Debra Prinzing

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Week 40 // Slow Flowers Challenge

October 14th, 2015

Mums, zinnias, dahlias, gomphrena, amaranth, scented geranium -- all from Washington. I added a few goodies from my friend Cheryl's backyard in Altadena, California (including tree fern fronds and limelight hydrangeas)

Mums, zinnias, dahlias, gomphrena, amaranth, scented geranium — all from Washington. I added a few goodies from my friend Cheryl’s backyard in Altadena, California (including tree fern fronds and limelight hydrangeas)

The flowers spoke to me. Especially that gorgeous dusky pink chrysanthemum, right?

I stopped by the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market last Wednesday to drop off some books and while there, Vivian Larson’s beautiful fall mums said, “Pick us!”

Look at those petals! They are so distinctly formed. I love that the underside of each petal is a paler version of the top of each petal.

Look at those petals! They are so distinctly formed. I love that the underside of each petal is a paler version of the top of each petal.

We’ve been swimming in dahlia season here in the Pacific Northwest, and no one lives dahlias more than I do. But the “next new thing” is always around the corner. And those of us who love everything that Vivian grows at Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, Washington, have been waiting. Patiently. For. The. Mums.

Mums are having a renaissance. I asked Viv if they are any harder to grow than dahlias? No, she said. So why aren’t more people planting them? I’m not sure, but I did tell Viv she needs to up her game next year. I want to have a “Specialty Mum Festival” at the SWGMC next fall, following the late summer Dahlia Festival we’ve hosted for the past 2 years.

Then I picked some other goodies to blend and balance with the unusual pink. What pulled it all together for me were the Queen Red Lime zinnias, which Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall grow at Jello Mold Farm, not far from Viv’s place. That flower has a perfect combination of pink, reddish-maroon and lime green petals. So easy to pull together a palette of flowers and foliage when you can use something like Queen Red Lime.

Love how all the greens enliven this bouquet.

Love how all the greens enliven this bouquet.

For my greens, I added a variegated/scented pelargonium leaf, grown by Pam and Kelly Uhlig of Sonshine Farm on Whidbey Island, Washington. They are new growers whose talents are notable! And I grabbed some lime green amaranth, thanks, Jello Mold.

For my deep reddish-maroon elements, I grabbed a ball-shaped dahlia, grown by Dawn Severin of All My Thyme, in Mt. Vernon, Washington.

Dawn is a girly-girl grower. Everything I see from All My Thyme is feminine and romantic.

Reddish pops continued to catch my eye, including the charming little gomphrenas, grown by Sarah and Steve Pabody of Triple Wren Farm in Lynden, Washington.

Okay. Brought everything home. It was Wednesday afternoon.

I was scheduled to fly to Burbank on Thursday morning to give a talk at the Los Angeles Arboretum for the “Compulsive Gardeners” group, and I clearly did not save time to arrange and photograph my flowers for the (sadly, ignored) Slow Flowers Challenge.

What to do? Well, bring the flowers with me, of course.

Here’s what I did:

I shortened the stems so that everything fit into one black floral bucket and added about 3-inches of water. The bucket rests perfectly inside a vinyl grocery shopping bag. Of course, I dumped the H20 out of the bucket in order to get through security and then re-filled it minutes later. And that’s how these flowers accompanied me when I flew to Burbank on Thursday morning. I couldn’t have been  lucky since Alaska Airlines bumped me up to First Class and the crew made space for my bag of flowers in the First Class closet. They had a little bit of water and fared quite well on the trip.

Top view to show you how huge and lovely the mums appear in this bouquet.

Top view to show you how huge and lovely the mums appear in this bouquet.

Love this glass bowl - it's the perfect vessel for these late-summer beauts!

Love this glass bowl – it’s the perfect vessel for these late-summer beauts!

I arrived at the home of my host and friend Cheryl Bode on Thursday afternoon. While we were chatting in her living room, I spotted this art-glass vase on the bookcase. “Can I use that piece of glass to make you a bouquet?” I asked.

Cheryl indulged me and I set up a flower-arranging bar outside on her potting bench. Her garden is truly world class, a plant geek’s oasis.

I’ve written about Cheryl and her wife Robin Colman’s garden for the Los Angeles Times and for Horticulture magazine, so you can only imagine.

“Is it okay to clip a few of your Los Angeles plants to add to these Seattle goodies?” Again, she said, “Yes.”

So here’s what I created. The bowl is perfect in scale and shape for a low centerpiece. I didn’t want to scratch the inside of the blown glass piece so I opted not to use chicken wire. Instead, I started the arrangement by crisscrossing the scented geranium and amaranth foliage, creating a matrix to sustain the other blooms. It worked out pretty well, I think.

When I left Cheryl last Friday, this arrangement remained on her dining table. I’m so pleased that I could bring these blooms with me to her home – and use one of her own pieces to design my Slow Flowers Challenge bouquet for the week.

Here’s hoping you’re still enjoying the last flowers of summer and that Jack Frost doesn’t show up until November 1st at least!

 

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