In a vase on Monday: A–Z

With so much to choose from in the garden this week, I’ve picked just two different flowers – Ammi and Zinnia – for a Monday vase.

All the ammi (Ammi visnaga) are self-seeded from plants I grew from seed last year; they’re over-crowded and some are growing where I don’t want them. Rather than chuck those I’ve pulled up onto the compost heap, I chopped their roots and lower leaves off and plonked them in water.

This is the first year I’ve grown zinnias and I expected them to be rather prima-donna-ish but they seem pretty tough. According to what I’ve read, they hate root disturbance, don’t like overwatering and can’t be planted out until it’s warm enough to sit outside in the evening without wearing a cashmere wrap (I made that last but up). I was quite careful about potting on the seedlings, but not overly so, and there’s not much danger of them being overwatered around here. I was a bit worried about the temperature but I needn’t have as it’s been almost Mediterranean-like here. The major problem has been our slimy foes, the slugs and snails. A fair few pristine zinnias have been toppled and munched, sadly, – I reckon I’ve lost a third of the plants – but the survivors are hitting their stride now and starting to pump out flowers. They’re great for cutting as they last for ages in a vase, the colours are fantastic and they’re like sweet peas – the more flowers you cut, the more you’ll get, so that’s what I’m doing.

How’s life with you? It’s the last week of school before the summer holidays here and everyone is weary; the children are especially weary this afternoon as it was Sports Day today. Despite emails from the school inviting parents along to watch, my three pleaded with me not to go: ‘It would be social suicide, Mum!’. Mortifying our children seems to be something we’re particularly good at but I graciously stayed at home. It seems only five minutes since they were telling me where to stand so they could see me and to shout loudly. How times change.

‘In a Vase on Monday’ is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. I recommend visiting her blog to see what she and other bloggers from around the world have found to put in a vase today; it’s always inspiring.

Wishing you a good week.

In a Vase on Monday: Summer

After a hectic couple of weeks building up to our village’s open garden safari this past weekend, where every spare moment was spent in the garden, it’s lovely to be slowing down a little today and joining in with Cathy’s Monday vases.

It’s that time of year when there is so much material to choose from, so I started with dahlias that needed dead-heading and went from there. Joining the dahlias (which I think are ‘Karma Choc’) are three types of hardy geranium (unknown varieties), Verbena ridgida, white Scabious, lavender, Salvia viridis, Nigella seedheads, sweetpeas and Gaura lindheimeri ‘The Bride’ (which is just starting to flower). All of these flowers are beloved by bees in our garden and I had to pick carefully to avoid bringing several into the kitchen. And all these flowers sing out ‘summer’ to me and encapsulate a beautiful late June day when the sea is turquoise and the blue sky is dotted with wispy clouds.

Do visit Cathy’s blog to have a look at what others have found to put in a vase today. (She also has dahlias.)

I’ll post separately about the open garden when I’ve had time to catch up with myself. I hope you had a good weekend and that the sun is shining where you are. Cheerio for now.

In a Vase on Monday: Simplicity

After the excitement of last week, I thought I’d pare things back and go for a very simple vase today (and ended up with two). The wildflower patch at the bottom of the garden is overrun with oxeye daisies again – although they look lovely and last a long time, they are smothering the more delicate wildflowers that are in there. If you look very carefully, you can just see some yellow vetch to the left but there’s little evidence of anything else. We’ll need to thin the daisies out later in the year.

The whole area is looking a little bedraggled after the storms last week so I’ve brought some of the flattened daisies indoors (along with a few grass stems). Oxeye daisies don’t smell particularly nice (think cats…) so I snipped a couple of sweet peas to sit alongside them and, happily, their delicious scent is stronger than the other one.

Simplicity is something that politicians and the media seem allergic to; they seem intent on making life thoroughly complicated. If only there was a group of sensible, forward-thinking, cross-party MPs who could get us through EU negotiations – I’m sure there are several who could work together for the greater good rather than point-scoring party politics. Is it naive to think that something like that could happen? Probably. Sigh.

Anyway; back to the garden… It’s almost peak lavender time. Yay. The two simple rows of lavender flanking the steps on our top terrace were also bashed about by the winds last week, but they’re tough plants and, while they may be leaning slightly, they are starting to colour up and should look fabulous in time for the Garden Safari in a couple of weeks. It’s all go here in any spare time, or it was until I pulled a muscle in my lower back yesterday afternoon – too much bending, lifting and pulling! Grrrr. I was so cross. I’m trying to walk it off, stretching it out with yoga and popping the painkillers. Hopefully it’ll be sorted in a few days as there is so much to do.

I was going to forgo the pleasure of joining in with Cathy’s IAVOM today as cutting flowers requires painful bending but I couldn’t resist. Do pop over to her blog to see what she and others from around the world have found to put in a vase today.

Have a good week.

In a Vase on Monday: Brave

To those brave people – the concert-goers in Manchester, the people on London Bridge and in Borough Market, the emergency services who acted so swiftly. My thoughts are with all those affected.

My Monday vase this week contains Canterbury Bells (Campanula medium), Linaria purpurea ‘Canon Went’, Stipa tenuissima, Quaking grass (Briza maxima), Erigeron karvinskianus and lavender.

Thank you to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting IAVOM and giving me the excuse to focus on nature and beauty for a while.

Wishing you a good week.

In a Vase on Monday: abundant

It is the beginning of the time of plenty in the garden, when there is a choice of material to cut for Monday vases. For much of the year it’s a case of cutting whatever is flowering but now I can wander about, deciding what might work and which flowers to cut. It takes a little longer but it’s a happy position to be in. I’ve gone for what’s flowering in abundance today: chives, salvia, erigeron and cerinthe. I cut the first sweet peas (the scent!), which must be cut as soon as they flower so that more flowers follow on (it’s the law), and a glorious, glowing red snapdragon (the others are still in bud). Joining them are a few stems of nigella in bud. I love every stage of nigella: the frondy seedlings, the tight flower buds, the blue flowers and the architectural seed heads. Expect to see more in the coming weeks 🙂

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden and I thoroughly recommend visiting her blog to see what she’s showcasing this week, plus all the other IAVOM-ers from around the world.

In other news… I’ve had my head stuck in books for the last 10 days or so, with no time for blogging (reading or writing) or much else. One of the books I’ve been working on is a gorgeous food book called Lagom; the Swedish art of eating harmoniously which will be published in October. One of my grandmother’s favourite sayings was ‘A little of what you fancy does you good’ and I’ve always followed that mantra, trying to stick to the ‘little’ part! This book is all about eating well, enjoying good food in harmony with the seasons, and eating healthily without denying yourself the pleasures of a good cinnamon bun. There’s a good deal of fika in there, but there are also vegetables. Anyway, if you’re keen on expanding your knowledge of Swedish food, other than the stereotypical meatballs and herrings, look out for it in the autumn. (There’s a particularly good recipe for morning rolls which I made yesterday. Yum.)

One more thing. I made this basket! A friend who runs willow-weaving workshops had a spare place on Saturday, so I went along. Under her expert tuition, I made an actual basket. It’s a bit rustic but it’s my first attempt and I still find it amazing that my hands made it. The whole process was fascinating and quite extraordinary – I learnt new terms like ‘slath’, ‘slype’ and ‘waling’, I used a metal bodkin dipped in tallow to separate the weave, I used a sharp knife to slype the rods. It was fantastic – that sense of total absorption and learning a new skill. You have to be quite gutsy and determined with weaving some of the thicker rods and my hands were rather sore at the end of the day but it was totally worth the effort. Have you ever woven with willow? Maybe you’re a dab hand. I’d love to know.

We’re off to the Chelsea Flower Show on Friday and I am beyond excited as we missed it last year. The weather is forecast to be hot and sunny, and I am trying not to eat biscuits so that I can fit into a summer dress. I will be taking my camera and I will report back (not on whether I managed to fit into a dress but on the show!). Have a super week. Toodle pip.

In a Vase on Monday: Wild

The footpaths, verges and hedgerows are erupting in a mass of frothy cow parsley, or Queen Anne’s lace, which billows and dances in the wind. It’s up at shoulder height in places and I couldn’t resist snapping off a few stems while out walking the dog this morning. Picking flowers from the wild is something I usually avoid – there are many species (such as broomrapes, orchids and saxifrages) that are protected by law in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and you’re not allowed to pick, uproot or destroy these. It is also illegal to uproot or destroy all wildflowers but not to pick a few pieces from unprotected species as long as you’re on public land (or you have the landowner’s permission). I think a bit of cow parsley is ok as there is plenty left for the bees and hoverflies.

Joining my foraged cow parsley in the jug are a couple of roses (inherited, unknown variety with a beautiful scent) and a pale, dusky aquilegia that was growing in the middle of the raspberries. I love the contrast between the dark stems and the pale, hooked petals with their lilac/pink blush. Almost all the other aquilegias that have popped up in the garden are dark purple; pale ones are unusual here. I’ve also added some Cerinthe major, which is looking almost metallic en-masse in the back border, the last of the dark ‘Queen of Night’ tulips and a stem of Centranthus ruber (red valerian). I read on Caro’s blog, An Urban Veg Patch, that red valerian leaves are edible. I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to eating ‘wild’ food so I haven’t tried them – have you?

It’s lovely to be joining other bloggers for Cathy’s gathering of Monday vases; she also has a soft-coloured aquilegia in her vase today.

Have a good week.

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Hopeful

It’s lovely to be joining in again with Cathy’s gathering of Monday vases after missing a few. I do so love a good faff with flowers. This week, I’ve picked and plonked three ‘Queen of Night’ tulips, some bluebells (from my garden, not the woods!), forget-me-nots, Cerinthe major, aquilegia and a few tendrils of honeysuckle foliage.

The garden is as dry as a bone, the soil dusty. We haven’t had any rain to speak of for weeks now. We’ve had to use the hosepipe to water all the newly planted trees, something we try to avoid doing as our water bills are extortionate; I’ve even been saving any leftover drinking water to pour on those plants lucky to be near the back door. There were promising-looking dark grey clouds (that’s not a phrase you hear very often!) earlier but they passed by without shedding a drop. There are showers forecast for this evening so I have my fingers crossed.

Happily, many of our plants are toughing it out and we’ve not been short of April flowers. The daffodils are almost over with just a few multi-headed white ones still looking good (although their top-heavy stems are lolling about, through lack of moisture I reckon). The tulips planted in pots are almost over, while those planted in beds are hanging in there. There are plenty of self-seeded Cerinthe, marigolds and forget-me-nots, and the aquilegias are starting to bloom. The bottom of the garden is covered in bluebells which is amazing considering we were stomping all over it a month ago, clearing pernicious weeds and planting pencil-thin Himalayan birch whips. One day, several years from now, there will be a sinuous river of graceful white birches down there in a carpet of bluebells and other delights.

I’ve mentioned my love of tulips many times and how I’d love to have so many in the garden that I can pick armfuls to bring indoors. Well, I’m a little way off that but I have been picking handfuls for the past few weeks – here’s one I picked last week, still looking good in the lounge. It is immensely satisfying to grow your own flowers to pick and bring inside – a fairly simple task with a massively pleasing reward.

Cathy is also showcasing tulips this week. Do go and see, and have a look at some of the many other wonderful vases of flowers from around the world.

Thank you for visiting and commenting. It’s been a bit full-on round here recently and I’m behind with responding to comments and blog-reading (sorry), plus the ironing and much more! I hope you have a good week.

The leaning tower of ironing…