bloom day in a vase on monday

December 15th, 2014


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?

what’s going on around here (?)

December 11th, 2014

You may have noticed that this site is looking sort of strange. I’ve been tinkering with the code and am still a long way from getting it to look the way I envision it. Snatches of time get devoted to this experiment, so please bear with me. I figure as long as the words and pictures come through, you won’t mind putting up with a little “under construction” disorganization. So let’s get on with it.


This little fella is perusing the salad bar. If you look closely, you may be able to see the little buds of antlers on his forehead.


Which means that by next year he will have added this kind of damage to his repertoire. Funny how they have zeroed in on just two of the Italian cypress trees to use for antlering and leave the others alone.


Wouldn’t you think Mom would teach them to steer clear of the castor bean plants? Maybe they’re just going through that rebellious phase.


Here’s his sis on a brighter day. They sometimes visit together, but Buster will make himself scarce once those antlers become obvious. We’ve never caught them in the act of antlering the trees.


I expect the spiders to want to move indoors, but slugs? I’ve been finding about one a day on the doorstep. This one was getting ready to ring the doorbell.


The Brugmansias got moved into my studio. They dropped all but one bud, but that one put on a pretty good show. The tall one from Means is now completely bare, but the one I got at HPSO in spring is still adding leaves.


It’s worth tipping up that dangling blossom to get this view.


Campsis ‘Madame Galen’ produced several huge pods this year. Just one pod yielded all these seeds. Anyone want some?


Here’s my Echeveria ‘Haagal’, looking leggy and anemic. I’ve been told that this is their response to light levels that are too low, but even when it is placed in brightest sun, it stretches out like this. You can see where I have cut back older stems. HERE it is in its former glory. I have this problem with all Echeverias, so as much as I love them I’m about to give up unless I get some terrific advice in response to this plea.

in a vase on monday: red and purple for the season

December 8th, 2014


Back in the day, when we were designing Christmas gift wrap all year round, I got totally sick of red and green. My solution was to introduce purple into the mix.


A short, chunky vase filled with cranberries holds the stems in place.


A short, mounding Nandina begins to turn red about now, with just a tinge of green remaining. The hips of Rosa ‘Dortmund’ range from orange to red to brown with everything in between. Callicarpa ‘Profusion’ is starting to lose its luster, but I did find one small branch that was still in good shape, giving me the desired hit of purple.


My pink muhley grass has yet to reach critical mass. It nearly disappears in the landscape, but three stems of it offer just the right softening element here.


A dried pomegranate and the cranberries speak to me of the holidays and will add the touch of cheer to get me in the mood until we bring in the living tree next week (it would complain if we kept it in the house much longer than a week).


Now for something a little different. I could not resist a bunch of Gerbera daisies near the checkout stand last week. They had looong stems and were super-elegant in a tall vase. After a few days, they began to droop and bend over near the top of each stem so that they could no longer take up water. I hated to do it, but cut back the stems so that they were just long enough to reach to the bottom of this vase, while the flowers were propped up at the lip. As you can see, I’ve gotten over my aversion to red and green. An unexpected bonus is the way the stems show faintly through the heavy green glass. Now here’s a link to Rambling in the Garden, where Cathy hosts a growing gathering of vases every Monday.

in a dry vase this monday

December 1st, 2014


This vase was hiding in a downstairs bathroom with a few dried branches from last year. It has a crack on the back side where it won’t show, but that means no water. I noticed that its base kind of echoes the shapes of the little white pumpkins that have been around since before Halloween.


There were some seed heads and dried sword-shaped leaves from Crocosmias gone by and three stems of Phlomus to nestle in to a profusion of Chaxmanthium lactiflorum seeds that have faded to the color of pale wheat.


A dried branch of Eucalyptus provides a drooping element.


A few puffs of dried Allium complete the picture. R always laughs at me when I stoop to pick up fallen leaves, bits of moss and the like. Here, a few of those leaves strewn about strike me as just the right autumnal touch. What do you s’pose Cathy has in store for you in her Monday Vase? Here’s a hint: she goes over the top with color, which makes up for my neutrality.

fave roundup

November 28th, 2014

Euphorbia mamilaris 'variegata'

Spending more time indoors leads to this favorite, Euphorbia mamilaris ‘variegata’ which, appropriately, came from Loree of Danger Garden fame, back in August of 2011. The little square pot with the balls for feet was a score from a resale shop.


The pot was one of three. When I bring them indoors, I have to put them in little square saucers to protect the woodwork. It means we can’t see those cute little feet, but you gotta do what you gotta do.


When they were lined up in a row on our deck railing, the raccoons found them irresistible and knocked them all about. Eugo here was all broken up over such mistreatment and so was I (not quite so literally). I potted up his broken parts. Since I gave them all away, I can’t report upon their continuing success. This guy, though, grew quite the topknot where he was wounded. It changed his personality, but he lost none of his witty charm. Here’s a link to some statistics. Plant Lust shows it available at two California nurseries. This one came from Digs Inside and Out, where you can often find funky, fun plants but can never be sure what will be on offer.


Originally, he had another arm on the other side, making him look like he was shouting “look, ma…no hands!”. The raccoons amputated, so now he’s a one-armed bandit. The last Friday of each month is now the day for a roundup of favorites we’ve featured throughout the month. I have only one other favorites post in November, and you can find it HERE.

flying dragon marmalade

November 21st, 2014

Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon'

These are the fruits on Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, otherwise known as hardy orange. I have written about this small tree many times. Last year one of you blogging buds suggested using the fruit to make marmalade. The thought had never occurred to me. I had always thought of them as purely ornamental, maybe even poisonous.


Well, once planted, it was a thought that grew on me. At the same time I was picking the last ripening tomato and the first ever huckleberries, I decided to give it a go.


A search for Weck jars took me to Sur La Table, where I found these little Italian jobs that appealed to me even more. They have a single, rather than two-part, lid, but otherwise are treated the same. I later found a full array of Weck jars and bottles at Schoolhouse Electric.


I’ve had these two charming books for a long time, so they’re probably out of print.


Sloe Gin and Beeswax is a feast for the eyes. Its recipes use metric measures, but it addresses all kinds of esoteric ingredients, like medlars.


Even it made no mention of Poncirus fruit, but I pieced together a recipe from several sources. Covering the fruit with water, I simmered them for about an hour. Once they had cooled, I halved them, scooped out the pulp and seeds into a small pan and cut the peel into strips. Add the juice and seeds (the seeds act like pectin) of one lemon to the small pan, some water to cover and simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain off the juice into a large pot, add the peel, 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar. Bring to a furious boil until it reaches 220 degrees F. I stirred in some toasted walnuts and whole coriander seeds. Process like you would any jam. The result is not to everyone’s taste (but then you could also say that of marmalade in general). I consider it something of a gourmet novelty and will gift it to only the very most special people.


Are you growing anything that presents a culinary challenge? If so, I would love to hear about it. And if it was you who suggested this adventure, I thank you.

ffu: time for evergreens

November 18th, 2014

Cotoneaster horizontalis variegata

I’m wishing I had planted more Cotoneaster horizontals variegata, as it is turning into a nice spreading ground cover.


The two-tone leaves give it a silvery look, and you can even spot the occasional red berry in there.


Ozthamnus 'Sussex Silver'

Ozthamnus ‘Sussex Silver’ adds another shimmery element. It presents a pruning challenge, getting scruffy after blooming. So far, I’m finding it worth the trouble and R enjoys wielding his loppers in its direction.

deodora cedar

One of several successful bargains from Means, this Deodora cedar (sorry, that’s all I know) brings a golden glow to Delusional Drive.

Gaultheria procumbens

Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, is filling in nicely for another ground cover. The red berries are tasty, too.

Viburnum ?

Only a few leaves remain on the mislabeled Viburnum, but they glow to make up for it.

Hydrangea quercifolia

Ditto for Hydrangea quercifolia.

Pam over at Digging has more foliar fun in store, as she does every month for Foliage Follow Up.

in a vase on Monday: slim pickins

November 17th, 2014


No staging, no set-up, just the sunlight pouring in on our breakfast table this morning. I picked the last of the Zinnias, all in tight bud, just ahead of the big freeze. I don’t know if they will open fully, but they did manage to unfurl enough to show a little color after I plunked them into this heavy green glass vase.

two roses

The last two roses, apricot ‘Just Joey’ and an unknown pink, are not colors I would normally choose to put together, but, well, you know what they say about beggars and choice. These didn’t even get a vase. They’re inhabiting a coffee travel mug I just happened to be carrying around the garden on my mission of rescue.


I guess you could say I accessorized some, if you count the sunlight (which can be in short supply of late) and the way it casts shadows that make everything look more interesting. Now Cathy has a dramatic, sophisticated vase to show you this week. Don’t miss it.

gbbd: blooms? what blooms?

November 16th, 2014

mahonia 'Arthur Menzies'

Right on schedule, the Arctic blast came along to foil the plans of Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’ to bloom.


Do you think mittens (well, actually sox) can protect them enough to enable the showy display they had in mind?

I would pout if I were thwarted year after year, but Arthur continues to thrive. I wish I were that even-tempered.

Miscanthus 'Morning Light'

Many of the grasses have been decimated by high winds, but Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ is blooming to beat the band.

Panicum 'Heavy Metal'

And Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ shows off against what remains of the red foliage and stems of Euphorbia ‘Fire Charm’

Euonymous europaens

This is a first for me, and more exciting than this lonely little thing would seem to merit. After a number of years, the Euonymous europaens has finally deigned to produce a single flower (fruit?). Can this be a harbinger of greater things to come?

Rosa rugosa 'Buffalo Gals'

And in the realm of firsts: this big fat hip on Rosa rugosa ‘Buffalo Gals’ put in an appearance.


Moving indoors, the Cyclamen that bloomed all summer outside hasn’t missed a beat. It gets interesting when the weather turns and blooms are further and farther between. Why not check out May Dreams Gardens to see what others were able to come up with?

monday’s vase: scrounged materials

November 10th, 2014


The last wind storm blew down branches on our road. On my walk, I picked up a nice gnarly, lichen-encrusted branch with a few fresh, green catkins attached and another, bare but for a multitude of red berries.


The vase is a long-time favorite that gets pressed into service only rarely.


A stone slab tops a receptacle with a permanent frog embedded in the base. It lends itself to Ikebanaish arrangements using sparse material.


The sharp tines of the frog hold the branches in place. I added the silly red felt bird (not too sure about the artistic merit of the bird, but he makes me smile).


The grey bird candle echoes the color of the lichen, as does the small ceramic piece by Betsy Wolfeson. I like this best viewed from above, so I put it on the floor for photos. It will actually live on a low chest this week.

Cathy of Rambling in the Garden started this celebration of indoor arrangements, and this week, celebrating a full year (52 weeks…yes, she really did it), she gives us a bit of history. Let’s see if she can inspire you to join in the fun.