In a Vase on Monday: A Vase for Alys

Last week was grey and damp and I was feeling rather despondent about my vase contents for today.

And then magic happened, and a surprise parcel arrived all the way from sunny California from my dear blogging friend Alys, at Gardening Nirvana.

😀 😀 😀

The package contained a beautiful handmade card displaying a vase full of flowers and the calendar marking Monday…

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It is so pretty, and so ‘me’.

And the icing on the cake was a pack of vase arrangers that Alys also sent along – these are soft wire discs/’nets’ that can be bent to shape for any vase and help keep individual stems in place. I have wanted one for ages after seeing them on someone’s blog, but have never seen them here.

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This was the inspiration I needed for my vase, and I spent this morning happily playing around with stems and seed heads. One of my favourite vases has quite a wide top and so I was pleased I could use it for fewer stems this week.

A big thank you to you, Alys, for cheering up my week and being so thoughtful! This vase is for you! xxx (I hope you have read my mail Alys!)

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The main components are red stems and foliage, with the Mahonia at the centre. The Fennel seeds are a favourite element for Advent vases, as when the seeds drop they leave behind little stars…

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I included several different grasses – names forgotten for the moment.

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Some Iris sibirica seedheads still look good in the garden and I found some fresh red Cotinus shoots as well…

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To top it all, we had sunshine today – the first for what seems like weeks! (It was very frosty too this morning).

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Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme and getting me out searching for vase materials even on a cold and frosty November morning. 🙂

And thanks again to Alys. 🙂

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Have a great week everyone!

Reading the Signs: Verbascum thapsus

This summer was extremely hot and dry, and I found myself scouring various weather forecasts in my hope for a few drops of rain. Our weather forecasts are usually pretty accurate here, as we are quite far inland, and not directly near any mountain ranges. But long-term weather forecasting is trickier… unless you talk to Mr Sepp Haslinger, a pensioner from the south of Bavaria, who reads the signs of the Verbascum seedheads….

Verbascum

Native to Europe, commonly known in the UK as Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus can grow to up to 2 metres tall. The flowerheads start setting seed at the base, while the tops continue to grow and flower. By examining the development of these seadheads and flowers from the base upwards, Sepp Haslinger predicts the weather for the coming winter.

Mr Sepp Haslinger: “The man who knows what the winter will be like”

Königskerzen, Wetterkerze, Vorhersage, Schnee, Winter

The Verbascum is commonly called “King’s Candle” in German (Königskerze), but another common name here in Bavaria is “Weather Candle” (Wetterkerze) as it has been used for predicting the weather for centuries. Loose infloresences apparently indicate snow-free periods, while particularly long specimens with many flowers can suggest winters with a lot of snow.

Over the past four years Mr Haslinger’s forecasts have been accurate, and local snow clearing services rely on him for deciding on whether to set on extra employees or how much salt and grit to order for spreading on roads. This year they are doubling their orders, as Mr Haslinger has predicted a “winter of the century” with more snow than we have seen in a long time… the first snowfall is “definitely in mid-October”, and “abundant”!

(I’m glad I have got most of my bulbs planted – I must tie up the Miscanthus next in preparation!)

Here he is, reading his Verbascum on the Catholic holiday – the Feast of Assumption – in early August – I’m afraid there is no translation as his dialect is rather hard to understand even for me, but do take a look to get the general idea how he does it!

The 73-year-old weather prophet, who jokingly admits he would have been burnt at the stake as a witch a few centuries ago, says that it will not only be a very snowy winter this year, but also a very long one, with snow sticking around until Easter 2016. There will be periods inbetween with less or no snow, but Advent will be white – good news for the Christmas markets and the hot mulled wine stands – although Sepp warns them to strengthen the rooves of their booths! The winter equinox and Christmas will probably be milder, but in the New Year it will turn cold and snowy once again. All in all it will be “a hard winter”.

(Not really what I wanted to hear, but we will see!)

😉

Have you heard of any unusual ways of predicting weather?

 

Special Flowers

Special flowers for a special person today… my sister!

Happy Birthday Susan!

😀

I wonder if anyone knows what this is…

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Maybe if you see it from a different angle?

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And what about this?

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An exotic cocktail fruit perhaps?

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Well, these little red bobbles are in fact larch blossoms… sadly blown off the trees in the strong storm we had this week. But I think they look like tiny raspberries, so I brought some in to enjoy (and lament their fate)!

Our storm was the worst in 30 years, with hurricane-force winds uprooting trees across the country. But we were extremely lucky.

By the way, that first picture is a Ribes sanguineum – Flowering Currant, forced. Chloris at The Blooming Garden told me about how they open like this when forced – quite different to the later flower outside which is longer and pinkish red. Thanks for the tip Chloris. Mine have a hint of pink, possibly because I picked them so late?

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They are so lovely!

(And my sister is too!)

😉

In a Vase on Monday: a Birthday Treat/Cheat

Since my parents are here for a visit and my Dad is celebrating his birthday, today’s vase for Cathy’s meme “In a Vase on Monday”  is for the birthday boy. It’s also cheating a little as

a) these were actually picked from the flower field near our home and not the garden

and b) the vase was put together and photographed about six weeks ago!

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There will, of course, be cake as well as flowers.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!

And have a lovely Monday everyone!

In a Vase on Monday: Hot Pink

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My lovely sister has been over from the UK for a while, so I asked her to do my vase this week. She was a little nervous…. have you ever cut flowers in someone else’s garden?!

I think the result is gorgeous though!

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“Hot Pink” because it has been very hot here, and there are lots of pinky purply shades in the vase today: the Fairy Rose, Teucrium, one purple Allium, some Field Maple leaves and seeds, Goat’s Beard foliage, Vetch, Sedum, Aquilegia leaves, Lychnis, Centranthus, Geranium….

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Thanks go to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the In a aVase on Monday meme, where we gather flowers from our gardens to bring into the house.

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And thank you Susan!

xxx

🙂

Blog Hopping: Why I Write

"What's a blog hop?"

“What’s a blog hop?”

If, like me, you had never heard of a Blog Hop before, it simply entails writing a post based on a few prompts about a set subject…

Sarah at The Garden Deli surprised me with her invitaton to participate in this blog hop entitled “Why I write”. After all, Sarah IS a writer, and I’m not! I love reading Sarah’s posts. Her writing flows, and she somehow manages to move seamlessly from everyday stories about what she’s growing to wildlife topics to fresh seasonal garden ingredients, usually ending with a delicious homemade recipe.

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I think part of the blog hop idea is to introduce each other to bloggers who may write about the same things as we do, or maybe something completely different, as the blog hop also requires passing on the challenge to another handful of people.

I was a little taken aback, to be honest, when Sarah asked me, and my first thought was “How can I write about writing when I don’t write…?”! Erm, but I do write, don’t I? I suppose I have never thought about my blog in terms of “writing”.

Here are the questions to be answered:

  • What am I working on?
  • How does my writing differ from others in its genre?
  • Why do I write what I do?
  • How does my writing process work?

So here goes! I will do my best!

What am I working on?

My blog. My garden. Improving my photography. Working out how to make short videos with my camera… All of those things, as well as some translation work from home. A Herbarium was started a few years ago, which I may return to one day, and new recipes are constantly being tested and refined.

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How does my writing differ from others in its genre?

I’m really not sure! I don’t claim to be an expert on growing things and am certainly not a top chef, but if I do know something useful I like to pass it on. I suppose then that my writing is fairly informal compared to some. My photos are also often the starting point for a post for me, whether it be a haiku or a plant description, and I like to share the beauty of the plants and wildlife I see, or the food I eat; the words are important, but not always the main focus.

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Why do I write what I do?

Because I love words. Because I love plants. Because I love food. The blog was originally intended to focus on wild plants seen while walking my dogs down near the canal. But our old wolfhound hasn’t been able to manage walks for a couple of years now, so the focus became the garden and kitchen. In addition, my Tuesday Views have enabled me to keep a (visual) record of my garden over the past 18 months, which has proved to be an invaluable way to really plan future planting. Writing my blog encourages me to look for those discarded plant labels or to look up unknown plants to put names to them (and now butterflies too). So it is an incredible learning process for me.

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How does my writing process work?

Like most of you, I think, an idea pops up and you mull it over for a few hours, days, or even weeks. Then suddenly it materializes! My favourite place to write is at our dining room table… near the dogs, near the kitchen, and with a view of the garden. Perfect!

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So now I will hand the challenge over to just two other blogging friends. (I think three was mentioned, but I’m sure the rules can be bent!).

The first is a real writer whose blog I have been following for several years now. Nancy at StrawberryIndigo writes passionately and eloquently about life, nature, the environment and so much more. Her sincere and often humorous view of  life has made me one of her biggest fans!

The second is Alys at GardeningNirvana. I have only known Alys a few months and enjoy her site so much! She has a friendly and open tone that makes me feel as if we are talking over the garden fence. She grows beautiful plants and fruits, and also posts about her community Little Free Library project, the wildlife visiting her garden, garden design, as well as what she calls ‘Fairy Garden Frivolity’!

Please take a look at their sites. They will be posting soon on why they write… Thanks Alys. Thanks Nancy. I’ll link both of their blog hop posts on my site as soon as they’re published!

Thanks for reading everyone, and thanks again to Sarah at The Garden Deli!