Keep Cut Flowers Fresh: Snapdragon Bouquet

One reason I get so excited about spring and summer is that I’ll have fresh flowers I can cut from outside and bring in for all over the house. Fresh flowers make me so happy, and when I can have a bunch without having to buy them — super happy.

snapdragon bouquetMy favorite flowers to grow for cutting are knockout roses (I put them everywhere when they are in bloom), with zinnias being a very, very close second.

I do have a “winter” garden, composed of snapdragons, pansies, and sweet williams, but it never occurred to me until this week that any of them were appropriate for cutting and bringing indoors.snapdragons growing in flower gardenBoy, was I wrong.

Keep Flowers Fresh - Snap Dragon Bouquet-15

Five Ways to Keep Flowers Fresh

1)  Use sharp shears made for cutting stems.

Keep Flowers Fresh - Snap Dragon Bouquet-2

2) Cut stems at an angle. This helps with water absorption.

snapdragon stems

3) Treat different flowers differently. For instance, flowers with woody stems, like azaleas, benefit from having their stems pounded so that they can soak up water. Snapdragons do well if their stems are cut at an angle (again) under running water once you bring them inside. Hydrangeas are complicated….

4) Strip the stems before you put your fresh flowers in a vase. You don’t want any leaves or buds below the water line for sure, and probably not even below where the top of the vase (or “vase” — I used a cleaned off jar) hits. Extra foliage in the water can contaminate the water, and your flowers won’t last as long, which brings us to…

Keep Flowers Fresh - Snap Dragon Bouquet-6

5) Make flower food. There are various tricks out there, including crushing an aspirin tablet, pouring some Listerine in with the water, and using lemon-lime soda. I made the following mixture, which both nourishes the flowers and keeps the water bacteria free.

Cut Flower Food

In a 3-quart container (I used an empty orange juice bottle donated by a friend), mix together:

  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons bleach
  • 6 Tablespoons lemon juice

Fill with warm water. Use right away or have on-hand for small vases you’ll put freshly cut flowers in.

 

snapdragons bouquet

 

Preparing the Summer Garden

These babies spent a couple nights in the garage to avoid the (supposed) last two freezes of the season.  Aren’t they lovely?

summer garden plants - begonias, marigolds, dusty miller

home garden plants We’re getting their bed ready.
home garden preparation with the wheelbarrow

home garden preparation - rake and dirt The marigolds will border the vegetable garden to keep pests away. As we dug little holes for them today, Elora-Belle kept calling them “miracles,” and well, they kind of are.
summer garden plants - marigoldsThe dusty miller is slated to border the herb garden. It’s gray-green velvety leaves remind me of snowflakes. (Although that could very well be because I’m in Florida and my recollection of snowflakes is gathering cobwebs in the far recesses of my memory. We did have a very sudden hail storm (??!!) the other day. Elora slept through it; Danny Boy stood glued to the window with pudgy still-baby fingers resting on the sill and finally pronounced, “I eat it.” Which he did.)
summer garden plants

summer garden begoniasThe vibrant begonias are for a flower bed in front of this wonderful, curly philodendron for a shout of color in a shady corner of the yard.
philodendron leaves Tender herbs will fill in the herb garden that sits right outside the back door.

herbs and vegetables for summer gardenAnd these little veggie shoots are destined for frittatas, smoothies, salads, and other delectables.

swiss chard for summer garden

I can’t wait.

Muhly Grass

One of my favorite things about fall (or shall we say “fall” — our highs are in the 80s still) in Tallahassee is the Muhly (pronounced “mew-lee”) Grass. Isn’t its purple mist alluring? muhly grass See how it catches the sunlight and glints it back, diaphanous? So fine and frail alone; so stunning viewed together, as one.

muhly grass

Girl’s Ruffle Skirt in Lemonade Seersucker

So, one end-of-summer sewing project is done. Elora-Belle and I call it the Lemonade Skirt. I love how it turned out. girls layered skirt

The seersucker is really a perfect weight for the ruffles, which bounce and swish, even when Elora-Belle is just walking.

The entire skirt is made from strips of fabrics, so it goes together quickly and easily, and the pattern is quite forgiving.

I used Dana’s Tutorial: The Layered Skirt. I even employed her so-called “cheater method” for gathering fabric – and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to sewing rows of basting stitches and tugging.

girls layered skirt

girls layered skirt

If you’ve been itching to try ruffles but have been scared to give them a go, this ruffle skirt will give you a healthy dose of practice gathering and attaching ruffles (JDP, this means you). And the end product is so, so cute. Don’t you think?

girls layered skirt

Though it could certainly be dressed up, this skirt, as you can see, is also perfect for running around in. And the skirt will carry well into fall by being worn over leggings.

The elastic waist doesn’t hamper maneuverability, which is very necessary for butterfly stalking among the zinnias…

girls layered skirtgirls layered skirt

… in their final shouts of color before cooler weather mutes them.

zinnias