In a Vase on Monday: Shabby Chic

IMG_2907It’s Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK so, being without my usual Monday morning activities and, as it is raining, no visit to a Bank Holiday Monday car boot sale either, there is an earlier vase on Monday!

Roses were intended as a starting point today, as a number of them have suddenly produced what is definitely a ‘flush’ of new flowers, rather than an odd one or two. The IMG_2912‘Pink Perpetué’ climbing outside the front door were the last roses I saw yesterday so were still uppermost in my mind and were sporting a clutch of a dozen or so flowers in a single spray so they became the focus. I always think of them as slightly shabby as they catch the sun for much of the day and their colour tends to fade, giving the flowers a papery look – thus providing the ‘shabby chic’ title of today’s vase. They were joined in the vase with the following, in the order they were picked as I rambled down the garden and the reasons for their inclusion:

Clematis jouiniana ‘Praecox’ – shabby chic in colour and appearance
Heuchera  flower stems, slightly over but still with a pinky tone
Sweet Pea ‘Mollie Rilestone’ – old fashioned appearance and might encourage more blooms
Sedum ‘Stewed Rhubarb Mountain’ – definitely looked the part (isn’t it gorgeous?)
Rose ‘The Fairy’ – such a perfect spray of tiny frothy flowers, like a 1950s petticoat
Nigella seed pods – again, they just look the part
Cosmos ‘Candy Stripe’ – a vintage look, and cutting should give me more flowers.

I suppose a vintage china teapot would have made a good receptacle if I had one, but shabby chic nevertheless still strives for classiness so a car boot Edinburgh Crystal vase IMG_2913was chosen and the flowers crammed into it – a roomier vessel would have produced a completely different result, but whether or not it would have been an improvement is anybody’s guess. The Pink Perpetué were shedding petals from the moment they were picked, particularly as they required a bit of a shake to rid them of resident earwigs – but the petals made a good prop. Also, the damp morning meant poor light inside and necessitated outdoor pictures but the soft rain added additional ambience to the overall effect.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t detect any scent from the roses but the two sweet pea stems are already pumping out their fragrance and justifying being cut and brought into the house. Smell is only one of our senses though, and bringing material into the house from our gardens (as well as the choosing and picking processes themselves) can trigger all sorts of associations using many of our senses – including that perhaps undefinable ‘sixth sense’. Monday mornings have become a voyage of discovery – a journey that those of us posting a vase on Monday can thoroughly recommend, whether on a weekly or less frequent basis. If you would like to join us, post your vase of pickings and link it to and from this post so we can share in your pleasures.


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Late Summer Lament


The garden stalls and stutters,
The seasons’ successes and failures
Merging as one
As the garden
Ebbs and flows
With the tides of the year,
Money and effort expended
Towards uncertain futures,
Towards our age-wearied end.
Beyond the garden, however,
Beyond the focussed obsession,
Beyond success or failure,
The world keeps turning
And with it, unchecked,
Grow seeds of
War, Atrocity,
Hunger, Fear and Disease
In a fertile garden where
Falls on stony ground.

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Garden Bloggers Foliage day: a Different Tack

Thanks to Christina for hosting this monthly meme, which encourages us to notice the foliage in our gardens as well as the blooms and appreciate that foliage is the glue which helps to stick our gardens together. I hope she will forgive me for taking a slightly different approach today!

IMG_2891I set out with camera in hand to record examples of foliage this afternoon but was not drawn to the patterns and textures and colours this time but more to the excess of it – something that has become increasingly noticeable in our years here as the garden becomes shadier and shadier. Conscious that we may not be as agile in the future I am keen that potential problems are nipped in the bud or, more accurately, lopped in the trunk, and when we left for our two sleeps in Surrey the wild cherry I had planted at the far end of the woodland in 2000 was on its way out, making access to the ash (planted at the same time) easier, as it will meet the same fate. Immediately, the borders to the right of the cherry regained some of the light they have been lacking – RESULT! Unfortunately the shredder, just over a year old, refused to co-operate and there are still two piles of leaves and branches blocking my rambles.

GBFD.Aug14Down by the greenhouses and cutting beds the mile-a-minute vine continues to encroach over next door’s fence at a rate of two miles a minute and needs to be cut back for the umpteenth time this year – but the upside is that when this neighbour watered the tomatoes while we were away in Glasgow he realised just how much of a nuisance it was and intends to do something about it – hurrah!

IMG_2894On a happier note, foliage of the nearby squash shows how well the plants are growing, now beginning to cling to the upright support they were given to keep them from running rampant along the ground – AND there are finally flower buds on Ammi visnaga atop the luxuriant feathery foliage that I have been admiring for weeks:

GBFD.Aug14.2I have a foliage dilemma, however, on the later sown sweet peas which are trained up the dead Viburnum – lots of foliage, but NO FLOWERS! Did I pinch them out? I know I did on the earlier sown ones but I really can’t remember whether these were similarly nipped….

IMG_2888I have already swept up some fallen leaves form the paths and I guess this will becoming a regular task by the time September’s GBFD comes around as autumn really stakes a claim on the proceedings. In the meantime, to make up for the lack of more interesting foliage in the rest of the post I thought I would finish by including this pleasing combination of unknown pulmonaria with our favourite persicaria, ‘Red Dragon':



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Two Sleeps in Surrey

A short visit to Elder Daughter and The Poppet brought with it the usual opportunities to call in at other places on the way. Thus we visited Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire, just off the M40 on the way down, dodging the sudden shower to admire the various borders and lily pond…….

Waterperry.Aug14….enjoyed the walled garden (especially the white garden and the sunflowers) at Loseley Park near Guildford with aforementioned ED and TP…..

Loseley.Aug14…… before visiting the slightly grander environs of Cliveden, 130 feet above the banks of the River Thames in Buckinghamshire and thronged with families enjoying the freedom and space before school looms again for them in a week or two…..

Clivedon.Aug14…. and home again, to ramble in our own garden and check what’s been going in our absence.

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Wordless Wednesday: A Tasty Crop of Kale


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In a Vase on Monday: Not Forgetting My Greens

IMG_2792Here we are again on a Monday morning, getting the week of to a good start by picking bits and bobs growing in the garden, bringing them into the house and popping them in a vase to enjoy during the week. If you would like to do the same (and it has proved such an enjoyable and inspiring challenge) then include a link to this post in yours and a comment on this post with a link back to yours – or just pick something anyway for your own pleasure. We are not in the least bit competitive and most of us are essentially ‘plonkers’ at heart, so fancy arrangements are definitely not a prerequisite. Do join us!

I knew I intended to put Annabelle (Hydrangea arborescens) to work today, and spotting a couple of solid green seedheads on what I think is Campanula glomerata a green theme IMG_2790was quickly deemed to be the order of the day, although the potential pickings varied from the initial inception of the idea. I don’t think Tovara virginiana ‘Painters Palette’ (now reclassified as a pericaria, I believe) has been featured on this blog before, but perhaps it should have been with its intriguing blotchy leaves, but it has made its debut today, along with Echinops sphaerocephalus ‘Arctic Glow’, now more green than white. A sprig of unripe currant tomatoes and seed pods of everlasting pea Lathyrus latifolius were included too, with an unripe spike of Arum italicum ‘Marmoratum’ cut at the last minute from just outside the back door. Orlaya seedheads and (again) those of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ failed to make the final cut, although I was interested to note the latter being used in some upmarket bouquets over the weekend.

Finding a vase of an appropriate size with an opening sufficient to take the contents took a little thought and erring on the side of caution and used what I think must have been a drinking glass, inserting some florist foam cut to size, the first time I have used the latter since the very early vases. With the dark green curtains of the rear sitting room as a backdrop there was enough light for reasonable photographs as the sun was still shining, although not for much longer. Props? Apples? Too big. Beans? Too stringy. Courgettes? None. Mini peppers? Perfect!

So there is today’s vase, and once I have found a new home for the sunflower that opened in last week’s effort I can enjoy both for most of the week. What could you find to put in a vase on Monday and enjoy for the most of your week?


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Garden Bloggers Blooms Day: Hangers On and Staggers On

August14Looking at the garden as I rambled with my camera and then at the photographs taken to illustrate Garden Bloggers Blooms Day (kindly hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens) it struck me that there wasn’t much in the way of cohesion this August. Obviously the wet winter, early spring and dry summer have produced very different conditions to last year, the first August I made a GBBD contribution, and I can look back and see a rather different range of plants, or certainly plants in a very different stage of growth.

This year there are the ‘hangers on’ – those that have been flowering for weeks and are still going strong, like the sweet peas and the zinc planters and the cosmos – and our good friend Annabelle of course; and there are the ‘staggers on’, those having a bit of a second flush like the Blush Noisette and Guinée roses. For the first time I have really noticed that Parkdirektor Riggers (not shown in this collage) has flowered almost continuously and that Danse de Feu (also not shown) is flowering as extensively in its second flush as it did in the first, and it is pleasing to see that the new Snow Goose, tucked into a narrow space against the wall, is showing signs of flowering almost continuously too. The various echinops stagger on a bit too, as even when they lose their colour the heads make a dramatic statement until the foliage dries and they keel over. The clematis, with some of the later varieties like Ernest Markham, Lord Neville and jouiniana ‘Praecox’ now extending the clematis season, go on a bit as well – not that I am complaining about these or any of the others that stagger on, of course!

There are still some newbies, like the Ruby Eclipse sunflowers and Bishop of Llandaff dahlia, both of which have been shown off this week and also – alas! – clumps of Cyclamen hederifolium which are a gentle reminder that summer is on the way out. Whatever month of the year there are blooms to be found in the garden – and I am grateful for them all, favourites or not!


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