Curious Lola

Handfuls of Happy

And what should we do with all those perdy flowers? Why, we’ll squish ’em all together, stick a ribbon on it, and send it down the aisle.

Here are some lovely pictures of recent wedding flowers created by Lola Event Floral & Design (aka: me) that include the flower of choice from last weeks post- dahlias.

Sarah's bouquet

Sarah wanted a big, bold, lively bouquet with magenta and orange. As an added bonus, the ‘mini’ orange callas that I ordered were about the size of Paul Bunyan’s adam’s apple. Not so mini.

Sarah's bouquet

There are some dahlias in there that verge on purple. They almost look iridescent- like the wings of a beetle, or the exterior walls of the Experience Music Project.

Simba's boutonniere

Now I’ve never met the groom, but I imagined with a name like Simba, he must be a stylish, keenly observant man with excellent dance moves. Clearly this boutonniere reflects that.

Kate's bouquet

This bouquet was a mock-up.

Kate's bouquet part II

Stay tuned for more bouquet photos including herb bouquets and beach themed bouquets.

Hello Dahlia.

It’s time for dahlias. We are verging on Western Washington’s  yearly color explosion of happy dahlias. I recently stopped by Skagit Heights Dahlia Farm to see the party and thought I would share.

Dahlias look delicious. I can’t find any other way to explain them. The way a dahlia can flush from cream to pink at the tips, or the perfect round curl of a pom pom petal just makes me want to put them in my mouth. (don’t worry Skagit Heights Dahlia people, I restrained myself)

Dahlia 'Pink Sensation'

Dahlia 'Switzer's Kerkrade'

Dahlia 'Fidalgo Black'

I stopped by on an overcast day in August after it had rained (we are never safe from the rain…not even in August).  Instead of looking droopy and sad, the flowers looked extra voluptuous, sucking in all that moisture and standing tall and turgid. The indirect light made the magentas and cool tones glow.

Dahlia 'Mingus Toni'

Dahlia 'Precious'

I wonder if a cool, rain saturated dahlia, to a cow in summer, would taste something like a ‘Big Stick’ popsicle. Cool, bursting with refreshment, bright, fruity and delicious. I think, yes.

Dahlia 'My O My'

Dahlia 'Patty Cake'

I love this one. It is referred to as a ‘waterlily’ shape. I also love the dark foliage and simple shape of  ‘Sunshine’

Dahlia 'Sunshine'

Dahlia 'Foxy Lady'

Dahlia 'Vienna Waltz'

Thank you Skagit Heights Dahlia Farm. Your flowers look delicious.

By the way, if you are using dahlias in a flower arrangement, the best method I’ve learned to ensure they last as long as possible is to do the following:

  • Cut dahlias early, early, early in the morning (oh and shake out the earwigs. Ew.)
  • Put cut stems into containers filled with a couple of inches of boiling water.
  • Let the flowers sit in the water for about 2-4 hours.
  • The stems will look kind of brown but that is okay. Cut them again if you need them shorter and they should last.

Smell This!

No, really. You’ll like it.

Tis that time of year where I head off to Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm for the annual Sequim Lavender Festival happening the 16th, 17th, and 18th of this month. And what better time than now for me to plug my parent’s farm.

I won’t tell you about the quite amazing farm cats, the most amazing burger mastered by my pop, the fact that, yes, upon entering Sequim, the skies do open and it IS sunny (even though a cloud may be dumping on your head on the mainland), the adorable quail babies…

… but the flowers…. will… be… fantastic…. Especially this year, the flowers have all been preparing themselves to be ripe with beauty just about the time you and I roll in. I stopped by last week to take a few pics of what you can expect.

This Folgate lavender is one of the most vivid purples and is our best culinary lavender. It is also a great landscape plant! That’s green santolina in the back.

Green Santolina ready to burst.

This plant is Ballotia. It is organized into fuzzy tiers of a beautiful mint/ light lime color. I love this plant because of its long lasting beauty. It’s received a large serving of neglect in my yard and has performed wonderfully. I love using this plant in bouquets.

This plant was new to me. I’ve never noticed it before. It’s burnet and is edible like a lot of the plants in Cedarbrook’s Garden. My parent’s use herbs from their gardens for cooking and garnishing the dishes in their restaurant.

Some weird curry? Smells like it. I tried using this in a floral arrangement last year. No bueno. But it does look great in the landscape.

Fennel! Delicious AND beautiful.

This is another of my all time faves. AND Cedarbrook is the only place I’ve ever seen it sold. It is an ornamental oregano called ‘Kent Beauty’. It is so lovely that people gasp when they walk by it. It is so delicate and fabulous in hot spots and containers.

More Folgate (an angustifolia, by the way).

With the recent heat, I bet these peonies will be popped. The peonies on this farm are nearing forty years old. Forty years. And I’m fairly certain it gets nearly no maintenance. Its roots are probably shakin’ roots (that’s how plants meet, right?) with the heritage pear clear across the garden.

This adorable little Spanish lavender is tender but so cute in containers. It is L. stoechas ‘Pinnata’.

Here is a more robust Spanish Lavender with flower heads like big fat bumble bees. Which reminds me, bees love lavender but fear not! Through years of wrassling bee laden lavender plants at harvest time (sometimes up to 40 bees per plant), I have yet to be stung. Our honey guy says they are drunk off of nectar and if you are nice about shoo-ing the happy flyer, they don’t bother you.

This is one of my favorite lavenders. It is L. angustifolia ‘Royal Velvet’. I love its mid length stem, great landscape size, and neatly organized whorls of buds.

You say agressive, I say easy to grow. I never get sick of Stachys.

Thyme! Again with the delicious and beautiful.

The flowers and festivities are worth checking out. And where will I be during all this? Spreading landscape design advice? Creating gorgeous flower arrangements? No. You will find me at the food hut pushing sammies, herbed sodas, and lavender lattes. They will also be delicious and beautiful.

East Coast Garden Tour (Part III)- Marocco Garden, Connecticut

“(Cht) Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, this is garden gnome, is anybody out there? (blip)”

“(Cht) 10-4, I hear you Garden Gnome, this is Old Beech Tree, are you lost in the Marocco Garden again? (blip)”

“(Cht) I don’t know what happened,Old Beech Tree, I was walking along the forest edge, past the pool, the bocce court, then up and around the hill. My little legs got tired. Now I’m at what seems like a reflection pond with jets and basalt columns surrounded by meadow flowers. There’s a giant metal sphere. I’m afraid I’ll never get back to my home beside the pizza oven! (blip)”

“(Cht)Have no fear, Gnome, just take a walk down through the woodland garden. You’ll pass a secluded hot tub, an enormous slab of stone in meadows. You’ll pass an expanse of doublefile viburnum and iris. Your pizza oven is just beyond the stone walls and spilling pools. Over. (blip)”

“(Cht)Thanks, Beech! (blip)”

“(Cht) My pleasure, Gnome. Over and out. (blip)”

A radio would have been useful here. This garden is immense. Without my trusty wayfinders (and garden designers) Sarah Singleton and Richard Hartlage, my super excellent navigation skills would have led me far into the woods. I would be found weeks later talking to a gnome… Only it wouldn’t be a gnome… it would be a mushroom…and I would have berries mushed in my hair….

Anyway, my delightful east coast garden adventure ended here, at the Marocco Garden, in Redding CT.

The Marocco Garden is a sweeping, naturalistic garden with a home grown feel. There is a lot going on here, grade changes, outdoor kitchens, monumentally sized sculptures, pools, fountains, meadows, GASP. However, it’s a big garden and the spaces meld together. Meadows undulate up to a hilltop pool.

Entrance to pool

Groomed lawn paths wind through intimate spaces and larger expanses each housing a simple, yet bold sculpture.

Irises and Doublefile Viburnum

meadows in early spring- courtesy of AHBL

Moon Gate- courtesy of AHBL

Everything is held together by a meadow matrix that is joyfully free flowing. While the plants here are native and non-native, they feel like they belong. The wood in the arbors and trellises is thick, rough, and gives me the impression that Marocco’s grandfather must have milled it himself from the woods nearby. Even the stone that supports the impressive terraces was hewn from the earth below.

Fountain- courtesy of AHBL

Thoughtful details are everywhere

Back of Fountain- courtesy of AHBL

Even in this size of a garden, where plant massing is so important to get a bold effect, individual plants’ shapes, colors, and textures can be appreciated.

Alliums- courtesy of AHBL

Passion Flower- courtesy of AHBL

Brunnera 'Jack Frost'

Hazelnut and Hemlock

Hostas and Carex (?)

East Coast Garden Tour (part I)- Mountsier Garden, New Jersey

Holy Garden Magic, Plantman!!! This month I crammed myself and four hours worth of garden magazines onto an airplane to visit three gardens that I’ve been hearing about for years. The first is the magical Mountsier Garden in New Jersey. Set in a New Jersey neighborhood, this garden began years ago on a couple of lots and slowly grew like a giant, garden monster, gobbling up its mediocre surroundings and spitting out pure lovliness.

The shape of the gardens are not all at once clear. The joy of this garden comes in exploring a thoughtfully designed corner and coming upon a hint of even more garden. Curiosity and a slow pace is rewarded at every turn with a beautiful plant, unexpected landform, or well placed sculpture. The way views are concealed then exposed then concealed is masterful, especially when considering the fact that designer Richard Hartlage has been designing for this garden for nearly 20 years. The flow is wonderful.

The sculpture, is not so much set in a garden gallery, but tucked into it. Everything fits and feels good in its place. Sculpture, and this garden, says owner Silas Mountsier, gives him great joy. It brings me joy too.

Variegated Pagoda Dogwood

I’m having trouble describing this garden well enough. As I upload these photos I realize they don’t quite say enough. I’ve seen this garden numerous times in photos but did not expect what I found. Play, I think, is a good word for it. Like hide and seek. The kind of play that makes you giggle, even if you are alone.

These mounds wrap around and create a circular space. The leaves of three different hakonechloa species bop around in the breeze.

I sat in the this space and read for awhile. A butterfly kept me company for about ten minutes. Of course this garden would come with friendly butterflies. It probably has a loving family of unicorns also.

Here are some of my favorite plants in this garden. I thought the Spiraea was ‘Ogon’ bought now I am doubtful. Maybe YOU know? Its chartreuse leaves seem to create its own light. The pond cypress is a deciduous conifer one of the most underused and fantastic plants out there. In the spring its needles are translucent and glow with sunshine. In the fall they are golden/ orange.

And more lovely plants


Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'


Not sure what this is. Maybe someone can school me.

Next on the East coast garden tour is a Connecticut garden.

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