In the very early days of IAVOM I posted a vase entitled ‘Spike’, which I described as the ‘simplest and easiest and somehow the most satisfying of vases on a Monday so far’; since then I have put together many other simple, easy and satisfying vases but not one exclusively based on the seedheads of Japanese anemone as that one was.
Looking around an increasingly spartan garden I was drawn once more to the anemones, their demise delayed not only by a lack of time to tidy the borders but also an already overfull compost heap. Now staking a prominent claim on the winter garden, the striking cornus in the shrub border were sufficiently spiky to join the anemones for today’s vase, with green, red and fiery stems of C sericea ‘Flaviramea’, alba ‘Sibirica’ and sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ respectively.
The spiky stems were inserted into a small piece of biodegradable floral foam cut to fit the opening of a rectangular blue ikebana dish, the anemones’ remaining foliage clustered around the joints of their stems attractively covering the base of the arrangement and the foam insert. In the absence of a hedgehog in any form, the spiky prop is my pincushion, bought from a Chinese import shop in the mid 70s because it reminded me of one which my Mum used to have (and probably still has), although having lived in China as a child hers is likely not to have been made for export, unlike mine. The pins and needles residing in mine have been inserted into the mock seams, idly rearranged during a phonecall when the pincushion was to hand.
Winter vases can be a challenge, but sometimes the often limited material can be an advantage in focussing the mind and this is the case today: I am just as happy with this simple spiky vase as I would be with a big and blowsy summer confection. Will you be doing ‘simple’ today too? If you would like to share your Monday vases with the wider IAVOM community, just leave the usual links to and from this post.
One of our neighbours is bereft when the UK television programme Gardeners’ World has its seasonal break, as for him this marks the end of the gardening year and a winter with no reason to go and potter in the garden. Considering that the break runs from mid-October to the end of March, this is a long time to be away from the garden and I am happy to say that it is not the case here as there a million and one reasons for me to ramble around the garden every day of the year, like the soft pink blooms of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ which, on this relatively mild and sunny December day, fragranced the air as I walked by. I still buried my nose in the blooms for a double dose of perfume though…
With encouragement, however, he has finally succumbed to a greenhouse which will extend his season (and give him a reason to walk to the bottom of his garden!), and has also joined me in growing the early ‘Winter Sunshine’ sweet peas which will give him something to nurture over the winter. Perhaps in due course he will feel too the need to grow more plants specifically for winter interest, as I have done in recent years.
Over the fence in our shrub border, where ‘Dawn’ has been preening herself in the colder months, I have this year added winter stalwarts the Japanese ornamental apricot Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’ and a very small Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. The prunus still had a handful of blooms when it arrived in its new home in February but this year is covered in lots of little pink dots (picture below, sadly not in focus) all promising a delightful fragrance in due course. Jacqueline was not much more than a stick when she arrived, but am I right in thinking this is a flower bud(second below)? Again, this comes with the promise of precious winter and early spring fragrance:
Regular readers of the blog will know I am fond of witch hazels and have a small and valued collection of them, all bringing a flash of colour and occasionally fragrance to the garden from December to March. Flower buds on most of them form during the summer and early autumn so this is always an indicator of how good their flowering season will be. Hamamelis ‘Rochester’, newest in the collection, arrived here just after flowering early this year so I am especially eager to see it in full bloom. Reputed to flower earlier than some, I was not surprised to see the first shreds appearing this week but have not yet detected any fragrance which it is also meant to possess:
As we are adding a February opening to our schedule for the National Garden Scheme in 2020, I am not in too much of a hurry for blooms to be appearing yet but nevertheless it is good for the soul to have these seasonal promises, joined by the first of many hellebores (H Harvington ‘Double Lilac’) and emerging native snowdrops:
Unlike my precious named varieties of snowdrops which I tick off my list as they emerge (or sadly cross off my list if they don’t emerge), these natives just keep on coming. I never have to doubt their reappearance and each year I dig up clumps, divide them and spread them about elsewhere in the woodland edge border. I probably started with a purchase of 100 about 15 years ago when this border was created, supplemented soon after by a couple of handfuls of bulbs from an acquaintance, and since then they have just happily done their own thing, never complaining when I dig them up in full flower and move them about.
Yes, winter flowering plants not only promise much, but they deliver too – colour, fragrance and a reason to venture into the garden on even the coldest and greyest of days – and today they feature in my Six on Saturday, the meme hosted by Jon the Propagator.
Another teeny tiny vase on Monday for me, and despite trying several alternatives I am still using the little Bretby Pottery jug I used in the anniversary post, giving an arrangement a mere 10cm (4″) tall.
The jug is filled mostly with Bellis perennis which, unlike later in the season, necessitated a teeny vase due to the length of the stems – later on, a small rather than teeny vase would suffice! Joining the bellis is variably coloured foliage of dwarf Pieris japonica ‘Little Heath’ and some berried stems of what I nicknamed ‘the Devil’s plant’** after spending hours digging out roots which were invading us from our neighbour’s garden. Sadly, the invasion began again almost immediately…
Completing this first vase in December is a teeny teddy enjoying an equally teeny cup of tea, heralding leaner times in the garden until the early bulbs begin flowering – leaner times for blooms that is, as there will always be plenty of foliage to pop in a vase. I know some of you will still have blooms to share, but don’t be put off if you haven’t and think out of the box instead. Just leave links to and from this post to share them with us.
**others might call it Symphoricarpos or snowberry
Winter is definitely beckoning with the garden looking increasingly stark in green and brown monochrome. It is nevertheless an exciting time, with the thrill (yes, indeed) of cutting back and generally tidying up the year’s efforts with the promise of witch hazels and snowdrops not that far away. Above is the usual first view, from directly behind the house (the ladder was needed for pruning some of the climbing roses) and below is the shrub border and streamside area from both ends; here, the three cornus are looking increasingly magnificent as they lose the last of their leaves:
The woodland, thick with fallen leaves:
The view from the bothy at the end of the woodland, looking out over the main borders, and the main borders from ground level:
The bronze heuchera bed and the clematis colonnade:
The woodland edge borders from both directions, the areas to the left and front right having been refreshed and replanted:
Bold borders numbers one two and three, number two gradually being emptied of plants, temporarily potted up (my goodness, the Clematis heracleifolia in number one does not age gracefully!):
Equally scruffy blue & white borders:
A stark rose garden:
Snowdrop border nicely mulched in homemade compost and leaf mould, with a handful of snowdrop spikes beginning to show themselves (whoohoo!):
Partially shady border behind the Coop, backed by gloriously leafy Clematis armandii:
And finally the new Fig border, hopefully providing year round interest with foliage and fragrance as well as blooms:
That’s the garden at the end of November, a record for me as much as anything else. There is an out-of-date map of the garden under The Garden tab above if you would like to see how the different bits fit together.
With temperatures forecasted to drop to at least -2°C last night a frost was inevitable, so my camera accompanied me on the first ramble of the day to capture the result. It certainly made for a pretty scene, exemplified by a bog-standard sedum (above) and Nandina ‘Obsessed’ (below):
Black mondo grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, was barely recognisable after Jack Frost had visited:
…and perhaps the blooms on Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ are regretting appearing so early:
Structure in the garden will always be highlighted by frost, including stems and seedheads left in the borders, like this allium:
…and this metallic cow parsley in the woodland edge border:
For other Six on Saturday photos please visit host Jon’s blog, many of which I guess may be equally frosty. Meanwhile, I have happily tolerated today’s bitterly cold temperatures, safe in the knowledge that I finally got round to bubblewrapping the greenhouse yesterday (note also the useful hooks, recently added to tidy up the canes used for tomatoes and early sweet peas):