Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hellebore: A Walk in the Woods and a Winter Wedding

The greatness of the hellebore is that it grows in those shady parts of your yard where other flowers will not.  It loves the overhang of a big tree and left to its own devices will send off seeds to propagate and increase its coverage year after year.  The photo below was taken in West Virginia at Barry Glick's Sunshine Farm and Gardens (sunshine in the shade I suppose).  Farmer Bob paid a visit along with two of this year's interns and had a marvelous walk through these beautiful woods.
For the past few years the beds of hellebores have been slowly increasing here at Wollam Gardens. The mauve, pink, white and green blossoms are loved by florists and market customers as an early spring/late winter marvel.  My favorite part of the hellebore (aside from its sophisticated colors and late winter beauty) has always been when the bulbous seeds protrude through the petals towards the end of their show.  In the photo below two hellebores are prominent, one purplie/pink and green with no distinctive center and one with mauve edges and a circular ring of pointed seed pods in the center.  The seed pods are a textural bit of glory for my visual eye but left to their own devices they will sew your beds without your hand year after year.
On a cut-flower farm the trick is cutting as many flowers as possible to sell while still leaving something to increase the fold from year to year.  The visit to Barry Glick's farm produced a bucket full of seedlings which left to their own devices would have been prolific here....but alas were not.  Cutting the flowers to sell means the seeds do not have a chance to self-sew.
Farmer Bob loves to tell  you about the stratification process.  The hellebore thrives on the layering of cold, than warm, than cold, than warm weather.....get it?  It's stratified (like a good italian egg and sausage strata....layer egg, layer bread, layer sausage, repeat....).  The plants throw their seeds (12-15 in each of those tiny points!)  The little seedlings emerge during the last breaths of winter.  Gotta love it.

 The foliage is so pretty too.  An interesting choice for a ground cover with a path coaxing you through to explore.  Check out the number of varieties available at Glick's farm.  It is astounding.  

By the way, if you're planning a wedding in February or March you would do well to include this bloom.  Just imagine a winter wonderland with these graceful blooms and their generous foliage interlaced with pussy willow and linens shimmering with a hint of spring green.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

All Hail The Pee-uh-nee

Whichever camp you fall in (camp Pee-UH-nee or camp Pee-OH-nee) one thing is for certain, the glory of the peony flower should never be lost in translation.  Whether yours stand upright or flop over as soon as those immensely gorgeous heads fluff out with petals, you are likely to treasure them.  Everywhere I go these days I am seeing them in vases, or rather, whatever type of water-holding vessel people have on hand.  At the grocery store the most glorious stem stood in a Dasani water the gym, it was in a plastic Coke Coke attempting a Peony Takeover?  

Whatever you may choose, the peony does the work for you.  With heads full of more petals than you can count (not ideal for a game of "he loves me") their color is both gentle and bold.  If you don't have any growing in your yard, stop by a farmer's market this weekend and buy as many as you can afford, just one will do the trick.  Place it in a vase next to your bed, in the morning move it to the kitchen table.  Without question you should be able to see it when you take a bath.
In Virginia, the season is beginning now.  The beautiful buds are reaching high and as soon as the head feels like a marshmallow, it is time to cut.  The brilliant red charms (pictured above) are the first to open so don't wait too is fleeting.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

All In The Family

A blooming tuberose typically means one thing to me, my annual late-summer trip to Hawaii.  For the few seconds that I close my eyes and inhale the scent of this tiny, white, waxy flower I am transported.  Hawaii, Bali, which ever Pacific Island you choose....the tuberose will take you there.  Just one stem, placed in a simple vase by my kitchen sink is all I need.

Planted in tidy rows alongside lines of black drip tape, the tuberose doesn't look too impressive at the moment but the day it was placed in the soil was a fine family affair.  Lola, DD and I ventured out to find a cheerful group of interns, the farm manager, her husband and baby boy all chatting as they worked.

It's a fine distinction, irrelevant to some, but at the core of why I believe flowers planted by hand and picked by hand  are the sweetest flowers around.  It takes long hours and loads of labor to make these flowers grow but just imagine the places they will go......bouquets, farmer's markets, restaurants, your home.  Not all flowers are grown this way anymore....with cheerful stories filtering through the air, with babies giggling nearby.  These flowers will grow up happy.
The Farm Managing Mama lays a tuber in the soil.  
DD practicing flying an airplane....a smooth trip from the viburnum to the tuberose beds....

This year the tuberose are being planted a bit earlier than usual  and on this fine spring day the interns, the farm manager, the freshly planted beds, and the sage-green stroller all glistened in the sun.  I am hoping to meet back here, the whole gang when the bloom begins.....blossoms opening like tiny airplanes landing and taking off......mmmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmmmm.  A trip to Hawaii is always nice but going with good friends and family....sounds like heaven to me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Side by Side "drops"

My cousin in Vermont used to collect the "drops" from the apple orchard and sell them.  The "drops" refers to the apples that have dropped from the tree.  They are often perfectly good, unblemished apples but as they have fallen to the ground most people out for a day of picking apples just leave them.  My cousin would pick them up, pop them in a bag and take his luck elsewhere.  Not a bad deal really.

Flowers of Wollam Gardens....but not the quality you are used to...
Here, the deal we have with the kids is if a flower is broken off or lying in the rows you can take it.  If not, no touching.  You can imagine keeping a five year old like Lola away from the vibrant blooms could present a problem from time to time so this rule keeps us all at a win-win.

Over Easter weekend Lola and I went looking for "drops" together to make a bouquet for Nana's table.  We found a few goodies and did side-by-side flower design.  Lola's skills will surpass mine any day now, if they haven't already.

For the big reveal we took the designs to Nana and let her choose where to place them.  No surprise Lola's won the coveted "center of the table" spot, but who knew how she would continue the design?  Nana had purchased a bunch of tulips and Lola promptly placed them in a collection of silver baby cups, displayed it all amongst green easter grass and popped in a few decorated eggs.  It was a scene fit for little bunnies.  Beautiful work Lola!
My flowers were relegated to the drink table.  My drop ranunculas died off anyway....we had to replace it with a tulip.  It wasn't meant for the greatness of the centerpiece.....really.  It's fine.

.....but the buttercup.  Now THAT should have been front and center.  The distant cousin of the ranunculas is one of my perennial favorites and proof that I come from a family of butter-loving folk.  It was a lovely Easter and continues to be a lovely spring.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Alert: Beauty Overload Ahead

It is outrageous what is happening out my back door.  Beauty overload.  The Viburnum macrocephalum (Chinese snowball viburnum), planted only four years ago have filled in the hill above the pond and it is nothing short of magnificent.  
 One plant can grow 10-12 feet tall and 15 feet wide.  The color debuts in a chartreuse green folding into white during bloom.  
 One might mistake them for

The "leggie" looking plants don't pack much of a punch during the winter.  Semi-evergreen in the south they have a strange, gangly shape and with or without foliage are not very forthcoming about the show they plan every spring.  Once you see it, the gangly legs will seem better-looking than The Rockettes and life prior to this siting may seem uneventful at best.  

 Farmer Bob is understandably proud.

 A lovely new intern out cutting with Farmer Bob.  The branches she cut were as tall as she is.
Go cart go!  
Off to to to tables, and homes, and lobbies.....
Go Cart Go!
But please, if you will, leave some here for is the spring of plenty and we are filled to the brim.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A "Tractorie" Easter Basket

Crafty-time isn't exclusively girl-time in our house but as DD would typically prefer to spend his time "building Granny's house" in the dirt patches outside, Lola's love of fairies and all things pink tends to take over.  She designed her easter basket before we finished raiding the sale racks at Joann's and had detailed where every last bit of 50% off trim and felt bunny ears would be before the glue gun was fully heated.  DD on the other hand looked at the row of baskets, found a blue one and asked if they had any with tractors on them.  Of course they didn't.  I've never seen an easter basket with a tractor on it but for my boy, I wanted one.  And so our craft began.  

To make a "Tractorie Easter Basket" step one:

A basket with a wide weave is helpful in this craft.  
I used a pre-painted basket because they were on sale (a pre-easter-easter sale...go figure) but typically I would choose to paint my own.  
The felt was cut in a one and a half inch length and "fringed" on half of that (As pictured.)
I used hot glue to fasten it along the bottom rim.

The grass was hot glued all along the base of the basket. 
I cut out the pieces for the tractor: 
the body (in orange) 
two wheels (the back wheel is larger than the front....DD is VERY specific about this)
a little red steering wheel
a thin strip for the "roll-over bar" (again specifics)

 I hot glued the tractor pieces in place.  
You may notice the roll-over bar and steering wheel are now blue....."change-orders" from the tractor-maestro. 
 We added a "Scoop."  I believe this is technically called a "shovel."
 We added a wagon with an Easter Bunny in it.
 He actually loved it so much he yelped when he saw it.  
At the egg hunt, this basket served all collected eggs and it made DD happy.  He would have been happy anyway but this was kinda....super cool.  
Hope you try this with your tractor-loving boys at home!  

Thanks for stopping by,

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