As I was cleaning up the garden and preparing for the upcoming chilly weather, I noticed the wonderful variety of flowers still in bloom. Don't get me wrong, mum's are nice and I'm sure I'll even be planting a few of them myself. But while we think of fall as a time of colorful leaves on the trees, you might want to take a moment to notice the many other colorful contenders.
For this week's pay-it-forward, I decided to gather a variety of flowers, foliage and other fauna and arrange it into a vase to give to a neighbor. (I make a point to purchase inexpensive used vases from thrift stores and yard sales and keep a supply on hand, as this PIF can be done throughout the blooming season.)
So my son and I went exploring to see what we could find, keeping an open mind to what we could put in our vase. It really was amazing to see the assortment of flowers -- and shrubs -- that are still putting on a show.
Sedum, hardy ageratum, mini blacked-Susan, asters,....
... Japanese anemone, tall verbena, caryopteris, and butterfly bush.
Don't forget the not-so-obvious which work great for filler, like crabapple, persicaria, boxwood, euonymous, ...
... blooming annuals (which will be dying soon anyway,) decorative tree branches like birch or curly willow, fall-colored leaves, and annual foliage.
You never know what other unexpected treasures you'll find on your search, like this fascinating praying mantis that my son found.
After clipping a variety of fresh blooms and foliage, my son helped me arrange it all into a vase and then delivered it to a neighbor. She was so pleased, she insisted on rewarding my son with some candy treats, which my son considered to be a great idea. And after making one for our PIF project, we still had enough flowers and foliage to make an arrangement for ourselves.
For your own flower and foliage foraging, you'll want to bring with you a bucket of water and a pair of garden clippers. I also recommend wearing gloves, because you don't want to accidentally grab onto something that has legs without your hands being protected. If you don't have enough of a variety in your own backyard, browse the roadside -- but be careful of traffic. Your child might also want to bring along a magnifying glass, for those more interesting creatures!