Welcome to this weeks ‘In A Vase On Monday’, when I am joining Cathy from Rambling In The Garden in her challenge to find something from the garden to bring into the house every week.

This week my garden feels like it is on the cusp of winter and spring. My snowdrops are still stealing the show, but the vivid blue Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ are all gradually coming into flower and the first daffodils have opened. Before I start cutting spring flowers from the garden I thought I would show you my forced camellias, which are currently taking centre stage in the house.


Last spring I treated myself to two new camellia plants – the pink double Camellia x williamsii “Debbie”:


and the semi double pink Camellia x williamsii ‘Bowen Bryant’, which is just about to flower.


Anyone who has been reading my blog since last spring will know how much I love camellias – sadly though my soil is neither acidic enough nor damp enough to keep them happy. As a compromise I grow them in large pots on the shady side of the house. Camellias are large shrubs and although they survive well in pots, I think they flower less than you would find on a shrub planted in a garden with the right conditions.


Rather than put the two small plants I bought last year into large pots to be grown outside, I decided to try something different. I repotted them into more manageably sized pots (filled with ericaceous compost) and kept them well watered and fed in a shady spot by the greenhouse for the summer. In September I brought them into the greenhouse where they remained protected until early February, when I moved them into the warmth of the drawing room.


Since coming inside the small buds have swollen quickly and are now opening to provide a succession of beautiful perfect blooms.


This flower dropped off so I floated it in a teacup – it has remained perfect for over a week now. Like hellebores I think that camellias must be a good candidate for floating in a bowl – lthough you can cut then for a vase they are very delicate and lose their heads easily as a cut flower.

I will move these camellia bushes back outside once the buds have all flowered and replant them in fresh ericaceous compost. Whilst they remain small I plan to overwinter them again in the greenhouse to increase my chances of a bounty of camellia blooms next spring! It is very important to keep camellias damp and well fed through the months of June to September as this is when they are forming the new buds that will flower during the next spring.

Whilst writing I thought I would also show you how I have adapted the bare branches which are decorating my hall table. A few weeks ago I showed you this wintery arrangement:


I have now added some artificial blossom branches that I purchased from the Country Living Spring Fair a few years ago.


This blossom is so realistic that visitors always believe it is real. Whilst nothing can really compete with real blossom the advantage with these branches is that they last – I can have blossom throughout March and into April without ever needing to take my secateurs to my garden blossom trees.


This arrangement is now ready and waiting to have the Easter decorations added later this month.

Finally for today I am pleased to announce the winners of my February Cutting Garden Giveaway!! 

Once again I prevailed upon my son to make the draw and the winner of the Sarah Raven Best Purple Dahlia Collection is Backlane Notebook.

The winner of my overseas draw, who will receive another in the little Flower Shop book series – Flower Shop Messages by Sally Page, is Valorie Grace Hallinan.

If the winners would email their addresses to me I will make sure your gifts get on their way. The dahlias will be coming direct from Sarah Raven, whilst Valorie will have to wait for me to make a trip to the post office later this week.

I am very grateful to Sarah Raven for sponsoring this month’s generous giveaway – thank you also to everyone who took part and for all those who did not win please do take a look at her inspiring collections of these beautiful late summer bloomers – they will not disappoint you.

Thank you again to Cathy for hosting this lovely Monday meme! I will be back later this week with my ‘Jobs To Do In March’ and promise that I will be back to cutting flowers for a vase next Monday. In the meantime do pop over to Cathy’s blog to see what she and the others have made this week.