In a Vase on Monday: A Japanese Breeze

Once again Monday is here – time to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday vase meme, and collect some materials from my garden to bring indoors and place in a vase.


This lovely blue vase was given to me years ago by my sister and was the inspiration for this week’s Japanese theme. I like the tree silhouettes on the white background, which remind me of birches in winter – a familiar sight. And I love the shape of the vase too.

Pickings are few and far between at the moment (it keeps snowing and sleeting!), so I started with a twig – a dead piece of Beech. Then came the fresh green Ivy from one of my patio pots, some variegated Vinca, purply Euphorbia and a Hellebore leaf.


Using my imagination, the twig has tiny cherry flowers just opening on it, the Ivy is a fresh sprig of Japanese maple in spring, the Vinca is some wafty Bamboo, the Euphorbia a pinky red Chrysanthemum flower, and the Hellebore is a Gingko leaf!


Over 20 years ago now I spent some time in Japan, teaching English, and naturally I collected some bits and pieces while there, a couple of which I have added here as props; the tiny basket on the left came from one of the tourist spots outside Tokyo, but the bell was a simple decoration sold at many temples. It had a long strip of paper hanging from the little clapper (I think a prayer was written on it), and the idea was that on a hot and humid summer’s day the tiniest breeze would catch the paper, making the bell ring, and thus make you feel cooler. It works too. I had this at the kitchen window in my flat, and when I heard it I would think “Ooh, how lovely – a breeze”, although I barely felt it!

So this week’s vase has made me reminisce a little, and also be glad that I no longer have to suffer the heat and humidity of a Japanese summer in a flat with a tin roof and no air conditioning! πŸ™‚


Thanks once again to our host – Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, who has this week produced another lovely arrangement – do go over and take a look!

Have a nice week and stay warm!

In a Vase on Monday: Earthly Joys

I look forward to Mondays these days… Searching my garden for something attractive to put in a vase for Cathy’s meme has become quite a ritual, although I must admit to sometimes doing this a day early.

Today I carried my little vase through the house to the lightest room, my fingers still numb from the cold, and as I opened the door there lay the book I have been intending to read for some time now: “Earthly Joys” – the perfect title for my post!


This is the same Hellebore from my patio pot that I used two weeks ago, and I found the label. It seems I mixed up the names of this and my Amaryllis/Hippeastrum – the Amaryllis is not Christmas Star as I had thought, but “Bolero”. The Hellebore is “Christmas Star”.


I added a few sprigs of box, some laurel, Euonymous, Vinca and Carex, and a few red Heuchera leaves.


Despite our lack of sunshine in January, I did manage to find a light spot for the photo. Have you noticed how the days are getting longer ?


Sun of joy, and pleasure’s light,
All were lost in gloom of night.
Night so long, with tears and sorrow–
Hearts might break ere broke the morrow.
Day so short and night so long–
Fled the bird and hushed the song.
But, my heart, look up, be stronger,
For the days are growing longer. “

from “Now the Days are Growing Longer” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Take a look at Cathy’s site “Rambling in the Garden” where she has presented her beautiful white Amaryllis today.

And many others have linked in with their own creations too. Why not join in?!



In a Vase on Monday: Green

Well, it’s been a little breezy around here the last few days… to say the least.


And a lot of dead wood came down from our trees, as well as a few green bits of fir trees, and a rather large piece of ivy…

So for Cathy’s challenge to fill a vase with materials from my own garden every Monday, here is today’s (tongue in cheek) “arrangement”!

The Ivy Tree


See the poorly Poinsettia to the right? I’m about as successful with them as I am with Cyclamen! And to the left they are nut shells in the fireplace, waiting to be burnt in the next fire.

It just seemed such a shame to put all that fresh green on the compost heap. So, propped up with a Miscanthus stem it has been given a few days’ reprieve on our fireplace.


I didn’t want to chop it about, although I know it is a bit of an odd shape, but it makes me smile each time I walk past. It appeals to my sense of humour!



These leaves seem to defy winter with their rich colour.


Have a look at “Rambling in the Garden” today, where Cathy presents her vase for this Monday along with links to lots of other vases from around the globe.


Germany’s “Flower of the Year” 2015

Photo Courtesy of Loki Schmidt Foundation - Flower of the year for 2015

Photo Courtesy of Loki Schmidt Foundation – Flower of the Year for 2015

Every year an endangered wild flower is chosen by the Loki Schmidt Foundation in Germany, with the aim of raising awareness to it and its habitat.

Some of my favourites have been chosen over the years; Hepatica nobilis in 2013, Cichorium intybus in 2009, Cardamine pratensis in 2006, Caltha palustris in 1999 and Pulsatilla vulgaris in 1996 – to name just a few.

This year the chosen flower is a close relative to one I have growing in my rockery, and is not only one of my favourites – the insects, bees and butterflies love it too.

Succisa pratensis


Picture from Wikimedia Commons

The above photo from Wikimedia Commons is the Succisa pratensis, but all the following photos are of its close cousin Succisa inflexa, a cultivated version that is extremely happy in my well-drained soil despite supposedly being a moorland, heathland and riverbank plant. The pale blue to violet flowers of this perennial herb appear from July onwards and can still be seen in the south of Germany growing wild. But the in the north this plant has become very rare due to loss of habitat: drainage of damp meadowland for agricultural or building purposes along with the over-fertilisation of fields have led to its decline.

My Succisa inflexa ‘Frosted Pearls’ is very pale, almost white with an icy violet tinge…


The common name, Devil’s-bit, actually refers to the roots that die off at the end and look as if they have been bitten off. Succisus is in fact latin for “bitten off below”. In the same family as Scabious, folklore claimed that the devil bit off the Succisa roots in his anger at them being used (apparently succesfully) for treating skin disorders.

I must admit I haven’t inspected the roots of mine, but will definitely take a look this year as they are spreading rapidly, just like Scabious, and some will have to be uprooted.


Succisa flowers are an excellent source of nectar for bees and butterflies, and the plant is also a food source for some caterpillars…


This is a Summer Map (Araschnia levana) butterfly, photographed in 2012…

Succisella and Butterfly

You can read more on the English Wikipedia page about the Flower of the Year Campaign here.

Seeds can be ordered here:

or here:

And I also posted about this plant way back in August 2012, here.

Is there a wildflower in your region that is threatened? Which one would you choose as a “Flower of the Year” in your country to raise public awareness to it?

In a Vase on Monday: New Year’s Luck

Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday meme at Rambling in the Garden has roused me to go out into the slush and cold to see what I can find in my garden again!

For some reason I associate little posies of box leaves and winter erica with good luck. But since my erica is still hidden under some icy snow I settled for some alternatives to go with the box instead…

Box: I shook the snow off the box trees before it got too heavy and broke the branches. Really I should have trimmed them more before the winter… you live and learn!


Hellebore: This creamy white hellebore has been in a patio pot directly in front of the window and although it hung its head for a few days in the cold it has now perked up a bit again. I shall plant it out in spring, but for now I am so pleased I decided to risk a potted one again, as they don’t always survive if it’s freezing for more than a few days in a row.


Grasses: The dwarfΒ Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’ also needed a good shake to relieve it of heavy wet snow and it looks a little dishevelled but is slowly recovering.


This vase looks fresh and simple after all the Christmas colours.


Take a look at Cathy’s site to see what others have found for a vase this week!

In addition to my vase I am also enjoying my Hippeastrum “Christmas Star”…


It was planted a little late, so it flowered for the new year instead of Christmas. It is such a beauty – I really love this soft pink! It has three stems, each with four flowers/buds.


Now if all that isn’t luck, what is?!

Wishing you a lucky week!

Welcome to 2015!


I hope you all have a fabulous gardening year; with no moles or voles or rats or rabbits, plenty of warm sunshine and gentle rain, and lots of birds and bees and butterflies!

Looking at the garden on New Year’s Eve, with all this snow, it’s hard to believe it will ever be green again…


But soon I will see this when I look out of my window…


And before I know it I will be seeing this…


Savour every minute of every day.

Happy 2015!