Thursday, June 19, 2014

Creating a Silk Flower Display in an Antique Wicker Planter

Silk Flowers are a wonderful alternative to live plants, especially when you are decorating a porch.  They do not drop leaves or petals or need to be watered.  I pulled out of a friend's basement an antique wicker planter that needed paint and a bit of glue.  Luckily the zinc insert was there.
 After sprucing up the planter, I turned to my long time friend, Rick Caran, a silk floral designer.
 He is currently known internationally as an expert in animal training, and tours with his original dog, Jilli, and new puppies, doing paid and benefit shows.
 This photo shows the zinc liner, which I rubbed with steel wool, and lightly spray painted.  The wicker basket planter was wire brushed gently and loose ends were glued with waterproof glue, then spray painted three times.
Rick measures the flower foam to fit the opening of the planter.
Here Rick is scoring the flower foam in order to
 snap it in half with his knee.
 The original piece was too low in the planter, so he contributed another piece of foam to raise up the base.
Just the right height.
 Next he used Sure Stick, which came off this spool like a sring of chewing gum.
 He pushed a bit into the edges to anchor the foam to the zinc liner.

 When the foam was secure, Rick placed real Spanish Moss, which he gathered on one of his trips south, over the foam.
 He tucked it in to cover the foam.
 After sharpening the end of each flower stem with a pocket knife,  Rick used  his special machine to clamp on a metal tip.
 These tips hold each flower stem in the foam, and do not allow the flowers to loosen later on.
 He wrapped each tip with green floral tape.
 I brought some silk ivy which he arranged in the planter.  We wanted the patterns on the wicker planter to show through the ivy.
 Each silk stem was pushed down into the foam and secured.  He draped the ivy on both sides so that the planter could be viewed from either direction.
 I decided to use silk Hydrangeas, which would have a traditional "antique porch look."  We kept the color pallet to just whites and light blues with smaller light green  Hydrangeas to imitate nature.
At first Rick thought the flowers were too large, but they needed to be a good size to be seen by passing boats from the  water side.  He arranged the blooms at different heights in an asymmetrical naturalistic way.
 The planter finished in his garden, but how would it look on the porch?
 The colors were perfect with the awning and old wicker chairs.
 On the porch.
 My friend ordered silk hanging baskets full of Geraniums.
The look was complete, no falling leaves or petals, and after covering them and storing them elsewhere for the winter, good for future years.  Thanks Rick!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Peonies in the Jarvis Garden 2014

The end of May into June is the time of the year when Peonies bloom here on Long Island.  My mother always loved these plants and I have several from her garden to this day.    Peony roots can last for almost a hundred years.  I have seen people dig up Peony roots in abandoned lots, where a house has long ago been demolished.
The Peony bud sometimes is covered with small ants.  They seem only to be interested in the nectar, and do not damage the flowers.
 This white Peony with a touch of red at the center, came from my mother's garden.
She lived in her home for over fifty years and I transplanted some of the roots to my garden.  They have been here for forty years so far.  Peonies do not like to be disturbed and moved to another location, but if that is necessary, do it in the Fall, if you know where the plants are, or in the early Spring.   They may not bloom the first year after transplanting.  Plant the roots about two inches below the surface of the soil.   Broken pieces will  generate new growth, so divide these and plant them somewhere else in your garden. 
 This fuchsia bloom came from my friend Elizabeth.  The leaf sprouts in the spring are a deep red, not the common green as in other Peony types.
 Here I have used a single bloom stake with a curled top to hold up large blooms.
Although Peonies are lovely and long lasting, both the roots and the blooms, they are often too heavy for their stems and bend over.  The single bloom wire stakes can help.  But it always seems to rain really hard just after the blooms are in their glory.  Without the stakes whey will wind up on the ground.
 Somewhere in my travels, I picked up a very small bloom Peony.  These are lovely and do not bend over as much.
 This is the usual size of the pink Peonies.  The center is quite full.
These are the smaller pink Peonies, which look very nice over by the mailbox.  Some of the smaller blooms have a bit of pale yellow in their centers.
A boarder of Hostas around the Peony plants keep the stems and blooms from flopping over as much.   Believe it or not, mow or cut the stems and leaves down to the ground in the fall.  They will come back and the foliage by that time is not too attractive, so cut them back.