It is fun being asked to create unusual flower arrangements, but it's equally a pleasure at the moment to be supplying lots of church flower ladies with flowers for their harvest celebrations. I do adore the late summer flowers, apart from heleniums, shaggy headed bronze rudbeckias are fantastic value, and all the yellows from brilliant helianthemums, sulphur yellow dahlias, bright solidago, rudbeckias mixed with purples of other dahlias, verbena, second crop phlox. I love orange/yellow and purples, and combining them with a touch of acid green and fuchsia purple is very eyecatching. My arrangements are quite subtle early in the year,they get a bit brighter now although I'm also still picking lots of beautiful scented white and cream stocks, astrantias, mixed cornflowers, gauras, achilleas, asters, so subtle is still on the cards for a while longer. I'm hoping the second crop delphiniums are going to have time to bloom as they are budding up nicely, but it is nearly time to change the focus of attention to shrubs and foliage plants.
On Tuesday I chatted to a garden group in a nearby town who boast over 60 enthusiastic and rather expert gardeners among them. I mentioned when I arrived that I would love to find and learn how to grow a few choice traditional chrysanths, not the spray ones (sorry to those of you who love them but I just can't get my head round their particular delights), and found that the host is an expert who grows dozens of varieties including many that have not been on sale for years, even decades. So I am looking forward to a tour of his garden any day soon, and he promises to provide me with some choice cuttings for next year. I never thought I would warm to chrysanths, but some of the old varieties are so so attractive. A bit like dahlias, I never thought I would get involved with them but some of them are irresistible as late summer cut flowers. I sold at the local market today and had a long discussion with one customer about the merits of dahlias, she related a tale of learning to meditate when one of her teachers had pointed her to the exquisite form of a dahlia and how amazing all flowers are when their sole desire is to grow to the perfect bloom to provide pleasure to all who view them.... a nice thought. I was also marvelling at the wonder of a simple sunflower, how much energy it takes to grow from one little dry seed to such a splendid bright cheery enormous seedfilled head in only 90 - 100 days. Flowers really are utterly amazing!