In a Vase: Ice Cold on Monday

IMG_3860My teeth were having a very interesting conversation with themselves as I dithered with today’s vase, temperatures reaching about -5ºC overnight and still only just above freezing mid-morning. Picking these Narcissus ‘Paperwhite’s (not ‘Ice Follies’, which would have been more appropriate) was easy enough – planted in a pot in the greenhouse in mid October the buds have been opening gradually over the last fortnight but their appearance in a vase was postponed till today. Fortunately the overnight presence of the paraffin heater which has remained alight for almost 24 hours now (but only upped the temperature by a degree or two) did not leave the plants covered in soot which some reviews had described happening in their greenhouses.

IMG_3864I knew which vase I wanted to put them in but hadn’t factored in the thickness of the stems, which are more horseshoe shaped than round – and Plan B had to be rejected too. The pair of blue car boot bottles must have been Plan E or F and three stems and a slim twig were all that could be accommodated in each. I had picked up a branch with catkins on a Boxing Day walk with a view to using it today, but by now it was merely a branch and a pile of seeds so home grown alternative silver birch twigs were used instead.IMG_3856

As the garden was covered in frost using this as a background seemed a good idea, but the simple and elegant straight lines of the bottles and their contents were completely IMG_3866lost amongst the frosted leaves so it was back to good old brickwork. Even the proposed lapis lazuli props were rejected as not being quite the right shade of blue – hey ho!

This is the first time I have grown Paperwhites especially for cutting and have more pots planted up at fortnightly intervals – the next pot is several weeks behind, possibly because the bulbs were stored in the fridge until their due date (unlike the first batch which would have started out warm from delivery) although I suppose bringing the others into the warmth of house earlier would be an option. The end result from only 5 bulbs (and there are three more stems I wasn’t able to include) is quite pleasing and at £2.70 for 5 bulbs from Peter Nyssen it was definitely a worthwhile outlay and not too onerous to remember to plant each batch. Shame the vases I wanted to use didn’t get an outing though!

I wonder what others have been able to find or forage to put in a vase or container today? It is a completely different challenge at this time of year which makes it all the more enjoyable for many of us. You would be very welcome to join us too either every week or occasionally – it’s not about arranging (most of us are pickers and plonkers at heart) but the pleasure of picking from our gardens and bringing our pickings into the house to enjoy during the week. Just post your vase or container and include a link to this post and a link in a comment on this post back to yours – that way we can share your pleasure.

IMG_3859ps the amaryllis in Neon Light lasted nearly all week (but the buds had been open for a nearly a week before that) and with the stem being shortened and pushed into a pin holder it didn’t need additional support in the end. The previous week’s candle winding is still gracing our Christmas table but as the stems dried they splayed out and those round the glass slipped down, but nevertheless it still looked attractive – and smelt lovely! However, the jury is out on today’s smell….


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39 Responses to In a Vase: Ice Cold on Monday

  1. I do not like the smell of paperwhites, at least the ones I have grown before…if someone can recommend ones that don’t smell like gasoline, I would grow them again. Regardless, I do love the flowers and especially nice Cathy for this time of year. I do need to plan ahead for next year better in lean times with more forced bulbs and indoor plants.

    So here is my forage….I love this one in its simplicity.

    • Cathy says:

      I am trying to think of the smell as ‘distinctive’ rather than anything else Donna!! It is thanks to this meme That I have planted them in the greenhouse, along with hyacinths and a small pot of iris. For some reason I didn’t keep any tulips back for inside, although I did replant several of last year’s in the cutting beds. I am looking forward to your surprises – I wonder if today’s vase includes any…?

  2. johnvic8 says:

    Very nice to have bulbs blooming at this time of year…and beautifully presented. Thanks Cathy, for your invitation to participate. My offering:

    • Cathy says:

      The meme is the incentive John – and I am learning all the time from other bloggers. Look forward to seeing your last vase of 2014

  3. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: In the Bleak Mid-winter | Words and Herbs

  4. Cathy says:

    I love paperwhites, but never grow them as I can’t cope with the smell indoors. They do look pretty in your blue vases, especially with the frosty background! I haven’t braved the snow and cold today but still have a couple of older/refreshed vases to offer:

    • Cathy says:

      Oh dear, does it really feel bleak, Cathy, or is that poetic licence?! It was so ironic that I couldn’t use the vases I wanted, as they are what what I visualised putting them in all along, never thinking the stems mightn’t fit… Good job I had two matching blue bottles otherwise there would only have been 3 stems – but then again that would have looked fine too (and even more simple!)

  5. messmelissa says:

    I’m slowly falling in love with paperwhites as I see more and more gardeners having so much fun with them at this time of year. I was very excited to join you this Monday to share a new vase I picked up recently:

    Thanks for hosting and have a fantastic rest of your week!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Melissa – and ooh, a new vase! I was wondering if I could resist picking up any more bargains next year as there are so many I have not used yet 😉

  6. Benjamin says:

    Lovely, but I have to agree on the smell. I grew three pots full last year to have in the house during the holiday season, but they ended up consigned to the garage due to their…um…aroma 😉 Cheers, Ben

  7. These are just lovely. My narcissus (which I bought) have passed a couple of weeks ago but I had a good long time to enjoy them. Now, we have magnificent amaryllis that are as big as hats. My first year for these (also bought). Someday I hope to have a succession of bulbs of various kinds as you do.

  8. Kris P says:

    You are intrepid Cathy! I love Narcissus and yours are particularly pretty – such a bright white. I have some growing by the back door, inherited with the house and reliable bloomers, but more cream-colored, almost yellow, by comparison to yours. My expedition into the garden wasn’t nearly as difficult as yours, although our early morning temperatures in the low 50sF (10C) are cold by our thin-blooded standards! Here’s my contribution this week, complete with a beautiful sunrise shot, courtesy of my husband:

    • Cathy says:

      My expedition wasn’t too bad – just VERY chilly, but nice crunchy frozen leaves under my feet! I suppose Paperwhites are called that exactly because of their colour – they certainly are very white! We have had some beautiful blue skies recently along with the overnight frosts and I do look out for sunrises so I look forward to seeing your husband’s photo!

  9. Chloris says:

    They look lovely in the glass vases. I have some at the moment and I have decided that I quite like the scent as they first come out but it gets a bit much as the flowers mature.

    • Cathy says:

      I do like the clean line of them in these bottles too. Interesting about the scent/aroma/smell – sitting in the kitchen where they are now I hardly notice them but if I went out and came back in again I suppose I would. It’s my first experience of them but I was aware that people always mentioned the smell!

  10. Brian Skeys says:

    The Narcissus ‘Paperwhite’ look an ideal flower for a vase this time of year.
    I must confess, sadly, I find the perfume of most Narcissus to powerful to have in the house.

  11. Anna says:

    Another in the can’t stand the smell of them camp Cathy (probably because of asthma) but they are such fabulous flowers to look at. Glad to read that the heater is kicking into touch. They would not look quite so attractive covered in sooty spots.

    • Cathy says:

      It makes you wonder if someone out there is trying to breed a type with a more acceptable smell 😉 Even though the heater has stayed alight secnd time round it has acquired an increasingly solid build up of soot under the mantle so there is obviously something still not right, and there is little appreciable difference in temperature 😦 There is now a temporary extension plugged in from the larger greenhouse and the tubular heater is squeezed in instead

  12. pbmgarden says:

    Your narcissus look fabulous Cathy, with a nice nod toward springtime that makes me happy. Too bad your vase choice didn’t work out but I actually love the blue ones you substituted. Bleak here today also, so I repurposed some things to make a new vase for today. Happy New Year Cathy!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Susie – and Happy New Year to you too! I agree that the blue and white combo works well even though it wasn’t what I intended. I wonder what you have repurposed….

  13. Pingback: sprig to twig » Blog Archive » if it’s monday, it must be ‘in a vase’

  14. rickii says:

    Funny that you couldn’t use the vases you had in mind, as these seem perfect. That kind of flexibility is one of the great lessons we take away from this meme though, isn’t it? Here’s what I was able to scrounge today:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks rickii – when I am finally able to use any of the vases I referred to you will see why, and you are quite right about learning from the episode of course.

  15. Amy says:

    It’s so refreshing to see your vases and paperwhites, Cathy! I couldn’t quite do a vase today – too stressed out about handling a nasty situation where a half-paid-for fence is apparently not going to be installed X( OK, I’m going to get over it! So it is very nice to relax and see what you were able to do with the paperwhites and bottles! I think they’re lovely flowers. McClure & Zimmerman used to offer some varieties said to have milder fragrance, but didn’t this year – I don’t know why!

    • Cathy says:

      Oh I am sorry for the unpleasantness you are having to go through, Amy and do hope it can be resolved in the best way possible … It’s interesting what you say about other varieties with a milder fragrance – you would think they would become popular but perhaps they just don’t perform as well as the Paperwhites.

  16. I forced paperwhites inside this year and, sadly, they had no fragrance. I have a second set of bulbs to try, but am giving them a wait while I carry on with two hippeastrum. I like your blue vases; the color is good with the bloom and the tight necks keep the flower stems upright. I envy your seasonal weather. It has been warm and rainy here for more than a week and we are quite sick of it.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh how interesting that your Paperwhites had no fragrance! Even though this cold weather stops me getting on with things I would like to do in the garden I am sure everything will benefit from this more normal December weather. We are due rain tomorrow I think

  17. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Coleus and Paperwhites | Cosmos and Cleome

  18. I used Paperwhites too! Great minds . . . I think yours look perfect in the blue vases you ended up using, and quite nice up against the brick work. You always do such a nice job with your settings! I also have another pot of Paperwhites on deck in my basement, as well as some tulips, daffs, and amaryllis.

    • Cathy says:

      After last winter I realised the advantage of taking photos outside wherever possible because the light is better – and it’s less cluttered than the house! I nearly resorted to a fabric background again because it is both an easy and an effective option – too easy I decided! When did you start your forced bulbs off, and when would you expect your tulips to flower?

  19. Derek Yarnell says:

    Just found this linky party and will be sure to participate next week – what a grand idea for winter gardeners!

  20. Your Paperwhites look great. I grew them for the first time last year but the family couldn’t stand the smell indoors and made me put them outside! With the mild weather we had last winter, the flowers lasted for weeks – not sure the same would be true this year.

  21. Annette says:

    They’re lovely and I don’t know why I didn’t get some bulbs last autumn because they were on my list. List was probably too long, greedy me! Keep warm – we have rather frosty weather too but it looks nice.

  22. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Marshmallow Fluff | Rambling in the Garden

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