Monday, October 6, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: Survivor Story

I'd hoped I might have Camellia sasanqua to use in my vase this week.  When the weather cooled a week ago, a few of these flowers began to appear in a shady area adjacent to my vegetable garden.  I also had a back-up plan: if there were too few Camellias, I could use stems of Tagetes lemmonii, which had also started to bloom in earnest.  Then, we got another heatwave.  The Camellias shriveled and even the moderately drought tolerant Tagetes, buffeted by the Santa Ana winds (aka "devil winds") that accompanied the heat, looked worse for the wear and tear.  So the search for flowers and foliage to fill this week's vase, prepared in connection with the meme sponsored by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden, became another scavenger hunt.  The resulting vase is a mix of flowers that survived the heat and a few plants that love the heat, including one recent acquisition.




If this composition has a focal point, I suppose it's the Bougainvillea, a heat-loving plant.  Our red Bougainvillea, inherited with the house, has never been a vigorous grower but, it it were, my husband probably would have removed it by now as he considers this an "evil" plant.  This stems from the fact that the Bougainvillea at our former house grew about a foot a week and scratched his beloved electric car, which he'd lovingly converted from gas-power.  Removing those plants with their vicious thorns was a monumental exercise he isn't likely to forget.  However, this Bougainvillea isn't anywhere near as ambitious - it gets by with an annual trim (which I handle as I wouldn't trust my husband not to get carried away).

The Bougainvillea picks up the color of the single stem of Asclepias tucked in against it



The other elements in this week's vase include:

  • Asclepias curassavica 'Silky Red'
  • Gomphrena (no ID), probably G. haageana, picked up on a whim on a recent swing through a garden center
  • Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder,' repeating last week's performance
  • Pennisetum setaceum 'Fireworks'
  • Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon'
  • Tagetes lemmonii (aka Copper Canyon Daisy)
  • Zinnia (no ID), one of the few seedlings which survived on nominal infusions of water this summer


The new Gomphrena came in red and orange so I got a few of each

The red-tinged bracts of Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' almost look like flowers

The furry flowers of Pennisetum 'Fireworks' appeared with the heat

I picked the least scrappy looking Copper Canyon daisies to add a whiff of their delicious scent to the vase

I cut one of the few remaining Zinnia in my garden



I cut a variety of other floral and foliage survivors that didn't make the final cut, including Leonotis leonurus (aka lion's tail) and Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark' (aka snake flower and cat's tail).  These ended up in another vase with single stems of coleus and the yellow form of Russelia equisetiformis.




The main vase landed in the foyer.




These are my contributions to Cathy's popular weekly meme focused on flowers gathered from one's own garden.  Please visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see her creation and to find links to posts by other contributing gardeners.


All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

30 comments:

  1. First paragraph made me laugh. Yeah, so true. Don't count your flowers before they bloom. That has been the story this year, hasn't it? Never thought of using bougainvillea in a bouquet. Difficult colors to work with. I like the "second survivor" bouquet best with the variegated gold/green coleus.

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    1. October's is notoriously unpredictable as you know, Jane. Temps go up and temps go down, only to go up again. We viewed this house for the first time in early October 4 years ago at the start of a 100+ degree heatwave. My husband initially refused to get out of the car. The beach city we lived in at the time, only 15 miles away, was a good 10-12 degrees cooler.

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  2. What color and drama! Looking at your post I realize I should perhaps identify my flowers but at the end of the season I don't have many unusual blossoms to gather for indoors, so I am just assuming everyone would know them.

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    1. Ah, but Linda, what's common in one part of the world may be exotic in another. I wasn't sure what the reddish fern-like plant in your first arrangement is (but I like it!).

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  3. Another pretty arrangement, Kris. I'm jealous of your leucadendrons--so pretty in the garden and in the vase. I wish they were stone hardy around here. Happy Monday!

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    1. Leucadendrons, like Grevillea, agave and succulents of all kinds, are creeping into my garden in ever-increasing numbers, Emily. I did lose one Leucadendron recently but otherwise they seem to be holding their own.

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  4. You have so many blooms I have never heard of Kris - probably all things that wouldn't grow in our temperate UK climate. Those orange Gomphrena are especially intriguing - love the look of those! I have already decided to add more grasses here, so I was looking at your pennistetum most enviously! Glad your Bougainvillea has survived so far - thanks for sharing it and the rest of your lovely vase.

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    1. Gomphrenas are usually grown as annuals even here, Cathy, although I've discovered that some can live on in a winter-less climate like ours. I'm not entirely sure my husband realizes the Bougainvillea is there, which may account for its survival - my husband can be very unobservant when it comes to the garden.

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  5. The Bougainvillea is such a beautiful pure colour, It really shines out in your vase today; your choices to compliment the Bougainvillea are perfect, all catching the tone brilliantly, The Pennisetum adds a touch of softness. I like your second vase very much too,

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    1. I wasn't sure the Bougainvillea would hold up in a vase but, so far, so good.

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  6. You are so good at these, Kris! It's inspiring.

    Your husband converted a car to electric?!? How cool is that! Do tell more about it. We got an electric about 18 months ago and adore it. To heck with gasoline.

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    1. My husband recently passed his beloved electric car along to our nephew up in Seattle. He converted a Mazda RX-7, originally owned by his father, to battery-power some 25+ years ago. Both the conversion and subsequent maintenance involved tremendous efforts. (In particular, I remember there was a LOT of cursing involved with the welding requirements.) The converted car weighed some 800 lbs more than it did in its gas-powered incarnation and we had to modify our driveway where it sloped down from the street just to keep the car from scraping the pavement. It had a limited range without recharging but my husband drove it the 2 miles to work and back for over 20 years. The car wasn't particularly well-suited to the hilly area we live in now, however, and I worried about my husband's ability to perform the required battery replacements as he grew older. I campaigned for him to pass it along but I admit to feeling guilty when he pulled it out of the driveway here the last time last summer, on its way to the truck that transported it up north. I've urged him to get one of the new electrics - or a hybrid - but so far he's sticking with his old truck.

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  7. I love the pennisetum you have used and have just looked it up, its tender over here but would look wonderful even so. I grow Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamlyn', which is hardier for me and you have inspired me to use some in a vase. I cannot see from your blog where you are gardening I can see its hot but, you have some wonderful plants.

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    1. I'm in coastal Southern California Julia so the plants I grow are frequently very different from what you grown in the UK.

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  8. Kris you pick the most amazing flowers and foliage and work perfection. I'd say your arrangement is perfect like flames for your heatwave. I adore it. When I heard the Santa Ana's were blowing I knew the heat was back..sorry to hear it. Although I could use a bit more heat as I try to garden finally but I think it will not be much of gardening time here.

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    1. As I mentioned in my comment on your blog, Donna, I've often felt just a little jealous of those of you who live in climates with real winters. A little down-time would be nice, although I suspect I'd get antsy to get back to the garden too. Summer heat can drive us inside at intervals but it doesn't keep us there as the infamous "polar vortex" did in many areas of the US earlier this year.

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  9. You do it every time! Even when your garden has been hit by winds and drought you come up with beautiful arrangements in the most heavenly colours.

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    1. Each week is indeed a challenge, Chloris. I was seriously wondering what I could do with succulents in a vase for awhile.

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  10. Another fabulous creation Kris, you're so good at this! Whatever you scavenged you certainly have scavenged well. Amusing story too about the bougainvillea.

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    1. As I mentioned to Cathy, I'm not 100% sure my husband even realizes the Bougainvillea is there - it's set back a bit behind a hedge and, thus far, hasn't reached out and grabbed onto anything. If it does one day, I may come home and find it gone.

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  11. Both your arrangements are wonderfully vibrant Kriis, especially compared to my much more muted one. I love the Gomphrena and Pennisetum - they are incredibly exotic to my eyes. Don't tell your husband but I did have a wee chuckle at the story about his car.

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    1. My husband was quite protective of that car, Elizabeth! He had it for many, many years and I tried (repeatedly) to get him to let it go. The idea of him driving it on the freeway scared me to death - the original car dated back to the 1970s and didn't have safety features like airbags and proper seatbelts. The weight of all the electric batteries also limited the speed it got get up on the freeway. Now, my 17 year old nephew has it and that scares me too!

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  12. So sad the way your Camellia sasanqua was done in. Hope you'll still get some blooms. Mine has just started here. Maybe your weather will level off soon, but meanwhile you assembled a lovely arrangement. Didn't know Bougainvillea could get so out of hand, but it's quite gorgeous.

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    1. October temperatures are often a roller-coaster here so I take the changes with a degree of equanimity, Susie. The Camellias usually flower heavily and I'm counting on them to come through again this year.

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  13. You create such beautiful shaped arrangements, this one is particulary wonderful, the Bougainvillea is an excellent foundation, I am glad it gets to survive despite the reprehensible behavior of its cousin... I really must try gomphrena next year, the shape is such a good compliment to other flowers.

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    1. I was surprised to find the Gomphrena offered so late in the year, Janet - I usually see it as an early summer flower here. I hope this variety hangs on. It's supposed to be perennial here but most people grow it as an annual.

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  14. Hi Kris, I just recently came across your blog. I am soo... happy to have found someone, who is also gardening in Southern California (I live and garden in San Diego).
    But now to your bouquets. To me they are quintessential California arrangements. They are both lovely, but for some reason I am very drawn to the second one. I guess that the coleus colors won me over. They are truly stunning!
    Looking forward to your next post!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Yes, those of us struggling with heat, drought, clay soil and the like need to stick together, Christina. I'm glad you've chosen to visit my blog!

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  15. This is gorgeous! I enjoy your vases so much as I am constantly getting to know new plants. Gomphrena is one of the new ones for me this week, and I love the colours of yours. I also had no idea that Bougainvillea has thorns! I found the lovely curve of Pennisetum the focal point - a lovely shape arrangement you have created!

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    1. Bougainvillea has nasty thorns, Cathy. It's frequently used here as a barrier plant to deter intruders.

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