice, it was tempting to box it up and send it to her with a thank you note.  Instead I behaved myself and took notes.

I took apart the wreath, salvaging the lavender, the ribbon and the hair pin. The hydrangeas were toast so I tossed what remained in the compost bin.

I dragged myself to a craft store (hee!) and picked up a bag of Spanish moss, floral wire and a roll of dusty silver tulle.  I bought purple ribbon as well, but didn’t use it.

garden wreath collage

Starting from scratch

Cindy Knoke cheered me on as did Tami and Marlene, of In Search of it All. Marlene and LB both agreed that moss would give it some oomph.  Where the Journey Takes Me suggested the great and powerful Google for dried wreath inspiration.  Additional thanks to Sheryl at Flowery Prose.

Anne Lawson said: bling it up! When I paint there is often a point where I despair and think “it’s not working!” That’s the time to keep going, as many times it does come together.

I gathered lavender and sage in twice the quantities to allow for natural shrinkage when dried.  The hydrangeas were un-salvageable.  I used three of the flowers from a vase in my room.  I sprayed them first with hairspray to prevent shedding.  I added dried seeds from the Bachelor Buttons, and then stuffed all the gaps with moss.  The wire helped keep everything in place.

I dug out my Christmas ornaments early, remembering this cute set of watering cans, a gift from my sister-in-law many years ago.  The size and color worked well.  I added tulle to the original ribbon for a larger bow, placed dried lavender in the watering can and added the hair clip.

Garden Wreath Details

Garden Wreath Details

2nd wreath

Wreath Version 2.0

It’s still a bit lopsided, but overall I like it so much better. I’ve dubbed it the Village Wreath, as I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

XOX

Wreathiness

Earlier today, ‘Selfie’ was named Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionaries.  It brought to mind an earlier Word of the Year back in 2005 coined by Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report: truthiness.

Truthiness  is “the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.”  That is how I feel about my garden wreath.

In concept I wish it were beautiful.  If  you look at a small corner of  the wreath it’s pretty.

wreath detail

Closeups are deceiving

If I was going for truthiness I could call it a day.  Alas,  I’m a gardener that likes to keep it real.

The wreath had potential:

  • A  sturdy, but unobtrusive green metal base from a craft store
  • Lovely hydrangeas, dried to a soft purple gray
  • Long strands of velvety, purple sage
  • Snippets of lavender here and there
  • Bits of ribbon and a hair pin, no longer in use.

I wrapped strands of  sage along the edges of the wreath, then placed three hydrangeas in a loose triangle.  I added a small ribbon and a hair pin.  It just wasn’t enough.  I gathered lavender and added sprigs of that, then hung the wreath on the door, scattering dried flowers  as I went.

The wreath lacks volume.  Adding lavender made it smell nice, but it didn’t really help my cause.  Every time I tried to ‘fluff it up,’ I made it worse. I found a few more hydrangeas, smaller and still green.  Still not enough.  Now I have dried petals all over the front porch. They continue to drop  every time I close the door.

wreath of shame

Wreath of shame

balding wreath

Balding wreath

So, crafty friends, what’s a gardener to do?  Should I hide my wreath of shame?  I ordered a Christmas wreath from the local Boy Scouts.  Maybe I should just wait for it to arrive.

Is there still hope for my garden wreath?

Suggestions welcome in the comments below.

Plan-Free: My Mellow-Yellow Weekend

We had a mellow-yellow, no plans weekend. I loved it. That’s not to say I didn’t do anything, but that I enjoyed doing ‘whatever.’

First up, crafting a wreath:

wreath detailI’ve had an idea bouncing around in my head for a while and wanted to give it a try. I’ve been drying a few hydrangea blooms, now faded to a soft purple-gray. The sage is winding down the season, but still has plenty of purple plumage to spare. The thought was to wrap strands of the soft sage along the edges of the wreath, punctuated with three hydrangeas and a bit of ribbon. The colors are lovely, but the implementation is all wrong. Further, the more I worked with the hydrangea, the more I damaged the brittle blooms. Stay tuned for my sad little tale later this week.

Next up, seed organizing:

Oh, how I love organizing. And seeds. And my computer.

I gave my Seed Keeper an end-of-season clean out. It’s a great place to collect and store the seeds, but after a busy spring, I’d neglected the contents. When I had finished planting, I tossed empty seed packets into the box, thinking I would later use them for record-keeping.

Seed Keeper Deluxe

Seed Keeper Deluxe

Head slap: I keep a blog. So, remembering the log part of blogging, I tossed the torn packets into the recycle bin. (At one point I thought I would save them to make cards, but muddied finger prints and torn edges helped me realize the error of my ways.)

The clean out left plenty of room for this season’s seed collection, my most methodical and organized to date.

Matching garden photos with the seeds I plan to store, I created a photo collage.  I sized the collage to fit a sheet of name badge labels, passed it through the printer and voila, an easy way to make seed packets. Using glassine envelopes on hand from last year, I included the name and the year, added the label and seeds, and filed them in my nifty Seed Keeper.

flower seed packets

Flowering annual seed packets ready to fill

flower seed labels

Photo collage for identifying seeds

squirrel on the fence

Looking for directions (sorry buddy, these seeds aren’t for you).  The peanuts are one house over.

End of the weekend, project:

I connected with Emma at Greenhouse Starter over the weekend and made plans to ship her Craft it Forward treasure.  I stayed up making a card to go with it, the perfect end to my mellow-yellow, no plans weekend.

Are you making your way through Monday or still hanging on to the weekend?

Hydrangeas in Artistic Glass

My friend invited me to the Los Altos Art and Wine Show last month and we both came home with the same bubble glass vase.  Isn’t it pretty?

glass vase with hydrangeas

I’ve misplaced the artist’s card. Won’t you please stand up?

It sat on my kitchen counter for a while, but it’s now found a ‘permanent’ home in our bedroom.  I use the parenthetical because I’m forever changing things around. It’s kind of a hobby of mine.  When my sister and I were growing up, we liked nothing better than to rearrange the furniture.  We had fun with the ‘reveal’ as the home and garden shows like to call it when our mom arrived home from work.  She always seemed please.

I digress.  The talented Donna Pierre painted one of our bedroom walls with a sea-blue plaster and glaze, a finish we now refer to as ‘the mermaid.’ We added a hammered metal mirror and table to the room and the vase was the perfect accent to complete the look.

Then, lo and behold, the pink hydrangeas started to turn, weathered to a soft grey-lavender patina.  What timing.  They are magnificent flowers, blooms I admired for years. They are far too big for apartment dwelling, but work well now that I have a house with dirt to call my own.

hydrangea closeup

Dusty lavender hues

I still have to pinch myself all these years later, grateful to have a beautiful home and surrounding soil to fill with roots and flowering goodness. I think about that whenever I see these dusty blooms.

Do you have a favorite bloom?

Lindy on the table

Lindy-Lu approves