In a vase on Monday: Now We Are Six

For six years,
And rambling too
(vases came later);
From brief
And private
Came years
Of friendship,
And so much more:
Many words,
Many gifts, and
A greater understanding
Of my garden,
Of the world
And of myself.

My grateful thanks,
To all.


Today’s vase, a blue pressed glass number from the 30s/40s, was bought just this week on eBay for £6.99 and contains a removable glass frog. Having had no success finding an actual ikebana vase on UK eBay, I searched instead for ‘vase with frog’ and bought this and AN Other (two others to be exact) this week, all with removable glass frogs. The glass frogs don’t work successfully with all stems but being removable can leave a central ‘hole’ which could be filled with a frog pin or floral foam or scrunched up wire even.

Chunky stems of Cornus flaviramea slotted perfectly into this frog, standing erect and holding six ‘blooms’ of my Rambling in the Garden logo, created by drawing round a pastry cutter on printouts of the original photo which was taken in 2003 with a works camera borrowed for the evening, one of my very first digital photos. A black background to the ‘Now We Are Six’ vase produces an almost three dimensional image but loses the vase itself, so was replaced with the white, shown below with a literary prop, one of A A Milne’s charming poetry books, full of old favourites like King John’s Christmas, Busy, Forgiven and Sneezles.

This is the first time since the instigation of IAVOM that my blogging anniversary has been on a Monday, so I hope you will excuse this small indulgence. I rather like the effect of the cut out flowers and I certainly like this new vase. With snow again in many parts of the UK over the weekend and inclement weather in other parts of Europe and the US, pickings may be lean amongst those who post a vase regularly on IAVOM. I have got off lightly with my blogging blooms, created as they were in the warmth of my kitchen, although a brief foray outside was required to cut the cornus. Do still join us today if you can, even if only a token vase is possible – or incorporate lateral thinking like my anniversary vase does.

Happy Blogging Everyone!

Posted in garden blogs, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Poetry | Tagged , , , | 93 Comments

March Hare Gazes at the …erm, Snow

The original forecast for our area of merely a few lights snow showers yesterday morning seemed to change from hour to hour and resulted in periodic blustery heavy snow showers all day and a return of that bitterly cold NE wind. Nevertheless, just like last time, we still had barely an inch of snow in total, albeit artfully draped in deeper swathes by the wind, like before. Thankfully, garden jobs were already on hold due to a busy weekend but we will be itching to get on with things given the first available opportunity when time and weather permit.

Having complacently thought the currently wintry spell had left the garden unscathed, I now realise that the pair of Crown Princess Margareta climbing roses on the archway outside the kitchen windows seem to have suffered damage from the previous chilling winds, having faced the full force of it as it swirled round the corner of the house; Rambling Rector will have been similarly exposed but being of a venerable age will have faced many cold winters in his time already and may just shrug this one-off. Much of the garden is fairly sheltered because of surrounding properties and internal boundaries but the streamside and paved area are open and exposed to winds from the north. Christina (My Hesperides Garden) is concerned for her wisteria, prompting me to harbour similar concerns for mine, similarly exposed to these bitterly cold winds but perhaps with some protection from the house wall onto which it is trained.

Time will tell whether anything else has suffered, and with double figure temperatures forecast for later in the week perhaps we can soon get back to thinking that Spring is on its way.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Spring, Winter | Tagged | 25 Comments

Blooms Bringing Pleasure in March

I have been busy with all sorts of things recently, not just The Project or even the garden, and missed my usual Wordless Wednesday post without even being aware it was Wednesday. Like me, the garden has also been busy, encouraged by milder temperatures (like me) and moist days (not quite so much like me). The ‘special snowdrops’ are virtually over but the natives have life in them yet although are crying out for some subdivision which they would usually have had by now; other gardeners may wait till after flowering but I tend to do it bit-by-bit over their season so that’s not a problem.

Daffodils and narcissi, however, are just coming into their season and buds on my Tête-à-Tête are just beginning to burst open; the ones above are in the streamside grass where they could do with a boost to their numbers. Most of the Crocus tommasinianus in the grass here have finished, but a handful of Crocus ‘Ladykiller’ (below left) were enjoying today’s warmth and sunshine. Only a handful of Crocus ‘Snowbunting’ (below right) have survived from the original planting in the hedge border but I might risk adding some to my next bulb list and trying again.

Primroses and primulas of various types are in full bloom, with the native primroses in the woodland being the stars; others suffer from weather and bird damage and to look at their best I have come to realise they would need to be kept inside in a pot where they should remain pristine, as Chloris has shown us in the recent post of her new greenhouse and its glorious contents.

There are a few other little jewels dotted about the garden, the odd Cyclamen coum, a hint of colour on the Daphne mezereum ‘Rubra‘plus the first blooms on some tatty pulmonaria (these have not looked brilliant for a year or two – why? must check it out), but the stars are the hellebores, which each year we think are later than usual but they never are – they flower in their own good time, which is usually about now. Whenever they flower, they are all such beauties, whether frilly or scalloped, freckled  or plain; feast your eyes and then pop over to Chloris’ blog at The Blooming Garden to see her floriferous greenhouse and in due course her own choice of March blooms, which may or not be in the aforementioned greenhouse. She kindly allows us to link our monthly bloom posts to her own, so thanks for that, Chloris.

Posted in Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens | Tagged | 29 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Nearly There

The photo doesn’t really do today’s Monday vase justice as in reality it is rather more striking than it might appear; its height, however, made finding a plain background to photograph it against difficult.

Extending to 60cms or 2 feet in height, this plain blue glass bottle vase (source, IKEA? carboot? not sure) holds 3 stems of unknown and possibly mixed varieties of daffodil and a clutch of wild plum twigs. A number of bloggers have recently been experimenting with twigs in tight bud, and these were cut two days ago, the buds quickly swelling and beginning to open in the warmth of the house. Having not bought any full size daffodil bulbs for the garden, these are some of a number that have come to me as potted plants over the years which have been replanted after flowering. Two of the buds have half-opened since the photographs were taken and both have bright free-range-egg-yolk-yellow coronas but the third one could be something completely different, although it is not bulging the way frilly daffodil buds do so I suspect it will also be a plain trumpet variety.

The vase was photographed on the stove-effect fire in our living room, against the background of the tiled insert of the surrounding fireplace. Chimneys and fireplaces had sadly been removed from our property before we bought it, so the fireplace and mantelpiece are far from original but seem to look the part although looked bizarrely incongruous when they were first installed into an almost empty room with bare vintage plaster and a dusty concrete floor, accompanied only by an old armchair and a metric tonne pile of sand as we worked through our renovations…those were the days! Today, furnishings are a little more salubrious!

A closer look at the ‘prop’ accompanying the opening buds of plum and daffodil show that it is a box which may (or may not) contain a mini ‘Slinky’, one of those bendy springs that can supposedly walk themselves downstairs. The contents have been used as a prop before but today remain in their box because spring is not quite here yet, although it is definitely on its way, with daytime temperatures in double figures for several days during the last week. Signs of spring have appeared in many northern hemisphere vases on IAVOM in recent weeks and yet we hear that some gardens are still under the thumb of winter whilst in the southern hemisphere autumn is knocking at the door. Elsewhere of course, seasons barely exist. Wherever you are, do have a look in your gardens and find something to bring inside and pop into a vase or jamjar: we can almost guarantee that this small act will bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart every time you look at the result. If you like, share it with us as well by leaving links to and from this post.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Spring | Tagged , , , | 69 Comments

Still Clueless? Good

One of our neighbours has just completed extension work on his house and asked us if we wanted any of his leftover bricks; he now knows to give us first refusal on any excess building material because invariably we will manage to make use of it. The current offer turned out to be a very timely one, because it just so happens that we have A Project on the go at the moment and this project happens to involve Bricks. It also involves Soil (and several other things), and although this was the same neighbour whose reject soil I rescued from a skip nearly four years ago and used to create, out of nowhere, the shrub border, the soil you can see in the top right of the picture is from our own garden and not his, and is just changing location, probably not for the first time.

I can hardly describe how exciting it is to have a project again, and a relatively large one at that. After our garden openings last year a neighbour asked us what plans we had before the next openings and at the time there none, opportunities for change being apparently minimal. It wasn’t long before minor improvements crept in out of nowhere, with modifications made to the rose garden and then to the areas next to the pergola on the paved area as it underwent refurbishment. Over the years the most successful changes have arisen this way, ideas that popped up from a comment, a thought, a challenge, and were tweaked from a whim into a full-blown project in often a very short space of time.

This is definitely one of those, and I don’t intend to give any further clues or at least will try not to! It will be on-going for a number of weeks although not necessarily continuously, and when revealed is unlikely to be the fully completed projected but should be largely so. The forecasted wet week may mean rain affects play in the short term, but will not keep me away from a project like this for long, or US I should say, as the Golfer is involved too.

Yahay! Here we go, here we go, here we go!

Posted in garden structure, Gardening, Gardens, projects | 34 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: a Three Coloured Gift

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In a Vase on Monday: Pot of Promises

Travelling to our NGS lunch yesterday, barely 20 miles from home, to pick up posters and publicity material for this summer’s garden openings (as well as eating our lovely lunch!), we drove down lanes with snow banked several feet high on either side which had obviously been cleared a by a snow plough; here, however, although we added another inch or so to the snow I showed in my EOMV views we have got off very lightly compared to the vast majority of the UK. Now, changes are afoot: after a foggy morning yesterday the day finished with rain and temperatures up to 5°C and by the time this post is published on Monday morning the snow will be all but washed away.

You may have seen from yesterday’s post that I planned to unearth some Tête à Tête narcissi for today’s vase; this little clump is in a bed outside the front door which faces east and gets the sun, when we have it, for most of the morning – but it also meant they got the brunt of the wind and snow, blowing in as it did from the east. Some buds were on the point of breaking before they were buried and there they still were, tucked up safe and cosy under their white blanket.

As the first of this year’s narcissi, they undoubtedly bring with them the promise of spring; witch hazels, however, carry that promise with them for several months

throughout winter and a sprig of Hamamelis ‘Arnold’s Promise’ went head-to head with the narcissi to emphasise that point. Ivy, however, is with us throughout the year, ever faithful, never letting us down, loyal to the core, and a scarf of a variegated form was tied around the neck of the old ink pot that contains the blooms, attached with a bow of yellow string (several balls of coloured string having been purchased from eBay to co-ordinate with any hand tied posies that might be made).

Although our snow was minimal, the wind whipped it up and left it in interesting drifts and swirls and eddies around the garden, and the Pot of Promises was photographed wedged into a drift of snow that piled up along the raised bed outside the kitchen windows. The initial show of colour from two of the buds when the narcissi were first picked had become three fully open flowers by Sunday night, so they all may be wearing their frilly yellow party dresses by the time you begin adding your vases to the meme on Monday. Will there be promises in yours this week? Please share them, as usual , by leaving links to and from this post.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, open gardens, Winter | Tagged | 76 Comments