Between mid-November, when the garden is well and truly soaked, and February when early bulbs and hellebores bloom, we no longer have the luxury of stepping out into the garden to cut a bouquet. It's time to augment with store-bought.
Sure, the sasanqua camellias are starting to bloom, and there's evergreen foliage out there...but if you want to make a decent sized bouquet, with contrast and color, the trick is to figure out how to combine store bought and home grown. Subtlety is key - an emphasis on texture, or tone-on-tone colors.
I bought flowers for the first time since April for this bouquet I made for Museo's Gallery's November opening party. I combined glossy orange berries (no idea what they might be) with red/orange dahlias from the grocery store (the most gardenesque-looking flowers I could find). I'm not yet ready for winter staples like lilies or tulips (really, I saw the first bunch of tulips at Metropolitan Market last week. They look so wrong in autumn...)
I had to stick the materials from the garden right into the sink to wash the spiders and their sticky webs off...callicarpa and hypericum berries, and the last hydrangeas from the garden.
I got off to a discouraging start trying to figure out how to combine so many rigidly upright, stick-like elements in one bouquet.....far too awkward and stiff...
The yellow pitcher, which I loved with summer flowers, looks too bright and obvious now. The subdued autumn colors of berry and leaf, stem and twig, look more at home in this copper colored raku cylinder (below). The dahlias were bugging me...I needed one more element...an ornamental cabbage cut from a pot on the front porch (bottom right) did the trick...
But the various elements didn't really come together in a satisfying way, and the dahlias started withering withered around the edges - it's always hard to tell how fresh store bought flowers are. Not so fresh, in this case.
So I brewed a fresh cup of tea, put on some music, and plopped everything out of the vase. Time to re-envision and start over. I re-cut stems, discarded the dahlias, and took a long look at what I had to work with. I also cut more of the little ornamental cabbages, sheared all the lower leaves off so the stems were nice and long.
I ended up with an arrangement that features the berries that were obscured by the fluff of flowers in the earlier version...looks like a bird buffet bouquet to me...
I'm much happier with its more quiet, autumnal nature... Isn't it amazing how much better the cabbages look cut for the vase than growing in a pot?