In a Vase on Monday: from Caithness to Cashmere

IMG_3703The contents of today’s vases had been decided upon several days ago, to take advantage of the cheerful blooms of this early rhododendron (R. Cheer!) while they were still at their best. Some of the leaves have been nibbled by whoever likes leathery leaves to chew on, but the plant has been a mass of blooms for a fortnight or so, sometimes producing the odd flower before the end of a year but this year flowering in February and last year in May! I thought the Golfer, still professing not to like ‘cut flowers’, might have made a comment about cutting these particular blooms, but it was the quantity of vases he noticed instead. There must be about 20 flowers still on the plant, so I think these 5 can be spared to extend their cheerfulness indoors.

Only joking about setting myself a challenge of using a different vase every week after my recent acquisitions I nevertheless grouped together five matching but different shaped vases – two newbies from last week, two previously acquired from car boot sales and one I have had for some time for its ornamental value. They are all pieces of Caithness Glass, from an art glass tradition which began in Wick (where my father was born) in Caithness in the very north eastern part of Scotland in 1960. Production ceased in Caithness in 2005 but the name lives on as part of the Dartington brand although the original colours based on the Scottish landscape have long since gone and are highly collectable. I still quite like the random effects of these more modern handblown vases which come in a range of shapes, sizes and colours.

So that’s the Caithness connection, but what about the Cashmere? Well, having appreciated the relative ease of photography against a fabric background on a couple of occasions I decided to do the same again. A stark contrast with the depth of colour and uniformity was not the effect I had in mind, so rooting in the loft I pulled out a dress length of cashmere fabric, bought early this year when I was short of long sleeved winter dresses to wear but neglected as the weather got warmer. Apart from the tactile softness the pattern is such a beautiful combination of charcoal and cerise plaid and now that the fabric is downstairs I ought to make use of it for its original purpose – bought from Lichfield market it was a ‘snip’ at the price I paid, but I will still want to take extra care when the scissors come out!

As well as the rhododendron I had snipped some variegated hebe to add a little contrast but didn’t use it in the end – no props either, just plain and simple in-your-face cheerfulness. So that’s it for today – pick and plonk, plonk, plonk, plonk, plonk….. Do consider joining us on a Monday if you haven’t already done so – it doesn’t have to be blooms, just something you have found in your garden or foraged from elsewhere. That’s the spirit of the meme, but out-of-the-box thinking is actively encouraged! The challenge is a personal one, but fellow bloggers are so supportive that the meme has becomeย  empowering to us all, whether posting a vase or commenting on one. Don’t forget to link to and from this post if you create your own vase so we can see what you have found to pick this week.



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49 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: from Caithness to Cashmere

  1. Pingback: In a vase on Monday โ€“ Now for the Greens | Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  2. Cathy I love this display…the fabric, the glass vases and the flowers…a beautiful combination that speaks volumes about how to display flowers…lessons I am learning although have not quite incorporated yet, but I will. I noticed your latest acquisitions and thought oh she is adding to that lovely swirly glass she has already….now I know what it is and your connection. Love them even more.

    This week I found a unique arrangement that had been lingering in a corner and I have repurposed it….I have to get more creative now since I am down to only so many garden plants I can use…sadly no flowers!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for your kind comments, Donna – I still feel I am only plonking but I can appreciate that the overall effect is pleasing. CG used to have a factory shop in Oban near where my Mum lives now and I used to always pop in and see what there was – it’s closed now. The original peat/loch/heather/moss colours were the best

  3. Christina says:

    I love Cerise! So the fabric and even the rhododendron (that I’m not really that fond of) are much appreciated. The little vases are lovely too and work really well with all the same flower. Here’s my post:

    • Cathy says:

      It was fortuitous that I had five vases in the same approximate colourway – they were begging for five separate blooms to fill them. I will be interested to see how long they last in water – I did condition them in boiling water first, just in case.

  4. I had never heard of Caithness glass. I googled it, and I know understand why you are fond of it. I like how you were able to use several similar pieces in a grouping, and the use of the fabric as a backdrop was very clever.
    I am sorry I was not able to particiร te last week (too much work at end/beginning of the month). This week’s vase was a centerpiece for our late Thanksgiving table:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Karen. I suppose I have grown up with Caithness Glass around, and much of it is very recognisable – but it is a happy coincidence that I have ended up with five little vases of the same shade. I was pleased I was able to use them all!

  5. jenhumm116 says:

    I have to confess to not being a great rhododendron lover, but I certainly love this arrangement. The vases and backcloth definitely add something special.

    Here’s my arrangement this week, also pink:

    • Cathy says:

      I had never considered using rhododendrons in vase during the summer, but these are quite dainty ones and of course a joy to see in December!

  6. Hi Cathy! You mean you sew too?!?! ๐Ÿ™‚ How wonderful (says the slightly envious woman!). I used to dream of being able to make clothes… ha! maybe in another life. I cannot believe your rhododendron! I have never seen one in bloom at this time of year. Your blooms are beautiful. and some interesting facts about the type of vase. This is why I love visiting you!
    I’m also pink this week! Have a good week ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      ‘Cheer’ seems to have a mind of its own in terms of flowering, but I suspect it is the same as R. Christmas Cheer, so that tells us something. I used to do lots of sewing (in the old days) but am trying to get back into it – finding decent fabric and adapting patterns to fit are a stumbling block though ๐Ÿ˜‰ Lots of pink about this week – we must be in denial about December!

  7. johnvic8 says:

    Rhodies in December? Wow. The vases are striking.
    My vase this week:

  8. Julie says:

    Hi Cathy, your Rhodo is a beautiful colour, even though we are on acid soil I only grow one now in a mollycoddled fleeced pot as the frost invariably gets the buds. I am a dressmaker to and can really relate to feeling extra careful with scissors using gorgeous fabric and yours is certainly that. Here is my ‘out of the box’ offering today.

    • Cathy says:

      Our soil is fairly neutral and they seem to do OK although take time to get established.I love the way this one changes shade from bud through to fully opening. Perhaps you can keep prompting me by asking if I had made my dress yet… ๐Ÿ™‚ I am intrigued by your ‘bespoke and recycled’ title – sounds just up my street!

  9. Chloris says:

    I love it. Your lovely Christmas Cheer in the Caithness glass vases. Really pretty. How wonderful to have a bush big enough to pick. Do the blooms last long in water?

  10. Beautiful flowers, fabric, arrangement and a little history lesson as well! A perfect beginning to my Monday. My flowers can be found here:

  11. pbmgarden says:

    Lovely rhododendrons Cathy. They are usually an April bloom around here I think. Enjoyed reading about Caithness. My sister brought me one from Scotland many years ago that I adore using with roses. My contribution this week is at

  12. It’s always a day-brightener to find something in bloom ahead of schedule. I love the vases and really think I need to wander further afield to find interesting vases of my own – I’m clearly not looking in the right places. Here are my creations this week:

    • Cathy says:

      The UK has an abundance of charity shops on most high streets and for much of the year there are car boot sales every weekend although over winter the latter will be mostly traders rather than people getting rid of their cast-offs. Hopefully I can keep my hands in my pockets for a few months and check out the vases I already have!

  13. Julie says:

    I had no idea rhododendrons could flower so early Cathy – I have only ever seen them in the spring. It was very interesting reading about your Scottish connections and your collection of Caithness glass. The vases, fabric and flowers make a lovely scene. I am impressed that you are thinking of making a dress with that beautiful fabric – needlework is not something I have ever got the hang of.

    I am sorry but I have no vase to offer tonight – I have just returned from a couple of days away so will make something tomorrow instead.

    • Cathy says:

      I had a gardening gift voucher for my birthday and I am going to see if I can get another winter flowering rhododendron…. It was a good move to use that fabric today as now that it is out of the loft it will encourage me to use it – and it has reminded me how gorgeous it is ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you enjoyed your days away – another course?

  14. Amy says:

    I love the rhododendrons, Cathy – and the multiple simple arrangements! I still think it’s strange that anything would eat those leathery rhododendron leaves, but I had deer get into mine one year… Knowing about the history of the lovely little vases makes it so much more fun! And I did manage a vase this week; here’s the link

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Amy – I wouldn’t normally have noticed that the leaves had been nibbled, but handling them brought it to my attention. Fortunately no deer here, well not in our garden anyway…!

  15. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Two Surprises | Words and Herbs

  16. Cathy says:

    The rhododendron flowers are a lovely treat for December – very pretty! I love Caithness glass, but had no idea it is no longer made. Your fabric really brings out the pink shades of both the vases and flowers. I am very impressed with the overall effect!
    Here’s my vase for this week:
    Thank you Cathy!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy – in fact Caithness Glass is still made but in name only and in a very different style although the paperweights still maintain the reputation they had, I believe.

  17. I have to admit to not liking rhodees but I love the pink blooms in your vases. And so early in the season. Beautiful. Sorry I could not join you this week. have a good week. D.

    • Cathy says:

      You are not alone in not liking rhododendrons – and I am pleased people have been able to say that and not just make polite noises about them ๐Ÿ˜‰ These are quite petite flowers, not big and blousey at all, but perhaps that doesn’t make them any more likeable!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Cathy, I love the combination of colour, glass and fabric you have gone for this week. Your rhododendrons are very aptly named too, they must be a very cheering sight in your garden at this time of the year. I’ll be keeping my eye open at car boots and charity shops in the hope of picking up a Caithness glass vase to add to the one I have already because they really do look lovely grouped together. I don’t know about an ‘out-of-the-box’ but you can see my offering for this week here:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Elizabeth. You will know what you are looking for with CG so I am sure you will pick some up easily once the car boot season picks up again next year.

  19. Pingback: sprig to twig » Blog Archive » in a vase on monday: red and purple for the season

  20. rickii says:

    The fabric is so subtle I nearly missed it, but it echoes the colors of the flowers beautifully. We have quite a few Rhodies, but none bloom now. What a treat! When we go to the spring show, there are vases with cuttings of all the different blossoms. I always find that appealing, but this is even better.

  21. I love the vases you used for this photo…Really interesting, really adds to the impact.

  22. Annette says:

    Looking great and it’s so interesting to see how you rise to new levels with every vase, Cathy. Most unusual vases too and I love the background.

  23. Wow, rhododendrons blooming in December! That sounds so exotic to me! All of my rhodies are encased in ice here this morning.

    There’s so much to love about your arrangement! The vases look beautiful–I wish I could see them better! And the fabric is gorgeous–yes, you should definitely make that dress! It would be lovely for Christmas! (Because we all need one more thing to do at the last minute this time of year, right?!)

    I had thought of going out to see what I could collect for a vase yesterday, but it was just too cold! The temps stayed below freezing all day. Now today we are getting pelted with sleet and freezing rain, which is supposed to change to snow eventually. I think my Monday vase days are on a winter hiatus!

  24. Wow, I’m with everybody who is amazed at your Rhodies in December. I’m not wild about them either, but I’ve had to adapt because Portland, Oregon is one of the Rhododendron capitals of the world! Ours ARE big and blousey, we have one on the street that is 20 feet tall and the hot pink flowers are like dinner plates. Your arrangement is so much fun and I love the way you have written about it. Your site is so much fun! So, I’ve taken you seriously when you say that we can think out of the box. In my post, you will see the crazy mess that is my refrigerator door art. When little else is blooming, I enjoy doing that. The name on the link refers to an Irish phrase that deep winter is the time when the veil between worlds is thin. It got locked into my title, and I couldn’t change it when I changed. Ah well. Still learning. Have a lovely holiday everyone.

  25. Anna says:

    Oh both flowers and the fabric are glorious colours Cathy but those leaves got in the way. I would have liked to see even more of the vases. Maybe another time? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – I am sure they will get another airing, either singly or in combination, but when the dress is made I shall keep it to myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. bittster says:

    Looks great and I love the title. I’m surprised that the rhododendron is opening so soon, I wonder if it’s going to be another of those non-existent winters for you again.

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