Wednesday Vignette – the nuns are bored

Remember that meditation garden I designed last year for the Benedictine Sisters? It’s filling in nicely, and I go down to see now and then, to check on its progress. It’s only been a year and a half since we began the installation, but what an exceptionally awful year it’s been – especially the past six months or so. With the pandemic shutting everything down, like most everyone else the Sisters found themselves on lockdown, with extra time on their hands. They were bored and wanted a cutting garden, so they could make bouquets. Plus – as we all know – spending time in gardens is good for both heart and soul, especially in grievous times.

Recently, I got called back down there for a consultation. The Sisters want to rework some other areas of the campus as well. “We’re tired of looking at it”, said my feisty favorite, Sister Jane. When I asked what they want me to do, I was told I can do whatever I want. Within reason, of course, but…. Hooray!! How fun!

Some plants can be divided and spread around, and some will most definitely do better in a different spot. Others still, are simply best removed and replaced. So, for the last couple of weeks, I have spent one day a week playing at being an estate gardener. They even granted me digging help in the form of a gentleman named Aden. He’s great! I wish I could bring him home to help me out in my garden.

The nuns took a field trip to nearby Swan Island Dahlias and ordered their favorites for next spring. My plan is to replace tired old shrubs mostly with others (and some perennials too), using the same kind of criteria I used in the meditation garden – plus the addition of one more; their flowers and foliage should preferably hold up great in a vase. This is my newest learning curve, and I could use your help. What is your favorite cut flower/foliage/berries/etc.?

This is a great chance for me to use the kind of fabulous large shrubs that most urban gardens have no room for. Having this kind of space to work with feels absolutely luxurious! So far, we have added (or at least decided on the inclusion of) a Buddleja japonica, Cotoneaster nitida, Rhamnus alaternus ‘Argenteovariegata’, Cotinus ‘Royal Purple’, Cotinus ‘Grace’, and our native Vaccinium ovatum. And, they are of course welcome to harvest the goodies in the meditation garden, to their hearts’ content.

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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16 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – the nuns are bored

  1. Good to see you being asked back. We are currently enjoying cut dahlias

  2. Jenni says:

    Dahlia’s are amazing and will provide a bounty of cut flowers for the Sisters. Astrantia provides lovely cut flowers that have a long vase life. Zinnia’s are my favorite for an easy summer annual. Lot’s of blooms, long vase life. However, I sprinkle nasturtium in my gardens. They self sow every year and I’m treated with blooms that have many uses (food for me, food for the bumble bees).

  3. krispeterson100 says:

    I wasn’t sure what to expect from that title but a cutting garden – what fun! I turned my veg garden into a cutting garden a few years ago and haven’t regretted it – I put together vases once a week for the meme “In a Vase on Monday.” Dahlias make great cut flowers for summer, as do zinnias and sunflowers. (I’d love to learn what dahlias the nuns selected.) I grow anemone coronaria, foxgloves and a host of other plants from seed (Nigella, larkspur, sweet peas) during the cool season. My favorite foliage for arrangements is Agonis flexuosa ‘Nana’ but I’ve also been using Leptospermum ‘Copper Glow’ a lot lately. Some of the Abelias also provide great foliage.

    Here’s my WV:

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh Kris – I have seen your bouquets. You are the Queen of Fab Flower Arranging. I was hoping you would add your thoughts to this post. Had to look up Agonis – it’s fabulous! I know we can’t reliably grow either that or Leptospermum in these parts, but definitely Abelia. Good one – I will be sure to add that to the mix. The Agonis reminds me a little of Leucothoe ‘Scarletta’ which is hardy here. I had one, but sadly it developed a terrible fungus problem and died. Might have to try it again though – it’s so lovely!

  4. Yay you used that line!!! I agree with the others about zinnia and I’ll add a vote for bells of Ireland, Moluccella laevis. The tall green spires with a lovely faint scent just can’t be beat, and they last forever in a vase.

    My WV:

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh yes, how could I not use it! Thank you for that – it came in very handy when I was tired and uninspired. Keep’em coming!
      I love the look of the Bells of Ireland. Good to know they are long-lived once cut.

  5. I am so happy for you, being invited back to the Sisters. I know how much you enjoyed working with them before. How about Echinacea? And Crocosmia, I love them, and when the blooming is over, the seed pods are lovely, I think

  6. hb says:

    It must be lovely to get out to a different space safely right now.

  7. tonytomeo says:

    A Benedictine Monastery where I worked in the late 1980s was almost burned by the Bobcat Fire. The pear trees that were planted in the late 1950s should still be fine. I suppose that even if the area had burned, the pear trees would eventually recover. I looked for pictures of them, but could no find any. Anyway, the Benedictine Monks were certainly not bored through this ordeal.

    • annamadeit says:

      Ugh… fires are so scary. You can at least control your own risk-taking in regards to Covid. With fires, we are all pretty much powerless, especially if they are coupled by high winds. The monastery here were quite close to the largest Oregon fire, and inundated by smoke for a while, but thankfully, the fire never got as close as the ones in CA.

  8. Auma Arunachala says:

    Carnations are wonderful cut flowers. They last a very long time, are so neat, can stand all alone, and have a mild lovely scent.

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