Curious Lola

Cutting Garden: Part 1 Late Winter/ Early Spring Bouquet

The Groundhog was wrong. Spring seems to be early. And struggling to the surface of my brain are all the past year’s dreams of garden completeness. A perfect place where each plant is planned according to garden micro-climate and pollinators are aplenty.  A place that is not only lovely, but supplies me with endless inspiration and material for flower projects.

It didn’t happen, just like it didn’t happen the previous 3 years since we’ve moved into our house on a hill. Blackberries DID happen. BUT, this year is different and I am ready to attack. Beginning next week….  This week, I plan.

I’m trying to work into my plant palette landscape shrubs, perennials, and annuals that will give me a range of textures and forms to work with for floral design while still keeping a coherent landscape. I’d also like to have something to use during all times of the year. So, part one begins with plants that look good now or will look good in a couple of weeks. Most of them smell good too. There’s something about wet dirt and spring flowers smell that is so good. We’ll all have to imagine the potential arrangements until these sweet smelling plants beef themselves up.

First are hellebores. They are always so unexpected and lovely. I love Helleborus foeditus called Stinking Hellebore (I have not found the stinking part to be true). They are tough too.

Then Creeping rosemary. Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’. I have limited hot spots in my yard. But where there are, they are also on top of rockeries. This will look good dripping down and give me those deliciously pungent, beautifully textured leaves. (side note, I made rosemary orange jelly last year and it rocked my world, you should try it)

And there must be Daphne. If you don’t know about this plant, inform yourself.  It’s not that it’s all that eye-catching but the smell is unbelievable. It will seriously stop you in your tracks and turn you into that weirdo walking down the street looking feverishly through the bushes. (I am that weirdo, I could use a fellow weirdo)  Also, it’s toxic. To what degree? I dunno.  I just don’t eat it. Me or Fido. I promise to find out before I make you an arrangement of the stuff. Botanical name is Daphne odora.

I also like the foliage of the licorice plant. So sweet and soft. It’s not a hardy plant in the Northwest but I’ve been told that sometimes it will more than one season. Helichrysum petiolare. The picture is a variegated variety. (by the way, this one and the creeping rosemary are also great in pots… hmmmm. shall we do a container gardening post in the future? I think so.)

And Pieris. Now I know this plant is everywhere but something about this time of year makes me seek it out. I rearrange my walking route just to encounter a sniff of this stuff. One smell of it and I can remember my elementary school. The grounds were full of white pieris. Good memories, not like Juniper which brings back memories of middle school. Juniper= bad memories. (Juniper and I are currently reconciling.)

And I’d really like some willow. It’s so versatile.

And finally this Flowering Quince. My family has a red one on our Lavender Farm. Most of the summer when people are buzzing about, it is generally a big scrambley, crazy bush filled with birds. Right now, it is jaw-dropping gorgeous. I actually just planted one. Color is unknown, but this light pink one would look lovely in our imaginary arrangement. Botanical name is Chaenomeles speciosa.

There, one gorgeous winter/ early spring arrangement. This is going to get harder as it gets warmer.

Paper Flowers

Bah! I had visions of posting cheap, easy ways to make loads of gorgeous paper flowers with whatever spare paper was lying around your rooms. I was envisioning delicate paper flowers dripping from windows, spilling out of vases, dangling from above beds.  Alas, that which is cheap is not easy. On a past trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico, I encountered gazillions of little bright paper beauties and have since longed to create my own.  I’ve pored over many books on the subject and had settled on one simple book that not only was easy to follow but created beautifully crafted flowers. It is: Making Flowers in Paper, Fabric, and Ribbon by Steve and Megumi Biddle and goes a little something like this:

Yes, I bite my nails... don't judge.

Step one: Cut out a petal shape with a longer base so you can connect them.  Step two: mess around with the petal to make it more flexible. Step three: loosely fold two ridges near the base of the petal. Press the top of the ridges back so the petal becomes concave.  Step four is where it gets frustrating: the Biddles tell me to somehow wrap these silly petals together with wire. Not happening. I ended up using a blend of floral tape and ridiculous amounts of hot glue.  And, TADAH!

I made the rose. While beautiful, it was time consuming and not realistic for larger projects. I also used bits and pieces of sketch paper I had lying around instead of the handmade paper or crepe paper that was recommended. (mmmmight have something to do with it) Instead of the floral project I was going to use them for, I ended up using the flowers for a mask, one of eight I constructed for a client’s fabulous masquerade dinner.

The white roses went into the Snow lady mask. The snow lady had a forest partner. The rest were either birds or fish. At first I was going to use feathers but soon realized the masks were looking more and more like a drag queen left out in the rain.  And of course, when there is a need, an opportunity presents itself. My sister had gifted me a couple of those little flower paper bunches. AND, when cut up into pieces, made perfect feather or scale like bits. They are so handy.

Thought I would share:

Snow lady

Flamingo Face, Pouf Head, and Owl.

My favorite: Fish Face

If you’ve got some great paper flower how-to sources, please let me know!

Rock. flower. frog.

I’m often filling my pockets with beach rocks, twigs, and pods. I’ve got the stuff spilling out of bowls on shelves, in and around frames, just everywhere. Usually it sits there waiting for me to use it in some manifestation of craft glory. Most of the time it collects dust and sometimes houses an unlucky bug.  I finally pulled these larger rocks down to put together a quick, easy, but elegant floral arrangement that could be placed solo on a table for simple elegance, or massed for an odd, minimalistic nature scene. Used are iris and tulips. The leaves I removed. I kept some to arrange independently in the frog and others went to the compost heap.  A frog is a heavy piece of metal either with dense spikes, or a cage to separate and hold stems in a vase.  I used this monstrous one, but there are small frogs the size of a button that are more inconspicuous.

These arrangements were not in a vase, so they did not get watered. I suppose a small dish with small frogs could get enough water to the flowers and still conceal the mechanics.

Here are the arrangements,

This is so fast, cheap, and simple that it would be great for a DIY bride or party host to throw together, or delegate to a helper.

The whole water thing can be tricky however. I had never figured out how long these flowers would hold up out of water. I figured I’d bring everything to my office and see which flower came out on top in a battle to the death. Here are the results:

Please keep in mind, these flowers were removed from water at 7:30, handled at my morning coffee shop stop, and then endured a jostling bus ride to my office. The tulip got the brunt of the abuse on the bus by unknowingly being tossed under a seat, resulting in an awkward encounter with a stranger and an even more awkward conversation about fabric weight of slacks these days.  AND it’s cold here in Seattle so the flowers did not have the heat to contend with (important if your party or event is in the summer or in areas with hotter climates).

Ultimately, my not-so-scientific experiment tells me that a tulip can handle about 2 hours of no water while the powerful iris can handle about 5. Also interesting was that when placed back in water at the end of their tortuous ordeal, both flowers perked right back up.

Taira + Kyle

Here are some lovely snippets from Taira and Kyle’s wedding this fall on Camano Island. Taira’s bouquet consisted of four types of roses and stephanotis hand tied into an enormo bouquet. I loved working with this down to earth, fun-loving couple. And nice work on the rock, Kyle. Gorgeous.

Man flowers…

Well, these still maybe girly, but somewhat less fluffy than some of the English gardens I’ve seen groom’s and their packs awkwardly sporting. Maybe truly manly boutonnieres will be a future post topic…. I’m envisioning legos, transformers, a pez dispenser.

I had a few roses left from a late November wedding (post coming soon) and thought I would make some man adornments (mandornments?… nevermind) that could reflect the mood of the wedding without sacrificing masculinity.

In general, I think man’s look is more balanced with a very petite boutonniere. That way it supports the ensemble rather than bombards it. There are so many other places I’d rather look than the man’s lapel. Most of my leftover roses, however, fell into the bombardment category. Here’s what happened.

Boutonniere 1: Forest-inspired (can you sense an obsession yet?)

What is it made of?-  ‘Anna’ Rose, Brassilia, Ruscus, lichen, twig. I love the subtle colors in this rose. The outer petals (removed) actually transition to a magenta stripe.

Boutonniere 2: Titanic Lace… Okay, so this one is totally girly. But I love the flower so much.

What is it made of?- ‘Titanic’ Rose with lace wrap. My endlessly patient model cringed when I forced this one upon him. But I like it.

Boutonniere 3: Prairie

What is it made of?-  ‘Vendela’ Rose, Snowberry (one of my faves), scabiosa pod, and a couple sprigs of grass flowers. This rose is a smaller rose and was a good scale. The grass I thought twice about but now I love. It adds some airy, country feel to it.

Boutonniere 4: Sea Disco

What is it made of?- ‘Vendela’ Rose, bear grass, turquoise and green sequins with black sequin wrap! YES!

Boutonniere 5: Birch

What is it made of?- ‘Mt. Everest’ Rose, Some kind of beach growing grass, and birch bark.- Given the chance again I think I would forgo the white bow.

Boutonniere 6: Autumn garden

What is it made of?- Asters, Ceanothus (purple), myrica foliage, spiraea seed head, and twine. I love this. It’s like a miniature bouquet all with items pulled from the garden… and garage.

Boutonniere 7: Pink

What is it made of?- ‘Titanic’ Rose, brassilia, and groundcover roses with blue ribbon wrap. This rose is definitely a big one, but with a shorter stem and the small accents, I think it looks balanced and fantastic. And though it is way pinker than the other pink boutonniere with the same rose, I didn’t get any weird looks from my model.

Stay tuned for wedding photos, Rose analyses, and easy arrangements involving fun with rocks.

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