August 24, 2015

Wedding Flowers in Shades of White

Last weekend I had fun working on flowers for the wedding reception of a friend's son.  The arrangement above for the guest sign in table was my favorite.  The white hydrangea at bottom center came from Costco, but the other elements came from my backyard.  This arrangement included 'Little Lime' hydrangea, clematis seed pods, pink snowberries, 'Crocus Rose' English roses, spearmint, 'Autumn Bride' heuchera, white astrantia, honeysuckle, contorted filbert, and curly willow.

Garden flowers and foliage are more delicate than what you usually find for sale at a florist shop.  Florist flowers are bred to be durable for shipping and lasting longer in a vase, so they often look sturdy instead of ethereal.  Of course this arrangement didn't last more than a couple of days before wilting, but it looked good for the reception.

This bowl arrangement was a table centerpiece.  I was able to make four of them with ingredients from my garden plus the purchased white hydrangeas.

Because the wedding colors were shades of white, I used many different textures to add interest.

I snagged the last couple of shots at the reception.  These arrangements of hydrangeas from my garden and from Costco looked just okay until I added eucalyptus from Costco, and then the arching stems of greenery made the whole thing fabulous.
It was a blessing that the wildfire smoke wasn't too bad on the day of the wedding and outdoor reception, as the day before the whole valley was filled with heavy smoke.  It seems like half of Washington State is on fire right now.  We are grateful for the firefighters who are working so hard to curb the blazes and are praying for the families of the men who were killed last week while fighting the fires.

This last shot gives a glimpse of the happy couple and the 'naked' cake.  I'm not sure if anyone ever ate any of the cake, but it looked lovely on the table.  It was a wonderful day and we wish the best for the newlyweds.

August 21, 2015

August Garden Scenes

August is slipping away and soon the leaves will start putting on their autumn finery.  But for now the garden is looking very green, especially since the days are often overcast with smoke from many wildfires in the area.  The sun often looks red all day, the air quality here is worse than in Beijing, and one evening the sky was spooky green before turning positively brown.  Above you see the honeysuckle has finally reached the top of the swing set and will soon be stretching across to meet in the middle.

In the far SW corner the Limelight hydrangea is covered with giant blooms, though I will be removing many of them to decorate a friend's wedding reception tomorrow.  At the front of this photo is one of my contorted filberts, which has put on some nice growth this season.

Here is the filbert up close.  This shot might seem boring with green as the only color, but I love to see trees and shrubs filling the scene instead of the patchy lawn that covered the entire backyard when we moved here.

The Spring Snow crabapple trees keep getting taller, but not much broader.  I remember feeling excited when I could see a few of their leaves when glancing out our second story windows, and now the trees have almost grown to fill the entire view with leaves instead of our neighbors' houses.  They should top out at about 25 feet tall.

The six Little Lime hydrangeas are blooming profusely near the NE corner of the backyard, and of course the many lavender Rozanne geranium plants are still going strong.  I have to say that I prefer the greenish blooms of Little Lime over the cream flowers on Limelight.

The other day I was sitting out in the garden when a golden finch swooped down to the crabapple trees as numerous honeybees covered the salvia below.  I watched a hummingbird and big fuzzy bumblebee (above) on a butterfly bush while a cabbage white butterfly flitted around and a small orange butterfly zoomed past.  It was a magical moment.  I don't recall if I saw a dragonfly that day, but we have seen many of them this season.  These additions to the garden are delightful!

Our most frequent visitors this year have been a pair of hummingbirds.  They come to drink from the butterfly bushes every day, and it's so fun to watch them chase and squeak at each other.  After several attempts, I finally caught a photo of one, sweet thing.

August 15, 2015

Hope for the NW Corner and GBBD August 2015

The northwest corner of the backyard has the greatest concentration of blooms this month, so I'm featuring that part of the garden for the August Garden Blogger Blooms Day.

 Of course the new centerpiece of the NW corner is not a blooming shrub, but a 'Red Dragon' contorted filbert, still in its pot above.  But the 'Blue Chip' butterfly bushes (Buddleia) are blooming their heads off all around.

 From this angle you can see a 'Buzz Purple' butterfly bush in the background.  These bushes are the main source of color in the garden right now.

I love the way the 'Red Dragon' filbert echoes the color of the three 'Royal Raindrops' crabapple trees at the back of the corner.  The foliage of a clump of Siberian iris at center is especially pretty.

Four Russian sage (Peroskvia) plants are not quite full size this year but are adding some nice color and form to the garden.

A view of the path through the NW corner shows changes from my recent transplanting.  The area on the left was beautiful for a few months in spring, but then the salvia, rhubarb, astrantia, and poppies all needed to be cut back to the ground at the same time to stimulate new leaves and blooms.  It looked like a bomb hit the area.  Barren, ugly, ugh.  So I divided up the big sweep of 'Caradonna' salvia (reblooming violet above) with clusters of later-blooming 'Montgomery' astilbe and 'Red Fox' veronica.  This way there will still be some foliage and blooms going during the weeks right after the big cut back of the earlier-blooming perennials.

We'll see how the area works next June, but for now I have high hopes.  A new 'Miss Ruby' butterfly bush at center adds late summer color above, while rhubarb and Siberian iris leaves add varying texture.

Here is another view of the area with 'Rozanne' geranium happily blooming at bottom right and the dwarf Arctic willow taking over the path at center rear.

There's always hope in the garden, even when disasters occur here and there!

August 10, 2015

Wild Arrangement of Late Summer Flowers

After perusing photos of some of the wildish, flamboyant floral arrangements made by professional florists, I decided to try to create one myself.  This vase was the result.  It was a very different style from the tight, symmetrical arrangements I often create.

'Little Lime' hydrangea flowers formed the center focal point of the arrangement.  The flowers from 'LL' are more green while the ones from my 'Limelight' hydrangea are more cream.  

Of course I included some English roses like 'Teasing Georgia' above.  

'Abraham Darby' had a few nice buds, so I added those as well.  In this shot you can also see a swirly green clematis seed pod.  Several friends have echoed my thought that they look like something from a Dr. Seuss illustration. 

 Violet spikes of 'Lo and Behold' butterfly bush (Buddleia) and pale violet spikes of peppermint (Mentha) added more color to the mostly green arrangement.

I pruned several branches from my contorted filbert (Corylus avellana 'Contorta', above) to create a wide base, then filled in with dark leaves from my 'Black Lace' elderberry (Sambucus).  

I also used a couple of stems of variegated Solomon's seal (Polygonatum) for greenery.  The stem above is supporting a 'Crocus Rose' bloom.

'Fama' pincushion flower (Scabiosa) seed pods added interesting texture.

Long stems of 'Autumn Bride' heuchera stretched out on the sides.

Twisting stems of 'Hall's Purple' Japanese honeysuckle contributed to the wild feel.  In this shot you can also see some of the berries and leaves of 'Black Lace' elderberry (Sambucus).

Finally, delicate buds and leaves from bronze fennel added a final touch to my wild arrangement.  I gave the creation to a wonderful gardener friend for her birthday.

August 6, 2015

Vase of English Roses in Sunset Hues


This morning I put together a small vase of English Roses in warm sunset hues.  At bottom left is peachy-pink 'Abraham Darby,' at top left is salmon-pink 'Princess Alexandra of Kent,' and at center right is yellow 'Teasing Georgia.'

'Peachy Seduction' yarrow (Alchimella), sprigs of spearmint (Mentha) and fluffy chartreuse twigs from 'Ogon' Spirea add texture.

In this shot pink 'Alexandra of Kent' is at center with a cluster of 'Invicibelle Spirit' hydrangea flowers below.  A peach 'Lady of Shallot' rose peeks out at bottom left.  You can also see a couple of green budding stems of 'Autumn Bride' heuchera.

All of these roses have a pleasant scent, but 'Abraham Darby' (bottom left) is the best one to stick your nose into.

Now that our early summer heat wave has passed - the high today is 81 Farenheit - the roses are recovering and sending out another flush of bloom.  I haven't made many arrangements this summer but I hope to make and share more in the next few weeks.