Monday, October 30, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Nothing to be scared of

Tomorrow is Halloween but I couldn't get myself to do much in the way of decorating this year.  Turning on the morning news is enough to send chills down my spine so I don't need to add anything else to set nerves on edge, be it mine or anyone else's.  Our neighborhood doesn't attract many trick-or-treaters anyway.  It's off the main road; houses are a distance apart; and some have long driveways or locked gates.  Last year no one rang our bell.  In the years before, we've never had more than five costumed visitors here.  The candy I bought last year is still in the cabinet but as its "best by" date has come and gone, I'll give away single serving bags of popcorn if any kids show up.

I bought a few pumpkins and thought about decorating one with succulents as I did last year but I foolishly left the big one outside, where the squirrels took responsibility for carving it.  I was unable to find inspiration in the dead foliage left by last week's heatwave either so I kept things simple and created a vase using warm, autumn-hued flowers and berries.

To give the vase a little something different, I added a large succulent rosette front and center, anchoring the heavy cutting above water level using a wire "stem"

Rear view

Top view

I used just 4 elements: (top row) Grevillea 'Superb' and (bottom row, left to right) Correa 'Wyn's Wonder', Graptoveria 'Fred Ives', and Nandina domestica


I made up a second arrangement for the front entryway using Camellia sasanqua flowers.  Even though these plants are cozied up against the house on the north side, they surprised me by producing flowers during a week that delivered temperatures of 100F with humidity below 10%.

All the Camellia blooms had ants, which I don't remember being an issue in prior years.  I had the devil of a time getting rid of them before I put together my vase.

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: noID Camellia sasanqua, Abelia 'Edward Goucher', Lotus jacobaeus, Alternanthera 'Little Ruby', and weed-like Helichrysum petiolare 'Silver Mist'

Even with the addition of dark elements in the form of the Lotus and Alternanthera stems, I can't claim the vase says "Halloween"


The autumn-toned arrangement landed on the dining table with the still intact mini-pumpkins.



I didn't entirely give up on Halloween decorations, though.

A skeleton hovers above the dining table arrangement from our chandelier.  My cat and rat skeletons sit outside the front door.  They had no impact whatsoever in scaring off the squirrels who destroyed my large pumpkin within 3 days.  I tossed what was left of it into the green bin for pick-up last week.


I hope your Halloween is a pleasant one, whether you're observing the event or not.  For more vases, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.


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

36 comments:

  1. If I show up at your door to trick or treat can I have the table vase arrangement? Not that you need to worry of course...

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    1. If you showed up, I'd be happy to send that arrangement off with you! Possibly sans the vase itself as that has some sentimental value.

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  2. Kris, those Camellias are just gorgeous! I love that kind of pink color on Camellias ¿are ants a problem in California too? ¿do those ants eat/defoliate your plants? here the leaf cutting ants are a pain in the neck, they can defoliate a rosebush completely in one night. Have a nice week!

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    1. Ants are everywhere here, MDN. We had repeated assaults on the house during the height of our last 2 heatwaves; however, I've not known them to defoliate plants. My biggest problem with them, not counting the intrusions into the house, are that they collect and herd aphids here. Apparently, ants love the honeydew the aphids secrete. The aphids actually damage the plants but the ants facilitate this. This can be a big problem with some succulents, although regular shots with a hose at the base and stems of the plants will keep them under control.

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  3. Good Grief - I can hardly believe how quickly those squirrels have destroyed your pumpkin! The grevillea and nandina berries in your first vase are such a beaitiful shade,and what a joy those camellia are when we are almost into November - thanks for sharing

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    1. The Camellia sasanqua usually bloom in November here, well ahead of the Camellia japonica blooms that arrive in January or February, so they're only a little early. The biggest surprise was that they bloomed in spite of that miserable heat.

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  4. I believe this is the first succulent you've used in one of these arrangements this year. I like the skeleton much better hanging from the chandelier. We got no children last year as well. Nigel thinks we should just ignore Halloween, leave the light off and ignore the bell if anyone comes. But I don't think I can do that.

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    1. My husband favors the same approach as Nigel but I've never paid him any mind either, Alison. I can't disappoint little kids, although I could do without the teenagers who show up to collect candy without even bothering with a costume.

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  5. Squirrels can really ruin a day can't they? The succulent makes a great impact in the arrangement. Lovely result. And that is an ambitious camellia making an appearance in 100F weather. It's a beauty. Hope you have a happy halloween. We usually get a couple hundred trickortreaters, so I'll pick up candy tomorrow. Can't get it too early or I'll eat it up first!

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    1. Pumpkins aside, the squirrels here usually cause less damage than the raccoons, Susie. When I stopped filling my birdfeeders, they largely disappeared - until the persimmons started to ripen. They REALLY like persimmons.

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  6. The chewed up pumpkin with the skeletons is scary enough for me. I like the one in the chandelier - he looks pretty happy up there!
    Love the rosy-peach nandina berries with the grevillea, and the succulent provides a matching hue contrast - nice!
    I'm amazed at the camellia, seems early, but I'm only an observer from afar. ;) They look nice with the dark lotus and the airy H. 'Silver Mist.'

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    1. Camellia sasanquas usually do bloom late in the year here, well ahead of the C. japonicas. I saw my first bloom before the start of last week's heatwave but thought the heat, combined with low humidity, would cause the blooms to halt or at least shrivel the flowers as soon as they opened.

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  7. I love those peachy tones and your lovely rosette centre. I've tucked all my succulents away for the winter so they won't drown. What wonderful dark foliage with your surprise camellias. The squirrels have made quite a job of your pumpkin!

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    1. There's no chance of the succulents drowning here, Alison! There's a chance of rain this weekend at last!

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  8. Love the Grevillea and Nandinas. I miss Camellias, amazing to me the range of plant material you grow. The Camellias are just beautiful, the ants were the scary part.

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    1. I inherited these Camellias with the house and garden so I expect they were deeply rooted before the drought and water restrictions became an issue. Nonetheless, I'm impressed that they bloomed even as the temperatures spiked last week.

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  9. Oh those darn squirrels...I think both vases are lovely and the first is perfect for Halloween with colors. Here I do little decorating and the trick or treaters come in droves...hundreds of them....we usually run out of 200 pieces of candy in about an hour to an hour and a half. Hoping your weather cools and you get some rain.

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    1. There's rain in the forecast for the end of the week, Donna. Hurrah! It won't be much, if it materializes at all, but every little bit counts.

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  10. Love how the succulent vase enfolds the pumpkins. We don't get many kids either. Only one group last year. This year I got the kind of candy we actually munch on. That way we won't have leftovers we don't want to eat!

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    1. That was my thought about giving out the pre-packaged single serving bags of popcorn, Linda. At least I'll eat those if we get no visitors. I'm trying to minimize by sugar input and my husband won't touch candy...

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  11. Both vases are breathtaking, Kris, and the skeleton above the table is entwined as artfully as you do everything else! The first vase pleased me the most (I'm a grevillea addict, so it would - maybe I should try one in a pot ... )The fineness of the flowers and foliage coupled with the nandina berries and the solidity of the graptoveria (?? - new to me)are perfect. In the second with the gorgeous camellias, couldn't help thinking that the shapes the lotus and helichrysum make are a gift to a talented flower arranger like you. You do always make me think more about foliage and shape!

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    1. You're so kind, Cathy! I've put the skeleton up in the chandelier for several years now and you'd think I'd have the knack of it down but I had a devil of a time getting it right this year. Graptoverias are intergeneric hybrids of Graptopetalums and Echeverias.

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  12. The berries and oranges of the table vase are completely in keeping with the season, but the Camellia sasanqua are my favourites this week. I have just bought a small plant of Camellia sasanqua 'Cleopatra'. Here it has become positively cold!

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    1. The last 2 days have been very cool here too, Christina - at least by our definition. I hope the Camellia sasanqua performs for you. That species is generally tougher than the C. japonicas here.

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  13. Halloween or not, both your arrangements seem just right for the warm October we've been having. Thanks for mentioning how you kept the Graptoveria in place. Your Camellia is gorgeous - I haven't dared try any yet (I've been warned), but perhaps I could get away with a sasanqua...? ;-)

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    1. I love Camellias and had quite a few in my former shady garden. I planted only one here, the hybrid 'Taylor's Perfection', but between the ever-warmer temperatures, the drought and our water restrictions, I don't envision planting any more. Camellia sasanqua ARE tougher than japonicas, though.

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  14. I love your chandelier-hovering skeleton! Great arrangements as always but the camellias with the dark purple foliage is a scrumptious combination! Happy Halloween!

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    1. Camellias aren't very Halloween but I'd been craving a touch of pink, Peter. My pink Lisianthus were in very short supply this year.

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  15. I love both arrangements. What a pretty camellia, do you have a name for it?

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    1. No, those Camellias came with the house and I haven't matched them up to anything I've seen on-line or in the local nurseries.

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  16. I love the squirrel carved pumpkin...perhaps a little bizarrely, very artistic. The other touches such as your skeletons are funny too. As always delightful arrangements.

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    1. As I commented in another post, Noelle, who needs Martha Stewart's help carving pumpkins when you have squirrels!

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  17. Ha ha! I think that pumpkin is the scariest decoration! I really love the colours in that second vase Kris... pinky reds and brown and silver go so nicely. Gorgeous Camellias!

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  18. I love the skeleton on the chandelier. LOL The camellia flowers are gorgeous!

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    1. I'm rather fond of that skeleton when he's hanging from the chandelier too. Next year, I must remember to put him up earlier.

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