In a vase on Monday: Celebrating on a budget!

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I must admit to a huge feeling of relief and low-key celebration on this Monday morning after the French elections. We are surrounded by villages that voted as much as 40% for the Front National in the first round – in Chatillon itself it was fortunately only about 24%.

And then there came the news that the Jewish cemetery in nearby Bourbonne-les-Bains was desecrated on the Tuesday night after that first round.

Sometimes you don’t sleep so well … until you pass through tiny places where the picture of Le Pen has been defaced with a Hitler moustache and it makes you giggle again.

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Wish I’d thought to move my vase over the umbrella hole!

Picking my ‘celebratory’ vase this morning, I was reminded of the fact that I’m in a bit of a ‘May gap’. Sure, there are roses and irises coming on. One iris in particular – ‘Forrest Hills’ – is just perfect at the moment, in spite of the rain, but I haven’t yet got the luxury of picking it for vases. It just looks too nice where it is.

My vase is, florally, composed of:

Centaurea montana. I wish I’d had more, but in a newish garden like ours it’s the same problem as the iris. I grew it from a friend’s seed (it was a weed in my previous gardens) and this year it has flowered for the first time. I didn’t realise how much I had missed it until I saw the nice little clump this morning.

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Red valerian – Centranthus ruber. My husband will kill me when he sees I’ve been at ‘his’ valerian before it flowers properly. Currently I have to climb over the little mountains of soil around the building site of ‘his’ greenhouse to get at it at all. Those little mountains of carefully sieved soil are no doubt full of bindweed seeds – another of his favourite plants.

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There are also the chives (which are becoming almost traditional for my vases).

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Glowering chives on a wet Monday

The final floral element is my sworn enemy – Ranunculus repens. When I started digging the clay on my veggie plot in 2012, I egged myself on by declaring the ‘Buttercup Wars’. Now I’m a bit more relaxed when I see them. But really, they are much the easiest flower to ‘cultivate’ here. They are like cats, doing exactly what they please.

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I added foliage of Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’, a small, dark-leaved geranium that I’m becoming very fond of because it seeds everywhere, and little spikes of Asphodeline lutea leaves.

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Leaves of my new favourite sweetie – no name, just pretty!

Finally Alchemilla mollis. I know this probably grows like a weed in your garden. But here? Two roots went in in 2012 and it’s taken until this year for them to give that ‘raindrop pleasure’ that we all anticipate. I think it’s too hot high up on our slopes.

Generally, I’ve had disappointing experiences of dividing perennials that, in the past, I would have been cutting up with a spade after just two years. The divisions peter out in the summer. Since my previous gardens have had clay soil too, it must be the heat.

Anyway – my little celebration on a damp Monday morning. Enjoy your week and don’t forget to go on over and have a look at the other vases on Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday meme at Rambling in the Garden. Her own vase has a rather saucy theme …

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35 thoughts on “In a vase on Monday: Celebrating on a budget!

  1. Christina

    I like your ‘wild-flower’ themed vase today; you’re right it has a charming simplicity that these scary times seem to need. You probably need to divide perennials in autumn rather than spring, I find the only plant that survives spring division is Sedum everything else I plant or divide has to be done in autumn because of the drought. How’s the greenhouse coming on?

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Hi Christina – unfortunately I find that dividing in autumn sends them off over the winter. They often can’t survive the wet clay over winter. Spring’s the time here. Greenhouse is not moving!

      Reply
  2. Belle and Candle

    I’m in a May Gap too, it’s a little annoying. It is good news about the French election. I know lots of people in the UK are breathing a sigh of relief too. I love the natural wild look to your Vase.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      It is indeed Alchemilla mollis! It has been in the ground since 2012. From previous experience, that’s too long to be enjoying it for the first time this year! The key is when you say ‘damp and shady’ – I think the heat up above on our terraces in summer slows it down a bit. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to enjoy it as I did in previous gardens!

      Reply
  3. johnvic8

    Lovely. I don’t think I would have noticed the hole if you hadn’t mentioned it. I seem to do that all the time, most likely leaving a hose in the picture.

    Reply
  4. Cathy

    I am glad the outcome of your elections was satisfactory – it’s the first time I have taken any notice of elections in othere European countries, and some French commentator more or less said on the radio last week that realistically there was no real chance of M le P being elected. Finding out what grows in your soil must be a real learning curve when some of the near-thugs of the UK struggle! Now, come it’s HIS greenhouse, and HIS valerian…?! I love your motley collection of wildish blooms which have a real natural feel to them – thanks for sharing

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Macron was really brought in by the city vote. We’ve listened to people say that there was no chance for her to get in, but in the country people were really pro her. Final vote in Chatillon was 50% Macron, 50% Le Pen. When you live with that, it was hard to believe sometimes she had no chance. I am on a desperate learning curve Cathy – the good thing is that I AM learning and it IS getting better! Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
      1. Cathy

        Hmm, I can see that must have been a concern then. I too have learned so much both from gardening more and from blogging and it is good to be able to share that knowledge

  5. Tina

    Beautiful arrangement and flowers–and huge congrats to the French for not succumbing to fear-mongering, fake news and irrational thought. Wish I could say the same about my country. Sniff.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I know – it’s a terribly disturbing and confusing time for many of us. I do feel that Britain has really betrayed people who chose to move to mainland Europe because we were supposedly part of the EU. Good luck with what’s happening on your side of the pond!

      Reply
  6. Linda Brazill

    Your display is beautiful and I just planted Centaura after not having it in this garden and missing it as well. And congrats on the election results. We are feeling much relief here in the U.S. Things are so chaotic and depressing here that it is encouraging to see other people recognize the danger of these demagogues.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      It is encouraging, isn’t it? I think the fact that we are all noticing what’s going on in each other’s countries just proves that globalisation is not reversible. The Centaurea is a blue joy – although annoying sometimes later in the year when it stops flowering.

      Reply
  7. Alison C

    We are certainly living in strange and alarming times. I want to take refuge and hide with my plants and garden more and more. It’s a very pretty little vase and that geranium leaf is gorgeous. I have some new ones but as the ground is rock hard, they might be better off in pots for a bit. I’d never thought of putting in buttercups but I have plenty!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I am beginning to rejoice in my buttercups – sometimes better to go with the flow! I usually take refuge in my garden – some people think I never go out!

      Reply
  8. Sam

    I can’t believe your husband is a fan of bindweed – we spend hours digging out the roots here! I love your vase of flowers and leaves (heuchera is such a good-value plant) – it all goes together beautifully. Here’s to Macron and fingers crossed for France x

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I know – he’s dreadful isn’t he? He has a plan to put up a chain-link fence and plant it all along. Sometimes I do believe he says things like that just to annoy me! Plus, unlike you and I, he has NEVER had to spend ages digging it out!

      Reply
  9. Kris P

    We were celebrating the results of France’s election here too, Cathy – it’s wonderful to know that other parts of the world aren’t as crazy as the American population was last November. Your celebratory vase with its rainbow of colors is lovely. Centranthus is a weed here so your husband would be in heaven. On the other hand, Alchemilla would be a joy to have in my garden but it doesn’t survive here. I planted Ranunculus repens, a California native, here a few years ago but our long drought caused it to disappear until this year’s strong winter rains resurrected it – hopefully, it won’t become a pest.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      How incredible – imagine planting Ranunculus repens! We have such different perspectives on the two sides of the Atlantic. Which makes IAVOM such a joy! I shall send Nick over to collect some Centranthus seed from you. He’s after a white one at the moment!

      Reply
  10. Cathy

    I think it is a lovely idea to use buttercups in your vase! 🙂 I have always loved them , but then they have never moved into my flower beds….. It’s a lovely spring arrangement with some of my favourite flowers – but the chives and Centranthus are a bit behind yours in my garden.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I do love wild flowers, Cathy. Even when I’m using cultivated things I think I’m trying to achieve a meadow look – which means my garden is mostly just messy to other people’s eyes!

      Reply
  11. Chloris

    A meadow full of buttercups is a wonderful sight but the creeping ones are a menace. Still they are pretty. Your May arrangement is lovely. Do you have aquilegias? They are lovely in May.
    Your husband is a fan of bindweed? I think there is a story there.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I think the ‘story’ with my husband is that he seeks to irritate/get me going! He has a term for my favourite plants: ‘jazz’ plants. They are subtle and sometimes difficult to understand, except for the afficionado! I started with some Aquilegia alpina seed from the HPS in 2013 – I am gradually adding more colours (they are always ex ‘Greenapples’, ‘Magpie’ – you know). They are finally beginning to take off. I do love them.

      Reply
  12. pbmgarden

    This is a lovely composite. Would enjoy having some Centaurea weeds in my garden but then, I understand how even likable plants can take too much leeway. Your descriptions are always a pleasure to read. We were relieved at the outcome of your election.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks for your shared relief! I am really enjoying having the centaurea back in the garden (and then sometimes I remember how I used to feel about it in the past!)

      Reply
  13. Eliza Waters

    A fine mix of color and texture, Cathy. I know what you mean about buttercups, but they are cheerful, a favorite as a child – did you place them under your friend’s chin to ask, “Do you like butter?” The reflected yellow indicated we did. 🙂

    Reply

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