Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, November 30, 2015

In A Vase On Monday - 1 Advent

Sunday marked the first day of Advent which, in the liturgical Christian tradition, is the beginning of the year, a time to prepare, to share the expectancy, clear away and make space for the coming of a child. The story of a wonder child or god child born around the winter solstice predates Christianity and is present in many ancient stories from the classical and new worlds.  A Native American story relates that raven sees the people living in darkness, becomes a pine needle which is swallowed by the chief's daughter who gives birth to raven in the form of a child.    The raven-child steals, one by one, the stars, moon, and finally the sun  from the chief releasing them into the sky.  At this time of year, we light candles and burn fires to drive the dark away and to prepare for the returning of the light. In any case, it was with this feeling of expectancy that I went wandering in the garden in the dying light to cut stems for today's arrangement that give hope for the returning of the light and rebirth even as the old year is dying. (If you're interested in historic winter celebrations and the roots of many of our traditions, I highly recommend the book The Winter Solstice by John Matthews.)

Here's what I found.  Lots of rose hips, Euphorbia wulfenii which looks green all winter, seed heads from grasses, a branch of Paulownia tomentosa seed pods and some Berberis 'Orange Rocket' (just because it's pretty) and a few Callicarpa branches.

Sunday is a busy day and my arrangements tend to get thrown together fairly quickly.  Around the vase are crowded other things sitting around the house/garden containing the promise of new life.

A couple of amaryllis (hippeastrum) bulbs that just came home yesterday, a narcissus 'Angels in Water' from china, a bird's nest found in the garden years ago, some tulip bulbs from a bag on the back porch that are still unplanted, various seed pods, and a candle keeping the light in the darkness as we prepare a way.
We, as gardeners, prepare for the returning of the light by planting bulbs, ordering seeds, making plans for next year's garden projects, and by watching for signs of life and light in the deepining darkness of the season, promises of the spring and summer to come.  We are pregnant with possibilities and expectant of greater joy to come. 

Furrows, be glad though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

From "People Look East" by Eleanor Farjeon (1881 - 1965)

In A Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  Click over to her site to see her Monday Vase and those of other participating bloggers.  Thanks, Cathy, for this fun floral party!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Willow Tree Gardens and Interiors Part One

Willow Tree had it's Christmas open house from November first through fifteenth.  I went on the last day of the event and will share some of the always beautiful decorations later but today, let's see what's going on outside.

all perennials are on sale at 50% off and these agaves were among them but had no I.D. tags.  Any ideas? This one has a cool leaf pattern and is in a two gallon pot.

At five bucks, this sweetie would be a steal but again no name.  

Play with us!

Also very tempting!
 Heavy metal man.  I didn't notice the nice-sized specimens of our native sword fern until after looking at the pictures.  These are evergreen and will grow in deep dry shade where little else is happy.  I wonder if they'd tolerate bamboo roots?

A ray of sunshine in the gloom.

Okay, a couple of  pictures from inside.  Love this unintentional combination.  So many possible interpretations.

Just when I'd decided on my holiday party attire for this year, my hopes were dashed to find that it didn't come in my size.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  See you in advent.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this day in the U.S.  we think about the many blessings for which we're thankful.  I'm lucky to have a long list and one thing for which I'm truly thankful is the wonderful blogging community.  If you write a blog, read and/or comment on blogs, that includes you!  Thank you for reading!  I hope your day is full of blessings whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving on this day!  Consider yourself hugged!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday Vignette - Whispering Hope

Wednesday Vignette is hosted by the multi-talented Anna at Flutter and Hum.  To see her WV and those of other participating bloggers, click here

I let my artichokes bloom as they're so beautiful in flower.  The spent blooms remain ornamental through the winter.  Two years ago, as the new growth emerged from the ground, I cut the seed heads but they still looked interesting so I threw this one in a pot where it sat all summer.  With the recent arrival of so much rain in our big storms, the seeds must have thought it was time to start growing. 

Isn't nature wonderful?  From decay and death comes new life.  There's always hope.  Of course, these will probably freeze to death unless I take them inside the greenhouse, but I digress.

Soft as the voice of an angel
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word;
Wait till the darkness is over, 
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in it's sorrow rejoice.

If in the dimness of twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us, 
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in it's sorrow rejoice.

                    -Septimus Winner, 1868

I do love schmaltz.  In case you missed the big hit of this duet in 1949 (Released as a 78 record.) Here's a recording. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In A Face on Tuesday - Pot head

 Obviously potted, his smoke-filled head wasn't even aware that he was stoned. 

Note:  The leaf is cut from paper and the smoke is from tobacco.  The only actual pot here is made of terracotta. The only thing that might be illegal is the bad humor.  I'm not that kind of outlaw gardener!

Monday, November 23, 2015

In A Vase on Monday - A Quickie

There are still a few blooms in the garden but what caught my eye the other day as I was doing a little garden tidying between storms was spent hydrangea blooms.  Today when I dashed out in the cold to gather them, they had a bit more brown on them than green and pink. Oops.  Also grabbed a few small twigs of  contorted filbert.

The stems were cut fairly short so as not to disturb next year's blooming so I needed a short vase of some sort, went rummaging and came up with this amethyst rose bowl that's been kicking around since the 80's. I collect vases mostly for their interest as empty objects and that doesn't always translate well into being vessels for holding blooms.

Vase, what vase?  It vanishes atop this fabric.

Also grabbed some Callicarpa berries from an arrangement from a couple of weeks ago that was still hanging out.

How about a little boost from a stand?

Inside it's nice and warm and fun to play with different settings for this hastily thrown-together arrangement. The wood stand and figurines were gifts from my friend and neighbor, Sandy.

In A Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  Be sure to join in the fun by posting your arrangement or enjoying those of others. Click here to check it out.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Watson's in November

Watson's is always mostly good and beautiful but without a bit of bad and ugly for comparison, how would we know?  First the bad and ugly.  Of course, this is just my opinion and you are free to love these as much as you wish.

While I'm a big fan of warm colors, especially red and orange, in gardens, my small mind just can't wrap itself around spray-painted heathers (Calluna vulgaris.)  Dead trees, yes; living plants, no.

I'm fond of the hanging glass orb tillandsia/cacti/succulent thingies although I don't have any myself. Artificial succulents can come in handy if you really need a plant in a dark place or can't grow live ones for one reason or another.  Garden fairies aren't my thing but I don't mind them.  That being said, this combination looks a bit goofy to me. What is that figurine?  I guess if you glue butterfly wings to anything, it becomes a fairy.

I'd heard about this evil and even seen it on Danger Garden but never thought it would come this close to home.  The wax-covered bulbs come with a metal stand to hold them upright, require no water or soil, and will bloom for three to six weeks.  I still like the idea of growing these pots with soil to at least pretend that I'll keep them for years and not just toss them into the compost heap the second the last bloom fades.

Now, the good.

Love this group of winter pots.

At 50% off these were tempting since they could be lovely Thanksgiving decorations and then pumpkin and or squash soup.

Watson's has a great selection of ornamental cabbage and kale priced very reasonably. The red and white combination is handsome and perfect for the holidays and the rest of winter.

Look at that glow!  This one is my current favorite variety. 

Icy silver.

Rusty metal spheres of butterflies are pretty cool and must look fantastic lit.  Would these be considered butterballs?

A new shipment of tillandsias is always a good thing; the colors of the birds, I'm not so sure. 

The big bowl of Sansevieria something or other from Fleetfoot and Foul Weather is about to bloom.

 Swell small succulent bowls. 

Always happy to see the succulent area full of plants and  was taken with the textural combination of the senecio, aloe, and aeonium.

Another temptation from Fleetfoot and Foul Weather.  May have to go back for this one. 

Philodendrons dressing in red for the upcoming season.  Who needs spray paint?

One never knows what the various pianists will play.  This day we were treated to Mozart - Variations "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman", K. 265.  Had to linger a little longer to enjoy it!

If you'd like to experience it, there's a video.

Usually I don't like to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving but this year, it seems like we could all use a little peace and goodwill a little sooner. The scent of cut evergreens always pulls my heart toward December.

Cute little hollies and reindeer.

Do you pick up cones on walks around your neighborhood, in the park, etc?  Do people think you're a little odd for doing it?

More than in some years, red is the predominant color on the decorated trees although there are still lots of other colors as well.

Let it snow!

Lots of applications for these metal branches.  

Shiny, bright silver.

Notice the floral arrangement on top of this one. 

Rich warmth.

Meanwhile, at the beach house.

Poinsettia with double white kalanchoe, a great long-blooming combination.  

Hedera helix trees.

With Thanksgiving being only 6 days away, it's time to start thinking about decorating (or not) for the darkest time (in this hemisphere) of the year.  Have you any special ideas about  things you'll do this year?   

Happy weekend and happy gardening!