Monday, December 21, 2020

In a Vase on Monday: Itsy Bitsy tangles with the queen of flowers

A friend of mine stopped by on Saturday with gifts, including peonies!  The same market that offers peonies in late spring/early summer now has "winter peonies" so of course I had to use them in a vase this Monday.  She brought two sleeves of peonies in different colors but, as one group opened far more quickly than the other, I ended up displaying them in separate vases.

I partnered the peony blooms with Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy' and foliage from my garden.  According to legend, peonies are the queen of flowers (or king or empress, depending upon the source). 

Back view: I cut so many of the spindly 'Itsy Bitsy' stems, they repeatedly got tangled with the peonies and themselves, hence the title of this post

Top view

From left to right: Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', noID peonies, and Prunus caroliniana

The peonies in the second vase were still stubbornly curled in tight balls on Sunday afternoon but I'm expecting they'll open overnight.

These peonies were also paired with 'Itsy Bitsy' and the same foliage

Contrary to expectations, my garden produced yet another Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) bloom so, to celebrate its persistence, I constructed another arrangement around it.

I collected a range of blue and purple blooms to accent the dark blue Lisianthus

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: noID Ceanothus, Eustoma grandiflorum, Lavandula multifida, Osteospermum 'Violet Ice', Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata', and Trichostemma 'Midnight Magic'

I showed a single photo of a wreath I constructed from scratch (my first ever!) in my Friday post but, thinking that members of the IAVOM community were perhaps most likely to appreciate the process, I saved the details for this post.

From left to right, the main ingredients were cuttings of Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', berries of Nandina domestica paired with stems of Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', and Leucadendron 'Winter Red'.  I tied the cuttings tightly together using fishing line.  In retrospect, I should have made more and smaller bundles of each material to create a denser wreath.

I used a wire frame I'd saved from a store-bought wreath purchased last year.  When I started, I hadn't planned to add the red berries or chartreuse Coleonema.  I placed two Leucadendron 'Chief' bundles for each 'Winter Sun' bundle, wrapping the wire around each bundle hree times before overlapping it with the next one.  I didn't cut the wire until I'd covered the entire frame.

I was fairly pleased with it when I reached this phase but I decided I needed some bright spots of red, which is when I assembled the berry bundles.  I wired these in separately but it would have been better to have wired in everything at the same time, as well as using smaller bundles of materials to create a denser wreath.

Luckily, I had some chartreuse ribbon on hand.  I watched an online video about making a bow with multiple loops.  Stiffer ribbon would have worked better in this instance.

This is the finished wreath.  Knowing what I do now, next time I'll: create smaller bundles of materials (about 4 inches long), alternate bundles facing in and out, and wire all materials as part of one continuous process.  As this wreath has dried out rapidly indoors, I think I'll also place it outdoors if possible.
 
All Christmas decorating is now complete for this year.  With Covid-19 filling our ICUs and stretching local hospitals to the brink, my husband and I will be spending our holiday alone this year.  However you're celebrating I hope you find a safe and pleasant way to enjoy the comforts of the season.  Best wishes!


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


32 comments:

  1. Wow Kris! What a glorious collection of flowers today - and a Christmas wreath too. The peonies are amazing, and it seems so strange to me to see them in mid-winter! My daughter's favourite flower and my youngest son's bride had them as the only flower in her bouquet! And of course itsy bitsy has to be the best flower to set Queen Peony off! Happy Christmas to you and your husband Kris. All good wishes for a peaceful and healthy 2021 too. Amanda

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    1. Peonies are my favorite flowers among the plants I can't grow, Amanda. One regional market offers this in late spring each year but this is the first time I've heard of them being sold in December! It was a very nice surprise.

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  2. Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy' is the new 'baby's breath'. Its contribution to your bouquets is invaluable. All three vases turned out great, and the Christmas wreath is outstanding, I love it. Since I grow Nandina, I should use some of the berries to brighten up a plain wreath I bought.

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    1. The wreath has dried out more quickly than I'd anticipated, which surprised me as Leucadendron stems are very long-lasting in a vase. The foliage dries well (i.e. it doesn't lose its color) but it doesn't look as full, another reason to pack the foliage tighter next time.

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  3. Itsy Bitsy is such a delight, and looks especially brilliant with the darker peony. I have grown gomphrena before and must look out and see if I can get this variety.It seems so odd having peonies in 'winter' - are they local? And a stray eustoma? Lovely to have one last sighting of them! Great to see your wreath coming together too.

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    1. I've no idea where this market got these peonies, Cathy. I can't recall ever seeing them sold during the late fall or winter. My suspicion is that the flowers must have been shipped in from somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere. As to the Eustoma bloom, I'm not going to identify this the last one for as last month's prediction on that score proved false!

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  4. All of your creations are beautiful and most definitely a mood lifter. Your wreath turned out very well. My only foray into wreath making was using blue spruce. By the time I finished, with punctured bleeding hands) it was so heavy it wouldn't hang on a door so it had to sit on a bench. Oh to have lighter material to use. Merry Christmas to you and your husband.

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    1. Leucadendron foliage is most definitely lighter and not at all prickly, Elaine. It was easy to work with in creating a wreath.

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  5. What a great gift, those winter peonies! Swoon. I love the gomphrena filler. Perfect match. Your wreath is beautiful. I need to look for the ribbon-tying video. Great job all around. Lastly I adore the arrangement you assembled around the Eustoma. Gorgeous colors, great for the vase. Merry Christmas Kris to you and your husband. Keep safe.

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    1. Thanks Susie! I hope you and your husband also have a safe and pleasant Christmas!

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  6. Winter peonies!?? how fabulous, I love that overhead shot. The Gomphrena is perfect scale to offset the Peonies. The wreath is beautiful, well done. I appreciate the effort in making it even all the way around! Merry Christmas, Kris, hubs and Pipig.

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    1. Pipig appreciates your inclusion in the Christmas wish, Amelia ;) Best wishes to you, your husband and the greyhounds too!

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  7. Love all the mellow blues for a peaceful Christmas at home.

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    1. It was nice to find the blue Lisianthus (Eustoma), Diana. It gave me a focal point for a collection of blue flowers I's wanted to spotlight.

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  8. What a wonderful friend to bring you peonies! I can't imagine a more welcome gift. Your house must look lovely with all your Xmas decor. Decorating for the holiday when no one will see it in person might take some effort, but I am glad you did. Good for the soul and we get to enjoy it virtually. Happy Solstice!

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    1. Happy Solstice, Eliza! I'm very happy that now the days start getting longer again.

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  9. Well Kris, if it makes you feel any better I was really excited to be able to plant Peonies when I moved to Norcal from San Diego.I soon discovered the minuscule bloom period and the unfortunate reaction they had to our spring heat waves. I love your wreath !

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    1. I had a tree peony for a time in my old garden for a time, Kathy. I think it offered a single bloom on two occasions years apart. My Majorcan peony (purchased years ago from Annie's) has done nominally better in my current garden. The Itoh peony here has never bloomed but I still haven't tossed it out...The cut flowers from Trader Joe's are a better investment.

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  10. Beautiful flowers in the bouquets!
    I hope you get some rain soon.
    Best wishes for a happy christmas.

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    1. Thanks Mariana. Best wishes for a happy Christmas to you too!

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  11. I love those itsy bitsy flowers with the hug peony blooms. I am always fascinated how they can keep peony blooms for so long and they open and look as fresh and beautiful as spring. The blue flowers are always one of my favs. Happy IAVOM. I think your first go at making a wreath was a success. Wired ribbon is always easiest to make bows.

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    1. The second group of pale pink peonies has yet to open and I'm beginning to fear they may not so "winter peonies" may have a downside, Lisa.

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  12. What an interesting, informative article. Peonies at Christmas. Sumptuous. Have a good Christmas.

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    1. Thanks Galanthophile. Best wishes to you as well!

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  13. Peonies in December! Who knew? (not me) Your wreath is just wonderful!!!

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    1. The wreath has dried out exceptionally fast but putting it up directly across from the house's main heating register was probably a big mistake. It didn't help that our humidity has been pitifully low in general for the last two weeks either. As another addition to my list for "next time", I plan to soak the cuttings for a time before wiring them up.

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  14. Peonies in December?! Wonderful! What a thoughtful gift! I especially like the effect with the closed buds, which I am sure will have opened by now. I was also captivated by that gorgeous Osteospermum you used... such lovely colours. Love the wreath too... I also learned from making one this year and mine will also remain outdoors next year to keep it fresh. Your Leucodendron is ideal for such a project and looks lovely and festive. Have a very Happy Christmas Kris. We will be alone too, but will enjoy some online chats with family. xx

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    1. Unfortunately, the light pink "winter peonies" still seem disinclined to open so they may not be the wonders they appeared to be, although the darker variety, all blooms now fully open, are spectacular. I hope you enjoy your Christmas celebration, both real and virtual, Cathy!

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  15. It’s so nice to see peonies, it’s been so long since they’ve bloomed here! They look great with Gomphrena ‘Itsy Bitsy’. As always I love your blue violet arrangements. Trichostemma 'Midnight Magic' is beautiful.

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    1. I'm very fond of Trichostemma 'Midnight Magic'. It's a hybrid relative of our native woolly blue curls but actually more resilient in a garden setting. Peonies are nearly impossible to grow here so buying the cut flowers is usually as close as I can get. Finding them in winter is unusual to say the least.

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  16. INSANE what you put together. I'm seriously, any of these arrangements are fit for a book. Seriously, have you thought about doing one?

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    1. Hey, aren't I the one that's bugged YOU about creating a book featuring your wanderings to seek out all things delightfully spiky?! ;) I think you should write a book. I'll stick to my weekly posts, assuming renewed drought doesn't severely diminish my supply of flowers.

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