Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A June Wedding

 Buckets of beautiful hydrangea and lavender along the aisle.
Summertime wedding flowers from lavender to roses.
June is the month for romance and weddings and along with weddings comes, after the bride and groom of course, flowers, herbs and greenery ushering the wedding couple to their new and splendid life together.  Blooming Hill was fortunate, in a very small way, to be a part of a wedding that took place this past weekend by providing the lavender, my favorite of all flowery and sweet-smelling herbs. 

In the language of flowers, lavender has many meanings but when it comes to weddings and bridal bouquets, lavender symbolizes devotion and undying love. This particular wedding was held on the traditional day of Midsummer's Eve, the 23rd of June, making it all the more magical and beautiful for the bride and her groom.

Blooming Hill lavender.
Gathered flowers in floral buckets.
Directions to a french-country wedding.
I met the bride, her mother and her beloved friend, Lynda, who was in charge of all of the gathering and arranging of the  floral displays for the wedding about a month ago when they came to visit Blooming Hill after hearing that I grow and sell lavender.  They walked through the gardens and told me of their plans to make the wedding something of a lovely summer afternoon spent in the French countryside where colorful flowers abound not only in the marketplace, but also in the green meadows.  Among the array of flowers, they would need lavender...a lot of it!  And, Lynda would be back a day or two before the wedding to cut lots and lots of purple spikes to fill bridal vases, baskets, buckets and bouquets.

 Lynda, her husband, Bear, and helper Cameron.
A friend of Lynda's bringing floral reinforcements.
More floral arrangements coming through!
By Saturday afternoon, just a few short hours before the wedding took place, Lynda and her husband and friends came together to arrange what was to be a splendid floral wedding rainbow setting of flowers and herbs.  As I understand it, for the three or so days leading up to the wedding she made stops all over Western Loudoun County in search of the most heavenly hydrangeas, dazzling dahlias, perfect petunias, gorgeous geraniums and much, much more and of course, lovely, lovely lavender in order to give this bride and her groom a wonderful wedding gift full of love and good wishes.

A plethora of flowers to compliment the bride and groom.

A table centerpiece.
A flower- filled lavender bike on the groom's side.
 Lynda and friend standing next to the pink bike adorned with flowers on the bride's side.
Never a shrinking violet, myself, I asked if I could just sneak a peak at all of the flowers and arrangements that were assembled for the wedding and then I showed up in the early afternoon to see Lynda and company in action.  Lynda and her "crew" moved like clockwork and it all looked welcoming and fit for a French country wedding, just in time for the late afternoon nuptials to take place in the dappled sunshine and shade sprinkled with the lovely colors of bridal flowers...sigh.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blooming Lavender

We are in bloom!  And, as beautiful as the lavender is, I can't help but close my eyes and sniff the scent of all of the blooming bushes from citrusy-sweet to piney-mint, filling the air.  I drift into a dream of summer where there is a hazy lavender glow over the tapestry of flowers, thrumming bees and flitting butterflies weaving throughout the purples, violets, blues and even creamy-pinks, in the brilliant sunshine.  Yes, it's hot! And all the better where lavender is concerned.

Lavender, or what the French call "blue gold," has grown wild throughout the Mediterranean for centuries. It's scented flowers have been grown and gathered dating at least back to the time of  the Roman Empire for their healing and soothing properties as well as for their culinary attributes.  Because of it's many uses, lavender has been the quintessential cottage garden plant for hundreds of years and is most often the base for almost every potpourri, even today.

The lure of the lavender, in my gardens, draws me out into the field every day and it's loveliness never ceases to amaze me. I can't help but think of happy, peaceful things.  Lavender embodies the heart of every perfect summer forever captured in it's cool and refreshing perfume.  Of all the summer blooming flowers, lavender retains its fragrance and color probably longer than any other, save for maybe rosemary.  Coupled together, these two herb staples can be intoxicating.

Yet lavender on it's own is a nostalgic and endearing plant that can bring us back to our childhood recalling early memories of our grandmother's gardens.  And, to me, there is no other plant which better instills a feeling of continuity and serenity in the garden.  Every variety of lavender, and there are literally hundreds of them with more being discovered and cultivated every day in the the plant world, is simply beautiful and beautifully simple.

Happily, we are currently expanding our lavender collection here at Blooming Hill to make it even more extensive in years to come. However, the truth is, we just can't get enough of this magical plant.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and see our collection of over sixty different varieties.

We'll be done harvesting lavender all too soon, in just a matter of a few short weeks.  But, the beauty won't go away because we have preserved it to sell in bundles, soaps, candles, sachets and other items crafted right here at Blooming Hill. We are in bloom!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mellow Yellow...Hardly!

Coronation Yarrow

Blushing Dahlia
Multicolored Houttuynia
Jerusalem Sage
When you were little, did you ever play "I spy" or read a Where's Waldo Book, looking for things or clues to things you may not see as you rush along through your day?  Well, that's what the color of yellow reminds me of when I'm out in the garden.  I see flowers and leaves and and all sorts of commonalities that just scream to be noticed amid the orderly chaos of simply beautiful things.

Vintage watering can in front of the greenhouse.
Stunning Stella Doro's!
Yellow Meadow Rue paired with red yarrow and lovely lavender.
Twenty-one years ago, when I was pregnant, Peter and I had painted the nursery yellow in anticipation of the baby and in the last weeks of my pregnancy, I was confined to bed rest, by doctor's orders. One morning, I was watching television when an interior designer on the show suggested,  "Never" paint a baby's room yellow because it can cause anxiety.  I immediately called Peter at work, got him out of a meeting, had the whole office in an uproar thinking it was time for me to leave for the hospital and he was more than an hour away.  When he came to the phone, a little panicked, I told him we had to repaint the nursery as soon as possible because of what I had just heard.  A moment of silence later, he said to me, "Hang up the phone, turn off the television and go read a book!" Or, something to that affect, if you get my drift.

Jerusalem Sage
In the years since, as I've gotten more immersed into the world of gardening, I've come to appreciate and even love the color yellow (or "lellow" as our son, Kevin, called it when he was very young...He doesn't anymore.)  I might add that he was a "colicy" baby and we never did change the color of his room until a few years later when we moved to a new house--I still feel a little guilty about that!  Anyway, pale, creamy yellows most certainly make wonderful colors for any room in the house, as we have seen in the evolutionary world of interior design.

Lace-cap hydrangea
Papery yellow-ping hollyhock blossom
Persian Carpet Zinnia
And, as always in the garden, even the softest shades of yellow stand out and compliment the myriad  of greens, blues, reds and pinks that yellow pairs itself with.  So, behold the power of yellow, in all of it's glorious hues, savor it's gift of natural loveliness and, RELAX!  It's only mellow yellow drawing your eye in and holding tightly to you as you gaze upon it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Picking Rose Petals

June roses are now in full bloom. So, who can resist gathering their pretty petals for potpourri especially on the clearest and sunniest of days this month?  These in the front of the house are carpet and knockout roses so they don't have much scent but they called out my name each time I passed them and by early afternoon, after the dew had evaporated, I found myself clipping and trimming among the buzzing bees.

I spread them thinly over an old screen for quick drying and then moved the screen into deep shade for the afternoon, keeping the petals out of the sun.  Then I'll move them into the dark garage later in the day in order to help retain their color.  It's good to know that if any flowers and herbs cut for drying are too wet, it will take them too long to dry and they may mildew while exposure to direct sun for too long will encourage them to fade even more. So, be mindful where you put your picked favorites for drying and using later.

If you are lucky enough to have varieties of old-fashioned roses on your property, then you know the value of those such as damask, bourbon and cabbage roses whose strong, sweet, musky scents can fill their surroundings with heady and intoxicating aromas. Several years ago, I bought a true apothecary rose bush (Rosa Gallica officinalis), an old-fashioned variety that has been around since the 14th Century.  The apothecary rose that is in my yard isn't exactly that old however, it has somehow survived the devil deer who judiciously pick the petals and leaves around it's large and imposing thorns for an extra special sweet dessert.  It's always a race to beat the deer in gathering the petals off of this very fragrant plant.

In a few weeks, it will be time to go back and harvest rose hips left after all of the petals have fallen off. Hips are another gift the rose bushes leave as a token of their grace and beauty and make wonderful additions to potpourri as well.  I really love this month called June.  So many gifts from the garden to behold and use.