In a Vase on Monday: Wintersweet

IMG_3653When 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.

IMG_3656I 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.





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

43 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Wintersweet

  1. croftgarden says:

    What a lovely combination. I particularly like the contrast between the robust ivy and the delicate wintersweet.

  2. I like the way you have used such a strong colour as your back drop. Wintersweet is just coming into its own now. Really lovely winter scent. I have managed to get a vase together today and it is at
    I hope you approve, thinking outside the…… garden.D.

    • Cathy says:

      Don’t know about the ‘real’ wintersweet chimomanthus – I am sure it is lovely but sarcococca certainly has a powerful punch. Glad you thought the background worked well as I wasn’t sure in the end 🙂

  3. wellywoman says:

    I’m eagerly awaiting the flowers on my sarcococca. Your post has reminded me to venture out into the garden and check on my viburnum and winter honeysuckle. I’m hoping for a scented posy for Christmas. Any brave flowers at this time of year are such a treat and fill the heart with joy. 🙂

  4. pbmgarden says:

    Spectacular Cathy, truly lovely. I have never smelled sarcococca but do have a very tiny one growing so will have to check it. I like your choice of vase and backdrop this week–really shows off the arrangement well and the ivy flowers are a great addition.
    My contribution is
    Thanks for hosting. Susie

  5. AnnetteM says:

    I love the simplicity of this vase. The dark ophiopogon goes so well with the dark vase and I think it looks great with the coloured background. How clever to use ivy flowers too. I do hope I have flowers on my sarcococca soon. It didn’t flower last year – it’s first year, but I am hopeful this year.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Annette. The grass may be a fortnight old but it was still as fresh as ever so it would be a shame to throw it out. My sarcococca took some time to flower but loved it in a new position and this year it is smothered – hope yours is too!

      • AnnetteM says:

        Mine isn’t in a very good position – dry and shady, but it was one of the few plants that I could get to grow there. I might have to buy another one or flowers.

  6. I can’t grow wintersweet so I was very interested to see what you had to say about it. Reds and blues are so hard to capture properly with the camera. Whether yours is a perfect representation or not, your bouquet definitely is. My post is here:

    • Cathy says:

      Wintersweet is actually something different Linda, but I still always think of sarcococca instead! Have to admit I was happy with this vase too, so thanks Linda!

  7. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – still some surprises | Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  8. Christina says:

    What an amazing colour you have chosen for your background this week, Cathy. The ivy fruits have touches of exactly the colour of the rose, perfect. I have just planted a Sarcococca but it is so slow growing I doubt it will find its way into a vase for a while yet. Here’s my contribution this week, with one surprise flower.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Christina – the colour may not be what I intended but it came out OK in the end, didn’t it?! Hope your sarcococca goes from strength to strength, albeit slowly 🙂

  9. Cathy this is a real beauty and I especially love the way it is presented…I really like the foliage you chose too. I am away in Arizona visiting family, but I did make a couple of vases with the flowers and foliage found here. I have combined my end of the month review and my vase posts so it is a long post…I hope you like the vases and they are at the end if you want to pop just to the end to see them….

  10. Kris P says:

    You do a wonderful job with staging, Cathy – a beautiful vase was made more beautiful by virtue of its background. Believe it or not, I tried a little staging of my own this week using lemons picked from the tree at the bottom of my slope but those photos didn’t come out well due to the poor light of the setting I chose so this week’s vase is, once again, featured in my all-white kitchen with all the lights on, sans props:

    • Cathy says:

      And the fabric made the staging easy , Kris – almost as if I was cheating somehow 🙂 No chance of decent pictures in my kitchen!

  11. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Light and Dark | Words and Herbs

  12. Cathy says:

    That’s gorgeous Cathy! Lovely vibrant pinky reds – the background is a great idea to emphasize the colour of the roses. I am not familiar with wintersweet, but anything fragrant in winter must be good.And I like the ivy flowers too. Love your last photo!
    Here’s my vase for this week:

    • Cathy says:

      I obviously didn’t make it clear that wintersweet is actually something else

    • Cathy says:

      Oops! Chimonanthus is what I was going to say, not something I have knowingly come across but I am sure it smells sweet too 🙂 Last year I really noticed the benefits of winter fragrance – could do with adding more…

  13. Julie says:

    You are so lucky to still have those beautiful roses Cathy – even without the scent they are stunning. Danse de Feu is not a rose I have come across before – I need to investigate! I am also relatively new to the joys of growing sarcococca – it is now one of my favourite winter shrubs. Mine are also in bud and I am sure will be making an appearance soon.

    You can find my contribution this week at:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Julie – the D de F roses are the first ones I bought for the garden in about 2000, to clothe the pergola visible from the kitchen window. Knowing nothing about roses at the time I just the only climbing roses the garden centre had that were red and of which there were at least 4! Sometimes they look more pink than red, but they are almost continuous flowering during the milder months and were a good buy in the long run it seems! I remembered too late to look out for another sarcococca to add to the garden hey ho!

  14. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Roses by Candlelight | Mom in the Garden

  15. Hi Cathy, I will have to look into those smelly greens you mention. I love having scents in the garden. sarcococca: what a great name! A simple swatch of fabric and what a stunning look it gives! I love it, especially with those gorgeous roses. Nice to get new ideas, as always! Lovely arrangement. I am getting later every week it seems. But nonetheless, here I am 🙂 Thanks for hosting!

    • Cathy says:

      Ooh and roses from you too – isn’t it lovely to still have them? Thanks for the kind comments – and do look into sarcococca (written it so many times recently I don’t need to check the no. of ‘c’s anymore!!) and also winter flowering honeysuckle, both of which I especially noticed last year

  16. Christina says:

    Hi Cathy, I really like your today’s Monday vase! The red roses together with the sarcococca is already a nice combination and the dark leaves of the ophiopogon complement it perfectly. I also think that your opaque jug is a very good choice for a container for this bouquet and works probably much better than your original idea of using a glass vase. Thanks for the inspiration today!
    I hope, I have the guts to participate in your meme one day in the near future! Warm regards from Southern California,

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for your lovely comments, Christina – I am only sorry that you feel you need to be even a little brave to post a vase of your own. Just think ‘pick, plonk, place’……honestly, it is that simple 😉 The meme has proved to be so empowering for all who take part, so I don’t think it would be unkind to challenge you to post a vase next Monday – do you….? You will find everyone so supportive….

  17. Lucky you to have roses! So festive!

    I’m in at

  18. Pingback: sprig to twig » Blog Archive » in a dry vase this monday

  19. rickii says:

    Zowie! That’s some color! I love the way the leaves of the black mondo grass pick up the color of the vase. I am very drab by comparison:

    • Cathy says:

      Oh, rickii, there is no competition between vases and in no way should neutral or monochrome vases be considered drab 😉 The end result of this vase took me by surprise though, particularly when I uploaded the photos – I like it too 🙂

  20. Amy says:

    I can’t think of a better word than “sweet” for the whole effect, Cathy 🙂 I love the monochrome treatment, and the roses are marvelous!

  21. Chloris says:

    You can’ t beat Sarcococca for perfume. Even the tiniest spray fills the room deliciously. I love your arrangement.
    I am going to have to refollow you; your posts have stopped appearing in my reader. This is a problem with WordPress. You suddenly notice that someone has gone very silent. I’ m going to catch up with what you have been doing now.

    • Cathy says:

      I wasn’t sure if the sarcococca buds would open – they haven’t so far, but the sprigs still look fresh. I used them once last year but again they were in bud so perhaps were not at their most fragrant – need to make sure I pick them when they are open sometime. Isn’t it odd about the following business? I have been aware that people have had to re-follow but no idea how it happens – sometimes wonder if the total number is just the same people over and over again! I follow blogs by email and that doesn’t seem to have that problem.

  22. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – Now for the Greens | Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  23. Pingback: In A Vase On Monday – A Change of Mood – Peonies & Posies

Comments are closed.