The guest room smells amazing today thanks to the small vase of gardenias clipped for today’s In a Vase on Monday post.
Frostproof gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides)
I’ve written before about the drought that claimed quite a few of my plants and shrubs in 2016-17. I dragged my feet about replanting shrubs in the largest front bed, but I finally got the job done this year. I opted for a frostproof variety of gardenias, which are full sun and drought tolerant. The bushes started flowering last week, and they smell ever so nice. Gardenias have a heavy, sweet scent, but it’s not overpowering.
Colorwheel, aka Stokes’ Aster (Stokesia laevis)
The colorwheel bloom in last week’s post got a couple of comments, so this time I’m including a photo of new versus old blooms. The palest bloom opened most recently; the others have darkened with age.
“Hot Lips” sage (Salvia x jamensis)
The small white flowers tipped in red are “Hot Lips” sage or saliva. A couple of varieties of perennial salvia are shown in the photo below. I’ve caught a glimpse of a ruby throated hummingbird a few times this spring—apparently they love salvia!
Thanks to Cathy and her blog, Rambling in the Garden, for hosting the IAVOM meme. It’s helped me connect to other garden bloggers and makes blogging much more enjoyable. Be sure to visit her blog and the comments section to see what she and other gardeners around the world have put in a vase on Monday.
Last week, I noticed a few garden bloggers chose fun animal vases for In a Vase on Monday. This week, I follow suit.
This vintage Fitz & Floyd piece is actually a toothbrush holder. As a vase, the holes meant for toothbrush handles function like a flower frog, helping stems stay in place. This is not the first time this estate-sale find has appeared on my blog, but it is its first appearance since I began posting for IAVOM, hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.
Colorwheel, aka Stokes’ Aster (Stokesia laevis)
The pastel, almost white bloom by the kangaroo face is the very first offering from my Stoke’s Aster this season. This perennial, full-sun plant is native to the Southeastern United States. It earns the nickname Colorwheel from the changing color of its blooms, which begin as the palest pink-purple and age to a deep mauve.
Rounding out the colorwheel: repeat bloomers
The rest of the blooms in this vase have already appeared in various posts this year, and you will probably continue to see them in my vases through the summer.
The spindly brown stems bearing tiny white flowers are heuchera ‘Mocha’ also known as coral bells.
The clusters of small purple flowers are lavender (Lavandula angustiflolia).
With a truly ice-like shimmer, the neon violet flowers are ice plant (Delosperma cooperi).
The violet, cone-shaped clusters are butterfly bush (Buddleja), and speaking of …
The butterfly bush below our kitchen window went from one single bloom last week to full-blast flowering this week. Bring on the butterflies!
More animal vases
Last week, posts from these bloggers inspired my kangaroo creation.
Wild Daffodil, hailing from the other side of the Atlantic on England’s south coast, featured zebra and giraffe vases.
In Florida, the Shrub Queen arranged native wildflowers in a cow vase and introduced us to a sweet real-life pup.
Bonney Lassie, of Washington state, has a fish vase that I adore.
More In a Vase on Monday
Visit Rambling in the Garden to see what Cathy and gardeners around the world have put in a vase this Monday. Thank you for stopping by!
This week, vibrant new blooms join the spring party and the Carolina snailseed is being super clingy.
Today’s post is part of “In a Vase on Monday,” a weekly meme hosted by Cathy on her blog Rambling in the Garden. Give her a visit to see what she and other gardeners around the world have put in a vase today. But first, here’s what’s in my vase on Monday, May 7, 2018, in Birmingham, Alabama.
Red hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria ‘Grandiflora’)
Also known as torch lily, this perennial is another purchase from theBirmingham Botanical Gardens fall plant sale in 2017. This is its first (and only) bloom, so I hope more blooms are on the way. It’s a native of Southern Africa, and from what I read, its blooms are often bi-colored in combinations of yellow, orange and red. I’m not sure if my plant will offer only yellow blooms, or it’s going to surprise me.
Butterfly bush (Buddleja)
We planted a butterfly bush under our kitchen window last year. True to its name, it attracts lots of butterflies. It’s covered in green buds this week, which will soon turn into dark violet-purple blooms. Although not fully bloomed, this one was far enough along to demonstrate its color.
Ice plant (Delosperma cooperi)
I also featured this succulent ground cover in my IAVOM post on April 23. It’s really doing well this year, so you will probably see it in my arrangements throughout the summer. Look how the petals shimmer in the sun.
Carolina snailseed (Cocculus carolinus)
When looking for vase ideas today, I was taken by how these young shoots of Carolina snailseed twisted together to achieve verticality. It reminds me of Jack and the Bean Stalk.
Thanks for dropping by my blog today, and don’t forget to visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for more IAVOM posts.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the Carolina snailseed as English ivy (Hedera).
I began this post with the most sensical intentions. Then my sensibilities took over.
It’s been a while since I’ve read Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (or watched Emma Thompson’s movie adaptation), but my takeaway from the story is that we need to embrace a balance of both qualities in our lives. I relearned that lesson this week.
In a Vase on Monday is hosted each week by Cathy on her blog Rambling in the Garden. I missed it last week, and I was determined to be “sensical” and work ahead so my post would be ready first thing this Monday. However, I got distracted by my sensibilities. It was warm and sunny. The birds were singing, and the breeze was rustling in the trees. I decided to do my arranging outside.
Just when I was about happy with my arrangement, the breeze shifted all the stems. I moved inside. Once again, I had everything photo-ready, and I made a snap decision to go outside for more bellflowers. I was outside no more than 30 seconds when I heard the crash inside. So much for being sensical.
One of our cats, Chester, had taken down the small table I use when photographing flower arrangements. The vase was in pieces on the floor. The irony was not lost on me that just two weeks ago I wrote about exercising caution when it comes to cats and plants. I suppose I had it coming.
I cleaned up the broken pieces of pottery, salvaged the flowers from floor and started again. Without further ado, here’s what’s in a vase on Monday April 22, 2018.
Purple Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)
I thought my purple irises were not coming up this year, but it turns out they were just on a different timetable than the white irises. Snipping the stems released an aroma like slicing green onion tops for a salad.
Autumn sage (Salvia greggii)
The leaves of this evergreen herbaceous perennial offer a heavenly, lightly sweet scent year round. It’s just beginning to flower and will continue through the year until first freeze. I purchased mine last year at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens fall plant sale.
Dalmatian Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana)
I planted bellflower last fall as a perennial ground cover in a terraced area of the backyard, where it gets part shade. It’s just now beginning to take off, and I love its tiny blue-violet blooms.
Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi)
On the opposite end of the spectrum, hardy ice plant is a succulent ground cover that can take the sun on full blast in the front yard. The blooms shimmer in the sun, giving the plant an “icy” look. This is another Birmingham Botanical Gardens plant sale purchase.
Lavender (Lavandula angustiflolia)
I planted lavender in my sunny front yard last year, and it has done well. I’ve divided it successfully and now have two plants.
English Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme and I have a checkered past. I’ve killed it as a houseplant on several occasions. Most recently I killed lemon thyme in an outdoor pot (I’m not sure why but most likely because I left it out to overwinter). Elfin thyme looked terrific between the patio stones, but the environment was ultimately too harsh in the summer, even with lots of shade. I have, however, had success with regular garden thyme outside year round. It might not be the obvious choice for a flower arrangement, but I like effect of tucking in a couple of wild, graceful sprigs.
The vase that survived this post is a Waterford posey vase (a gift from my parents on some birthday past).
Thank you for stopping by. To see what other gardeners around the world have put in a vase on Monday, please visit Cathy’s IAVOM post and don’t miss the comments below it.
Correction: The original version of this post misidentified the autumn sage (aka salvia) as “Hot Lips” sage. I have both varieties in the same bed, and I mixed them up temporarily.
I’ve been using the iNaturalist app since attending one of Dr. Friel’s presentations last year. I find it helps me better observe and appreciate the intricacies of nature, which makes spending time outdoors all the more rewarding. I also like recording and identifying plants in natural areas because my hope is to gradually transform our privet-filled wooded backyard into a woodland garden.
Here is what I observed on my walk through Jemison Park:
I believe this ground cover (also pictured at the top of this post) is lesser Celandine (“Ficaria verna”). iNaturalist’s photo identification software suggested this ID. I carefully compared the database’s photos against mine. I think it’s a match, but the ID needs confirmation from the iNaturalist online community of citizen scientists. This plant is definitely going on my woodland garden wish list. [Update: I have since found out that Lesser Celandine is considered invasive in America, where it is not a native species. So it is off the wish list!]
Next is Italian Arum (“Arum italicum”). Once again, iNaturalist software helped me venture a guess on the ID. A fellow user, who happens to be pursuing a doctorate in marine ecology and phycology, agreed. That moved my ID up to research grade. It will stay that way as long as two-thirds of iNaturalist users concur.
I also learned that some gardeners underplant Italian Acum with hostas. When hostas die back in winter, Italian Acum will maintain an attractive ground cover. I already have hostas, so I am definitely going to try this!
The identification of the Beaked Trout-Lily (“Erythronium rostratum”) above illustrates the combined power of software and collective human brainpower in making sense of the vast numbers of observations uploaded to iNaturalist.
After looking through the software’s suggestions, my best guess at an ID was a Yellow Trout Lily (“Erythronium americanum”). However, another citizen scientist, self-described as a “hobbyist botanist, reasonably well-read on trillium and solidago,” countered that the plant I observed was in fact a Beaked Trout-Lily. His argument: “prominent auricles at the base of the tepals which encircle filaments; tepals not streaked with purple; flower not nodding; petals not sharply reflexed.”
This is a good time to mention another tip about using iNaturalist. Even if you are an amateur, do your best to research and identify your observations starting with kingdom at a minimum, and narrowing down the taxonomy as much as you can. The iNaturalist software and other references can help you do this, as long as you employ common sense and pay attention to the details. The more you can help narrow it down, the more likely someone who actually knows their stuff will look at what you’ve posted. They can then confirm your ID, further narrow it down or correct it if needed.
I’ll close this post with a few more iNaturalist observations from Jemison Park Nature Trail.
Appreciate the little things, sometimes even weeds.
My perennials have been coming back to life the past couple of weeks, including herbs, heuchera, creeping jenny, moss and various sedum plants growing in the nooks and crannies of the terrace walls. And, of course, weeds. I can find weeds quite pretty– especially if they are native and/or beneficial to the environment–and they are the inspiration for the tiny arrangements featured in this post.
Houstonia pusilla (tiny bluet)
Houstonia pusilla (tiny bluet)
I am fairly certain that the small lavender-blue flowers pictured above, are tiny bluets (Houstonia pulsilla), native to the Southeast. Moss covers our shady backyard, and the tiny bluets, with blooms no more than a centimeter in diameter, look so pretty against the blanket of vibrant green. I arranged them in a small amber-colored bottle. I will warn you that I had to pull out the tweezers for this one. (As my husband was kind enough to notice, I had a lot of free time that day.)
I have always loved daffodils. They are a bomb of yellow breaking through the drear of winter gray.
This is my first year growing them myself, and I am happy to report they are super easy. I ordered a pack of 50 bulbs last fall, and–I must admit–I was lazy and let them sit in their packaging for a couple of weeks after they arrived. (The instructions said to remove the bulbs from their packaging upon arrival and to plant them ASAP.) By the time I opened the box, a few bulbs were rotten. I was worried I’d ruined the whole lot, but I planted them anyway. Come late February–daffodils!
When I was growing up, my elderly neighbors had these perennials in their yard, and they were kind enough to permit my sister and me to co-opt their yard for all sorts of kid shenanigans. Each year I looked forward to the emergence of yellow blooms. If my child self had had any idea how easy daffodils are to establish, I would have insisted on mixing in bulbs during the annual fall planting of the pansies in my parents’ yard. Finally, in my late thirties, I have them.
Cutting daffodil stems is kind of like slicing okra. They ooze a slimy sap. Apparently, if you use daffodils in arrangements with different kinds of flowers, you should pre-condition the stems first to prevent the sap from clogging the stems of the other blooms. Here’s a source that provides good information on that. Since I did not use any other flowers in this arrangement, I did not worry about this step. I did follow the advice on changing the water after the initial six hours and keeping the water level shallow.
For this arrangement, I repurposed a Seersucker Southern-style gin bottle. This Texas-made spirit makes tasty gin-and-tonics, and the bottle is cute, too.