During the week I gave a slim little posy of fragrant sarcococca and colourful Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ to a friend and, finding it simple but pleasing, decided to repeat it for today’s vase with the addition of a sprig of witch hazel Hamamelis ‘Zuccariniana’. Accentuating the slimness of the constituent elements, I popped them into three test tubes bound together with copper wire, and added a little stretchy figure who looks happy enough whether he is propping up the arrangement, performing the splits, or being stretched into the tallest and skinniest configuration ever. He wouldn’t have his photograph taken at his skinniest but did consent to performing the splits for our entertainment.
As yet I can’t detect a noticeable fragrance, but I daresay when I next come back into the kitchen there will at least be the hint of one, especially as the sarcococca fully opens. In our local town centre park there is an extensive bank of it and an overwhelming fragrance hits you as much as 50 yards away – unaware of the this plant and its powerfully fragrant attributes until the last few years, it took some time to ascertain where the fragrance originated because you can only smell it a distance and not close up. Nowadays, I see it as an essential element of a winter garden in winter; this one is probably S humilis but I also have a newer S hookeriana and a failed dark stemmed S hookeriana digyna. If I bury my nose in the witch hazel there is the faintest hint of fragrance there too. Regular readers will know that witch hazel and cornus are both vital elements of my garden in winter too and a joy to behold for several months.
I expect today’s skinny offering to look good for much of the coming week, but I did not expect last week’s vase to look almost as pristine today as it did a week ago. One of the hyacinths has just started to brown a little, but the other two and the arum and ivy leaves look as fresh as they did when they were first picked. The previous week’s vase with its ‘everlasting’ blooms looks exactly the same too, so this week I now have three vases to enjoy! Unlike much of the UK we avoided snow this week but the bitter temperatures were not conducive to lengthy rambles or lingering in the garden; temperatures are due to pick up this coming week and I look forward to seeing my winter blooms picking up their droopy heads once more and welcoming some winter warmth and sunshine, as I will too.
I know many of those who like to join in with IAVOM will have experienced snow and bitter temperatures recently and may struggle to find anything to pop in a vase, but remember it does not have to involve blooms – it could be bare twigs or dried material or an indoor plant. Think out of the box and find something garden related that will bring you pleasure when times are lean; perhaps some of you will be able to welcome some winter warmth and sunshine too.