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.