Category Archives: A vase on Monday

Anniversary Vase on Monday

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Happy fourth anniversary to all the wonderful IAVOM people! And especially to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who first thought up this terrific meme and takes such trouble every week to visit and appreciate everyone’s vases.

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For the anniversay, she set us the challenge of arranging in something other than a vase. When I saw saw the email alert for Chloris’ vase today, I was a bit concerned that she had ‘stolen’ my idea. But maybe hers is a different colour? Couldn’t bear to look before I’d completed my work. My pictures are terrible (as is the arrangement!), but it’s the taking part that counts, isn’t it?

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Anyway – my ‘vase’ uses Sedum spectabile, some branches of hazel, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’, autumn leaves from Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and spent flowers of Perovskia atriplicifolia.

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That miscanthus is really rather splendid – it deserves better than this!

I have been unable to do any window-dressing at all due to lack of space around the container that my husband suggested might feature today. If you look at my previous post, you’ll understand.

This is my arrangement’s most elegant angle, I think – do you agree?

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Once again – a very happy anniversary to everyone – and especially to Cathy! Go and look at the links on Rambling in the Garden. This week they are bound to be a hoot! Oh, dear – sudden thought. Should I have taken this more seriously?

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In a Vase on Monday

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Wow – that was a cold one!

Inspiration for today’s vase came from the poor little flowers of Rose ‘William Shakespeare’ (David Austin) and the blushes of red and pink on the greeny-yellery flowers of a mophead hydrangea.

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Believe it or not this rose is frozen almost solid!

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I passed the hydrangeas (in pots) on my way down to the garden to pick something for my Monday vase and the first thing I came across was poor Willie, frozen solid in the Rose Walk.

I  bought ‘our William’ because I wanted another dark red Austin rose – I liked ‘Munstead Wood’ so much and it performed so well here.

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At first I thought that M. Shakespeare was rather a vulgar version of ‘Munstead Wood’, but this year he’s coming into his own and ‘Munstead Wood’ has been very poor indeed (I’m wondering if it’s not too fond of the plentiful rain we’ve had?).

Nice when you fall in love with something that left you less than totally enchanted to start with!

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Then I braved the prickles of Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’, because I felt they’d add a certain bloody something (I’m thinking Macbeth here) to the arrangement. And a little gentleness came by way of Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’

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There is actually some Sedum spectabile in there as well (all the leaves dropped off when I picked it!), but it seems to be shyly hiding in every photograph.

Even the surface of our table on the balcony had a film of ice on it this morning. Willie is still standing outside, because I think he’ll fall to pieces if I put him in the warm kitchen.

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I’m afraid this vase isn’t going to even last the day out, but I did enjoy creating it!

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Greetings from a very frosty Chatillon – did you read that the Academie Francaise has just voted to get rid of circumflexes? Thank goodness, because whenever I type the word ‘Chatillon’ in a blog post, I’m forced to use a website offering French accents to copy and paste (there should be a little hat over the ‘a’ in Chatillon). Now I don’t have to worry!

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Go on over and get an eyeful of all the other lovely vases on Cathy’s Rambling in the Garden. And thanks to her as our gracious hostess!

 

In a Vase on Monday

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Gosh – it’s been such a long time since I blogged (my August Indulgence, in fact), never mind contributed something to Cathy’s nice meme at Rambling in the Garden.

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Fully determined, I was, this morning, to pick some of the last roses flowering in the garden. But the endless rain did for them yesterday and instead of coming back with a large bunch of ‘Louise Odier’, ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’ and ‘Mme Alfrede Carriere’ (the first two being Bourbons, the last a climbing noisette, I think), I tried to focus on my snapdragons instead.

There are only two this year and, actually, they also are not too hot at the moment either! I grew ‘Black Prince’ (with nice dark foliage, but stems that are really too short for cut flowers) and ‘Rocket White’ (much more pleasing, with lots of long-stemmed flowers over a long period). I think I had a mind’s-eye picture of a small vase of the red antirrhinum with maybe some small Ammi majus flowers as well.

But as happens only too often, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Still, I like the autumnal feel of the vase. There are two roses – climbing ‘Wollerton Old Hall’. This is one of the most luscious roses it’s ever been my privilege to give a home to, but you can see it’s suffered from our heavy rains this year. More than its fair share of black spot – when will I learn to do the last minute primping properly!

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And then there’s a bud of ‘Sweet Juliet’, which I’ve found makes a really good cut flower, along with ‘Queen of Sweden’.

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However – and I will probably be accused of being a bit retro here – the truth is I’ve never regretted buying three Hybrid Teas in 2017. They make much more classic cut flowers than the old roses or David Austin’s group. Long stems and plenty of perfectly shaped buds. The best has been white ‘Pascali’, followed closely by sweetly scented dark red, ‘Mr Lincoln’. Pity I never shared them with you, but I’ll be adding some more colours next year and I’ll try and do Monday vases with them. Can you suggest other good cut flower HTs?

And there is an unnamed pink dahlia …

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Pink is not usually ‘my’ colour in dahlias – I prefer the dark purples, which I keep losing over winter – but this flower has a sort of grace and delicacy that I’ve enjoyed greatly this year.

Then I added some Zinnia ‘Benary’s Giant Lime’ and the greyish-blue foliage of Thalictrum flavum subsp. speciossisum, which was cut back in July and is now good and fresh again. I seem to use it endlessly – hopefully I’m not boring you?!

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Finally three flower spikes of Pennisetum alopecuroides. I’m still struggling to find a good position for this grass which was, as they say in the States, a ‘pass-along’. It keeps being dumped down behind other plants and never gets to show itself off much as it deserves.

Isn’t it funny how you spend a fortune on some plants that don’t thrive, and then others – lovely gifts –  are neglected, but still persist. There’s a bit of transferable gardening philosophy there.

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Lovely to be sharing with the Monday vasers again. Life has just been so darn difficult recently … time for another new leaf, I think!

Now pop on over to Cathy’s meme at Rambling in the Garden for plenty of inspiring vases …

 

 

 

 

In a vase on Monday

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I was SO not going to take part in Cathy’s meme, ‘In a Vase on Monday’, at Rambling in the Garden today.  I promised myself a quick peek at everyone else’s vase this evening and was quite content.

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Then I sprinted at high speed around my weedy plot with a camera and saw three things that pleased me a lot and inspired me to do a vase anyway.

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The first thing I saw, Rose ‘Veilchenblau’, is already a little on her way out. Unappreciated, poor thing. Since I know that we have only limited time in our house here, due to the difficulty of the garden for an older person, I’ve planted some of my favourite roses (50 in all since 2012) here and there amongst the monster weeds.

They will take time to settle. I promise myself that in the next year or so I’ll get on top of the weeds – and then I’ll have 15 odd years to enjoy. The tactic does work, I promise you! Although it’s probably the reverse of what every other gardener does.

‘Veilchenblau’ is a perfect example, struggling with grass, nettles and the virginia creeper that adores our old walls so much. This is the first year (after 4) that she’s really flowering properly. Here she is in her weedy bower!

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The second things I saw were the sweet little spikes of what I believe is short-lived perennial Digitalis lutea. I had a lovely little tray of seedlings from a friend in 2015 and they are settling nicely. Must save seed this year.

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Third pretty thing was Knautia macedonica – mental note to self, be more brutal! It’s a sweetie, but currently making the lower Hornbeam Gardens even more of a mess than should be the case.

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Who is responsible for this mess?

It didn’t do well higher up in the garden, but here it is taking over the shop. At first there was pleasure at the seedlings, now I’m kicking myself.

I also added the first decent flowers I’ve had of Scabiosa caucasica since it, too, was planted in 2015.

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Et voila!

I’ll look forward to enjoying the links to everyone else’s vases at Cathy’s Rambling in the Garden later in the day. Now I’ll get on and do the work that I was supposed to be doing when I got up this morning. (The weeding will, sadly have to wait!)

I hope this week brings some happy moments in your garden!

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In a vase on Monday – back in the game!

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I guess I must have a bit of an addiction – not just to Cathy’s lovely ‘In a Vase on Monday’ meme at Rambling in the Garden, but also (and more seriously!) to delphiniums.

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Now the thing is, they are not the kind of plant I would normally be comfortable growing. They require far too much work, and in a big garden with only one person keeping everything up to the mark that’s something you can do without out.

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I was persuaded to buy the first in 2012 – my husband, the Bon Viveur, saw it in our local market at Jussey. One stately, gloriously tall white spike in a very large pot. After saying ‘no’ several times, I gave in. It went home with us and was planted out in the Rose Walk. Only about a week later it collapsed completely, a victim of the voles that were gobbling things up as quickly as I could plant them that year.

I bought a Hayloft plant collection. They were planted in March 2015, lower down in a cooler spot and watered, fed, supported lovingly.

So far, so good, for two years. Last autumn/winter many disappeared (I didn’t water much last summer and winter temperatures dipped to nearly -20C). Out of about 15 plants I think we had six left this spring. But by then it was far too late. I purchased more – another Hayloft collection for planting out next spring and quite a few decent sized plants from a mail order nursery I’ve started using called Promesse de Fleurs.

And so it goes on … and will doubtless cost me a small fortune before I’m through. And then there’s the hours spent googling the best way to show them real TLC. Sadly I learnt that the sort I’m planting – ‘Pacific Hybrids’ – are considered by some to be biennial.

This year they have had no attention at all – no support, nothing. A bit of a horticultural disaster.

When the first rain and thunderstorms we’ve had in a fortnight threatened on Friday night I rushed out to pick some of the blooms that were already trailing on the ground.

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They’ve made a pretty vase, accompanied by two stems of Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus (I think!) …

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… and some white Campanula persicifolia.

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When I look at their little furry faces through my camera lens, I know there’s no hope for me.

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And oh, that blue! A friend of mine says she doesn’t like blue flowers. Can it be possible that there are gardeners out there who don’t relish a touch of blue on their plots?

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Do you have a favourite flower colour in the garden? Tall delphinium tales also gratefully accepted!

Hop on over to see what all those lovely Monday vases look like – you’ll find the links at Cathy’s Rambling in the Garden. And many thanks to Cathy again for being such a gracious and generous host for the IAVOM meme (at least that addiction doesn’t cost me anything!).

Have a wonderful gardening week!

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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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In a Vase on Monday

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Today is the la Fête du Travail in France and the symbol of this public holiday – in honour of workers’ rights – is the lily-of-the-valley. Lily-of-the-valley swamps us with its appearance everywhere at this time of year.

Not just in our gardens: on street corners in towns there are people offering little bunches of it (a change from, ‘Buy some lucky heather?’), and Aldi and Lidl dish it up to us in small pots by the hundred.

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The custom is said to have started on May 1 1561, when an unknown citizen presented King Charles IX with a bunch of lily-of-the-valley as a token of prosperity for the coming year. He began a tradition of presenting ladies at the court with lily-of-the-valley each May Day.

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By 1900 French lovers were exchanging bunches – and the habit began to spread amongst close family members as well. So today, when you go to visit your maman or mamie, it would be very bad form if you failed to take her some lily-of-the-valley.

I planned to use my own (flowering, amazingly, for quite a few weeks now) in a vase this May Day – the rhizomes came originally from my mother’s garden in Scotland and are now slowly establishing. But not nearly as well as they do in Scotland! The little vase is one I call my ‘snowdrop’ vase – so long with me that I can’t remember where I got it.

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I popped some of its own foliage into the vase with a little sprig of the vetch Vicia sativa. I love the vetch when it’s flowering, but later on when it starts bouncing up amongst the rhizomes of irises my delight turns to curses.

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And then I was kind of inspired to go on an make a trio of vases.

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Taking a walk out in the garden on this slightly rainy May Day, I felt like picking a little of Exochorda macrantha ‘The Bride’ and Victor Lemoine’s lilac ‘Belle de Nancy’. If you want to know more about Lemoine, a breeder who came from the city of Nancy (our capital in Lorraine), have a look at this old post.

Here is his lovely deep purple lilac, just beginning to really do its thing chez nous.

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My shrubs are all so small here that this seems rather cruel. However, it IS raining and there are other flowers, so I dared. The Exchorda is not at all happy being told what to do in a vase. The flower stems are drooping and I noticed this morning that it starts to flower from the top down, so the leading flower on the spike is always the oldest – a nuisance if you are arranging it, when you want the freshest, sweetest at the top.

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I also used Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’, whose flowering stems are just as difficult to place in a vase, although it looks so graceful draped down a stone wall.

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Finally, almost for foliage, the young shoots and buds of Spirea betulifolia It was in the garden when we arrived here, and named for me by another Monday vase-maker last year when I used it. Thanks so much again – it’s a fluffy little sweetie when the flowers open!

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I did think that the rose looked particularly delicious with the purple of ‘Belle de Nancy’.

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Hop on over and see what the others are doing at Cathy’s meme at Rambling in the Garden.

And thanks so much again for hosting, Cathy! This meme is really forcing me to slow down and ENJOY my garden.

Happy May Day to everyone!

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