Saturday, August 9, 2008

Birthday Bouquets

It's been quite a week. Actually, more than a week--this will be my first posting in August, and it's already the 10th! I've done relatively little gardening this month--my friends threw a birthday party for me, and then Lisa came back from her 10-day trip and we had to catch up, and then my almost-twin Kolkwitzia had her birthday, and then my friend Helianthus got married (the event of the season--a little more on that later). And in my spare time, I'm learning to use my NEW CAMERA.

Salix and my friends gave me a Canon PowerShot S5 IS (or maybe S515? I think I'm due for an eye exam), and I love it. It's still a point and shoot--I decided my skills weren't quite up to the cost and the heft of a digital SRL yet (thanks for the advice, Sarah)--but I actually managed to get clear pictures of running horses on my first day with the camera--a feat I have to attribute to the camera, not the operator. Anyway, the camera had its first real workout at my birthday party. Here's the first birthday bouquet, from Lespedeza's garden (n.b.--many members of my posse have picked their own blog names--my Lespedeza isn't weedy at all). I love the zucchini leaves.

Jacaranda and the Garden Curmudgeon made the theme for the party "Beach Week"--we all typically rent a house in Duck, North Carolina two or three times a year (the Curmudgeon and I are writing a novel--perhaps I should say "writing" a "novel"--based on our experiences in the beach houses, and if some of our blog names seem silly, wait until I preview that literary endeavor. But as I was saying . . . ) We haven't been since Thanksgiving, so we decided to get at least a bit of a beach fix at my house--pretty far from a beach, but we do have a hot tub.
Last Thanksgiving, we needed a centerpiece for our big dinner, so we held a contest. Rules were, nothing purchased and no ransacking the neighbors' flower beds, and the content could be but didn't have to be flora. As I recall, I lost to the Curmudgeon, who I believe bribed the judge. This year, I was one of the judges, along with Lysimachia and her little boy Crocus. The teams were the Curmudgeon and Helianthus; Jacaranda and Lespedeza; and Salix and Mullein. We gave each team a pair of scissors, warned them about chiggers, and set them loose.

Here's the Curmudgeon contemplating his design philosophy, or maybe deciding whether he wants to climb a tree:

Jacaranda looks like he's getting ready to attack a stump covered in a weedy grass with his little pair of scissors. Lespedeza and Lysimachia look skeptical; Crocus is trying to reason with him.

Salix and Mullein disappeared fairly quickly--Salix spends a couple of hours every morning at the far edges of the property, and he and Mullein thought they might find better treasures off the beaten path. Mullein returns with his--those would be the ones in his right hand.

A little later, Lespedeza models a draft version, at this point featuring a lot of Artemesia absinthium.

The Curmudgeon again, now setting his sights much lower--I think he's after the Artemesia, too--or maybe the flowers on the marjoram.

Although Crocus is judging, he got into the spirit of the search and found his own flower.

Here he's seeking the advice of Lespedeza and Ranunculus--Ranunculus clearly votes "yes,"but then again Ranunculus likes just about anything involving Crocus.

And here are the birthday bouquets. Lespedeza's sunflowers weren't in the competition, but they were too pretty to move so we left them at the far end of the table. In this shot, nearest the camera is the entry by the Curmudgeon and Helianthus; in the middle, the one by Mullein and Salix.

Mullein's and Salix's sprawling contribution blocked the view of Lespedeza's and Jacaranda's work, so here's a shot from the other side of the table. They used smoke tree leaves (Cotinus coggyria), Artemesia, and ferns--the silver of the absinthe set off the crimson of the smoke tree beautifully. This shot also shows the whimsy of the Curmudgeon and Helianthus--they used dog fennel and philodendron, along with a mardi gras mask for color. I wish dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium) actually looked good in anything--it's the dominant weed where the hurricane took out the trees, and I hate the stuff--the Curmudgeon misjudged one of his judges. So this is a relative of Joe-Pye Weed? Hard to believe.

One more shot of Mullein's and Salix's entry--they used a mullein stalk, wild raspberry, Callicarpa, and more Artemesia.

The decision was tough--Helianthus and the Curmudgeon received an honorable mention for "Most Unnatural," and Jacaranda and Lespedeza for their use of color, but the judges were taken by the sheer extravagance of Mullein and Salix's work. As well as their dedication to their craft--here, Mullein's already feeling the effects of his trek into the hinterlands. He's a geologist and works in the field all summer, so we figured he'd protect himself against chiggers--but I guess he was too excited about the project--turns out both he and the Curmudgeon got quite a few bites. That doesn't happen at the beach.

This next shot is appropos of nothing, except for the fact that Salix shouldn't be allowed in the garden without adult supervision. Here, he's telling the Curmudgeon and Lespedeza that the mint tastes funny. It should--he's eating oregano. At least he didn't nibble on the Artemesia or the dog fennel.

So, as I said, these pictures are from my first day with the camera, and I really like it. I thought at first I'd like an 18x or 20x zoom, but when I went to try out the cameras, I preferred the feel of this Canon, and I love the moveable screen and the image stablizer, so I settled for the 12x zoom, and so far it's been fine. I took this shot of one of our critters from the upper deck--our little visitor is 20-30 yards away from where I'm standing.

And here's a viceroy butterfly in a hanging basket outside my front door.

I'll close with a few more observations about bouquets. Here's Helianthus at her wedding last night--her blog-o-nym seems quite appropriate:

And here's the centerpiece at our table. We were "cobalt"--the tables were named for gems, and we all wore colors associated with our table. Every centerpiece was different and also color-themed--we spotted iris and salvia carrying the theme in ours.

And here we are, our own bouquet, also in blue (the ribbon in the upper right hand corner is the one on the centerpiece, to give you an idea of how tall it stood).

Only one disappointment in this otherwise wonderful week. Each year, I make my almost-twin Kolkwitzia a bouquet from my garden. She loves flowers (or as she, the French teacher, calls them, fleurs), but she isn't able to garden, so I love taking her bits of mine. Typically by our birthdays, my roses are in rebloom, I have some lilies left, the daisies are in full swing, and I can fill in with flowers from herbs or from phlox or gaura. The roses haven't come back yet this year and the lilies are long gone--we're feeling the drought. This year's bouquet wasn't worth a picture (I supplemented with stuff from a florist--I confessed immediately). And I think I'm going to have to be very creative on bloom day . . .


Sarah Laurence said...

Happy birthday, Cosmo! This was definitely the right camera for you as you already are taking such natural photos of your loved ones. The sunflowers with the funky zucchini leaves are gorgeous. It sounds fun to write a novel with a friend at a beach house. Sorry to hear about your drought, and wish I could share some of our rain. Looking forward to seeing more of your photos.

Les, Zone 8a said...

What fun!

tina said...

Hmmm, The mint tastes funny?! Ah, too too funny. Great camera shots.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Happy birthday! Congratulations on your new camera. That's a nice one.

Sounds like a really fun time.

Oh, I want to see the picture of the galloping horses:)

Rose said...

Happy birthday, Cosmo! What a fun time! Most of my friends aren't gardeners, so I'm not sure they would be such good sports about making bouquets--someone would probably come back with a bouquet of poison ivy:)
Congratulations on your new camera--a rabbit at 20-30 feet? I'm jealous! Like Marnie, I'd like to see the galloping horses.

Gail said...

Such a marvelous time I had at your party and meeting your friends! We started a tradition of beach vacationing with a few friends and it is a great time...I hope we develop some fun traditions like you have!

happy Birthday...sorry to be late...


Cosmo said...

Hi, everyone--thanks for the good wishes. I've never minded birthdays (though some of the other consequences of aging aren't so fun)--another excuse to spend time with friends.

Ok, I may post the picture of the horse soon. I took it at Colonial Downs (a thoroughbred track), and the race was on the innermost track so I'm pretty far away--I was just glad to see that the picture was sharp--otherwise, it's not that interesting.

But I'm practicing for bloom day!