In a Vase on Monday: a Vase for Thomas Hood

IMG_3497Although Thomas Hood didn’t actually say ‘no colour’ in his oft-seasonally-quoted poem ‘November’ it may well be one of the things he had in mind when he talked about the lack of definition and cheerfulness in November. We can accept that Victorian Novembers were generally very different from those we experience now, but even so I suspect Thomas Hood can’t have been much of a gardener because, if he was, I am sure he would have been out looking for even a scrap of colour in his garden. Perhaps he was suffering from seasonal melancholia…

IMG_3495Originally thought I would utilise some of my roses today, but spotting the flowers on Fatsia japonica when photographing for GBBD these are what were uppermost in my mind this morning – along with the often forgotten Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’. My small clump is in the rockery and probably in view from the kitchen window but I suppose its ankle level position is not in its favour. Half of the clump is now green, and I am not sure whether to take this out to encourage an increase in blackness, or whether the leaves and green berries will turn black in time – proving I don’t look at it often enough to notice!

The fatsia flowers were the first thing I have picked that required a step ladder to reach, but meant I could choose the choicest blooms for the vase. The individual florets had stems that were too short to be used on their own, so I snipped a full head, and as it was IMG_3494likely to overbalance because of its weight I gently pressed it onto a small pin-holder before placing it in the vase. The ophiopogon berries were surprisingly heavy too, and it was also a shame that there were only these two stems to pick as I was hoping for more. Extra leaves were cut to compensate and added to the small vintage vase, unmarked but with a very tactile lead grey textured glaze on the outside and an equally attractive turquoise glaze on the interior. I took the photographs outside againstΒ  a piece of black fabric and included a few black and white photographs as props, but the relatively successful shots of the vase were let down by the reflection on the photos….hey ho!

IMG_3498I love the understated elegance of this little vase, which is now holding its own next to a large vase with lilies I was given as a thank you for lunch and the vase of spent flowers from a fortnight ago. I also love this meme, and would like to thank everyone for their good wishes and support after the celebratory post last week and for all the vases and comments. There were a record 23 vases posted last week, so 23 names went into the Golfer’s newest hat and he drew out the name of Janet and her Plantaliscious blog. Janet will shortly be receiving a copy of a Blurb book featuring all of last year’s vases – well done, and thank you everybody!


This entry was posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: a Vase for Thomas Hood

  1. pbmgarden says:

    Cathy, this is a beautiful combination, very spare and elegant, and photographed quite well. It has a nice balance. November has turned dreary here–I found the last bit of color yesterday before the rain. Here’s my vase for today:

  2. Chloris says:

    Poor old Thomas. Don’ t forget he lived in London which was a terrible place to be in November with the awful Victorian smog. He was in very bad health too. But I’ m sure your lovely arrangement would have cheered him up. How very sophisticated it is, in black and white. I love it.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I do feel sorry for him, Chloris – easy to forget that even in our lifetimes (well, mine at least – just!) people in London were dying in great numbers from smog.

  3. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday – On the Wild Side | Gardening Jules

  4. Julie says:

    Hi Cathy, thats very sophisticated, I have looked longingly at a neighbour’s Fatsia flowers, they are so delicate in comparison to the tough foliage and in a mild November they really come into their own. I did not realise there were berries either on the Ophiopogon and despite the reflection I really like the B/W photos as props. I had to go further afield to join in this week and went scrumping in the hedgerows. Here is my offering, thanks again for hosting this lovely meme.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Julie – the fatsia flowers always take me by surprise and they are fascinating to inspect close up which I wouldn’t normally be able to do!

  5. Congrats to Janet for winning your book. I love your vase this week….perfection really and the theme just adds to the perfection….all blooms stopped here this weekend when the snow and frigid temps came, but I managed to get what I could before that so these are my last flowering vases. It will be a challenge now to find enough foliage as most has died as well, and other bits and bobs of berries or branches. But I have a few ideas for December. After that though I fear we may be in for a hiatus until blooms come back….but who knows I have been surprised so far.

    Here are this weeks vases:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Donna. It looks as if we might be in for another very wet winter – so perhaps no snow for us at all. How long do you expect yours to last now? I know from last winter that our vases were more of a challenge than they were during the milder months, but somehow that made them all the more enjoyable to do.

  6. johnvic8 says:

    A very thoughtful selection of the fatsia flowers. And special thanks to the Golfer for his continuing support to this marvelous meme.

    • Cathy says:

      Haha – he does his duty and knows that my priority on returning from swimming and Pilates on Monday is to produce my vase! πŸ™‚

  7. Annette says:

    Not only is your Hood vase very striking and mysterious but you’re turning into a good photographer as well, Cathy. Great shot from above and I adore this combination, so dark and elegant. Happy monday! Here’s my contribution…and don’t laugh:

    • Cathy says:

      Oh thanks Annette – I must look out more suitable fabric for backgrounds as this proved to be really useful and was actually laid against a damp bench. I am very intrigued by your title and your instruction … πŸ˜‰

  8. Christina says:

    Dear Cathy, your vase today is completely stunning! It would have never occurred to me to pick the blooms from Fatsia japonica nor use the leaves and berries from Ophiopogon planiscapus β€˜Nigrescens’ for a flower arrangement and it looks fantastic together.
    I think, both plants will grow in Southern California, where I garden, too. Unfortunately, I don’t have an open shady spot for a Fatsia japonica, but I certainly can manage to squeeze in Ophiopogon planiscapus β€˜Nigrescens’ and will see if I can find this plant in the local nurseries.
    The vase you have chosen fits this little arrangement perfectly and photographing it against a black backdrop lets the little bouquet stand out and show of its beauty in a perfect way. Well done! Thank you so much for the inspiration, it certainly has encouraged me to go out in my own garden and look more for the unusual that can be used in a vase. Warm regards,

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for all your kind comments, Christina – one of the reasons we all enjoy this meme so much is the mutual encouragement and inspiration, as well as the knowledge we acquire by sharing

  9. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – a bit of zing! | Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  10. Christina says:

    Very sophisticated indeed Cathy. I wish my Fatsia were large enough that I needed steps to reach the blooms, I’m just pleased that mine is flowering at all. I think this is my favourite vase, and lovely against the dark background. Here’s my post:

    • Cathy says:

      Even my Mme Alfred Carriere could be reached with a stretch! It seems quite strange to be going back to simpler and more austere vases – perhaps I will see if I can do the opposite for the next one, although it might be a struggle πŸ˜‰

  11. Cathy says:

    Stunning! That would surely bring Mr Hood out of his melancholy state! The photograph against black fabric is really effective and I think this is one of my favourites so far. πŸ™‚ My vase this week couldn’t be a greater contrast! Thanks Cathy, and have a good week!

    • Cathy says:

      Isn’t it great to have such variation – I have just been looking at Christina’s zingy vase and it looks as if you will have a zingy one too! No wonder we enjoy this meme so much πŸ™‚

  12. Just a quick note to say that Iove those white flowers. Off to pick up the kids. Here’s my link:

    Thanks for hosting!

  13. CathyT says:

    Just lovely Cathy – everything (especially the Ophiopogon) shows the Fatsia flowers off to great advantage – probably the first time I’ve ever stopped and really appreciated them, I’m afraid to say. So it didn’t make me sad on a gloomy Monday, but raised a smile of appreciation! Congrats to Janet on winning the book! Here is my contribution for the week.
    I look forward to browsing and enjoy everyone else’s over the next couple of days! Have a good Monday evening all …

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy – and it was so quick and easy to so. Didn’t need to go far from the back door either!! Enjoy the other links – they are increasing in number πŸ™‚

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Cathy, what a stunning vase. The black berries of the Ophiopogon are so dramatic against frothy white flowers of the Fatsia. I think Thomas Hood might have to re-write his poem is he saw my garden in November … whilst not exactly a blaze of colour, it’s definitely not lacking cheerfulness πŸ™‚ You can see the evidence in my contribution for this week:

    Happy gardening, Elizabeth

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Elizabeth – and I am sure Mr Hood would think very differently if he was alive today, what with our mild autumns that last until November!

  15. Kris P says:

    Despite its somber aspect, I’m quite impressed with today’s bouquet, Cathy! I’ve been admiring all the Fatsia flowers in the GBBD posts, which also showed up prominently in posts from the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, the plant requires too much water to make it a good bet for me under current circumstances. I’m afraid my creations this week were ill-conceived and executed:

    Thanks again for hosting!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, fatsia certainly seem happy in relative shade and dampness – it’s good to see the flowers closer up. I cannot for the life of me imagine that your vase will be as poorly executed as you suggest…. πŸ˜‰

  16. Amy Myers says:

    Lovely arrangement! The ophiopogon berries are so tempting… but I know it would be a real “try at your own risk” plant here in the desert – who knows, though πŸ˜‰ I’m adding my own little Monday vase this week so here it is at

  17. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Some real pinkness with roses & autumn joy | Mom in the Garden

  18. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Mums in a Bowl | Cosmos and Cleome

  19. That is a very pretty arrangement, and dare I say the fatsia remindes me of snowflakes! You do such a nice job with your settings, too. I still managed to use some fresh from my container garden flowers today, but I think this is going to be the last arrangement for quite a while now that includes flowers! I did get an idea for next week, though, while gathering things for this week! (and I better write it down on the calendar now, before I forget!) Anyway, here’s my vase:

    • Cathy says:

      Haha – I often have post it notes stuck on the fridge with potential contents and titles πŸ™‚ . I see what you mean about the snowflakes – I love the detail on them. In a way the fabric is a bit of a cop out as there could have been anything underneath or behind it (it was a bench, in fact), but boy! did it make photographing it easier!

  20. Julie says:

    I love the way you have set this weeks vase against a black background Cathy – it works so well with those colours and makes a very dramatic photograph. Fatsia is one of my favourite garden plants and mine is looking magnificent with its lovely white flowers – I had considered it for this week but am hoping the flowers will hold for a bit longer.

    You can find my link this week at:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Julie – the fabric was part of a large piece of felt that was sent to me in error so I know I can afford to be generous with it in the future, but it has made me remember that I also have felt in several other colours that I partially used for a Christmas project a year or two ago. The fatsia flowers have drooped a little by the way – I did wonder about conditioning them so perhaps will experiment…

  21. Pingback: sprig to twig » Blog Archive » in a vase on Monday: slim pickins

  22. Well now that is a gorgeous and unusual arrangement! I LOVE the colour contrast! Fabulous. Again. And rather late in the day … here is my post! Thanks Cathy!

  23. Petal & Pins says:

    I love your black & white. I’m back into the Monday groove this week – hopefully you can help me identify my purple flower!

  24. rickii says:

    Bowled over by the austere beauty of that first photo, my desire for a Fatsia was just kicked up several notches.
    My haphazard contribution is here:

  25. croftgarden says:

    Lovely arrangement and congratulations on your new book and for inspiring so many.
    I’m definitely in the naughty corner with Thomas Hood, probably not much of a gardener either but it’s tough on the edge of the world.

    • Cathy says:

      Congratulations not required for the book Christine – it was just a matter of uploading some photos, adding the titles and other text, paying Blurb what they asked and waiting for them to come through the letterbox! ps I have far too much compassion to criticise anyone for being depressed by the time of year or the weather, but if you want to sit on the naughty step with TH then feel free – I am sure there would be a fascinating conversation!

      • croftgarden says:

        I think I would enjoy a chat with old TH he was also known for his humour as well as his poetry.
        Not at all downcast by the weather (it’s sunny today and I’m wearing stripey socks) but looking at my garden in November would be enough to cast any gardener into the “slough of despond”.

  26. Anna says:

    A wonderfully atmospheric tribute to Mr Hood Cathy. Well done to Janet for winning a copy of your beautiful book. I’ve been wondering about the green leaves on my ophiopogon too and willing them to turn black.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – and some of the leaves that are green look as if the might turn black, but they have still been green a long time…

  27. Loree says:

    I love that mondo grass and Fatsia combo, inspired indeed!

  28. I think that black and white vase combo may be one of my favorites. So November and so modern! Love it.

  29. Pingback: Sweet William | Country Garden UK

  30. Pingback: In A Vase On Monday – Time For Tea – Peonies & Posies

Comments are closed.