Monday, October 16, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: The last dahlia

While there are yet a few buds on the dahlias, most of these dry up in no time during the hot, dry weather we've been experiencing.  Dahlia 'Punkin' Spice' surprised me by producing one beautiful, albeit small, bloom, which I elected to cut now as a final hurrah to the summer season.  Honestly, after last week's fires throughout the state we're more than ready here to see the end of summer dry conditions.  Red flag warnings signifying a high fire risk were in effect for much of the weekend in Southern California.  With all the sad and terrible stories stemming from the fires in Northern California and last Monday's fire here in Southern California, I couldn't help watching the horizon with a degree of anxiety.  Shortly after 4pm on Sunday, I glanced out my home office window and noticed this:

My husband got out a telescope and placed the fire near the Harbor Freeway's end point in San Pedro, less than 5 miles away.  Although we never heard sirens, the fire was out within 20 minutes.  However, our hot and dry conditions aren't expected to break until Friday.  Our humidity level here has been running below 15%.


But on to happier topics!  I let the color of 'Punkin' Spice' dictate the palette of my first vase.

This vase turned out better than I'd anticipated when I collected the hodge-podge of materials from my garden Sunday morning

I still haven't pulled all my remaining Zinnias but I'm trying to use up the last blooms - the plants look terrible!

The top view reflects the narrow profile of the vase

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Dahlia 'Punkin' Spice', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', berries of noID Cotoneaster (recycled from last week's vase), Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', Leonotis leonurus, Oncidium 'Wildcat', Tagetes lemmonii 'Compact', and Zinnia elegans


Barleria obtusa (bush violet) produced its first flowers just before Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and more flowers have opened continuously since.  I cut a few stems as the starting point for a second vase.

I can't recall how well the bush violets hold up in a vase or whether the buds will open once the stems are cut

I added pink Zinnias to the back of the vase as a last minute change.  This gave the 2 sides of the vase (or rather mug) distinctly different personalities.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the mug contains: Barleria obtusa, Cuphea 'Starfire Pink', Salvia 'Mystic Spires', Leucanthemum x superbum, and Zinnia elegans


I'd picked up a few pumpkins at the market last week and used the small ones to dress up the 'Punkin' Spice' arrangement on the dining room table.

I was going to retire the mouse to the cupboard but he looked quite happy there atop the pumpkins so I let him stay


I left my largest pumpkin outside the front entry, nestled in a pot in an attempt to keep the squirrels from tunneling through it before Halloween.  Despite this precaution, I caught one in the act of chewing it Sunday morning and the cheeky creature had the audacity to cuss me out when I sent him packing.  I put my skeleton cat out next to the pumpkin in what is no doubt a futile effort to keep the squirrel away.  I'm still looking for my skeleton rats, which seem to have disappeared.

The violet vase sits in the front entry


Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to find more "In a Vase on Monday" posts.


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

34 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Eric! It's no 'Loverboy' but it's a pretty dahlia.

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  2. Love the row of Zinnias! Perfect bouquet with your table runner and pumpkins. Think I might have the same runner or maybe I've got its first cousin.

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    1. I got the table runner (and a couple others) at the Long Beach Flea Market but I think the maker, Pacific & rose, also sells on-line.

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  3. Definitely a pumpkin coloured vase, and such a fetching shape too - well thought out. And your second vase is decidely two-faced - you wouldn't guess that the two sides are so different from each other. Glad you were not directly acffected by the fires, Kris

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    1. If I hadn't been planning to pull the zinnias, I'm not sure it would have occurred to me to add the pink ones to that second vase, Cathy, but I liked the 2-faced effect. The pink and blue colors in the Cuphea knitted everything together.

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  4. Kris, have been worried about you and fires--we are saddened by the loss of life and damage to communities further north. Very devastating. Punkin' Spice is nice and the back side of that arrangement is quite interesting too. My zinnias are still blooming but the foliage is so brown and ugly. The violets vase is pretty too. Have a good week and take care.

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    1. The SoCal fire caused some structural damage but nothing like the losses up north and no deaths. The stories out of NorCal are heart-breaking. My sister-in-law was less than a mile away from one of the northern fires and remained packed up and ready to evacuate for days before it was brought under partial control - it was nerve-racking to be so far away but she had plenty of people on hand to help her as needed.

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  5. Both are great but the first one with the sweet little row of zinnias tickles me and the props on your dining room table are perfect! So glad to hear that you're safe as we keep hearing about fires all over CA!

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    1. I had a devil of a time lining up those zinnias, Peter ;)

      I hope this week sees the end of all those fires. There were still 15 active fires up north as of this morning's report. And the wind is back to blowing here in SoCal this afternoon.

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  6. I can see you are longing for autumn with this very autumnal vase Kris; I love the colours. Some of my Zinnias don't look great now but as I usually strip all the leaves when I use them in a vase I will leave them until they completely stop flowering. We also have renewed warm days but not unpleasantly so.

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    1. I'd like to replant my cutting garden beds so I have flowers through the winter months and into early spring so I'm ready to clear out the tatty stuff to make way for a new batch of seeds and plants, Christina. We're lucky not to get freezes so I can use the cutting garden space year-round. I'm already a little late getting sweet pea seeds in the ground but I figured it's just as well that I wait out these heatwaves.

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  7. Your nerves must be on edge the whole time, the news has been terrible.

    My favourite this week is Leucanthemum, I love daisy flowers and your little pumpkins are so cute. I hope you can save them from the squirrels. I bought a 'squirrel proof' bird feeder but was it? Of course, not.

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    1. I've purchased a few "squirrel buster" feeders, Alison. They're pretty good at limiting access but not 100% effective as the little monsters have figured out that, if they hang from one feeder, they can reach into the seed portal of another feeder; however, they slowly slide down, and the pressure of their paws closes the portal. It's both amusing and frustrating to watch. Of course, if my feeder pole only had one feeder on it, they'd be out of luck so I could control the situation further if I chose to.

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  8. Beautiful arrangements! I love the first vase....it's so unique. We are seeing the chaos and mess you are all going through with the fires. Wishing you lots of rain and cool breezes!

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    1. In SoCal, we're supposed to get a brief cool-down later this week and then another flash of hot weather. There's no real rain in the forecast until December, unfortunately.

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  9. Best arrangement ever in the Ginkgo leaf vase! Love that Leonitis, Hurricane Irma killed mine! Send a note if you want some Beach Sunflower seed.

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    1. I'll have to look into whether those beach sunflowers will grow here. Thanks for the offer!

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  10. Oh I do hope that your hot and dry conditions break sooner than later Kris. Such heartbreaking news about the fires in California :( Your vases shine as usual. I wonder if you will manage to thwart that squirrel. Our local bushy tailed friends would have an absolute field day if there was a pumpkin on display outside.

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    1. I have a photo of a squirrel sticking his head out of a tunneled out pumpkin - it's pretty cute, even if it was an annoying discovery. Last year, I placed skeleton mice all over my outdoor pumpkin and the squirrels actually kept their distance. I don't know if that trick will work again and I also can't find the mice decorations. It remains to be seen if the skeleton cat will have a similar effect, although the pumpkin is still intact so far.

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  11. Both are pretty and I like that the second has a split personality! You can turn the vase every day for a new look. Pumpkin Spice has nice coloring... I'm trying to decide which new dahlias to grow next year. It is so easy to go overboard, they aren't exactly small plants. Love that snowy Shasta daisy and I must look for the pink cuphea next year, since the orange was such a hit with the hummers this year.

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    1. The hummers, bees and butterflies (at least our marine blue butterflies) love that 'Starfire Pink' Cuphea, Eliza.

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  12. Love the pumpkin spice hodge-podge... and please, no more fires!

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    1. I hope we've seen the end of new fires too, Loree. Today's LA times had an article noting that the phenomenon formerly more common in SoCal appears to be spreading north as a byproduct of global warming.

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  13. I'm laughing about your skeleton cat and the squirrels - but, as my mother would say, do what works! ;-) Both your vases are wonderful, and I love your use of the berries in the first one, as they seem to blend so perfectly with the various colors.

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    1. I cut the Cotoneaster stems when the berries were just beginning to ripen. Those left on the bush will eventually turn red.

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  14. Your skeleton cat must have eaten the skeleton rats! Although I don't grow them I have enormous fondness for dahlias and zinnias. My mother was not that much into gardening but grew them and now I feel quite nostalgic when I see them. What a scary time with the fires. Hope the weather cools down soon.

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    1. I really am puzzled about where those skeleton rats (I think they were actually mice) went, Sue! But, if they disappeared, I'd suspect my husband, not a fan of Halloween, before the skeleton cat!

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  15. Gorgeous, both vases and arrangements. Though I wouldn't have called the first batch a hodgepodge at all! Hoping you continue to stay safe.

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    1. I woke up to news of yet another fire in Southern California today, this one near Pasadena. Luckily, the Santa Ana winds aren't blowing so hopefully the firefighters will have it out quickly.

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  16. Such pretty flowers. I love how you put everything together.

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  17. I have been thinking about you with these terrible fires, so glad that you haven't been affected. It must be terrifying.
    I love both your vases, specially the sunset or autumn colours of the first. A lovely selection of flowers.

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    1. All we got from the largest fire here in SoCal was a blast of smoke. My sister-in-law in the northern part of the state was at risk for days from a fire burning less than a mile from her home but she was far luckier than many people up that way - she was ready to evacuate but never actually had to do so.

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