When I first encountered the fragrance of Sarcococca, on a plant I did not recognise, I thought it must be ‘wintersweet’, a plant I had heard of but had no idea of what it looked like. I know better now, and have Sarcococca humilis in my hedge border where it is covered in promising buds. The presence of the last few blooms on climbing rose ‘Danse de Feu’ meant they were an absolute must for today’s vase and even though their fragrance seems to be a thing of the past combining them with the sarcococca and its anticipated sweetness suggested a certain appropriateness for this title.
I cut three of the roses, but one was losing petals every time I touched it so it was abandoned at the outset. The two remaining blooms were small but surprisingly perfect, and thus a joy to behold, so needed something simple to complement them and the sarcococca in the vase. The monochrome vase from a fortnight ago was still sitting on the side in the kitchen, the fatsia flowers long since gone, but the strappy black leaves of the ophiopogon still looked exactly the same and suggested themselves as an elegant foil for the roses.
I wasn’t happy with the tiny clear vase I had originally chosen (because the stems looked cluttered, perhaps?) and the redness of the roses and the dark green glossiness of the sarcococca leaves suggested a plain and dark opaque container instead. The monochrome jug fitted the bill perfectly and I searched no further – not for a vase anyway, but once placed in the jug the contents seemed to need something extra for the centre, replacing the abandoned rose. Recent foliage inspections had reminded me of the beauty of ivy flowers so a quick snip and I was done!
The success of the black background a fortnight ago sent me up to the loft for more fabric, but somehow this dark red felt and the roses look almost pink in the photographs. In retrospect I could have experimented with different colours, having several large pieces of felt in various colours left over from a previous Christmas project – certainly something for another week. As before, it made photographing the vase much easier, again taking advantage of a bench and the outside light. Ideally I would have liked humbugs as a prop, which somehow sound more like a winter sweet than other sweets (perhaps the ‘bah, humbug!’ connotation), but the Golfer could only come up with barley sugar…
I am confident of many more weeks of vases over the winter, sweet or rugged, stylish or informal, fresh or dried – each week is challenging in its own unique way. If you would like to be challenged every Monday too then find something to pick from your own garden or foraged elsewhere and pop it into a vase or another container. Please share it with us too by posting a link from your blog to this and from this post to your own blog – you would be very welcome to join us, whether every week or just now and then.