Are you a risk taker?

It occurred to me this past weekend that I am a bit of a risk taker.  At least when we are talking recipes.  Oh, and anything related to gardens or flowers.

I very rarely follow written recipes completely, modifying them with favorite, gluten-free, or on-hand ingredients. For family dinners I usually try out at least one new recipe, and this past (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner was no exception.

I made the perennially favourite pumpkin pie as well as cherry and butter tarts.  Instead of apple pie or crisp,  I tried a strawberry rhubarb crisp.  My brother had commented on Facebook a while back that he was craving strawberry rhubarb pie and no one would make one for him.  As he was hosting dinner this past Sunday I took the bait.  One of my GARDENS4U clients donated the rhubarb and I had frozen strawberries on hand.  The recipe called for fresh strawberries, so I just let mine thaw on the counter before using them. I do believe the dessert was a favourite at the table; the bit that was left in the pan was scooped up by my nephew to take home for later.

 

Tired of the popular vegetable dishes this time of year too, I decided to try roasted zucchini as my vegetable contribution.  It too turned out delicious; I will definitely make it again.  I simply sliced 3 yellow and 3 green zucchini lengthwise into about 6 spears each (you could slice them into coins instead) placed them on a greased cookies sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with a parmesan cheese, garlic, oregano and dried basil mixture, and baked then broiled them to perfection.  Yummy!

 

pictures from Pixabay and Pexels (forgot to take some of my own)

 

Someone asked me after I volunteered to make my daughter-in-law’s wedding bouquets if I wasn’t nervous they wouldn’t turn out.  My new daughter-in-law is wonderfully laid back.  I knew if the bouquets weren’t exactly perfect, she would not stress over it.  Otherwise, I might have been more nervous and (probably) would not have offered my services.  All five were different and definitely unique creations…

 

I consider cooking or baking and gardening to be artistic adventures, and I think most will agree that artists of any kind have to take some risk to be unique.  I guess I do tend to fly by the seat of my pants (as I call it) or like to take (some) risks, but it is (almost) always worth it!

 

 

DIY tips for bridal bouquets, boutonnieres, and headpiece

Recently I attempted a DIY on 5 bouquets, 5 boutonnieres, three corsages and one crown/headpiece for my son’s wedding.  I have lots of perennial plants in my gardens and lots of clients with even more beautiful flowers, so I thought “piece of cake.”  Not so much; it was a much trickier DIY than I thought but well worth the effort.

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I researched lots of Pinterest pages, and other DIY sites so I had notes to refer to.  The toughest part was that I could not do much (other than research) ahead of time (other than pace my gardens willing the flowers to bloom!)   To keep the flowers as fresh for as long as possible, I could only pick them the day before the wedding.

Mother Nature threw me a CURVE BALL too; I had planted lots of purple flowering perennials last fall that were supposed to bloom the beginning of June.  Due to the cold and wet spring we experienced here in Ottawa, very few of those flowers were in bloom in time.  White peonies with purple roses and clematis were not meant to be for this DIY.

The following are the basic tips to ensuring your DIY bouquets turn out well.  Some are obvious, some not so much, some lessons I learned along the way…

  • don’t pick the flowers earlier than the morning before the wedding
  • have more flowers and foliage than you think you need
  • as soon as you do pick them, cut the stems longer than they need to be and put the cut stems in cold water immediately
  • use a clean bucket and clean cutters (this helps the blooms last longer)
  • recut the stems while they are under running water or in water (this ensures no air bubble get into the stems, preventing premature wilting/rotting
  • let the flowers sit in cold water for a minimum of 3 hours before arranging.
  • to assemble, start with the main/center flowers, then add others to fill out the bouquets. Add foliage last
  •  Stand in front of a mirror as you are arranging them to better see how they look
  • use elastics to hold the flowers together, placing them just below the top of the stem.  If your bouquets are large you can use several elastic to hold flowers together in groups
  • prop up droopy flower heads with wire or tape (I should have done that with the rhododendrons in my bouquets, they were very droopy by the end of the day)
  • use tinier flowers and blooms for boutonnieres and head piece, (see below) cutting stems short.  These short stems do not stay as fresh as long as the longer stems, so plan to make these last
  • I made each bouquet different, creating as I went along.  If you want them all to be identical, you will have to count out your available flowers and have a more detailed plan.  I tend to fly by the seat of my pants!
  • as you finish each bouquet, place it in a separate vase of water so the flowers do not get crushed/crowded
  • leave a few extra inches of stems at the bottom of each bouquet for final trimming
  • buy lots of ribbon; you can always return whatever you do not use
  • wide ribbon wraps faster and easier than thin ribbon, but seems to come off easier.  I used narrow ribbon for a base, then did top layer in wider ribbon
  • make all the bouquets first before starting to wrap with ribbon.  This ensures flowers are not out of water too long.
  • start wrapping ribbon near tops of stems (where elastics are)
  • if you choose to have dangling ribbons, loop them in at the top before wrapping, keeping them out of the way as you work
  • hold ribbon with one hand and bouquet with the other, turning the bouquet as you wrap.  The first (downward) layer of ribbon does not have to be perfect; you can leave some stem showing between, filling in the blanks on the upward layer.  Leave two inches of unwrapped stem at the bottoms so ribbon does not get wet
  • put each bouquet back into its vase with fresh water to just below ribbon
  • at last minute ( I could do this as pictures were taken at my home, so cut excess stems off literally 2 minutes before bouquets were needed) cut off excess stems

 

 

This headpiece was made as follows;

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  • measure head with a piece of string
  • use a few (more than one) strands of floral wire to ensure stability, overlapping it by two inches, wrap with floral tape
  • cut flowers just before you use them (they wilt quickly) making stems 2 inches long
  • lay out flowers in the pattern you want to place them on the headpiece
  • place one bloom on headpiece so that stem is on top of and parallel to the wire circle
  • secure bloom to circle with floral tape, starting just below bloom and wrapping both stem and wire circle until end of stem
  • overlap next bloom so it sits on top of previous bloom’s stem, working your way around the circle of taped wire
  • tie strands of ribbon (if desired) to headpiece at center back
  • when complete, mist the creation with a bit of water and place it in a plastic baggy.  Blow air into the baggie and seal it.  Keep it in the baggy for as long as possible, the tiny blooms wilt quickly!  Store it in a refrigerator or cool room (basement)

 

I tried something a little different for the DIY boutonnieres.  I grew my own calla lillies, starting them in pots in my basement last winter…

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The groom’s had three tiny purple pom pom like flowers, the groomsmen just the calla lily and foliage.  For the foliage, I used tiny calla lily leaves and snippets of English ivy vine…

  • cut stems about 3 inches longer (could be shorter or longer as desired)
  • arrange flowers and foliage in the pattern you choose
  • wrap stems with floral wire
  • add decorative pin for securing to lapels
  • place each boutonniere in its own plastic baggy, mist lightly with water, blow air into baggy and seal.  Store baggys in refrigerator or cool room (I kept them all in my basement)
  • these too will wilt quickly as the stems and blooms are small.  My one son joked he had “salad on his suit” by the end of the night

 

The DIY corsages did not turn out so well.  The short stems would not stay in the pearl wristbands I chose.  I tried securing them with floral wire, but they kept falling apart.  The intense heat of the day did not help as the flowers wilted quickly too.  I would appreciate comments/sugguestions on what I could have done differently, just in case I have another wedding soon…

 

 

 

Purple passion

I have a passion for purple, especially when choosing flowers.  It is such a vibrant colour with so many shades available.  When my daughter-in-law decided she wanted shades of purple flowers in her bouquets and floral decorations, I was excited as I have lots of in my gardens.  I even planted extra perennials just in case I didn’t have enough…

 

Too bad many of them didn’t bloom in time for the wedding thanks to the wet and cool spring Mother Nature gifted us with this year.  To improvise,  I borrowed blossoms from my clients’ garden to supplement the ones I did have in bloom to make bouquets and flower arrangements.

For the past week (now almost two weeks after the wedding)  my passion for purple has been blooming in profusion in my gardens!

 

It’s official, I now have a daughter (in law)

My son’s wedding was this past weekend, so I have now inherited a daughter (in law).  As a mother of three sons, a daughter is very welcome in our household.

The wedding was a beautiful event that even Mother Nature saw fit to participate in. Everything, including the weather, was perfect.  Here are a few photos of my preparations for the rehearsal party BBQ and wedding pictures in our backyard…

 

 

 

I was in charge of the bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages and floral decorations at the venue…

 

 

A neighbour (thanks Libby!) dropped off a spectacular “bouquet” of purple hydrangea cupcakes. Eating them almost felt wrong, but the flower girl was willing to eat the first one, making it easier for the rest of us to dismantle the display…

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bouquet of purple hydrangea cupcakes!

 

 

With all the cool, wet weather we have had up until this weekend, many of the “shades of purple” and white themed plants in my garden were not yet in bloom in time for the bouquets, but they are today…

 

 

The day before the wedding I cut as many purple and white flowers as I could find in my and a few of my clients’ gardens (with their permission) in preparation for making 5 bouquets, 5 boutonnieres, 3 corsages and 1 crown.  The floral decorations for the venue were planted a month ago, but the center plants (predominantly ornamental grasses) had not grown as much as I had hoped either.  Water tubes purchased from a local florist allowed me to improvise by adding fresh cut purple irises, lilacs and alliums for the desired height in the arrangements.

I was desperately seeking large purple blooms for the main flowers in the bride’s bouquet because my pale purple roses and deep purple clematis were not yet in bloom.  Although I was not working in clients’ gardens last week (too busy in my own!)  I stopped by one of them to check on it.  Lo and behold there was a beautiful deep purple rhododendron in glorious full bloom.  It felt like a sign from above since although last season this client promised me I could use some of these blooms in the bouquets, she has since passed away.   I know she was smiling down proudly as everyone admired her rhododendrons at the wedding.

This morning as I cleaned up the mess I made in my basement while making the floral arrangements, I put some tiny leftover blooms in a vase on my table.  A beautiful reminder of a beautiful weekend…

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leftovers