After the snow last week I was determined to be prepared for a vase this Monday, as I always like to join in this meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden when I can. So a few grasses and hazel catkins were gathered during the week. I then added dried Sedum and some poppy seedheads collected in the summer and autumn. I came across this coffee pot, hiding away in a cupboard, and decided it looked quite festive and was perfect as a vase!
There are also a few cornus twigs and some Mahonia foliage which is drying up fast as I haven’t added water to the vase.
This morning Hippeastrum ‘Lady Jane’ decided to open yet another flower for a snapshot too. She is definitely at the top of the list for next year’s bulbs as she has flowered beautifully on relatively short stems.
Here you can see her alongside my second festive vase filled with fir and larch cones and Silver Fir needles from the garden (with a couple of shiny baubles!).
If you only visit my site for the Monday vases, then I would like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a joyful festive season!
I mentioned Christmas markets in some comments last week and several people asked me to share some photos. I do find it hard to take photos that capture the atmosphere, but here are a few snapshots.
All over Germany the Christmas markets open throughout Advent attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Some are spectacular, nestled into candlelit hillsides or in the parks of great houses and castles. Some are world-famous, like Nuremburg with the angel (Christkind) opening it in an age-old ceremony. Others are simpler, offering just the traditional well-known specialities and crafts. Whichever type you visit, you will be caught up by the magic of a Christmas tradition going back centuries. Surrounded by the soft babble and chatter of other visitors, the smell of fried food and cinnamon sweets, the glitter of decorations for sale, and the cheerful faces around you, it is hard not to smile or be a little frivolous, splashing out on an extravagant candle, a glass of punch, a bag of roasted almonds or a huge jam-filled steamed dumpling covered in vanilla sauce!
I visited two markets this year – first of all Ingolstadt, which is about an hour’s drive north of Munich.
With the New Castle in the background, a sprinkling of snow, and good company, the market has all you can wish for… the traditional wooden decorations and crib figures, food and drink, jewellery, warm socks, cookie cutters, candles, more food, more drink, more decorations ….!
A smaller area nearby offered a quieter repose for another glass of punch (non-alcoholic, I assure you!) and a chat with my friends. But it was very cold that day, with a north wind.
Some of the stall-holders looked frozen to the bone, despite being well wrapped up…
On another day last week I took myself off to Regensburg, a beautiful city on the Danube, and not far from the Bavarian Forest. I always walk over to the old stone bridge if I visit, and the River Danube looked particlularly cold (but blue!) on this occasion…
Despite some bright sunshine it was a chilly day again, but the markets are so enticing and I did all my Christmas shopping there. Take a stroll with me around the markets in Regensburg and see the traditional goods they offer. (Click on any image for a slideshow…)
The markets take on a different atmosphere at night, which I have never managed to capture in photos as there are always SO many people and it is hard to move! The thing I love about them most of all is the cheer and friendliness which is definitely lacking in the shopping centres and supermarkets at this time of year. And the food of course. This year I had my favourite warm snack – potato noodles with sauerkraut – as well as some roasted chestnuts, roasted almonds and pumpkin seeds and some delicious non-alcoholic fruit punch. It was nice to go into a cafe afterwards to warm up properly though! 😉
What is your favourite tradition in the run-up to Christmas?
With this Monday meme, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden encourages us to find materials from our gardens every week, all year round. By the end of November pickings are limited, but there are surprisingly still a few blooms to be found, some seedheads saved, and foliage of course too. The colours for my vase this week reminded me of cinnamon and spices, both of which will be used soon in my Christmas baking. 🙂
I decided I could spare one sprig of the Hypericum, which is still looking so very pretty in the rockery. To accompany it there is a sprig of bronze Epimedium foliage, some Clematis seed heads, Briza (saved in the summer), and an oriental poppy seed head, all secured in floral foam inside my shallow dish which also has useful holes in the lid. A Physalis seed head and a maple and oak leaf complete the November scene, along with cinnamon sticks and a wooden mortar and pestle for grinding spices, found at a Christmas market several years ago.
Talking of Christmas markets, some have already opened, but most will open at the end of this week for the first Advent weekend. I am looking forward to the delicious smells of Cinnamon, mulled wine and roasted nuts…
Will you be visiting a market or doing some baking soon? Have a good week and stay warm!
As Juliet so famously declared in Shakespeare’s well-known play:
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet…”
Yes, we all (well, most of us) call our Amaryllis by the wrong name. Strictly speaking the bulbs we in cooler climates grow indoors in winter are Hippeastrums; the South American lily. And not Amaryllis, which is the African belladonna lily.
But I don’t think we should care too much about this error. As Celia Fisher writes in ‘The Golden Age of Flowers’,
‘When European hybrids were developed the original confusion about provenance intensified, while ordinary plant lovers blithely regard them all as amaryllis.’
I consider myself an ‘ordinary plant lover’. How about you?
Thank you to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this lovely meme. Why not visit her to see what others are finding for their Monday vases/flower arrangements this week.
When I walked into my dining room this morning I knew something was not quite right. It was only later, while having breakfast, that I noticed that the first of my Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) to flower this winter was bent over at a dangerous angle threatening to uproot the bulb and put the second bud at risk. So I cut it immediately and put it in a tall vase. Then I realised it is not only Boxing Day, but also Monday – serendipity! I have a vase to share with you after all!
A neighbour gave me this bunch of red Amaryllis which are also lovely and cheerful on my windowsill.
Do take a look at some of the other festive vases posted for Cathy’s meme on Rambling in the Garden.
The beautiful countryside around us has been shrouded in thick fog and covered in layer upon layer of frost for most of December. When I heard the lovely carol “In the bleak mid-winter” the other day I found it quite apt to describe our surroundings here – the earth is hard as iron (although it has thawed a little in places in the last 24 hours) and the water in the bird bath is hard as stone again. But no snow still. (Sigh)
So I’m afraid I cannot post any pretty photos of frost covered pine trees, glittering in the sun with a blue sky beyond…. but I can offer a glimpse of our black and white world instead.
And I can wish you all a very Happy Christmas too!
I hope you have the opportunity to relax over the holidays, spend time with loved ones, read a good book or just chill out in front of a warm fireplace with a hot mug of tea…
Many warm wishes to you all!