Snippets – By Roanne Robbins

With the Thanksgiving Floral Arrangement Class coming up I have been out in the garden gathering materials. Thinking about color palettes-wanting something bright and sunny for the table. Today I decided to cut up the rust toned mums which have totally had it in the container. Yesterday I  started hacking some old grapevines out of the forsythia and thought a tangled nest at the bottom of my candle ring would be fun.  I weaved some purple calicarpa in and around the base and tucked in some fun deluxe  yellow-orange ilex berries. Ilex verticulata ‘Winter gold ‘ is a new addition to the garden this year and though it is still getting used to its new spot and is a bit tiny,  I am grateful for any berries it will give me. I am loving the brown, yellow-orange rust palette that is going on here!! - roanne

viburnum callicarpa crabapple berries

I’ve been outside snipping little bits, gathering tiny treasures from nature and making inspiration boards for the Thanksgiving Floral workshop that Rochelle and I are holding on the 14th. Todays board is all about berries. SO many colors, sizes and density of clusters to play with. - Roanne

clockwise: callicarpa, crabapples, viburnum, cotoneaster, ilex
Photo credit John Gruen

textural container planting
My fall container compositions need a switch out.  The mums look tired, the veggies have given up and the grasses have not fared well in the enormous gusts of wind. Time has been escaping me lately and I am thinking that I should just transition my containers along before the next shift in the wind comes and I am chiseling away at icy soil. I have been hypnotized lately by all the fabulous plant life along the highway. Moving quickly  and paying attention to the road you really only get a textural impression- dense cones of reds, wispy gold threads, linear slashes of browns.

textural winter container plantingThough the color palette will be different. I want my winter containers to be all about long lasting texture. This year I will steer away from the ornamental pull of classic cut greens and opt for something more garden-like; a party of mini conifers, evergreen woodland treasures, heath and heathers.  I am envisioning red sticks slashing across the composition, grid-like webs of birch branches weaving in an out of crisp green bristles, wiry stems spinning around the base of the planting and pillowy patches of mosses resting in the negative space. Now to plant shop! - Roanne

planting for winter containers

images  Alyn Carlson


Interpreting the landscape. Photo Credit: John Gruen/Continuous Container Gardens

A quote I think about when creating a container planting.

“You just can’t plant exotics in the countryside. They just jar. But in town, where the are no points of reference, you can get away with all sorts”-Jinny Blom, Garden Design Magazine, March 2011

The whole concept of point of reference is interesting to me. Connecting the container planting, a superficial garden, to the overall surroundings just makes sense to me. I love extracting cues from the bigger landscape and bringing it up close into the container where it can reflect nature and change. The essence of seasonality is something I strive for whether working with plants or cut flowers. It brings a sense of richness and honesty to the composition. - Roanne

Fall container with crunchy veggies and perennials in cast concrete.

Fall container with crunchy veggies and perennials in cast concrete.A palette of swiss chard, waldsteinia, amsonia, lysmachia, carex, swiss chard, panicum, boltonia. Photo credit: John Gruen/ Continuous Container Gardens

A palette of swiss chard, waldsteinia, amsonia, lysmachia, carex, swiss chard, panicum, boltonia. 

Images: John Gruen/ Continuous Container Gardens

Oh, the end of the annual cutting garden is here. Drips and drabs are hanging on- a few zinnias and stock, the last of the snapdragons and some butterfly weed whose foliage has been altered plum from the whisper of a frost last night. I gather enough to make a small bouquet, stop by the mixed border on the way to the house and snip a few stems of cotinus and physocarpus. Looking in my bucket I realize I have a mess of textures, not enough of one color or element to tell any particular story. Looking around the house I thieve the 5 fiery mango calla lilies from their vase, a minimal display and my total impulse buy from Trader Joes on Monday. With the addition of the callas the color palette is tied together and the cutting garden misfits go out for a last hurrah. - Roanne

image by roanne robbins for studio ‘g’

fall flower arrangement How about some fall arrangement inspiration from our lovely Roanne?   She picked all the flowers and ingredients for this arrangement from the mixed border at Snug Harbor Farm.

Here is the run down of ingredients to inspire your pickings:  (With links from around the web for mail order plants and seeds)

image by roanne robbins 


I have the begonia bug. N and I have been cutting leaves and placing them in old apothecary jars and displaying them all around the house. The leaves look great either arranged en masse in an old barn box or showcased individually in bud vases along the center of the table where they have been inspiring interestingly silly begonia talk at meal times.

begonias cut flowers

My 4-year-old daughter, husband and I will ask each other fun questions like; Which begonia looks most like dinosaur skin? Which begonia would make a nice hat? And my favorite, if begonias could sing what song would it like best?


Prehistoric looking wrinkles and bumps, flashy splotches of color, the hairy stems- I love it all. Come to our house at dinnertime and you just might find us rocking out with tiny bottles of begonia leaves in our hands. ~ Roanne

images by Roanne Robbins