In a Vase on Monday: Skinny

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.

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56 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Skinny

  1. Christina says:

    Very pleasing; my own Sarcococca has just begun to flower, it is in a shady spot by the back door, last year I felt it had a bad odour rather than a perfume but it seems better this year. The glow of the Cornus stems is very warming. Here’s my link:

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  3. pbmgarden says:

    A beautiful trio of winter pleasures Cathy. Thanks for featuring sarcococca today. Someone gave me a small piece of one years ago and I’ve yet to notice the fragrance. I had to plant it in an out-of-the-way spot to give it shade and so I miss it every year. Will search it out today. Thanks for hosting!

  4. AlisonC says:

    You always make me laugh with your ingenuity. Your skinny man looks very happy showing off your vases. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the colour and fragrance for weeks. Every year I’m surprised and delighted by just how strong the scents of winter shrubs are. Here is my link.
    Thank you for inspiring us.

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  7. jenmac13 says:

    Hello Cathy, Long time no vase, for me, but I’m back this week 🙂
    I love your skinny selection, I hope you get that sweet scent you hope for from this bunch.
    Here’s my contribution for the week
    Thanks for hosting this lovely Monday meme!
    Jen x

    • Cathy says:

      Good to have you back, Jen. There is a slight fragrance but I am not sure yet if it is lingering from last week’s hyacinths or not

  8. Cathy says:

    A lovely arrangement and how lovely to have just a hint of fragrance indoors, and not something too overpowering. Yes, we have had snow – lots of it! But I still have something to share this week. Thanks Cathy!

  9. What a darling arrangement! This week mine aren’t grown by myself but found them at our farmer’s co-op, and couldn’t resist them! Especially after the bitter temperatures we experienced this week!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Angie; I am glad you have been able to experience the pleasure of some blooms, even if they came from the farmer’s co-op

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  11. karen says:

    What a cheerful arrangement. We are both using test tubes today! I love your bright stems set against the black background. Your little man has made me smile. Much love . Karen xx oh nearly forgot my post ….

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Karen – I have several different colours of felt left over from a project some years back and they often serve as backgrounds

  12. Love the simplicity of your bouquet this week. I tried to grow Sarcoccocoa last year but our bad winter of 2017/18 did it in. Can’t decide if I should try again but I love the idea of a fragrant plant early in the season. And I am hoping to find Cornus Midwinter Fire this spring. My offering is here:

    • Cathy says:

      I assumed sarcococca was quite hardy but perhaps it can’t cope with exceptionally bitter winters. I hope you can track down some Midwinter Fire or something similar

  13. I love the Cornus and the lines of the arrangement, I have a Firesticks Pencil Cactus that looks similar..hmmm. Sadly, nothing like Witch Hazel here. I keep looking for one of the test tube vases. My vase from last week looks exactly the same as well. We had a gloomy, rainy few days last week, but I still have flowers. Here they are:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks, Amelia.That Firesticks Pencil Cactus sounds intriguing and I hope you share it with us one Monday. My test tubes came from eBay ad were an absolute bargain, definitely underpriced

  14. Amanda says:

    That skinny little fellow looks very happy to be lined up next to some other twiggy types! Great fun, and rather lovely too! Thank you. Here’s my Monday offering! Amanda

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Amanda – I bought some of thes little figures for garndchildren’s Christmas stockings and this was a spare, although admittedly I also have fun pulling and stretching his poor little limbs!

  15. Noelle says:

    I love the three separate elements of your offering this week…they may be skinny but they pack a punch in the vase and in the garden. Midwinter fire is a particular favourite. We had snow and took full advantage of the ‘snowin’:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Noelle – I am pleased with how they looked together in the test tubes, although in the garden the sarcococca is in a different location from the others. I wonder how much snow you had down in Somerset…?

  16. tonytomeo says:

    When we grew the hamamelis back in the 1990s, people who knew it commented on the fragrance. I thought it was quite faint. Actually, most of the time, it was barely perceptible. I really liked hamamelis, but only because it is so pretty in autumn and winter. We have since discontinued growing it because it is unpopular here. We never grew the red twig dogwood, although there is a different species that is native here Cornus stolonifera. It does not color so well. It is good to see that some appreciates such specie.

  17. Peter Herpst says:

    Can you tell me how to become taller and thinner like your stretchy figure? I’d really appreciate it. Some nice chemistry with these winter lovelies. Thanks, as always, for hosting and keeping us all thinking of what we can bring inside to enjoy. My “vase” is here:

  18. Kris P says:

    Much as I love and admire your witch hazel, it was the stretchy man that put a smile on my face from first glance this week. I’m glad you managed to avoid the worst of the winter weather in the UK. The US is reporting endlessly on the “polar vortex” but that hasn’t affected us in coastal Southern California, although we have had another series of rain storms. The third this week is due to arrive late this morning but, right now, for the first time in days, we’ve got sun. Here’s my post:

    • Cathy says:

      I am glad to think of you smiling when you read my post, Kris! And more rain storms for you – do have storage facilities?

      • Kris P says:

        I have storage capacity of 475 gallons among 3 tanks connected to various sections of roof. They’re all full at present. If only our storms were scattered rather than being limited almost exclusively to the winter months! I’d love to have a huge cistern to hold 1000+ gallons but there’s no place to put it and complicated arrangements would be necessary to pump it to all the areas in need of the water.

        • Cathy says:

          I trying to visualise what 475 gallons would look like, comparing it to our water butts which are either 100 or 150 litres…hmm, about 18 of the smaller size I think, so that’s not a lot for such long periods without rain. We have about 9 water butts but far more rain than you of course. Do you have to pay for your fresh water?

  19. Cathy I love the idea of the vase and its contents. Sarcococca has seen it a lot in parks and gardens and it smells great. The Hamamelis I like very much, it is beautiful. The branches of the Cornus with their almost red color brighten the whole lot. The little man who accompanies them is a very gymnast: we have already seen how he does his stretching exercises. It is a magnificent vase. I hope temperatures rise and you have better weather. 🙂 Greetings from Margarita.

    • Cathy says:

      Fragrance in winter is such an asset Margarita, and in a park or large garden setting it can sometimes be hard to detect where the fragrance is coming from. I hope the weather improves for you too, Margarita

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  21. Gorgeous winter stalwarts, Cathy. I never fail to be cheered when I see the red stems of a well looked after cornus, but how I wish my little sarcococca would cheer up too and produce a flower. It has not put any out since I moved it (to a much better spot, or so I thought). How I miss that lovely scent. Here’s mine this week:

    • Cathy says:

      Cornus are such forgiving plants, aren’t they? I was reluctant to cut mine down at first, but took the plunge and cut them all back hard and each year they come back even better than ever – Midwinter Fire is the most striking of my three. Hope your sarcococca performs for you soon

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  23. Classic! An arresting combination. I especially love how you’ve used test-tubes and copper wire. Are you a science teacher by any chance??? I love your ‘skinny’. Sadly, I think our last stretchy toy was jumbled last year when I cleared my son’s bedroom after he left for uni (evil laugh).
    Here is my vase:

    • Cathy says:

      No, not a science teacher – I snapped these up on eBay before the person selling them realised how useful people would find them and put the price up! They did come from a school lab, I believe. I have a boxful of different sizes, some shorter and some taller than these. I hope the aforementioned son doesn’t return and want to know where all his precious junk is… 😉

  24. Made it, I have borrowed some prunings to share Cathy.
    I like your tubes of cornus

  25. Oh that is a really choice collection of winter jewels Cathy. Fabulous scent and colour. You are most fortunate to have avoided the snow. Ours finally melted overnight but I have been out all day so didn’t get a chance to play outside. The stretchy figure is fun and has reminded me that I have a squat and less malleable version lurking about somewhere – will have to introduce her into a vase sometime 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – it is good to be able to inspect them more comforatbly outide now temperatures have risen. We may not have had sow, but the ground is still partially frozen after so many nights of frost, as I found yesterday when I tried to dig up a couple of things to move them ps look forward to seeing your squat and less malleable figure in due course!!

  26. smallsunnygarden says:

    I love your combination of skinnies, Cathy! 🙂 As I have unexpectedly moved back into the chilly Midwest, I am hunting back through options for early bloom and found that Hamamelis is said to grow well here, which I hadn’t known as it’s not commonly offered. So I may yet join the ranks of its admirers and growers – we shall see…! 😉
    My vase today was foraged from dried material in my new yard:

    • Cathy says:

      Good to hear from you and know that you are making plans for your new home. I hope you can track down a hamamelis ps so I can better place you, what state are you in now (or would you rather not say?)?

      • smallsunnygarden says:

        Sorry for the omission – we are now in western Missouri, not our planned destination, but a very necessary detour!

  27. Chloris says:

    Colour and fragrance, what more can you ask for? Winter has its compensations.

  28. Brian Skeys says:

    Our Christmas Box is by the front door, every time it is opened the scent fills the house.

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