Monday, 19 March 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Every Cloud .....

This week's 'In A Vase On Monday' was picked under a slight flurry of snow accompanied to the tune of a bone-chilling wind yesterday afternoon. It seemed as good as any time to get out there and snip a few hellebore flowers rather than wait until this morning and risk them being laid low by frost. It has just struck me that we will be officially into spring by next Monday so fingers crossed that the weather gods will oblige and deliver accordingly.

I can only come up with one definite name for the hellebores in my vase and that's Helleborus 'Penny's Pink', who is floating in the top bottom hand corner. I love them all unconditionally but my favourites are the dark burgundy double and the single white. 

My vase is resting on a copy of 'The Cloud Spotter's Guide' by Gavin Pretor - Pinney, which makes for a fascinating read on the subject of clouds. My cloud vase is a much cherished gift, made some thirty years ago or so by a talented artist friend. 

Many thanks as always to our lovely and gracious hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who is celebrating a special blogging milestone today. Many congratulations Cathy!

P.S. The predicted frost for this morning didn't materialise but it's still very much on the cold side out there.

Monday, 5 March 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Forward Planning

Although the last vestiges of snow have melted most flowers still look rather bedraggled and squashed. I was going to include some hellebores in my vase this week but they are definitely not at their best. Instead it's the teeny blooms that have recovered more quickly so in my vase this week are :

  • Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête'. Although most of the narcissus I grow are either cream or white I am completely unable to resist these cheerful little bright yellow characters. 
  • A pulmonaria that has taken me by surprise. It's in danger of becoming smothered by ivy so that's another job for the list. I'm not sure which variety it is its origins being long lost in the mists of time. It has most plain foliage  so could possibly be angustifolia. 
  • The snowdrop is 'Blonde Inge', which usually flowers in February here and has multiplied well. 
With vases to come in mind, I've sown the first lot of seeds today including limonium suworowii , which seems to have acquired the unfortunate alternative name of rat tail statice. Having seen this plant in flower I couldn't imagine anything that looks less like a rat's tail! I stumbled across it on the last day of our holiday in 2014, took photos and eventually discovered its identity in a gardening magazine that autumn. My attempt to grow them the following year met in abject failure when the seedlings were fatally frazzled so I'm having another try. I've noticed that a few other bloggers have mentioned that they are growing these seeds this year, so below is a photo of the treat that we should be in store for if all goes well and we get some warmth and sun to spur them on their way :

In the meantime today I feel that we are definitely now a step nearer to spring. Thanks to our excellent hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden', who encouraged me to wrap up well and step out both yesterday in the extreme cold and again this afternoon to see what there might be to pick for a vase. 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

March Musing ~ Promise

"On colder days as a boy I would spend hours in the nursery daydreaming among the seed packets piled on top of each other, like an old-fashioned hanging at the Academy. Here the artists has painted the promise of a flaming June with a palette of scarlet and blues. I would pick up the packets and shake them : the seeds of the poppy produced barely a whisper, while the broad bean rattled like a maraca."

~ Illustration by Annie Soudain.

Monday, 19 February 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Sweet Harmony

The search was on for another vase to put this week's 'In A Vase On Monday' in. It's a small white milk jug sprigged with a pattern of green flowers but it decided to hide itself so well that I couldn't find it. I think that it might have displayed this week's contents better than the dark blue little jug does but it was not to be.

There was a definite hint of spring in the air this weekend especially on Saturday when the sun made an appearance and it was a joy to be outside. It might have been a brief taste of what is still to come as we are heading for another cold spell but it was most welcome.

In my heading towards spring but not quite there yet vase this week are :
  • Iris reticulata 'Harmony' - early flowering and exquisitely marked.
  • Some snowdrops - not any of my specials this week but still every bit as special.
  • Cardamine quinquefolia - this is an early flowering woodland spring perennial which is easy, hardy and soon clumps up. It is an excellent companion for hellebores, especially the darker flowered ones, as well as for snowdrops and pulmonarias. The plant does a complete disappearing act in the summer.
  • A couple of 'Tête-à-tête' daffodils. Those in the ground have still to flower. These heads came from one of those cheap supermarket pots of little daffies. I probably bought it either last year or the year before. Whatever its vintage it has overwintered in a little pot tucked close up to the house walls. These pots always amaze me as the bulbs just sit on top of the compost and have no warm blanket of compost covering them. Obviously they don't read the books as they still go ahead and flower.
I see that our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' has also included irises in her tea party vase this week. If you've not already had a peek please do so.

Monday, 12 February 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ If Today Had Been Yesterday

If today had been yesterday there would not have been an 'In A Vase On Monday' offering here. Fortunately Sundays's frequent showers of blustery sleet, snow and nasty hard pellety white polystyrene balls have given way to a much brighter, calmer day although it's definitely still on the cool side out there.

I resisted the urge to snip any snowdrops today although I have to confess to being sorely tempted. In my vase (a milk jug in a former life) are some hellebore flowers, winter flowering heather, viburnum tinus 'Lisa Rose' and foliage in the shape of lonicera nitida. The hellebore is one of those happy accidents that happen when a seedling appears in a most unlikely spot. I debated whether to remove it when it first made its presence known but it was left in place where it continues to grow against the odds. I have just noticed when bringing my nose near to the vase that the viburnum is most gently but pleasantly scented.

Many thanks to our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who hosts a quite fabulous gathering of vases from far and wide each Monday.

Monday, 29 January 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Drop Dead Gorgeous

Regular visitors will know that I'm gripped by serious snowdrop fever at this time of year so I have picked a few of my specials to celebrate this week's 'In A Vase On Monday'. In my vase are 'Lady Beatrix Stanley', 'George Elwes', 'Diggory', 'John Gray' 'Cedric's Prolific' and an unknown 'drop that lost it label some time ago in the dim and distant past. Sharing the vase, which is an old  stoneware cream pot, is some ivy.

I will have a surplus of 'Lady Beatrix Stanley', one or two spares of 'George Elwes' and 'Diggory', which I would be more than happy to share later in the year with any U.K. reader. I would willingly send them further afield if I could but sadly postage charges or regulations regarding plant exports get in the way. Just let me know if you are interested either by emailing me directly (address in sidebar) or in the comments below. I will be splitting these bulbs later in the year, so could send you a dormant bulb which you can plant either in a pot or directly into the ground. They are all what you would call 'good doers' and easy to look after. 'Lady Beatrix Stanley' multiplies particularly vigorously and has been awarded the Award Of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

I wonder what other late winter delights will feature in other vases this week and am looking forward to having a peek later today. Thanks to our hostess Cathy over 'At Rambling In The Garden' who I know shares my snowdrop addiction or perhaps the word should be affliction.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

January Musing ~ A Smorgasbord Of Delights

"Somebody needs to invent blinkers for humans. There are novels to write, tax receipts to collate, but where is the harm in standing at the glass for a little look? A light drizzle is usually falling; I am shoeless because I prefer to write in but not with bare feet. No sane person would step outside.
I step outside.

...... Unlike most British people with our nice calibrations of weather, our conversational grumbling ('wet enough for you?') and outrage at any climatic extreme, I don't pay attention to low temperatures. I feel them obviously : I'm not a rock. I just don't remember to do anything about them. So while others would stop to shoe themselves appropriately before walking over grit or bramble or several centimetres of snow, I persist in believe I'll be able to tread lightly towards the compost bin, like a fairy oe'r stepping stones.

'Where's your coat?' people ask. 'Aren't you freezing?'
'Yes' I tell them and we look at each other, perplexed.

Yet my plants are calling to me. From here I can see the garden table, which was bought for Mediterranean style meals in the sun, but mysteriously is covered in improvised plant crutches; broken teapots; ice-lolly-stick seedling markers, treats for compost worms; postmans' rubber bands for attaching things, a child's stolen kitten-patterned pencil; takeaway cups labelled MANGO I THINK and ??MISC DON'T THROW OUT; stiffened gloves; rusty spoons and. To a non-gardener, it looks like dismal rubbish. To me, it is a smorgasbord of delightful and necessary tasks. 

Addicts are ingenious. They lie, even to themselves. A gardener can always think of an excuse to wander outside.
'I'll just ...' we mumble. 'Give me a couple of moments'.

This is obviously nonsense. How could one do anything in a garden in two minutes? It's just one drink, one cigarette. A garden is a knotted rope along which small tasks and satisfaction are laid out at optimum intervals, as in a computer game, or a punishment devised on Mount Olympus to drive mortals mad. We try to resist; we fail. We always do.
'This won't take long', we lie".

Extract from ~ 'Rhapsody in Green' by Charlotte Mendelson.
Illustration ~ Lena Anderson.

Monday, 22 January 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'Evergreen'

In my vase today is a stem of hippeastrum cybister 'Evergreen'. This was one of my purchases from Pheasant Acre Plants at the Great Dixter Autumn Plant Fair last October. It is the most expensive hippeastrum that I've ever purchased, but has been well worth every penny its seven pounds producing not one, not two but three stems of flowers which are a most subtle and beautiful shade of green. It was quite breezy this morning when I took the photo so I made an effort to stop the stem from gyrating about by lobbing some redundant so called luminous stones into the vase. They are redundant as they never glowed in the dark as they should have done. I was thinking of disposing of them completely but they came in handy today. My 'vase' was a seasonal caramelised red onion chutney jar in a former life. 

Thanks as always to our lovely hostess Cathy, over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who encourages us to share our vases every Monday.