Monday, December 18, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: The succulents take charge

Last year, I featured succulents as the main ingredient in several arrangements.  I haven't done that as much this year but, after more than 2 weeks of extremely low humidity and high winds, I decided that working with succulents would be more gratifying this week than cutting flowers that wither in the dry air within 2 or 3 days.  I also had a huge clump of Aeonium arboreum threatening to block a path that had to be removed so it provided my centerpiece.

I used a polished stone vase that can't be trusted to hold water

Back view

The vase contains: Aeonium arborescens, Alternanthera 'Little Ruby', and the fuzzy blooms of Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum'.  As Alternanthera needs water, I inserted those stems in a floral water tube before inserted them in the vase.


With seasonal decorations taking over most of the space I usually assign to floral arrangements, I skipped on a vase for the front entry this week.

The succulent vase sits on the dining room table, while the front entry table holds a faux tree I've had for years, decked out with painted wood birds and garden-themed ornaments


Although dry conditions persist here (and the Thomas Fire in Ventura County is still largely uncontained), I broke down mid-week and picked up a Christmas tree, a garland for the arbor outside the front door, and a wreath.  All were drier than I'd have liked but local sellers didn't seem to be expecting any new shipments so I just selected the best specimens I could find.  Whether they'll hold up much beyond Christmas Day is questionable at best.  The wreath and the garland, both hanging outside, are drying out especially quickly even with occasional misting.  I'd planned to embellish both but made do on Sunday with tricking out the wreath.

Somehow I always forget to take proper "before" photos but, without the bow and the small gnome ornament, this shows the mixed evergreen wreath I started out with

This is the after shot of the wreath embellished with materials from my garden

The materials I added included: more Aeonium arboreum, Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi', cones of Leucadendron 'Pisa', stems of Magnolia grandiflora, berries of Nandina domestica, and stems of Oscularia deltoides, another succulent


The front porch got a couple other seasonal accents too.

In addition to his holiday bow, the gargoyle on the left got some dried Magnolia seed cones (minus most of the bright red seeds removed by the squirrels).  The gnome on the right, who came out of his hide-out in the garage, holds another large Aeonium rosette. 


For more "In a Vase on Monday" posts, visit our host, Cathy of Rambling in the Garden.


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

42 comments:

  1. Kris, you must have lots of aeoniums! I treat mine like jewels because I've lost so many of them to excessive rain/humidity and snails/slugs.I keep them in pots and move them under roof when it rains for days, they are beautiful plants and look very nice in the vase. last but not least I love your gnome! I have 2 gnomes in my garden and plan to add more! have a wonderful week!

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    1. I DO have lots of Aeoniums, MDN - you might be shocked if you saw just how many I have. The vast majority came from a few plants given me by a friend when we moved into our current home 7 years ago. They propagate easily and rain is not a problem here, especially of late!

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  2. Love your succulent vase, Kris, and the wreath is just stunning. Wishing you a joyful festive season and look forward to seeing you again in 2018! PS: Hope you're not near the fires, dreadful, will it ever stop! Best wishes, Annette

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    1. All the LA fires are out, thank goodness, but we continue to be at risk as the humidity remains low and the winds high throughout the Southern California area. The Thomas Fire some 90+ miles to the north is still uncontrolled. It doesn't affect us directly but the smell of its smoke did reach us over the weekend when the wind shifted.

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  3. Yes, you must have a lot of aeoniums to spare some for cutting! The pennisetum is a great addition - as are all your embellishments for the wreath, which now looks completely different. I do hope there are better news of the fires by next week - not a good way for eople to spend their Christmasses

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    1. I'll never have a shortage of Aeoniums, Cathy. The Thomas Fire continues to spread and is on track to become the largest in California's history. The firefighters had said they hoped to have it under control by Christmas but now I'm hearing that the fight will continue into the new year.

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  4. Your aeonium vase is way cool & I love what you did with the wreath. Here, in our soggy cool winter climate, we can leave greens out all winter long.

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    1. I'm misting my wreath and the garland on a regular basis and I still don't think they're going to last long, Peter. I's sure the rain can be a pain in the neck up your way but it's part of what makes your area so incredibly beautiful in spring, summer and fall.

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  5. I love the shot of the gargoyle in his red bow! You did a masterful job embellishing that wreath.

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    1. I'm very fond of my gargoyle. I like gargoyles in general and I can't begin to explain why that is...

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  6. Glad to see your gnome! the wreath looks awesome, I hope it lasts. I just bought the tree, so I am behind you. My husband said it wasn't too Charlie Brown.
    I have been reading about the fires, wondering how you were faring-fingers crossed for a wet Christmas.

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    1. The trees here were both shorter and more expensive this year and, after our low humidity and heavy winds, they were more dried out that I'd have liked. Still, I found I didn't really mind the shorter, thinner tree - it took less time to decorate!

      The forecasters keep pushing out their rain projections. There's a chance of very light rain (about 1/3rd of an inch in total) after Christmas and before New Year's but January looks bleak. It currently looks like it'll be February before we get any "real" rain.

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    2. My late MIL called them weather guessers and having endured a few hurricane guessfests I am still hoping for Christmas rain for you! My crazy Billbergia nutans are budding, if you remember that - i have a feeling I am in for a Christmas surprise.

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    3. I'm so glad your Billbergia nutans is going to bloom for you at last, Amelia! I hope those I divided a year ago do the same one day. I picked up a Billbergia carioca at a bromeliad show in September and that thing is already preparing to bloom for a second time.

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  7. Your Aeonium is nice with those pretty burgundy leaves. I like the vase and all the festive decorations.

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    1. Thanks Susie! If that vase actually held water, I'd use it more often.

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  8. Wow, you sure know how to embellish a wreath, Kris! It's gorgeous! I love all the little touches with which you celebrate the season, including the cute gnome. Your tree in the entryway looks so real, I wouldn't have guessed it wasn't.
    Hope your humidity rises and wouldn't it be a great Christmas present if a deluge came and put out all the fires. I know I'm dreaming, but why not?

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    1. Dream, pray, wish upon a star - we need every kind of support we can get to bring rain, Eliza! The repercussions of climate change are getting increasingly real and very frightening.

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  9. Beautiful. I love the unusual additions to the wreath. I think it says 'California' I imagine that being succulents they will not wither over the next week and once they are healed over you will be able to plant them out in the garden again. I wish I had enough succulents to decorate this way. Your garden provides a wealth of material for your home. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Yes, the succulents used in arrangements - and wreaths - usually get recycled back into the garden. I've already planted a couple of the largest rosettes from the clump I pulled out on Sunday. Happy Christmas to you too, Jenny!

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  10. I'm sorry it's still so dry and the fires are raging. Let's hope for some good news soon. I wish we could share the rain, it is so unfair.
    A gorgeous original looking wreath, I need to get to work on mine but it won't have succulents on it.

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    1. I'm learning that weather is a very complicated phenomenon. The classic example of chaos theory describing a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world leading to cyclones in another part doesn't seem to be far off the mark. In this case, one explanation is that the general warming of the earth leading to the melting of arctic ice is resulting in the development of monstrous high pressure ridges over California that are keeping the rain out. Ugh!

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    2. Whereas we get wetter winters and more flooding.

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    3. Sadly, global warming seems to have the result of generally exaggerating the worst weather extremes in many areas. That certainly seems to be the impact here.

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  11. Beautiful Kris! It's remarkable how the succulent arrangement colors are mirrored in the vase, nice paring. Also your gussied up wreath is a show-stopper. I hope the evergreens last longer than you're expecting.

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    1. Once I decided to pair the Aeoniums with that particular vase, I was on the hunt for touches of burgundy color to amplify the effect, Loree. That Alternanthera 'Little Ruby' has become a useful addition to many a vase.

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  12. Lovely! Your gnome and piggy gargoyle look great dressed up for the holidays and that wreath is quite something with the added extras from your garden! I can't imagine having aeoniums big enough to cut for a vase - my poor specimen struggles on a warm windowsill! The idea of putting a container inside a vase is a useful tip. I had some grasses and catkins and wanted to add something that would need water, but had to leave it out. Enjoy your holiday preparations Kris!

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    1. This comment somehow ended up in a spam file, Cathy. Sorry about that!

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  13. Your vase and wreath are beautiful Kris! I love what you did with the succulents. Have a beautiful holiday.

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    1. Thanks Lee! Succulents are something I generally have in abundance year-round.

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  14. What a beautiful vase, and the arrangement is awesome. That wreath may be among the prettiest and most unique I've ever seen! I would never think to put Magnolia with succulents and mixed evergreens...and the bow pulls it all together! Very nice!

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    1. I usually just stick Magnolia leaves in my wreaths but, as the tree is scheduled for trimming in January, I decided what the heck.

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  15. The arrangements are so beautiful. But those will not last in our weather, hot and windy here.

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    1. It's been windy here too, Andrea. Our Santa Ana winds (also known as "devil winds") have been blowing off and on for more than 2 weeks, sparking multiple wildfires (luckily none in my immediate area). While it's been on the warm side, it hasn't been really hot here, however, so that's helped, especially as we've had almost no rain.

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  16. So clever to do the conifer wreath with succulents!

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    1. Lazy to use the evergreen wreath more than clever perhaps, HB, but thanks!

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  17. I can’t find a like button. Anyway, I love your arrangements. The wreath is a real wow. Have a very happy Christmas. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for leaving a comment, Karen. I've never installed a like button.

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  18. Oh what a brilliant festive wreath Kris and those dangling stars are most eye-catching too. Wishing you a Most Happy Christmas and I hope that the new year treats you and your garden kindly. And California too xxx

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    1. Thanks Anna! The last bout of wind took out some of those snowflakes but new fishing line has been purchased so that'll be repaired soon. Merry Christmas to you as well!

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  19. The wreath looks gorgeous with the succulents. I like the gnome too. Very cute!

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    1. Thanks sweetbay! Succulent cuttings are easy to come by here.

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