In a Vase on Monday: Wanted, Dead or Alive!

IMG_3395Torrential rain during parts of Saturday night and an uncertainly grey Sunday seemed likely to thwart chances of continuing with the Project yesterday, and a sudden return of the rain drove me inside to find drier activities. On a whim, already having half an idea, I turned back and went to cut stems for today’s vase.

I began dismantling the Joys of Autumn vase from a fortnight ago, keeping the sedum and ammi which were both still attractive in their dried state and, having been reminded of the IMG_3404potential of Annabelle (Hydrangea arborescens) every time I went in and out of the back door, nipped outside again to snip some of her spent blooms before setting off to the bottom of the garden to check another hydrangea, this time H petelioris. Almost a very dark russet in colour, the flowerheads of the latter look good on the naked skeleton of the plant throughout the winter – and perhaps will do so even more since I trimmed back all the lower branches. This subtle ‘russetness’ blended perfectly with the now dark pink of the sedum and the ‘dried petal’ colour of ageing Annabelle, but the recycled ammi was rejected for this vase, being still ‘too green’. The bonus was the unexpected presence of this pink jug which I found tucked away at the back of a cupboard and had forgotten about – the perfect vessel for this trio of has-beens.

The only preparation required was the trimming of stems to a length which would see the flowers sitting a little above the rim of the jug and of course, being already dry, no water was required. I know the Golfer once possessed some 1950s Western cowboy and injun’ paperbacks, but seemingly no more, so modern day thrillers (more than likely all including dead bodies and villains wanted for murder) were used as props instead. No doubt all excellent ‘reads’, but not my choice of literature! The gloomy day was of course a problem for the camera, and the photos don’t really do this quick and simple vase justice.

So, a quick and simple vase using ‘dead’ material – one of the means by which I have been able to produce a vase every Monday for the last 52 weeks. If you would like to join in the challenge then post your vase or container of pickings from your garden or similar, with links to and from this post – and watch out for next week’s celebratory post!


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62 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Wanted, Dead or Alive!

  1. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday – Pure White | Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  2. Christina says:

    I do like the use of dried Hydrangeas in a vase and have definitely talked myself into buying one for the terrace for next year. Annabell’s attractive pink flowers don’t look dried so a nice contrast with your other additions. I am still in denial about autumn so as yet no dried stems or foliage in my vase which you can find here:

  3. Cathy I was afraid with looming freezing temps I would have nothing, but not so. We had some rain, but the sun and warmth have been a shock here in late October, November… and so are my vases a bit of a sock filled with the hanging on blooms especially roses. I am hoping the freeze holds off still as my roses continue to bloom today and I could fill a vase with them every day.

    • Cathy says:

      I have a few roses, but not enough to fill a vase Donna – I do hope yours survive for a lot longer and you can continue to share them πŸ™‚

  4. CathyT says:

    Shall nip back later on and read about the Project! Meanwhile, your vase seems very appropriate close to All Saints Day (every one dead – but all beautiful!). You’ve reminded me that I have never grown Ammi majus. Need to try it because it works well dead too. This is the first time I’ve contributed to your ‘Vase on Monday’ although I often enjoy looking. Thanks for hosting it! My own tuppence worth is here:

    • Cathy says:

      Welcome Cathy! I hadn’t thought about an All Saints Day connection – but makes me realise that ‘dried’ is indeed a much more evocative term for these flowerheads, even if they are dead! The ammi I used a fornight ago is A visnaga which holds its dried flowers well – the A majus seems to drop its petals really quickly so I am not sure about drying those ps the Project may need another week or so.

  5. johnvic8 says:

    You had a great idea to use “spent” flowers to create a beautiful arrangement. I suspect I will be tempted to follow your lead over the next few weeks. My weekly offering is at:

  6. Julie says:

    Very clever use of props Cathy, the dried flowers are good and together make a great title. I read on someone else’s In a Vase, a couple of weeks ago that using local hedgerows plants were ok too, would that be right? We have families of Coal Tits who forage in our Hydrangea petiolaris over the winter, its a plant for all seasons here. I haven’t put together a vase today and am just enjoying everyones else’s this week.

    • Cathy says:

      It is the picking and bringing inside that forms the spirit of the meme, Julie, so hedgerow pickings are fine if we have nothing suitable in our own gardens or want a change – but no real hard and fast rules. Sometimes people will share a bouquet or flowers they have received as there will always be personal reasons attached. It is a personal challenge for each of us. Just join in when you want to.

  7. Nice combo with the books! My garden is definitely winding down as far as providing vase material. Mainly sedums and ferns and Hellebore leaves left but I did come up with something to share.
    Link at

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks – and as long as there are sedums and ferns and hellebore leaves in your garden there is vase potential, Linda! There doesn’t seem to be a link to your post, so I will find your post later and add the link for you.

  8. Pingback: In a vase on a Monday: A glass of purple stuff | My Aberdeen Garden

  9. I should have realized what you were up to immediately when I saw the title of your post! I do wish I had Hydrangea somewhere in the garden but, as it’s decidedly not drought tolerant, I guess that’s currently out of the question. The fall-winter cycle is very different in California as my contribution shows:

    Congratulations upon your 52nd “In a Vase” post, Cathy!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kris – the different seasonal offerings is something else that makes this meme so enjoyable. Looking forward to seeing your eustoma again!

  10. Chloris says:

    A great title and props. I love your vase today, so appropriate for November. Your beautiful Annabel has done stirling work all year and still looks so good in her maturity.
    I have joined in this week, but I’m afraid it is a hastily plonked vase, as I had to go out. β€Ž

  11. Pingback: In A Vase On Monday – A Grand Finale | Peonies & Posies

  12. Julie says:

    What a great use of ‘dead’ material Cathy – it is so surprising how good old flower heads look in a vase! I am really looking forward to seeing your review next week. I am commenting in haste as we are off to see Mr Turner tonight and I want to get this up before we leave!

    You can find my vase this week at

    • Cathy says:

      Should be a good evening for you, Julie. I haven’t quite decided on the format for next week’s post yet, although I have the material prepared

  13. I have a feeling we will all be using lots of dead stuff in vases in the coming weeks! Hydrangeas do dry beautifully, as do sedums, I love the subtle colours they leave behind. I’ve managed to join in this week! My offering is the last of the dahlias –

    • Cathy says:

      And yet I am sure we will continue to be surprised by stray blooms for some time yet – just enough to tide us over until hellebores and snowdrops!

  14. AnnetteM says:

    Great title and props – love the idea of the books!
    Here is my entry for Monday’s vase

  15. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Candy Pink and Caramel Brown | Words and Herbs

  16. Anna says:

    Congratulations on a most fiendish title for your post Cathy. The props made me chuckle. I do some voluntary work each month which involves selecting library books for housebound and mainly older people. Those authors feature high up on their preferred reading – the bloodier the better or so it seems πŸ™‚ Sorry there’s no contribution from me today but hope to join in the celebrations next week.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – an interesting statistic about the library books! When the Golfer is not buying them at car boots there will always be a waiting list for the newest ones at the library, so it doesn’t surprise me.

  17. pbmgarden says:

    Cathy your hydrangeas really provide such long-term value. So nice to have a supply for your vase today. I too am looking forward to celebrating your In A Vase On Monday anniversary. For today, here’s my contribution.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, don’t they just – and although I am not a fan of other hydrangeas I have rescued another one I was going to dispose of and tried planting it on the edge of the woodland, for potential vase use!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Apologies for being missing these last couple of weeks but life’s been a bit hectic. Back now though and loving your title – very appropriate for the time of the year πŸ™‚ Your arrangement of dried flower heads looks just perfect in that pretty pink jug. Love your props but wish I’d known you were going to use books this week because I did too. I’ve read the Ian Rankin but then I read just about anything set in Edinburgh, my home town! I’m lucky, I still have flowers to pick – here’s my link:

    • Cathy says:

      I am an Edinburgh girl too, Elizabeth, but we moved to England when I was 10 – back up there in a few weeks for our now annual pre-Christmas get-together. I could have used ‘live’ flowers for the vase this week, but the title and the contents just put themselves into my mind and there was no stopping them πŸ™‚

  19. Hi there Cathy,
    I would so love to remember to have props with my vase, or better still the energy to first think of them and then follow through with them! πŸ™‚ I do love that feeling when you find something, like a jug, that you’d completely forgotten about! I really like working with dried (aka dead) materials and giving them a second life! Well done to you!

    here is the link to Dana’s vase:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks – I suspect the jug came in a box of stuff from an auction a number of years ago and I kept it because I liked the colour. Not much use if I forget it’s there though! I don’t always think of props, or can’t always find anything appropriate – but I like to try and rise to the added challenge!

  20. Pingback: sprig to twig » Blog Archive » in a vase on Monday

  21. rickii says:

    We are always bombarded with horror flicks and zombie decorations around Halloween. Did that influence your theme for today? I’ve been enjoying the look of the dying plant material in past vases, letting them sit around far past the usual time for tossing them.
    The dark beauty of your vase this week is an ode to the dying of the light. I especially like the way it casts shadows on the jug container.
    Here’s my entry:

    • Cathy says:

      Rickii – the near Hallowe’en timing is completely coincidental and I hadn’t thought of them as ‘dead’, but dried or spent, until the title popped into my head! As well as dismantling the vase from a fortnight ago I also kept some of last week’s. The photos were taken on Sunday but I retook them on the Monday itself when it was bright and sunny – but decided to keep the almost gloomier ones after all!

  22. Cathy says:

    I’d never really thought of dried flowers as “dead”! You’ve chosen some lovely things for a November vase this week. The sedums seem to go on forever don’t they! I think I will have to use more props once I start to struggle with filling a vase, but our mild October and sunny start to November have helped a lot. Here’s my vase link for today Cathy:
    Thanks, and congratulations on the one year mark. Can’t wait to see your celebratory post next week!

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Cathy – as I have mentioned before, I never really thought of them as ‘dead’ either, even though they are! It seems laughable that I once considered this sedum to be too ‘ordinary’ to maintain its place in the garden – it really is a stalwart! There were certainly more props in our posts over the winter but then all our lovely flowers began to take centre stage – who knows what our winters will be like this year?!

  23. Ooh, this looks like fun! I’m not very good at flower arranging, but this is a great excuse to pull out old vases and inherited teapots. I’m American, living in central Spain, and my passion are English roses. You can find my vase post here:

    • Cathy says:

      And a very warm welcome to you – hopefully you will soon realise that most of us who post a vase on Monday are not ‘arrangers’ but plonkers, but we have learned that these plonked vases look really effective and bring us such pleasure. The spirit of the meme is to bring pleasure by picking and bringing into the house – ‘arranging’ is a matter of choice. Thinking out of the box is encouraged, which is why props can be so useful – and it sounds as if you will be doing the same as me, rediscovering things I had forgotten I had!

  24. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday; Roses in November | Cosmos and Cleome

  25. You present your arrangements so nicely every week, Cathy! That in itself is a feat and an inspiration! Congratulations on a full year’s worth of vases!

    My vases have a spring and summery feel this week–

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kimberley – again this seems to prove how effective just plonking is! I can hardly believe it has been a year – and have been surprised looking back at all my previous posts. There have been a few summery vase posts this Monday, as people celebrate their late blooms while they can!

  26. It’s definitely getting harder to find material for cutting, as autumn is marching on. It takes imagination, envisaging what other plant material can contribute to a composition. How useful are Sedum, and our old friend Annabelle – they keep on giving. A lovely vase Cathy – you’ve shown it can be done. And I love the props – well thought out!

  27. Annette says:

    One can only hope to be able to die so beautifully one day as these flowers – very pretty, Cathy

    • Cathy says:

      That’s a very profound statement Annette – I am not sure about dying beautifully, but if I can die having given as much happiness to others as my garden has given to me, then I too will be happy.

  28. Gillian says:

    Is it ok to join in a day late? I’ve just found out about this via Annette at myaberdeengarden and wondered if yesterdays post may fit your theme. Thanks Gillian

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Gillian – I found your comment in Spam so now I am late replying to you! Yes, don’t worry if it is a day or two late as there are people in different time zones anyway so ‘Monday’ is a little variable. The meme has encouraged more people to pick things from their gardens or thereabouts who would have previously been reluctant to do so, and it has shown that simple ‘plonking’ brings as much pleasure as anything more elaborately arranged. I am off to have a look at your autumn flowers now!

  29. Hi Cathy, I’ve enjoyed people’s comments–everybody understand that we are getting to the point where the flowers are ending! I had one last fling and included your link in my post to direct my readers here. Here is my contribution to Monday’s Flowers in a Vase. If I am late (and I appear to be), please let me know and I’ll put it in the next post. Here is mine:

    Sure hope you’ll visit. Cheers to you all, Susie

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Susie – it has been been most interesting seeing what is appearing in other people’s vases, hasn’t it?

      • It sure has–I love it. Cathy, did I enter my post at the right time? I didn’t have it done yesterday, sorry. But please let me know if this is okay. Thanks. (Did you see my link to you?)

        • Cathy says:

          Yes, all OK. Don’t worry if you are a day or two ‘late’ – it’s still in the spirit of the meme and time zones are so different too. Glad you are keen to join in

  30. hoehoegrow says:

    I keep reading posts on this meme and meaning to join in as it sounds like an interesting challenge ! I love your hydrangeas – they dry so well. Ammi major is a mystery to me as I have tried to grow it two years running … and failed spectacularly !

    • Cathy says:

      Do try a vase, even if only occasionally – it is a personal challenge, and does make you look at your garden differently too. I have grown both Ammi majus and A visnaga this year – A majus is perhaps prettier but A visnaga lasts longer on the plant and in a vase.

  31. threadspider says:

    What a timely reminder of how beautiful plants can be when they transition from living to dried. The hydrangea is so lovely-so added to my wish list
    My very short post is here

    • Cathy says:

      Welcome! We have been learning from each other with this meme and thinking out of the box too if we can – we have all surprised ourselves, I think πŸ˜‰

  32. Pingback: Autumn Flowers for Cutting | Country Garden UK

  33. Loree says:

    I finally managed to participate in your meme, sort of. It’s Wednesday but hopefully you know it’s all in the spirit:

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