In a Vase on Monday: Taxing Taxonomy

I am once again happy to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden in putting together a Monday vase full of materials from my garden.

Not an easy task in November, but not yet an impossible one!

Apart from some sorry looking roses and almost black sedums, there is not much going on in the garden now. My Hypericum still looks lovely, but I am unwilling to cut any more of that as it can be seen so well from the living room window. So today I picked some Persicaria, still flowering like mad. 🙂

However, I am still confused as to what I should call them…

Persicaria, Poylgonum, Bistorta?

Wikipedia was no help: ‘The generic placement of this species is in flux. While treated here in Persicaria, it has also been placed in Polygonum or Bistorta.’

What has confused me is the continued use of ‘Persicaria’ in the UK while ‘Polygonum’ seems to be the most frequently used name here in Germany. I can see my Persicaria amplexicaulis listed as Polygonum amplexicaule or Bistorta amplexicaulis. But other Persicarias can be Polygonum Bistorta, Persicaria bistorta, Bistorta officinalis, or…. wait for it…. even ‘Aconogonon’.  ??? The online nursery I order from has helpfully explained that due to the constant shuffling of names going on they are continuing to use the name ‘Polygonum’ with a relaxed attitude in case there should be another change of opinion soon!

Maybe we should go back to common names after all…. Some are quite nice, like ‘Mountain Fleece’. Others not so nice, like ‘Knotweed’ or ‘Snakeweed’, and even the German (translated) ‘Toothbrush’!

Well, my vase contains: Polygonum amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’, Polygonum microcephala ‘Red Dragon’, Polygonum amplexicaule ‘Blackfield’ and Polygonum amplexicaule ‘Album’. And should anyone ask I would call them all Persicarias for the sake of simplicity!

What would you call them?



In a Vase on Monday: Fruit and Veg

Cathy at Rambling in the Garden is celebrating today, and I am joining her, as she has been hosting her wonderful meme ‘In a Vase on Monday’ for four years now. Congratulations on the anniversary Cathy!

And to honour this occasion she came up with a wonderful challenge for us all this week – to put our flowers for this week’s arrangement ‘in something other than a vase ‘…

I thought my contribution quite original until googling both receptacles… oh well, it’s been done before, but probably not on a rainy Sunday afternoon in November!!

On the left, a pineapple – slightly hollowed out with some foil inside to retain a little water. The focal points are the Heuchera leaf with its lovely red veins and the tall zebra grass. I then used the remaining annuals which are huddled up to the house in their pots, but shivering nonetheless: Nemesia, Sanvitalia, Verbena, yellow Lantana and a white Geranium (Pelargonium).

Mmm, I am looking forward to snacking on some more of that pineapple later!

The other vase is a red cabbage… 😀

I managed to photograph it from the dry balcony (it poured all day Sunday) with the remaining golden hazel leaves in the background, but the light conditions were not much better and it is cold… just 4°C today! (Most of the other photos were taken in the kitchen.) The cabbage was hollowed out enough for a tiny schnaps glass to fit in. I used the last of the Snapdragons, more Nemesia, and a tiny white flower sold to me as a Chrysanthemum but which from the foliage seems more like Dianthus family. Whatever it is, it is flowering like mad still, nicely sheltered under the front porch.

The cabbage was rescued later in the day and we had homemade coleslaw for tea! 😉


I wonder how other Monday vase creators will have met Cathy’s challenge. It was great fun again –  thank you Cathy, for motivating me to go out on such a rotten day and find some little treasures to brighten up my Monday!

And here’s to year FIVE!



The Tuesday View: 7th November 2017

A few rays of sunshine were captured in my photos of the Tuesday View today – precious in November, and lighting up some of the lovely autumn yellows and golds…

The giant Miscanthus is already changing colour, but the dwarf one in front of it remains silvery almost all winter…

As you can see in the above photo I haven’t had the heart to trim this Perovskia yet, but the larger one on the other side of the rockery has been cut back to about 50 cm and will be trimmed hard again in spring.

You may also notice an extra Calamagrostis has appeared in front of the Achillea support; planted out from a pot I had as a summer container, I am not sure I like it there but will mull over it for another week before replanting. Another awaits, and our new hole digger will be put to the test… watch this space!

A major highlight right now is the Hypericum…

… along with the Zebra grass at the bottom of the slope – hard to see from this angle, but below the Acer…

I must try and find the original label as there are various ones that look very similar. I just love these crimped seedheads!

The last aster in flower is in the foreground here and there is still plenty of ground cover. The Hellebore leaves (on the right of the Acer) are looking very healthy, so let’s hope they remain so!

I think a round up of some of my favourite photos of the view will be in the pipeline next week or the week after, as I doubt there will be many changes now… unless it snows! 😉

If you would like to join me in posting a view of one part of your garden every Tuesday, please leave a link in the comments below!

Happy gardening!


In a Vase on Monday: Last Dance

November has begun true to its reputation – wet, chilly and grey! All the more reason to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with her weekly meme to brighten up the house with a vase. 🙂

The Persicaria Firetail is still flowering like mad, but apart from that there is not much left now and so the last flowers have been cut before the spoil… hence the title, the last dance – their last chance to shine!

I used a rectangular vase for a change, although I am not a fan of straight lines and angular shapes, but this seemed just the right size to keep the stems upright and create a slightly different effect to my usual vases.

The star at the centre is my Morina longifolia (correction 8th Nov). It has never flowered this late before, so I must have cut it back just in time for it to rejuvenate. It is one of the few prickly plants I really like (those leaves are Really Prickly) and I have never used it in a vase before. I hope the last buds will open too.

The two last buddleia flowers have been included – the dwarf ‘Buzz Velvet’, shown below with Persicaria Red Dragon and Pennisetum…

And the yellow Buddleia weyeriana ‘Sungold’ – I was especially pleased that it finally flowered as I thought it had died last winter. It recovered slowly and this is the only flower it has produced! (Photographed here next to the fascinating Zebra grass).

I also cut the last unspoiled Scabiosa Snowmaiden, one semi-decent Cosmos, the last of the pretty unnamed Asters, Persicaria Red Dragon, some grasses and (of course!) some spiky Persicaria Firetail flowers.

Having chosen this title I just could not get this song out of my head… it’s an old favourite (I loved Donna Summer when I was a teenager!) and here is the video of the Queen of Disco herself singing ‘Last Dance’. (Love the hat!) 😉

Hope your week gets off to a good start and you have some sunny moments!

World Vegan Day 2017 and a Fabulous Sponge Cake

After a rather busy start to the week I spent Tuesday lamenting the demise of the garden after our first frost of the year. But today I am celebrating…

Why? Well, the first day of November is not normally a reason for celebration in our part of the world. In Germany, for example, it is a national holiday where people commemorate those who have died and visit their family graves. And for gardeners here November is a dreary month too, with the dreaded onset of frosty weather and the approach of winter.

And yet for me today stands out in the calendar as it is World Vegan Day! According to figures from the German Nutrition Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung)  there are now over 800,000 vegans in Germany, and research in Britain claims almost 550,000 people in the UK are vegan too. Now that is a very good excuse to celebrate so I have baked a fabulous vegan cake to share with you!

After trying so many recipes for a basic sponge cake, I was over the moon when I finally found the perfect one on the Vegan Recipe Club website, which is the recipe reservoir put together by Viva!, the British group promoting animal rights and a vegan diet.

Here is the link to the original lemony recipe: Our Favourite Sponge Cake

And here is my vanilla version…

The Best Vegan Sponge Cake Ever

For the sponge you will need:

  • 175g (1 and 1/2 sticks) vegan butter (I use ‘Alsan bio’. Find a UK or US brand here)
  • 175g (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 330g (generous 2 and 1/2 cups) SR flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 330ml (1and 1/3 cups) plain soya yoghurt (I use the zero sugar sort)
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 3 tbsp warm water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 vanilla beanpod


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F, grease and flour two 20cm/8 inch cake tins.

2. Melt the butter then add the sugar. Mix in well till the sugar has partially dissolved. Set aside.

3. Sieve the flour, baking powder, soda and salt into a bowl. Rub in the vanilla bean with your finger tips. Add the butter/sugar mixture, yoghurt, flax egg and vanilla essence. Gently fold in until you get a soft dropping consistency and the flour is incorporated. If it isn’t soft enough, add a splash of non-dairy milk.

4. Spoon the cake mix into the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until risen and golden. Test by inserting a sharp knife or toothpick into the centre of each cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. If not, return to the oven for another 5-7 minutes. Let the cakes cool completely before removing them from their tins. Carefully place them upside down on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.

5. For the filling, spread jam of your choice on one of the cakes. (You can also spread buttercream on the other cake – see recipe below*) Put the cakes together like a sandwich. Sprinkle a little icing sugar on the top and decorate as you like.

* For the buttercream filling: Mix 125g sieved icing sugar, 75g vegan butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and a tiny splash of non-dairy milk until creamy.

I do hope you will try this vegan recipe. If you would like more inspiration, there are others on my recipe page (see above), all vegetarian and many vegan!

Happy Baking! 😉






The Tuesday View: 24th October 2017

It’s been two weeks since my last Tuesday View, and the differences are noticeable… what happened to the leaves on the Acer?!

As you can see, it is looking very autumnal. Looking across from the pathway the view has now opened up as the acer has returned to a skeletal form and the Golden Rod has been partially removed.

I can now see the crisp upright Calamogrostis and Zebra grass as I walk down past the acer…

… at the bottom of the path, looking back up, the freshly trimmed box is also visible after cutting back the peony foliage which was lying flat and already decomposing.

The lovely Aster Alma Pötschke has gone over – its moment of glory was brief, but I did make the most of it this year and cut lots to bring indoors. The Perovskia is now a ghost of its former self, but with no flowers left to weigh it down it can at least stand to attention before it is pruned for winter.

The beautiful Miscanthus ‘Adagio’ will continue to look pretty for some time, and my Hypericum has surprised me with some amazing new growth and fresh flowers. There is one single Lychnis flower among the Teucrium too…

I am hoping the first frost will come late this year, and will then be followed by some mild sunny days to tidy up after it!

Finally, a couple of shots of the old Tuesday View from last year, dominated by the spiky red flowers of Persicaria Firetail…

I look forward to seeing your views too, and if you wish to share them please leave a comment below with a link. 🙂