not as easy as it looks

I watched through the kitchen window as Richard struggled with this mix of greenery, trying to get it to do his bidding. He’s an artist so eventually he coaxed it into a pleasing configuration. If you have been following Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday meme, you would be forgiven if you assume that this flower arranging gig is easy-peasy. After all, the many participants consistently come up with gorgeous arrangements. To be fair, the flowers and greens themselves are pretty enough to carry the day if all you do is plunk a handful into a jug and call it good. Many of the Monday entries are real works of art and their creators often are generous with tips and tricks employed to get them there.

Those greens were still looking fresh even after sitting on our deck since the holidays. I decided to piggy-back on that success story by adding some sprigs of Nandina and three stems of Hellebore…sorry, I don’t have a name for this one but it endears itself to me by holding its head up high to show off its sweet coloring and pattern rather than nodding shyly as so many of them do.

Interesting (to me) how different it looks in different lighting situations.

Now here’s a closer look at those peachy Hellebores.

I can’t resist giving you a peek at my Valentine tulips. They were tightly furled when they arrived and looked like they would be solid red. What a pleasant surprise to see the delicate white margins as the petals opened. I’ve had mixed results from transferring potted tulips to the garden but one can hope. Speaking of hope: I hope I have convinced you to visit Cathy’s Rambling in the Garden and even to join in the weekly fun and games.

Now…if you are moved to leave a comment (and I adore getting comments) please do not be put off by the ominous “fatal error” message. I haven’t the skill to fix this annoying problem. On the up-side, your comment will appear nevertheless, so please ignore the nasty warning. Who knows what WordPress is up to here: seriously, if you have any ideas for a fix I will be eternally grateful.

christmas recap/happy new year

I have a wonderful little tree in a gorgeous red pot that has been earmarked for Christmas duty. The pot itself weighs quite a bit. Add to that the fact that I neglected to move it onto the covered deck before the rains came, adding all that water weight. We decided that a medical emergency over a Christmas tree might mar the “Merry” so I settled for throwing some lights and ornaments on the Hoya that was already living in the so designated room.

I am very fond of my collection of Margaret Furlong angels.

Each angel follows the basic shell theme but carries a different symbol of the season.

The winds had blown gobs of lichen out of the trees so I gathered enough bits to fill this decorative glass plate as background for five of the angels.

It makes a nice centerpiece when placed on this runner from Ikea and flanked by a collection of crystal and plain old glass candle holders with white candles. The “Christmas tree” will be dismantled soon, but the table setting gets to stay for New Years.

Several of these wooden village pieces were made by friends many years ago. We don’t have a mantle but now that we are catless (boo hoo) I can press the pony wall into service.

Keeping it simple is always a challenge in my world.

A bunch of tin icicles dripping from the Kalanchloe orgyanum and that did it for us in the decorating department.

But I do so enjoy wretched excess when I see it. This spotted on our way to the Trader Joe’s in NW Portland. Here’s hoping you will experience an excess of JOY in the coming year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

the vase is the thing

My friend Linda just opened an Etsy shop. Check it out HERE. I couldn’t resist ordering a couple of these adorable hand built small pots to give as gifts. The two-part one in the foreground, I am keeping for myself…must admit to difficulty parting with the others but that’s love for you.

Because there is no drainage hole, I am using it, stacked, as a vase. I can see putting wooden matches in it and using the rough surface for striking. At only a few inches tall, it is easy to incorporate into a tablescape or use as a bright spot in cramped quarters.

The other two little pots do have drainage holes. I wanted them to be used inside without worrying about leakage staining surfaces. Enter Tillandsias: problem solved.

You can see how putting it in a saucer would obscure the three little pot feet that are part of its charm.

I’m sorry I don’t know the names of the Tillandsias but I can tell you that I got them from a new Solabee shop that just opened in a remodeled space across the street from the post office in NW Portland (24th & Thurman) next door to the new home of Betsy & Iya (another great gift buying destination).

I’ll link here to Rambling in the Garden, where Cathy hosts ‘In a Vase on Monday’ where we have gotten hooked on bringing the garden’s goodness indoors.

magical succulents + iavom

They tend to be a bit fragile, so bits and bobs are always breaking off from the mother plants.

I had a pot that needed some filling in at ground level so just poked those bits into the soil. Voila! In a matter of weeks they had surpassed all expectation. Kinda reminds me of Jack and his magic beanstock.

This little vase is an afterthought because it took shape a couple of weeks ago. The mums last and last in a vase even though the great outdoors destroyed what was left out there. Supplemented by some dried Persicaria and Chasmanthium latifolium and a decorative leaf plucked from a NOID houseplant, I’ll offer it up for Cathy’s ‘In a Vase on Monday’.

the garden of maurice & george

One of the many delights working at Joy Creek is getting invited to the garden our fearless leader shares with his partner. I foolishly left my good camera at home so we will have to settle for phone pix. Pictured above are Anna, Monica, Maurice (showing us around) and Yohanna.

The drive leading away from the house is flanked by lavender on one side and a mixture of remarkable trees, shrubs and perennials on the other. Beyond the cultivated areas the landscape opens into natural beauty as far as the eye can see.

Hardscapes like this elegant stairway lend an air of permanence to the functional aspects of the garden.

Monica gives an idea of scale to this formal area, as does Yohanna, further along the path in the distance.

More of that formal section…and there’s Gina in the foreground.

This shade garden is representative of the dense planting throughout the garden. These are no ordinary plants either, though Maurice is not above using a tried and true item wherever appropriate.

I almost missed getting a shot of George, but there he is on the far right. He claims that he is the gardener, while Maurice is the plantsman. However they divide their efforts, they have conspired to create a piece of heaven on earth. I’ve been kicking myself for not getting many more and better photos but if we’re lucky we might get invited back, when I won’t make that mistake again.

just in time for haunting

As gardeners, we know enough to appreciate the activity of bats as they gobble up pests at a prodigious rate. This little guy is pretty friendly looking besides. If you put him on your window the little goblins ringing your bell will not be terrified, so better have plenty of treats ready.

Hand cut from static cling vinyl, you peel the bat from the backing sheet and apply to any clean indoor glass surface, working out bubbles with your hand.

Orders are sent in sturdy envelopes with complete instructions for use and storage. The bat measures 11″ x 5″.

You can order a bat, or other of our Window Art Warnings HERE!

another monday, another vase

I liked the way the Heliantemum maximillianii yellows pick up where the yellow in the Dahlias leave off.

A touch of Autumn enters the picture with a branch from the sourwood tree. It will flame out in brilliant red as the days grow shorter.

More russet tones compliments of the crape myrtle.

A branch of dogwood yielded up a few of its little red fruits.

I had to take a few steps back to include the Solidago ‘Fireworks’ shooting off in every direction. I’m a day late for Cathy’s ‘In a Vase on Monday’ but you can still get in on the fun by clicking HERE.

monday vase

The matte finished pot suggested a bouquet of pale colors, a bit of a surprise in this season of bold, burnished hues. Delusional Drive was getting overgrown, reaching out to snare visitors as they struggled to reach us. My pruning efforts yielded plenty of material to work with.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ was beginning to color up, giving me a nice pale pink to pick up the color of the Hydrangea quercifolia. Some variegated Euonymous provides two shades of green, with the last blossom of Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ sporting almost the same color as the vase.

A few dangling blossoms of Fuchsia magellanica ‘Alba’, also known as ‘Maiden’s Blush’, complete the picture.

Oh, wait! There’s also a handful of Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ to add a linear element and one huge leaf from the rice paper plant.

Cathy of Rambling in the Garden hosts In a Vase on Monday weekly and it is always worth a visit. I put this arrangement together two weeks ago and the only things that petered out and had to be removed were the Kniphofia and the Fuchsia. It needed to be an outdoor arrangement because the Hydrangea immediately began to drop teensy seeds all over the place. Being outside in the cool probably contributed to its longevity.

dahlia time

You still have a couple of days to catch the dahlia festival at Swan Island Dahlias in Canby OR. We went last Monday to avoid the crowds…HAH! It was wall-to-wall people but a fun, festive atmosphere. (I just missed catching a shot of an adorable little girl peeking out the center of that flower graphic)

Row upon row of incredible flowers stretch as far as the eye can see.

Thanks to clear signage, you can wander the fields to create a list of must-haves.

My latest heartthrob is the pom pom form, like ‘Maarn’, above. Hard to believe that nature can produce such geometrical perfection.

‘Spartacus’ is a whoppin’ big guy with recurved petals and a velvety richness.

‘Gitt Crazy’ has wonderfully modulated shades of color and a name that must have come from a late-night session fueled by who-knows-what.

The fields will be open through September. Here’s a glimpse of what you will miss if you can’t make it to the festival: music, food, crowds of happy people, and extensive indoor displays of cut flowers like those above. I prefer seeing the flowers growing in the fields, where the varying heights and strength of stems are obvious.

We came home with a nice bouquet…

…and a full color catalog that I cut up to make my selections (it was a little too overwhelming to me to make up my mind on the spot). Prices range from a low of $5.95 to upwards of $25.00 for new introductions. You can order online HERE for delivery at planting time. OOOH what bouquets I dream of making next summer!

i’m back…with a new monday vase

My friend Susan B gave me this rustic metal tray filled with five vases.

What fun it has been, cruising the garden in search of just the right materials. Here we have chive blossoms, sprigs of Euphorbia ‘Fen’s Ruby’, Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ and an Iris that shall remain nameless.

Taking a break from working at Joy Creek for health reasons is a sad state of affairs, but let’s look on the bright side. I can get back to blogging a bit more and participating in Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday meme.

Here’s the last bouquet I did for Joy Creek, where bouquets come together nearly effortlessly, given the wealth of materials to work with.