In a Vase on Monday: Promises

IMG_6883I had no preconceptions whatsoever about the contents of today’s vase, but knew it would be all too easy to pick from the selection of crocus, Tête à Tete, snowdrops or hellebores that continue to provide both colour and interest in the garden. Wanting to avoid the obvious, I ignored these – and instead snipped three short side stems from what tends to be the last of the witch hazels to flower, Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’.

IMG_6886This set the ball rolling for other promises – rugged twigs of Amelanchier lamarkii with this year’s buds already in evidence, preparing to burst open and reveal the fresh pink of new leaves, bi-coloured foliage of an unlabelled honeysuckle, burgundy undersides contrasting attractively with the green uppers, and dangling catkins of hazel paving the way for another season’s hazelnuts for the squirrel to plunder. For some reason, perhaps because they tend to hang much higher than eye level,  I rarely notice catkins on the various self-seeded hazels in the garden, having always cut them from the its twisted cousin Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ instead. Stems of cornus were also cut but not used as the other twigs ably held their own without it.

The vase was a cheap impulse purchase from eBay, found when I was looking for something else, and which in retrospect realised was in the style of a Japanese ‘ikebana’ vase, a word I had not come across before IAVOM. Ikebana is a style of Japanese flower arranging, one possible translation of which is ‘giving life to flowers’, which I think many of us feel we do with our vases on Monday although rarely in Ikebana style. All I know about it is what I have just read on Wikipedia, but in essence it emphasises shape, IMG_6884line and form, based on the 3 points of a scalene triangle which may reflect either heaven/earth/man or sun/moon/earth, and it has a profound spiritual element to it as well. Carried out in silence, Ikebana is believed to inspire beauty in all art forms and a closeness to nature which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul. Apologies to all those reading this who have experience of arranging in true ikebana style and know far more about it – mine has just been plonked in an ikebana vase although with very much a similar spiritual element.

The props? The promise of new growth and future seasons provided by the various twigs is supplemented by the promises made by the Golfer and I when we were married nearly 20 years ago (seems barely one or two…), represented by our wedding rings and marriage certificate. Coincidentally, Younger Daughter who is getting married at the end of April popped in over the weekend and we had a very interesting conversation about marriage in which she outlined how her opinions had been changed and shaped by various relationships over the years, both hers and other people’s, and the promises involved are especially important to her. She has asked me to do a reading at the wedding and the impromptu discussion will add meat to the bones of the sonnet I am writing for the occasion (I do like my challenges!).

IMG_6890I know most of you will be interested in the progress of the sleeping lion from last week’s vase – he is roaring ferociously, but silently, as you can see! Not everyone can bring themselves to cut a hippeastrum like this, I know, but on past experience the stem will flower just as well as when attached to the bulb and can be enjoyed at closer quarters so I no longer have any qualms about cutting.

What will you cut for today’s vase? Will you have any qualms? Do share your vase and your thoughts by leaving links to and from this post as usual.


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82 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Promises

  1. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – Lake Tacoma tulips – Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  2. Christina says:

    The vase and its contents are lovely Cathy; Susie know more about Japanese ‘ikebana’ so it will be interesting to read her comments. More tulips from me this week – I don’t mind the obvious when they are so beautiful. Here’s my link: Thanks for hosting.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Christina – I was a little cautious about mentioning ikebana as I knew it was a type of Japanese flower arranging but it was the first time I had actually checked what the definition was and I knew there were other bloggers who had learned the technique

  3. Midwestern Plant Girl says:

    Beautiful abstract vase!

  4. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – Wedding Flowers’ return – plus a bonus | Duver Diary

  5. jenhumm116 says:

    Such an elegant arrangement today, Cathy. I immediately thought it was Japanese inspired before I read your comments.
    Here’s mine, a reminder of a happy event::

  6. AnnetteM says:

    I REALLY like your vase this week – I need one of those new Facebook Love’ icons. I wonder how long it will take WordPress to catch on and give us more than just ‘Like’. The simplicity of the arrangement, together with catkins which remind me of childhood rambles, is just what I like – and then of course there is the Japanese connection. . .

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Annette – it really only took miutes to pick and plonk but despite being essentially simple I could see how pleasing an arrangement it was. In a way it certainly falls into the spirit of ikebana style

  7. pbmgarden says:

    Interesting you set up a challenge for yourself to use the Hamamelis and you discovered an entire art form. I really like the result Cathy. The spare, minimalist design shows off each element of the arrangement to perfection. The vase was a great find too. My vase this week is

  8. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday – Acidanthera and Anemone – Absent Gardener

  9. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Spring | acoastalplot

  10. Wonderful and thought provoking. I was wishing for some contorted branches yesterday, I think Juncus might grow here. I do like the Ikebana style and am happy to see the lion roaring. Here is my vase:

  11. Cath says:

    I like the honeysuckle leaves and the way the purple picks up the bit of purple at the base of the Witchhazel flowers. The arrangement reminds me of a Japanese painting of mimosa trees.
    My vase this week is reflecting the start of Autumn as yours is Spring.

  12. Sam says:

    How lovely to be able to write something especially for your daughter’s wedding. This is a really interesting vase – I do like twiggy vases – and I love the witch hazel. Mine is very obvious for the time of year, but hey!
    Thanks so much for the excuse to wander into the garden and play about with flowers, Cathy. I am enjoying this Monday exercise so much (even if I don’t do it every week). Sam x

    • Cathy says:

      I am not there with the sonnet yet though, Sam! I am pleased that Younger Daughter was happy with the idea of it because writing it specially is very much ‘me’.. Good to have a vase from you as and when – no rules to say it has to be every week – just nice to know you enjoy it when you do

  13. I love your creativity and warm hearted storis. I’m featuring something a bit odd today at

  14. Pingback: In a Vase on St David’s Eve | Wild Daffodil

  15. Just a quick link

    Want to take time to read your post properly and comment later. Xx

  16. No vase here today but I managed a little walk in the garden on Sunday. But snow tomorrow so the promises in my garden are still a ways off. I never think of cutting branches from my trees or my witch hazels but they look so lovely in your vase that perhaps it’s time i changed my attitude. My Sunday walk is here:

    • Cathy says:

      Like the hippeastrum, I would have been loathe to cut witch hazel in the past but can do it happily now – and am enjoying the fragrance of it now, which I could rarely do outside.

  17. Annette says:

    There’s something very ZEN about this vase of yours, Cathy, and I’m already getting quieter just looking at it! How exciting to have the wedding and do the speech – I’m sure you’ll do it perfectly. Wishing you and the Golfer a great week 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Annette – I love glancing over at my Monday vases as I sit at the kitchen table at my laptop 🙂 Not actually a speech, by the way, just a reading within the ceremony – she has organised most of the wedding herself so she wanted to throw me a few crumbs I think! Have a good week yourselves

  18. Kris P says:

    It’s lovely, Cathy, as are the connections that materialized in the form of your props. I’ve always admired ikebana, although I seem incapable of managing such an arrangement myself, inclined as I am to stuff my vases to their maximum capacity. The ‘Red Lion’ is impressive too! Here are my vases (just 2!):

  19. Peter/Outlaw says:

    A brilliant combination of promises, your arrangement is thought provoking and beautiful. Thank you! My attempt is here:

  20. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Iris reticulata | Words and Herbs

  21. Cathy says:

    This is beautiful Cathy, and the rings add such a lovely personal touch. The promise of future foliage, flowers and fruits certainly is a positive theme and a nice reminder of warmer days to come. Red Lion looks wonderful too! Here’s my vase for today, Cathy. Have a great week!

  22. johnvic8 says:

    Quite lovely and creative. Your adding the rings is touching. Thanks again for hosting.

  23. I love the vase and how you arranged the branches, Cathy. I too used branches this week to add a bit more spring to my home. Our weahter continues with winter, but they predict it will break soon. And I love cutting the hippeastrum flowers for vases.

    Here’s my link for this week….taking a short break so I will see you again in a couple of weeks:

  24. Your attempt at Ikebana is quite nice. I love the vase and the props are sweet. I think you are quite brave to write your own sonnet for the wedding reading. Good luck. I hope we get to read it after the event. My daughter got married a couple of years ago in mid April. A beautiful time of year.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Lisa – although any ikebana likeness was in retrospect as I didn’t know the definition when I put the vase together! I may well share the sonnet in due course – after the event that is – although it is still far from finished!

  25. Anca Tîrcă says:

    I really like your idea of creating such a beautiful spring Ikebana, Cathy. One full of promises.
    This is my vase:

  26. Pingback: In A Vase On Monday – A Jug of Spring – Peonies & Posies

  27. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – daffodils and dreams | Views from my garden bench

  28. Julie says:

    A very impressive vase this week Cathy – well done for delving into a new and beautiful art! I am sorry I was absent last week – things went a bit pear shaped here but all is calm again so i am back with a few spring flowers. Good luck with your sonnet – I hope you will share it after the wedding.

    My contribution is at:

  29. Bec says:

    your vase is lovely – one of my neighbours has a twisted hazel – and I didn’t know anything about Ikebana – it’s interesting – I’ll have to look for a suitable vase.
    I went for the more conventional daffodils in my vase – and an iron one too.
    I’d been thinking about promises too… including replying to comments on blogs too – must try harder… Hope you have a lovely week and i’m sure the words will flow for your sonnet,
    love bec xx

  30. homeslip says:

    What a refreshingingly different vase and yet full of the promise of Spring. Every component is lovely individually (I’ve been very tempted to snap a twig of hazel on walks recently but have resisted so far!) but together they are so much more, and I can only imagine the scent of the witch hazel indoors. There is a huge yellow-flowered witch hazel growing in the front garden of an old cottage in my village and the other day in the warm sunshine its scent was breathtaking.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Sarah – I was pleased with how the promise of spring elements came together. As the witch hazel needs a bit of warmth to smell the fragrance it has to be a special sort of winter day to catch it outside, so your nearby one must have been an absolute delight. My Mum refers to the scent of one that was in the garden of my teenage home, but I am afraid I don’t remember…I remember the witch hazel but sadly not the fragrance 😦

  31. Hannah says:

    I’m just happy to have some flowers to put in a vase, but your lovely violet background and Ikebana theme is fantastic, Cathy, very inspiring. I kept toying with buying a witch hazel last fall but didn’t manage to connect with the right one, and figure out a place to put a shrub that can get so large and take a chunk of lawn out of mowing. Arnold’s Promise looks pretty with the dangling hazel catkins and mysterious floating Amelanchier leaf buds, very mysterious and befitting Ikebana. I haven’t felt artistic enough to try one but maybe someday…. My link today-

    • Cathy says:

      Aw thanks, Hannah. Actually, knowing that my photos never show the felt backgrounds in their true colour, I was hoping the violet might look a little greyer than it did! I will dabble in a ‘proper’ ikebana arrangement one of these days…

  32. Pingback: a sorta vase this monday | sprig to twig

  33. rickii says:

    The vase is quite a find (and an inspiration to adopt the Ikebana style). I’m so fond of the catkins but they seem to induce much sneezing and sniffling when I bring them into the house. Do you have that problem? Here’s my unvase this week:

    • Cathy says:

      I think the vase was 99p or so! I might look out for others although I am trying to cut down on buying vases… 😉 Hmm, I don’t think we have suffered sneezes and sniffles fro the catkins, but I shall monitor the situation

  34. Amy Myers says:

    Just lovely, Cathy 🙂 It’s too late here to leave much of a comment; (I’m wondering whether I will approve my post when I see it again in the morning!) but here is the link:

  35. Chloris says:

    EBay is a great source for interesting vases. I have a peculiar thing about jugs and whenever I am under the weather I treat myself to an EBay jug. I am recovering from a particularly vicious virus at the moment and so have two lovely new jugs which I will be showing in the weeks to come.
    I had never thought of picking Arnold but I will do so now to enjoy him inside. Your arrangement is lovely, most unusual.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh Chloris, I am so sorry you have been stricken down again – is the Pianist not looking after you properly and dosing you with chicken soup? Look forward to seeing your new vases (which reminds me – I did start looking for an egg shaped one after yours last year…must go and have another look…) – perhaps some witch hazel? Do pick some to help perk you up…

  36. Renee says:

    Very beautiful! And thanks for the update on the lion. Both your vases look great, and I continue to be amazed by your creativity (including writing sonnets!)

  37. Elizabeth says:

    Once again I posted my vase yesterday but somehow didn’t find the time to leave a comment until now. Love your arrangement … your choice of materials fits perfectly with that vase. Mine, I have to say, is predictable. Daffodils again, but, for me, their cheeriness is irresistible –

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Elizabeth, and don’t worry about adding the link a bit later – I am often a day or two ‘late’ for other memes these days myself

  38. Noelle says:

    Your vase is lovely, and I love the reflection in the beautiful glaze: serenity. I love ‘anticipation’ and your material this week captures this.
    I did my vase on Monday…but only posted today:

  39. I’m so glad I waited til I had time to read your post properly. Such a rich post FULL of wonderful heartwarming stories and plant information. I just love your vase and the ikebana style. I am so impressed with you writing a sonnet for your daughter’s wedding, I hope you share it with us one day. Congratulations to you and the Golfer. 💚

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for your kind comments, Sandra – oh, and we haven’t quite made it to 20 yet, but I think we’ll get there!!

  40. Anna says:

    The contents of your vase flow most naturally Cathy and that background colour enhances the golden shades. I’ve heard of ikebana though would be hard pushed to describe it. Your explantion certainly helps. Delighted to see that the lion is roaring his head off this week.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – I am glad I checked the definition of ikebana as it has added to my store of knowledge! There is a second spike on the Lion so he clearly wasn’t upset by the amputation 😉

  41. I think that’s amazingly beautiful Cathy.

  42. Thoughts at Teatime says:

    What a lovely post, and I’m so happy to see this is an ongoing thing! Looking forward to digging out a vase and joining in with you. Wonderful xx

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