November 09, 2015

Still Blooming and Filling Vases

porch

I'm amazed I still have tropical flowers blooming in my USDA zone 5 garden. It appears predictions for this year's El Niño weather pattern are coming true for us here in the northern Midwest--a much warmer than normal autumn, a trend that could spill over into the winter.

We've flirted with frost again for the past few days, so before it happened, I clipped some flowers and foliage for a bouquet.

I tried something a little different for the vase this time.

potpourri

I used potpourri that mirrors the colors of the flowers. The combination is a little bright and loud for an indoor arrangement, but I like the way it looks out on the porch.

Of course, I didn't want the potpourri to get wet, so I inserted a narrower glass inside an octagonal candy jar.

supplies

You can't see the glass pattern in the finished arrangement because it's mostly covered with potpourri and flowers. (Any glass, would do, this is just one I had available.)

I used wet floral foam at the bottom to help the flowers stand up a little more reliably. After filling the space between the glass and the jar with potpourri, and adding water to the glass, I added the cut flowers and foliage.

And then I simply used flowers and foliage still standing in my garden.

zinnia

Zinnia elegans 'Cut and Come Again'

marigolds

Various Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) that complement the Zinnias

sedum

Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy'

cosmos 2

Cosmos bipinnatus 'Versailles Mix'

chasmanthium

and Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

I also included some elements I'd never used for cut arrangements in the past.

lantana

Lantana camara 'Blaze'

fuchsia

Fuchsia 'Marinka'

better boy

and a few stems from the remaining 'Better Boy' Tomatoes, which are much too small to eat and don't stand a chance of ripening. All three new elements seem to be holding up pretty well.

indoors

This image is a little harsh, with shadows. I snapped it right after preparing the arrangement, whereas the outdoor image (at the top) shows it a day later. Not much difference. The back porch this time of year is like a refrigerator--the perfect temperatures to keep flowers bright and fresh.

Today, I noticed a few more plants in the garden succumbed to the cold and the birdbath finally had a layer of ice on top. It appears the growing season in my garden is at an end. But this killing frost came about a month later than "normal."

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the "In a Vase on Monday" meme. Check it out for more floral arranging inspiration.

cosmos 1

63 comments:

  1. Hi Beth, that is an extraordinarily beautiful bouquet! And as you said yourself already so tropical looking, not what I would expect from your area at this time of the year.
    The idea of using the potpourri is great! It fits so well to the bouquet and enhances it a lot.
    I especially love the Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and the dainty pink Cosmos in your arrangement. Hope you can enjoy it a long time in your porch.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thank you, Christina. The potpourri was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thought. I've used lemons and other items in this way before, and I realized I had some potpourri that kind of matched the flower colors. Yes, it has been very comfortable around here. Usually November is pretty cold all the way through. Most of my flowers are fading now, though, so it looks like this will be the last bouquet using flowers from my garden ... until next year. :)

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  2. Tomatoes! Excellent creation Beth, and looking more like late September than early November. Ah El Nino...

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    1. Thanks, Loree. Yes, I figured the Tomatoes were kinda cute, and I knew they were too small and too green to eat, so ... And yes, we're enjoying this comfortable weather in November!

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  3. Oh what a brilliant idea to use the pot pourri like that - so effective! and what a lovely blend of shades for your vase - they work so well together and I like the way you have included the tomato stems too. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Thanks! The potpourri was one of those "I wonder if this would work" kind of ideas. Once I started, I couldn't turn back. I think I might do this again--maybe not with this particular combination, but I like the idea of using the potpourri. The Tomatoes were simply too cute to let them simply shrivel and die without celebrating their persistence. :)

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    2. What you've done is beautiful, Beth. I wish it was at my house :)

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  4. You've still got a lot of floral color, Beth, despite the fact that you're flirting with frost. I like the potpourri accent in the vase too. Our autumn weather has continued to feel like summer until very recently but, even now, we're getting periodic swings back into the low 80s. I'm looking forward to the rain El Nino should bring to SoCal, even if it isn't a cure for our drought. I just hope we can avoid the floods and mudslides that often accompany it...

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    1. Yes, it's a bit shocking that all these flowers lasted into November. Usually, they would have been gone by mid-October. I understand what you're saying about El Nino. The pleasant aspects of it can bring some pain, as well. I'm hoping a mild winter here won't result in a drought next summer. I also hope your rain won't be too excessive all at once. Just enough to relieve your drought.

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  5. A beautiful arrangement and the idea of the pot pourri is great. I love that Northern Sea Oat in the arrangement and the Lantana.

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    1. Thank you. The Northern Sea Oats are a new favorite bouquet element. I have a little swath of them growing in my garden, and it's nice to be able to clip some for arrangements throughout the season. The Lantana is a wonderful plant all around. I know it's invasive in some parts of the world, but here it's just a perfect annual that blooms all season long.

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  6. Another fun idea to store way in the old memory banks. It's always nice when you share your process as well as the end result.

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    1. Thanks, Ricki. It was one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas. I'm glad you liked it. I'm finding inspiration from your arrangements, too. So creative!

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  7. The potpourri is a nice twist. Love the zinnias.

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    1. Thanks. I love the Zinnias, too. I didn't plant them one summer, and I really regretted it. So happy to have them back in the garden again this year. :)

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  8. An explosion of color. Wonderful. That is a clever idea of using the glass in the vase. I use that trick when my vase is too large for the amount of flowers I have available.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. I've used the glass technique before to include lemons or other items against the glass. But you're right--it would be helpful when the vase is a little big for the amount of flowers, too.

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  9. A pretty autumn bouquet. Crazy how warm it has been for November, isn't it? I was over to a friend's house yesterday and three of her rose bushes were in full bloom.

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    1. Thanks, Heather. I know! I can't believe so many rose bushes are still blooming around here! They're stunningly beautiful. I suppose this week will be the last of it, with the colder weather coming at the end of the week. But then more mild weather after that. Love it. :)

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  10. We seem to have had frost last night as lot of things were shrivelled up today. Love your potpourri vase cocept. Very clever.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, same here. No more Zinnias, Lamiums, or Pentas. The Snapdragons, Fuchsias, and Cosmos are hanging in there, but the next few days will be cold again. I guess it's the end of the growing season. Nice to have it extend much longer than normal, though!

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  11. What a great idea! I don't have any potpourri or flowers at this point, but in the spring I can see flowers in the glass and shells or of course plants ... and stones!

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    1. Thanks, Becky. Yes, dried flowers, shells, stones, and other items can be used in this way. I've used lemons and limes in the past. It makes for a refreshing display.

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  12. Beautiful photos, Beth. I'm not much of a flower arranger, but I have used the "Northern" (we call them "Inland") Sea Oats in the few arrangements I make--they're lovely combined with flowers. Is your weather pattern wetter and warmer, or normal precipitation with the El Nino?

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    1. Thanks, Tina. I agree: The Sea Oats are great. I only recently added them to my garden. Regarding the weather, the precipitation has been about normal, but temps have been much milder for an extended period of time than we would usually have. September, October, and so far November have been very comfortable.

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  13. I love the muted colors of your flowers, they go together so well, Beth, the pinks, salmons, oranges and golds, and cute little fuchsias. You found so many flowers to rescue before frost. The cute dangling sea oats and green tomatoes add some nice tall structure. I like the potpourri to decorate the glass vase with more color, cute idea!


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    1. Thanks, Hannah. This time the rescue was real. We've had deeper frosts for a couple of nights now. The Tomato plants, and many of the annuals are now toast. But it's been fun to have these healthy plants into almost mid-November! I don't remember them ever lasting that long before.

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  14. I love the combination of the dried potpourri and the fresh flowers. Global warming is giving you more time to garden. The critters must be confused too.

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    1. Thanks, Sue. Regarding climate change: This is a total opposite of the past two years. In 2013-2014, we had one of the most brutal winters we've ever had. Even though I know the trend is toward overall warmer global temperatures, the swings are pretty crazy from year to year. The "regular" critters seem pretty flexible, since they've adapted to our extremes already, but some of the migratory species do seem to be in some peril.

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  15. What a lovely arrangement! You always give me ideas I would never think of, like using tomato stems, and the potpourri is a very creative touch. I can't believe all the blooms you still have. We had a light frost in mid-October that killed all my zinnias, but it seemed to hit only those of us out in the country. But the last two nights of frost have finally done in everything except for a few containers sheltered by the house. Still, it's unseasonably warm--I'm still doing a little work in the garden, trying to take advantage of all these warm days.

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    1. Thanks, Rose! I do think the lakes and trees keep us a little warmer in the fall. But then, it takes us a little longer to warm up in the spring. And this year, the growing season is much longer than normal! Even though we've had frost now, I still have a few plants blooming. They're mostly near the house like yours. It's been pleasant weather during the day, though--perfect for all the raking I've had to do!

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  16. Beth this was such a pleasant surprise to see all the blooms still going in your garden...I think you have been warmer all year there and we may or may not have a warmer winter...we shall see. But the fall has been a pleasant surprise as it was warmer and longer. I loved the creative addition of the potpourri and how you designed the vase with the inner glass....you have inspired me!

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    1. Yes, it's been a surprise for me, too. I guess El Ninos are a pleasant thing for those of us here in the Upper Midwest. We've had a killing frost now, so I rescued these guys just in time. I still have a few flowers, but they're mostly close to the house. I'm glad you enjoyed the vase idea. :)

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  17. Your gorgeous arrangement brings back the warm and sunny days of summer which are missed now that the days are getting shorter and, at least here, quite wet and gray. Your use of potpourri to fill the space between the two vases is a great idea and will inspire many of us to try this with other materials as well. The Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year rush of activity will be here soon and I'm not ready for summer to end yet even though it has already. Thanks for this ray of sunshine to help my seasonal denial!

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    1. I know: I'm in seasonal denial, too! I've tried to stretch out the late summer/early fall feeling for as long as possible. Now I need to face the fact that winter is almost here. The holiday rush is on.

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  18. What a beautiful arrangement - I never would have thought to add some tomato branches with baby tomatoes...I'll have to remember that for next year! And now that I think about it, tomato plants do root along their stems, so you may end up getting some root growth and the tomatoes might even continue to develop - I've never heard of anyone doing this before, but you never know.

    I love the idea of placing a glass in the vase and then surrounding it with potpourri or whatever else strikes your fancy or lends to the current season - you are so creative! We have had 2 hard freezes so far but only yesterday I noticed a beautiful peach rose that didn't seem to be impacted yet. It's on our south facing wall, so that likely made all the difference...a micro-climate in action.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret. The Tomatoes and the Lantanas are fading now, so I'm not sure I would use them in arrangements again--unless it's something that only needs to last a couple of days. Huh, I guess if I was planning to save the Tomatoes, I might try that trick. But I guess it's time to say goodbye to them now. I love those micro-climates. It's fun to watch the same species perform differently in different areas of the garden, and it's fun to push zones a little bit. I've noticed quite a few people around here still have roses blooming, too. Amazing!

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  19. Great Zinnias, I also like the variety 'Cut and Cut Again'. The Sea Oats also look great in a vase.

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    1. To be honest, I'm not crazy about 'Cut and Come Again.' I mean the flowers are beautiful, but I prefer the larger diameter flowers for floral arranging. 'Cut and Come Again' blooms look great in the garden, though! You were one of the many people who convinced me I needed to add Sea Oats to my garden. No regrets! I love it!

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    2. There's a variety of Zinnia called 'State Fair', I think they have bigger flowers and are also good for cutting. I haven't grown them, though.

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    3. Yes, that's the one I usually plant (well, actually 'State Fair Mix'). But the garden center where I get my plants was out of them by the time I got there this year. I love the 'State Fair' Zinnias! Yes, they are tall AND each flower is quite large--perfect for cut floral arrangements.

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  20. What a great idea with the potpourri! Great way to hide the floral foam too! I love the Northern Sea Oats in it. That is one plant that is on my list to add to the garden, as it's so lovely. It's been wonderfully warm here, too, for the most part, though the sporadic frosts have decimated almost all the flowers, unfortunately.

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    1. Thanks, Indie. Yes, I highly recommend Northern Sea Oats. I learned about it from other bloggers, and it's a win-win in my garden. It thrives in part shade, which is rare for native U.S. grasses. We've had a couple of frosts since this post, too, so only a few plants are still hanging on. I'm must thrilled I've had blooms this long!

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  21. Very very creative idea with the potpourri! I've seen people use small lemons in a situation like that. The Sea Oats and the tomato are also wonderful touches to your arrangement. It's interesting, isn't it, how creative we get at this time of year? I'm putting rose hips in everything! Susie

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    1. Thanks, Susie. Yes, I've used lemons and limes like this in the past. I think I used stones one time, too. I love the Sea Oats. They're growing (and thriving) in the perfect spot in my garden. Oh, I'll bet your rose hips arrangements are lovely, I find rose hips amazing--the form, color, and function of them.

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    1. Thanks, Endah. It was a fun experiment. :)

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  23. Wonderful creation! AT least that will stay longer than when left outside on its own.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, they're just starting to fade now, so it's been nice to have a little extension of warm-weather blooming plants.

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  24. Hi Beth,

    I've heard that sea oats can reseed prolifically. Any experience with that so far? I guess they're native in TN (so not a big deal if they reseed here), but just wondering if I should expect them to show up everywhere throughout my garden beds?

    (I know you said you only recently planted them, so not sure if you can answer this question yet...)

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    1. Hi Aaron: Last year was my first year with them. I think I cut off all the stems with seed heads, and I might do that again because they're great for fall and winter dried arrangements. So ... I can't give any advice on that. Also, I have mine in a very narrow spot with limited chance to spread. But they're filling in nicely by the roots anyway. Perfect spot for them. :)

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  25. Oh wow and how beautifully you put them together ....

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    1. Thank you! They're fading now, but it's been nice to have the arrangement on the back porch for a few days. Most of the plants in the garden are dead or dormant now. :(

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  26. Lucky you! I don't even have good hydrangea flower heads at this point. Beautiful post.

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    1. Thanks. We're at the end now. Still a few flowers, miraculously. But they're in pots next to the house. Sad to see the plants go, but it is almost winter ...

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  27. Brilliant idea, Beth. Your vase is unusual and beautiful! My blooms are all gone, so really enjoyed seeing yours. P. x

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    1. Thanks, Pam. I just noticed these comments from a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes I get ahead of myself. My blooms are now (mostly) gone now, too. But it was a good gig while it lasted. ;-)

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  28. Beautiful flowers Beth, and so good you can still harvest flowers at this time of year – may the winter be a long way away :-) Great idea with the double vases and the potpourri, loved the colours!

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    1. Thanks, Helene. Just catching up on comments. Most years flowers are gone for us by mid-October. But believe it or not, I saw one the other day. El Nino is really strong this year!

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  29. I love the way you used the vase inside a vase technique. The potpourri was a great addition. I would never have thought of doing that. I still have some marigolds and even some hibiscus blooming, but not for long. Temps are dipping into the 30s at night now. Winter is headed our way!

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    1. Sorry for the late response on this: Yes, winter took some time to visit us, and then it disappeared again. We're having very mild weather lately, which is making the holiday preparation much easier.

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  30. What a beautiful arrangement. I love your vase within a vase idea. Fabulous zinnias. And what gorgeous colours!

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    1. Thanks, Chloris. This was a fun arrangement to work on. Sadly, all be a very few flowers are gone around here now.

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