In a Vase on Monday: Taking a Bow

Monday is the day I join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden in finding materials from my garden to put in a vase.


The very pale new ostrich fern leaves (Matteuccia struthiopteris) were my starting point this week – they resprouted in September after the August heat had shrivelled and burnt them. They won’t last much longer now though and are already starting to fold up.


As a contrast some strong colours were needed, so I chose some Persicaria/Polygonum amplexicaule ‘Firetail’ and ‘Blackfield’. Both are still flowering well – they just go on and on!


The standard Sedum provided the main block of colour, and some bright scarlet Pineapple Sage flowers add a bit more zing!


The final addition was a couple of sprigs of the Leadwort Ceratostigma plumbaginoides – mainly for its lovely reddish autumn foliage, but also for the way it seems to be taking a bow as if leaving the stage. Which is what all my flowers are doing now…


I wonder if Mr Haslinger (see my post here) will be right about snow in early November….

Do visit Cathy and take a look at all the lovely vases this Monday.

And have a wonderful week!

Aromatic Autumn

Cutting back perennials and shrubs in autumn is always a dilemma here, as for many of you I’m sure…. Should I wait until a frost catches me unawares and many plants simply collapse? Should I leave it all standing for the damp autumn valley mists to turn it all to a gooey slimey mess? Or should I cut back everything before it is really over, and forfeit a few blooms? After all, the debris all remains in the garden either chopped up as mulch or on our large compost heap.

I usually opt for the latter option as it is quicker and easier as well as more pleasant to work when it is dry and when I have time, rather than wait until the weather turns really awful and the late afternoon daylight has vanished. So over the last week or so I have started trimming and snipping. There was brief interlude one day when I disturbed an exposed hedgehog nest – what was he thinking – half buried in the open rockery, albeit well wrapped up in a net of long grasses and leaves? We removed him carefully (luckily he seemed to be fast asleep already) and found a sheltered spot in the compost heap with some fresh hay. Then I returned to work and found myself taking pleasure in all the autumn scents around me.

The earthy sage-like scent of the now ghostly-white Perovskia is probably the most pungent, coupled with the sharp cat-like smell of Herb Robert. Snip, snip…


The Lysimachia is still emitting its bitter odour, but the Achillea’s distinctive scent has all but gone. Then there is the faded lavender, mmmmm, breathe in those deep herby undertones!  Snip, snip….


I brush past the Balkan Geranium G. macrorrhizum, which has retained its strong but not unpleasant spicy fragrance – you either love it or hate it I think. And then I move across the rockery, disturbing something fruity – now what can that be? Ah yes, mint! The mintiness has faded, but the sweet ripe fruitiness is still fresh and enticing. I must pull some up anyway and can then use it in the kitchen. And I think to myself  ‘there are still some scents that do not indicate decay’. Snip, snip, snip…


I look up – a floral fragrance hangs in the air – almost impossible to detect, but could it be the roses? Snip, snip…


Then the smell of woodsmoke wafts across the garden reminding me it will soon be Halloween and Guy Fawke’s Night.  I spread some compost onto an area with a few new plants and catch a whiff of that musty earthy smell – rich soil that was not so long ago green stems and vegetable matter.

Finally I mow the small lawn near the house – it barely smells of anything, no longer producing that  rush of pleasure I feel at the scent of it in April or May.


All these smells will soon be gone completely, so I am so very glad I opted for doing the autumn trimming before the frost and damp take over. Snip, snip, snip…

Do you try and get the chores done before it freezes? What’s your favourite scent of autumn?

In a Vase on Monday: Fancy a Cuppa?


Monday has rolled round once again and it is time to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with her meme, which requires us to collect materials from our gardens to bring indoors.

 I already had my prairie asters in mind for this week’s vase; when my eye caught sight of this teapot in our cabinet, even though the design is actually cornflowers, I felt the colours and mood ideal.

Aster turbinellus


I added some Verbena rigida and Verbena bonariensis…


Scabiosa ochroleuca


… and some Miscanthus ‘Adagio’, Euphorbia myrsinites, and a single white Cosmos ‘Purity’….


This ‘vase’ is lovely and light – almost summery – to beat the grey skies we have at the moment. I didn’t stay outside to drink my tea as it is quite chilly today too!

(Can you see the red acer in the background again? The leaves are dropping now.)


Now take a look at some of the other lovely vases put together by creative people around the globe this Monday at Cathy’s site: Rambling in the Garden

Have a great week, and hope you get a bit more sunshine than us! 😉

In a Vase on Monday: Fire!

My title for my Monday vase today could almost be “Fire and Ice” as we had our first (minimal) frost last night… but thankfully the container plants near the house didn’t catch it. This beautiful flame red Lantana has been looking good outside my front door all summer, and now I want to enjoy some of those lovely flowers indoors before it is too late.


I used a shallow bronze-coloured dish with a lid with holes in it (is there a proper name for such a “vase”?) which I recently acquired, and decided to add a few strands of my Polygonum/Persicaria filiforme ‘Lance Corporal’ for height…


I was initially somewhat underwhelmed by these tiny “flowers” which look more like teeny weeny red leaves. But the colour is very vivid and Lance Corporal has grown on me. And since it stands in my shade bed (upright and to military attention as the name suggests!) in complete shade almost all year, it certainly deserves being featured in a vase. The leaves are pale green with a defining red “v” shaped mark on them. Quite striking, and definitely a plant I can recommend for dry shade.

(This is the only photo I seem to have of the leaves, taken in early June…)

Lance Corporal

Of course, I couldn’t resist showing you a picture of my composition against the backdrop of the red acer leaves…


Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme, which has encouraged me to look at my flowers and plants in a new light and to enjoy them indoors not just on Mondays! Do take a look at her vase today, and all those others linking in to her blog from around the globe. You may be inspired to join in!


Reading the Signs: Verbascum thapsus

This summer was extremely hot and dry, and I found myself scouring various weather forecasts in my hope for a few drops of rain. Our weather forecasts are usually pretty accurate here, as we are quite far inland, and not directly near any mountain ranges. But long-term weather forecasting is trickier… unless you talk to Mr Sepp Haslinger, a pensioner from the south of Bavaria, who reads the signs of the Verbascum seedheads….


Native to Europe, commonly known in the UK as Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus can grow to up to 2 metres tall. The flowerheads start setting seed at the base, while the tops continue to grow and flower. By examining the development of these seadheads and flowers from the base upwards, Sepp Haslinger predicts the weather for the coming winter.

Mr Sepp Haslinger: “The man who knows what the winter will be like”

Königskerzen, Wetterkerze, Vorhersage, Schnee, Winter

The Verbascum is commonly called “King’s Candle” in German (Königskerze), but another common name here in Bavaria is “Weather Candle” (Wetterkerze) as it has been used for predicting the weather for centuries. Loose infloresences apparently indicate snow-free periods, while particularly long specimens with many flowers can suggest winters with a lot of snow.

Over the past four years Mr Haslinger’s forecasts have been accurate, and local snow clearing services rely on him for deciding on whether to set on extra employees or how much salt and grit to order for spreading on roads. This year they are doubling their orders, as Mr Haslinger has predicted a “winter of the century” with more snow than we have seen in a long time… the first snowfall is “definitely in mid-October”, and “abundant”!

(I’m glad I have got most of my bulbs planted – I must tie up the Miscanthus next in preparation!)

Here he is, reading his Verbascum on the Catholic holiday – the Feast of Assumption – in early August – I’m afraid there is no translation as his dialect is rather hard to understand even for me, but do take a look to get the general idea how he does it!

The 73-year-old weather prophet, who jokingly admits he would have been burnt at the stake as a witch a few centuries ago, says that it will not only be a very snowy winter this year, but also a very long one, with snow sticking around until Easter 2016. There will be periods inbetween with less or no snow, but Advent will be white – good news for the Christmas markets and the hot mulled wine stands – although Sepp warns them to strengthen the rooves of their booths! The winter equinox and Christmas will probably be milder, but in the New Year it will turn cold and snowy once again. All in all it will be “a hard winter”.

(Not really what I wanted to hear, but we will see!)


Have you heard of any unusual ways of predicting weather?


In a Vase on Monday: Autumn Shades of Pink


The blue sky has once again made it a fabulous day for taking pictures, and the garden is looking so colourful still – here I have captured some of it in my Monday vase for Cathy’s meme (Rambling in the Garden).


Pink seems to be the predominant colour at the moment with cosmos and sedums, a few roses and my bright pink aster which I decided not to include for fear of blinding you all with pink!


At the base of the vase I scattered the first leaves to fall from our Japanese Acer – can you see the orange leaves in the background?

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The pink vase is new: marked down to make way for the Christmas decorations that are now filling the shelves – and that was in September still!

Here are some photos I just took of the Acer – it is probably at its peak now, and with rainy weather forecast I thought I’d better get some shots quick.

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Now you must visit Cathy, who is also in the pink today with her vase!