Welcome to this week’s In a vase on Monday where we can get in the habit of picking material from our garden and popping it in a vase to bring inside and give us added pleasure through the week. Regulars will be used to the weekly dilemma of what to pick and what to put it in – sometimes due to limited material, sometimes to an abundance, sometimes a pretty new vase we are anxious to use, sometimes matching the right vase to our chosen material. I am champing at the bit to use the new Uig pottery ‘flowerstone’ I bought when we were away – and to make use of my new Aldi bottle bargains – but it was just not to be. Delighted to have the first of my annuals flowering and thrilled with the flowers (but not the height of the plants) of Centaurea ‘Black Ball’ I had been toying with the idea of using dark blues and purples in a vase this week and ideas and titles had been floating around in my head for a few days. The flash of inspiration came late last night and it all fell into place, just needing to be picked and put together this morning. We have been blessed not to have experienced stormy weather for many months, even though the UK Midlands is more prone to thunderstorms than other parts of the country (due to its distance from the sea, I guess) but these darker colours put me in mind of stormy skies. Sometimes storms appear seemingly out of nowhere and pass over just as quickly, leaving bluer skies and wispy clouds again, so I have included some brighter blues and hints of white to reflect this. In the vase we have the striking Centaurea ‘Black Ball’ and its enthusiastic perennial cousin, Aquilegia ‘Black Barlow’ and ‘William Guinness’, Viola ‘Cool Wave Frost’ and an unnamed ‘pink’ (it isn’t) pansy, both grown from seed, Tulip ‘Victoria’s Secret’ (probably my favourite tulip this year), Ajuga reptans, Luzula nivea and foliage of Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’. A serendipitious afterthought and representing the rain is a sprig of Wisteria floribunda ‘Magenta’. Today’s single prop is ‘The Cloudspotters Guide to Clouds’ by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, reminding me how much I enjoyed climatology when I studied geography, drawing all those diagrams of clouds and different fronts (and sand dunes forming around dead camels…!) Oh, and there is a teacup under there, a vintage blue-and-white one…. The vase was really quickly put together, basically just a bit of prodding stems into florists foam but the overall effect is really pleasing and shows effective a simple and amateurish vase can be. It’s something we can all do and getting into the Monday morning habit is highly recommended – I love being able to sit here in the kitchen and still enjoy bounty from my garden. Do join us, regularly or occasionally, and leave links to and from this post so we can see share in the pleasure your vase brings.