Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dusty June posy


June, for me, is the slowest month. It's hot, dry and still, day after day. Springtime storminess is behind us and the so-called monsoon season is yet to begin. It's steady, at least; you don't have the dust storms of springtime or the thunderstorms of July and August. You don't have much of anything, weather-wise - just heat and dryness. Grasshoppers, bees and moths flit from one dusty plant to the next; road-runners, lizards and doves are still, quieter, as they bask under a clear, dark blue sky. The only sounds come from cicadas and hummingbirds, chirping and buzzing, respectively, in the trees. June is the in-between time, a season unto itself.

The landscape changes too. Plant growth, so promising a few months ago, seems almost to cease in June. My roses have already finished their first blush, with new leaf-buds just starting to appear. The hibiscuses actually are growing rather quickly but they won't flower for another month. Our small plot of grass would be a hayfield if we didn't run the sprinklers. Now, most of the color in the yard comes from the drought-tolerant plants. Lavender, yarrow, Spanish broom, honeysuckle, rosemary, chocolate daisies and a variety of sages have put out their flowers, which are tougher than the roses and irises of late spring, better-equipped to withstand the parched month of June.


I try not to purchase flowers in the store once the winter months are over. I want to rely on whatever is growing in my own yard instead. As the summer progresses, the flowers change. I don't prefer any one kind over another - I use them all as often as possible, arranging and clipping until I like what I see. For June, I'm using Russian sage and yarrow in a simple glass vase. I like this arrangement. It's sort of moody - it echoes how I feel during this hot, dry month. I feel a bit anxious for the next part of the summer season to arrive. I feel a bit washed-out. I feel a little parched.


Yarrow is hardy. Its flowers begin life as a small, rounded knot of buds, tightly packed and enveloped in pale, fuzzy green. The knot opens and small bright-yellow blossoms are revealed. As they grow, they darken and dull in color, until they are a mellow mustard-gold tone. They look like sunshine, muted. They also remind me a bit of broccoli florets, maintaining their tightly-packed structure even as they age and wither.


Russian sage is delicate, frond-like, feathery. Each small, dusty lavender-colored bud opens to reveal a bluish-purple flower with two or three petals. The sage has a powerful scent; you can just barely wash it off your skin with soap and water. I usually don't bother. It's a dusky, spicy herbal perfume. I like the way it smells. In winter, when we prune the sage to remove the old growth, its stalks have become sharp and dry. They scratch our hands and arms. There are no flowers then, and the spent fronds are grayish and hollow inside. But even then, the scent practically explodes from the newly-cut plants and lingers in the yard for hours.


The leaves of both plants are soft and velvety at first, then dry and easily crushed between the fingers. Their grayish-green colors complement the muted tones of their flowers. My yarrow-and-sage bouquet reminds me of herbal bouquets hung upside-down to dry - spindly, dry and dusty even when freshly-cut. But they don't wilt; they'll stand at attention in the vase, with just a bit of water, for a week or more.

My June posy reminds me of the basic elements of my environment, a place where water is scarce, and therefore precious; a place where roses, lilacs and even wildflowers bloom briefly. But hardy plants like sage and yarrow thrive under the fiercest of conditions. I grow more appreciative of this place where the tough things survive, where plants and animals adapt to harsh elements, where fire is a real and frequent threat, where seasons are marked by weeks of dryness or days of heavy rain, by brilliant skies or ominous ones, by oven-baked winds or icy gales.

26 comments:

  1. Beautiful, the colours compliment each other perfectly

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  2. Wow, yet another pretty posy Jennifer! I can see what you mean about the broccoli appearance, it certainly looks very interesting. I really like the mustard colour and you made the perfect choice matching it with Russian sage. They really do compliment each other well. I cannot even imagine what it must be like when the weather is so relentlessly dry and humid. Over here, June weather is so unpredictable! You never know whether to wear a coat or whether you need a brolly! Have a great week. :))

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  3. Hey Jennifer,
    The landscape that you live in is so different from mine. Today it started fine, then it rained, then it was muggy and himid and this evening has been a belter with wall to wall sunshine. The colours of your flowers really compliment each other. I have some Yarrow in my garden, and I really like the look of the russian sage. I am putting it on my plant lust list.
    Leanne xx

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  4. Beautiful arrangement such a delightful colour combination. It never ceases to amaze the different climates all over the world. The computer and blogging certainly opens your eyes.

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  5. Jennifer, you write so very well. Your words, far more than your images this time, conjure up the special qualities if this month in your very different climate. I could almost feel the dry heat and burning sun as I read. I still love your posy and your description of it. :-)

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  6. We are oven baked over here for sure. I'm surprised that there any flowers blooming here in this heat. But I guess the bougainvillea and other such established trees and bushes are resistant enough. They sure are blooming brilliantly now. Your little arrangement is lovely. Have a wonderful day. Tammy

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  7. Hello Jennifer, beautiful arrangement and lovely words. Hugs :D

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  8. Such a pretty posy, and I love the vase you chose to display it in. Lavender is a favorite of mine! I have a pot of it on my patio this year, and it smells so good.

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  9. I love the description of your posy.-It turned out lovely.

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  10. Beautiful writing in this post Jennifer! Truly stunning! And your arrangement is so very gorgeous....I happen to be a huge fan of both of these plants. For their blooms and for their performance in handling the different environmental factors that we face these days. I really like how you rely on blooms from your own space. That first photo did capture an amazing essence that is somewhat indescribable....just love it! Wishing you a great end to your week friend! Nicole xoxo

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  11. Jennifer, I think your flowers are beautiful. You write so well, I almost think that you're a professional writer when I read your blog. Thank you for sharing your home and life with us.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  12. I have never seen Yarrow, although I remember reading about it in The Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter when I was young. It looks so yellow, it's beautiful. Now if you can show me what ginseng flower looks like, I'll be able to reread the book with full brain pictures.

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  13. I had no idea June was so dry and parched in your country Jennifer, and your description is really interesting. Nor have I heard of yarrow, which is a very striking looking plant, and combined with the purple Russian sage creates a wonderful seasonal posy. Great post!

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  14. Such descriptive writing - so different from here which is still so green after all the rain we've had. x

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  15. I can almost hear those cicadas over here! Lovely descriptive post, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing a little slice of your life. Everything here is lush and green and the gardens are bursting with colour. A perfect time of year here.x

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  16. I can send you some rain over if you like. Your posy is so simple yet so effective, the flowers compliment each other beautifully.

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  17. I loved your writing here. I remember you saying that June can be a tough month where you live, with the relentless heat. There is a really spare, simple beauty about your posy - no frills or frivolous leaves. just flowers that worked really hard to grow. x

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  18. A beautiful post and posy, Jennifer. I love yarrow, it adds such interest to my herb garden, and the sage is so pretty, I'm going to search some out! Chrissie x

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  19. Jennifer,
    Beautiful mix of textures and colors. I so enjoy how your posy is also symbolic of the season-great post!
    Joyce

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  20. What a beautiful post! I love Russian Sage - mine is blooming quite nicely right now. Your month of June reminds me of our August here.

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  21. Your flowers are lovely. I love yarrow - we call it achillea here - I plant one very year, but they don't last through the winter in our garden. I treat them as growing bunch of flowers in that the cost of the plant is the same as a bunch of flowers, but it lasts longer. I live in hope that one year they will last through and come back again the next year. I have never grown Russian sage, but I imagine that it does well in your dry climate as sage does like arid conditions in general. Happy gardening! xx

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  22. Such a lovely striking posy, the colours are such a fantastic contrast. How hot is it with you now? And how hot will it get? I guess when it's too fierce you stay inside with air conditioning on. It's warm and dry here at the moment, but not too hot, and everything is lush and green in June and growing fast. But I know what you mean about heat and energy, I feel the same when I'm too hot. I do hope you feel yourself again soon. CJ xx

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  23. Your posy is so lovely Jennifer, as is your post. I've been feeling similarly appreciative today of the place where I live. Everywhere has it's own particular beauty, don't you find.

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  24. Such a beautiful posy Jennifer. Your climate is so different. There's been no shortage of rain here (give it a few weeks of sunny weather and everyone will be in a panic over hosepipe bans and drought!). I love to hear about how precious water is to you in your climate.

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  25. Lovely posy Jennifer, the colours go well together. I love lavender and use it often in the house. Enjoyed reading your post.....thanks for sharing. x

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  26. I love reading your posts about the weather. You could be writing about another planet. Our weather is soooo different. During the week it's been hot and sticky, last night was an amazing thunderstorm with torrential rain, today has been mixed - sunny and warm one minute, then cloudy the next and making me think I should put on a cardigan. Then the sun is out again and I'm reaching for the suncream! Mad!

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