My family loves The Great British Baking Show. It encompasses so many incredible things: cooking, creativity, helping one another, and just straight up fun. Like many of you, when I see those delicious creations, I get the baking bug and my hosting instincts go into overdrive. Making something beautiful and tasty is very fulfilling, especially when you get to share it with those you love. During this Covid shutdown, it’s not surprising that so many people have turned to baking as an outlet.
Finding overlap between creative endeavors is fairly easy, but I’ve been amazed by how many similarities baking and floral arranging hold. These two facets of my life share many characteristics, and I find that comparing the two helps make obvious the keys to success needed for both.
Importance of Basic Techniques
You know that moment in The Great British Baking Show technical challenge, when contestants are informed that they have...
I just finished adding three cubic yards of mulch to my front yard garden beds. It was quite the project, shoveling and spreading, but it is always worth it in the end thanks to just how beneficial it is to my plants. Mulch is absolutely amazing! Even just one of its benefits would make the hard work worth it, but it has a whole bundle of advantages. If you’re not using mulch in your garden, you should seriously consider it. Here’s why.
Keep Weeds Back
This is one of my top reasons for adding mulch to my yard. Here in the milder Pacific Northwest, plants grow like crazy. It often rains, and it doesn’t get too hot. That means weeds get out of control very quickly. I weed my beds before adding mulch, and while this doesn’t stop the weeds completely, it does stunt their growth and make it much easier to keep up on weeding. Some people will even add a layer of weed barrier under the mulch, but I’ve found mulch is enough for me. Make...
This summer, your hosting plans have no doubt been altered from years past. Here in Washington state, we’ve only recently received the green light to have very small gatherings, preferably outside and with lots of distance. Hosting is kind of my thing, so this was great news for me! And I always love a challenge: how to design an intimate, safe dinner-scape.
Traditional, close-quarters table designs are not the best choice during a pandemic, for obvious reasons. So how could I create a cohesive atmosphere that could be spread out a little more? The answer, luckily, was very obvious to me, because it involves something I fell in love with long ago, and something that is perfectly suited for a summer patio dinner.
I first encountered bud vases while registering for our wedding gifts. The little, clear vases were delicate and charming, and I immediately envisioned how beautiful they’d look as part of each place setting. They were exactly...
When you think summer flowers, many people’s thoughts turn to hydrangeas, roses, or sunflowers. But while I do love those classic blooms, my favorite summer flowers to arrange with might just surprise you. Here are my top five that made the cut:
Dahlias: the showstopper
I grew up in the Rocky Mountains, where dahlias are a bit fussy to grow. It’s possible, but you have to treat them as an annual or dig them up at the end of the season and store the tubers over winter, without letting them dry out. One of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest is watching colorful dahlias pop-up all over town every summer. They will come back year after year without much care.
However much work you have to put into them, it’s worth it. Dahlias are downright luscious, with a symmetry and fullness that is completely unique and striking. They come in all sorts of sizes and colors, from dinner plate dahlias that...
Oh, goodness. Aphids. What a pain. I don’t know about where you live, but here in the PNW, they are a real pest to my flowers. The very first summer in our new house, I put roses, lupines, and foxglove into the yard to create a beautiful English cottage garden vibe. And within a few weeks, I brushed up against some of the flowers and went inside. I looked down at my pants, and there were little bugs crawling on the fabric. It was disgusting. I brushed them off outside and took a closer look at the flowers. They were totally smothered by aphids, especially the lupines. Of course, I panicked! My gorgeous flowers were being eaten alive!
I have since become a bit of a self-taught expert at getting rid of aphids. They invade my garden every year, and I now have a solid plan to treat my plants. Once I see those early signs, I start treating them before the aphids get too out of control. The best part is that I never use pesticides, which I don’t want around...
I grew up in the desert, and as well as my family could grow certain perennials there, hydrangeas were not one of them.
Hydrangeas require a ton of water (notice the Latin root "hydra" in its name), and they like a lot of sunlight. But they don't like temperatures over 85 degrees. Which unfortunately for my childhood, was every day of summer.
When I moved to the Pacific Northwest the first thing that stood out to me were the large hydrangea bushes that flourish in this climate. Hydrangeas are one of the few flowers that bloom in a natural shade of blue, and it's a very vibrant blue, too! That color pops right out at you from household gardens as you drive by, so unique to the natural environment.
Hydrangeas are native to both North and South America, as well as South and East Asia. They didn't make their way to Europe until the 18th century, where, no surprise, they quickly gained popularity.
A collage of small four-petalled blooms mound together to create that lacy cloud of...
If you’re like me, you are loving all of the flowers blooming around town these days. I’m having so much fun cutting blooms from my garden and arranging them for my table. Just as important, though, is the greenery used as a base to showcase the flashier flowers. Your yard is probably bursting with greens right now, and they can be used just as effectively as flowers.
When it comes to picking out greens, you might get a little nervous about sticking just anything into your vase. That’s understandable since some greens will wimp out on you in a day or less, or might not play well with other plants in your arrangement. I have three go to greens in my garden that are common, easy to grow, live long in a vase, and look fantastic.
Let’s get cracking!
Temperatures are rising, bringing visions of hydrangeas and daisies and all sorts of lovely summer blooms. Your mind has probably moved on from tulips, but if you have any tulip bulbs in your yard like me, they still need some TLC, even after their flowers are long gone. Here’s what you need to know about caring for those spent tulip bulbs.
When the tulip petals fade and fall, we tend to forget about the tulips in our gardens. If you do notice their sad state, you might wonder what to do with them. The best practice is to snip off the faded flower and leave as much foliage as possible. It’s very important not to take too much green off. The bulb isn’t dormant yet at this stage. It’s still soaking up sun through the leaves. If you cut it to the ground while it’s still green, you risk starving the bulb and possibly killing it. That means no flashy spring colors next year. So, leave the greens and let them add some nice texture and...
My three children have been around flowers and florist tools their entire lives. It’s normal to them to have big buckets of blooms and stacks of vases suddenly taking up space in our house before one of my events. They’ve watched Mommy cut and arrange all sorts of things. If you’ve ever been around a young kid, you know how much they love to mimic and do things themselves. My kids love to get their hands on flowers and start putting them in vases, just like they’ve seen me do. And I love it! I’m more than happy to nurture their interest in something I love.
After being cooped up all spring, involving your kids with floral arranging can be a great change of pace. You can cut flowers from your garden together, choose what you’d like to put together, and try something new and exciting!
Of course, floral arranging comes with hazards that can be a little scary with kids. There’s a lot of water that can be spilled....
My garden is bursting with color! Flowers are in full swing right now all across town. I love taking walks to see what’s blooming in my neighbors’ yards. Hopefully you’re enjoying your garden, and to help with that, here are some tips to help your cut homegrown flowers live long and happy lives inside.