In a Vase on Monday: Stark/Contrast

On one of our recent walks I picked up a beautifully lichen encrusted twig, knowing it would appear in a vase sometime soon, and today popped back to the alleyway I mentioned in Friday’s post to pick a stem of garden escapee euphorbia to join it. Rather than detract from the yellowish highlights of the twig and the euphorbia  by introducing more colour, I cut five stems of creamy white Narcissus ‘Snow Baby’, the perfect foil for the dark green leaves of the latter.

Firstly, I popped the twig and euphorbia into the vase already earmarked, another Caithness Glass one, similar to last week’s but in the ‘moss’ colourway’ and with a narrower neck. The stark effect was immediate and additional material would be…well, just completely gratuitous. Somehow the vase was solid and complete as it was, seemingly making a statement. But what to do with the narcissus? Obviously I wouldn’t just throw them out, so retrieved a matching (it may look a lighter shade, but this is due to the difference in style) Caithness vase from the shelf  and popped the narcissus in, ready to display elsewhere.

Suddenly, a metaphor occurred to me, and I knew it was important to display them together: the stark first vase contained items fashioned by nature, a twig blown from a hedgerow tree, maybe decades old, covered in lichen as result of a natural process, and a stem breaking free of its own volition from a garden setting, no human intervention required. By way of contrast, the narcissi were bought as bulbs and planted by Man (well, me), nurtured and admired at all stages of growth, and fed and watered as required – but despite this intervention their fragile beauty is short lived (although as bulbs we may be lucky and see them return) and the blooms will soon fade.

We are all in the throes of something we have never experienced before as the restrictions of lockdown continue to bite, as our routines disintegrate and the fragility of the lives that we have carefully crafted is exposed, as fear for ourselves and the health of our nearest and dearest lurks. Life as we know it is unlikely ever to be the same again and there will be many unforeseen social and economic adjustments to be made. However, some things will not change – lichen and their host hedgerow trees, for example, and the countryside and natural world generally, things which can continue to bring stability to our lives. We are fortunate ourselves to be able to step out of our house into the countryside, and our daily walks leave us feeling well-grounded and a world away from COVID-19, especially when we see three different butterflies within the space of a minute (tortoiseshell, orange tipped and brimstone) as we did yesterday, the last being a first. Meanwhile, in the garden too, the freshness and fragrance and birdsong of mild spring days will also continue regardless.

Our Monday vases also bring stability and a reminder of what day of the week it is, so do join us if you can, with material found in your garden or foraged locally. They will brighten your isolation and if you would like others to share the pleasure, albeit at a distance, then leave links to and from this post.

The crystal, by the way, is serpentine, believed to be beneficial for the emotions and meditation, and to encourage art and creativity.

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47 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Stark/Contrast

  1. the running wave says:

    I do love your delicate white narcissus Cathy! It’s good to see them sitting on their own, uncluttered by anything else. They can really shine in all their glory! But of course even more glorious when contrasted with the darkest of greens in your second vase! I have many lichen covered branches poked into various places in our tiny garden! I love lichen, and all it’s different colours. I have just one flower today. Stay safe and well, and I have to say I am very envious of all your seedlings! I am STILL waiting for my sweet pea seeds to germinate. Hope they haven’t rotted away…… Amanda

    • Cathy says:

      Sweet peas can take a fortnight or so, if you haven’t given them any warmth – the wamth gives them a kickstart

      • the running wave says:

        Was hoping for some of the warmth we were promised over the weekend, but it barely happened! And today we have sunshine, and strong coldish winds. Aaarrrgghhhh! A

        • Cathy says:

          It was breezy here this morning, although sunny, but the wind dropped this afternoon. Is there not a warm spot in the house that you could start them off in? Hope they germinate soon

  2. Pingback: In a vase on Monday. 6 April 2020 – Garden Dreaming at Châtillon

  3. Cathy says:

    Lovely vases and a very sensitive, heart-warming post. Thanks so much. I am ‘using’ you to re-establish a routine, so your wish has been my command! (But oh how I wish I had your lovely selection of vases!) Here is my contribution:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy, and I don’t mind being used in the circumstances! I had very few vases prior to IAVOM, and they were bought largely for their decoraive value, but car boot sales are a treasure trove of vases!

  4. I enjoyed your vases, your musings about them and your sentiment that it will be a long time if ever we take our lives for granted.

  5. pbmgarden says:

    I’m glad you’re finding ways to overcome this somber situation we find ourselves facing. I appreciate connecting through Monday vases even more. This is an impressive design Cathy. I especially admire the way you’ve placed the twig and euphorbia. The Caithness vase you chose is just right, the narcissus vase is a great complementary shape. And restricting colors to green and white combination adds to the impact. So lovely!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Suzie – there was a crick in the twig that meant it wasn’t standing up quite as straight as I would have liked! It’s funny how vases and the words that accompany them often turn out to have a life of their own…!

  6. Alison C says:

    Lovely shapes and contrasts here. The narcissus are beautiful and definitely one to think about for next year. I’m enjoying the paler ones this year and they also mix well with other things. I like how we can bring in a lichen twig and see it close up in all it’s glory. I’ve done the opposite from you this week!

  7. Lovely contrast in vases. Love the lichen branch and euphorbia together.

  8. Noelle says:

    Enjoyed your post: flowers, arrangement and words. My simple contribution:

  9. Cathy, thank you. Well done on the vase and the post. IAVOM adds a sense of normalcy to an abnormal situation. I love a lichen covered twig! and the contrast and simplicity is wonderful. I really appreciate the Narcissus as I never see any here. My vase this Monday

  10. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: sustenance | acoastalplot

  11. Sam says:

    Those narcissi are lovely, Cathy. Our countryside and clifftop walks are keeping us going at the moment (and the garden, of course). My vase this week is here:
    Thank you, as always, for hosting. Keep safe and well. Sam x

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, for us (well me certainly, as the Golfer is less keen and is missing his golf!) it’s an absolute must, and we are so grateful we live where we do

  12. Kris Peterson says:

    As beautiful as your two simple vases are, Cathy, it was your words that struck me this week. We’ve all experienced a momentous change, hardly understanding what was happening as it unfolded. My great hope is that we (and our leaders) all learn from it and take action accordingly when we get to the other side. Here’s my post:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kris. I hadn’t planned to say any of it, it just poured out once the vases came together. I am sure there will be positives to come out of it, hopefully at all levels of society, but at the moment everything is uncertain

  13. Chloris says:

    My Snow Baby has much shorter stems, do you grow yours outside? There are so many butterflies around with this warm weather but so far I haven’t seen any Orange Tipped. This week I am enjoying primroses.

  14. Cathy I love your words and how you describe the two vases and their flowers. I love the lichen-filled twig with the contrast of the two greens. Narcissus “Snow Baby” are divine. I really like how you describe the situation we are in with the Covid-19 and what will happen next. You have the soul of a poet in verse and prose, and a philosopher. You are creative and a gardener. Active and supportive. You are an extraordinary woman. Thank you for your words, they have calmed me. Thank you for your flowers, they have made me happy, because I do not have here in Madrid. Cathy thanks for your blog. Loving greetings from Margarita.

    • Cathy says:

      You are always generous with your kind words Margarita, and one of the joys of blogging is sharing and communicating – the giving and receiving – so thank you for the part you play too

      • Thank you very much Cathy for your blogs that make me so happy and feed my spirit. And my words tell the truth about what they read. Loving greetings from Margarita.

  15. Anna says:

    Two intriguing vases Cathy. I do like the colour and shape of the Caithness vase that you have put the stems of the lovely little ‘Snow Baby’ in. Is it one that you have used for previous Monday vases? Your euphorbia is reminiscent of one of the flowers in my vase this week. Two butterflies floating about in the garden today – a peacock and a comma 😄 I hadn’t realised that there was a serpentine crystal. I wonder how it got that name – can’t see a link to the obvious. My vase is here :

    • Cathy says:

      I have probably used the vase before as these green ones are my favourites amongst all my CG, because of the colour. I have always assumed serpentine was named for the swirly green and yellow patterning, reminiscent of some snakes..?

  16. I’m here, I’m here! With my own simple vase, although I’m rather embarrassed to even post it after seeing your stunning Caithness containers. Whatever. It’s still chilly, the daffs have barely opened…one week soon there will be larger flowers in my garden!

  17. smallsunnygarden says:

    Your stem with the lichen is lovely–so special you could save it back for today! And I do love those Snow Baby narcissus! I’ve not seen them before; am guessing they are miniatures? There aren’t any butterflies out yet here, but I have seen a few bees, thank goodness! I wonder whether the bee populations will see any recovery under the current conditions…? The importance of the natural world in our lives becomes so much stronger as this continues.

    It is truly spring here now, and here is my vase–hellebores at last:

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, Snow Baby are about 15cms tall. I shall certainly be hanging onto my lichen twig after the vase’s demise! Interesting thought about the wildlife… The UK had a really mild winter which will have been beneficial for some creatures,but the lower levels of pollution are something completely different…

  18. Cathy says:

    They are lovely Cathy. A strong contrast in so many ways, and your words/thoughts make that contrast so apt for these days. I am afraid I have missed another week as we have been so busy spring cleaning the barn. At least we have more time for all those jobs that have been on a list for…. well, months! Enjoy some sunshine this week! 🌷

    • Cathy says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Cathy – and well done for your spring cleaning. I had hoped I would include some cleaning into my new routines but I keep finding other things to do!! We are lucky that the UK has had some lovely weather recently which has made it easier for many people, I think. How are your parents doing?

      • Cathy says:

        Thanks Cathy. My parents are also lucky they have a beautiful garden to work in and retreat to. They have good neighbours doing shopping for them. And my sister and I are skyping regularly with them. I hope your Mum is also in good hands, being so far away from you.

  19. tonytomeo says:

    Is the foliage that of the euphorbia, or is there something else there? That is a lot for just three (or four) components in two vases.

  20. Beautiful! And the crystal is very special. Don’t you just love those opportunities that present themselves when you’re out in the garden or nature?

  21. lovely white narcissi – and I love the combination with the greens too. My chap is always telling me what the lichens and fungi our rambles.
    here’s mine in these strange times at home….tete a tete, tulip and a wallflower.

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