Monday, June 11, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Experiments

I tried some new combinations of flowers for "In a Vase on Monday" this week, with mixed results.  I'm relatively pleased with the first one, although I think a vase with a wider mouth might have given the arrangement a looser, more pleasing structure.

The starting point for this vase were recent blooms of Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga Lily).  It's one of my favorite flowering plants; however, its plentiful but small blooms often get eclipsed by larger blooms when they're combined in a vase.

Back view: This time, with the exception of 3 Shasta daisies, I combined it with other smallish blooms

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Arthropodium cirratum, Centaurea gymnocarpa, Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly', Leucanthemum x superbum, and Pelargonium cucullatum 'Flore Pleno' (which isn't as fuchsia in color as it appears in the photo here)


After finding that I'd managed to lose 3 dahlia tubers to rot, I picked up a new plant from my local garden center a few days ago.  It already had buds and I cut one open bloom with little thought as to what I had available to combine with it.  The dahlia, 'Otto's Thrill', is pink with yellow highlights.

This is a mature bloom I cut when I put the plant in the ground last week


I've noticed that pink flowers can be a surprisingly difficult to mix as some have strong yellow undertones while others are decidedly blue.  I sat the flower I'd cut down next to Lantana 'Irene' which varies in color from yellow to pink to fuchsia and decided on the spot to try them together.

Although the 'Irene' is described as a mix of yellow and pink, it reads as more orange than pink here.  I considered removing both the Lantana and the yellow Achillea but that made the arrangement dull to my eyes so I left it alone.

Back view: I reused the Heuchera blooms from last week

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', Achillea 'Moonshine', Heuchera maxima, Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', and Lantana camara 'Irene'


I'd cut stems of a peach-colored sweet pea too but it was way too far off for the second vase so I tossed those stems into a tiny vase with other leftovers.

The ancillary buds of Eustoma grandiflorum 'Black Pearl' (Lisianthus), used in one of last week's vases, had bloomed and the stem was still in good shape so I combined it with stems of Lathyrus odoratus 'Blue Vein', a small off-shoot of Arthropodium cirratum, and the foliage of Abelia 'Hopley's Variegated'.  The smoky purple Lisianthus flowers might have been better with the foliage alone but it was a chance to show off the blue veins of the sweet pea before I pull all of them.


For more Monday vases, visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.



All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

40 comments:

  1. I have quite a lot blooming, but I'm still hesitant to cut much, because most of it fades so quickly in the vase, which I find discouraging. I'm so amazed how much you cut every week to fill so many vases. Love your new Dahlia!

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    1. There are a lot of articles on steps to extend the life span of cut flowers. One of the most comprehensive I've seen was published by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I don't use floral preservatives (home-made or otherwise) but I do put flowers in water immediately as I cut them, cut stems on a slant, and remove all foliage below the water line. I also use a brief dip in hot water to condition a lot of stems before putting them into a vase - supposedly hot/warm water molecules are absorbed more quickly than cold water.

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  2. Oh three lovely vases.....love the Arthropodium cirratum in the first. And I finally saw Leucadendron salignum in person...what a wonderful plant and I can see why you use it in vases. Great colors with that bright pink dahlia. And wow those sweet peas with the dark Lisianthus is really dramatic!

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    1. Leucadendrons are wonderful plants and 'Chief' has a particularly graceful habit. It can also use regular trims at this time of year, when it tends to spill over on its neighbors!

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  3. I didn't realize that there were orange sweet peas - they're beautiful! Too bad about your dahlia tubers rotting...they can be fussy things!

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    1. The rotted dahlia tubers were entirely my fault, Eliza. I started many of them in plastic pots that were too small and over-watered those.

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  4. It's very disappointing to lose dahlias and doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to why it happens. I treated mine all the same as I'm sure you did. It does give a buying opportunity though:) Pinks can be difficult. I have a pink Pink which I don't like the colour of much but when it's with a bluey purple becomes much nicer. Experimenting is the answer! You've proved here that surprising combinations can be winners.

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    1. In my case, treating all the dahlia tubers the same was my error I think, Alison. I had only so many pots on hand to use in getting them started and some went into pots that were too small. And once some of them produced foliage, I started watering them all, including the ones in the smaller plastic pots, the same way. I think they just got too much water. Still, the newer tubers seemed to have a higher failure rate than those I grew last year but that may be because the latter tubers were larger.

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    2. I am guilty of overwatering too. I don't think they need much at all until they start to shoot. Do you? I saw a friend had started some off in a cardboard box, which I thought was a good idea when you don't have the right pot.

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    3. Floret Flowers (the source of most of my tubers) recommended restraint with watering until the foliage appeared and I was faithful to that advice - until the foliage of the first tubers appeared. Then I started watering everything the same way, even though some tubers hadn't sprouted. Big mistake!

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  5. I really love the Renga lilies, I have never seen them for sale here.And what an amazing coloured sweet pea, I love it. I have had a couple of dahlia tubers rot because of over watering. But I have grown so many this year that a couple won't be missed.

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    1. I believe the Renga lilies are New Zealand natives. I've only seen them in one place, a nursery based in Northern California. I got mine from that nursery by mail order and have already divided them a couple of times. As to the dahlia tubers, over-watering was definitely my mistake.

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  6. Hi Kris, the first one is my favorite, I have to look up your Polygala, we have those here, Milkworts they grow in damp places. I want some Renga Lilies, too. We should start a east west plant list!
    I have Dahlia tubers planted last November that came up for the second time,weird,yeah. The first time they poked their heads up and disappeared now??? Looked up Rengas - do you have Dianella?seems similar.

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    1. Polygala fruticosa is a South Africa native and it seems to get by with moderate water here, Amelia. It's even self-seeded for me. I do have some Dianella but they're relative failures here in my book - in fact, I recently pulled some up. They didn't flat-out die but they didn't thrive either. The Renga lilies are New Zealand natives and the only place I've ever seen them is Annie's Annuals & Perennials, a retail and mail-order nursery based in Northern California. They bulk up relatively quickly and I've divided mine a couple of times so a single investment goes a long way.

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  7. I have never been able to over winter dahlias. They can be fussy but if they get a good start in a greenhouse they usually grow good which is why I usually purchase mine. Your bouquets are gorgeous. I like a pop of color in a vase.

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    1. Dahlias can be over-wintered in the ground here, Lisa, but as they need more water than I give most of my plants, I grow them in my cutting garden and, in an effort to avoid rotting them with too much water during the winter and spring months, I dug up and stored the tubers at the end of last season. My problem this year is that I wasn't ready to pull all my winter/spring flowers in my cutting garden up in late March/early April so I planted most of the tubers in plastic pots to give them a head start - and then I over-watered many of those plastic pots.

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  8. Nice to see the Renga Lilies back again and so beautifully used. Please say that 'Loverboy' wasn't one of the casualties. I'd sorely miss hearing about his various flower floozie flings. The color combination of the last bouquet is really unusual and gorgeous!

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    1. Only you would think of 'Loverboy'! I dug up and stored 2 'Loverboy' tubers late last year, then planted them in plastic pots in early April because I didn't yet have spots for them in my cutting garden. One sprouted quickly and promptly got moved into one of the raised planters. I tarried in moving the second one and, by the time I did, he'd become a slimy mess. Karma? Maybe, but I've also noticed a dahlia coming up in the location 'Loverboy' occupied last year so it appears I may get 2 plants after all. It seems you can't hold 'Loverboy' back!

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  9. I often admire your Renga Lilies, Annies has them and I've considered them more than once, but I don't think I have a suitable spot. I need to go back and read the verbiage again. I'm having a big Dahlia fail this year too. I have one that seems to have stalled at about 4 inches and another that has barely broken ground !

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    1. Annie's was the source of my original Renga lilies, Kathy. They're the only nursery I've ever seen that carries them. They're pretty flexible on location. Although they appreciate partial (afternoon) shade, I've previously grown them in full sun in dry conditions on my back slope!

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  10. Even your leftovers vase is gorgeous- that orange! And thanks for the source on the Renga lilies... I may have to check them out!

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    1. Tough as they are (I grew them on my horrid back slope for a time), the Renga lilies would definitely need afternoon shade in your area, Renee, but they're rewarding plants, attractive even when not in bloom (provided you bait for snails).

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  11. Otto’s thrill is thrilling indeed, Kris. I love Renga Renga lilies, but the one I had in my previous garden was eaten by snails almost overnight and I haven’t tried again. Not sure if they’re frost hardy, either.

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    1. Snails and slugs do love the leaves of Renga lilies, Jane. I use a snail killer (when I remember) but the raccoons here do an admirable job clearing them out - it's their one and only positive contribution to the garden. Too bad I can't send you one!

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  12. Peachy sweet peas? Wow! Love them! And I am very taken with that top view of the first vase. I love the combination of the big Shasta daisies with the small Centaurea. Great colours you have used this week - that dahlia is a beautiful tropical sunset colour! :)

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    1. The peach sweet peas are a specialty item, Cathy. They weren't included in the mixes I planted from seed. The blue veining in the petals show up better in the photos than to the naked eye. Unfortunately, the plants don't seem as vigorous as the seed-planted sweet peas but that may be related to the fact that the plants were a late addition.

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  13. Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill' is rather gorgeous; there are so many lovely dahlias though, it's hard to go wrong. I do agree about pink with red/yellow or blue undertones; if you get it wrong, it's a disaster.

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    1. What makes the color alignment even more difficult is that the undertones aren't always as evident in the strong sun of the garden.

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  14. Hi Kris, congrats on your very successful experiments! All pretty and exotic. Didn't know Anthropodium and think it's gorgeous. Who'd want roses if the garden is full of exotic beauties but I guess that's the thing: we often want what we can't have. Struggling with Astrantia here and oh, how I wish it'd grow. Hope all is well and the weather is behaving. Our Californian friends arrived a while ago and will spend the summer here. Wishing you happy summer days, Annette

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    1. I'm even greedier, Annette - I want EVERY pretty flower there is! I hope you enjoy the visit with your friends. I've no doubt they'll enjoy your garden.

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  15. Kris, don't know how you manage to create such interesting vases each week. The Renga Lily is lovely. That new dahlia is amazing--love the coloration. And honestly I"m wowed by the sweet pea and Lisianthus pairing--very dramatic. Have a good week.

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    1. Well, Susie, keep in mind that coastal Southern California has a year-round growing season. Add that I'm a plant fanatic that's filled virtually all of my 1/2 acre+ lot with plants and you have a clearer picture of where the plant variety comes from.

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  16. Fabulous vases as always Kris. I'm off to find out whether lantana can be grown over here. Such attractive foliage.

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    1. Lantana loves heat, Anna. I'm not sure it can handle your winters but then it's generally offered even here as an annual (even though it's a short-lived perennial in our climate).

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  17. You always have such a wealth of flowers and always things that are new to me. Love those little lilies and that dark Lisianthus is breath-taking. I like the way you have a wide display in the second vase. I need to remember to try that.

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    1. The 'Black Pearl' Lisianthus looks better in year #2 than it did in its first year, Linda. It's just too bad that only a few of the plants made the transition from one year to the next.

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  18. Lovely arrangements, Kris. I like them all but am drawn to the last one with Sweet Pea and black flowers....stunning. I also love your art deco vase.....I hope it's not too hot where you are.

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    1. We're warming up, Sally, but it's not uncomfortable enough to turn on the AC yet!

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  19. Yes "warm" pinks vs. "cool" pinks--needs to be pointed out often.

    That 'Black Pearl' is delicious!

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    1. 'Black Pearl' needed an extra year in the ground to show its stuff. It was sad last year.

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