October 15, 2018

Colorful October Vases

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I've been on flower duty at church for the past few weeks, and the garden has been good to me. These photos were snapped quickly with my iPhone (I didn't have any set-up time) but I was pleased with the drama of the garden's plenty.

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Zinnias, Blue Mistflower, and Cosmos provided the colorful blooms, and various greens and Fountain Grass from the church garden rounded out this display from earlier in the month.

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We had light frost this past weekend (still no hard freeze at my house!), so this week I cut all the remaining garden flowers and recombined them with others that were still fresh...added some Hosta leaves, English Ivy, and Northern Sea Oats. The flower committee is lucky to have a refrigerator for storing cuttings and bouquets. It saves us money and a little time for the following week. I may have a few 'Zowie!' Zinnias left for next week. They certainly have been prolific this year--all grown from seed.

I'm linking this post to Cathy's "In a Vase on Monday" meme over at Rambling in the Garden. Cheers!

October 03, 2018

Wednesday Vignette: Still Bright and Blooming

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My vignette for today is a "planned" happy accident. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am new to growing Dahlias (and new to success with Tithonias!). In my continuing quest to make use of tiny spots of sunshine in my "Oak opening/Oak forest" garden, I placed this particular Tithonia (I grew many this year) between two bright, south-facing windows on the back of the house. I planted the 'Explosion' Dahlia tubers in a pot just in front of the Tithonia. I really didn't expect the colors of 'Explosion' to be so bright (it was hard to tell from the package). I'm sure they'll fade, but at this point they're perfect warm companions for the Tithonia.

As always, I'm finding the buds and nearly open blooms as beautiful and interesting (maybe more so) than the fully open flowers; the latter fade so fast. No frost yet, and none in the 10-day forecast. Yay.

Wednesday Vignettes are hosted by Anna at Flutter and Hum.

September 26, 2018

Remember the Sunflowers

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In the middle of winter, I'll come back to this post.

The Sunflowers in my part of the world were so strikingly beautiful and lush this year ... for several weeks in late August through mid-September. I don't remember this being the case in past years, but maybe I just wasn't as observant then.

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Most are faded now, but for several weeks the bright yellows of these giants were favored nectaring stops for monarch butterflies and other pollinators. During several hikes in the area, I came across Maximilian or Prairie Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani), with prominent bracts behind the flowers and nearly toothless leaves; the very similar Sawtooth Sunflowers (H. grosseserratus), which have slightly more serrated leaves and a hairless stem; Giant Sunflowers (H. giganteus), with dark brown anther appendages on the flowers, and Jerusalem Artichokes (H. tuberosus), with their broader and more textured leaves.

I've included just a few images here. I went a little overboard: If you want to see more, you can click on any image and browse through, or you can visit my Flickr feed.

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I'm linking this post to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday meme over at Clay and Limestone. Thanks for hosting, Gail!

September 03, 2018

Playing With Colors and Vases

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I'm new to growing Dahlias, and I'm pleased with final outcome. They're certainly dramatic and colorful, aren't they?

yellow opening

I was getting impatient because it seemed like it was taking forever for them to bloom. Now that they've shown their faces, I'm thrilled. I can't tell you what specific varieties I have, because they were labeled "decorative mixed." I'm growing them in pots, with plenty of stakes because they're tall and branching--I didn't want them to blow over in the wind.

The first two to bloom (a fuchsia and a medium yellow) seemed warm and deeply colored.

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I thought they'd work as very colorful companions with the yellow and fuchsia of 'Zowie' Yellow Flame Zinnia. It's hard to see here, but Zowie has a fuchsia-colored ring near the center.

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So I lined them up in bud vases and played around with the vases and the flowers. It worked until the Dahlias began to fade to pastel tones.

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At that point, I clipped a Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia) as a companion for the warm Zowie.

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The yellow took its time opening, as if it was shy and afraid to show its face. I liked it in all its stages.

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I especially like it here, in the aqua vase, with just a "lock" of a petal draping over its "eye" or disc florets.

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The fuchsia faded to a bright, vibrant pink--equally at home out on the patio...

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Or in its little bud vase in the house. Do you see the lovely tinges of yellow at the bases of the petals. Dreamy, eh?

I don't know why it took me so long to grow Dahlias--I've enjoyed them as purchased or gifted cut flowers for years and years. All I know is that I will dig up these tubers after the growing season and plant them again next year. ... I'm in love.

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I'm linking this post to Cathy's In a Vase on Monday meme at Rambling in the Garden. My vases are very simple this time, but head on over to Cathy's blog to see creative cut-flower displays from around the world.

August 10, 2018

Plant of the Month: 'Summer Beauty' Alliums

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When I looked out the window the other day and saw an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on the blooming alliums, I knew what the plant of the month had to be. Fortunately, the butterfly stayed long enough for me to grab my camera and head outside for a few shots.

Something more exciting happened on this plant a couple of days later, but I'll cover that later in this post.

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I added Allium tanguticum 'Summer Beauty' to the garden a few years ago. I ordered a few bulbs, and also Linda at Each Little World was kind enough to give me some when she divided hers. I planted them here and there in the garden, and while not all of them bloom every year, they find little spots of sun. I planted these beauties because, well...they're beauties, but also because they repel rabbits!

'Summer Beauty' is dramatic massed in a sunny border, but I don't have a choice--I have dappled sun in most of my garden, so that's the way it is. I noticed, however, that it's listed as tolerant of shade, which is true. This hybrid allium, like 'Millenium,' blooms in mid- through late summer, but it starts just a little earlier and the color is a little lighter--lavender-pink--where 'Millenium' is a brighter purple. They're great companions, though, as they bloom around the same time.

Here are a few details about 'Summer Beauty':

  • Height: 12"-18"
  • Spread: 18"-24"
  • Hardiness zones: 5 to 8
  • Attributes: Tolerant of drought, shade, and sun; seeds are sterile

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Oh, and then there's the fact that it attracts pollinators of all types! It's fun to watch them climbing among the little flowers of the umbel bloom.

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And here's the special joy that happened while I was photographing the flowers: The endangered rusty-patched bumblebee made an appearance!

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I was thrilled to see this rare bumblebee in the garden: I must be doing something right to attract it! I hope to post more in the future about this special pollinator (the first bumblebee to be listed as endangered). Until then, You can read more about its special story here.

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So, yes, I'd say 'Summer Beauty' Allium was a good addition to the garden! Do you have any summer-blooming alliums?

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July 30, 2018

Simple Summertime Vases

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I'm tardy in joining in the "Vase on Monday" meme. July has been crazy, but I've managed to snap a few photos of simple combinations, from the beginning of the month to the end.

I often plop deadheaded snips, and bits and pieces in vases during the growing season, and this month is no different.

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My handy kitty litter bucket filled with a couple inches of water in the bottom is a great, cheap tool for gathering the remains of the day. This first group was from the beginning of July. It included unnamed Asiatic lilies (Lilium spp.), Hosta stems, Bugbane (Actea racemosa), Drumstick Alliums (A. sphaerocephalon), and Weigela (W. florida) foliage.

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I had a bag of glass gems, so I added them to the bottom of a glass pitcher--for a little visual interest and to help hold the stems in place.

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I also added criss-crossed tape at the top of the pitcher for support.

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I knew the foliage and flowers would cover the tape.

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Next, I plopped deadheaded 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' Zinnias (Zinnia elegans) in a very simple vase with deadheaded Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), 'May Night' Salvias (S. sylvestris), a small stem of 'Supertunia Vista Bubblegum'
Petunias (P. hybrid), a little sprig of purple Angelonia (A. hybrid), and more Drumstick Alliums. Some of these flowers had flopped over due to gardener mishaps and the effects of the elements.

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Finally, I recently rescued the 'Stargazer' Lilies (Lilium orientalis) before the rabbits could eat them. I clipped off the tops of two very tall stems of Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) and added Hydrangea foliage for more green. The Hydrangeas were a little droopy, but later recovered.

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'Stargazer' is so dreamy and has a very long vase life. Plus, the scent is incredible!

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Summertime is a great opportunity to use deadheaded blooms and dribs and drabs of plant material in floral arrangements. Even if you're pressed for time, if you keep it simple, it won't be overwhelming, and it's better than throwing all the lovelies in the compost pile--that can wait until they're spent.

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Check out the "In a Vase on Monday" meme over at Rambling in the Garden for smiles and floral arranging inspiration. Thanks to Cathy for hosting!