August 5, 2014


I thought that I would walk around the garden and pick a few hand-tied bouquets for the house. Here is what I found: rather random, but still botanically interesting. A blue palette with China aster, brachycome daisy, tweedia, purple basil, dill, Nicotiana langsdorfii, echinops and Salvia 'black and Blue'

Mid Summer, those last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August marks the high point of the summer. It's when many iconic summer flowers reach their peak - zinnia's, China asters, snapdragons, Cosmos, and it marks the time when some of the late summer flowers are just beginning to bloom, like Dahlias and Gladiolus. Here is what I picked today for the house and for neighbors!

Click below:

Cuphea lanceolata raised from seed. Something a bit more unusual for a change.

I am on vacation this week. Well, it's sort-of a vacation because Joe and our dog Weasley are at the World Dog Show in Helsinki, Finland until late next week (wish us luck! The show is this Saturday), and I need to stay home from work so that I can take care of all of the animals. So, it's not exactly laying on the beach and sipping cocktail time for me, but I do treasure the time, so I am catching up with house chores - painting rooms, washing ceilings, repotting bulbs in the greenhouse -- all of the really fun stuff one wants to do on the hottest days of the year -- and, I just may take a little time off from blogging this week. 

My posts will therefore be a bit shorter this week, but, with more photos. After all, there is so much happening in the garden and woodlands during these lushest of summer days. Enjoy!

'Oklahoma' zinnias are my favorite because they have smaller blossoms but awesome colors.

If only there was a bride handy! A bunch of gardenias, Acacia, white tuberous begonia, white tuhlbagia, phlox and baptisia foliage.

Coral, salmon and creamsicle tints with a begonia leaf. Twinspur, Trumpet Creeper Vine, zinnia and dahlias.
These small hand tied bouquets made their way to some of the elderly ( um...just 'older' according to Elenore across the street who at 86 prefers to just think of herself as 'older'), people in the neighborhood who can't get out to garden. I also have brought many of them tomato plants in felt pots, that they can keep near their house, near a porch or a door where it is sunny, providing them with a bit of summer - fresh tomatoes and basil, even a pickling cucumber plant (or, in Elenore's case - an accidental hubbard squash seeding - which she feels is very exciting, if not naughty - I get a phone call about it most every day).

'Oklahoma' mix zinnia take only a little space in the vegetable garden. One packet of seeds gives us armloads of flowers to share with neighbors, and for the house.

Another photo of the white bouquet.

As a summer thunderstorm nears, I moved the bouquets indoors, here they sit as I fill the containers with cool water at the kitchen sink. I suppose you never know who is going to stop by.

I love to look around the garden for surprising flowers to use in bouquets. This tuberous Sinningia has pink flowers, and lasts long when placed in fresh water.

Here is a good example of why not to grow some seeds from seed savers. This packet of amaranths cordite came from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and clearly it has reverted back to a poor-perfoming selection. Maybe this ropes will thicken and bloom, but it appears that they are not. I am so disappointed, as this is a challenging flower to grow. My plants are healthy, and 6 fee tall, but the rope-like floral parts are no thicker than pencils. Next year - I will order from a seed catalog that tests their seed and that guarantees that they come true.

Don't be afraid to allow some vegetable garden herbs to go to seed. These cilantro flowers are pretty both in the garden, and in vases, especially when cut and displayed with dill. Just be sure to cut them early in the morning, as they can wilt.

Seed heads of dill are precious around here, as I need them for pickles and they are hard to find at some farmers markets, but I still sneak a few for bouquets especially if I have purple flowers.

I grew a few species and selections of Cuphea this year, but my favorite - cuphea resinosa died when they were still seedlings, and when I was traveling (someone forgot to water them in the greenhouse!), but this 'bat faced' one, Cuphea lanceolata 'Firefly' . It's tall and vigorous.

This Cuphea lanceolata looks a lot like the Proven Winners selection, but it is not dwarf like  Cuphea llavea 'Vienco Red' . It is still a terrific garden flower, perhaps too tall for containers. I think that it would look great in a naturalized setting, planted in large clumps and drifts. I bought from Chiltern Seeds in England. Sad, because this is a native American plant.

My giant gardenia shrub still looks small in photos - it is just my lens. The plant is taller than I am, and about 10 feet in diameter. Our friends Jeff and gene gave it to us about ten years ago, and it was large then, in a 40 inch pot. Every fall, I give it a good hair cut, and drag it back into the greenhouse. Each summer, it rewards us with dozens and dozens of flowers - so many that I can fill a vase with them every week in August. It is just starting to bloom.


  1. Wow, lovely flowers and great shots ! I like them all, especially the gardenia shrub. Does it need to be moved indoors during winter ?

  2. Those are gorgeous! I'm envious of your gardenias!

  3. I understand where you are coming from (vis-a-vis amaranths). I tend to buy seedlings at a terrific plant sale every year (Southside Community Land Trust) because I have cats and no decent place to raise seed, because they have a stunning variety of vegetables, herbs and ornamentals, and because they are a great cause. Anyhow, this year's amaranthus caudatus is stringy, not ropey.
    But what I find interesting is how amaranth manages to self seed and revert to something different. When I lived on Federal Hill on a visible well travelled corner, they self seeded in force as Elephant Head. Elephant Head? Sure, but they looked to me more like a meaty fist flipping the bird (dubbed the "F-U flower"), as well as a very "happy-to-see-you" in that special kind of below the belt way. I was not the only one that saw it.... I was asked to remove one from a bouquet at work!
    This year's mystery is some 5 feet tall, just starting to bud in green. There are 4 of those sentinels near my compost. Intriguing....

  4. During summer it is quite impossible to take good care of our plants and flowers; otherwise we are suffering from damages. But here in this post these bouquets are really looking awesome and these unique collections are really looks great.


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