Seasonal Bouquet

– Posted in: Garden Musings, Garden Photography


I just saw my first Narcissus blooming !  So I put together a seasonal bouquet yesterday in my home office for a client meeting, in hopes that some flowers might distract from the piles of books, files, and clutter all over every surface.

I dashed out to cut a few of these first daffodils, which always seem to arrive before Halloween.  These are ‘Ziva’ paperwhite bulbs, always the first to bloom, needing only to know that it is October to start their growing cycle, and that the California rainy season is about to begin.

holt_903_2061.CR2They were blooming down near the asparagus patch, which has now turned an autumn butter yellow with red berries.   Hmmm . . .  a bouquet ?

Well it doesn’t take much extra time to cut a bit of these yellow leaves, I said to myself as I considered the time before my client was to arrive.  And the yellow foliage color will pick up the color of the daffodil anthers.

asparagus foliage 903_2061.CR2

This does have the makings of a bouquet, especially  if any of the red Camellias are blooming to go with those red asparagus berries.

Camellia sassanqua are reliable winter flowering shrubs here and my pale pink “Apple Blossom” hedge has been blooming for a couple weeks now, but the red “Yuletide”? Well, it took no real effort to look.  I walked back up the driveway toward the office.  Not only were the first blossoms open, I had forgotten they have bright yellow stamens too !  Instant floral designer.


Gardeners can pull off an instant bouquet out of the garden almost anytime, be it spring bulbs, summer flowers, autumn foliage, winter evergreens, recognizing the interests of every season, grasses, roses, wildflowers, branches, etc., etc.   There is almost always some bit of nature we can bring into our homes on any given day that reflects the season and connects us to the earth.

I bet many of you do it instinctively. It just amazes me though, here in California, in October, that I can’t decide what season to call it.  Here is bouquet I gathered in my Sonoma garden about 15 years ago –  in December.  What is most unusual ?


Saxon Holt
Saxon Holt is the owner of, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at
Saxon Holt

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Donna October 26, 2013, 5:27 pm

Very true on the instant bouquet. Your arrangement is very beautiful in its simplicity. Often, I take to the meadows to bring home some ‘weedy’ loveliness and sometimes add a bit from the garden too.

Hi Donna – ‘Weeds’going to seed this time of year can add a lot to these sort of pick-up bouquets. -Saxon

Tobie Schapiro October 26, 2013, 6:29 pm

Thank you so much for remitting these wonderful gardening gems to me. I love all of them. It has opened a whole new world to me.
I am especially obsessed with succulents. Have found new contacts for remarkable pots (Don Hunt, Susan Aach) and discovered new gardens and nurseries.
Special thanks to Debra Lee Baldwin. It all began after I purchased her two books at Bancroft Gardens. She started me on this magical journey into the enchanting world of succulents.

Cindy Hewatt October 26, 2013, 7:28 pm

Beautiful photos!

Thanks !

Cathy October 26, 2013, 9:06 pm

Just lovely, Saxon! And blooms I’m not used to seeing here on the East Coast. I have never seen paperwhites growing narurally in the garden. I force them during the winter.

We had guests for dinner tonight and I filled a teapot with some late roses, lavender. and Montauk daisies and a touch of Japanese holly for greens. Strewed some maple leaves all over the table. It looked nice. You’re so right though…. even in the dog days of August, I can always put together something decorative, even just some herbs from the herb garden.

Your Sonoma garden basket is wonderful… perfect for our front step LOL. You asked what is most unusual…. I’m not certain, but would it be the fruit? Or are the lavender flowers lilacs? It’s a lovely vignette. 😉

Hi Kathy – I don’t know why paperwhites would not do well anywhere that other daffodils are planted, but as I say this I confess I don’t know the ecology behind this group of narcissus. Maybe they are particularly suited to dry summers and would rot elsewhere ?

And what I thought was most unusual from the December Sonoma bouquet basket were the pentstemon. What you see as the lavender flowers are not lilacs (THAT would be extraordinary) but heather that is a great winter bloomer for us. – Saxon

Andrea October 27, 2013, 5:52 pm

Ha! I thought I was the only one to use asparagus sprigs and berries in fall bouquets! I love seedheads and grasses as well.

Those feathery foliage sprigs from the asparagus are SO great when the berries come out aren’t they ? – Saxon

Gail Klein October 27, 2013, 7:31 pm

Very Striking!
are there instructions in any of your posts on how to create such a photo-black background please?

Fran Sorin October 28, 2013, 10:33 am

Saxon – you’re singing to the choir on this one. Thanks so much for reminding us how nature offer elements for an indoor arrangement any time of the year.

Although I don’t have daffodils in bloom (I love Kivas), and my annuals have bit the dust, it’s not a problem. Between Panicum ‘Northwinds’ and the purple plumes of a Pennisetum var., I’ve got myself one heck of an arrangement.

And if I want to add another element to the grasses, I can take my pruner, walk down the street and cut some branches from a few bushes.

Simple, easy, and beautiful.

The photo of the bouquet taken in December is astounding. Fran

Yes Fran, this time of year, grass and branches (with berries and seedheads) offer great simply bouquets. And that particular December I remember being astounded myself that I could pick roses. Not all that unusual if you remember to feed them in the late summer, and what you see was all I had – Saxon

Linda Lehmusvirta October 28, 2013, 1:15 pm

I love this bouquet! And the reason behind it–distract from clutter. Ooh, good one. Will have to use something else here since our narcissus, asparagus and camellias are still on vacation in California.

Hey Linda – I bet you folks in Texas can find grasses and seedheads, and maybe some tumbleweeds … – Saxon

Saxon Holt October 28, 2013, 3:26 pm

Gail – This particular background began as the nightime darkness outside my window. I cleaned up the reflections of the bouquet in PhotoShop using a layer mask, selecting every part of the bouquet (quite tedious given gaps in all the foliage) and changing the background, the unselected areas, to black. Because I was using a black background to start with I did not need to be perfect; but if I wanted to have the bouquet on a white background there would be noticeable gaps and black holes from those areas I did not select. Hope this helps. I will be doing a more detailed explanation in my e-book of a similar masking technique on white background. Send me your email to be sure to be on the mailing list.

Denise October 29, 2013, 5:17 pm

I love looking through gardening and food blogs. My friend just told me about yours and also “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. I just “Liked” his page and came to see your site. I’m glad when people share blogs with each other. Denise

Thanks Denise – You are just the sort of person we like – who shares with others. – Saxon

Charlie@Seattle Trekker October 29, 2013, 10:21 pm

What a wonderful bouquets…the photos are amazing and so enjoyable to look at, thank you.

Thanks for dropping by Charlie. Good photos makes the rest of the post easy. – Saxon

Anna October 30, 2013, 7:20 pm

Some great photos there, Saxon .. really love those paperwhites, they’d look great on my kitchen windowsill!

Thanks Anna – Paperwhites look good anywhere, but I do caution folks that they are VERY fragrant and can overpower a small room. – Saxon

Fran Sorin November 6, 2013, 9:13 am


I want to let you know that your note was received and appreciated. The post you are commenting on was written by none other than Saxon Holt. I know that Debra Lee Baldwin- who is presently traveling – will also appreciate the kind words you have sent her way. Fran

Daniel Foley November 14, 2013, 3:56 pm

What an astonishingly beautiful arrangement. It looks like the most elegant arrangement of flowers in such a casual looking basket. It really illustrates how available beauty is to all of us. Thank you for sharing these photos. It made my day!

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