I think I must be one of the few gardeners who doesn't put together containers with a mix of plants. I love them when I see them but somehow I never seem to get around to doing them myself. I'm sure that some of my reluctance comes from not knowing what to combine or wondering how — or if — it will thrive.
I am seriously thinking of recreating one of these beauties for my garden next year, now that some of the guess-work has been done for me by Avant Gardens. I will need to look for a new pot though, as one of my favorites that would have been perfect for a plant combo, blew over and cracked apart in last Monday night's storm.
Last week's arrangement focused on the first Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis) blooming in the garden. It was a tiny arrangement in a tiny Japanese container. Since then more Toad Lilies have begun to flower, so it seemed only natural to feature them again. I made two arrangements related to some of the comments readers of my blog made on that bouquet.
A number of people commented on the size and my restraint in limiting the number of flowers. So here is an equally small arrangement using the top few inches of Tricyrtis formosana, a variety that is narrow and very vertical. The leaves are from various Heucherellas.
I consider these vases as one unit when I use them. So I am always looking for a theme that will provide a little leeway but not enough to cause visual confusion. The Toad Lily stem on the left gives the best indication of what this plant looks like in the garden. The other stems were cut short, close to the top group of flowers.
I use the vase below more than any other I own. It is a Japanese Usubata for Ikebana, most likely from the Meiji period, c. 1868-1912. The wide top — with a built in cup to hold water — lifts off and you can flip the body of the vase, so the curve can be at the top or bottom. It's beautiful without flowers, but its weight and size (9" high x 12" wide) mean it can hold a big, heavy bouquet with ease. So here is my more-is-more bouquet but limited to Tricyrtis (T. hirta 'Miyazaki') and two stems of Heuchera flowers.
To see what kinds of arrangements other gardens have created today, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this Monday meme.
As I just mentioned, I ordered bulbs early this year and they just started arriving. The first batch — from Odyssey Bulbs — are all in the ground. I did not put screening over the planting spots so I am hoping the critters will not toss them about or eat them up this fall.
This is my first time ordering from Odyssey Bulbs. Based on the condition of the bulbs when they arrived and the packaging, I have high hopes. The bulbs were plump with no soft spots. Each kind came in its own little brown paper bag with the number of bulbs written on it and the complete description from the catalog printed out and glued onto the front. When I opened the bag as I planted each group, I discovered that most of the bulbs were quite small and were in tiny plastic bags inside the paper container. All good signs for success as far as I can judge at this point.
I made markers from wooden popsicle sticks with the name of the variety written on it to show the planting location. And had my i.d. index cards all written out with all the available info on each bulb on the front. Then I noted where I planted it on the back of the card. Now I just have to wait!
I have a bad habit of waiting to order fall-planted bulbs until much of what I want is sold out. This year I avoided that problem by ordering most of my bulbs crazily early. I love knowing that there will still be garden packages arriving at my door for the next month or more. Last planted and first up in Spring, bulbs are the best way I know to make the season that comes after fall seem shorter.
Every Spring when our neighbor's early daffodils come up, Mark asks why ours bloom so much later. The answer, of course, is that I mostly planted my favorite daff — N. poeticus recurvus 'Pheasant's Eye' — which is a very late variety. So this year I ordered three early birds from Old House Gardens, all more or less white flowered since I am not crazy about deep yellow daffs. These all look lovely from the photos in the OHG catalog and I simply can't resist their descriptions which I've reprinted below.
N. 'Beersheba' (above), 1923, 14-16" tall. "This immaculate classic with its slender trumpet is early-blooming, free-flowering, quick to increase, and a lovely, warm ivory. Introduced by the good Rev. Engleheart when he was in his 70s, it won high praise from Guy Wilson, the century’s greatest daffodil breeder, as 'a flower of arresting beauty and outstanding purity.' ”
N. moschatus, 1604, 10-12" tall. "Swans-Neck, Goose-Neck, Silver Bells . . . it’s short and sweet, with creamy white blooms that nod demurely, the epitome of spring. Aka N. cernuus"
N. 'W.P. Milner' 1869, 6-8" tall. "Short and sweet, this quaint little elf dates back to the dawn of the Victorian daffodil renaissance. Its nodding trumpet and twisted petals are a soft, silvery yellow that seems to be the embodiment of spring sunshine. An added treat for inquiring noses, it has a light cowslip fragrance."
I ordered those daffodil bulbs last April, months before I usually start thinking about fall-planted bulbs. If that seems a bit early I placed my order for Erythroniums and Fritillaries (including F. thunbergii, above and F. nigra, below) with Odyssey Bulbs in March! Even so, a couple of bulbs I wanted sold out almost instantly. I managed to get an order in for Lilium martagon 'Russian Morning' (bottom) from Brent and Becky's Bulbs in August before they sold out.
I mention all this not to gloat or annoy you but to emphasize that one needs to order fall-planted bulbs weeks — if not months — ahead of planting time if you want anything unusual or that is available in limited quantities. That pretty much describes all the bulbs from smaller specialty nurseries like the ones I've mentioned here.The nice thing about placing an early order is they don't get shipped until fall but you can add to your order up till then. So if you read about something that catches your eye, you are more likely to buy it right then since you've got an order started.
Frankly, I've lost out on the bulbs I was thinking about so many times that this year I decided not to wait — and I'm thrilled with what will be coming my way. In fact, I just ordered three Florentine iris from OHG for delivery next spring. I lost out on this iris last spring by waiting too long to order and I'm not doing it again!