In a Vase on Monday With the Devil’s Cousin

IMG_4050Regular readers may remember when I declared war on the scrubby plant threatening to take over a patch of garden outside the back door and next to the hedge – a naturalised occasional pink-berried variety of symphocarpus, known thereafter as the Devil’s or, more familiarly, D****’s Plant. No sooner were all those spreading roots and suckers removed andΒ  the new ‘hedge border’ created then our neighbour began introducing new suckers of the same lineage along the hedgeline….grrr!

Today’s rather prettier cousin, loaded with berries, was foraged this morning from the car park at the place where I swim and generally keep reasonably fit, and have been at the back of my mind for inclusion in a vase ever since I noticed them a few weeks ago. Having also been monitoring the second batch of Paperwhites, planted at the end of October, I felt the two would make a suitable match and the pot was brought from the greenhouse on Saturday to give the buds a little nudge. There were five stems of reasonable length with some shorter ones to come later, so the five were cut and a similar number of symphocarpus selected and trimmed to size before being placed in a green glazed pottery jug, one of the many bits and bobs displayed and gathering dust in the kitchen:

IMG_4042Once in the jug it was clear that some foliage was required too, and after briefly considering using those stylish epimedium leaves again decided to give the unloved spotted laurel the chance to show that it does have some redeeming features (although admittedly it does make a bright statement amongst the more rustic colours of the woodland, where it was unceremoniously shoved on a do or die basis). It does indeed pick out the green of the narcissi stems and the yellow at the heart of the blooms so has a thumbs up today!

With no suitable inspiration for props the vase was photographed alone, outside against a large piece of black felt and having been through the medium, slightly larger, slightly larger again pieces of felt before the change in perspective of the camera provided shots that did not include any of the bench the felt was draped on – fortunately there is a lot of black felt to spare as it was sent to me by mistake. A pleasing result, although I don’t want to be creating vases with narcissi every few weeks and next year will not be planting them at two week intervals but double the quantity on a monthly basis.

The amaryllis in last week’s vase easily lasted 7 days and of course if had been cut in bud would have lasted longer. I had to replace the epimedium after a couple of days as they had shrivelled up but I conditioned the second batch in boiling water (as has today’s material) and they would have been good enough to use again today. The arum have largely drained of their shiny greenness but also lasted the week.

Would you like to join in the meme? Everyone is welcome on a regular or intermittent basis but it is easy to get hooked on the challenge of finding material in the garden or foraged nearby to bring into the house to give pleasure during the week – slight bending of the concept is acceptable and thinking out of the box is encouraged! It’s a personal challenge, so we see anything from simple picking and plonking to more formal arranging and although most of us are towards the simple end of the spectrum we have learned such a lot from this sharing and caring meme. Just leave links to and from this post so we can share the vases that will be bringing you joy this week.


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59 Responses to In a Vase on Monday With the Devil’s Cousin

  1. It seems we both have the same flowers this week although mine were left alone to shine on their own as that was all I had at the moment. I am glad you convinced me to plant some paperwhites Cathy, and I will have enough to accompany another flower that will be ready in a couple of weeks.

    I love the foliage you chose too and the berries are really quite lovely.

  2. It may be the work of the devil, but it makes a lovely vase, Cathy! It’s nice to find uses once in a while for those “unloved” plants in our gardens. I like your jug collection as well!

    Not sure I’m going to get anything together this week. I have some ideas on the back burner, but I’m holding off on them until closer to Valentine’s Day!

  3. Chloris says:

    It is indeed the Devil’ s cousin. The stuff is almost impossible to get rid of. But it does look pretty with your paperwhites.
    I see you are a fellow jug enthusiast. I have an absolute thing about jugs. I jugst can’ t resist them. The Pianist is always saying ‘ Do you really need ANOTHER jug.?’ To which I reply like King Lear: ”Oh, reason not the need’.

    • Cathy says:

      If my own D****’s Plant had produced berries like this I might have been more compassionate, but even the car park bushes were pretty scrubby. Although I showed a row of jugs it was more that they were green or that yellowy ochre colour that they were there, rather than the fact they were jugs, as that is the basic colour scheme in the kitchen. But do like jugs as they are practical, even if they do spend years collecting dust inbetween uses! ps a useful quotation…

  4. I love your display of jugs. And I love Chloris’ comment that she “jugst can’t resist them.” Do you see the silliness you have spawned dear Cathy? “Oh, reason not the need.” Now I have learned the perfect phrase to say when I MUST have some plant or other. So I am joining in the silliness with a very unusual arrangement, on very unusual and absurd place mats. Please visit me at:

    After taking the picture, I put six such bunches of lemons out to deliver to friends. Surely that counts? Greetings to all!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes – I am sure we could all make use of it, Susan! And bunches of lemons, on wacky place mats or to give friends are a wonderful addition to the meme πŸ™‚

  5. My maternal grandmother grew the white-berried version of that shrub, so I planted one some time ago. Mine suckered a bit but got so few flowers or berries and always looked more like it was dying, so we took it out last year. I definitely would have kept it if I had clumps of berries like yours. The jugs are beautiful and look so lovely grouped like that. I like the polka dot one as I’ve always been partial to polka dots. I posted at And my vase fits in with the silliness concept as well, I believe!

    • Cathy says:

      These berries were foraged from a car park Linda – I wouldn’t risk give any variation of symphocarpus house room!! I like the polka dot one too, definitely my favourite of this group πŸ™‚ ps is this the silly season, do you think?

  6. AnnetteM says:

    Ah that is a terrible shrub. Our neighbours have it in their hedge and what a mess it makes when the berries fall off. It does look lovely in your vase though with the Paperwhites. So clean and pure as if butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth!

  7. Anna says:

    I like the snowberries in your vase – what inspired foraging. I really must get some more vases/ jugs. You have a fine display there. I especially like the yellow one. A small but sadly incomplete offering from me this week. You will have to scroll all the way down the post to see it πŸ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      Every so often I will scan the kitchen to see what kitchenalia I have forgotten about that could be used as a vase! All these ones would have come from car boots or antique fairs and were no more than a few pounds although the spotty one might have been a little more. The snowberries look quite innocent here, don’t they?

  8. pbmgarden says:

    Hi Cathy, you paperwhites and berries look wonderful in the little jug. I’m under the weather today so took liberty to show something made earlier.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh, so sorry you are under the weather and hope you pick up again soon – thanks for still making time to comment and post your vase

  9. Christina says:

    The Paperwhites look lovely with the berries, I think you will be happier with more at one time less often as you suggest, I will try to do the same next year as I miss having them. Here is my contribution today.

  10. Kris P says:

    It seems all gardeners struggle with a plant like that (or 2 or 3). You made pretty use of the white berries anyway. I love your little jug collection too – I really need to look further afield for my own vases. Here’s my contribution this week:

    • Cathy says:

      I ignored it for years, Kris, and then decided on the spur of the moment to get rid of it – so glad I did as I had a new border out of the space but I shall have to make sure it doesn’t encroach again. Once again I realise the benefit of having lots of ‘nicknacks’ πŸ˜‰

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Cathy, I’m back after a very necessary break – nothing to do with the dire lack of floral material in my garden though you may have thought so. I may have to go foraging further afield in the coming weeks if I don’t want to repeat myself. I do like your arrangement this week – the white berries and Paperwhites together with the laurel look so fresh and springlike. And as an avid collector of jugs – there must be a word for it – I so admire your fabulous collection. I especially like the one with polka dots πŸ™‚ My little effort is posted here:

    • Cathy says:

      Hope things are OK with you and your family Elizabeth and thanks for taking time to comment and post a vase

      • Elizabeth says:

        Hi Cathy, thanks for the good wishes. I think perhaps I should explain the necessary break … I’ve been in hospital with pneumonia hence my long absence. Happily, I’m home now and taking it easy while I recover fully. Apparently it can take a while. Elizabeth

        • Cathy says:

          I guessed you might have been poorly – hope you are well and truly on the mend and able to get out in your garden again. I wonder if you were too poorly to even do your crafting activities

  12. Cathy says:

    I love that freckly laurel setting off the white – and the jug is the perfect match too. I like to see snowberries in the hedgerows here, but thank goodness I have never been tempted to plant one if they are so devilish in their ways!
    Here’s my link for today… thanks Cathy!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy – I was surprised how well the laurel worked and had a twinge of conscience for not liking the plant it came from!

  13. Such a pretty setting for the lovely paperwhites, Cathy. You are a dedicated floral designer to force bulbs only to cut them for the vase πŸ˜‰ There is nothing quite like the first bulbs of the season in bloom to chase excite a gardener’s heart πŸ˜‰ I have come a bit closer “into the box” this week with my Monday vase. It was great fun discovering enough material in the midst of winter to actually bring inside to fill a vase, even if a very tiny one. Best wishes, WG

    • Cathy says:

      Oh WG – I am far from being a dedicated floral designer, not a title I would ever deserve. I am just picking material for my own pleasure – and facilitating it for others. As you have found yourself the challenge is proving to be great fun – and any size of vase or container would fit the brief πŸ™‚

      • Not dedicated? And hosting this challenge? Your designs are lovely and fresh. One thing I’ve enjoyed in following the links others leave is to see their interesting designs, and to perhaps borrow an idea here and there πŸ˜‰ Yes, great fun! WG

  14. Julie says:

    You have given me plenty to think about this week Cathy – I love snobberies but have not seen any that I could forage, so have been thinking about planting my own supply. Reading your post and the comments perhaps that is not such a good idea – do I want an invasive scrubby plant that makes a terrible mess? But how will I have snowberries without it? I can see a sleepless night ahead!! I love your combination this week – how nice to give the laurel an outing. I think you will find monthly plantings of paperweights better Cathy – the flowers do last a long time in the greenhouse when the weather is cold so it is not a problem more flower than you can use.

    I have a very simple contribution this week at

    • Cathy says:

      I had to giggle at your comment Julie as there were a couple of (probably) unintentional typos that I did a momentary double take of on the first reading – I know what you meant though!! I am sure with a plot your size you could find a spot for a snowberry where it could quietly be a scrubby as it liked if it produced enough berries like this! I think they must prune these ones in the car park quite severely – I shall take more note of them in future.

  15. Amy says:

    It looks like a win-win situation at the moment, Cathy – getting to use the berries without having to grow the plant πŸ˜‰ I love the combined whites, and the little pitcher gives a bit of character while retaining the colour scheme… I used a pitcher myself for today – at any rate, a miniature pitcher as I only had smallish flowers…

  16. Petal & Pins says:

    Hi Cathy, I’ve used a sprig of snowberries in my arrangement too this week! I love your green glazed jug such a lovely colour that looks great with the white flowers & berries.
    Mine is very much thrown together!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks – I am pleased with the result, which didn’t take more than about 10 minutes to put together, even it wasn’t exactly ‘thrown’ πŸ™‚

  17. Annette says:

    Ups, devil’s plant…just planted a ‘Mother of pearl’ in my garden and hope it will thrive in a …well, a hellish way so to speak πŸ˜‰ Very beautiful bouquet you could bring me one over when you come for tea!

    • Cathy says:

      I am sure it will make itself at home!! Thanks for your kind comments and I will do my best to remember your request should I ever be passing for that cup of tea (and cake, I trust) πŸ˜‰

  18. Pam says:

    Hi Cathy,
    Lovely vase again. My paperwhites, white amaryllis and white hyacinths, all raised indoors are already over, ready for the compost bin. Only a red poinsettia remains….and I’ll be glad when that has gone so I can look forward to lots of crocus, snowdrops and hellebores.

    • Cathy says:

      It’s a late winter/early spring rite of passage, disposing of spent bulbs, isn’t it? I do try and plant the hyacinths outside but will probably not bother with this year’s dismal efforts. I have successfully ignore the poinsettia I was given and it is almost ready for composting I think πŸ˜‰

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  20. They are such a gorgeous match, they bring such joy on this cold winter day….I love your cut collection.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Charlie – they do indeed bring me joy, as always placed on or next to the kitchen table where I can see them as I write this blog

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  22. rickii says:

    If we keep this up, we will all have rows of jugs and shelves of vases and have trouble finding places to stash our groceries…not that I’m complaining. The boiling water technique seems much preferable to some of the concoctions I have heard of, though with a new vase every week, longevity is less of a concern. I’m so glad to see a handsome use of the spotted laurel. That stuff is indestructible for use in difficult situations in the garden. Here’s my belated entry:

    • Cathy says:

      Oh indeed rickii – and I have recently bought a couple of under bed storage crates specifically to keep my vases in, kept in the downstairs spare bedroom! πŸ™‚

  23. Cathy says:

    Lovely, lovely row of (quite inspirational) jugs. Containers seem very important in everyone’s vases on Monday at this time of year – I must try harder to collect during the summer! Interesting to get the little titbits about how you treated the epidimedium leaves.

    • Cathy says:

      Oops – another typo addict – should be epimedium!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy. The boiling water certainly works with some things so I often just use it anyway, as a precaution. You are right about the containers though – sometimes you know exactly what colour or size you think will suit them so it’s good to have a selection, although during the summer I have occasionally picked to suit a specific vase. When we can pick them up so cheaply like at car boots or charity shops it seems daft not to, but I suppose there should be a limit….

  24. I love your vase this week and the contents. You are a good gal finding time to swim in January, I cannot think of anything less appealing.
    Sorry not able to join in this week. Another great selection though. have a good week. D

    • Cathy says:

      Oh thanks Dorris, and no need to apologise for not having a vase yourself – Monday vases are optional (although not for me!). I am not going to apologise about the swimming as I swim 3 times a week and, to add insult to injury, I am out of the house before 7 in the morning to do so! πŸ™‚

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