In A Vase On Monday—Sweet William and Peony Buds

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) and Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) and Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’

Monday brings an opportunity to practice flower arranging by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday to create a floral arrangement from materials gathered in one’s own garden.

Knowing I wanted to include peonies as focal flowers this week, I cut several buds on Saturday evening to store. Cutting the flowers before they open is supposed to extend their vase life, as well as make it easier to avoid bringing in ants that are attracted to nectar on the peonies. These peonies have not yet opened so part of the challenge this week became allowing them space in the design to continue spreading out as they unfold.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'  and Sweet William

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ and Sweet William

Cuttings of Sweet William are also featured this week. One of my favorite flowers, they have performed beautifully in the garden this year.

My husband commented this arrangement seems like a landscape with overstory and understory plantings. Used here as filler foliage, the feathery, branching form of Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ adds a tree-like effect in miniature.

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ serves as concealer leaves and small bits of Phlox divaricata and white dianthus act as filler flowers. Some of the flower frogs are visible when viewed up close.

Filler flowers and concealer leaves

Filler flowers and concealer leaves


Photography gives some good feedback to help me see where composition and placement can be improved, something I like to note, but in this case I did not rework the design. I photographed the arrangement in three frustrating sessions and have been very unsatisfied with how the images convey the design—the lighting and focus especially are funky.  Photography is something I am working on. This arrangement is meant to be viewed from the front, but with the camera I never quite captured the magic spot where all the elements hold together. In person the design is more forgiving and this might be my favorite Monday vase so far.

As the peonies open I hope the two middle stems will drop slightly and expand the center of the arrangement.

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday


Materials List

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)
Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)
Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)
Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells)
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)
3 Florist frogs
Shallow, round, black dish
Black polished stones

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Visit her to see what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

17 thoughts on “In A Vase On Monday—Sweet William and Peony Buds

  1. Cathy

    The last photo particularly gives the effect of a landscape, Susie – I like that, but I am not sure why you are so dissatisfied with your photography, except that I usually feel dissatisfaction with mine! Lighting is a big issue, and just getting everything in focus – but hey ho, I have too many other things to do to learn more about photography just now! By the way, in the UK ‘funky’ is a positive word, meaning stylish in a distinctively different sort of way. Anyway, it is lovely to see your peony buds in different stages and I like the use of short stems of phlox; also I can see I need to have some Sweet William, so that’s one for next year’s list! Thanks you for providing your usual inspiration 🙂

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thank you for the boost Cathy! I am a bit of a perfectionist (just on some days!) and was looking for one perfect shot yesterday. That last image did pretty well at showing the flow of the design so I’m just sitting back enjoying the flowers today. I do recommend Sweet William–it’s versatile and lasts pretty well indoors. Susie

  2. Cathy

    It is a lovely effect you have created Susie. Like your husband says, it looks like a landscape or garden in minature with trees and shrubs. I think all your photos, with the plain background, are very nice. 😀

  3. Chloris

    I love your arrangement. Do you grow Peonies specially for cutting? I wanted to include peonies in my arrangement but I couldn’t t bring myself to cut them. Lovely Sweet Williams.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Chloris. I don’t grow peonies with cutting in mind and I don’t really have that many, but last year I cut just one for an arrangement and it did great. A couple of days later all the ones I left were ruined in a rainstorm just after they opened. So I decided to not worry about bringing in a few this year. (No rain this time though). The peonies are one year more mature so maybe that’s why they have more flowers this year, but I also think our very cold winter helped them. Susie

  4. Kris P

    I think you did right by your composition with the last photo. Most weeks, I think I work harder on the photography than on the flower arrangements themselves, Susie. Finding the combination of the right light and background is an exercise in itself, which is probably why I fall back on the same options more often than not. My husband thinks it’s funny to see me carrying my vase about the house and garden looking for just the right shots.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Kris–I agree with you that last shot shows the composition to better advantage. I should try to move outdoors to take pictures but this shallow dish was filled with water to keep the flowers fresh and made transporting it difficult. It’s all a learning process–fortunately a fun one.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thank you. One more tip I read after I cut these peonies is to gently press the bud. It should feel like a marshmallow. Apparently if it’s still too hard when cut, the peony might not open. susie

  5. Christina

    This is beautiful, Susie. I do agree with you that the photography is so much harder than the actual arrangement although this is still very much a learning process for me. I took out some of the flowers from the table decoration after I’d photographed it. But as you say it is fun learning and practising.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Christina. Interesting you recognized an adjustment after seeing your images. I find the photographs can be handy in checking out the design. I’m enjoying working with flowers and taking better pictures is one of those life-long challenges that I actually enjoy too. Susie

      1. Christina

        I’m fairly happy with the images I take outside whether in the garden or elsewhere but inside I realise I have a lot to learn and maybe a better camera.

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