Category Archives: Flowers

Midwinter Merriment: Watch for Daffodils

Here it is – the annual 30 day countdown til spring! From now until the first day of spring, I will post ways to make the dreary days of midwinter a little more merry. Click the “Midwinter Merriment” category button on the right to see more merry things.

Day 17: Watch for daffodils.

IMG_3428This is a “Stop and smell the roses” kind of recommendation. The daffodils and crocuses are coming up! The appearance of these classic spring blooms can mean only one thing…winter is almost over!

5 Easy Ways to Create Beautiful Bouquets

herbsI honestly grow the bulk of the flowers on my property for my local pollinators. I really do. But I’ll admit I do have a soft spot for colorful summer blooms and I can’t help but bring a few of them inside. Nothing brightens up my kitchen (or bedroom or bathroom) like a cheerful bouquet of flowers. Here are five easy ways to brighten up your abode with summer flowers.

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1. Stick with one color palette or flower variety and add pops of color.

Seeing a bunch of one kind of flower in a bouquet creates a feeling of abundance. Building a bouquet with a base of flowers that are similar in color or variety gives the bouquet a sense of cohesiveness. I’ve been using white and yellow daisy-like flowers as my base flower these days. The ‘Shasta’ daisies and ‘prairie sun’ Rudbeckia are happy and bright! I add stems of pink and orange zinnia, Echinacea and lavender to add some unexpected color and texture.

cilantro2. Add herbs to your bouquets.

Longer stems of herbs add height, interesting texture and a lovely fragrance to bouquets. I love using lemon balm, lemon verbena and though not a herb, lavender. Herbs that have gone to flower, like oregano and cilantro (like in the picture above), are especially pretty!

can3. Think outside the vase.

The vessel you use to hold your flowers can add as much to the bouquet as the blooms do. Mason jars are my go-to choice, but lately, I’ve been trying to be a little more creative. I love how cute the zinnias and lavender look in a tin can. I put a smaller jar inside the can to add more support for the flowers and to keep the can from rusting. A small jar nestled inside any antique container can make an instant vase. I also have a few antique glass milk bottles that look lovely holding summer flowers.

kale_eyecandy4. Vegetables are eye candy too!

Kale has a place at my table, but not just on my plate! Placed in a vase, it adds another level of interest and color to my arrangements. As an added bonus it keeps the kale crisp and delicious. I actually store it that way in the fridge if I can’t eat it right away – a narrow vase fits right in my refrigerator door. Grouping jars of mini-bouquets is one of my favorite homemaking strategies!

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jar5. Hang ’em up!

Your flowers don’t just have to sit on the table – hang them up! I had an old jar with a metal clasp attached, but the lid was long gone. I put a picture hanging nail (like this) in the wall, filled the jar with water, added some flowers from the garden and hung it on the wall. I love the new life it brought to a previously dull corner of my bedroom!

hang_itI’ve also seen people wrap wire around a mason jar and hang it from a hook. That works too! And then of course there are handcrafted vehicles for my flower obsession like my mason jar vase shelf, found here on Etsy.

Bonus! Hip Trick for Mason Jar Flower Arrangements:

Kate Payne, author of the fantastic book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, periodically sends out emails with random hip tricks for the kitchen and home. (You can add yourself to this awesome mailing list here.) Recently, she sent this gem:

6_26_13_mason_jar_flower_arrangingShe says,

Make a grid out of masking tape that will disappear as you populate it with different sorts of flowers. The grid also lets you work in taller flowers that would otherwise fall over. If you use the mason jar band as the base from which you start taping, you can remove it and re-use it for future arrangements.

Growing Farmers’ Market Flowers: Part 1

Those buckets full of $10 bouquets at the farmers’ market get me every time, but I realized this spring that I’ve totally underestimated them. I usually forgo the splurge anyway, unable to justify spending money on the floral eye candy, but I understand now that they are worth every penny. My attempt at growing my own farmers’ market-esque blooms has not been easy and has made me appreciate them even more than I did before.

This whole thing started last September when I went to the Vashon Farmers’ Market and saw these:

rubeckiaI saw these flowers and vowed to start growing more cutting flowers. And so it began. I searched around the internet and found the seeds I pined for – Irish Eyes and Prairie Sun Rudbeckia. As can be expected when seed shopping, I bought a couple more varieties – all daisy-like blooms, all vibrant warm colors. I blew $50 on fancy flower seeds. Yeah, I know.

seedsOnce the tomato and kale seedlings were out from under my indoor light set up, I set up the flats for flower seed sowing. I’d never dedicated that precious grow light space to growing flowers until this spring. I was an overconfident vegetable gardener trying my hand at growing some specialty flowers. It’s a whole other can of worms.

IMG_0747Here’s the thing – fancy flower seeds are particular. Unlike the vegetable seeds I’m used to growing, many of them prefer warm temperatures and light for germination. Keeping that seedling heat mat on for so long causes the soil to dry out quickly. Add in a long birthday weekend away and it’s over. All the potentially beautiful zinnias I planted shriveled up and died. I may be able to salvage the one or two rogue seedlings that are hanging on, but it’s not looking very good.

droughtRIP fancy zinnias, I wish you could have seen my garden. You would have loved it out there. The zinnias were survived by the apricot gaillardia, but they are still as small as they were a week ago. I’m willing them to grow.

echinaceaThe beautiful-looking Cheyenne Spirit echinacea I splurged on ($7.99 for 10 seeds?!) and planted is still invisible except for two spry sprouts. $7.99 is an investment to be able to have vibrant gold, scarlet and orange Echinacea beauties blooming in my pollinator pathway for years to come. Who knew echinacea could be such a challenge to grow from seed!

cosmosThe Psyche White cosmos, the most successful fancy flower seedlings of all, are ready to be transplanted.

rudbeckiaAs for the Rudbeckia, they’re in stable condition, but as small as can be! I’m just now starting to see the seedlings’ first true leaves, which means transplanting may be in our future. Here’s hoping my neighborhood pollinators and I have something to look forward to.

Midwinter Merriment: Plant Identification with Kids

Here it is – a countdown til spring. From now until the first day of spring, I will post ways to make the dreary days of midwinter a little more merry.

Day 12: Stop and admire the crocuses.

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I showed up to school in a great mood yesterday despite being ridiculously exhausted. I think it was because of the sun in the forecast. In the morning, I snapped a picture of the crocuses outside of school and they were closed up tight. By the end of the day, the sun was shining and their petals were open.

cockroachesIn the bustle of students leaving, I had the most delightful and humorous conversation about them that left me chuckling all evening. It went something like this:

Me: Hey Sarah*, do you know what those are?
Sarah: Dandelions? (Nose scrunched and head tilted)
Me: Those are crocuses! When those come up, you know spring is near! How about those (pointing to the nearly open daffodils)…do you know what those are called?
Sarah: Corn! (Then, rethinking that reply and hesitant) You know, because of that part that peels off.
Me: Yeah, they do kind of look like corn. Those are called daffodils though. Ok, so what are those purple ones called again?
Sarah: Cockroaches!
Me: (trying to hold back my laughter) Um, crocuses.

Yes, clearly, it’s time for a little plant identification lesson!

*Name changed to protect the innocent. 🙂

Day 13: Plant your backyard berry patch.
Day 14: #dirtonmyiPhone
Day 15: Start seeds indoors.
Day 16: Sew a sassy garden tool belt.
Day 17: A class that keeps on giving!
Day 18: Buy yourself some flowers.
Day 19: Go to the park and play!
Day 20: Plant peas (and sign up for my free newsletter!)
Day 21: Take a gardening class.
Day 22:Plant bare root.
Day 23: Sign up for Seattle Seedling’s Spring Fling!
Day 24: Plant primroses.
Day 25: Get yourself a doughnut and make it “for here.”
Day 26: Frequent the Farmers’ Market
Day 27: Eat Root Vegetables Disguised as Cake!
Day 28: Be a Garden Show Goer.
Day 29: Drink more hot chocolate.
Day 30: Create a springtime “advent” calendar.