On A Tray: Beautiful Bouquets

December 28, 2015 Garden Tray 001


Inspiration waits everywhere; especially in a good gardening magazine.

Particularly inspiring is the article ‘Beautiful Bouquets’ in the current special edition Plant Issue of Gardens Illustrated magazine.  Plantswoman Anne Townley suggests delicious combinations of plants one might grow together, expecting to later cut them for beautiful and unusual bouquets.


Clockwise from top left: Violas, Edgeworthia, Artemesia

Clockwise from top left: Ivy, Violas, Edgeworthia, Lavender, Artemesia, Iris, Mahonia, Fennel, Black Eyed Susan.


Her plant choices are quite idiosyncratic, at least to this Virginian gardener.

The photography for this article was my inspiration, however.  Photographer Andrew Montgomery created a stunning tableau with each combination of plants Ms. Townley selected.  Please follow the link to see these artful vignettes of petal and leaf composed to illustrate this lively article about cutting gardens.


Clockwise from top left: Viola, Camellia, Cyclamen

Clockwise from top left: Camellia, Viola, Pineapple Sage, Camellia, Cyclamen, Viola, Edgeworthia, Ivy, Rose, Salvia, Hellebore,  Pineapple Mint, scented Pelargonium.


Emulation remains the highest form of flattery, and so I couldn’t resist assembling a little tableau of my own this morning from what looks fresh in our garden today.


December 28, 2015 Garden Tray 013~

Part scavenger hunt, part journey of discovery; what a surprisingly diverse collection of leaf and flower waited for me in the garden!

Wandering, cutting and arranging, I quickly realized that most of these bits of horticultural beauty would have grown unnoticed save for this challenge.


Clockwise from top left: Rosa, 'The Generous Gardener,' Ivy, Viola, Black Eyed Susuans,

Clockwise from top left: Rosa, ‘The Generous Gardener,’ Ivy, Viola, Black Eyed Susan, Rose hips, Mahonia, Fennel, Iris.


Each newly snipped blossom and leaf delighted me.  Though cut from many different areas of the garden, from pots, beds and shrubs; they harmonize.  What a helpful way to get a ‘read’ on how well the plants in one’s garden go together.


Clockwise from top left:

Clockwise from top left: Purple Sage, Viola, Rosemary, Pineapple Sage, Lavendar, Dianthus, Vinca minor,  Cyclamen, Viola, Ivy, Salvia, Hellebores, Pineapple Mint, Pelargonium, Camellia


I could have just sat and admired this tray full of cuttings over a steamy cup of coffee.

But, other projects called, like the bin filled with Brent and Becky’s bulbs, gleaned from their end of season clearance sale, just before the holiday.   We had been granted another good day for planting, and so I didn’t tarry over the tray too long.


December 28, 2015 Garden Tray 019


Rather, I recut the stems and tucked them into a vase, floated the blossoms in a bowl, slipped the ivy into a jar of rooting cuttings, and headed back out to the garden.


December 28, 2015 Garden Tray 025


Because there were  just one or two stems of each plant on the tray, this is a somewhat unusual vase.  It needed photographing from all sides as each of its ‘faces’ is different.


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I am happy to join Cathy at Rambling In the Garden for her “In A Vase On Monday’ meme this week.  She has created a ‘Moondance’ by the sea; more inspiration, as always!


December 28, 2015 Garden Tray 021~

Although we are enjoying our little vase this afternoon, my partner and I remain intrigued by the possibilities of simply arranging stems  on a tray.  I plan to tour the garden, tray in hand, at some regular interval from here on just to see what there is to see.


December 28, 2015 Garden Tray 005


And, inspired by several excellent articles on garden color  in Gardens Illustrated, I also took my bin of bulbs back out to the garden for a few happy hours of planting today.  Bulbs planted a few weeks ago have already broken ground with their first, tentative leaves.


Winter blooming Iris have started into growth in this pot with Violas and Moss.

Winter blooming Iris have started into growth in this pot with Violas and Moss.


I dug new areas and planted Daffodils, Muscari, Leucojum, Cyclamen and more, before covering everything with a fresh coat of compost.

Although imagination is a wonderful thing,  I can’t wait to actually see these new additions grow into the tapestry of our garden in the months ahead.


December 28, 2015 Garden Tray 008


Woodland Gnome 2015



About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

14 responses to “On A Tray: Beautiful Bouquets

  1. I like the tray, and you’re right that many of those blooms would go completely unnoticed in the garden. I would walk right by the pansies, but on the tray they’re like little jewels with their subtle streaks of color. Love the foliage mixed in there as well!

  2. That’s a nice way to gather the blooms and then enjoy them two ways. Gardens Illustrated is always inspirational.

  3. I really love displaying the flowers on the tray…what a beautiful way to see the blooms….and the vase is lovely too!

  4. After seeing the gorgeous tray I wasn’t expecting a vase as well…! The concept and the realisation of the tray is absolutely stunning – somehow makes me think of the Victorian era and pressed flowers…? Such a range of blooms too and I am delighted you were able to share them with us

  5. The flowers in a tray do provide a whole different way of seeing, don’t they? The presentation reminded me of a book by Ken Druse entitled “Natural Companions.” If you haven’t already seen it, you might want to take a look at it.

    • Thank you for the tip, Kris. I will look for Druse’s book. More inspiration! I saw a fabulous combination earlier this month which I absolutely want to try- Arum italicum planted at the base of Mahonia shrubs. They make a ruffled ‘skirt’ around this already beautifully textured shrub. A lovely accent, especially as they emerge just before the Mahonia comes into its winter bloom. Our Mahonia (seedlings lifted from another garden) have grown enough that we can simply add some Arum when they come available. It makes gardening and garden planning that much easier to have a repertoire of plant combinations which work together, and work with one’s climate. Happy New Year to you, Kris! ❤ WG

  6. How lovely the collection of your garden offerings looks on trays! It reminded me of a nature curiosity cabinet! It’s amazing to see how full of blooms and green leaves your garden is. I hope the tray display becomes a regular feature on your blog next year. The cuttings looked great in the vase too. Blessings, Sarah

    • Thank you very much for this, Sarah. It is rather curious to see the colors so vibrant and leaves so fresh in late December. But, did you notice all of the insects crawling on the tray? I was amazed, especially when I saw the little ants and spiders that came inside on the plants! I like the tray idea, and appreciate your encouragement to make it a regular feature. Happy New Year! ❤ ❤ WG

  7. So pretty! It’s amazing to see what is flowering in your garden right now. What a wonderful way to get a snapshot of your garden by putting it on a tray. It reminded me a bit of the trays that have pressed flowers laminated onto them. Another great idea!

    • Eliza, was thinking of you and your winter storm forecast as I clipped today. Is your garden under snow now? The yellow Iris amazed me, and the Salvias still going strong since late summer! It has finally grown cooler here, though still above average. I will look forward to seeing a tray like this from your garden next spring. Maybe a new meme? If you haven’t downloaded the magazine, I promise you many happy hours wandering through British gardens if you do. Hugs, WG ❤

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