In a Vase on Monday: Victoria and Susan Have No Secrets

The three plummy purple parrot tulips in this first vase of May are Victoria’s Secret and it is certainly no secret how gorgeous they are, and as they have reappeared for at least three years I am especially pleased to see them. Almost hiding amongst them is a twig of similarly coloured Magnolia ‘Susan’ which has been in the garden for…. hmm…. maybe 15 years or so but has never produced more than 2 or 3 blooms.

Admittedly she was not planted in an ideal location but at the time lateral thinking created the space especially for her and with more than 20 blooms this year she has finally forgiven me for her substandard quarters. I don’t think I have ever drawn attention to her, not because I wanted to keep secret my landlord lapses but purely because there was nothing to show. I rather like seeing her blooms against the ‘Composition with green, purple and pink’, which was painted in the style of Mondrian at around a similar time on outdoor grade MDF and treated with three coats of exterior varnish and still satisfyingly durable after all those years outside.

Joining the two girls are a couple of stems of one of the many aquilegia that have shot up in recent weeks, spikes of the obligingly good do-er great woodrush Luzula sylvatica and one of my new favourites, annual or short-lived perennial squirrel tail grass Hordeum jubatum. These were grown from seed sown in September and planted out a month ago where they surprised me a couple of days with these gorgeous velvety heads which will open out into feathery flower spikes in due course. On seeing these heads I immediately sowed more, in the hope they will reach a similar stage rather more quickly in these milder months. Isn’t it gorgeous? SO tactile…

As we equate having no secrets with being ‘an open book’, that’s what today’s prop is; knocking the vase over onto my original prop, an e-book version of my current read (‘Why We Sleep’ by Mathew Walker), I swapped it for my next read, the more stable paperback ‘Your Life in My Hands’, a junior doctor’s story by Rachel Clarke.

Today was the first time this year that I felt spoilt for choice when creating my vase; with temperatures in the 20s for several days the remaining tulips are unlikely to last long  and it was a shame not to use some while they were still at their best. There are a number of other spring delights that could have been chosen, from lily-of-the-valley and pulmonaria at one of the scale and frothy rhododendron at the other, with fragrant sweet peas and colourful Clematis alpina somewhere in between. What a joyous time it is in the garden at this time of year, on my patch at least, as spring has still not yet made it some northern hemisphere gardens.

There may be plenty of seasonal blooms in some of our gardens, but our vases do not actually need to contain blooms as many IAVOM posts have testified over the years, nor need they be vases. Creative thinking or sheer necessity has opened our minds to what we can find in our gardens and bring inside to extend our pleasure, so do give it a go if you have not already done so: it could change your Mondays for ever! You could keep it to yourself as your own secret pleasure but if you would like to share the result, as most of us do, just leave the usual links to and from this post.


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50 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Victoria and Susan Have No Secrets

  1. Pingback: Mystery Flower and Vase on Monday | Wild Daffodil

  2. I do love your outdoor art Cathy and the magnolia looks perfect against it. Love that velvety grass too. Normally my garden is awash with aquilegias at this time of year, but I can only guess the recent snow and ice must have killed a few off as I only have a meagre sprinkling.
    A sturdy little Antirrhinum braved it out though and is doing a happy dance in the sunshine.

    • Cathy says:

      Tee hee – definitely no culling of aquilegia by the weather here! But I wait till they flower and am then quite tough in taking out sub standard ones.

  3. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – A spring basket – Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  4. Christina says:

    I saw a mas planting of Victoria’s Secret in Keukenhof and thought her lovely although she didn’t make it onto my list for this year, maybe next! Here’s my link for this week, not a vase but a basket:

    • Cathy says:

      It’s hard drawing up a list of tulips at the best of times but aving them planted en masse it must be even harder!!

  5. Chloris says:

    Susan is such a beautiful lady, I am glad she has decided to bloom for you. I placed my Susan in a less than ideal position too, and mine has forgiven me this year and is blooming beautifully. I love the way that the flowers open when most of the other magnolias are finishing. And such a beautiful colour. I admire your foresight in sowing hordeum in September, I have some little seedlings waiting to be planted out, but you will have the pleasure of yours all summer. And Victoria’s Secret is a new one to me, I am glad the secret is out. The arrangement looks lovely against a blue sky.
    My offering is here and let’s hope I did the link right this week, you know I will never be a clever tecky like you. .:…s-while-ye-may-2/

    • Cathy says:

      Susan did get watered occasionally last year, which she hasn’t before – but that was because there is a clematis growing up into it and I was making an effort to water all of my clematis regularly!! Will the hordeum look good all summer? That’s good news if that is the case – I hadn’t come across it until last year when I read about somewhere, I think. I believe it self seeds gently, does it? And no need to credit me with too much techy cleverness, as it has all been learned on a need to know trial and error basis – and sometimes asking other bloggers. Sadly, looking at the link, it is still in an abbreviated form (see those dots…?) so I know it will not work… 😦 It will take me to your site but not the right page altough I can click on ‘home’ and it will take me to your newest post. Do you want me to change it or do you want to have another go?

  6. Alison C says:

    I adore dark coloured flowers (and foliage), I can’t resist buying them. This collection is delicious and I’m glad your magnolia has forgiven you. I have had some Hordeum jubatum for a year or two but it is not quite the same as yours. I grew it from seed and some plants have come back after the winter. The flower are more open and tassel like so perhaps I have the wrong name. Your squirrel tails are gorgeous and now I want them too.
    It is certainly a joyous time and I hope you can enjoy your garden today. Here is my link:

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is wonderful that your Magnolia has forgiven you for its not so choice spot in the garden. It almost looks like a sculpture there. Happy IAVOM.

  8. Hordeum is new to me and almost like something from a fairy tale. I love the purples and think Victoria’s Secret is a wonderful name for that color, a perfect negligee! I am glad you have many flowers in the garden again. Happy Spring. Here is my vase:

  9. pbmgarden says:

    The color of the tulips and magnolia are so close I did miss that magnolia at first. Scrumptious! Tulips seem to be having an unusually fine year. Thanks for hosting Cathy!

  10. Ali says:

    Beautiful as ever, Cathy! Victoria’s Secret and Susan are lovely. Enjoy your garden today!

  11. Joanna says:

    Very beautiful! I have some Queen of the Night tulips that have bloomed faithfully every year for about 5 years now…I wonder if there is something about purple tulips?
    At long last, most of our snow is gone and I have something to offer!

    • Cathy says:

      Intriguingly I too have an odd Q of the N tulip or two that reappear each year having been planted about 15 years ago!!

  12. What a gorgeous combo. So many things damaged by our winter, but judging by your magnolia maybe I should wait before ripping out the non-performers.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Linda – and the magnolia in the vase has opened out today which I a pleased about as I wasn’t sure if it would, with having such a woody stem. I suppose Susan always still produced leaves, so I knew she was still alive – and she did have the occasional flower or two 🙂

  13. Lovely spring vase. And that is one special tulip….I love the color and how wonderful they have come back over the last few years. And the addition of the squirrel tail grass makes this vase so textural. It is exciting to have so much to choose from in our gardens. I am in that early garden blooms phase but I think that will change soon as the weather has been warmer and the trees are starting to leaf out.

    I have a few early spring vases this week….it has been fun to put them together:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Donna. Here the leaves seemed to appear on th trees quite suddenly this year – and immediately the garden closes in as the canopy blocks views of some of the adjacent housing

  14. Wow, that is a magnolia worth waiting for! So wonderful to finally feel as though we’re spoilt for choice in the garden. It makes those long days of winter worthwhile in the end, when the garden returns with renewed vigour. Here’s mine: and I think I’ll be taking the last of my tulips soon too, given the heat.

    • Cathy says:

      And the magnolia bud in the vase has opened now which I am thrilled about. The rate of acceleration of bountifulness in the garden still surprises me every year, Joanna 🙂

  15. Peter Herpst says:

    It must be quit gratifying to see so many blooms on ‘Susan’ this year, she’s gorgeous! Thanks for passing on ‘Victoria’s Secret’ as she’s also stunning. A beautiful time in our gardens and in your vase today. Thank you so much for continuing to host this addictive meme and please forgive me for cheating again this week and showing someone else’s vases.

  16. Alison says:

    Such rich colors in your vase today! That is a gorgeous tulip. I do wish they lasted longer. My arrangement is here:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Alison – planting them really deeply is said to help their longevity so in recent years I have tried to do this.

  17. What beautiful dark tulips in you arrangement, Chloris — thanks for sharing them! Best, -Beth

    • Beth says:

      Sorry, Cathy, I was having trouble logging in and wrote my comment for Chloris’ blog on yours in my confusion of having to change my password and find her post again, which was right before yours on my feed. (Your tulips are certainly lovely too!) Embarrassedly, -Beth

  18. johnvic8 says:

    I love the early spring blooming magnolias and yours is special.

  19. How satisfying to finally have your Susan magnolia reward you after 15 years. (I tend not to announce my landlord lapses either.) Beautiful parrot tulips–how impressive that they are back for a third year. Here’s my post today, short and sweet:

    • Cathy says:

      I don’t mind admitting I am human, Terri! 🙂 At the time, it really was a case of ‘I would like one of those but I have nowhere to put it’, and creating a space for it, albeit substandard

  20. Heyjude says:

    Victoria’s Secret is a gorgeous colour, but after my foray into the realm of parrot tulips this year I think I shall have to pass. The heads are too heavy in my windy garden, and nowhere appears to offer any shelter. But I shall enjoy yours with Susan who is another lovely lady.

    • Cathy says:

      That’s a shame Jude, and I have to say that at least one stem of VS had been snapped off although don’t know what by. It intrigues me how many of the tulips outside open up fully in the daytime but then close up again at night. It’s not something I had noticed before 😉

      • Heyjude says:

        Most of my Brown Sugar tulips had their heads decapitated by something. I thought wind, but it only affected these tulips in the main. All cut about 2-3 inches below the head. Never seen it before. I have Purple Dream tulips in the north-facing side of my house and they have been flowering for ages – open right up during the day to show the lovely white inside and look as though they are on their last legs all droopy and floppy.

        • Cathy says:

          I haven’t come across Purple Dream before – will look it up. Could it be a cat snapping off the tulip heads do you think? They do snap easily

          • Heyjude says:

            Possible. The neighbour’s cats do use my garden as a ‘rat run’. Someone mentioned squirrels, but I have only ever seen one here. Most odd.

  21. Cathy the purple tulips Victoria’s Secret I love them. The Magnolia “Susan” is a treasure. Its flowers are more than beautiful and its color is wonderful. She looks very pretty in her new place. I love. Greetings from Margarita.

  22. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Restraint | Words and Herbs

  23. Cathy says:

    So much to like this week Cathy – that fresh green, that soft grass head just asking to be stroked (love its name!) and the rich silky purply reds of the Magnolia and tulips. And your garden art behind the Magnolia too – what a good idea! I have aquilegias too this week:
    Have a great week!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I am loving this grass – no doubt it will reappear in many vases! All except the magnolia (which did open) are still looking good today (Thurs)

  24. tonytomeo says:

    I just about missed Susan. I sent one to my colleague in Southern California many years ago. It does not do very well, but it is worth growing just for the few dark flowers it puts out. I would have preferred a larger star magnolia there, but they do not get much larger here anyway.

  25. Sally says:

    Purple and green, two of my favorite color combinations! I really love your last picture. Stunning!

  26. Susan makes a wonderful complement for Victoria, as friends often do. You always have something interesting to show and I enjoy the information you provide about your plants.

  27. I really like VS tulip with magnolia Susan. Such a good strong colour. My tulips at home and work are finished after the hot weather. Such a shame we can’t keep both for longer. I did join you

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Dorris, I thought my tulips would have finished too but there are some still opening, so I imagine they must be later varieties

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