In A Vase On Monday – A Word About Honesty


Welcome to this weeks ‘In A Vase On Monday” when I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling in The Garden to join in her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase every week. It is hard to believe that this is the beginning of my third year of taking part in this challenge!!

Life is very busy here right now – not only am I working hard to clear all my borders before the bad weather sets in (and get the tulip bulbs in the ground), but we have also just started a big decorating project which I am very excited about.

In amidst all this gardening and preparing a room for decorating, I made a discovery about honesty. This year was the first time I have grown honesty (lunaria annua). Whilst I have seen the lovely white seed cases in arrangements I have never had my own to use before. After flowering in early spring I have been leaving the plants in their beds waiting for the seed cases to turn white, but I read last week that it is best to harvest the stems in September or October and then manually pull off the seed case covering. By doing this you ensure you have the lovely white cases without any weather damage. Although a little late, this weekend saw me out in the garden cutting off a few stems of honesty and then spending a relaxing hour peeling the outside coat off each seed case. This produced a surprising quantity of seeds which I will save and sow in June next year.

So todays vase is quite simply the stems of honesty with a few grass heads. Hopefully this collection will last throughout the winter. The remaining stems will be cut from the plants this week and hung in my potting shed to keep them dry until I need them.

Honesty Honesty Honesty Honesty

I loved the way the grasses photographed with my macro lens.

Grass-Seeds Grass-Seeds

Honesty is a biennial, meaning that seed sown in June or July will provide flowers the following spring. The plant then sets seed over the summer and dies. I have found honesty a very easy plant to grow – as long as you remember to sow the seeds in June in a seed bed or in plugs you will have plenty of plants to add to your flower beds in autumn. Although honesty is primarily grown for its seed cases, the spring flowers are also very pretty – below you can see a close up of the honesty flowers in an arrangement I made in May. They will form large plants – around 2ft tall and almost as wide so give them some space.


By July the seed cases were developing and were ready to use in summer arrangements. These have gradually dried and browned throughout the summer and are now ready for harvesting.


Every year I am amazed by how differently my plants perform in the autumn. This year the garden seems to have shut down very early – the leaves have almost all dropped from the trees and very little is flowering despite the continued warm temperatures – is the garden preparing for a cold winter I wonder or is there a lack of flowers purely because I was not able to keep dead heading in October?

Last year the vase I posted for the equivalent week in November was full of late season colour. The chrysanthemums were from the greenhouse, but they are paired with dahlias, achillea and the annual salvia clary sage – and just look at that sunshine lighting up the kitchen!


The year before I used fuchsia in my very first vase. This year my annual fuchsia plants stopped flowering a few weeks ago. It is interesting to see how different all three vases made in the third week in November have been.


Finally for today I had to share these photos that I took of Nelson this morning – he was not very happy to have the decorators in!

Nelson Nelson

I will be back later this week with the next in my series of Growing Great Vegetables. In case you missed it, you can read the first instalment here. In the meantime I hope you will pop over to Cathy’s blog to see what she and the others have made this week.


The Greenhouse Review – November


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At last I am back with another greenhouse review – I am sorry that I had to miss my October review, but as I was not getting out it was difficult to write. My knee is much better now – I even managed a few hours today clearing a border on what was a glorious morning, so I also popped into the greenhouse to take a few quick photos to try and bring you up to date.

Autumn is well and truly here in my english garden – ever increasing numbers of leaves are dropping daily althought the relatively high temperatures mean that the grass is still growing and causing problems for my poor gardener. Whilst I am concentrating on clearing beds and planting tulips for the spring at the moment, he has the soul destroying task of collecting all the leaves to make leaf mold whilst trying to keep on top of the mowing.


Inside the greenhouse things are not quite as organised as I would like. Between my injured knee and then our holiday I have not been able to work in the greenhouse since late September. You can see that my chrysanthemums have been brought inside now – they should have been potted up into much larger pots in September and quite a few would have been transplanted into the greenhouse bed. As a result of the small pots, the flowers are smaller than I would have liked but at least there is some colour appearing again in the greenhouse.


The other side of the staging is home to September sown hardy annuals, which need to be pricked out and moved out into the cold frame asap. If I do not get this job done soon they will grow too big in the greenhouse and start to get floppy.


An unexpected bonus this month comes from these pots of acidanthera. I found the bulbs when I was spring cleaning the greenhouse in July, lurking in a bag under the staging. They had been forgotten in the early summer, so rather than throw them away I potted them up and kept the pots in the greenhouse. I have read that these flowers, which are related to gladioli, actually flower better if grown under cover as they are easily damaged by wind and rain. They started to flower in late September and are just going over now. Whilst I am loving having these elegant white flowers to enjoy inside, they are taking up valuable space where my chrysanthemums should be growing. Next year I think I will plant the bulbs into the greenhouse bed when I take the sweet peas out and see if I can have a lovely display in late August/early September before I want to move my chrysanthemums under cover.


Another last minute addition to my greenhouse bed was a tray of antirrhinums which were sown late – too late to be transplanted into the garden. Rather than waste them I popped them into the area of the greenhouse bed designated for Paperwhites. I still need to plant my first batch of these lovely narcissi bulbs – another task to catch up on for which I have set myself a deadline of this weekend. Any later and I am unlikely to have flowers in time for Christmas. I will tuck the bulbs in around these snapdragons which I hope will keep flowering in the shelter of the greenhouse.


The salad that was sown back in September is ready for eating – I must sow another tray whilst the temperatures are still high. Once the cold weather comes and the days get even shorter it is much harder to get the salad seeds to germinate.


Next to the salad I have a few Crown Prince pumpkins waiting to be eaten. My pumpkin crop was very disappointing this year – I had next to no orange ones and all my miniature pumpkins failed to set fruit. Hopefully next year will be more successful!


The winter sweet peas sown in September are doing well – I will probably transfer them to the greenhouse bed at the end of the month. As these are to be grown on inside I will need to control their size, so I will not pinch them out as I would with outdoor sweet peas. Instead I will grow them as a single stem – that way I can plant them quite closely together in a limited space.


After watering these plants all summer it is lovely to see the chrysanthemum flowers emerging – just as everything else in the garden is shutting down. Every summer I question whether it is worth growing these late chrysanthemums – I have been feeding, watering and pinching out since June. As the long dark days start to take their toll on my garden flowers though, I always answer a resounding yes – the effort is worth it! I will only cut a few handfuls of these flowers for bouquets – really they are there just for the sheer joy of having flowers in the greenhouse during such a bleak point in the gardening year.

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Whilst I had my camera out I could not resist taking a couple of close ups of the acidanthera!

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At the other end of the greenhouse there are plenty more hardy annuals waiting to be pricked out.


This is a job I can enjoy on a rainy day whilst looking out at the increasing piles of autumn leaves that are carpeting my garden.

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Finally, you can see that the cold frames are still full – these are what is left of the biennials sown in June. They should have been planted out in October, but are yet another job I was unable to complete. I will move them into my garden beds as I clear away the dying annuals and perennials and plant the tulips. Hopefully this space will be clear for the pricked out hardy annuals very soon.


It is hard to believe that we are in November already! After a quiet period in July, August and September it is good to see the greenhouse filling up with flowers again – I am looking forward to even more chrysanthemums and my Paperwhites arriving in December. My little greenhouse in the vegetable garden has already been cleared and ‘put to bed’ for the winter. I did have plans to grow some winter vegetables under cover in there but these should have been planted in the greenhouse in October so I am too late to get anything growing now – hopefully I will be able to be more organised next year.

I will be back in December with another look at what is going on inside my greenhouse – in the meantime please do leave a comment to tell us what is growing in your greenhouse and, if you have the time to write a post, it would be lovely to leave a link here so that we can all have a peep inside your under cover growing space!


In A Vase On Monday – The 2nd Anniversary

After a long break I am very happy to be back this week with my ‘In A Vase On Monday’ post. Today I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in with the celebration of her 2nd anniversary of hosting this lovely weekly challenge to make a vase with material from the garden every week of the year.

I had intended to be back with you last Monday as we were due home on Monday morning. After a terrible journey including a canceled flight, delays and a long wait sitting on a runway before our plane finally took off, we arrived home on Tuesday evening – rather travel weary as you can imagine! I am pleased to say that my knee, whilst not perfect, is well on the way to recovery – I think a restful holiday helped no end. I am now able to amble slowly around my wreck of a garden and am making plans to try and catch up with all the jobs I have missed over the last 6 weeks.

I am proud to say that I have been joining in with this meme since the beginning, way back in November 2013 – although I have missed a few vases along the way. As I have not quite got myself back into the swing of things yet, I thought I would make life easy this week and share a few of my favourite vases from the last 12 months to mark this second anniversary.

Winter FlowersImages-Of-Winter

Starting with some vases that I made last winter, you can see that during the lean season I foraged material from both my garden and my greenhouse. In the greenhouse I grow late chrysanthemums that will flower into December and plenty of the very scented narcissi Paperwhite, which I plant successionally in the greenhouse bed to keep me in blooms from before Christmas until well into March. From the garden I rely on rosemary, ivy, skimmia, viburnum and cedar, with any berries I can find and plenty of snowdrops and hellebores. I also love to add bare branches throughout this season.

Early Spring FlowersImages-of-Spring

Early spring was full of the delights of tiny flowers, many flowering early in pots in my greenhouse. Looking at these photos makes me so excited for next spring. I do have a handful of snowdrops in flower at the moment (thanks to Chloris from The Blooming Garden, who encouraged me to buy this early flowering variety last February), but the bulk of my snowdrops will flower from about the second week in January onwards until late February. The crocus and iris were forced in the greenhouse to guarantee an early February flowering and the muscari you can see are from a small group that always flower in late January and February. The bulk of my muscari flower in April, so these really are very early.

Late Spring FlowersLate-Spring

Late spring saw my garden overflowing with blossom and bulbs, ready to be picked. Daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and cherry blossom filled my borders and I just love bringing all the lovely delicate colours into my house to cheer up window ledges, mantles and shelves after the long winter. I have included the beautiful allium Purple Sensation here – is it a late spring or early summer flower? As it is usually in flower by early May I think of it as late spring.

Early Summer FlowersEarly-Summer

Early summer is my favourite point in the flowering year and saw scented lilac with the last of the tulips, my beautiful peonies, sweet peas from the greenhouse and the first wave of summer annuals.

Late Summer FlowersLate-Summer

Late summer saw hydrangeas, yet more annuals, roses and dahlias filling my vases. The last photo of the peach roses and dahlias was taken just before we left for Florida in late October, so autumn had not really started then. As I have been away I am missing autumn inspired vases so far this year, but hope to add a few in the weeks to come before autumn sinks into winter.


Whilst showing you my vases, I thought I would say a few words about the props I like to use. In addition to the many varied jugs, vases and pots I have collected I will often bring teacups or tea pots into use as a container for my flowers. I also love to include my floral scissors in photographs and find that a metal tray makes a great background. Including a little floral material around the base of a display adds atmosphere to the photo and in winter a burning candle can add a much needed glow. When photographing my flowers I will always turn off the flash and seek out a position in natural light. On dull days this often means photographing outside or in the greenhouse, whilst on a bright day I will choose a position inside close to a window.


Regarding vases I have an ever increasing variety of containers filling my vase cupboard. So many now that I need to have a big sort out to make sure I make the most of my supplies next year. My favourite containers tend to be jugs, but I also love rusty urns, trios of bud vases, baskets, bowls, old garden containers and anything else that I can requisite into my floral cupboard. I get my inspiration from other bloggers, instagram, pinterest, magazines and my ever increasing selection of floristry books. I can recommend second hand book stalls as a good place to hunt out floristry books.

Looking back over a years worth of vases is a great way to get myself back into the mood for gardening after my injured knee has taken me away from it for so long. I am now very behind on bulb planting and must at the very least pot up my greenhouse bulbs asap if I am to have any blooms for late winter this year. If we have a normal winter I expect anything I plant now will flower at a similar time to my outdoor bulbs – I have missed the window for very early flowers. However, if the predicted hard winter does hit, I will be glad of my greenhouse bulbs as snow and frozen ground will delay all my outside bulbs. I also need to get on with clearing my beds and planting the tulips. I have had to revise my planting plan so that the bulbs can be put into beds that are easy for me to get to as I am still not very agile. Also I have decided to put on hold plans to split and move perennials, order new roses etc – I will just let the garden be this year whilst my knee returns to being fully operational.

I would like to give a big round of applause to Cathy for dedicating 2 whole years to hosting this lovely meme. She has managed to produce a vase of flowers every week, even through her holidays and she works very hard to answer all her many comments – there are now quite a number of us participating on a regular basis. Thank you Cathy for your enthusiasm and commitment in keeping us all producing our weekly vases!! Cathy is hosting a draw this week for a vase related giveaway, so do consider making a vase and then pop over to her blog for a chance to enter the draw.

Hopefully I will be resuming taking photos this week and will be back with another post later in the week. I would like to post my Greenhouse Review for November on Wednesday, but do not want to make any promises yet, just in case!


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