Monday, July 10, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: What to do with the Agapanthus?


Three heatwaves into summer, my Agapanthus blooms are looking pretty sad.  I've already cut down 4 dozen flower stalks.   There are few blooms left in pristine (vase-worthy) condition.

Agapanthus bloom stalks facing decapitation


My impression was that the flowers were finishing early this year but, when I looked back at my last 2 July Bloom Day posts, I found that their exit is right on schedule.  Perhaps my absence in late June or the fact that I've used the flowers just a couple of times this summer contributed to the sense that their season was shorter than usual.  I managed to scrounge up 5 nice blooms for a vase this week but I'm still faced with what to do with the fading bloom stalks.  I'm a neat-freak so I usually just hack the bloom stalks down when they get messy but, with the garden moving into a period of relative floral dormancy, I'm wondering if I should let the Agapanthus stalks remain in place for awhile, as many gardeners do with Alliums.  During the Garden Bloggers' Fling in the DC area, I saw dried Alliums spray-painted blue in 2 Virginia gardens.

I thought these were metal sculptures at first but quickly realized that they wouldn't need metal supports if that was the case.  Then I noticed touches of paint on the stalks.


I'm not prepared to go that far but maybe I'll clean the dried petals off some of the finished blooms and let them stand awhile longer to add some interest in my dull summer borders.  What do you think?

I cleaned the dried petals (and mimosa floral fuzz) off this stalk fairly quickly, leaving the seedpods in place.  I'm not prepared to do that with 200+ bloom stalks but maybe I'll leave a few nude stalks here and there when I clip the rest.


But on to this week's vases.  After I scrounged up my Agapanthus blooms I had to find suitable companions for them.  Like tulips and calla lilies, Agapanthus tend to look their best alone but I didn't have enough on hand to fill a vase - and when do I ever keep things that simple?

Blue and white Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) were the natural choice to accent the Agapanthus and princess flower (Tibouchina urvilleana) just happened to be blooming too

Back view: I was initially at a loss as to what foliage to use to fill out this vase but then I looked up and saw the giant Duranta repens in my front garden.  The shrub, sold to me as D. 'Gold Mound',  was supposed to grow no taller than 3 feet but it's now over 6 feet tall.  It could use a trim!

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: noID Agapanthus, Catananche caerulea, Duranta repens, blue and white forms of Eustoma grandiflorum, Leucanthemum x superbum, self-seeded Tanacetum vulgare, and Tibouchina urvilleana


My second vase features pink Lisianthus.  Gaillardia is growing in the same area and the Lisianthus flowers clash horribly with the red and yellow flowers of those plants so cutting the pink flowers wasn't a hard decision.  I'll need to find another spot of the Lisianthus next year but, with the heat on, it's the wrong time to move them now.

Like Lisianthus, Zinnias are reliable bloomers during the summer months

Back view: More Lisianthus and Zinnias

Top view:  The mouth of this vase is just over an inch at its widest point, which creates a very narrow profile

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Eustoma grandiflorum, Abelia x grandiflora 'Edward Goucher',  noID culinary Origanum vulgare, and Zinnias in various colors, most grown from seed


As usual, I picked too many plants for my vases.  The leftovers went into a small vase.

This vase contains more Abelia; a stem of pale pink Eustoma grandiflorum, salvaged from one of last week's vases; a few late-blooming stems of noID Alstroemeria; and Digitalis purpurea 'Alba', which keeps on giving


Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to discover what other gardeners have found to fill their vases this Monday.

The blue vase landed on the dining table; the pink one in the front entry, and the leftovers on my office desk.  Last week's vases held up remarkably well, although I threw out most of the contents except for the pale yellow arrangement, which was cleaned up and placed in the master bedroom.  It's great to have a house full of flowers again!


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

38 comments:

  1. Beautiful arrangements as always! But special mention to the agapanthus seed pods, very attractive cleaned up like that!

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    1. I'm going to try cleaning up a handful of the Agapanthus stalks here and there once most of the petals are dry but we'll have to see how quickly the clean-up process gets old!

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  2. I thought those blue flowers were real and was impressed with the color! The Agapanthus seed head looks great so I would definitely try that concept. Since Agapanthus is generally not hardy here I can only sympathize a little bit as having that many sounds like a wonderful luxury to me.

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    1. I think a lot of people were fooled by those painted Alliums at first glance, Linda. Agapanthus are VERY vigorous and evergreen here but the flowers do take a beating when summer turns up the heat.

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  3. Oh yes, the seedheads look wonderful but I see what you mean about not wanting to clean up all of them... but painting them...?! ;) That's a novel idea!! As always you have managed to sort your available blooms into just the right combinations to make the perfect vases - I love them all. Thanks for sharing

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    1. I've seen fake (metal) Alliums but never painted ones, Cathy; however, as 2 Virginia gardens featured them, maybe it's a trend out that way.

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  4. I was amazed (but not surprised really) to see the spray-painted alliums in DC. Old florist trick! ;) That is one way to get a bit longer show out of the them. Likewise, I think you should play around with agapanthus pods and see what comes of it. Why not?
    I thought your agapanthus season was longer, but even they can't bloom forever, I suppose. I love your arrangement of them and the lisianthus is always lovely. Your zinnias look so healthy, heat lovers that they are. Our humidity challenges them (along with the cursed slugs - I'm so disgusted with them). On a brighter note, I saw my first monarch today and fingers crossed, it finds a mate and lays eggs on my milkweed. Nothing would thrill me more to see little instars munching away.

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    1. Well, the first of this year's crop of Agapanthus were featured in my May Bloom Day post so I guess their exit in the July Bloom Day post isn't too bad. About 75% of my Zinnias were planted from seed this year and I'm very pleased at how well they're doing - lots of water is clearly the key as I haven't had nearly the same luck with them in prior years. I've planted 2 varieties of native milkweeds in my garden but they don't seem to want to bloom - I'm trying to be patient.

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  5. I'm crazy about blue ! So you know I love your one arrangement. Did I say I love your kitchen also and maybe someday mine will look as clean as yours.

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    1. I inherited the kitchen with the house, Patsi, so I can't claim any credit there. I love the white cabinetry and counters but would really like to replace the white tile counters with a solid surface material; however, my husband isn't enthusiastic about renovation.

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  6. The overhead views are stunning, especially the second vase. :) Gorgeous shades of blue with your agapanthus, and your Lisianthus make me sigh every time! Do you have a favourite colour Lisianthus Kris?

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    1. Picking my favorite Lisianthus is probably akin to selecting a favorite child, Cathy, but I will admit a special affection for the pale yellow variety. However, the pink is the most vigorous and the blue the most unusual...

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  7. Lovely combinations and flowers in all 3 vases!I wish I grew Lisianthus in my garden, it is so beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Anca! I guess we all wish we can grow something we cannot - in my case, that is many somethings!

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  8. Hi Kris, all three of your vases are beautiful, but the blue one is my favorite. Maybe just because the color blue makes me feel a little bit cool, which I really crave in our heat of summer.
    I actually had forgotten how beautiful Tibouchina urvilleana is. I always wanted to grow this plant, but thought that San Diego inland might be a little bit too hot for it. Is your plant doing well?
    I am not a big fan of bold colors in my own garden, but I love your pale pink zinnias. I didn't even know that this color existed in the zinnia color spectrum.
    Wishing you a good week!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Tibouchina likes a little bit of shade in my area, Christina. My area falls in between Sunset zones 23 and 24 and my Sunset Western Garden Book says Tibouchina is suitable to zones 21-24 so how far inland you are is probably a key factor. If you don't currently use the Sunset Book as a reference, I highly recommend you pick up a copy as it's a much more precise measure of fit than the broad USDA zone map more commonly used by garden centers. I'd actually prefer T. heteromalia to T. urvilleana as the former is less messy and doesn't grow as tall but I inherited the latter with the house.

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  9. Well, I love Agapanthus and while it should grow here it steadfastly refuses to and something ate some of the bulbs so I moved it. Patience is the virtue of all gardeners, right. Please don't spray paint it! I like the seed heads.

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    1. Spraying the bare seed heads seems much too artificial to me, Amy!

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  10. I am always blown away by your vases Kris and these are stunning....now me if I had agapanthus, I would be looking at it all day....a plant I can't have here but one I swoon over....and it is perfect in your vase....love the other vases too.

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    1. I you're that entranced by Agapanthus, Donna, you must avoid driving should you ever visit SoCal between May and July as you'd be distracted at every turn! ;)

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  11. Kris, I am enamored with your agapanthus-Eustoma combination. Lovely, lovely. Not a fan of those spray painted Alliums, but your agapanthus stalks look interesting.

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    1. I mostly found the painted Alliums amusing, Susie, although they did take me by surprise on first sight. I promise I won't be painting any of my Agapanthus.

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  12. I really love both of your vase creations this week! As for the Agapanthus remains, I leave mine around after the blooms fade. Since I don't grow Alliums (that unsightly dying foliage you know) the Agapanthus seed heads are the closest I get. I think you should definitely try it!

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    1. I'm planning on it, Loree, although the heat is slowly sucking all the energy out of me.

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  13. I'm astonished you have Digitalis still blooming! I thought it was strange when I found foxglove plugs for sale in the springtime here, but who knows...? I like your idea to leave some of the Agapanthus heads - my one concern would be that some of the plant's energy will go into seed-production, but perhaps that won't be a problem as the Agapanthus is so vigorous! I love all three of your vases (what's new?), and I think that last little nosegay deserves special mention - so pretty! :)

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    1. I planted the foxglove plugs in one of the raised planters in what's now my cutting garden. Those planters get much more water than anything else in the garden, which I think is the best explanation for the continuing vigor of the Digitalis. The particular planter they're in also gets some afternoon shade, which probably also helps.

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  14. Beautiful bouquets but my favourite is definitely the blue and white, so calm and collected. I always leave the seedheads of Allium and Agapanthus etc. as long as possible. Never thought of painting them though. How nice to have enough Agapanthus to be able to cut for the vase. I'm such a softie when it comes to cutting flowers and really only cut when I've plenty of something. Have a good week, Kris :), Annette

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    1. Well, I have no shortage of Agapanthus, Annette, although what remains this late in the season in mostly scruffy now.

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  15. Still an abundance of blooms...but this time my eye has been drawn to that lovely vase you are using for the middle arrangement.

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    1. That vase was a gift from my husband on my birthday last year, Noelle. Surprisingly, we found the lovely thing in the gift shop at The Huntington Library & Gardens.

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  16. Gorgeous as always. Oh yes, leave those agapanthus seed heads, they look marvelous, like beautiful green flowers.

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    1. I was surprised at how well the Agapanthus "cleaned up," Peter!

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  17. First rate, Kris. You are not tempted to try painting a few of the Agapanthus seed heads? The painted Alliums actually look pretty good.

    My deciduous version has grown, but still no flowers. Next year, maybe.

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    1. Nope, no paint for me. Just cleaning up the stalks so they look presentable is enough of an effort in my book.

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  18. just discovered a wonderful new way to photograph flowers - http://content.photojojo.com/diy/frozen-flower-photos/

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    1. Thanks for the link, Sue! That looks like fun and I just may try it during one of our miserably hot summer days.

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  19. Wish my Agapanthus were as generous with flowers as yours. Those few flowers I get I do leave standing till even the seeds look sad.

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    1. I've cleaned some of the Agapanthus stalks up and will leave them in place to see if I like the effect as the stalks dry out. However, I'm also cutting many of the stalks down as I do have a ridiculous number of them and I don't have the time to tidy them all up, especially when most of my clean-up in the garden is currently focused on pulling mimosa flower fuzz from everything in sight!

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