How is it that something so bright and colorful can bring a sense of calm? I admire the tiny florets that combine to form the grand hydrangea and the tumbling clematis vining up the fence. They are at once complex yet simple.
As the cool spring has moved to toasty summer, the buds have grown to ornate blossoms. The sun kisses them, and they grow larger while their color brightens and deepens. When these flower friends greet me each day, they lift my spirit and bring me peace and joy.
Flowers appear simple, yet they are the lynchpin in a complicated food web. For example, as I write these words, two dainty hummingbirds and a rotund bumblebee dart from flower to flower on the honeysuckle vine right outside my door. Flowers truly are the insect and bird world’s kitchen, or should I say dinner plate.
For years, I’ve had a whimsical clematis vine climbing my fence. Its delicate tendrils curl around the wrought iron with deep purple flowers poking out here and there. Politely reaching up and out, it slowly expands its reach every year. I try to tell it, “grow faster, grow higher, my beautiful vine. You can never be too much for me.” But it takes its sweet time, growing little by little as the years unwind.
Blossoms envelop my clematis vine for many weeks throughout midsummer. I find myself dreaming up new spots where I could place a trellis and tuck in another variety.
With all its colors and variations, clematis is a vine that the gardening world has been collectively enamored with for centuries. Hailing originally from Asia, it was brought to Europe in the early 1800s and finally made its way to the New World. It is regarded by many as the Queen of Vines, and that it is, possessing both grace and beauty.
For myriad reasons, I recommend planting hydrangeas more than any other bush. They are like that person in your life who’s practically perfect in every way. Not only are the flowers beautiful, but their bloom times extend for months, from early summer through to the next year when you finally prune them. Additionally, they get more beautiful as they age, often going from ivory or pale green to pink or even deep rose as autumn progresses.
Many plants, trees, and bushes are suited to particular climates, called hardiness zones. Being in a northern climate, there are several southern plants for which I have intense zone envy. Some include the more ornate hydrangea varieties, like the lacecap and mountain hydrangea.
These jewel-toned beauties have graced southern gardens for eons. However, thanks to our busy scientists, more of these colorful varieties are becoming available in the northern zones.
If you’re looking for just one very good reason to live in a southern hardiness zone, it’s the ability to grow dahlias as a perennial. These plants sport massive pom pom-like blooms that can stand several feet tall. Humans have fawned over dahlias for centuries, and for good reason.
The flowers come in every color of the rainbow (except blue and black). They can be a dainty two inches in diameter or a massive 10 inches across. Hailing from Central America, dahlias are the national flower of Mexico.
While I can’t quite imagine digging up this beauty just so I could sauté its root, it was originally classified as a vegetable thanks to its edible, mocha-tasting tuber. I guess the powers that be agreed with me because it was eventually reclassified as a flower. One of its most favored qualities is its late summer bloom time. Right when other flowers are starting to fade, dahlias are going strong, and they continue right up until the frost.
As I breathe in the deep purple color and the intoxicating aroma of my newly gathered lavender bouquet, my worries melt away. On gray and rainy days, I often light a lavender-scented votive candle and let the fragrance waft throughout the house, creating a warm, cozy mood.
My love for lavender runs deep, and the scent elicits a deep emotional response in me. I can’t get enough of it. Whether it is in a sachet in my woolens, in the dish soap by my sink, or in a vase on the counter, it’s the one flower I come back to when I’m looking for something special. Maybe it allures me because my northern clime prevents me from growing vast purple fields. Lavender’s relative scarcity up here makes it that much more special.
I suppose until the day I can own a lavender farm, I’ll resign myself to filling my house with lavender-scented tea, lavender candles, lavender soaps, lavender honey, lavender lotion, and lavender water for ironing…Is there ever too much?
The New Summer Flower Art Collection
Now that you see the inspiration behind all of these incredible flowers, you can see why I had to paint them. We really can never have too many flower designs to choose from so here are five more: clematis, lacecap hydrangea, panicle hydrangea, dahlia, and lavender. I hope you enjoy these new designs as much as I enjoyed painting them.
And whenever you sit down to write a note in one of these cards, no matter the time of year, I hope it takes you back to those carefree summer days of sipping iced tea in the garden while the hummingbirds dance all around you.