In a Vase on Monday: The Joys of Autumn

IMG_3277Some of the contents for this vase were mentally chosen after photographing blooms for Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, in particular its focus, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’. This is one of the plants that has come with me from at least one and possibly two previous gardens, not because it was particularly precious but more the opposite – it was probably one of my earliest purchases at a time when garden centres carried a limited stock and my knowledge of perennial plants was equally limited. These days it is ubiquitous and even, dare I say it, ‘common’, and with my hugely expanded plant knowledge I have many times considered removing it in favour of something more ‘interesting’. This would be unfair (as I was reminded on GBBD) because it really does live up to its name, bringing joy not only in autumn but beyond, its lingering architectural flowers making a useful contribution to the structure of the garden or a vase for many months.

AutumnJoy.2It wasn’t till I photographed the  finished vase that I realised quite how autumnal the contents were, with the vase merging (above) into the leafy background both in the woodland and on the cobbled circle under the Amelanchier lamarckii. Against the background of the wall close to the woodland edge border the contents become a little more discernable, and although chosen deliberately for their current impact in the garden, the overall autumnal impact was largely serendipitous!

Joining the sedum were seedheads of Ammi visnaga, curiously curling upwards into a cup shape as they approach maturity, Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ and hips from climbing rose ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’. The vintage jug is one of the items of  kitchenalia that fills various shelves and a dresser in the kitchen, and surprisingly I have not ever considered it (or the neighbouring jugs hanging from the same shelf) as a vase until today. It is such a useful shape and colour and has an identical but larger brother which now may also make an appearance one of these days.

IMG_3274This vase just fell into place but I have to confess it was another one that was made earlier, and when it is posted we will be visiting Elder Daughter and The Poppet. Having posted a vase every Monday for 49 weeks it is too ingrained in me to miss a week, whether I was hosting the meme or not – and fortuitously, whilst checking this figure, I realised my second ever vase contained both the sedum and persicaria, and of course had used the draft title of today’s post, hence a last minute change! If you would like to join the challenge, just find something from your own garden to bring inside and enjoy it close at hand, posting the result and appropriate two-way links if you would like to share it.

Autumn Joy.1

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Wills and Ways

IMG_3282The large box of Peter Nyssen bulbs still looks at me accusingly every day, even though I have sorted it into batches of tulips/alliums/others and have ten pretty hyacinth vases tucked away in a dark cupboard, each with a sleepy hyacinth bulb sitting in the top of them. The first batch of non-prepared hyacinths have also been planted up and are in the greenhouse, along with the first of 6 pots of ‘Paperwhite’ narcissi, the rest of which will be planted at approximately fortnightly intervals. I have not grown Paperwhites before other than ones which came as a gift, so this staggered planting is a new experience. As per PN’s instructions, the remaining narcissi are stored in the fridge until their planting time is nigh. Also in the above picture is an offshoot of Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Carol’, potted up in the hope there may be some earlier flowers as suggested, I think, by Julie of Peonies and Posies.

IMG_3280As it turned out, further bulb planting did not happen today either and the box is still sitting there, glaring. Instead, maybe rashly, I was planting out some late summer sowings. Previously, the only things I have sown at this time of year are last year’s aquilegia and sweet peas, but enthused by the small but encouraging success of my forays into cutting beds I wanted to try and have things flowering earlier next year so several different packets of seeds were sown in late August. Most of them were bought from eBay, following a suggestion in a comment on the blog after which I realised how easy it was to find seeds for a specific plant on eBay and at reasonable cost. Seedlings were duly pricked out and spares thankfully passed on, but some were looking so sturdy and healthy and the weather is so mild that I decided to take the chance and plant them out. Having planted out all the aquilegia earlier in the week, half the seedlings of Centaurea ‘Black Ball’, a white centaurea and Papaver somniferum ‘Swansdown’, were planted out today, along with some red antirrhinum that were sown in February but have been hanging around and not doing a lot, just in case they decide to flower next year instead. We’ll see…

Not quite as much was achieved this afternoon as could have been, due to executing another of my bright ideas – taking advantage of the reorganisation of the fruit cage to liaise with the Master Carpenter (aka the Golfer) and knock up a veg planter for the resultant ‘spare’ space, thus freeing up another of the beds beside the greenhouses for a further cutting bed – where there’s a will there’s a way!



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Garden Bloggers Blooms Day: Few and Far, Few and Far

GBBD.Oct14.1The appearance of the above bright beauties (Zinnia ‘Purple Prince’, Tithonia ‘Torch’ and Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’) on Garden Bloggers Blooms Day this October is, like last month and even the month before, very misleading as they are other blooms and few and far between in the garden. Nevertheless, they are joined by a number of other individuals to give lingering pleasure at the tail end of the season. Thank you to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting this monthly meme, and do pop over to her blog to find links to what is blooming in other people’s gardens.

Here, there are more bright beauties in the cheerful Tagetes ‘Paprika’ and the bright autumn leaves of Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ with its completely insignificant white flowers (I forgot to capture the more striking blooms of its cousin P ‘Firetail’):

GBBD.Oct14.7Similarly dependable but not showing off in the same way are Anemone japonica ‘Honorine Jobert’ and Hydrangea ‘Annabelle':

GBBD.Oct14.6Yet more reliable blooms are Campanula poscharskyana and Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’, both of which seem to flower to their own timetable:

GBBD.Oct14.5Plenty of froth remains on the ‘Candy Stripe’ cosmos and Ammi visnaga in the cutting beds……

GBBD.Oct14.2…. and a few blooms remain on the roses (Madame Alfred Carrière, The Fairy, Pink Perpetué, Munstead Wood):

GBBD.Oct14.3There are odd late flowers on Clematis alpina ‘Foxy’ and (slug-munched) C texensis ‘Princess Diana’, and an increasing number of flowers and fat buds on C cirrhosa ‘Freckles’…..

GBBD.Oct14.4….. and pretty flowers on the recent division of a friend’s tradescantia (possibly ‘Osprey’?), a young Astrantia ‘Bloody Mary’ and lingering blooms on some of the sweet peas. I have tied string round the stems of these last ‘Mollie Rilestone’ flowers to identify them and save the seed once they have finished:


Cataloguing October’s blooms in this way makes me realise just how many things are still flowering in the garden (and I will have missed some, I am sure), but believe me they really are few and far between, albeit little gems in their own right.

Posted in Autumn, Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens | 32 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Karma Chameleon


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In a Vase on Monday: Prince of Darkness

IMG_3239Today’s vase fulfils three objectives:
1) using more of the tithonia flowers, which are a prime example of the pleasure that comes from successfully growing something from seed
2) being able to use the above title in conjunction with the tithonia
3) using this recent charity shop glass vase, which has such a distinctive shape and colour and a really tactile heaviness to it

The tithonia are, of course, Tithonia ‘Torch’ and are indeed a real beacon of brightness in my cutting beds. I would have liked to use longer stems in the vase, but had to trim some down to match the shortness of others – the branching flower stems do grow longer as the flowers fully open, but as most of the flowers were not quite at this stage they hadn’t reached their full extent and unfortunately a number of lower buds also had to be removed. Next year, when I hope to have more success with an earlier sowing, there should be more flowers open at once – definitely one to be recommended.

IMG_3243To keep it simple, I just added a few flowering stems of red hook sedge, Uncina rubra, those little ‘hooks’ that are visible on the above photo readily grabbing any bare limb that brushes them – I am planning to add more grasses to the garden by next year, so there will be new contenders to join flowers in my vases, particularly at this time of year. I knew that the deep orange shade of the tithonia would suit the equally deep and firey red of the charity shop vase – it only cost a pound or two and although there was no label on it I suspect it is from a known maker, possibly Wedgwood, and will look into that when I have an odd spare moment. Props are a candle stub and a vintage candlestick, the sort you would take upstairs to bed with you before electricity was the norm, and although I rooted around in our bookcases to see if I had my A-level annotated copy of Marlowe’s ‘Dr Faustus’ for a further prop, I clearly hadn’t.

It being another wet and this time slightly blustery Monday, photographing was again difficult and, although not brilliant, the main photo still looked better without flash, whilst a small sheet of black card provided an appropriate and possibly better background for the closer pictures. As autumn moves further on towards winter this will increasingly become an issue, so any advice from better photographers would be welcome! Also welcome would be your own vases, so if you hadn’t already done so why don’t you join us on a Monday by finding something from your garden or thereabouts and popping it in a ‘vase’ for your own pleasure during the week? If you would like us to see it too, whether the contents are popped or tweaked artfully, then include a link to this post and in a comment on this post leave a link back to yours. It’s a lovely way to start the week!


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Season of Mists and Wondrous Webs

The morning dawns,
Bringing  an
IMG_3238October chill
To the new day,
A legacy
Of blue sky
And autumn sunshine,
A reminder of
Spent summers
And a hint
Of unknown winters
To follow.
The morning dawns,
Bringing greyness
And a soft damp mist,
In wondrous webs,
Sensuously shrouding
The garden’s
Semi-naked frame,
Now but a ghost
Of summers past,
Now weaving a
Winter cocoon,
A chrysalis
From which
New life, new growth,
Will emerge
In spring.

Posted in Autumn, Gardens, Poetry | 16 Comments

Shall I, Shan’t I…?

squarepots.JulyOne of the garden housekeeping tasks I had created for myself was to move some existing shrubs into the new Topsoil Border near the stream. Thus a small Malus ‘Hornet’ was moved for the second time, joined by recalcitrant paeony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’. They were to be joined by a callicarpa and ornamental quince, Chaenomeles ‘Madame Butterfly, both currently in lead effect pots on the paved area in view of the kitchen. The latter two had remained in pots longer than may have been good for them as I just didn’t have anywhere else to put them. The jury was out, however, on the three cornus in similar but square pots (photo from earlier in the year) – partly because over winter I have the pleasure of seeing their lovely coloured stems, but also because…..

broken.potsThe first sign that these lead-effect pots, made out of ‘fibreclay’, was last year when a piece of the largest one (containing Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’) broke off in my hand as I pulled the pot a few inches across the slabs. It was initially patched up successfully with flashing tape, but this year I just needed to look at it and more pieces fell off so a new home for the rose was factored in and I was  ultra cautious when removing the callicarpa and quince from their pots. Clearly ultra caution was not enough as the smallest pot with the callicarpa went the same way and only very delicate excavation of the middling pot saved it from similar annihilation, although removing the remaining compost may finally see it off. So – do I risk moving the cornus from their pots…?

IMG_3230 I had almost decided to enjoy another winter of them in situ, but after the callicarpa and quince episode a removal attempt before they got any bigger seemed the better option, even at the risk of a complete pot disaster. Structurally, I guessed that rooting around in the square pots would put less pressure on the sides than the round pots anyway – and these pots were a little younger than the others as well. Thankfully, the pots were unscathed and the cornus look more than happy in the new border.

IMG_3235The shrub moving was carried out earlier in the week when the weather was changing quickly and without warning from heavy rain to sunny skies, but I had to wait for the dry day we were promised today to get on with one of my favourite occupations, bricklaying – now, subject to some additional soil and garden compost, the new bold border is ready for occupation, although unlike the shrub border will probably remain vacant till next year:



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