As I was driving home from somewhere the other day I noticed someone had pruned a Peegee Hydrangea and there was a huge pile of clippings with big, blowsy bunches of brown flowers by the curb. I almost stopped the car to grab some for bouquets and wreaths, but I didn't really have a specific idea in mind and so I passed the pile by. I rarely create wreaths from scratch, so I felt like I would need a little help to get me started if I wanted to try making one this year.
A couple of days later Avant Gardens in MA put up a nice blog post about making wreaths with close-up images of all the types of material you might use as well as tips on construction and how to keep it looking good.
If you are looking for wreath ideas, here are a few that I've saved for inspiration over the years because they relied on only one or two items to make a statement. At this increasingly busy season, I love finding simple solutions like these.
In the end I went even more minimalist than these wreaths. For years we've been buying our evergreen wreath from our nephew but he's all done with that now. So I decided to leave Mark Skudlarek's ceramic platter by the front door as a wreath stand-in. Then I added a little color with red berries to match the red ribbons on the bench by the entrance. Pretty much a repeat of last year, which begs the question of why I continue to collect images of wreaths and fancifully decorated holiday doors.
Last weekend a nearby antiques mall was having a sale if you paid for your purchase with cash or a check. I decided to stop by to see if the etched glass bowl that I've been admiring for months was still there. It was and I fell prey to temptation. Earlier this spring we got a new coffee table that is glass and stainless steel so I've been bringing out anything glass or shiny to enhance the new table.
I knew this bowl would look stunning on the table. And because it is sited lower than most "vases" you would be able to see all the gorgeous patterning. Thus my arrangement is minimal: Clematis 'Niobe', a few cherries and a pair of peaches. I shot this photo down on the bowl so you are looking through the glass table. That's the table edge at the right side of the image.
This picture shows more of the design details on the bowl which is reflected on the table top along with a bit of the garden that is doubly reflected from the window behind the couch.
To see what other gardeners have put in a vase this Monday visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this meme.
The heat and the wind at the end of the week made short shrift of the Crabapple's tree's splendor. This is a very old tree and only blooms every other year so I try to enjoy it every minute it's in flower. Over the years I've also learned there's more than one way to experience its bounty.
Flowers: Unknown Crabapple variety, Dicentra 'Gold Heart' and Epimedium 'Red Queen' The vase is antique cranberry glass. To see what other gardeners have plucked from their gardens and put in a vase this Monday, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this meme.
Multicultural mix: A Central Asian baby hat adorns the head of one of a pair of paper mache maracas-as-sculpture. Standing sentinel on either side are a pair of shigras bags, made from Agave fiber, from Ecuador. I bought the one of the right in the Matterplay shop on State Street in the 70s or early 1980s. The other bag is much older as indicated by the much finer weave and was found in an antique shop.
Up-ended against the wall is an East Indian container that is supposedly a snake charmer's basket. Somehow, I doubt that story but I love the old textile that covers the inside and outside of the form.
I have three little pots of primroses and two of daisies that I bought at the grocery store on the couple of warmer days we've had recently. They got plopped into containers and scattered around the house. But somehow they don't fit this meme in my mind.
Even though I won't be going out into the garden for weeks, I still feel that my Monday "vase" should have a bit more thought and pizzazz than just a pot of purchased plants. So . . .
When the last of my Poinsettia displays finally faded and died, I realized that I've really enjoyed having this big plate on the table in the living room. I also liked the look of the scattered rocks that had hidden the underpinnings of the Poinsettia. So I decided to see if I could use the plate and the pebbles as the base for one more arrangement. Voila!
My two big pomegranates came to the rescue again, along with a little red onion pulled from the veggie bin. When I grabbed my heaviest winter coat from the back of the closet I discovered the final touch for this arrangement: a beaded red leaf brooch that my sister gave me for Christmas one year. It was pinned to the coat collar and forgotten since the last time it was cold enough to wear that particular coat. Nothing cut from the garden, but all of it culled from corners of cupboards and closets to create something to share with you.
To see what other gardeners have put in a vase today, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this Monday meme.
I have a lot of pomegranates that I have dried over the years and use in assorted holiday arrangements. But when the price is right I always like to buy a few fresh ones. They are so large and lush and colorful compared to their dried brethren.
I am one of many cold climate gardeners who are hooked on Cathy's Monday meme. Thus — with my garden in winter dormancy — ingenuity and a little cheating was inevitable. So here is my offering, just not from my garden. No vase needed for this arrangement so I added an antique bronze incense burner as a stand-in.
Right up to New Year's I kept my eye on my Poinsettia arrangement checking the moisture level and removing anything that didn't look perfect. And then I forgot about it until it started drooping precipitously.
Seemed like the perfect time to kiss it goodbye until I realized it was also the perfect time to experiment. So I cut the plant into individual stems and arranged them in a less stiff and formal way than my prior creation.
I put a kenzan in the bottom of this huge platter/bowl, added polished rocks, a few (now dried) flowers from my first bouquet and a pomegranate. And voila! Flowers to brighten the house for one more wintry week. You can see lots more arrangements at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this Monday meme.
A long-time reader of this blog recently inquired as to whether I'd put out all of my and Mark's childhood toys for Christmas. I told her that they always make an appearance for the holidays. I just hadn't done a post about them. So here's an update for Susan and anyone else who has a soft spot for their childhood treasures. The toys are mainly displayed in my red sitting room. I did the black and white needlepoint portrait pillow based on one of Mark's woodcuts which was based, in turn, on the photos in the book "Wisconsin Death Trip."
My Little Women doll (Meg) by Madame Alexander and my rabbit fur trimmed satin baby slippers dominate the right end of the bookshelf. Those slippers are a sure sign that I was the first granddaughter!
This end features Mark's well-worn stuffed donkey and his lone leather sandal. The contemporary papier mache pull toy and hand-painted blocks are both by artist Tracy Higgs.
The cabinet below held the music rolls for my grandparents' player piano. The beaded bag was my grandmother's and came from France in the early 20th Century.
The trees belonged to my mother and the tractor and wagon are Mark's. Having them "pull" an ornament is a nice way to incorporate them into the Christmas decor. Our teddy bears are spending the holiday enthroned in an upholstered chair in our bedroom.
The last time I bought a big Poinsettia for Christmas, my husband and I were so taken with its peachy-pink color that we decided to paint an accent wall that color. This time, I wanted another plant that was not a true red which would be too intense a color to put next to the Lohan sculpture just out of photo range. And since there is nothing blooming in my garden at the moment, I went plant shopping at a local independent florist.
I also decided to take Loree at Danger Garden's Poinsettia Challenge to use that plant and to do more with it than just plop it in place. In fact, once I put it in my grandmother's green Roseville Luffa jardiniere, I decided it was much brighter than it seemed under the shop lights. I definitely needed to tone it down somehow. But I didn't really want to cut the plant apart to make it look and feel a bit different.
Instead of clipping the plant, I added assorted stems of statice, dried ferns and other brown-toned foliage. The ends of these plants (at least the live ones) are stuck in those little glass flower tubes and inserted around the plant. I stuck a few dried stems right in the midst of the Poinsettia as well.
Next I added a mini Christmas tree decorated with cookies, a big candlestick and a string of holiday lights.
Here's a close-up of the cookie tree which my sister-in-law gave me last Christmas. The cookies are by Rumi O-Brien, a local artist who is talented in a variety of media. I thought the red, pink and green frosting was a fun way to reiterate the colors of the arrangement and keep the whole thing from being too serious.
This shows you the "bouquet" in situ with a gold-leaf folding screen on the wall and a Ming dynasty Lohan at the right end of the table.