Jar Full of Joy

GardenFall provides an explosion of color.

by Charlie Thigpen  

Photography by Chuck St. John   


In September, summer blooms collide with fall flowers for an explosion of color. As our night temperatures dip and begin to push away summer’s stifling heat, some of the warm season plants are rejuvenated and look fresh again and fall bloomers such as asters, dahlias, marigolds, mums and salvia come into their glory. It’s the perfect time to head into the garden with clippers and gather a fist full of summer and fall flowers and maybe a little foliage to celebrate the changing seasons with a fresh bouquet. If you don’t have any flowers to cut, you can purchase fresh, locally grown blooms from the farmer’s market.


GardenGrowing Dahlias, Zinnias and More

Don Ehrett manages M–POWER Community Gardens, which supports M–POWER Ministries by growing and sharing flowers and vegetables in a lot next to New Hope Baptist Church in Avondale.  Don and a wide range of volunteers spend hours in the garden each week planting, pruning, harvesting and watering vegetables, herbs, colorful zinnias and dahlias. Two–thirds of the veggies grown are donated to agencies helping those in need. The flowers are also harvested and sold to help cover the garden’s cost. This community garden has hundreds of dahlias and zinnias so the garden not only feeds the neighborhood but it also beautifies the area. We work with Don and sell these beautiful flowers on Saturday during the Pepper Place Farmers Market. We pair the flowers with our coleus cuttings for simple yet striking arrangements. The vibrant colors of the coleus, dahlias and zinnias work together and showcase the early autumn hues.


Cut While It’s Cool   

Cut flowers and foliage early in the morning, preferably before the sun hits the plants. Place the cut stems immediately into cool water and quickly get them out of the sun. The better you tend to cut flowers on the front end the longer the blooms will last. The zinnias can last up to a week and the large dahlias will last two to three days. You can prolong the life of the dahlias by dipping the cut ends into two inches of boiling water for 30 seconds.Garden


Arranging Foliage and Flowers

Here, we used showy coleus leaves in our arrangements as filler and we placed Don’s dahlias and zinnias above the coleus foliage. For lines and interest, the greenish yellow cones from Rudbeckia nitida and the wispy seed plumes that top purple fountain grass were tucked into the arrangements. You’ll want to keep arrangements low if they are to be used as a table centerpiece.

When arranging flowers keep it simple and don’t try to do too much. It doesn’t take much to showcase beautiful blooms. Grab some clippers and bring cut flowers inside and enjoy the summer and fall as they combine during the transition of the seasons.

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