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Homeyer: Cut Flowers

07/17/12 5:55PM By Henry Homeyer
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(Host) Summer is a busy time, especially for gardening guy and commentator Henry Homeyer, so lately he's decided to begin each day with a visit to the garden - just to pick a few flowers.

(Homeyer) I'm trying to slow down a bit. Even in the garden, I tend to buzz around like a hyperactive hummingbird. Planting, weeding, watering, trimming, mowing - moving perennials and starting new projects. Summer is short, and there's so much to do. I haven't put up my hammock yet, and some of the Adirondack chairs are still in the barn.

So here's my strategy. Each day, I'll slow down and pick a few flowers to put in a vase. I've started doing this, and I like it. Most days, I have dozens of kinds of flowers in bloom, but sometimes I only notice the most bodacious. But there are those understated beauties that are shyly showing their petals. So I decided to start my day by wandering around the property, a vase in hand, looking at what might please me and make a nice arrangement.

The first day I did this I began by picking old fashioned pink roses - they are lovely in scent, form and color. I picked flowers from one that I got when I traded with a dentist - a root canal for me, free garden help for him. He had a rose he no longer liked, so I dug it out, brought it home, and it's now a joy. Near that climbing rose was a dark red one, Abe Lincoln, I believe it's called. Although it's not supposed to be hardy in my climate, it has survived for 20 years. Some years it does better than others. This is one of its good years, and I selected a perfect blossom.

I like contrast in a flower arrangement, so I looked for something white and frilly. I found two flowers that met that description. The first was a meadow rue, or Thalictrum, though I'm not sure which one. These often grow by the side of the road and require little care. I have other, fancier ones, that I bought at garden centers, but this one was probably a wild one that just showed up in my garden. Later, in August, my ‘Lavender Mist" meadow rue will bloom and grow to be taller than me. All meadow rues are nice plants.

Then I picked a stem of a goatsbeard whose scientific name is Aruncus dioicus. This is a big plant with white plumes of fluffy blossoms on stems that are up to 3 feet long. It thrives in part shade, even in dry shade. It's a plant that deserves more recognition than it gets.

Lastly, I picked some leaves for contrast. Hosta leaves do well in vases, and look good on the lower, outside edges of an arrangement. Then I picked a few stems from an arctic blue willow and from a purple-leafed common ninebark, one called ‘Diablo'.

My garden has always been a joy for me. And now it's teaching me how to slow down ... and, as they say, smell the roses.
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