Wednesday, July 7, 2021

I planted a cutting garden just before the pandemic started - luck, not foresight.  I was tired of paying through the nose for worn tired flowers at Trader Joe's and the local grocery store, tired of 4 a.m. trips to the flower market and feeling under water all day from the too early rise.  So I went to Sloat, and to Orchard, got a bunch of 4 inch pots and stuck them among the artichokes and asparagus.  Next to the fava beans.  

Some thrived, some died.  Some were no good as cut flowers so I dug them up and gave them away.  

But I've had a house full of flowers all year, and armfuls to give away to friends.  The best part of having a cutting garden is sharing with friends.  The second best part is cool early mornings wandering around the garden with a cup of tea and some shears - Felco please - and saying good morning to beautiful things.

This morning there were flat heads of pale peach yarrow, long cones of white butterfly bush (buddleia to the horticulturists), and, as I was nearing the top of the loooooong stairway to the garden, some bright white hydrangeas.  After I caught my breath, I laid them all out on the table.

I love arranging outside - you can drop stem stubs on the floor, or sweep the table clean with one hand and walk away.  When the detritus has wilted, I sweep it into the garden beds for mulch.  Yes, with a broom. 

Tall flowers need a tall vase. This jar usually sits on a table by the couch where we watch TV.  I'm trying to use things I own and never think of for flowers, using things I already have not just for display (and dusting).  I left the lid in the house - I'm on a breaking things binge, humbling for someone who prides herself on Never Breaking Things.  Humility is a tough taskmaster.

Stems need to be stripped or the leaves will foul the water.  This is Yarrow - before and after.

Re-cut the stems and dip for one second into Quick Dip

Hydrangeas get the same leaf stripping 

but get a dip in something else: Alum.  I got mine at Shibata; you can get yours at the local pharmacy.

I started with the yarrow around the rim.  Then the hydrangeas.  Crossing the stems to form support for the eventual tall flowers.

Be sure to turn your arrangement as you work.  Some people use a cake frosting turntable.  I don't want more gear, I want more simple.  I use my arms. And as my sister Carol reminds me, "Weight bearing exercises are good for older women."  When did I become one of those?

It looks ratty at first.  Trust yourself, don't take stems out and fuss.  Just keep going.  It will work.  You will know what to do to make it come together.  No Fussing!

Last thing to go in - the tall white buddleia.  It seems this curved stem should drape out of the vase - don't do it.  Make some of the stems face in.  Like this one.  Much more interesting.  Less FTD.  


I decided not to use these extra large extra tall blooms.  They were too big.  I made another arrangement in a mason jar for a friend.  


Be sure to let your flowers rest in a cool dark place for a few hours before you set them out in the house - they will last lots longer. 

And while I was in the garden I noticed the garlic tops were completely dry. I'd tucked garlic in next to the Shasta daisies, beside the tomatoes, around the dahlias.  So I dug them up.

I'm thinking garlic and cream sauce for pasta - if it turns out I'll share a recipe.  No, I don't have one.  I'm gonna wing it.  Cream, butter, black pepper ... maybe a squeeze of lemon at the end? and pasta from Community Grains.  The Best.  I'll never eat regular pasta again.  Thank you Bob Klein