In a Vase on Monday: Bitter Sweet

Today, as I sit at the breakfast table in almost darkness and listen to the rain pounding down on the roof, the lightning occasionally surprising me and the thunder practically rattling the spoon in my coffee cup, I think how glad I am that I picked my flowers for my Monday vase with forethought and even took my photographs yesterday morning before the next round of storms arrived! As always I am glad to join Cathy from Rambling in the Garden with her meme, and present a Monday vase filled with materials from my garden.

We have had a heatwave, with such incredibly high humidity I felt I was swimming through the air on Sunday as I gathered armfuls of peony buds to bring indoors. And some candidates for my Monday vase were easy to pick too. Vase8th4

I have called the vase “bitter sweet” as the lovely Sweet Williams and one of the fragrant peonies Festiva Maxima are included, along with some sage flowers.


It is such a pretty sage (there is a label near it but I’m not going out to check it in this weather), and it actually tastes rather nice too, but sage can be a bit bitter if you use too much of it, don’t you think? Also “bitter sweet” because – bang on time – the heavy rain and stormy weather has arrived just as the sweet peonies are in full bloom. We needed the rain desperately, but the flowers have once again suffered.

Other flowers included this week were the Campanula which was the first to fully open, some Chives, Veronica (again, as it lasts very well in a vase), and a single Nigella flower.


The intricacy of these flowers never ceases to amaze me…


The house smells wonderful with all the peonies I have brought indoors and here is a bonus vase I filled with them yesterday too. I will go and rescue a few more later if the rain lets off a bit…

Have a great week, with calm weather! 😉

40 thoughts on “In a Vase on Monday: Bitter Sweet

  1. I can smell the scent! 🙂 and love the colours of your vase. Looks so sweet. Bitter might be the weather conditions. We have wind and less rain. Have a nice week! Uta

    • Thanks Uta. The rain has almost stopped at the moment, and the thunder too, but I think we will get some more later. Have a good week too! 🙂

  2. I really love the peonies in the vase on their own, I’m beginning to think they are best as a cut flower rather than a garden plant because they flower here at just the time there is usually a lot of ‘wild’ rain. You have photographed the Nigella beautifully, I love their flowers and seed heads, this year at last some seed had germinated, I hope that their fresh seed will produce lots more in coming years. Your first vase is beautiful too, with a lovely selection of blue shades, but for me the peony would have been better on its own, sorry.

    • I’ve got so many peonies Christina that some are single in vases, some are in huge bunches, and one vase is full of unopen buds. Some of them barely have any pink in the centre at all, but most have a few ripples. You are right – definitely best to cut them and bring them indoors. I shall salvage some more later!

  3. Beautiful, beautiful flowers Cathy and beautifully photographed. Bitter-sweet captures your vase contents and your situation with the rain. I hope you can rescue more of the lovely peonies. The Sage is very nice, the Campanula is lovely in form and color and the Nigella is intricate and interesting.

    • Thank you Susie. I still haven’t been able to get out and cut any more… hopefully today. But I really have enough indoors already! LOL!

  4. So summery! I so agree with you about the Nigella flowers, their structure at every stage from bud to seed head are fascinating. Interesting to hear your wonderfully atmospheric descriptions of your weather – I’ll stop moaning about the wind here! You are convincing me to look out for some scented peonies, feeling pangs of envy.

    • Peony Festiva Maxima is apparently quite a common one, and the scent is heavenly so I can recommend it. Mine were all from a dear friend and flowered the first year after planting, so they are pretty robust too. 🙂

  5. The peony looks beautiful and I had no idea they could be scented. Great photos of the nigella too – mine are a long way off flowering so good to get a taster with yours. Hope there is the consolation of rain filling up your water butt and that your garden is looking refreshed despite it’s initial flattening. Thanks for sharing today

    • My early peonies don’t smell at all, but the deep pink one and this one are gorgeous. Much stronger than roses. You’re right – the garden is really refreshed (so am I actually after the heat!) but there will be a lot of staking to do once I can get out there! LOL!

  6. Pouring here with severe storms too! But not as hot as it had been. I wish my nigella had germinated. Thankfully the peonies are just opening so I can pick them later this week and the rain will not have ruined them. Your sage looks like my culinary sage which has great flowers. I love this vase as it does have so much from a lush cottage garden…my sweet william are just blooming and I have been eying them next too. Stay dry and enjoy those incredible arrangements Cathy!

    • Thanks Donna. I am surprised Sweet Williams are not grown more often as I rarely see them in nearby gardens. Some years hardly any seem to turn up, but I scatter new seed occasionally to keep them going. I hope you can enjoy some unspoilt peonies soon!

  7. I hope the peonies stand up through the storm! Your vase is lovely, as usual. I love the Campanula and the peonies are unspeakably beautiful, or course – I’d love those even without scent but the fact that they deliver there too makes me even more envious.

    • Sadly the peonies didn’t stand up to the weather, despite stakes, but it is almost always the same every year and can’t be changed! Yes, the scent is wonderful and makes up for the fact that I don’t have any fragrant roses… 😉

  8. Gorgeous, Cathy! Your post inspires me. I hope your peonies outside are not ruined in the storm. Mine just started opening yesterday and you remind me I need to stake them asap!

    • They are looking quite sad after all the rain I’m afraid… I have to stake mine early, as we sometimes have a dry period in spring and then I can’t get the stakes in the hard ground… but still, it would have to be huge construction to save them from the inevitable flopping in the rain!

  9. Why do the storms arrive every year as the peonies flower? I came to realise just how much I love cutting peonies for the house after rescuing a few heads from a downpour a few years ago – the rest is history! Your photos are stunning – particularly the one of the nigella. I think my garden is finally catching up with yours now as we have all the same flowers in bloom. I hope the sun comes back soon!

    • Hi Julie. I think it must be one of those mysterious laws of nature… “Peonies in bloom? Time for a storm!” Mine are drooping, despite staking, but I have enjoyed so many indoors already. Enjoy your beauties and bring them all indoors to admire! 🙂

  10. I imagine that your storms are a result of the ‘Spanish Plume’ Christina – we missed out on them in the north west but there were some lively ones in East Anglia and Kent at the end of last week. Hope that it has calmed down now and that all your lovely flowers have recovered. Your peony is a beauty.

    • I hadn’t heard of the Spanish bloom before – had to look it up! They say if we get settled weather in early June it will be a hot summer…. well, I don’t like it too hot anyway! The peonies still have quite a few unopened buds, but the open flowers are just too heavy when wet. I saw a “peony umbrella” once. That would be a great idea if you had one special one you wanted to protect! 😉

    • Thank you Chloris. I used to think the same and rarely cut any, but after the storms hit yet again one year I realised I was being silly letting them all spoil and started bringing them indoors!

  11. Pingback: In A Vase on Monday – Peonies | Eliza Waters

  12. So beautiful, Cathy! It is so true that the rain is always welcome and the garden needs it to flourish, but then it can just beat down the blossoms! I just marvel at the “blues” you share with us. With the exception of some blue hydrangeas I just don’t see this vibrant a blue in our gardens, at least not with the intensity of color! Your arrangement is very special! 🙂

    • I am surprised you have Hydrangeas as they don’t stand the heat too well here. My next “blue” flower will be the Lavender. It is just opening. Can you grow lavender? It is very tolerant of heat and dry soil. Thank you for your lovely comment again Debra!

  13. I am sat reading this with a peony in a vase on the table, the scent is wonderful. Sweet Williams are not grown enough today, they are such good garden flowers.

    • Oh yes, I was thinking the same – more people should grow Sweet Williams. (I saw a lady selling them at the market for a small fortune last year.) They fill in gaps so nicely and need little attention. We should spread the word!

  14. Really like your vase this week, especially the peonies. I have never grown them but after seeing a few beauties this week I plan to try some. hope the weather settles down. .

    • Thanks Dorris. My peonies are something I look forward to each year and my advice would be to plant two or three different sorts that flower at different times to extend the pleasure! (And at least one should be fragrant too! 😉 )

  15. Hi Cathy, I know I’m almost a week late, but just had to say that I love the peonies – they are stunning and look wonderful with the Nigella, Salvia and Campanula 🙂

    • Thanks Elizabeth! There are just a couple of peonies left in the garden now, and a couple in vases…. such a lovely time of the year with all thes flowers!

  16. Absolutely delightful! I’m a huge fan of sweet Williams (mine are just starting to bloom now, yay!).

    I’ve yet to meet a peony I didn’t adore…I love your all-peony arrangement as well. Hope the storms have let up there.

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