Monday, 28 December 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ "Where My Rosemary Goes"


After this morning's somewhat disconcerting shock of discovering daffodils in flower on the other side of the stream bordering the garden, thoughts turned to this week's 'In A Vase On Monday'. Several hellebores are now in flower including helleborus 'Walberton's Rosemary', the large  flowers of which turn a deeper pink with age. The flowers were specifically bred to look upwards and do to some extent.

The flower that I had to brace myself to cut is now floating in the base of a ceramic candle container. I bought this at a local craft fair many years ago. The whole caboodle usually comes out at this time of year, when it sits on the hearth from where it sends out a warm glow in the evenings. A few left over cranberries provided a splash of colour underneath the flower.

With a special thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting. Now to find out what everyone else is including in this the last vase of the year.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

"Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire"



Some welcome bright sunny weather kick-started the day, so we took a stroll along the canal towpath in the direction of town to pick up last minutes essentials. Just off the busy high street and in the shelter of an old brick wall is a small grassy area of land, which is maintained by a community arts project. Recently a seasonal makeover has taken place, which provides a most welcome splash of colour and a bit of Christmas magic to please all generations.


Here's wishing all my lovely blogging friends a most Merry Christmas!

Monday, 21 December 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Lime Green


This week's vase for 'A Vase On Monday' is a small posy of chrysanthemum 'Anastasia Green', which has finally flowered after much, much waiting or so it seems. It is one of a collection of five varieties of rooted chrysanthemum cuttings which I bought earlier this year from 'Sarah Raven'.


'Anastasia Green' is a half hardy perennial which is recommended as being a good chrysanthemum to grow in a sunny porch, conservatory or in a greenhouse. I wish I had access to the first two but don't, so my plants have been lurking in the greenhouse for some time in anticipation of the frosts that we've not had as yet. They are straggly and gangly creatures which are getting in the way. I could forgive them if they were more floriferous but they have not produced much in the way of flower. 

Growing chrysanthemums is a first for me and I think that I need to do more research into both varieties and cultivation. Just round the corner from here is a garden which has a fabulous pink variety in numbers in the borders growing at the base of a short wall. They flower their socks off each autumn and are obviously happy and hardy. Maybe one day I might come across the gardener of the household to ask its name. I also think that I didn't perhaps give my plants enough tlc or sunshine. The allotment would probably be a more suitable home. I would like to try again as their late autumn flowering is a huge plus, so it's back to the drawing board over the winter. Any recommendations would be most welcome especially hardy varieties.

In case you are wondering the garlic jar has absolutely no relevance - it just happened to be there. The little vase is one of a cheap collection of four decorated differently coloured vases that came from Lidl. It's ideal for just holding a few flowers.

Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting a weekly get together of vases from all over. I'm looking forward to seeing what other flowers are playing starring roles today on this last day of autumn (in the northern hemisphere).

Monday, 14 December 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Gleaming In The Gloaming


"We are into December, Mid -winter-monath in old Saxon, and what a difficult time it is to fill even a few vases in the garden" ~  from "The Illustrated Garden Book' by Vita Sackville-West. 

It was one of those December weekends when it was thoroughly dark, cold, wet and miserable throughout here on the Costa del Merseyside. The sort of weather which made it so much easier to get on with seasonal tasks such as card writing. During the odd break I wondered round and looked out of the windows. I was cheered by the sight of my prunus subhirtella autumnalis, aka autumn flowering cherry in full flow. It positively glowed in the gloom. Yesterday himself who is taller than me was dispatched in waterproofs to cut a few branches. He returned with what initially looked like half a tree but he assured me that it was just the lowest branch. I don't think that the flowers will last long as there was a considerable confetti shower when I filled not one but two vases ~



Getting a photograph to do the subject justice was a challenge, thanks to the quality of light, but here is one taken under sunny blue skies at the end of March 2012 ~ 



This is a most generous tree as it produces a second flush of flowers in the spring. It's the autumn blooms that are most precious and the show this year seems particularly floriferous probably because of the mild autumn we've experienced.

This afternoon I've got to concentrate on wrapping up and prettifying the seasonal pot pourri I mentioned in my last post, as I'm meeting with the recipients tomorrow. However I'm looking forward to sitting down this evening to do some virtual vase visiting. Thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' as always for being such a brilliant hostess.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Seasonal Scent


A production line has been in operation in the kitchen this week putting together some gifts of Christmas potpourri. It was quite relaxing sitting there making this concoction - all that was missing was some suitable music and a glass of sherry.

My potpourri mix started with the pine cones, which were picked from the campsite in Normandy where we stayed this summer. To them I've added dried orange slices, some star anise, cinnamon sticks, cinnamon rough sticks and nutmeg. The resulting scent is most subtle and soothing. Other ingredients can be added as you go along e.g. dried cranberries or rose hips for a dash of red, bay leaves for a hint of green, dried flowers etc.

It's possible to dry the oranges yourself which is what I originally intended to do, but I conveniently came across a boxed set of them in a well known German supermarket, along with boxed sets of the cinnamon products. If this stroke of serendipity had not transpired, I would have purchased most of the ingredients online from a company specialising in florist supplies. This is much cheaper than buying the small jars of spices that you come across in supermarkets. The star anise however was purchased as a small jar, simply because I wanted to see that it had not been broken in transit which is what sometimes happens.

The next step will be to bag the ingredients in some snowflake adorned cellophane bags and tie them up with some pretty string or ribbon. I will also be dotting one or two bowls of this mix about the house. As I suffer from asthma I have to be careful when it comes to introducing any scented product in the house. I'm sure that there is nothing in this concoction that will bring about the dreaded wheezing. 

Should the potpourri become jaded as we all do at some point over the festive season it can be revived with a drop or two of essential oil e.g. orange, cinnamon etc.

Are you still busy making any festive gifts or is all the present preparation already done and dusted?


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Vanished Into Thin Air

"All the kitchens along Brambly Hedge were warm and busy. Hot soups, punches and puddings bubbled and in the ovens pies brown and sizzled. Clover and Catkin helped Mrs Apple string crabapples to roast over the fire. The boys had to sit and watch because they ate too many.
"It's not that I mind, dears, but we must have SOME left for the punch!" "

 ~ extract and illustration from 'Winter Story' by Jill Barklem


There is but one lonely crabapple hanging from my first time fruiting malus 'Red Sentinel' tree today, which this time last week was covered with bright red berries. I would not feel so aggrieved but all the blurb that I read before choosing the tree suggested that it would hang on to its berries until well into the winter. I had visions of using a few berries in festive decorations but ......


Does anybody else grow 'Red Sentinel' and if so what is your experience? I'm not sure whether the berries have been purloined by creatures or whether the ferocious gales we've had of late have stripped them off the branches. Another of those garden related mysteries which I will no doubt ponder over for some time to come probably never to reach a clearcut conclusion.