Although I decided last week that I would take advantage of the heavenly blue of this Caryopteris for today’s vase, its form and title went through many transformations before reaching the end result shown above. The soft grey green of the foliage and the sky blue of the blooms are reminiscent of a meadow in summertime, and I found myself searching for a photo I have of my maternal grandfather sitting in such a meadow (and looking very uncomfortable doing so, being an old fashioned and very straight-laced Church of Scotland minister, or so he seemed to me as a child). Being unable to find it, I changed tack, going from ‘Late Summer Meadow’ to ‘Late Summer Skies’ and other sky possibilities. However, we have had more than just glimpses of blue sky on Sunday (the autumnal equinox) when this post was written and there is talk of a fine October to come, so let’s not dress it up but just call it ‘Sky’.
The caryopteris is one of three bushes in a narrow bed on a boundary near the blue & white borders, so is an extension of these borders. The boundary used to be formed of conifers but these were (thankfully) replaced by our neighbours with a fence although the border still suffers from a fairly poor and dry soil, not helped by the Hydrangea petiolaris which grows at one end and overshadows it. Strangely (it seems) the caryopteris have still thrived, responding well to my tentative heavy pruning in early spring – until this summer, that is, when one seems to have succumbed to the drought. I will leave it in situ until next spring and remove it only if there is no sign of regrowth. Behind them I will be adding the white version of Lychnis coronaria, grown from seed provided by blogging friend Brian. Both pink and white forms are now amongst my favourite ‘good-doers’ and I have recently sown seed of a bi-coloured form.
However, I digress! The soft blue of the caryopteris is accentuated by the grey-green of the foliage and would make an attractive little posy with no additions whatsoever, but whilst still thinking along the meadow theme I began searching for little pops of colour but found nothing that fitted the bill. There was still a little life in long-flowering clary sage ‘Oxford Blue’ so this added a darker dimension to the summer sky, although the last vestiges of an adjacent larkspur were left to some busy bees instead. With the sky darkening, spent heads of Veronica hastata ‘Blue Spires’, heuchera spikes, grassy Panicum ‘Frosted Explosion’ and frothy clouds of clematis seedheads added another dimension and a variation typical of the skies provided by our British weather.
The perfect vase for depiction of sky is this ‘flowerstone’ from the Isle of Skye’s Uig Pottery with its two-tone mottled brown and sky blue glaze, a design appropriately entitled ‘Expressive Landscape’). This type of vase, with holes in a range of sizes in the upper surface, are never as practical as you might think as only the shortest of blooms stand upright in them without any support. This time, I improvised and fed gravel via a funnel into the vase to hold the blooms in place, although in hindsight it would have been easier doing so before I added the water! The chosen prop, serendipitously turning up whilst searching for the elusive photograph, is a postcard showing part of a tapestry created by Orkney artist Leila Thompson and entitled ‘Echoes’ and which echoes the colour of the vase. If you look closely you will see that some of the stitching is in the form of text, part of a longer quotation.
As well as this vase, I currently have a vase on the kitchen table with various wind victims – parts of the UK saw high winds mid week with damage and disruption in many places and in our garden it was poorly staked dahlias that suffered most (although it kept the Golfer away from his tree-felling tasks too). I hope that your gardens have not suffered greatly from this year’s weather – whether it was last winter’s cold, this summer’s drought, or later storms – and that you are still able to find something in your garden to pluck and bring inside to pop into a vase or other receptacle. Having a vase to inspect at close quarters as one moves around the house on everyday activities has proved to bring great pleasure to so many of us, so do think about joining us if you have not already done so and leave links to and from this post if you would like us to see what you have chosen.