In a Vase on Monday: a Sunny Oasis

IMG_0783There was one real contender for today’s vase although I wasn’t sure how to use it, but popping into Hobbycraft (a UK craft store) for something else this morning I suddenly thought of ‘Oasis’ which not being one for flower arranging is something I have never used before – perhaps, with hosting this Monday ‘In a Vase’ theme, I am now becoming one!

I feel quite sorry for this mahonia, almost the sole component today, as not only am I not very keen on it I also forget about its existence in the garden. When the garden first became ours it was almost all grass and hedge, with the apple trees and a few fruit bushes in random places, the only decorative plants being a small fatsia (now big and in a different location), numerous buddleias (removed after they outstayed any welcome they might have had after prolifically seeding themselves around) and this mahonia which is tucked up in the far corner of what is now the woodland. Having the appearance of a small tree, it occasionally it has its lower branches lopped but other than that it is scarcely noticed and would not be missed.

Today it has perhaps its only chance to shine, with 5 flower spikes pushed into a block of Oasis in a short stemmed glass sundae dish. The central spike had its leaves trimmed about half way, whilst the others had all their leaves removed and then the top half of the leaves added to the arrangement. Again the crocosmia seed heads from previous arrangements were reused, and having read that cornus stems will sometimes root in water I did toy with the idea of including them too, but didn’t feel it warranted the addition.

This afternoon I need to cut holly and ivy for a wreath for our front door, but I daresay a holly and ivy arrangement will also make it to a vase on a Monday before Christmas! If anyone would like to use these Monday posts as an encouragement to bring some of their garden inside, then please feel free to include links both to and from this post – and as always I am happy if we think out of the box and beyond flowers and foliage…..

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30 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: a Sunny Oasis

  1. Christina says:

    I’m sorry you don’t love your Mahonia, I’m struggling to keep one alive in my garden, this year it does have some flowers but I think they are too precious in the garden to think about cutting them just yet. Here’s my post

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for joining in, Christina. I suppose the mahonia is one of the very few things in the garden that I didn’t plant, so I feel no connection with it – and this one is an ugly specimen as mahonias go 😉 Hope yours survives

  2. Annette says:

    Let the sun shine in! Thanks for this cheerful bouquet, Cathy. I love Magnolias and I’m delighted about my M. japonica whose foliage is gently blushing these days. 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Magnolia? Mahonia presumably…. I remember an article in the RHS magazine a year ago showing what a wide range of mahonias there were – including a pink one! I must admit that despite not being keen on mahonia this concentrated group of them does look quite fetching 🙂

      • Annette says:

        Sorry, must have been ahead of time! I meant Mahonias of course and think there are some truely beautiful ones: think of M. lomariifolia or the new one M. Soft caress which I got this year. Bonus is the autumn or winter colour some of them have.

        • Cathy says:

          Soft Caress? Don’t they all have slightly prickly leaves? I am not sure I would want to be caressed by a mahonia… 😉

          • flutes52 says:

            Obviously you don’t know about ‘Soft Caress’, Cathy. Have a look at
            And a shame you that you are fortunate enough to have a lovely mahonia and to know absolutely nothing about them! Many of us would kill for a ‘Lionel Fortescue’ (which is what I think yours is, although it may be a more ordinary ‘Charity’). Anyway – would pay you, perhaps, to be less prickly and more kind?

          • Cathy says:

            Hello – I have just found your comments in spam and rescued them. Annette has mentioned ‘Soft Caress’ to me and coincidentally I have just seen a picture of it with the newest RHS magazine – the leaves are very very different, aren’t they? I suspect mine will indeed be the ordinary ‘Charity’ because I knew a little of the person who had the garden before us, so it doesn’t amount to a real fortune really. Many of my comments are in fact ‘tongue-in-cheek’, and I actually have an open mind about mahonias – but I still do not like this inherited monstrosity whatever anybody else says!! 🙂

          • Annette says:

            Well, nomen est omen in this case, my dear 😉

  3. Helen Johnstone says:

    Like the idea of this meme but think it is going to get challenging very quickly!! Here is my post

  4. Pauline says:

    I love my two mahonias, they just need cutting back when they get a bit leggy and soon they are nice rounded shrubs again, the flowers are so lovely at this time of year and they even have a delicate perfume, definitely worthy of space in the garden!

    • Cathy says:

      You make them sound lovely – unfortunately I don’t think our mahonia has ever been a nice rounded shape in the 17 years since we have been here! I did make a point of smelling the flowers but there was no perfume that I was aware of 😦

  5. flutes52 says:

    The mahonia is lovely, Cathy. Thanks for sharing. And you have, at least, appreciated it today, haven’t you? I think the meme idea is great. Just wish there was something flowering in my garden so I could join in. Maybe in the future.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for dropping in – and yes, I have to admit it does look nice like this, better than on the plant anyway! Do try and join in if you can – doesn’t need to be flowers. Foliage? Twigs? Pebbles? It’s certainly done the trick of getting me back into the habit of making a little posy each week

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  7. Anna says:

    Now there’s instant sunshine in a vase for you Cathy. Oasis does come in handy but there’s something about the feel of it that always sets my teeth on edge – a bit like touching swimming floats when I was a child 😦

    • Cathy says:

      Hope you got over the float issue and learned to swim eventually, Anna – or perhaps you learned quickly so you could do without the float! I know what you mean, and it was quite strange seeing how quickly it soaked up water – you could almost imagine a big tongue slurping it up!

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  9. Julie says:

    Wow Cathy – I wish I had mahonia like that! I inherited 2 mature plants when we took over the garden, but I don’t think they have ever flowered – certainly not with anything as spectacular as yours. I will be taking a close look at them tomorrow. I think mahonia are very much a love or hate plant – I love anything that brings colour to the garden at this time of year so would welcome some of those flowers in my garden.

    Here is my contribution this week:

    • Cathy says:

      If you look at today’s post Julie you will see that it is nothing to be envious about, but I appreciate what you mean about the colour. Mind you, I think I would love it more if it wasn’t yellow! Thanks for joining in again 🙂

  10. rusty duck says:

    It looks spectacular! But I have had a mahonia in a previous garden that was less than elegant, so I do know what you mean.

  11. flutes52 says:

    Re mahonias, Cathy. I worked and trained at Kew Gardens for many, many years. Without being next to the plant, it seems clear to me that your mahonia might well be ‘Lionel Fortescue’ (either that or ‘Charity’, both fairly ‘ordinary’, but exceptionally beautiful in their season).
    But how sad that you don’t appreciate it! I remember a wonderful story about someone who visits an art gallery full of famous paintings and mentions to the guy curating in one room that he does not like what he sees. The guy says, ‘Sir, it’s not the paintings that are on trial, it’s you who are on trial’. I think that kind of sums it up.
    And what a shame you’ve never heard of ‘Soft Caress’, which Annette (who is German, so English is not her native language) mentions above. Have a look at It is such a lovely plant, and so unlike a mahonia that I couldn’t believe it was a mahonia myself when I saw the pictures. But it is, and very beautiful. We’ve all an awful lot to learn?

  12. Sarah says:

    I may be completely wrong here but when I worked in London I used to be cheered up no end on a grey day sniffing the jasmine scent of what looked like a mahonia just outside my old office building. I was just getting into gardening and it lifted my spirits no end knowing that I would be working on a computer all day 🙂 I’d love to join in on this vase post! I’ll see what’s in my garden next Monday and link in to your blog 🙂 ( I live in New Zealand so it’ll be quite different to you!!)

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for dropping in Sarah and please do join in next week – it will be lovely to see what offerings you have from the other side of the world. And yes, mahonias do sometimes have a scent and as the flowers were way above my head height and had to pull them down to cut them and did make a point of sniffing them, but alas, no smell….. I must admit, I am sitting and looking at the vase as I write this and it does look astonishingly bright and sunny, yet I would not have noticed it on the plant

  13. Ah, there it is, for some reason I seem to have got unsubscribed from your blog, I thought it was odd that I hadn’t seen anything from you, and I knew my biscuits hadn’t killed you off!! My old mahonia had started flowering way over my head, so I hacked it back and two years later it was a hedge of golden yellow flowers at this time of year, always made me smile. Just saying 😉

    • Cathy says:

      And I though we had bored you with our prattling!!! Glad you are back – and that your M****** made you smile (although was that in the garden you left behind? Fortunately, I have plenty of other things to smile about..:)

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