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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43 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Prince of Darkness

  1. Cathy I really love the tithonia and hope to plant some myself next year. I have noticed it on a few blogs and love it I suspect because it resembles marigolds. And I love your vase. I do have some special vases but I am always hesitant to use them. I really must next year. Not sure how much longer the garden will provide, but I intend to find out. This week’s vase was another great grouping of flowers found as I wandered in a small patch of my garden. Hope you like it:

    • Cathy says:

      Tithonia is of course much taller – mine are about 24-30 inches tall – and I am really impressed with how they want to branch out, but because of the lateness of the year mine won’t get to their optimum size, I shouldn’t think. Until this year all but a couple of my vases were purely bought for their decorative value, so I keep discovering useful ones I had forgotten I had. And then there are all the things which aren’t really vases at all – so it’s a voyage of discovery in the house as well as in the garden…!

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  3. Julie says:

    I am sure you did not expect to see me here this early in the day Cathy! The weather is so bad here that I am having a computer day – it is actually proving quite a nice break for my back from bulb planting. I love these tithonia and am planning to try and grow some of my own next year. I will take your advice and sow early. Re the camera are you using a DSLR? If so you can change the light meter (the scale that reads -1.5 -1 0 1 1.5) Normally you would shoot on 0 but if light conditions are bad increase the reading to 1 or 1.5 and you will have a lighter picture. Hope that helps – it is hard to explain and easy to demonstrate!

    You can find my contribution at

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Julie – it was indeed a surprise to have you post so early in the day as I do get used to when people are usually able to post their vases. I can understand your computer day, as back home after my active morning I have decided to do the same rather than the hour or so outside that I intended – a bit wet and chilly! Haven’t touched my bulbs yet though, so well done you for that! My camera is a half-decent compact, a Canon Ixus, but I may be able to change the light meter manually – this is an incentive to look at the instructions again, so thanks for that. These tithonia were not sown till the end of May after the first batch failed to thrive.

  4. threadspider says:

    Stunning Tithonia flowers and something for my must grow list next year. I hope to post a photo later- am feeling very inspired by ths Monday idea. Can’t offer much help on the photographic lighting front or artistic arrangements, but look forward to hearing tips from those who know. 🙂

  5. Cathy says:

    Just what you need on a dismal day – a wonderful splash of colour! And the vase makes it even better. I really like the black background for close ups and will have to remeber to try that when it becomes unavoidable to use a flash.
    Here’s my vase for today:
    Have a good week Cathy!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, the colour of the tithonia and the vase are a real tonic on a day like this! If I had though about in advance I am sure I could have found a bigger sheet of card – but thinking as I write I have got various bits of fabric in the loft I could use for future backgrounds which certainly could be useful…

  6. I love your title as much as the bouquet. I’m happy with my arrangement but I am being too literal in my titles after reading yours!

  7. johnvic8 says:

    Lovely, indeed, Cathy. I particularly like your choice of the vase. My offering:

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  9. Chloris says:

    The tithonias are lovely. I really wish that I had grown more but to be honest I didn’t get many coming up from my packet of seeds. Next year I would love masses and as you say it would be a good idea to sow them early.
    I love your vase, it’s a gorgeous colour, perfect for the tithonias. What a find.
    I have joined in this week with an arrangement.

    • Cathy says:

      I think with all my seed sowing this year I very rarely sowed a full packet, but I think over the 2 sowings I may well have used all of the tithonia but even the first lot germinated OK, just failed to thrive. I wonder if I can collect seed from them – something else I have been doing this year for the first time.

      • Chloris says:

        Yes I’ m definitely going to use my own seed. It will probably be fresher. When you buy it you never know how long it has been sitting around in packets.

  10. I didn’t know that Uncinia bloomed. Mine have never shown signs of that. Your vase, flower and foliage combination is perfect. My arrangement this week is a break from the colors I’ve used the last couple of weeks:

    Thanks for hosting, Cathy!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kris – the uncina flowers are not very significant flowers and the stems are far finer than the grass itself. I have used them a few times during the year

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  12. I love the tithonia, Cathy; very pretty for this season, and the barbed sedge is a perfect accompaniment. It looked nice set against the black card. I really like your floral wallpaper, a lot, but my brain had a hard time reconciling the more spring’summer-like pattern of it with the autumn feel of the arrangement! It’s too lovely an arrangement to have to fight with the wallpaper for attention! Your vase was quite a lucky find, I’d say!

    Here’s a link to my vase:

    • Cathy says:

      Well, that’s told me, Kimberley! You are quite right of course – I was thinking of putting the vase in the fireplace which is a surround set into this plasterboard wall, but it wouldn’t have worked with the props so it went on the mantelpiece itself but a clash with the wallpaper never crossed my mind! A blank background is a rare thing in this house!

  13. Anna says:

    A perfect match of flower to vase Cathy. I do wish that I had remembered to sow my tithonia seed! Will be more organised next year! Have you considered taking photos under cover in the greenhouse or is there no room to spare? It is often lighter out there in the depths of winter. I think that the black card makes it easier for the eye to concentrate on the finer details of the flowers.

    • Cathy says:

      Ironic that it was that alerted me to the existence of tithonia, Anna, as I had never heard of them! If it hadn’t been such a dismal day I could have taken the photos outside, but I am afraid one greenhouse is full of tomatoes and the other of hardy annuals. Non reflective blank backgrounds in the house would be useful – I shall have to improvise!

  14. Julie says:

    This is dramatic Cathy, the vase was a great find and the beautiful Tithonia the perfect compliment. I really like the black background too. Side light instead of back light from a window helps when taking photographs, the back light causes an inbuilt light meter to take and confuse a reading from the light rather than the subject, so that the image of the subject than becomes darker. Wheras if the subject is lit from the side the inbuilt meter should not overcompensate and you should get a better result.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Julie – there a window to the side, but on a gloomy day there wasn’t much light anyway although the reflection of the window was still visible on the vase itself!

  15. pbmgarden says:

    Cathy, your tithonia is beautifully showy and looks great in your new vase. What a great find! Here is my simple vase for this week:
    Thanks, as always I enjoyed working with flowers today and appreciate that you host our Monday vases. Susie

    • Cathy says:

      Oh thanks Susie – hosting the meme has brought me such a lot of pleasure, particularly to see how much it has inspired people and possibly created a habit of a lifetime for many of us. Oh, and you my say your vase is simple, but you always do ‘simple’ so well and your vases are always gorgeous so I am off to check it out now!

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I absolutely love these stunning flowers, Cathy.The colour just sings! And the vase is simply perfect, especially against the black background – very dramatic! I’ve noticed the changing light and can see it is going to make for problems as we move into winter here. Here’s my very late vase today:
    Hope the weather improves for the rest of the week.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for your kind comments Elizabeth – after a busy blogging day on Monday I have tried to be fairly blog free today but just want to catch up on these last vases!

  17. bittster says:

    That is a nice bright color for a gloomy day, but I would hardly think prince of darkness when I see a floral print wallpaper! The tithonia seem to be holding up well to the weather, I really need to give them another try next spring.

  18. Love the black card backdrop, very professional. Great advert for both tithonia and charity shop vases.

  19. Annette says:

    Like burning flames, very pretty! Just managed to get some seeds of Torch and look forward to growing them next year. As I’m in the process of developing the orchard there’ll be new borders to fill 😉

  20. croftgarden says:

    Tithonia, not something I’ve grown but I might investigate even though I tend to restrict orange to the marigolds.
    You need to adjust the ISO setting on your camera – if there is not a separate setting it might have a setting for night or low light. You might have to experiment with different setting if the automatic is not working – try aperture priority. Try to use natural light if you can, if not use other light sources either to the side or even from below. The great thing about digital photography is that you can take as many photos as you like, so experiment. You can also use Photoshop or similar, it won’t turn a bad photo into a good one but it can be useful in tweaking. Almost forgot, if you use artificial light, adjust the white balance on your camera or it will be too yellow. If all else fails read the instruction book!

    • Cathy says:

      I have been consulting the instruction book today, and have tried a different aperture setting, so will experiment with ISO settings and adjusting white balance too, all of which can be set manually on my camera. I will be interested to compare photos using these different settings. Thanks for your input and advice.

      • croftgarden says:

        I’m still learning how to use my camera, and although I will consult the book or even my resident in-house expert, I still learn more my experimenting.

  21. rickii says:

    Lovely find, that vase. I suspect the vases will get smaller as the flowers become sparser. I was reduced to a bud vase this week:

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, a bud vase would make it much easier, Rickii – although I don’t think my earliest vases were all little, and they began in November. Certainly hadn’t acquired quite so many vases from car boot sales then!

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