Because perfect isn’t always in the cards.
Try to imagine if you will that today and only while you’re reading this, of course, you feel less than stunningly talented, less than utterly gorgeous and believe it or not, maybe even somewhat shy of perfect. Are you with me so far?
Now atop that crazy, outlandish scenario, add in the painful awareness that money is a bit tighter this year than it was a few years ago and that on this particular day (like many of your other days, actually), you find yourself nearly overwhelmed by all of those impertinent demands of time, patience and money your life extracts from you just to keep from losing ground. Still following along?
Stir all of those criteria into the equivalent of an imagination smoothie, trying to ignore its slightly bitter aftertaste, picturing yourself instead within that slide of shortening October days, zooming full tilt through the depths of autumn and toward winter. Sigh.
So, within our imaginary scenario you should now see a red arrow flashing on your mental map that says boldly, “You are here.”
And though you’re certainly not complaining, and though you know deep inside that everything, ultimately will be just fine, some part of your heart-informed brain asks: “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to give yourself a few little bouquets to cheer yourself up, to brighten and feather your increasingly indoor-centered nest?”
“How about a simple bouquet for the kitchen table?” you wonder, “And maybe a couple of tussie mussies, one for the bathroom window sill and maybe another for the bedside table?”
Problem is, after paying for all the kids back to school clothes and supplies, and the inescapable fact that it is nearly the end of the month, and well, with those holidays speeding toward you like a runaway freight train, there really isn’t much of this month’s budget left, nor of next month’s to spare for buying non-essentials, no matter how essential they might feel. So what do you do? Go without? Surely no one would fault you, or probably even notice. But you’d notice.
Of course, you would happily cut flowers and foliage from your own garden (or the pots on your deck), to cheer up your home, but it is rather late in the season and with all the rains and the wind, and these recent chilly nights, pretty much everything left out there looks a bit (or a lot), tattered and faded, and worn. And really, there isn’t enough of any one thing, let alone two or three, still blooming in enough profusion to make much of an elegant floral statement.
Which makes this the perfect time to put on one of those other hats in your fresh-cut, flower-craving wardrobe, one that helps you see the grand adventure in foraging when you can’t quite manage to harvest in bulk . . . or while you’re gleaning from the vacant lot next door rather than using your credit card at the grocery or the florist, or the big box store. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is time once again to practice the magical and underutilized art of the scrounged bouquet.
A tussie mussie doesn’t take much. Really, a couple of sprigs of rosemary, a blade or two, maybe three, of ornamental grass. Then add in a few blooms of whatever you can still find blooming in some sheltered corner of your garden and within a few minutes of playful searching you’ve gathered a sweet little visual punctuation mark for one of your visually hungry rooms. Over the years I’ve come to see this as a fun, wintertime challenge: how much and what sort of magic can I scrounge up in measure enough to populate a tiny bouquet or two.
The tussie mussie pictured just above is one of several happy little bouquets made yesterday by my sweetie, Mary, for her homey cottage. As you can see, in this one she’s tucked several tall, slender, light-catching elements scrounged from her nearly dormant garden into an elegant, narrow throated, antique bud vase.
Just below is another of Mary’s tussie mussies, this one a shorter combination of scrounged ingredients, including a few straggler, Aster frikartii blooms, a bit of Pieris japonica foliage, a few gleaned lengths of generous, Geranium ‘Anne Folkard’, a cluster of Skimmia japonica (red berries and leaves), a couple of small Autumn fern frondlets and the very last of her mahogany colored Rudbeckia flowers.
As for the first bouquet at the top of this blog post, those elements were gathered by yours truly a few days ago, all located, clipped and then arranged within a few minutes.
I really just wanted something cheerful for my kitchen table and decided it would be fine if it looked slightly wild and disheveled, not unlike my work schedule of late. What you see in that photo is simply what I could manage to procure and then poke into that water-filled vase within the few minutes I had between work projects.
Candidly, I consider it, like many of my other scrounged bouquets, a sort of vegetable soup bouquet, you know, where you attempt to build a satisfying broth out of whatever flavorful bits of goodness you can find in the refrigerator, making something good from them before they go bad. In this case the refrigerator was my chilly October garden, and what I found out there was a smorgasbord of texture and color in slightly tattered ones and twos.
Geranium ‘Anne Folkard’ and Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Golden Celebration roses and White Meidland roses; these are plants that keep on giving. Then there are Autumn fern fronds and Asters, and a sprig or two of Cotinus leaves and a half dozen shiny red, Lonicera (honeysuckle), berries, and some Nandina (Heavenly Bamboo), foliage and a few magenta mums, and finally, several elegant pink, Schizostylis coccinea (Kaffir lily), stalks. More than enough when stirred all together.
Then, before bringing this gleaned floral melange indoors, I set it carefully on a block of wood on the garden path, framed up a low-angled, tight-cropped shot with my 2oo mm lens (to stack up the perspective and throw the background way out of focus), carefully making sure that a remaining cluster of uncut Schizostylis and a bramble of sun washed witch hazel branches gave texture to the blur beyond.
The entire project took just a few minutes of my time and not a single dollar of cash from my wallet, and I’ve been enjoying it now for most of the week. As much as I love buying bunches and bunches of flowers throughout the year from the people who so lovingly grow them and arrange them, some weeks scrounging is the difference between having an abundance of flowers in my house and not having flowers. Pretty simple, really.
So, how about you? Scrounge bouquets much?
Think you might wanna try?