In a Vase on Monday: Winterest and Boxes

I was writing an email this week and referring to the winter interest in our garden when I realised my fingers (the 4 or 5 I use on a keyboard) had got ahead of themselves and written ‘winterest’ instead. I am sure I won’t be the first person to have come up with that term, either inadvertently or intentionally, but it struck me as a useful word to describe a garden with seasonal interest in the winter months – and a vase based on seasonal delights.

The delights that grace my Monday vase today are Sarcococca humilis (having lost its label many years ago it may even be S confusa), contorted hazel Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ and sprigs of witch hazel Hamamelis ‘Diane’. The sarcococca is often referred to as ‘Christmas box’, so the vase contents are displayed in the bottom half of a lidded brass box (with moss to hide the frog holding the stems in place) and accompanied by three other boxes: a turned wooden thimble case, an origami paper box and a carved heart-shaped trinket box from India. It made me smile to find inside the latter a hollowed-out seed with a lid and two teeny-tiny elephants probably carved from bone. I am sure there were 3 elephants originally, but considering their size it is not surprising that one of them has packed their trunk. I remember as a child being fascinated with a similar seed my mother had, and no doubt my own children were equally fascinated by mine.

Sadly, you will have been unable to scratch and sniff my Wordless Wednesday post featuring the sarcococca, and I am only sorry you can’t smell the fragrance of today’s vase either, albeit currently heavily disguised by the aroma of a cake in the oven – even a few sprigs make a surprisingly powerful impact. That’s one of the other joys of winter flowering plants – many of them have a fragrance. Even a pot or bunch of the humble native snowdrop, when brought into the warmth, will exude a subtle but sweet perfume, sometimes also detectable outside on unseasonably mild winter days. Nectar seeking insects will find plenty of restaurants open for business in our garden…

Whether fragrant or not, finding something in your garden to pick and pop in a vase will undoubtedly bring pleasure to your lockdown days – why not give it a try even if you don’t usually join in with IAVOM? If you would like to share what you have found, just leave links to and from this post.


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39 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Winterest and Boxes

  1. Cathy says:

    A lovely vase Cathy, with three favourite plants. I planned to attempt a join-in this morning, but heavy snow here! Enjoy your cake!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy – are you due more snow? We have just had the lightest of sprinklings here. The Golfer has just given me12 out of 10 for the cake, so it must be OK (apple cake, recipe under The Kitchen tab above)

      • Cathy says:

        Good to hear about the cake! It kept snowing yesterday, but I’ve woken up this morning to a little thaw, although still an inch deep on our balcony table.

        • Cathy says:

          I made a different cake yesterday, one I had not made before (I like to keep a choice of them in the freezer, in slices, so we can have a variety to choose from with our 4 o’clock cup of tea!), but I don’t think it will get 12 out of 10 and it’s not one I will make again!

  2. pbmgarden says:

    Winterest! You nailed it with your vase offerings and supporting props and entertaining details. I don’t know the fragrance of sarcococca. Someone gave me a small rooted piece once and for years I waited for it to mature. Just as it gained size it unceremoniously fell victim to some pruning work I was having done and that was that. Yours with its fringed white flowers makes a great foundation for the wonderful texture and colors of Corylus and Hamamelis–and I can imagine the lovely scents. Thanks for hosting Cathy!

    • Cathy says:

      What a shame about your prized sarcococca – no chance of a repeat gift? The leaves are really useful throughout the year to pop in a posy and the fragrance is a delight

      • pbmgarden says:

        A local blogger offered the sarcococca many years ago, but haven’t seen her posts in years. I’m sure I could find one but now I don’t have much shade. Didn’t realize the leaves were fragrant. Yum.

  3. Noelle M says:

    ‘Winterest’ is that double entendre, but not a saucy one, meaning two things depending on context? The other one being the Winter rest of many plants and gardeners! Nice arrangement and pretty boxes. Here is my simple offering:

    • Cathy says:

      Winter rest of gardeners? No idea what that is, Noelle!! Thanks for your kind comments – I decided to stop at 3 little boxes, but it could easily have been a lot more πŸ˜‰

  4. Did you Pinterest your Winterest? I wish the scent of the Witch Hazel came over the Internet and the cake as well… I love that Corylus and always wanted one in the garden, too far south again. Sigh. I have some paper boxes from India that I is my wild vase

  5. Kris P says:

    I do love your witch hazels but my attention was grabbed this week by the contorted hazel. I had sarcococca in my former garden long ago and I miss that scent, which always signaled spring was coming in my climate. Spring does seem to be on its way here even without that harbinger, though. Thanks for hosting and here’s my post:

    • Cathy says:

      The contorted hazel is such an asset, because it provides interest to an arrangement both with or without catkins – it always surprises me how early it is

  6. Chloris says:

    I love your winterest arrangement. And you are endlessly inventive when it comes to props. Have you no snow though? It is a bleak scene looking out of my window but I have managed to get a vase together.
    An email will be winging its way to you soon, but first I need to go and study the snowdrops in your previous post.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you, Chloris – even just single stems of these would have made a welcome vase. We have just had the lightest of sprinklings of snow today (so far) – the clouds must have emptied themesleves over Suffolk perhaps?

  7. Cathy says:

    That is a clever word and I will try and use it as soon as something (anything!) happens in my garden! Now that the grasses are cut down it is looking rather sad, and the grasses were too far gone to bring indoors for a vase. I like the arrangement with hazel catkins and witch hazel Diane very much. I got a little distracted at the mention of cake though…. πŸ˜‰

  8. Anna says:

    Oh what an excellent serendipity Cathy and a fabulous new word! Yes snowdrops have a perceptible perfume which is all the more strong when the flowers are in the warmth πŸ˜„ A beautiful little gathering of winter flowers. I have a small trinket box from India too – I can’t remember its origin but it arrived sometime in the ’70s I think. My first vase of the year and a little one at that is here :

  9. Heyjude says:

    Winterest is a great word!

  10. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday – Woven | Frogend dweller's Blog

  11. I love the colours in this arrangement. ‘Diane’ is a particular beauty. Lovely, Cathy!
    My arrangement is here:
    I’ve used contorted hazel too. It’s invaluable at this time of year isn’t it?

  12. Eliza Waters says:

    The hazel catkins and hamamelis say ‘spring’ like no other!

  13. Cathy I love the word winterest, I find it very interesting. Your Ikebana arrangement using a box as a vase is splendid, divine, I love it. Sarcococca captivates with her fragrance. The twisted hazelnut is lovely. Witch hazel “Diane” is magnificent. The moss is beautiful. I love all the plants and how they are so wonderful, magnificent in the Ikebana arrangement. The objects that accompany it with fantastic. The wooden thimble is a wonder, I love it. The origami paper box is very original and I did not know that you had that hobby. The box of trinkets from India contains a treasure: the hollowed seed and the two tiny elephants. The seed brings you beautiful memories of your childhood: your Mother had a similar seed and she fascinated you, I love it. And your children fascinated by yours: history repeats itself, I love it. Enjoy the cake you are baking, it must be delicious and even more so with a cup of tea. I didn’t know native snowdrops were perfumed in a bouquet indoors in heat or even in the garden on a hot winter day. Take good care of the golfer and you. Cheers up and don’t let yourself be defeated by confinement. Cathy you are very strong. A hug from my Mother and me. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

  14. tonytomeo says:

    Pretty cool. Sarcococcas should be more popular

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