In a Vase on Monday: Sweet Harmony

IMG_4143Like many other Mondays, this vase opportunity just presented itself with little encouragement required from me. The post title comes from the little iris, which I think are Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ and which completely took me by surprise in the greenhouse during the week.

Some time in late autumn when I was rounding up stray pots in the garden I came across a pot which was empty apart from a number of bulbs beginning to sprout, and a label saying ‘Pencrobar’. Two years ago I had  Pencrobar narcissi in the baskets at the front of the house along with the usual pansies, joined last winter by some last minute half price irises. Summer planting saw the contents of the baskets replaced and  the bulbs were left to languish in an empty pot where they were rediscovered a couple of months ago and planted up just in case they possessed a strong survival instinct! Meanwhile, I had forgotten about the irises so was shocked to see purple spikes appearing and very quickly unfurling in the sunny greenhouse. A must for today’s vase, along with a sprig of winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, and a marbled leaf of Cyclamen hederifolium. Sweet harmony indeed.

The props? I don’t share a lot of personal information in the blog, but it was too serendipitous (and something I am perhaps absurdly excited about) not to do so. I have been in awe of barbershop singing for many years and a few weeks ago discovered that there was a female barbershop group virtually on my doorstep (how had I never come across them before?) and looking for new recruits. Doubting my ability to maintain a harmony in this kind of singing but boosted by a friend in a male barbershop group who confessed it was not as hard as one might think, I turned up. One learns (in this digital age) by listening and singing along to your part over and over again, either on its own, dominating the harmony, or alongside the harmony. Even by the second week the three new recruits could sing our part of our first song with the rest of the group – a goose pimply moment of sweet harmony.

So we have props of sheet music for one of our tracks (harder than the first one), an MP4 player devoted to the various combinations of the songs we are learning, and a cut throat razor from another of the Golfer’s lapsed collections. The vase is a purple crocus vase with a few amethyst crystals in the bottom to boost the height of the iris. It took a few attempts to find  cyclamen leaves without curly stems and all the leaves of the lonicera were blotchy (not sure why) and were snipped off, but apart from that the vase was quickly put together.

vase.updateLast week’s teeny tiny vase has been remarkable – the comfrey flowers began to open after barely a day and over the week the stems  became more upright; because the vase was so small there was a limited amount of water and twice they drooped but perked up again with fresh water and the vase still looked good yesterday, amazingly so for such a small offering. A real success that one, albeit small!

If you would like to join us in finding something from your garden or foraged nearby and plonk it in a vase or other container today or any other Monday, then please do. Props are optional – the meme is a personal challenge and there is no pressure to outdo anyone else. We are indeed a supportive bunch and are learning a lot from our own and other people’s vases so please do share, leaving links to and from your post. Have fun!



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48 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Sweet Harmony

  1. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday – Scented Birthday and Get Well Wishes | Gardening Jules

  2. Julie says:

    Hi Cathy, barbershop singing is great to listen too it must be even better to have a voice good enough to take part, I can imagine the goose pimple moment. My husband and youngest both sing in choirs, sadly my voice is definitely for the shower only! Your arrangement really does signal Spring too and I love the Iris, is that scented?
    I have written a small post sending wishes to family.

    • Cathy says:

      I couldn’t answer the question about scent without shoving my nose in it, Julie – and I would say that there is a faint fragrance. It was a chance purpose for the baskets and any other little iris I have grown have not come up another year, so how these have survived months of complete neglect and thrived, I don’t know! Theoretically the newbies in the group are on a 6 week introduction, so they might choose not to keep us… 🙂 If you enjoy singing then being in a choir or similar is so uplifting – I joined a community choir a year ago but will leave that if the barbershop works out as its appeal is even greater. I am SO excited about it!

  3. Cathy I adore this vase and I adore iris reticulata which I hope to see in about 6 weeks although we have another foot of snow on the ground. Fast approaching 6 ft of snow covering the garden.

    And how lovely to hear you are singing in such a wonderful group. I love the harmony of Barbershop quartets as well but can’t sing a note on key. As I wait for bulbs to bloom indoors, and the snow to clear I foraged right off my porch for this vase. Hope you like it.

    • Cathy says:

      I can’t conceive what it would be like to have 6 feet of snow but I guess you are used to it. I was telling the Golfer about the snow you US bloggers have been having and we were trying to remember when we even had ONE foot it here – possibly mid 80s? Some parts of the UK of course do have more and are more prone to drifts. I am probably even more in awe of Barbershop Quartets than a group – but I know I couldn’t achieve that 🙂

  4. Chloris says:

    Is there no end to your talents Cathy? I am so impressed. Whenever I open my mouth to sing the Pianist begs me to stop.
    I love your little irises, absolute gems and as usual with some very creative props.
    I am joining in this week.…-white-icicles/

    • Cathy says:

      I have only been going 3 weeks Chloris and it is a see-if-I-like-them-and- if-they-like-me trial so I might be rejected yet! Hope not 😦 The irises look blue in the picture but they are of course purple and a far prettier colour than the photos suggest 😉

  5. johnvic8 says:

    A delightful arrangement and selection of contents…as usual. AND I love that song.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks John – I sing the ‘baritone’ part of the harmony and its not actually a very melodious part on its own for this song!!

  6. Brian Skeys says:

    A lovely Iris and a colourful MP4 player. Good luck with the singing, when is your first public gig?

  7. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – variations on a theme | Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  8. Kris P says:

    What fun Cathy! I wish I had a voice for singing – I restrict mine to the shower (and embarrass myself even there). As usual, you’ve put together a composition that illustrates your story. Mine is less imaginative but here it is:

  9. Christina says:

    What a coincidence! I discovered a few of my Iris reticulata flowering in the Crimson zone this week and shoots of others bravely poking their heads about the ground. I couldn’t bring myself to pick them while there are so few, but I’m adding them to my list for next year to grow in pots just to cut! I’m envious of anyone who can sing, I hope you enjoy yourself.Thanks for hosting Cathy.

    • Cathy says:

      I can’t believe these iris survived for months with no soil and are flowering like this! I forgot that I have (properly) planted some Katherine Hodgkin last year which are also reticulata, but they are only just emerging after 4 or 5 months in the soil – very weird! I’m really excited about this singing, Christina, and I am Know I will indeed enjoy myself 🙂

  10. Pingback: sprig to twig » Blog Archive » in a vase: small gleanings

  11. What a beautiful purple iris – gorgeous. And, congratulations on taking that step to do something that was a stretch. I can only imagine how much fun you have with your group. Music is a part of every day life for me but I can’t carry a tune. 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Judy – I’m glad you knew the iris was purple as the photos make it look more blue than purple! There was a commitment of time with the Barbershop too, but I knew I had to take the opportunity while it was there or I would regret it

  12. rickii says:

    I heard a radio program where someone was describing the lifting of the spirit that occurs when singing in a group. I got second-hand goose bumps, so am sure you are on to something.
    My offering this week is similarly small and simple:
    but without the fascinating back-story you came up with.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks rickii – it is uplifting on so many different levels – from physical and psychological through to emotional and spiritual….

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Cathy, your vase today is indeed such sweet harmony and how lovely that the iris took you by surprise too. I’ve taken to talking to my bulbs in an attempt to chivvy them on … it’s so cold it’s proving to be a slow, slow process. Love Barbershop harmony and would like to be in a group, if only I could sing! It sounds like fun for you. My pathetic offering can be seen here:

    • Cathy says:

      Aw, thanks Elizabeth – it’s hard to believe the iris thrived on neglect like this and I am waiting to see if anything else will surprise me in the pot!

  14. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Coming In From the Cold | Words and Herbs

  15. Cathy says:

    Very sweet indeed Cathy, and what a lovely surprise to find it popping up. (And such a good match to the MP3 player! 😉 ) All the props and colours harmonise beautifully! Hope you continue to have lots of fun singing in your group!
    Here’s my vase for today:
    Thanks Cathy!

  16. Pingback: In A Vase On Monday – A Thorny Business | Peonies & Posies

  17. Julie says:

    Lovely to see your beautiful Iris Cathy – you are ahead of me with these. I forgot to plant any in pots until nearly Christmas so mine are not quite ready – they are one of my favourite spring flowers so I will enjoy looking at yours for now. How exciting to be taking up singing again – I am glad you chose to share that with us Cathy – it is nice to see a little of the person behind the blog.

    You can find my contribution at:

    • Cathy says:

      And these were very late to be potted up too, Julie! Actually I forget I had some Katherine Hodgkin which I had from PN last year, some planted outside and some in a pot in the greenhouse, but both are only just showing shoots – very strange! This singing is so new and I am bubbling with it so with the ‘Harmony’ reference it just had to mentioned!

  18. I’m so excited to see the first Iris of the season in your vase today! What a beautiful ‘composition’ you’ve made. I love the Cyclamen leaf is this arrangement. Here is my vase for today. We went from spring back to winter again by sundown, but it was so nice while it lasted 😉 Best wishes, WG

    • Cathy says:

      Aw thanks WG – it was all the more pleasurable for me with it being such a surprise! I am pleased the cyclamen leaf worked – I wanted something simple but distinctive.

      • It worked out perfectly 😉 At first it looked as though you had an Alocasia leaf, because that Cyclamen is so beautifully patterned. You have another sweet miniature arrangement, filled with the joy of spring 😉

  19. A lovely little vase, and most satisfying, no doubt, in it’s unexpectedness – with some very imaginative and topical props. Well done! I’m from a musical family, but I’m afraid I’m the one the talent passed by. So good luck with your singing! There’s no way I could sing in public! P.s. I’m relived to hear that that Golfers collection has lapsed! 😉

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Ali – it just fell into place! Sorry to hear that musical genes passed you by somehow 😉 ps the Golfer’s collection is still there, but languishing in the loft, so I still need to behave myself….

  20. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Valentine’s Pink | Cosmos and Cleome

  21. How nice to find an unexpected treasure in your greenhouse, and how lovely to develop a new talent! As a music teacher, I appreciate your props this week!

    I did put together my vase yesterday, but waited until this morning to photograph it in better natural light:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kimberley – and as long as I can make a useful contribution to the barbershop group I shall be happy. I wonder what aspect of music you teach..?

  22. What talent you have Cathy! Being a writer, I particularly admire your way with words, plus you are a hoot! I really enjoyed your singing adventures this time. I only had one experience singing Barbershop and it was harder than I imagined, but how I loved it. I used to sing folk music with groups in the day. Those were great days. Anyway, I admire your deep blue iris, and your placement on sheet music–genius.
    Here is my entry for “A Vase”. It is not mine, but that of a brilliant person who made one for the Japanese Garden:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Susan – and I am touched to hear you say you enjoy my writing. You are the first person commenting who professes to be able to sing – it is a shame that so many people dismiss their singing as awful 😦 Do you not sing at all these days? How about making a comeback?!

  23. Amy says:

    Oh, I am so late commenting here -even though I posted yesterday and read your post then also…! I have not had full computer access for a couple of days, but I also spent much of yesterday trying to photograph my one I r Harmony in the garden 🙂 So it was great fun to find your vase with several of the beautiful little flowers.
    I’m so glad you’ve had a chance to get into singing with a group – must be great fun! I took voice for several years but never did much with it, and it would have been wonderful to sing harmony.
    My own vase was the result of delayed bursts of bloom in two earlier vases…

    • Cathy says:

      What a coincidence about the irises! And if I wasn’t hosting the meme I know I would often find it a rush to get my vase post done, but as it is I need to get it sorted pronto! Might you take up singing again…?

  24. Anna says:

    A most attractive cameo Cathy – I’ve been taken by surprise by irises opening this week too. Sheet music always brings our former neighbour to mind who was a most accomplished pianist and gardener too despite the confines of a small backyard. Have fun singing!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – did you hear your neighbour’s piano playing when you were outside in your garden? Something jolly or strident would have helped chivvy you up on some tasks, I guess 😉

  25. Sweet harmony, I love those tiny little Iris, How great to find it in the greenhouse doing its own thing while no one was watching. like little jewels. The colour is always exquisite.Thanks for sharing

    • Cathy says:

      They are so perfect when you look closely – and this one is a far richer colour than the photo suggests, jewel like as you say

  26. lushpeony says:

    I love your vases. I am a fan of cut flowers from the garden and aim to grow a full cutting patch this year. It’s great to see the type of flowers you use too. I look forward to seeing more. Laura x

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