Saturday, October 29, 2011

Looking Back at the NC State Fair

It's hard to believe that the NC State Fair has already come and gone. I had a great time participating in the floral design competitions this year. Sometimes I win and sometimes I don't, but I am always hopeful. This year I entered four categories, and I ended up winning a couple of Blue Ribbons as well as one Best In Show!
One of my favorite designs contained one of my favorite flowers--- Zinnias. The category was NC Themed Design that was to feature all NC materials (botanical and flowers), and the title was "Love A Fair". This made me think of all the fun rides at the fair, so that was what I designed my piece around- a ride at the fair.
Then I filled an old wooden box with lots of garden gatherings such as scented geraniums, gomphrena, Love In a Puff, osmanthus greenery, zinnias, etc. Made up a cute little banner to drape across the front, and created a vine roller coaster complete with pyracantha berry cars.It didn't win a blue ribbon, but I sure had a lot of fun creating it!The next piece was door design called "Holiday's Are A-Knockin". It could be for any holiday, so I did a different take on my favorite- Christmas!
And this one proved to be a WINNER! I received both a Blue Ribbon for the design as well as Best In Show! My one big regret is that I accidentally deleted the picture of my piece on display at the Fair with its ribbons.
Below is a quick shot that I took before I rushed it over to beat the entry deadline.
This design featured bright green branches of Kerria Japonica, variegated osmanthus leaves, yellow tipped Chamaecyparis, and Fireworks gomphrena from the garden as well as red Freedom roses from my vendor. Red aluminum wire held the branches in place and made a great hanger as well.
Can't wait to do this one again. The fresh flowers should last for several weeks if watered carefully and hung on a protected outside door- Perfect for the Christmas season!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autumn Weddings- Katherine & Jared

Late October in the South can bring on some incredibly great weather for outdoor weddings! And such was the case last Saturday for Katherine and Jared, (of course they had a good Plan B just in case...) The morning began with bright sunshine and just a touch of chill, and the day only got better!
I first met Katherine and Jared at the Southern Bridal Show & Expo last April. And I loved seeing them both again for a floral consultation shorty afterwards. Jared came along to give his support and also offer some suggestions of his own.
Katherine already had some definite ideas about the color palette and other elements of decor- soft yellows and creams, muted oranges and touches of mahogany brown. The flowers included Asiatic lilies, roses, mums, mokara ochids, lisianthus and hypericum berries.
The aisle decor and reception table designs were created in galvinized pails.
I was able to also include some zinnias and dahlias from the garden, (so sad that most of the blooms occurred the week before the wedding, but thankful that some blooms waited for the wedding!)

The arbor for Katherine and Jared was created by her dad, (and I am sure it was a Labor of Love!) They really liked the arbor that my husband, Wilson, had made for my garden beds (also a Labor of Love), and had taken pictures of it. I was very impressed with her dad's handiwork.
It was the perfect touch for the grounds at Anderson Point Park in Raleigh, and looked quite charming wrapped in willow branches and flowers!
The reception was also at the park in a quaint white cottage with warm, pine paneled walls and wooden beams and lots of personal touches provided by Katherine and Jared and their families. Perfect for celebrating such a special day.

Jared and Katherine, I am so happy for you both! I know that your day was all that you hoped for, and I am so excited for you as you begin you lives as Husband and Wife!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blue Ribbon at the NC State Fair!!!

NC State Fair means one thing to me- floral design competition! Well actually I do like to check out the other exhibits too: beautiful garden designs, bonsai "treelets", the cows and goats and chickens-- especially the chickens-- I love them, (too bad the town of Cary does not allow chickens in the town limits). And of course the food- I am not brave enough to try the Fried Oreos, but I really can chow down on the funnel cakes.
Well back to the Floral Designs- thanks to Erv Evans (who does an INCREDIBLE Job with the Flower & Garden Show) and Cleveland Plant & Flower Co., professional florists in Wake County have the opportunity to showcase their stuff just for the fun of it!
One of this year's categories was "Surprise- something special for the new mom and baby". I still have a "fair" amount of pink in the garden so of course I wanted to do something to welcome a new baby girl.
And here's the design that I entered this year. I purchased a wooden box from Michaels and whitewashed the exterior. Next I glued on pressed Larkspur florets to the box. See the DIY Wedding Flowers- Pressed Flowers from April. I also glued Larkspur to the Baby Card as well.
I grow larkspur each year from seed. NOW is the time to plant larkspur seeds for next year's blooms. I plan to put up a post next week about how to plant it.
Other flowers from the garden included dainty pale pink dahlias called Chilson's Pride and bright pink Fairy roses, scented geraniums, lamb's ear and Green Spice Heuchera leaves- these are some of the best heucheras in my garden beds!
Other flowers from my wholesaler included ivory Majolica spray roses and something I was thrilled to see- fresh pink Larkspur!
I was also thrilled to receive a Blue Ribbon for my design

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Weddings- Megan & Justin

October 8th was an absolutely glorious day for a wedding. I know that Megan and Justin were probably very happy with the weather, but I am sure that they were even more excited that it was THEIR Wedding Day!!!
You start months in advance... choosing the date, the venue, the caterer, the cake, and of course the flowers, just to name a few. And then before you know it, your wedding day is here, and that day will change you forever!
It was great to meet with Megan and her Mom, Nancy, and discuss flowers and color palettes and such. Megan admitted that she did not know a lot about flowers, but was delighted with the way the colors and textures blended and complimented the plum color of the bridesmaids' dresses.
And I love this color palette too! The rich jewel tones of wines and grapes and purples play off the soft pastels of lavender and ivory and lilac.
Here are some of the centerpiece designs- narrow vases wrapped in soft green satin ribbon embellished with a purple button and filled with purple and lilac stock and ivory Majolica spray roses.

Carolyn Graf, a friend of the family's, baked and decorated this beautiful wedding cake. Buttercream frosting is a definite YUM!
Now the newly married couple is off on a wonderful honeymoon. Praying God's blessing for you, Megan and Justin!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

From My Garden- Mrs. Johnson's Cockscomb

Today's post is a little long, but I want to share about the importance of careful seed collecting.
At first glance, I know that this may not seem like a very impressive flower- so I want to let you know what makes it so special. I have always called this variety of crested celosia Mrs. Johnson's Cockscomb. Cockscomb is the common name for these flowers because they look just like the red comb on top of a rooster's head.
Mrs Johnson was my neighbor in Raleigh about fifteen to sixteen years ago and she always grew these velvety cherry-red cockscombs in the flower bed in front of her porch. One day I commented on how beautiful I thought these flowers were, and she gave me some of her seeds. Then I started growing "Mrs. Johnson's Cockscomb" too.
I saved seed each year and they came with me to my new home. What made these plants so different from other forms of cockscomb was that they packed ALOT of flower on short sturdy stems. That's why they looked so lovely in her garden beds. The flower heads would grow to about six to eight inches wide, but the stalks remained only a foot tall. They were stunning in mass plantings.
One year I just neglected to plant them and then the next year I wasn't very careful with the plants that I did grow until finally I noticed that my seed supply was very low. About three years ago I grew only three plants and saved lots of seed (or so I thought), but I wasn't very careful with the next planting and lost almost the whole batch of flowers.
Last year I was down to three plants again. Sadly these plants suddenly died and I was only able to collect about ten seeds. Needless to say I was not very optimistic about this year's prospect- I did pray though that just maybe the Lord would give me success and He did- three plants again!!! This one is still in the garden just waiting for all the seeds to mature. The others I have already harvested the seeds from and was able to get over one hundred.
And what about Mrs. Johnson's plants?
Well... I still drive by her house, but I haven't seen her cockscomb in years. Last week after collecting that first batch of seeds, I started to wonder if just maybe she would be interested in having some. I found her phone number and called her up. She remembered me (I think)... she's eighty-two years old now and has seen lots of folks come and go in that neighborhood. But when I told her about the cockscomb, I could tell she was very excited. Yes that cockscomb grew in her flowerbed for years, but one year it just didn't perform well and after that it dwindled out and stopped coming back altogether.
I told her that I called it "Mrs. Johnson's Cockscomb" and she laughed and told me that was a good name because it originally came from her husband's family in South Carolina. She said she was sad when it stopped coming back in her garden beds because she had never been able to find any other like it.
Well we are both very excited to have the chance to grow it again. I will try to be much more careful with these seeds and the plants next year, and I hope to have plenty to share with other folks as well!!!