Monday, July 13, 2015

In a Vase on Monday: Darkness & Light

I gave up on vegetables this year and planted sunflowers and zinnias in my raised beds.  Although I bought my sunflower seeds early, I was late in getting them planted.  My resident raccoons also set back my flower crop by digging in my raised planters but I was pleased to find that at least some of my seeds formed healthy stalks and produced flower buds.  The first of my sunflowers, part of a mix labeled "Drop Dead Red," bloomed last week.  I expected something that looked like one of the pretty pictures on the seed packet.



What I got didn't look like any of these.  Nonetheless, I decided to try to make something of it for this week's "In a Vase on Monday", the meme hosted by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden.  The best thing I can say about the completed vase is that it's different.



The sunflower does have a tinge of red, best seen when viewed up close.  It's so dark that it seems to suck light in.  I tried to brighten it up with warmer reds and fiery yellows but I can't say accomplished much.  In the universe of flowers, this sunflower seems to be the black hole of blooms.

Here's a closer look at the vase's individual elements:

Clockwise from upper left: Helianthus with Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy', which is blooming again after a lengthy hiatus; Anigozanthos 'Yellow Gem'; Coprosma 'Plum Hussey'; flowers of Crassula radicans with Agonis flexuosa 'Nana'; Jacobaeus maritima; and Leptospermum 'Copper Glow'


In this case, the best looking element of the arrangement may be the vase itself, which I don't think I've used in any of my prior posts.  I've had it for many years.  I don't recall when or where I got it but it's made of polished stone, onyx I think.  I don't use it for arrangements requiring water because it sweats, creating a damp spot at the base wherever it sits.  However, I placed it on a glass-topped table in the living room where it's damp bottom won't damage anything.



As a counterpoint to the dark tones of the first vase, I created another one that is its polar opposite, light and bright.  It features the pale yellow Eustoma grandiflorum, which has finally bloomed in my backyard border.



It contains:

Clockwise from the left: Eustoma 'Borealis Yellow', Coprosma 'Evening Glow' (placed at the back of the vase), Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', Leucadendron 'Pisa', and Pelargonium 'Mrs Pollock' with Crassula flowers (also included but not highlighted: Jacobaeus maritima)


This cheerier creation sits on the dining room table.



Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other participants in this weekly challenge have come up with.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

32 comments:

  1. Wow! You were a harsh judge of yourself and that sunflower :-) But I see what you mean about the "black hole" factor.

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    1. It's REALLY dark. I tried to draw out the red color of the sunflower but maybe I should have gone with companions that provided a starker contrast.

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  2. Yin and yan, such beautiful contrast between the two!

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  3. What an odd name for a variety of sunflower - but what a lovely bloom even it wasn't like any of those on the packet! And definitely polar opposite vases - even though I love the sunflower I do prefer the second vase, with its elegant foliage. Thanks for sharing

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    1. I think the seed packet is intended to provide a mix of red-toned sunflowers so perhaps the rest will have a softer presence, Cathy.

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  4. I've never seen a sunflower that dark. You did well to lighten the whole thing up. I love the light vase, a great contrast

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    1. I don't think I have any plant quite that dark and I have a good number of dark-toned plants.

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  5. I like that dark flower but I see it is not at all what you'd been led to expect from your seeds. That's always disappointing. Perhaps the flowers will lighten as they age, the way some roses progress through colors as they unfold? Yeah, probably not. If you don't want more of them just as well you snipped the bloom before the seeds were eaten and dispersed.

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    1. I left the flower on the stalk awhile, thinking maybe the sun would bring out the red but the change was very slight. There's an olive green undertone in the petals that muddies the red. Luckily, the packet is supposed to produce a mix of red-toned sunflowers so the others may be different. I hope so anyway...

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  6. Kris I really like the light and dark vases this week...really wonderful and both work perfectly. That is a dark red sunflower. It seems the drawings are not quite what the flower looks like but I like the color none the less.

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    1. The dark sunflower seems to be quite popular among commentators overall, Donna. Still, I hope the rest of the flowers in that batch are a little sunnier.

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  7. Kris, these are great arrangements. I really love that dark red sunflower. It's amazing.

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    1. It's different, that's for sure, Susie.

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  8. Oh, both absolutely lovely. I really like your 'Black Hole' sunflower (someone needs to use that as a cultivar name). But you're right, it's hard to build an arrangement around it.

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    1. Maybe I should save the seeds produced by the next seedhead and try marketing it under that name. Of course, Botanical Interests may object.

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  9. Both arrangements are lovely, but I've always been drawn to the dark side. I think that black sunflower is even better than what's on the package! Seeing that Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy' flower reminded me that I want to track down Echibeckia and try it. It's a hybrid between Echinacea and Rudbeckia with the hardiness of the former and the colors of the latter. I love 'Cherry Brandy' and 'Cappuccino' rudbeckias, but they're grown as annuals here. I think they can survive mild winters, but I want something more permanent. Echibeckias come in colors similar to 'Cappuccino', though they haven't bred one like 'Cherry Brandy' yet.

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    1. I loved R. 'Cherry Brandy' the first time I grew it. The plants were almost never out of bloom over a period of more than 18 months here. However, it was disappointing on my second round. The plants remained runty and the foliage tended to get ratty. I pulled most of them out but a couple remained. Those returning to bloom now seem to have the longer stems and garden presence of the first batch.

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  10. Your sunflower looks like some of the H. 'Earth Walker' that I have; I do find sunflowers difficult to combine with other flowers, but you've done a great job. I like how the splash of red on the vase picks up and lightens the tone of the sunflower. Your second arrangement is lovely especially for the beautifully coloured foliage.

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    1. That Pelargonium foliage is very useful. The plant produces florescent orange flower, which clash a bit, but I usually just cut those off.

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  11. I would be thrilled to have grown that sunflower, in fact I purchased a few as cut flowers a couple of weeks ago. I think you did a lovely job at combining it with the other elements. As the commenter just above notes, sunflowers are hard to combine well.

    On a side note I must share that you had me giggling with your comment that the best thing you can say about the arrangement is that it's different. My mom uses the same phrase whenever she tastes or sees something she doesn't like...

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    1. I don't hate the sunflower (although I admit I don't love it either). I just couldn't figure out what to do to play up the color. In a vase, from across the room, it really does look like a deep, dark void, though.

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  12. Hi Kris, I think that dark sunflower is absolutely stunning and very unusual, but I can see that it is difficult to use in flower arrangements. I wonder how it would look with very pale yellow flowers as companions or regular deep yellow sunflowers? I like the combination of the dark sunflower and the onyx vase. The veining of the vase especially the dark red stripe goes well with the dark bloom.
    I love the Eustoma in your second vase and the combination with the pelargonium Mrs Pollock. The leaves of that pelargonium are amazing!
    Have a nice day, Kris!
    Christina

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    1. If I get more sunflowers in that color, perhaps I'll try other companions with them. It might look good with the fluffy heads of Pennisetum setaceum rubrum, for example, or a chartreuse green.

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  13. I like both vases! I thought the big creamy flowers in the second vase were English roses. I love them!!! The sunflower is very cool and modern. Dark is 'in' right now says the person who doesn't have anything particularly 'dark' in her garden. But that is the word on the street so you're hipper than hip right now. :o)

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    1. Hip! That's me! The double-flowered Eustoma (aka Lisianthus) do look a lot like roses - and they last longer in a vase too. I went on-line and looked for dark-petaled sunflowers after Christina (of myhesperidesgarden) likened my sunflower to 'Earth Walker.' Mine looks like it could be H. 'Moulin Rouge'.

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  14. Even though it's not as much of a 'true' red as you'd have liked, I think it's absolutely stunning! Such a deep, rich colour.

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    1. I can't imagine any deeper color, Amy!

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  15. Oops, I thought I had already commented. I think you've done well with that sunflower, Kris - I can see why the "black hole" remark, and I would probably feel the same myself! I had a similar problem once with a dahlia which was too black even out in the garden... Perhaps the other sunflowers will be happier colors! At any rate, I love your mix of red and green with that beautiful vase blending the colors as well! And the Eustoma is gorgeous, as always

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    1. I thought that sunflower might work like the proverbial "little black dress" and go with everything but not so.

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  16. wow light sink or not, love that sunflower!

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  17. There are more buds coming along so you may see it again. I think it's H. 'Moulin Rouge'.

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