In a vase on Monday


My vase this week for Cathy’s meme at Rambling in the Garden uses flowers from an area of the garden that I planted up in March this year. The lower half of the Hornbeam Gardens has been planted as a shrub garden – we didn’t have much in the way of good flowering shrubs here until late winter 2015.

This year I added herbaceous under-plantings to try and achieve a meadow effect without wild flowers (although they are not barred, if they care to join in).


The garden doesn’t look much like the vase yet, but the colours of the vase are what I’m trying to achieve.

I started with Calamagrostis ‘England’. Only one plant in 2014, but this year that one plant has provided me with about 20 divisions.

The foliage is yellow and green variegated and when it flowered pink in 2015 I was a bit shocked – pink and yellow together! Ugh! But if you look at the stems you will see that they are yellow and the ‘pink’ flower spikes are composed of violet-tipped individual florets.


How we change – now I think it’s perfect (I’ve even grown to like pink weigela with the upright spikes of Asphodeline lutea – is there something wrong with me?)

To the Calamagrostis I added a few stiff, nearly flowering stems of Deschampsia cespitosa (which add more in life than they do in my pictures).


Then I dotted in the ‘meadow’ flowers growing down in that part of the garden:

Geranium ‘Mrs Kendall Clarke’ and a dark-leaved Geranium himalayense seedling that came from Hardy Plant Society seed. The foliage of this last proves that you don’t need to buy a named cultivar to add a good plant to the garden.

I think I’ve mostly photographed the dark-leaved seedling, because even the stems, buds and sepals are a good dark colour that pleased me.


Then golden Geum ‘Lady Strathenden’ …


… and Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’. This last is probably a bit too droopy for a vase, but I’ve got high hopes of the taller S. caucasica plants added in March.


There are also the dark stems of Salvia ‘Caradonna’ …


… and a bit of Nick’s delphinium ‘King Arthur’ to add deeper colour. This is a cheat, because it won’t obviously be growing in a ‘wild flower’ meadow – even a fake one. But maybe I could add some larkspur to do the same job? Does anyone have experience of it self-seeding?


Finally, I picked some more of my precious Scabiosa atropurpurea, because my new plants are now doing really well (huge with all the rain – they must be nearly three foot tall from soil to flower tip) …


… and the first ‘almost there’ flowers of Achillea ‘Pomegranate’. This, with ‘Strawberry Seduction’, were also new additions to the garden for 2016. They know how to name plants, don’t they? Choosing between a number of achilleas was hard and I think the names swung it in the end.


And my ‘meadow in a vase’!


I doubt it will be long-lasting (and you can see my house needs a lot of work doing to it!), but it was fun to dream about what that part of the garden could look like in the future.

Here I hesitate … but I will. My vase is dedicated to Jo Cox and her family this week, because both the vase and the woman represent (to me) all that’s good and joyful in life.

Now take a look at everyone else’s Monday vases at Cathy’s blog … and see you next Monday.

35 thoughts on “In a vase on Monday

  1. Christina

    Larkspur need a period of cold before they germinate according to my packets of seed; my germination rates weren’t great but enough have grown. I gave the seeds 21 days in the fridge and then when they didn’t germinate in the propagator I put them outside (luckily when we were having some colder weather. They then germinated within a couple of day. Your vase is absolutely gorgeous Cathy.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks so much for your comments on the vase, Christina. Normally I just sow my larkspur seed direct in the ground and they seem to germinate ok without the pre-chill. But it’s a good plan for seed from any plant in the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family, that go quickly into a dormancy which needs to be broken before germination – hellebores etc. They are impossible to germinate without (and sometimes with). An annual like larkspur should be ok, because the ‘dormancy mechanism’ is not so deep – they want to grow! I think the seed companies just use the same blurb for anything within the same family – some of Thompson & Morgan’s seed packet recommendations (and I love them as a company) are simply outrageous!

  2. Cathy

    Yes, it was really interesting reading about the various contents – I am not very well up on the taller grasses yet so it was good to read about those. I have found that grasses tend to last quite well in vases, or at least my shorter ones have done. Lots of lovely photos too. I had good germination from my larkspur without chilling, but it took about a fortnight and they came through in dribs and drabs. Thanks for sharing today

    1. Cathy Post author

      Interesting what you say about the larkspur, Cathy. My direct-sown larkspur also comes through in ‘dribs and drabs’ – thanks for saying that, because it confirms what I had noticed (I thought I was doing something wrong!). Really – I want to know if it will self-sow here – and the only way is to try!

  3. Wild Daffodil

    Delightful! I put some larkspur in the freezer and they germinated but I’ve never had self seed – I guess it’s because our winters have not been cold enough.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I sow mine direct and they do ok. But I need to try leaving them to seed themselves and see what happens, don’t I? (‘Normally’ – as they are fond of saying in France – the winter should be cold enough)

  4. theshrubqueen

    Beautiful combination and definitely a meadow in a vase. I have grown to like orange and pink together, maybe the tropics are frying my design sense. Larkspur always reseeded like mad when I grew it-usually in the herb garden where my husband thought you should eat it. Bad Idea, poisonous.

    1. Cathy Post author

      No – not frying your design sense! We (who think in terms of the ‘right’ colour combinations) are simply coming round to join you! And thanks for understanding that I am interested in the potential of larkspur to perpetuate itself in my garden. I will sow some next year (in my usual way – no pre-chilling), plant it out, and pray that it does the same thing for me as you. But would not be (particularly) happy if it poisoned my husband. So slow to look at vases this week – but will look at yours and everyone else’s tomorrow for sure!

      1. theshrubqueen

        Wonder where the pink/yellow/orange is forbidden concept came from? It is a bit loud. I had larkspur and poppies in my garden further north and let both reseed in place.

      2. Cathy Post author

        My Long Border is definitely looking like the ‘forbidden’ at the moment – and I am growing to love it! Thanks for the input on the larkspur self-sowing. I will try – can only fail and learn!

  5. Sam

    I love this vase of flowers Cathy – it’s absolutely beautiful and my kind of arrangement. Lovely dedication too (such a tragic end to a shining person). Sam x

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks so much. I am so slow at looking at other people’s vases this week, but yours has consistently been one of my favourites and a breath of fresh air! Re Jo – it seems to be such a shaky time for her values – but I do so much hope that her awful death has at least had some positive effect. I read a journalist’s report about talking to someone in her constituency. The woman the journalist was interviewing said that she hadn’t known Jo, but that when she had begun to learn more about her after her murder, she had immediately wanted to live in a ‘bigger’ way. Jo’s life has impacted mine in the same way.

  6. Cathy

    What a diverse collection of rich-coloured wild flowers! I love it Cathy. 🙂 The deep red Scabiosa is one of my favourites and I got excited today when I saw how many buds my plant has, which was new late last summer. I really like the pinky tones in the grasses – they would look lovely dried.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Cathy – I share your excitement over your scabious buds and look forward to seeing the flowers on your blog! You are right, the Calamagrostis ‘England’ would be nice dried, thanks for suggesting.

  7. smallsunnygarden

    A beautifully rich medley of flowers – and so lovely together in your pitcher! I love the idea that your meadow will develop like this; I think that Monday vases have helped me think through colour combinations in my own borders 😉 making it a very useful planning tool! The scabious make me smile…

    1. Cathy Post author

      Amy – I have no idea why your comments are going into my spam because your comments are so highly valued here! You are so right about Cathy’s meme helping us think through our own ideas for our borders …

  8. Kris Peterson

    I’ve become more and more enamored with the meadow look myself, Cathy. You did a great job of creating an imitation of a meadow in a vase and I think your dedication to Jo Cox is wonderful. That tragedy brought back memories of a similar attack on Gabby Giffords, a US congresswoman, here.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks so much for your comment, Kris. And I am sorry that I have been so slow in visiting other people’s vases this time. I seem to have lost the blogging ‘thing’ this week. I was very nervous about the dedication, but how can gardeners ignore the terrible events going on in Europe?

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks Anca – sorry to be so slow at looking at your vase this week – will be there, and sure it will be even more beautiful. The desperate British referendum has taken over my life.

  9. gardeninacity

    A beautiful arrangement. I love the golden Geum with the Scabiosa. Do you grow Knautia macedonica? Another pincushion flower, but much larger and more vigorous. Only comes with deep red/maroon flowers, as far as I know.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Well done you! I have often wondered if my so-called Scabiosa atropurpurea is the Knautia you mention. I keep records, but unfortunately the name of the seed when I acquired it has been lost. After your comment I will do a little more research, because you may well be right.

  10. bittster

    Your meadow will look amazing if it even remotely resembles this arrangement.
    I’ve been wondering what to do with my ‘Caradonna’. I want to move it out of its current home but wasn’t sure where to go with it… now I know! You’ve inspired me to add it to my own little meadow. It is called meadow sage after all and should look shockingly bright with the orange asclepias tuberosa 🙂

    1. Cathy Post author

      Oh – I think it would be wonderful with the asclepias. I am very drawn to oranges and purples. ‘Caradonna’ is a good plant, isn’t it? I like the idea that so many perennials are in reality wild meadow flowers somewhere or other. The planting is starting to look good here, but I haven’t got the heights of the grasses right yet.

      1. bittster

        I’m sure you’ll work out the grass heights. It’s even harder when every year is a different challenge. This year the grasses are floppy from all the rain we had earlier in the season. Last year they were too thin because it was such a dry spring… sometimes there’s just no happy medium!

      2. Cathy Post author

        But it’s such fun to find your way through that and arrive at something that pleases. We have more sun now (and very, very tall grasses!)

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