IaVoM fireworks

I’m still trying to figure out the best time to cut Solidago ‘Fireworks’ to get the best performance in a vase.

Solidago ‘Fireworks’

Here it is, growing in a sunny spot. If I cut it at this stage, it quickly fades in the vase.

I have it growing in several places so I sought out a shadier area to cut a couple of stems just coming into bloom.

Blooming nearby was Helianthus maximilianii. Then I added some Pennisetum (?) seed heads to reflect the smoky color of the vase.

Ah yes, the vase: another goody from Goodwill. I like the way the stems show, faintly, through the heavy, smoky glass.

It took me a while to realize it but a candlestick nearby insinuated itself into the composition, echoing the color and shape of the vase.

We found it at a street market in India. All of the wares on display were shiny new brass objects. You had to ask to get to see the old stuff buried in baskets under piles of gaudy new textiles. This doesn’t qualify as an authentic antique because a candle holder was added to what was originally an oil lamp.

I don’t give a hoot about authenticity…am just charmed by the figures and the patina of age.

Taking a look back at last week’s vase: I was getting ready to dismantle it, when something struck me about the forms of the dead Kniphofias. I’ve been immersed in The Dry Bold Border, with a wealth of fabulous photos from the Ruth Bancroft Garden. I’ve often thought that the knifs are about as close as we can get to the look of those incredible blooming Aloes of desert gardens. It seems even in death they bring something of the dry garden aesthetic to our PNW eyes. How I do go on. In a Vase on Monday has a way of getting us going about the flowers that we grow and, by extension, all sorts of other things. Thanks, Cathy, for dreaming up this addictive meme. It’s one addiction for which there is no cure, and aren’t we glad of that!

some observations


Things have been turning up in the garden that I know I never planted: hitch hikers, perhaps, in the pots of new acquisitions.

While the Pinellia in the first photo is more than welcome, this cheery, daisy-like creature will need to be relocated to a more appropriate setting. (no ID on this one).

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’

A single pot of ‘Jack Frost’ spread to make a nice presence.


Little seedlings appeared in Jack’s second season…

to quickly become a colony. At this rate, I will have bounty to share (woo hoo…I can feel less guilty as I make off with a massive haul at the next bloggers’ plant swap).

Rosa rugosa ‘Buffalo Gals’ hip

Complaining about the weather has been a major pastime of late. Something about the ice and snow, followed by torrential rains, followed by the summer from hell has been to the perverse liking of a rugosa rose that I bought primarily for its huge hips (would that big hips could be considered an asset for the human form). At long last, ‘Buffalo Gals’ are swingin’ those hips as promised.


I’ve commented here before about the Crape Myrtle’s failure to produce any blooms. After 12 years in the ground, here they are and the color is not all that bad.

Lagerstroemia ‘Arapaho’

But speaking of color, this Crape Myrtle has it all: dark foliage and deep, rich red flowers. The one at JC is absolutely stunning: exactly what this little guy aspires to be when he grows up.

Phygelius ‘Devil’s Tears’

I’ve been enjoying this cape fuchsia for its long bloom and stamina…

but just look at the exciting pattern it’s been hiding. Now I challenge myself to find a way to reveal the hidden treasure by clever (not yet devised by me) placement in the garden.

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

I was so annoyed by the leggy profile of ‘Limelight’, interfering with the view from our deck, that I had at it with the loppers in what I considered to be a brutal attack. Wowsa! It came storming back with lush new growth and the most imposing flower heads ever. This may cure me of timid pruning but we still can’t see the garden from the deck.

You may recall my enthusiasm for Antriscus ‘Ravenswing’ here. After careful preparation and planting, the sight we were greeted with the next morning was this:

The dreaded gophers strike again! Planting anything here is a gamble but we are gardeners…so what are you gonna do?

These handsome fellows wreak havoc two ways:

Sedum ‘Matrona’

There’s the nibbling, as here, where they nip off every flower bud. Then there’s the “antlering”, where they use tender saplings to rub the velvet from their racks in anticipation of the mating rituals to come. It’s easy to abhor, and declare war on, the gophers, who perform their evil deeds below ground. Hard to feel the same antipathy for the graceful and majestic stag…we all fell in love with Bambi, after all.

I’m running long but how could I leave out cosmic happenings? We were not in the path of totality at Joy Creek but 99.something should be almost as good, right? Not really, as it turns out, but sharing it with friends made up for a lack of true awesomeness.

And then there was this! The day after the eclipse, we were sent a cloud angel/phoenix. I can’t top that, so I will stop now.

in a new vase on monday

I scored this clever vase on my last visit to Goodwill.

It’s a vase and a frog all in one and the top lifts off for easy filling and cleaning.

I’m not in love with my first effort but do look forward to playing around with it some more. I cut the material in the early morning, leaving it in a cool, dark pantry. Some of the Kniphofia remained upright, while others curled up like little foxes’ tails. K. ‘Percy’s Pride’ is the greenish one and usually the last of the Knifs to bloom. I’ve lost track of the names of all the orange ones but did find one little straggler to add to the mix. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is just beginning to color up (my favorite stage) so I added a few stems of that. Euonymous ‘Emerald N Gold’ and Artimisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ needed haircuts so I tucked the trimmings in as filler.

I liked the idea of leaving some of the holes unfilled to contribute a graphic element.

Often the arrangements I do at work are displayed against a wall. This one is on our dining table, to be viewed from all sides. The “back” side has quite a different look: softer, and perhaps more in keeping with the color of the vase. You can catch the full array of this weeks vases by clicking through to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

2 foliage posts in one

Tetrapanex papiferus ‘Steroidal Giant’

Finally, after two failed attempts, I have my own Rice Paper plant taking hold and adding some big-leaf drama to Delusional Drive.

Kirengeshoma palmata

Though the common name, Waxy Bells, comes from the flowers, it’s the foliage that does it for me.

Even when it comes to pots for the entryway, I opt for a collection of interesting foliage…

…though when it comes to Coleus, a collection can be every bit as colorful as a floral display.

Thanks go to Pam at Digging for providing a forum where we foliage afficiandos can strut our stuff. Officially, it’s the 16th of each month but Pam is easygoing when it comes to strict enforcement. Another venue falls on the 22nd of each month, ‘Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day’, hosted by Christina of Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides. Her blog is a joy and well worth a gander any day of the month.

monday vase catch-up

I had so much fun on Saturday, making bouquets for our Twilight in the Garden party at Joy Creek.

This big, dramatic one is placed by the cash register, where there is a lot of visual clutter that the eye ignores in real life. Oh, well…The inspiration was the dark leaves and pineapple flowers of Eucomis ‘Oakhurst’. Finding color echoes was pretty easy: Eupatorium (does Joe Pye go by another name now?) makes a nice, fluffy filler, along with the leaves of a dark Heuchera. Pinot grapes dangle over the vase and a few stems of Leycesteria formosa complete the picture. The wind blows through the barn in the afternoons at such a rate that we need to secure the vase with rocks. I quite like the effect.

We had tables set up in the gardens to hold refreshments so we had need of several more arrangements.

The leaves of Pulmonaria and Hosta, a sprig of Lamium, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ still in bud and a single stem of Gladiola in a blue glass cylinder added up to a simple color scheme.

I can’t identify all of the elements in this one but I wanted to show it to you anyway.

An assortment of Heuchera leaves forms a little nest into which are inserted an assortment of Sedums, again in bud form.

Here you can see it set off by the metallic green of its vase.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Delusional Drive, that is) I’ve been keeping it simple, while still feeding the craving that Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday has instilled in so many of us. To sample her (and others’) latest creations, hop right on over to Rambling in the Garden for a peek.

like the white rabbit…

…I’m late for a very important date.

…late in so many ways. I’d been eyeing the bright red new foliage of Photinia for weeks but never got around to cutting it for a vase. As it transitioned from red to green, it passed through this coppery/bronze stage. One opportunity lost, another presents itself.

It seemed like the perfect foil for my favorite of all the Alliums: A. siculum bulgaricum.

Here’s a closer look, without the background noise. See why I like it?

An oddball iris with an oddball name: ‘Alley Oops’ (who thinks of these things?) made the cut as well.

A handful of pebbles serve the dual purpose of holding the stems in place and acting as a design element. Now I’ll send you to Rambling in the Garden, to see what Cathy and friends have found to put in a vase this week. About that very important date: it’s Monday of each and every week, for the punctual among you.

favoritism friday

This little corner of the garden is gardener’s pet right now. The painted ferns languished for years but have suddenly decided to man up…just in time to pick up the burnished theme set by the Rogersia ‘Bronze Pheasant’.

Trycirtis hirta will pick up the bronze with spotted flowers as the pheasant slowly fades to green. There’s a Thalictrum in there too.

Finally! Success with Camassia! This is their first year, in a new area I’ve been working on (more on that later, after I’ve had a chance to tidy it up).

I was pleasantly surprised by the intense color. I was expecting a pale blue.

This little cutie is Globularia cordifolia. New to me, I decided to put it in a pot, the better to appreciate the tiny details as tight buds gradually transformed into puffs of blue.

This is the last Friday of the month, time to join Loree of Danger Garden fame in a shout out to what we find especially appealing this month.

a late vase or two

My vases this week are some I put together at work. They are in their second week, so I thought I would bring to your attention some things with a long vase life. The yellow flowers are Halimium. The branches held many buds, so though each blossom falls after a couple of days, new buds open, for an ever-changing composition. The Spirea ‘Goldmound’ is the only thing that needed grooming at the end of one week. It’s golden halo in the background is missed, but there is still a lot going on.

The big surprise, for me, were the dark leaves of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’. I expected them to wilt quickly but here they are, still soldiering on.

Of course I had to bring one home to add to my own garden. It forms a 1′ rosette, with umbrels similar to Queen Anne’s lace shooting up to 3′. I say “Hooray!” to its habit of seeding around.

Embothrium was the IT pland a couple of years ago and I can see why.

Euphorbia ‘Fire Charm’ starts small but quickly forms a good sized clump. The foliage is nearly as fetching as the orange bracts. Even after all that goes away, bright red stems remain well into the winter months. It’s a good idea to let cut stems sit in water for a while before using in an arrangement because the milky sap clouds the water at first.

The second vase is more subdued. I don’t have ID’s for everything here but that background foliage is Buxus sempervirens ‘Variegata’.

The tall stem of pinkish flowers is Lamium orvala, another find I may have to add to my so-called cutting garden.

In the “never say never” category is Deutzia ‘Chardonnay Pearls’. Unlike the upright shrubs, which I found to get scruffy looking, this forms a low mound dotted with little, pearly buds which eventually open into starlike flowers.

My work schedule keeps me from always hitting on Mondays with my vases (sometimes skipping entirely) but you can always count on Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to show up with a vase of her own and links to other bloggers bitten by the vase bug. You may be next.

it’s lilac time, iavom

This handsome tray and silverware caddy were Festivus gifts from a dear friend who knows my taste. New acquisitions in the background are, from left to right: Arctostaphylos ‘Pacific Mist’, Globularia cordifolia and Lilium martagon ‘Nepera’ (off subject, but I figure you would want to know).

I just happen to have some water glasses that fit perfectly into those compartments so naturally it has been pressed into service as a vase.

Jason, at gardeninacity, recently posted a tutorial on keeping lilacs fresh indoors. You can see it here. I don’t know about you but some of his information was news to me. Fingers crossed that these bouquets will last more than a few hours. In addition to the lilacs, there are some forget-me-nots, Persicaria ‘Purple Shield’ (see how it matches the candle holder and the tablecloth?…happy accident) and one orange Geum that was added when the whole arrangement seemed to threaten to go all prissy on me.

The second vase is an afterthought because I had material left over. As often happens, I like it better than the one I set out to make. It is made up of the same ingredients minus the forget-me-nots and plus Euphorbia robiae and Hosta leaves, two to line the vase and one in the bouquet.

I wish I knew what resulted in this dramatic shot. Even after all this time, the inner workings of my camera remain a mystery.

I don’t have many surfaces that lend themselves to displaying vases so these are lined up on the dining room table, even though they don’t necessarily go together. The talented and imaginative Cathy at Rambling in the Garden hosts In a Vase on Monday (iavom, in case that title confused you) every Monday, without fail.

the rites of spring…in a vase

This heavy cast glass vase is thin when viewed from the side. Viewed head-on, it is broader, making it a good choice for holding stems in place. I neglected to photograph it from that angle so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The Rhododendron ‘Ilia Cerise’ and its bold foliage dominate here, with a color echo from the Ribes and the light touch of a few stems of Narcissus ‘Thalia’.

If we zoom in, we can appreciate a stem of bleeding heart and one of Brunnera.

I have to point the camera right at the delicate Epimedium blooms to see them in a photo. Our eyes are much better at picking up these details in real life. Every Monday, you can check out vase art from around the blogosphere by visiting Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. I wouldn’t miss it, even when I fail to join in the fun.