Emergency roadside services…

Wild parsnip in the fieldThe roadsides and fields around The Barns are filled with many wild flowers and grasses, lush with our abundant rains. When an emergency centerpiece was needed on Monday, I went out with my clippers. This chartreuse umbrel is wild parsnip (Pasticaca sativa) which looks like a flat headed Queen Anne’s Lace and blooms at the same time. In looking up the botanical name, I was surprised to see that the leaves are toxic. OY! I have been picking the flowers without gloves for years. You can see that they stand out way above the foliage so that’s perhaps how I’ve escaped any rash. Whew!

Rumex turns bronzeCommon dock (Rumex obtusifolius) bloomed in June and is now going to seed. It is handsome from its green flowers through its transition to bronze seed heads.

Physocarpus on the driveOn the drive and next to the road but not a wild roadside plant is this striking shrub ‘Ninebark’ (Physocarpus opulifolius “Diabolo’ which I love for its dramatic colored foliage which stands out amidst all the farm greens.

 Flowers waitingPicking anything in summer means in the cool of the morning and plunging them into cool deep water to hydrate for several hours.

 Green ceramic containerThe cool green ceramic container seemed to be in harmony both with the plant material and where they would be displayed…..

Rattan basket cache-pot… in a rattan basket, kind of a cache-pot, sitting on a pale green runner.

Wild parsnip in the basketThe wild parsnips were cut to various lengths and placed to fill the rectangular container, slightly spilling over the sides.

 Wild parsnip plus PhysocarpusShort stems of Physocarpus were placed close to the oasis to fill in and to link the rattan color to the design. A little late for this, I decided on adding the dock for more interest – as it should have been put in first.

 Dock, parsnip and basketsFinally the long seed heads of dock were added to give the whole design additional height and enrich the color with the baskets. The second flat basket (which is an old kimono basket) adds more presence in relationship to the height.


About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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2 Responses to Emergency roadside services…

  1. Alexandra says:

    Good grief – toxic leaves!! Who knew?

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