In a Vase on Monday: Bottling It Up

IMG_4345There are several vases or receptacles that I have been eagerly awaiting the chance to use, this crate of mini milkbottles being one of them. I had coveted (in the nicest possible way of course) this very useable set ever since I spotted it on Gwirrel’s blog ages ago but hadn’t been able to source one until late last year when I found it in the Handpicked Collection catalogue. With Christmas looming, Younger Daughter was happy to oblige…. Since then it has waited patiently in the wings until now, when it welcomed 6 different hellebore flowers, the stems cut as short as possible to reduce potential flop and conditioned in boiling water for 20 seconds or so.

IMG_4346On a whim I added a couple of drops of pink colouring to the water – I might have used green if there was some in the cupboard, but not using food colouring very frequently I had recently disposed of several little bottles of the stuff many many years past their sell-by date! I really like the subtle effect this pale pink water gives, seemingly linking the individual bottles and their contents together into a cohesive whole. I am prepared for the hellebores not lasting long, but in the meantime I shall enjoy the soft and gentle energies they appear to emit – and remembering school experiments with the capillary action of plants I shall also be closely observing to see if they turn a different shade of pink! For anyone who has never seen that in action do try it, ideally with a white flower like a carnation but a white tulip or narcissus would be OK too – just place it in a glass or bottle with coloured water and wait for the transition….

IMG_4352The crate was placed on mossy rocks in front of the trough outside the kitchen window for its photo shoot, but looks a little lop-sided as I didn’t quite adjust the angle of the camera enough to disguise the angle of the rock! The soft green of the mossy rocks really sets off the pastel shades of the hellebores, and the light is always so much better for photos outside, particularly on a grey day. Temporary props were provided by relics from the various Britain’s farm and garden figures and features I used to play with as a child – a milkman and milk churns and the box from the dairy cart, sadly empty. I have vague memories of one of the shafts on the cart breaking and the same fate befalling a leg of the horse!

Last week’s Tรชte-a-Tรชte lasted almost the full week – definitely worth picking some early like this to prolong the period of their spring-like cheeriness. After Saturday’s sunshine the ones in the tiny raised bed at the front of the house are in full bloom as they soon recognise the onset of milder days when they see them. The hellebores won’t last as long, but I have some Paperwhites in flower in the greenhouse which can replace them if necessary. I wonder what you could find in your garden or forage locally to pop into vase or other container this Monday? You may surprise yourself with the inspiration you get and will be sure to gain pleasure from observing the result during the week. You would be most welcome to join us – just leave links to and from this post so we can share what you have found too.

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78 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Bottling It Up

  1. Helen Johnstone says:

    You are getting so creative with your Monday ‘vases’ and also how you photograph them. I am joining in this week – the post will be up later today. I will post a link when I get home.

    • Cathy says:

      Aw thanks Helen – and I look forward to seeing yours later. I had to smile at your comment though as the mossy location was a bit of a cop out really as I prepared the vase yesterday when it was raining, and these rocks were just outside the back door!

  2. Oh, I don’t blame you for coveting that little milk crate! Your hellebores are gorgeous! One of these days, I’ll be able to get a vase together again! The bulbs I’m forcing are coming at a glacial speed, and I fear a few are going to give me only leaves and no flowers, and the gardens are still sitting under 18 inches (45 cm) of snow! It’s supposed to be mild this week, with temps above freezing every day, so the snow pack is getting less deep every day!

    I like the pink water, too! When my kids were younger we always picked several bouquets of Queen Ann’s Lace to dye all colors of the rainbow!

    • Cathy says:

      I am pleased you are are feeling so much better now that temperatures will be ‘above freezing’ every day! It’s all relative, isn’t it, but you and so many others will be glad to see the back of your snow. What a shame you think you will get leaves and no flowers from some of your bulbs ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Hmm, all the colours of the rainbow…..that’s an idea to bear in mind for the future…..!! Thanks for that! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Your hellebores are beautiful – still waiting patiently for mine! Nice vases this week!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Elizabeth – it is such a shame they won’t last long… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I did think mine were coming through a little later than usual but the blog tells me otherwise when I look back

  4. Bec says:

    Your hellebores are beautiful – mine flowered yesterday in chilly Manchester. The milk bottles are so cute too – id love some ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Bec – thanks for dropping in. The rather milder days have really encouraged them to open up more, but some of them are still tightly in bud. I was so pleased to be able to use the bottles at last!

      • Bec says:

        i nipped out in the dark last night with a torch to see how my hellibores are getting on – I have some more flowers ๐Ÿ™‚ hurrah.

  5. A lovely way to display your beautiful hellebores, mine are still in bud up here.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks QB. The variation in flowering times of hellebores has been intriguing to read about in people’s blogs, as they have definitely been open longer further south in the UK, whereas we are in the Midlands.

  6. Annette says:

    Absolutely delightful, Cathy, and how cheeky to colour the water! Beautifully photographed on the mossy stones…I’d love to have that in my garden, but don’t have the heart to cut the flowers.

    • Cathy says:

      Colouring the water just popped into my head as I was filling the bottles – no idea where it came from!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I carefully chose flowers from 6 different plants that had several stems, and tried to choose ones that only had a single flower (for damage limitation!) The pleasure of having them up close and personal in the house makes cutting them more than worth it – but it does take a little time to take that step, as I and other bloggers have discovered.

  7. The flowers are beautiful but the pink water and the milk bottles steal the show this week. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Judy – I too think the pink water really gives added value so I am glad it gets approval from other people!

  8. Absolutely lovely Cathy….I love the bottles and wish I had a series of bottles for a display. And I agree the pink water is perfect and I love the mossy rock. I too was wondering if the pink water would change the flower colors. I anxiously await the hellebores blooming once we get rid of the snow…slow melt so I don’t think we will see any blooms until early April maybe.

    I am still plugging along with my indoor bulbs. Hope you enjoy this week’s vase:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Donna – I have kept the colouring to a minimum and any potential change would be so slight I don’t think we would notice it. Growing your indoor bulbs was such a good decision in the circumstances – and no doubt you will make sure you do so every year after this winter’s experience. At least a slow melt is still a melt, so that’s promising – and would restrict the potential for flooding, I guess

  9. Don’t you just love your milk bottles? I love mine! They are so useful, especially to show off single blooms. Great when there’s not much material around. A beautiful composition, Cathy! The dye really picks up the colour of the hellebores perfectly. I would never have thought of that. You do have some great ideas! I’m joining in this week – sorry for copying!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Ali – and when I sourced the milk bottles they were not in the least bit expensive either, which was a bonus. I shall use the coloured water idea (well, it was a whim, not an idea!) again, but will have to splash out on some fresh food colouring! Thanks for joining in today – although you were producing weekly vases long before I was ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Pingback: In A Vase on Monday – Fresh Spring | The Patient Gardener's Weblog

  11. Wow Cathy, I’m knocked about by your hellebores in those shades of wine and dusty rose. They are gorgeous! Do you happen to know the varieties? I have pics of my hellebores in my latest post–they are lovely in their celedon greenish white, but I prefer yours. In the meantime, I’m making vases full of “Ice King” Daffs, but here you see them in my hand–it’s own vase in a way…

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Susan – most of them are named varieties and I will do a collage of them sometime soon, with their names. Your posts sound most intriguing… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Kris P says:

    As soon as I saw the tinted water, I wondered what that might do to the hellebores. The milk bottles are a great way to show off the pretty faces of the flowers. Thanks, as always, for hosting, Cathy. Here’s the link to my post:

  13. jenhumm116 says:

    Hi Cathy, we’re both on the hellebore theme! I love your little milk bottles. I have a similar vase but with the bottles in a circle but I’d never thought of using it for hellebores like this, it’s a lovely way of getting to see them at close quarters. And I’d also never thought of dying the water – great fun!
    Here’s my vase, except it’s a jug…

  14. Pingback: In a vase on Monday โ€“ Purple and Blue | Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  15. Christina says:

    Your Hellebores are gorgeous Cathy! I’m really envious, I will have to try to find a way of growing some in pots, I think that’s the only way they’d receive enough water. I love the milk bottles too. I saw dye used in a book but I haven’t used colour in baking for so long I don’t have any but I think the pretty pink really adds to this arrangement so I might have to buy some again. Here’s my link:

  16. Liz says:

    Hi Cathy,

    Lovely Hellebores; still waiting for my more ‘exciting’ ones to bloom, but they’re not far off!
    I forgot to place mine in boiling water so they didn’t last long, at all… Next time though.

    Also very interested to see whether they do change shade with the colouring in the water!

    And a quick link to my own post:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Liz. I don’t think the boiling water really makes any difference, but interestingly some have drooped already and some haven’t so I am now looking for any common features….

  17. Jennifer says:

    Your vases look wonderful – I’m so inspired by everyone’s efforts, I hope to join in next week.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jennifer – we have all inspired each other over the months and it has been a lovely meme to be part of. Hopefully we shall see you soon.

  18. johnvic8 says:

    I love the bottles…and the colored water. Very, very clever. Thanks for suggesting new ideas for this meme.

  19. Hoorah I can join in today. I love your pink collection in bottles and the idea of coloured water is inspired. By comparison, my vase is rather grey but it is something. Take a look and let me know what you think at

  20. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: A Touch of Spring | Words and Herbs

  21. Cathy says:

    Your hellebores are soooo pretty Cathy! I love the effect of the food colouring in the water to reflect the colours and must definitely try that trick you mention with a white flower soon… I think I might have some out of date colouring somewhere too! The bottles remind me of school milk although they were a slightly different shape I think. You always come up with such great ideas and props! Here’s my vase for today Cathy:
    I think spring just arrived here – hope it sticks around!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy. I was thinking the bottles were a good bit smaller than the ones we had at school but on reflection maybe not – school ones were a third of a pint and these can’t be much less, if at all. I will measure them when the hellebores move out! I enjoyed my milk in winter, but not on warm days…ugh!

  22. Helen Johnstone says:

    Hi Cathy
    Finally here is the link to my In a Vase post

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Cathy, love your pink hellebores, gorgeous colours, and in pink water – inspired! I wonder if the flowers on the white hellebore plant bought last week would take on a pink tinge given the same treatment … unfortunately I don’t have any colouring, all tossed for the same reason as yours – out of date – or I would give it a try. Thanks for the link to Handpicked … I’ve just blown my pocket money for the month ๐Ÿ™‚ What a difference a week makes … there’s now plenty of signs of spring in the garden including the cowslips I picked today. My link is:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Elizabeth – I made mini Battenberg cakes recently, hence the fresh pink colouring! I wonder what you bought from Handpicked….? I am so glad there are signs of spring in your garden because that means your weather is improving which in turn means your health will permit you to venture out more often – hurrah! And cowslips? Must check if there are any signs of mine as I have certainly not noticed them…

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  26. Amy says:

    I liked your hellebores in pink so much that I almost left a note before working up my vase this morning… but decided to get on with the vase as I had looked forward to it since my shopping trip on Saturday ๐Ÿ˜‰ I love the food colouring idea – we use it so rarely I don’t even purchase it anymore, but it does tie in so nicely with those magnificent hellebores! And I’m intrigued with the effect of the multiple bottles. It all works so well!
    Here is my post:

  27. Julie says:

    Truly inspired Cathy – I have never seen tinted water used with flowers before – doesn’t it look nice! Your hellebores are lovely, the location looks stunning and I glad you managed to find some little milk bottles – I bought some very cheaply at Sainbury’s last summer and used them a lot last year. It is time to dust off my collection of miniature vases now that the spring flowers are coming out. I am glad to hear that you have Paperwhites in flower – they always come in handy.

    You can find my contribution at:

    • Cathy says:

      Sainsburys…? And I thought I was lucky finding them by chance in the catalogue which was inserted into the Sunday paper! I will definitely not be planting Paperwhites at fortnightly intervals next season – but they are certainly reliable, aren’t they?

  28. Cathy, wine colored flowers really ‘pop’ against your background of damp stones, moss, and ivy. So quintessentially British ๐Ÿ˜‰ I studied them for a moment wondering whether you had Dahlias or roses so early, then recognized your lovely double Hellebores for what they are. Lovely cultivars! And your colored water puts me in mind of dyeing Easter eggs ๐Ÿ˜‰ So pretty! Here is my vase, more Hellebores, as I see so many of us have chose today. Best wishes, WG

  29. Anna says:

    Oh most pretty in pink Cathy. I like your childhood toys. Did you have a miniature garden when you were a child? I have recollections of plastic flowerbeds with holes into which you inserted plastic flowers, a pond, a greenhouse, different types of fencing etc, etc. I wished that I had kept it.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – and yes I did, and I still have mine. I will feature it in a post one of these days. My Mum has the original lead ones

  30. I love the colour of your Hellebores and the idea of colouring the water! Thanks for inspiring us every Monday!
    Here is my post:

  31. pbmgarden says:

    Wow–so striking Cathy! The bottles are wonderful and I love the staging for your display. (I remember with delight adding food coloring to vases of Narcissus when I was little.) My contribution is:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Susie – and it’s good to be reliving childhood memories, isn’t it (or more recent teaching memories, in my case)?

  32. Pingback: In a vase on Monday: Hellebore hoorah | digwithdorris

  33. bittster says:

    The hellebores are beautiful in themselves, and I love the little set of bottles, but the color in the water is brilliant! It makes you think twice about if the glass is colored or if it’s the water, and it really compliments the flowers. Lots of fun too!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Frank – and it felt like a ‘fun’ touch adding the colouring, particularly as it was just on impulse ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. How charming this is! Love the pink water – what a clever and artistic touch.

  35. One of your best! Love the pink water. We’re having a big warming trend so perhaps I will have snowdrops by next Monday. Here’s hoping.

  36. What a wonderful idea the tinted water is! And your hellebores are stunning, especially the doubles. They are on my wantlist for the next garden for sure (and to you-know-where with the budget! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

  37. rickii says:

    I’m afraid I’m finking out this week. Won’t bore you with my long list of excuses, just tell you how much I enjoy seeing what you come with week after week, no matter what else is going on in your life.

  38. Chloris says:

    They look so pretty in the pink water in your little bottles. You have some gorgeous ones.
    That is the great thing about hellebores; some of them start blooming early and others later and they delight us for weeks and weeks.

    • Cathy says:

      And I am still finding ones I had forgotten about… Sometimes they are such tiny plants when you get them – and now they are big and blooming ๐Ÿ™‚

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