Fragrant Flowers

I’ve neglected blogging for a few reasons, the most important of which is that two friends of mine recently experienced sudden deaths in their families, one a husband, another a young adult son. As a result, I was going to memorial services and receptions, and creating flower arrangements for one of those. The bereaved widow is Asian-American, born in Hong Kong, so I did a little research into appropriate flowers. The main thing I learned is that one CANNOT use the color red, and white is the most appropriate color. One can combine it with touches of blue or yellow. So off to Trader Joe’s I went, because they have beautiful bunches of fresh flowers ready to be arranged, and also potted orchids for reasonable prices.

I was very pleased with the final result: one big arrangement with lots of fragrant white Oriental lilies, pale blue delphiniums, and green Bells of Ireland for the main table, and several potted orchids to put on other tables. I also used white evening stock and a softer form of eucalyptus than one usually sees, both very fragrant. In the face of death, one feels so helpless to do or say anything useful. Providing the flowers helped.

After my bout of flower arranging, I started planting the MANY bulbs I bought a couple of weeks ago. I love spring bulbs, and I always buy and plant as many daffodils, jonquils, and other narcissi as I can. Some go in the ground; some go in outdoor pots; some go in pots that I will force indoors. One of the reasons I love these flowers so much is their fragrance. I also cherish their bright colors and graceful shapes. One of my favorites is “Thalia”, a graceful jonquil with white flowers that almost look like orchids. Another is “February Gold”, an early variety that returns reliably year after year in my garden. Its cheerful yellow flowers are a sign that spring has arrived, though they don’t appear as early as a wonderful daffodil, “Rijnveld’s Early Sensation”. When I’ve had that in my garden, it has started blooming in late January. Marvelous!

Assortment of dry flower bulbs.
Flower bulbs

So I’ve been very, very busy, though not without fragrance. I’m also now quite stiff, having spent hours on my knees, trowel in hand. I have many more to go, so wish me luck! My son helped me replace some half-dead azaleas a couple of weeks ago; thank goodness, I was able to find the same old-fashioned variety (“Coral Bells”) at our local state farmer’s market, because they are part of a gorgeous hedge of pink azaleas. You can’t find it at retail nurseries any more, but there is a nursery supplier at the farmer’s market who always has them. Whew! Have you been doing any fall planting?

shallow focus photography of pink petaled flowers
Photo by Claudia Zuidema on Pexels.com

Autumn

One of my daughters and I recently enjoyed a long weekend in New Hampshire. The fall foliage was at its peak, but days were still warm and sunny, and butterflies were still out seeking nectar. The Lakes Region is so beautiful this time of year!

Roses for Guy Fawkes Day

Remember Remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, treason and…. Roses? This floriferous rose garden certainly has other ideas about a quiet slide into senescence, leaf-drop and rose-hips – these are flower-packed shrubs with more to come. Colour, fragrance aplenty and fresh, clean leaves in abundance. A remarkable display given it really is November and hardly […]

via The Rose Garden at Kew. Vital still in November …. — The Teddington Gardener

One of my favorite gardening/photography blogs has this lovely post with photographs of roses still blooming in November, many of them the David Austin roses I love. Enjoy!

Saturday Snippet: Introducing…Capability — David Austin Wedding Roses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Contact: Eleanor Clevenger David Austin Roses Introduces An Exceptional New Variety — CAPABILITY (Ausapply) Luxury cut-garden rose is perfect choice for weddings, events and home decor. ALBRIGHTON, UK — Oct. 12, 2016 — David Austin Roses is pleased to announce the addition of a new cut rose variety: CAPABILITY (Ausapply),…

via Introducing…Capability — David Austin Wedding Roses

Isn’t this new rose just beautiful??

Saturday Snippet: Starflowers

The slender green shoots of Ipheion uniflorum have popped out between the flagstones at the back of our old garden, visible now that most of the leaves have fallen from trees and shrubs. Unlike most spring bulbs, the starflower sends up its leaves in the fall, where they add an unexpected spot of soft green to the autumn tones of red, orange, yellow and brown. In early spring, they will be covered in small, star-shaped blossoms of light blue that give off a soft, pretty fragrance when left alone. If the leaves are bruised, they smell like garlic. Scott Ogden has this to say, in his wonderfully useful book Garden Bulbs for the South:

After the new year, any brief spell of sunny weather will coax these leafy clumps into bloom. The flowers are a cheerful pale blue and resemble six-pointed stars. Once they begin to appear, the blossoms continue steadily into March.

These lovely blue flowers present a perennial mystery for gardeners who discover them in the grass. They seem to have created consternation for botanists as well. The usual questions are “What are they?” and “Where did they come from?

I’m not fussed about what they are or where they came from. In my garden, what they are is lovely and welcome. Where they came from is random, as they spread so quickly and readily by offsets, seeds and runners. I’m always happy to see their harbingers, the tender green shoots of their leaves!

Photo: Wendy Kremer, finegardening.com.

Writing 101: Where Do I Write?

Today’s assignment: describe where I write. I like to write in any of the rooms that look out over my garden. That could be the sunroom, on the main level of our house, or the master bedroom upstairs, or a small study off the bedroom. All have walls that are almost entirely windowed, to let in as much light as possible. The master bedroom and study also each have a built-in window seat that runs almost the whole length of that wall, and under them are built-in bookshelves where I keep many of my hundreds of gardening books (some of which I quote in my “Saturday Snippets” on this blog). Our house is built on a slope, so the sunroom actually sits a full story above the garden, which gives a wonderful view over the flowerbeds and shrubs, and creates the impression of being in a treehouse among the other trees. The bedroom and study are yet another story higher. Our lot is not large, but it is deep and the plantings are mature, so the tall trees around the perimeter make it seem larger than it is and conceal surrounding homes from view.

Right now the foliage is changing color and I am looking out at a tapestry of green, red, orange, yellow and brown. It looks much as it did when we brought our first baby home from the hospital in early November, when I spent days with her in my arms, nursing her and looking out at the changing leaves. This is the time of year when we look forward to holidays and start to plan their celebration — a specially joyous activity once we had children. Perhaps because of this, as well as all the planting I normally do in autumn — especially spring bulbs — I associate fall with hopeful new beginnings instead of decline.

Of those rooms, my favorite in which to write is the sunroom, as it is uncluttered and I don’t get distracted by looking around and thinking of the household chores I should be doing instead of writing. It is also close to the rooms where my children do their homework, so we can be companionable in our separate pursuits.

windowseat with books

Photo: Pinterest. Not my own windowseat, but very similar!

Saturday Snippet: Fragrance in Bloom

A wonderful book by veteran gardener and garden writer Ann Lovejoy, whose books on perennials and mixed borders are among my very favorites, Fragrance in Bloom sums up this season very well:

For gardeners, fall is less an ending than the beginning of another great cycle of work and rest and fulfillment. In fall, we plant the bulbs that will illuminate the spring yet unborn. In fall, we dig and divide and recombine our plants into fresh combinations to enjoy next summer. In fall, we commit new plants to the ground, giving trees, shrubs and perennials a chance to make strong root growth before winter. In fall, we can relax and let our plants ripen into maturity before they sleep. Autumn is also glorious in its own right. As the night air cools, leaves catch fire, the tired greens igniting to lava reds, ember oranges, and smoldering copper. As the slanting daylight lengthens, it gilds the garden with a soft haze. Numinous and transcendent, the autumn light turns mess into magic. When we can appreciate that the slumping, seed-spangled demise of summer’s magnificence is truly magnificent in itself, it becomes easier to stop being so concerned about grooming away every browning leaf. Instead, we can relax and simply revel in autumn’s richness.

Photo: http://www.telegraph.co.uk.