In a Vase on Monday: Ice and Lemon

Feeling the heat? 😉

We’ve been enjoying the warmth under the sunshade on the patio, trying not to move about too much. And whenever I come indoors this refreshing vase, full of frothy zing, catches my eye and has a nice cooling effect. And the work was all done by my sister this week, so thanks go to her and to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this lovely meme.


Grab a cold drink, preferably with ice and lemon, and enjoy the slide show!

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In a Vase on Monday: Midsummer Melange

This Monday I am again joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, with a mix of pretty pastels and gold for the Summer Solstice.


Alchemilla mollis, Aquilegia ‘Yellow Star’ and Hypericum provide the golden tones, and the pastels are Sweet Williams, Linaria, Lychnis, Allium, Verbena, Lavender, Campanula and Geranium. The white flower is a single wild Aster which appeared on the compost heap again. 🙂


I wonder if anyone can identify my Verbena… it has seeded around since last year and is looking lovely outside:


The golden Aquilegia is flowering well and is clearly a much later sort than the others, which have all gone over now.


I’m keeping it brief this week as I have a guest from England – my sister is visiting! 🙂

Do take a look at Cathy’s post with the other contributors linking in there.

And have a great week!



In a Vase on Monday: Tall and “Willowy”

It is Monday – time to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden again, with a vase full of lovely things from my garden. It has been a good week for vases – the clearing up after our stormy rainshowers last week meant that lots of peonies and cuttings from tall plants ended up in various vases around the house – and to think that only a year or two ago I would have put most of the damaged stems on the compost heap…


Rosebay Willowherb appears at the roadsides and on spare pieces of land at this time of year, and occasionally in my garden too. But the one I used today for my Monday vase is one I planted – Epilobium angustifolium ‘Stahl Rose’ – it doesn’t actually spread seed like the wild form, which is perhaps a shame as it is so pretty!


Even the seed pods are beautiful…


Other tall flowers I included are the blue Campanula (I don’t know the correct name of this sort) and the pale pink Linaria purpurea ‘Canon J. Went’, both of which seed themselves everywhere nicely, and not in an invasive way.


The foliage is again from the Goat’s Beard – Aruncus dioicus – I prefer it at this stage, just before it opens and goes all fluffy. A few stems of grasses and I thought my vase was done, but a splash of colour was needed, so I picked one of the tallest Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus) I could find – a nice deep pinky red. These plants have also spread throughout the rockery over the years.


While taking the photos I wondered again at the exquisite detail in some of the flowers, as I did last week with the Nigella; the Sweet Williams above, for example, with their frilly edges and delicate centres, and the Epilobiums in particluar, in such beautiful shades of dusky pink…


 That reminded me there is a Flower Fairy for Rosebay Willowherb – one of my favourites in fact, so I looked through my Complete Book of the Flower Fairies and found her in the “Flower Fairies of the Wayside” section. The detail in these drawings is simply incredible…


With the wind in her hair and her arms open wide this carefree fairy is leaping out of the page in pure joy!

Here is her poem:


On the breeze my fluff is blown; So my airy seeds are sown.

Where the earth is burnt and sad, I will come to make it glad.

All forlorn and ruined places, All neglected empty spaces,

I can cover – only think! – With a mass of rosy pink.

Burst then, seed-pods; breezes, blow! Far and wide my seeds shall go!

by Cicely Mary Barker

What grows in your garden that has seeded itself either from elsewhere or from something you have planted? And is it welcome?!

Tree Following: June 2015

I am following a tree this year – a Field Maple to be precise – along with Lucy at Loose and Leafy, and many others around the world. This month my tree is looking lush and leafy. 🙂

However, on closer examination there are very few seeds that have remained on the tree, most dropping at or just after flowering stage… and a lot of aphids earlier this month have made an ugly mess of many leaves too… Maybe it became susceptible due to stress caused by our very dry April?


But wait, what’s this? A strange orange and black bug…


And another one… chomping away!


I have identified them as the larva and pupa stages of the Asian Ladybird Harmonia axyridis, also known as the Harlequin Ladybird, the most invasive ladybird on earth!

It has the potential to threaten our native ones, eating both their food sources and their larvae. So I will be on the lookout for the adult now, to see if I can differentiate between it and our native ones. Not that I can do anything about it, but I’ll keep you posted anyway. A good website to help with identification of ladybirds, at least in western Europe, is the Ladybird Survey site, which has information on the Harlequin too. Here is a link to some Wikimedia photos of the adult Harlequin Ladybird.

Have you seen this ladybird? Do you see other ladybirds too, or did you in the past?

 Thanks go to Lucy for hosting this meme… I probably would not have learned that we have this ladybird in our garden if I hadn’t been watching my tree so closely!

Mini Shade Bed

On the north side of my house there is a tiny bed that was, until last autumn, swamped with yellow Lysimachia and Hostas. The Hostas always look lovely for a few weeks, but when the slugs and snails shred the leaves they are so ugly I usually cut them back. So this bed was bare for the rest of the year. What a waste! So I dug it up.

I spared a few hostas and certainly didn’t succeed in removing all the Lysimachia, but there was suddenly a whole new area for me; the rest of my garden is sunny, dry and hot, while this area is shady – except for a little morning and midday sun in June and July. And although stony, the ground retains moisture here. The pleasure of  putting in new plants began last autumn…

… In March I was a little worried, as there were very few signs of life, but by April a few Primulas and my Corydalis cheilanthifolia were flowering, and the Heuchera were sprouting new leaves. Only by May could I see real progress:

Shade Bed Early May


I chose three Heucheras: Mint Frost, Electra, and Kimono and a fourth was a free gift from the nursery: Cracked Ice. With the two Phyllitis scolopendrium and the Hostas there is lots of lovely leaf colour. And some Epimediums should produce nice ground cover too when they leaf out a bit.

Shade Bed Mid-May


By mid May the geraniums started to flower – on the right is a lovely pale-leaved Geranium phaeum ‘Lily Lovell’ –  a gorgeous purply blue. And the pinky white flower at the front is Primula sieboldii ‘Coshibori’.

By late May it was filling out nicely:


In the centre is the pretty Semiaquilegia ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ next to a blue Geranium sylvaticum ‘Mayflower’, and on the right is the Geranium sylvaticum ‘Album’ I showed you last Wednesday… pure white and very pretty!

When it gets very hot a potted Hydrangea bought in spring will find a cool spot nearby and if it weren’t for the mosquitoes (which are early and numerous!) I would be tempted to sit out there next to my clothes line and contemplate this shady oasis more often!

Do you have a favourite plant for the shade?

Here are some of the plants in this bed between late April and early June, including some of the Geraniums I have there, photographed especially for Eliza who also loves them in her garden! (This is an excellent way of keeping a record for myself, so forgive me for indulging!)

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