Monday, July 26, 2010

More Than Just Lavender, You Know...

My friends, Kim and Nora, from Abernathy and Spencer Greenhouses and Nursery stopped by this morning to take some cuttings from various lavender plants that they will start, grow and eventually sell there.  They did this last year and now have some different varieties, from my plants, that they are selling this year.  Making cuttings from a plant is the most reliable way to propagate lavender and I am so pleased that Abernathy and Spencer Greenhouses and Nursery find my collection of lavender plants intriguing enough to take cuttings from.  They have selected cuttings from some of my favorite varieties like "Betty's Blue," "Mitchum Gray" and "Royal Purple,"" among others, so if you see some pretty lavenders there with names that are just as pretty, chances are they started out in my garden.

The lavender bushes in my yard have all been harvested and most of this year's crop now hangs from the rafters in my basement.  Soon, it will be time to start fussing and primping over it, like I do every year, in order to get it ready for the the fall shows and fairs.  This is just a small quantity of what is hanging throughout the basement, attic and various hardly-used closets--if there is such a thing--in my house.  Actually, the lavender is ready to go's just that I'm busy in the garden collecting and gathering other everlasting flowers, herbs, pinecones and more--anything that I've found over the years that help make a beautiful and natural bouquet, wreath or arrangement of some kind.
I think these rose hips, rose petals, pussy willow catkins and mountain mint leaves left to dry in plain cardboard boxes make a colorful display just this way!

It's that time of the summer when I have to start bending over to walk through my workroom in the basement.  Even finding available space on a table can be a bit challenging down here where boxes separate different leaves, seed pods and petals giving them a chance to breathe and mature.  Baby's breath and yarrow along with scented geranium and mountain mint start making their way into the rafters as well. They may not look so pretty hanging up-side-down right now, but their lovely, mingled fragrances reminds me of how they will look when they finally end up in a finished project for a fair.

The season for gathering rose petals is slowing down during these dog days of summer however, I 'm still faithfully collecting them for potpourri this year.  Peter was a bit surprised to find me still pulling these perfectly lovely, yet not too plentiful blossoms at this time of the summer season off of the bushes, but it's now or never.  The vibrant pinks and reds of the petals are beautiful just as themselves but their color will accentuate anything they are mixed with, especially lavender. In flower language, pink and red rose petals stand for beauty, grace and sweetness...dried or fresh, they certainly beautiful, graceful and sweet.

This side parterre-bed in the knot garden boasts all sorts of flowers and herbs that can be collected and dried from  globe-amaranth to baby's breath.  Lately, I've been collecting the colorful stalks of Chinese lanterns with their bright green to deep orange lantern-shaped husks.

Old-fashioned standbys like baby's breath, lavender sea statice and German statice provide delicate texture  to arrangements.  While these have been plentiful in my garden this year, I have found that a little goes a long way because they dry so big and fluffy.  Even here, still fresh in the garden, baby's breath billows out and around the cockscomb and globe amaranth.  It's appearance conveys purity of heart, gaiety and festiveness.  Well, at least I look happy, even in the heat of the day.  While they are just about ready for the picking, different varieties of celosia (cockscomb) from pencil shaped plumes to lacy fans also display their "frillyness" and lend the garden a sense of humor, which they are known for. I'll wait another week or so before I begin to collect these flowers to ensure they are at their deepest color and fullest shape.  They will continue to produce new blooms from this point on, until the first frost.

Rustic pine cones and course magnolia seed pods can lend simple elegance to anything from fine crystal bowls to plastic garden containers and beyond.  This is where I began to recognize, several years ago, that sparkly gold glitter as one of my dearest friends when it comes to crafting with natural everlasting material.  But here, on this July day, no glitter is needed to enhance their earthy beauty.

There is still so much more in the garden that I haven't mentioned that is just coming into their full ready to be harvested mode, like this curry plant with its tiny yellow buds.  So, I'll add this to my ever growing list of "to be cut and dried" flowers.  Scented geraniums, like the Lady Plymouth variegated variety, also shown above, will continue to grow and flourish until the first frost as well and will supply lots of fragrance and texture to arrangements and potpourri.  It's one of my favorite "cut and come again" garden plants that can thrive in a pot, loves summer heat and doesn't need a lot of water.   Basil blossoms, calendula flower heads and pumpkins are all getting themselves ready to be picked and stored for fall, too.  Whew, I'm tired just thinking about it.  However, I've got time.  There are still a few more months here in Northern Virginia before the frost appears, even on this little pumpkin nestled under the protective vines of a tomato plant...(or any other pumpkins, gourds, flowers and herbs, for that matter.)

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