In a vase on Monday

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We had a very heavy frost again last night. So many young shoots destroyed! My Magnolia soulangeana ‘Lennei’, which has just flowered for the first time, is a mass of drooping, sad leaves. As is the little Cercis silaquastrum. I do hope they come back again.

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I’ve chosen Narcissus poeticus for my vase today. Included is foliage of Thalictrum flavum ssp glaucum (which I persist in calling Thalictrum speciosissimum!) plus some rather jolly spikey shoots of Campanula persicifolia.

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Thalictrum foliage

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Upright shoots of campanula

The narcissus look like they are about to fly away. I hope the campanula and thalictrum anchor them a little!

Then there are chives, just waiting to go ‘pop’ in the garden …

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and the reddish stems and flowers of blue aquilegias …

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I’ve just read that the scent of the poet’s narcissus is so strong that it can cause headaches and vomiting. Let’s hope not, because they are now sitting on the kitchen table! Someone noticed their scent as soon as I put them outside in the sunshine to photograph this morning.

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N. poeticus is the type species for the genus Narcissus. It is thought to have originated in the Middle East or the eastern Mediterranean area, but now it is naturalised all over Europe.

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In Britain (where it was reputedly brought during the Crusades) we know it as  ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ narcissus. Possibly taken directly from the French ‘Oeil de Faisan’? It is widely used in the perfumery industry here in France – a staggering 11% of perfumes include it as an ingredient.

There are vast natural fields of it in the the Massif Central and the Haut Var region of Provence. Many gardeners in our area of Lorraine advocate planting narcissus around special things if you want to ward off vole visitors (which eat roots and can kill plants almost overnight). So I was  bit distressed about a year ago to read that voles are decimating those wild populations of the Massif Central. The photo below is courtesy of the Fauna Flora Fonge website dedicated to the wildlife of the Massif Central.

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Have the voles changed their tastes?

Whatever – we have voles here, but I am slowly increasing the plantings of this lovely, late-flowering narcissus in the garden. So far, so good – and we do have a lot of voles!

I had imagined it under my four Prunus ‘Tai-haku’. This year the penny finally dropped:  I’m going to have to use the cultivar ‘Actaea’, which flowers a lot earlier. The cherry blossom is a memory by the time the species Narcissus poeticus makes an appearance.

I made an interesting discovery this morning: my ‘new-to-me’ iPad takes better pictures (automatically!) than I can with my camera.

Here’s the picture I took with the camera in the kitchen …

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And here’s what my clever iPad can do (without any of the deep thinking my camera requires!)  …

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Of course, I had to work out how to share the pictures with my computer. It took an age. The eventual solution – works niftily – was via Dropbox.

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Now go on over and see what the others are doing for Cathy’s addictive In a Vase on Monday meme at Rambling in the Garden. I’ve just taken a peek and those tulips are luscious, Cathy!

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35 thoughts on “In a vase on Monday

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks – it really is quite a little sweetie – a free spirit. And, I don’t know why, but chives are amongst my favourite flowers.

      Reply
  1. Cathy

    Oh what a lot of interesting info in this post, Cathy – about the narcissi and headaches and voles and the perfume industry, etc, etc! We learn such a lot from our blogging friends 🙂 Your narcissi cetainly do look as if they are flying away but you have a lovely collection of extras to eep them in hand. Interesting about the iPad photos…if I am away without my laptop I still take pictures with my camera and transfer them to my tablet to include in a blog post, but seeing your comparisons makes me wonder… I will have to try it out for myself 🙂

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I know I learn a lot, Cathy (whether I can remember it is another question!). The iPad camera is really rather good. I’ve compared it in the past with my old camera, looking at photographs from the same garden in Perthshire. The iPad was better, I think. I tried it in the kitchen today because in there my camera lens has to be on manual and I was too lazy to get the tripod out. Suddenly I thought – I bet the iPad could do better exposures.

      Reply
  2. pbmgarden

    Really enjoyed reading about Narcissus poeticus. I will try planting them to ward off voles, which are raising my blood pressure this week. Beautiful grouping of flowers. Have a lovely week.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Oh goodness, I know only too well about what voles can do to your blood pressure! Any narcissus/daffodil should do it, by the way. People here ring particular areas with them. I do this – but I also have a fierce little vole hunter as well (pictured). And a lovely week to you too Susie.

      Reply
  3. Cath

    Very pretty! I planted some of the Pheasants Eyes a few weeks ago, I’m looking forward to them. I’m certainly hoping that the scent is not vomit making 🙂

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      It’s very powerful in the garden – in the nicest way! As you pass, if the wind is just right, you get a strong lift of perfume. I can certainly smell them every time I come into the kitchen.

      Reply
  4. Kris Peterson

    That is a lovely Narcissus, Cathy, and it does look as if it wishes to take flight! I’m sure it will be treasured more still if it also proves effective in deterring voles. We don’t have those creatures here but they sound dreadful!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      They truly are, Kris. The first season I was here I wanted to give up and move. Every time I walked out there was another plant dead – you could lift them up from the ground, no roots. Wisteria, delphinium, all sorts. I was in hell. But I persisted, as we all do when faced with our gardening problems. I now understand their funny little ways and have coping mechanisms.

      Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      That’s interesting – I’m glad I planted it down below where it is cooler – perhaps I could even run it down to the river?! I have ‘Actaea’ up on the hot terraces and it seems to do fine there. Shall bear your comment in mind, Eliza!

      Reply
      1. Eliza Waters

        I think it is better suited to your climate than ours. Your spring starts early and is longer. Ours comes on quickly and gets warm too fast, so the buds dry in their sheath.

  5. Annette

    They’ll be back again but I understand your frustration, Cathy. We all wait for certain things to perform and it’s always heart-breaking if nature decides against us. I just adore Narcissus poeticus and I’m ever so lucky to have a whole wood covered in those beauties just on my doorstep. Me and my dog go there in spring and sit smilingly among the blossom – who could resist them? Wish I were a poet sometimes…

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I used to do the same with my cats when I lived almost in the middle of a bluebell would. My best and happiest thinking place!

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  6. Sam

    Gorgeous. I love this type of Narcissus. Sorry to hear you’ve had frosts – I hope your plants recover (they should; most are resilient).

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    1. Cathy Post author

      I do hope so Sam – I had a previous experience with a little magnolia turning up its toes after a frost, but in retrospect that could have been me messing around in its root zone! Have a good week.

      Reply
  7. Cathy

    The Narcissi really do look as if they are in flight! A lovely vase Cathy. We have voles too, but they have not disturbed any of my Narcissi… so far! Those iPad photos are great! I use my iPad for photos occasionally too, and then simply log in to wordpress on the ipad and transfer the photos straight onto the post. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I tried to do that Cathy – but don’t know if it was having an ‘off-day’ or what – I simply didn’t seem to be able to even start the post and do the transfer. Must try again, now that you have told me this is what you do. Thanks for enjoying the narcissus!

      Reply
  8. smallsunnygarden

    It’s a lovely vaseful, and I adore N. poeticus! That is very odd about the voles. I was unpleasantly surprised earlier this year when something (rabbits?!!) kept eating the tips of my narcissus leaves. I had always understood they were not only bad tasting but also semi-poisonous to rodents, so I couldn’t understand it… Would love to know what it’s all about? Please let us know if you find out.
    Too bad about your magnolia!! Hopefully it will pull through; magnolias, especially M. stellata, were often damaged by late frosts where I lived in Missouri. The plants were generally uninjured, but the flowers rarely survived to make a pretty show, as such weather is very common there. I hope yours will be okay and give you plenty of bloom in future!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      That’s interesting about the rabbits and the narcissus leaves, Amy. I will certainly report back if I find any more news. I do hope the magnolias will be alright. Fortunately the flowers and already been and gone by the time we had the frosts. Just those poor limp leaves. Also on the Cercis. They all came through a winter that including -18 C temperatures, so I hope they are survivors and that it’s all just not been too much for them!

      Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks Jason – Actaea is lovely. It is elsewhere in the garden here – and I do love it. But this little sweetie (with smaller flowers and wilder, upswept petals) has the charm of a species – something I think you appreciate too!

      Reply
  9. Frogend_dweller

    This looks so bright and fresh … even more so with your ipad! Those thalictrum shoots add great texture. I love pheasant eye daffs, but have never grown them. They are now on the list for autumn.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I rather like the thalictrum shoots too – but I am never very sure when to use them. You will love N. poeticus if you plant it!!

      Reply
  10. Peter/Outlaw

    Oh my, that’s quite a late frost. Sorry to hear about the damage to your garden. Your arrangement is gorgeous. I’m fond of the fragrance of Narcissus poeticus and have never had any adverse reaction to it.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      How kind. Yes, the frost seems to have shocked everyone a little, even people who have lived in France for a long time. Have you seen the pictures of viticulturists lighting candles in the vineyards? Quite spectacular – search for those online, if you ever have any time!

      Reply

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