In a Vase on Monday: Unashamed

Last week Joanna of Edinburgh Garden Diary posted an IAVOM featuring a collection of teeny vases and inkwells with single blooms, and I am afraid I have unashamedly pinched the idea to make the most of a selection of the last remaining blooms from my own garden. Thanks for the prompt, Joanna – much appreciated!

At the back is an unopened bud of Rosa ‘The Poet’s Wife’, current favourite Persicaria ‘Blackfield’ and young spikes of Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’; fully grown spikes of this salvia seem to grow to around twelve inches long, too tall for today’s IAVOM but a very pretty combination of soft purple and off-white. The four inkpots in the middle house my last remaining dahlia of 2018, ‘Willo’s Violet’, the first chrysanthemum bloom, courtesy of a cutting from Chloris which I think might be ‘Mary Stoker’, contrasting stems of Salvia ‘Hotlips’ (new to me this year; one bloom typically bi-coloured, the other only red), with the fourth holding pretty Alonsoa ‘Salmon Beauty’. At the front is new addition Salvia ‘Cerro Potosi’ and Fuchsia ‘Voodoo’ with its long long style and stigma. Together they represent the remaining spicks and specks of my November garden, spots of colour and specks of brightness.

Next week is the fifth anniversary of In a Vase on Monday for which I am setting a challenge and offering a giveaway. It is not compulsory, but I am challenging contributors to a ‘(Not) In a Vase on Monday’; I shan’t be any more specific than that to allow you plenty of leeway, so do give it some thought and see what you come up with. The last five years of IAVOM have been a wonderful journey so let’s celebrate with something a little different!

In the meantime, see what you can find in your gardens today, spicks and specks or autumnal bounty, and pop it in a vase or other receptacle as usual, leaving the usual links – then get your thinking caps on for next week!

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Wordless Wednesday, End of Month View: Something Afoot…

View from kitchen windows

Streamside and shrub borders, with autumnal witch hazel and cornus foliage

Same area from the other end


Main borders from the bothy…and what are those bricks doing?

Same area from ground level

Clematis colonnade…and there is definitely something afoot here…

Woodland edge border from opposite end

Bold border #1

Bold border #2

Bold border #2

Bold border #3, with Salvia ‘Neon’

Cutting beds, partially cleared

More cutting beds, partially cleared

Blue & white border

Rose garden, rose leaves stripped

Looking back towards the house, snowdrop border on right

Shady border

To see how the different areas of the garden fit together, click on ‘Map of the Garden Version 3’ under ‘The Garden’ tab above. My thanks go to Helen the Patient Gardener for hosting this monthly meme.

Posted in End of Month View, garden structure, Gardening, Gardens, projects | 27 Comments

Ina Vase on Monday: All Hallows

All Hallows’ Eve falls on 31st October each year and is the day before All Hallows’ or All Saints’ Day in the Christian calendar. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows’ Eve when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself. It is generally believed that many Hallowe’en traditions have evolved from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, meaning ‘end of the summer’. This festival is believed to have been a celebration of the end of the harvest, and a time of preparation for the coming winter. It is also widely accepted that early church missionaries chose to hold a festival at this time of year in order to absorb existing  Pagan practices into Christianity. All Hallow’s Eve is now popularly abbreviated to Halloween and commercialised beyond all recognition.

With my dahlias on the cusp of their demise (especially this pumpkin-coloured one, appropriately called ‘Happy Halloween) and the spontaneous purchase of a cute little squash, combining the two seemed to be the right thing to do, especially so near the end of October and All Hallows. The first frosts which will undoubtedly see off all the dahlias will also mark a point of no turning back with summer long since gone and autumn rapidly galloping ahead towards winter. Although there is still colour in the garden, as yesterday’s post shows, decay will soon set in with every cold night and visitation from Mr Frost and the fiery orange of these dahlias masks the brown-ness already creeping into some of the petals which will soon drop. The addition of sprigs of dark and sultry Salvia ‘Amistad’ blooms, almost-spent flowerheads of Sedum ‘Jose Aubergine’ and a stem of Iris foetidissima with its papery capsules and vibrant red seeds were chosen to highlight the impending darkness and decay of the time of year but sadly they can barely be seen on the photographs – or perhaps the fact they are skulking almost unseen amongst what seems like a bountiful harvest is appropriate after all…

The blooms are held in place with a frog pin in this black scalloped dish which came with a removable glass frog, the latter being of little use, and two or three blooms which had been knocked off their stems were placed around the base to hide bare stems. Also representing decay is this tiny doll’s head, dug up from the garden several years ago and not in any way ghoulish in this context. The little squash came from Aldi and was one of several different varieties they were offering, all most appealing and tactile, and I rather regret not buying more.

I hope those who grow dahlias have been able to cut more of their blooms before they got blackened by frost, but whether you have dahlias or not do take time to forage in your garden and bring something indoors to give you pleasure over the next week, whether you can pop it into a vase or other receptacle or not. We would love to see what you have found, so do share it with us by leaving the usual links to and from this post.

ps I have been on Jury Service for the last fortnight and everything else was inevitably put on hold as it such an all-consuming and mentally and physically tiring process, but nevertheless a great experience and one which I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to take part in

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Late October Colours

I am a bit late recording my best October blooms, but the fact they are still blooming at such a late point in the month says a lot about their stickability, especially as many of them have featured a number of times in this informal meme hosted by Chloris at the aptly named The Blooming Garden blog. The next few days will test them further, with temperatures last night close to 0°C and several similar nights forecast. Despite its untidy sprawling and my grumbles at its excessive height Cosmos Dazzler (above) has done exactly that, but I shall not be as sorry to remove them from the cutting beds as I will be when the dahlias have to be lifted, which is likely to be very soon. Below we have Willo’s Violet, Dorothy Rose, Nuit Été, Happy Halloween and an unnamed and variable single yellow one, most of which are currently flowering at their absolute maximum:

This fuchsia, F ‘Voodoo’ is one of four hanging from the walls bordering two of the bold borders and all four will need to be potted up and brought inside soon to avoid the winter cold. The baskets were barely noticeable during the summer months, partly overshadowed by the contents of the borders but also because they struggled in the heat and have only begun performing in the last few weeks. I spent ages deciding what to put in these baskets that would be appropriately neighbourly in these bold borders and it is a shame that their boldness has been out of sync with everything else.

Appearing numerous times in these monthly round-ups, indicating just how much of an impact they make in the garden, are Salvia ‘Neon’, Persicaria ‘Blackfield’ and Persicaria ‘Inverleith’, superstars all of them. This salvia was the first I had any real success with, and by the time I realised how hardy it was it had grown both leggy and woody; last spring I cut it back to lower new leaf buds but I think I can afford to cut it to the very lowest signs of life to help keep it more compact – and of course I have now learned not to let other salvias get out of shape like this. I do already take cuttings and if need be I could start afresh with Neon. The two persicaria have formed such delightfully attractive clumps, unlike varieties in  other borders where I am trying to improve conditions in the hope of achieving similarly successful clumps.

To the right of Blackfield are the lanky stems of Rosa ‘Falstaff’, one of a pair either side of a bench on the paved area; these were planted as bare root roses a year ago and were slow to get going, struggling as many new plants did with the heat and lack of rain. Damper conditions since then have boosted their growth and although lanky they have produced both more stems and a late flush of blooms and should respond to pruning early next year by producing bushy plants for the new season.

Also tall and responding to the end of the drought is Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’, bought as a small plant in a 9cm pot this time last year, and now towering over me at the back of one of the main borders. I don’t yet know how hardy she will prove to be, but she will be mulched generously and then cut back as low as possible in the spring to encourage bushiness. With a supposed flowering period of July to November hopefully she will deign to flower rather earlier for me next year, but I suspect she will not waver much from her maximum height of 2 metres.

Finally, but as an afterthought as I had just cut the last of them, is Helichrysum ‘Bright Rose’ which must have been flowering from June onwards in the borders as well as the cutting beds. This is the first time I have grown any ‘everlasting’ flowers and regardless of the longevity of the blooms this has been a fantastic and effortless annual to grow and I shall seek out additional varieties to grow next year when I shall find out if our exceptional summer contributed to its success.

Assessing this year’s seed sowing will be a job for a wet day in the  coming weeks, but I shall be reducing the number of varieties I grow and concentrating on those I know to be reliable and garden worthy – or at least that is the plan! In the meantime, thank you to Chloris for giving us the platform to share our monthly stars and do pop over to her blog where she has been sharing her lovely dahlias this week before they get nobbled by the frost.


Posted in Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens | 39 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: For the First Time In Forever

When starting picking for today’s vase, I realised that the first three things picked had never been used in a vase before so allowed this to dictate the underlying theme – the title could perhaps have been ‘Vase Virgins’, but sadly this has only just occurred to me so it isn’t (and I am not quite sure what prop I would have used for this alternative title)!

The starting point was the clutch of Osteospermum ‘3D Double Lemon Ice’, bought as plug plants for summer residency of the snowdrop border but only lately coming into flower. Using white annuals in this border has worked quite well and I shall repeat this plan, but with some variation in the annuals chosen. Bellis perennis, nemesia and petunia are dead certs but, pretty though it is, this osteospermum will not be making the cut. Still at this end of the garden, the shrub border yielded Fuchsia magellicana, gorgeous stems of Miscanthus ‘Ferner Osten’ and late blooms of Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’. One of my cornus has lost all its leaves already, but Midwinter Fire is still fully clothed.

Persicaria ‘Inverleith’ was plucked from its streamside spot (reinforcing an awareness that persicaria is up there as one of my very favourite perennials these days), before moving on up the garden and picking another grass, Pennisetum ‘Hameln’, along with Sedum ‘Munstead Red’, Salvias ‘Hot Lips’ and ‘Phyllis Fancy’ and plumbago Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, with a strand of Rhodochiton atrosanguineus to complete the collection. ‘Phyllis Fancy’ is now awash with buds, having spent all year building up to a height of nearly 6 feet and gaining a bulging six-pack at the same time, thoughts of flowering being beyond its remit until now. Having only arrived this time last year (in a 9cm pot), it probably spent last winter in the greenhouse so I am unsure yet how hardy he will prove to be, but there are already a handful of rooted cuttings as a safeguard. Likewise, rhodochiton is new to me, this one brought by blogging friend Anna of Green Tapestry  for my plant stall on open days, and although I read that they can be overwintered, is it worth trying or should I just treat it as an annual? Its flowers are quite bizarre, aren’t they?

The blooms were tied together in a posy to keep them together as they were popped into this small cuboid glass vase and surrounded with tiny pebbles. Do you recognise the prop? If you have daughters or granddaughters of a certain age you will know that this character is Anna from the film ‘Frozen’, where she sings the song of the vase’s title. I have to confess to having never seen the film but know the song from the choir I belonged to before I found my favoured barbershop group; however, having played Frozen pairs (pelmanism) and completed Frozen jigsaws several times with the Poppet on visits I am now at least familiar with the characters too!

As the end of October draws nearer I am aware that we are approaching another IAVOM anniversary so watch out for a themed week and a giveaway in three weeks time. In the meantime keep sharing your Monday vases, created from the offerings of your garden, by leaving links to and from this post – but more importantly enjoy them for themselves.



Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 54 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: What Goes Around…

…comes around, and on Friday friends came around for lunch, bringing a nice bottle of wine and a pretty posy of flowers from their garden – so far, so to be expected. Apart from the sedum, though, all the flowers were picked from plants grown from seed or cuttings, provided by me! Blooms of salvias ‘Amistad’ and ‘Neon’ from cuttings, Cosmos ‘Click Cranberries’ and Limonium (statice) ‘Purple Attraction’ from sowings this year, self-seeded Cosmos ‘Fizzy Rose Picotee’ from last year, and viper’s bugloss (echium) which must have self-seeded from whenever, all passed onto my friends to encourage their gardening habit and reduce the number of spare seedlings going onto my compost heap: definitely a win-win situation!

Seeing the same blooms that I have in my garden grown somewhere else made me very aware of how different conditions can affect their growth, as these varieties of cosmos have not produced such large flowers in my garden this year, nor have they had the same pronounced ruffle and neither has the limonium had such dense sprays – but they have still done well enough and are varieties I will grow again, and pass spare seedlings around!

Sunday when I normally prepare my vase and write my post was a day of continual rain here (as in much of the UK), so my gifted posy is standing in for a Vase on Monday, photographed in artificial light on top of our log-burner effect gas fire with a mini ‘baby book’ of circles as a prop. Having not experienced a full 24 hours of rain here for many many months it has been a novelty, albeit a wet one that prevented any useful gardening tasks, but in accentuating the contrasts between hard and soft in the garden and between splashes of different colours, especially the predominant greens and yellows of foliage, it had its upsides too.

If you can manage to get out in your gardens to find blooms or other plant material to create a vase of your own then feel free to share it with us on IAVOM by adding the usual links; alternatively improvise in whatever way you can if the weather is unkind! Having a posy of flowers to meditate on in the midst of our busy lives can be so restorative and Ali the Mindful Gardener describes these benefits brilliantly in her recent post ‘Be Still, Life’, so do go and read it if you have not already done so.

Things may be a little quiet on Rambling in the Garden in the next couple of weeks or so but I will be dipping in when I can; all well, just busy.

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Silent Sunday: Yellow

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