triple play: ffu, gbfd and garden favorite

foggy foliage

Our days have been starting out cloaked in fog. Looking out from the front deck, the scene is framed by gnarly cherry tree branches on the right and red branches of Stachyrus praecox on the left, giving perspective to the cedar trees disappearing gradually into the fog.


The view out back has deciduous trees forming the scrim in front of the ghostly forms of conifers farther down the trail into the woods.


There was moss left over after using some at the base of our “Christmas Tree”. It was left in a wire basket on the outdoor table and up popped these cute little fungi for a natural fairy garden look.

Mahonia 'Arthur Menzes'

Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’ finally came across with some flowers this year, but it is here as a foliage plant. It’s stiff, holly-like leaves are evergreen and textural for year-round interest.

Cryptomeria japonica spiralis 'Grannies Ringlets'

And to complete the triple play of the title, here’s my favorite plant of the week: Cryptomeria japonica spiralis ‘Granny’s Ringlets’. That Arcostaphylos in the background currently obscures it from the entry drive, but from the back side of the bed its curlique habit stands out from its more serious neighbors. It will eventually gain enough height to make its presence known from any angle. Loree of Danger Garden fame hosts the favorite plant meme and will have a roundup on the last Friday of the month. I have long participated in Pam’s Foliage Follow-Up meme at Digging. Recently I discovered a similar meme, Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides, hosted by Christina. I may be cheating a bit by hitting all three with one post, but you know how it is when the weather turns nice enough to get out there to start weeding and pruning, so I trust you will forgive me.

A comment from Anna brought to my attention that I did not include any info about Granny. You can find it HERE.

in a vase on monday…on tuesday

Ranunculus asiaticus

A visit to Garden Fever turned up 4″ pots of Ranunculus asiaticus in the color of orange sherbet. I had the silver pots (vases) from the table decorations for a summer wedding. The nursery pots slip right into them, deeply enough to hide the plastic.


We were having friends to lunch, and Susan (one of our guests) had given me the 3 silver candle holders that echo the color and shape of the pots. Sherbet and cookies for desert carried the theme even a step further.  I guess this is cheating a little bit, because the flowers didn’t come from my garden, but they will be headed there now that they have served their purpose as table decorations. Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden is very forgiving of stretching the definition of ‘In a Vase on Monday’, so don’t hesitate to join in, or at least check it out.

gbbd, short & sweet

Hamamelis 'Early Bright'

I bought Hamamelis ‘Early Bright’ last year about this time as a fairly small specimen. I’m surprised and delighted to see it blooming. It is Early and it is Bright. I was told it had fragrance, but have yet to detect any. I suppose if it was brought into the house I might smell it, but it needs to put on more growth before I’ll be comfortable cutting even a snippet.


Winter Jasmine does have fragrance…

Jasminum nudiflorum

But though the plant is sizable, the flowers are sparse. There are many buds, but they tend to open slowly over a long period of time.


I have complained frequently about the frostbite on Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’. It was easy to put mittens on the tight buds prior to our first cold snap, but they had bloomed out sufficiently to make it impossible the second time around. You may be able to see the blackened tips on the outermost blossoms. Those that were more protected, growing more toward the center of the plant, fared better. Arthur, I fear, will never be as show-offy as his cousin ‘Charity’.

Cryptomeria japonica 'Sekkan Sugi'

Once you start wondering about something, the answer is sure to reveal itself in other blogs, even if you don’t take the trouble to put the word out. The little bud-like doohickeys on the tips of Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’ are flowers. Pretty cute, if you ask me.

Aloe 'Carmine'

Coming indoors, you can see proof that my Aloes bloom reliably, sometimes more than once a year. They are pretty puny, nothing like the magnificent blooms you will see if you follow the blog Piece of Eden. Still, they make me happy, and I’ll take what I can get without moving to a climate at odds with my webfoot ways.

Don’t forget to check in with May Dreams Gardens to see January’s blooms world-wide.

shades of green in a vase this monday


Here’s what I have to work with.


I’m especially fond of this vintage frog. It’s a nice artifact sitting in my downstairs work area. It also works really well for anchoring stems in a vase. Of course we won’t see it once it’s pressed into service here.


I usually use the green pot as a cachepot into which I slip a nursery pot. It has recently held Cyclamen, then Poinsettia, but now I’m going to treat it like a vase. Some branches of Chamaecyparis ‘Barry’s Silver’ form a feathery background to the rosette of Lanceolata Kale. We’ve been putting this kale in our morning smoothies, but, with the help of other greedy critters, it had been whittled down to what could pass as a dark green cabbage rose. A few bare, red branches from the Oxydendrum provide the only non-green element, but there is enough yellow-to-chartreuse in there to make it feel quite colorful.


To keep the green theme going I set the table with green napkins in my favorite napkin rings (ivory-painted cast iron birds, each in a slightly different pose), and a green metal dish containing river rocks.

Started by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, this meme challenges us to find material for a bouquet every Monday of the year right in our own back yards. It’s an eye-opening exercise that can be downright habit-forming.

here’s a favorite: can you tell me its name?


The last time I visited Digs Inside and Out on Alberta Street, I found this cuddly cactus. JJ always has a few interesting plants, but this one has special appeal and here’s why:


Last summer JJ threw open her garden for the Garden Bloggers’ Fling. I was not alone in oohing and aahing over the squid pot on the wall or the equally drool-worthy plant it contained.


I couldn’t quite spring for one of the pots, but the plant was like bringing home a memento of sunny days, surrounded by the cream of gardening’s crop of gardeners in beautiful and imaginative settings.


I had just rediscovered this pot made by Hillary (daughter) when she was in grade school. The cactus, in its pot, fit exactly, with a little vertical wiggle room. I’m squeamish about taking a drill to any pot, but especially one this precious. I put some gravel in the bottom of the cachepot to bring the nursery pot level with the lip, then topped off with more gravel as a dressing.


I’ve had luck with the no-holes approach as long as the pots are not placed where they can be waterlogged by rain. If all goes as planned, my no-name cactus will thrive, multiply and begin to droop over the edges of its new home much as JJ’s mature specimen has done. Our host for Friday favorites, Danger Garden has one of these and can probably enlighten us with its proper name. A click to check out Loree’s blog is never amiss, regardless.

another monday, another vase


Unlike the bright red one we had last year, this year’s poinsettia was already beginning to look ragged. I can’t say I’m sorry. I felt not a twinge of guilt as I had at it to add to today’s vase.


Two Fatsia japonica leaves are put into service: one as background for the bouquet, the other wound (underside out, the better to showcase the veins) around the inside of the vase. The stems here are best hidden because they’re not all that attractive.


I love the fresh little catkins on the hazels, so I cut three branches of them for a vertical element.


The seedheads of ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum are showing lovely russet tones. In they go.


I’m not sure which heather this is, but it picks up some of the russet, transitioning towards peach, while the Euonymous ‘Emerald and Gold’ has some of the poinsettia’s peach and some of the yellow of the Nandina berries. I headed out with low expectations today, but am quite happy with what I managed to ferret out. This meme is so much fun (and even more so as it gets more challenging in winter). It’s open to all, so head over HERE to join in.

if it’s monday, it must be ‘in a vase’


I knew, starting out, that the only thing blooming out there would be the Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’.


I also knew that it would have a very short, stout stem so I chose this vase: short, with a bit of a flare to the shape.


Here’s what the blossom looks like on the shrub. By cutting a little below the blossoming truss, I got a few of the stiff, holly-like leaves to include. It’s also suffering from frostbite, so the tips need to be nipped out.


Wandering about, I was drawn to the drooping branches of Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’ (would those little cone-like things be considered flowers?).


And because it was getting too monochromatic, the lichen clothed branches of Berbers thunbergii purpurea were added to the mix.


Books on the subject advise stripping stems of all foliage that will be below the water line, but that’s one of those rules that was made to be broken. It just means changing the water more frequently, a decent trade-off for treating it all as part of the arrangement.


It wasn’t a great day for picture taking, but I guess you get the idea. Now it’s time to check out Rambling in the Garden for more vases on this winter Monday.

not exactly a vase on monday

Cornus s. 'Cardinal'

I had plans for our Christmas tree. It was to be the Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’ that has been living in a big pot for several years. It needs to be liberated from that pot soon, but it was going to get a celebratory send-off, all decked out in Christmas finery. Well, scratch that idea: the pot was much too heavy to lift.


Hark the Seashell Angels Sing…I tend to get a little emotional about my Christmas tree, but once I calmed down we headed to Means. Having perused all of the green options, traditional and non, we hit upon this Cardinal Twig Dogwood. I had a client once who gave me one of the Margaret Furlong porcelain angel ornaments every year that we worked together (death did us part). After placing the tree, in its nursery pot, in a round terra cotta pot and disguising the uglies with moss, three of the angels were propped in the moss to form the angel chorus. A fancy cutwork linen tablecloth handed down in our crafty family is getting a rare outing, doubly protected by a glazed saucer within a plastic one.


The remaining angels are wired to the branches. A tube of tin icicles from Schoolhouse Electric contained 50, so there were plenty to make an impact, with some left over to drip from the garlands on top of the pony wall. Glass raindrops and berries add a little extra sparkle (those came from Smith & Hawken several years ago). Hard as it is to exercise restraint at this time of year, the rest of the ornaments remain in the box, with the promise to let them shine next year. I hope your holidays will shimmer and shine and bring you great joy.

Now, for some real vases this Monday, head on over to Rambling in the Garden.

foliage follow-up for the holidays

Deodore cedar

Conifers shout “Holidays” to me. Here’s the bargain NOID deodore cedar with one of the towering native cedars as a backdrop.


Despite its humble beginnings, its performance has been stellar.


It has an almost frosted look, so I’m looking forward to the day when I can steal a few branches to bring indoors.


In the meantime, the wind storms were only too happy to oblige by littering the ground with evergreen branches.


A swag for the door gave me an excuse to feature this goofy little folk art angel that usually watches over my work station. I made a loop in a length of rope, then wired bundles of branches onto the ends with the unused wire fasteners from our trash bag liners. A purple satin ribbon matches the angel’s robe.


Our fireplace is free-standing, so no mantle. A pony wall around the stairs serves the same purpose. We had to leave a stretch in the middle for Sami to use as a perch.


It’s such fun to have an abundance of material to tuck in here and there inside and out.


I won’t bore you with every nook and cranny, but instead will suggest that you visit Pam to see what she and others are celebrating in the way of foliage.

bloom day in a vase on monday


I set out expecting to fill a vase with evergreens, but was surprised to find Viburnum tinus ‘Robustum’ sporting buds and even a random opened blossom or three.


Often, I will go on a foraging expedition and let the materials I find dictate the container. This time I had this little glass pitcher in mind all along. It prompted me to cut just a few short stems.


The intention was to feature the stiff bristly cuttings of Thunderhead pine, but the surprise Viburnum, with its waxy leaves, changed all that. Two sprigs became the focus, with the pine taking a supporting role. One cutting of cedar provides an additional texture and a horizontal element.


When working with a vase like this, I like to consider the stems as much as what happens topside. Here, the part of the cedar cutting below the water line is an important element. Before you hop over to Rambling in the Garden to see what Cathy and friends have found to put in their vases, let me show you a few more things for Bloom Day, sponsored by Carol.


Tis the Season, after all, so I indulged in this poinsettia found at the one-stop shopping center. Poinsettias have a habit of hanging around for a very long time, so I’m thinking this peachy colored one will feel less like leftovers as yuletide segues into springtime. R simply can NOT say goodbye to any plant that still has a breath of life in it.

Panicum ;Heavy Metal'

Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ is another contender for the gold medal for endurance. The way the droplets of rain collect on its fading inflorescences gives it a holiday costume.


Let’s not forget the blooms of the future. It almost seems like the new buds on the Ribes pushed the leaves out of the way so they could get started.


Same story with the Forsythia. As soon as all the holiday hubbub is over, branches of these early spring bloomers will be cut and forced into bloom indoors. We’re such an impatient lot, aren’t we?