Ruby Slippers In The Garden

After featuring the red leaves of my dwarf oakleaf hydrangea in Monday’s vase I went back through some photos to evaluate how it looked earlier in the year.  The sequence of its development each year is remarkable, so I thought I would share its colorful stages.

This is Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’  (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea). It was planted in April 2013 near a large Arizona cypress at the back of the western border, where it could receive some protection from the hot summer sun. It developed rich red leaves that first year and had one or two blooms the following spring, but in 2015 I moved it forward where it could receive more sunlight. Then it really took off.

Just planted, April 2013. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

April 30, 2017

By late April the hydrangea show begins. This oakleaf blooms on last year’s growth, but unlike the Hydrangea macrophylla in the garden, flower production has never been affected by cold weather.

April 30, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

May 8, 2017

The inflorescence can be about 9 inches long.

May 8, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

May 15, 2017

The deciduous shrub is said to mature quickly at 3 1/2 ft. tall to 4 to 5 ft. wide. Mine has not spread that wide, or maybe it has. I should measure!

May 15, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

May 31, 2017

The flowers open as pure white but in a couple of weeks take on a pink tinge.

May 31, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

June 27, 2017

In another month the flowers have developed a richer red hue. (Ignore those pink garden phlox in the background–an unplanned combination so shocking I almost like it.)

June 27, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

July 1, 2017

July 1, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

July 1, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

September 22, 2017

Eventually the flowers fade and at least in my hot summer garden, turn brown—the least attractive stage. I have no pictures of the oakleaf during this period.

Then in about September the leaf color begins to transform the shrub.

September 22, 2017 Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

December 6, 2013

Brilliant red leaves developed even the first year.

December 6, 2013. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

December 21, 2016

Last winter I captured this frosty-rimmed scene.

December 21, 2016. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

November 25, 2017

And this year the color has warmed the garden with richness.

November 25, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ has been a successful addition to my garden. What’s your favorite shrub for extended seasonal color?

Almost Wordless Wednesday—Davie Poplar

Davie Poplar After Fire Damage

On November 2, 2017 a former student set fire to a UNC Chapel Hill campus landmark, the Davie Poplar in McCorkle Place. The 300-375 year old tulip poplar was named in honor of Revolutionary War general and university founder William Richardson Davie. The tree was burned at the base.

I am no longer on campus often but on December 3, a month after the fire, a friend and I saw the damage first hand.  We passed by Davie Poplar on way to Franklin Street for lunch before seeing the Playmaker production, Dot.

Scorched Davie Poplar After Fire

**Note: I read the damage is superficial and the tree is expected to be ok, but it will be more clear in Spring. Reports indicate the perpetrator is receiving help.

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens.

Friday it rained, snowed and sleeted Friday with no accumulation. Meanwhile through the window glass I was admiring the way Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ is living up to its name this year, the ruby part at least. Before snow resumed on Saturday afternoon, I ran out to collect a branch of red leaves to feature in today’s vase.

Next I checked and yes, looking unscathed by the wintry weather, Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Purple’ and ‘Sugar Rush Primrose’ were going about their flowery business.  I highlighted these a couple weeks ago when they had just started blooming. This time I could detect a light fragrance.

Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Purple’

What made the red leaves so lovely outdoors was the glowing effect of light streaming though them. In the pictures, without the backlit setting, the leaves are less compelling, but in person they are rather winsome. Husker Red penstemon was added at the lip of the vase, continuing the red foliage theme.

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

The design needed more. More flowers. More height. Vertical interest. But the snow had returned and rather than going back into the garden, I made do by incorporating some saved pieces of mossy, lichen-covered wood.

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

These helped a bit, but I lost interest in working on this vase any further. I took it as far as I could.

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

Today’s container is a ceramic ikebana vase with 3 integrated ceramic tubes, built-in stem holders, with openings near the base to allow water to flow into the tubes easily.

Materials

Flowers
Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Primrose’ (Wallflower)
Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Purple’ (Wallflower)

Foliage
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Container
Ceramic ikebana vase has 3 integrated ceramic tubes, built-in stem holders

Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Primrose’

One more thing: A thoughtful garden club friend, Debbie, recently surprised me with a gift. She is downsizing as she prepares to move to another home and so passed along her Ateco 612 12″ revolving cake stand to use with my flower arranging. The stand is five inches high with a cast iron base and aluminum top. I have seen florists use a similar stand to assist when designing, rotating the arrangement frequently to check all sides. Today I used the stand while photographing my flowers and found it very helpful. Thanks Debbie!

Ateco 612 Revolving Stand

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us a chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her to discover what she and others found this week in their gardens to place In A Vase On Monday.

In A Vase On Monday – December Gifts

In A Vase On Monday – December Gifts

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens. December gifts are those special wonders one finds in the landscape this time of year.

Yesterday a friend mentioned some of her hellebores are already full of buds so I though I might find some to feature today. None were available but I did harvest some of the hellebores’ young, tender, pale green foliage, along with some lovely patterned leaves of Arum italicum and a few stems of fresh aquilegia greenery.

In A Vase On Monday – December Gifts

The red and black container is from my collection of five red and black raku pots by North Carolina potter, Charles Chrisco. I inserted a tall drinking glass into the vase to help hold and support the stems without using floral foam.

The foliage took no time to set in place. With the dynamic shape and texture of the arum, the green materials could have stood alone if necessary. There is very little blooming now so the choices were chrysanthemums (fading), Erysimum (scarce), or sasanqua camellias (best potential).

In A Vase On Monday – December Gifts

Many readers have been enamored of this red Yuletide camellia when I have used it in the past. It has been a prolific bloomer this year. The weather has not been too severe yet so many of the flowers were in good condition this morning.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Of the two sasanquas in my garden I favor the more fragrant and delicate looking Hana-Jiman. It blooms earlier though than Yuletide and is nearly finished for another year.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Hana-Jiman’

Camellia sasanqua ‘Hana-Jiman’

The camellias cooperated without much struggle and I was satisfied with the result. I snapped one portrait in the kitchen before moving the arrangement to the foyer to catch the natural light of early morning.

In A Vase On Monday – December Gifts

Materials

Flowers
Camellia sasanqua ‘Hana-Jiman’
Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Foliage
Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)
Arum italicum
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Container
Red/black raku vase, Charles Chrisco, Chrisco’s Pottery

In A Vase On Monday – December Gifts

In A Vase On Monday – December Gifts

A black and white view is always instructive. This one is from overhead.

In A Vase On Monday – December Gifts

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and encouraging our flower arranging passion. Visit her to discover what she and others found this week in their gardens to place In A Vase On Monday.

A Garden Club Program

Our Finished Design (on the right)

The program for last Tuesday’s Chapel Hill Garden Club November meeting was a hands-on workshop “Create a Floral Design” led by Betsy, a club member and floral designer/judge. Members were assigned to work in pairs, all materials were provided and the finished designs were donated to local community places (hospitals, fire departments, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and community gathering spots, such as the public library).

The folks who put this program together attended to every detail. Upon arrival each team was directed to a table with plenty of workspace and outfitted with a small white dish, presoaked Oasis (floral foam), a bit of florist’s clay and holder to secure the Oasis to the dish, a trash bag for discards and a strip of paper measuring tape. We only had to bring a pair of shears and would you believe it, I forgot mine.  Fortunately there were extras available.

After a brief introduction from Betsy, we used a checklist of materials and gathered our floral materials from buckets in the center of the room. There were a few extras up for grabs also.

Stem count provided to each design team.

In about an hour the club designed around 25 arrangements. It was fascinating to see how creatively each team chose to use the flowers and foliage. No two designs were alike.

Club Floral Designs

Each year Betsy volunteers to lead design workshops and I have attended several, which qualified me as “experienced” when we were paired. A new club member, Kathy, and I were teamed together. It was a fun way to bond and of course, it is always fun to work with flowers I do not usually have in my garden. Must say I am usually not a fan of carnations but oh I loved these rich purple ones.

It was hectic as we were finishing up and I did not get a straight on photograph of our final design, but we thought it turned out pretty well. Not sure where it ended up being delivered but hope it brightened someone’s day as much as it did ours.

Our Finished Design

Peg Bier Garden—2017 Garden Bloggers Fling

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

I began writing this description of the Peg Bier Garden on July 7, then life went other directions for a while. Seeing several recent posts about the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling prompted me to take it up again. There has been a flurry of signup activity for the upcoming anniversary Austin Fling in May which I will not be able to attend, so I am a bit wistful in looking back at the gardens we visited in the D.C. area.

My home state of North Carolina borders Virginia and supports many of the same plants as we saw during the Fling. I felt at home in this garden. The owner Peg Bier greeted us as we unboarded around 4:30 pm on Saturday, June 24, 2017.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Off to the right of where Peg was standing is a little secluded secret garden that was home to a little fairy collection. Amidst the hellebores and ferns an azalea was still blooming.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Behind these gorgeous elephant ears, Kris had zeroed in on an interesting hanging specimen.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Beneath a small tree a memorial plaque was surrounded by a verdant array of hostas, ferns, heucheras and more.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

A stone path led out into the lawn, revealing sunshine and pots of brightly colored flowers.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

This was a lovely collection of container plantings under a dogwood and of course, I loved the blue hydrangea in back.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

I no longer remember the precise route but within a couple of minutes I found myself in a peaceful wooded area near some service buildings. The birds seemed to own the place and sang freely. I stood for a couple of minutes listening to an eastern towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus).  Turn up the volume and listen for two repetitions of the towhee’s signature “drink! your tea.”

A serene path with dappled sunlight guided me along past a small lawn with spheres and over a wooden bridge.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Free from the tree canopy, this open section is planted with iris, echinacea, lychnis among many other things.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Here, a more formal grouping of evergreens and bench create a vision of calm, with attractive brickwork curving around the tree.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Green, cool, restful…

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

This seating area was one of my favorite spots in this Virginia garden.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

There was lots of color to be found as well, so I will finish with some of Peg’s lovely containers. Love those blue pots.

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Peg Bier’s Garden-Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

Hope you enjoyed touring this special garden.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

Note:  After some upgrades and ad blocker installations I’m having difficulty leaving comments on websites other than WordPress. Will continue to try to resolve the issue, but meanwhile please know I’m enjoying your posts.

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens.

Spiraea branches caught my attention last week and I decided to play with them again.

Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea)

From the window overlooking the garden the aging leaves look deep orange, up close they range from golden to rust. For some reason the sections I cut are more uniform in color.

Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea)

This variation of today’s design is closest to my original concept of featuring a nearly bare branch to explore rhythm and curves.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

It seemed to need more. In adding Wintergreen boxwood I fumbled the lichen-covered branch and never got it back into good position. Securing the materials in place would have saved extra work, but I opted to keep moving, taking the opportunity to experiment. In the end today’s designs are about process more than result.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

I do like this orange and purple pairing, marigold and lavender.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

The fragrance of lavender adds another layer to the pleasure of creating with flowers.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

The lichen branch here is moved toward toward the back of the dish where it no longer works to counterbalance the rightmost stem of spirea. I decided that piece of spirea could be removed altogether.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

Also here an echinacea seedhead moved from front and center to the tip of the lichen branch. Offering interesting texture and color close-up, it did not have much impact to the overall design.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

The lichen branch had lost its purpose and effectiveness, so I removed it and the other lichen bits entirely.

In the next iteration a still green cutting of Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ sweeps out gracefully in this version. The originally favored bare branch of spiraea has been removed, simplifying the line. The spare quality here interests me and this is the stage I kept to display in the foyer.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

Originally I had planned to use a small companion arrangement, formed simply from a young Husker Red penstemon tucked into a small black holder. It did not add much until I came back to the mostly bare branch of spiraea.  Adding the tall stem changed the dynamics and energy once again.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

By moving the point of view slightly the composition shifts significantly.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

Ultimately I returned to a simplified version, replacing the quilted runner underneath with a white linen towel.

In A Vase On Monday – Variations

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Materials

Flowers
Lavender
Marigold

Foliage
Buxus microphylla var koreana ‘Wintergreen’ (Wintergreen boxwood)
Clematis ‘Jackmanii’
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Seedhead
Lichen covered branch
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea)

Container and Mechanics
Small black plastic Solo bowl – vase insert
3-inch florist’s frog (floral pin holder)
2-inch round holder with integrated florist’s frog
Black, green stones
Black glazed square
Quilted runner (made by my sister)

Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea)

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and encouraging us to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her to discover what she and others found this week in their gardens to place In A Vase On Monday.