In a Vase on Monday: Catkins

Catkin: a slim, cylindrical flower cluster, with inconspicuous or no petals, usually wind-pollinated…

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The contents of my vase for this week’s meme “In a Vase on Monday” – where Cathy challenges us to bring garden materials indoors each week – are completely recycled;  February is still cold and snowy and everything in the garden seems to be hanging in icy equilibrium.

But the Forsythia and catkins brought in from the cold last week are opening and remind me that spring will soon be here.

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The green shoots are on a twig of spindle tree, which was in last week’s vase for the seedheads. And a piece of Miscanthus from last week also fitted into my tiny green vase.

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 The Flower Fairy poetry book in the background is open on the Hazel Catkin page:

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I love that last verse!

While yet the woods lie grey and still
   I give my tidings: “Spring is near!”
One day the land shall leap to life
   With fairies calling: “Spring is HERE!”

~

Can’t wait to hear those fairy voices!

😉

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Do visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, to see her vase and all the others linked in from around the world.

Maybe you can join in too?

 

February – at last!

There is nothing happening in my garden right now… A few Hellebore buds under the snow, and some snowdrops struggling to open. January is definitely not a favourite month of mine, so I am pleased to welcome February and am hopeful that I will see a flower or two before this month is out.

Still, the view from the house was lovely very early yesterday morning as the sun made one of its rare winter appearances…

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Photo taken from indoors at around 8.30am

~~~

I thought the world was cold in death;
      The flowers, the birds, all life was gone,
      For January’s bitter breath
      Had slain the bloom and hushed the song.
And still the earth is cold and white,
      And mead and forest yet are bare;
      But there’s a something in the light
      That says the germ of life is there.


from “February” by Mrs. Jane G. Austin

~~~

Have a good February!

🙂

In a Vase on Monday: Earthly Joys

I look forward to Mondays these days… Searching my garden for something attractive to put in a vase for Cathy’s meme has become quite a ritual, although I must admit to sometimes doing this a day early.

Today I carried my little vase through the house to the lightest room, my fingers still numb from the cold, and as I opened the door there lay the book I have been intending to read for some time now: “Earthly Joys” – the perfect title for my post!

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This is the same Hellebore from my patio pot that I used two weeks ago, and I found the label. It seems I mixed up the names of this and my Amaryllis/Hippeastrum – the Amaryllis is not Christmas Star as I had thought, but “Bolero”. The Hellebore is “Christmas Star”.

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I added a few sprigs of box, some laurel, Euonymous, Vinca and Carex, and a few red Heuchera leaves.

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Despite our lack of sunshine in January, I did manage to find a light spot for the photo. Have you noticed how the days are getting longer ?

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Sun of joy, and pleasure’s light,
All were lost in gloom of night.
Night so long, with tears and sorrow–
Hearts might break ere broke the morrow.
Day so short and night so long–
Fled the bird and hushed the song.
But, my heart, look up, be stronger,
For the days are growing longer. “

from “Now the Days are Growing Longer” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Take a look at Cathy’s site “Rambling in the Garden” where she has presented her beautiful white Amaryllis today.

And many others have linked in with their own creations too. Why not join in?!

😀

 

In a Vase on Monday: In the Bleak Mid-winter

In the bleak mid-winter, Frosty wind made moan

Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen snow on snow, Snow on snow

In the bleak mid-winter, Long ago

(English Christmas carol based on the poem by Christina Rossetti)

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Shall we have tea on the patio?

😉

I hope you will forgive me cheating slightly this week, but at still 4 degrees below zero by lunchtime I didn’t think I would stand a chance of finding anything but evergreen cuttings for a Monday vase. The ground is frozen solid and it is snowing again. I will not be beaten though!

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Look at the Forsythia I brought in on December 4th… finally flowering properly!

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But with the fire glowing and the heating on full blast its days are now numbered…

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A Christmas gift on the 23rd included two freshly cut Hippeastrum/Amaryllis flowers. One went into my Advent vase, which has been refreshed with more berries from our hegderow and is going in to its third week now…

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And one went into a smaller vase with more greenery. I followed the advice Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) gave after she read an RHS article and I tied the base of the Amaryllis stem with a rubber band – it has definitely helped keep it from splitting.

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As winter progresses Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday meme really does become a challenge… I am already thinking ahead to the first vase of 2015!

Take a look at Cathy’s lovely Paperwhites today, and the other vases linked in from around the world.

Have a good week!

The Weary Garden(er)

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Live each day as if it were your last, and garden as though you will live forever.

(Author Unknown)

~~~

After two years of posting a Tuesday view it was very strange not to do so this week… but the view is getting ugly and I am tired of it. On Monday I had cut back most of the shrinking plants and finished mulching with shredded leaves – not a pretty sight! Perhaps I will come up with a new view in spring, but for now it’s time for hibernation reflection and dreaming of warm spring sunshine and colour!

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Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.

(Henry David Thoreau)

~~~

Whilst tidying up I noticed that the Centranthus, which still had a couple of flowers on it, was already sprouting new leaves from the base. I am always amazed at how few Centranthus plants there are that fill the whole rockery in summer. One small plant that got pulled up by mistake has been replanted and I hope I will now have those red flowers all summer on the west side of the rockery too. I also noticed some Hellebore flowers and a few grape hyacinth leaves, although most of the garden is now looking brown and bare. But wasn’t it glorious in the summer!

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What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

(Author Unknown)

~~~

In December I shall be quietly reflecting on the year in my garden and will share a few of my favourite moments. It would be lovely if any of you would like to join me and also share some of your best memories of your gardens in 2014.

What do you say?

🙂

In a Vase on Monday: Simplicity

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

Leonardo da Vinci

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This week’s vase for In a Vase on Monday, hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden

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The grasses were what caught my eye today; some are silvery, some shimmer like gold when the sun catches them, and when I spied a white Centranthus flower among them the arrangement started to form in my mind and then in my hands as I walked around the garden.

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As I added a few more white Centranthus ruber ‘Alba’ flowers and a sprig of Daisy Fleabane I shaped the bunch of grasses around them, finally placing three white Zinnias at the front.

Do you have any pretty grasses in your garden at the moment?

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We had just gathered some hazelnuts from a small tree the squirrels have overlooked, so I have put a few next to the vase as a simple decoration (I usually forget to add a prop!).

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It was tempting to add a splash of colour, but the pink centre of one of the zinnias stands out all the more I think without any extra pink…. what do you think?

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Now take a look at some of the other vases being created around the world on a Monday for Cathy’s meme at Rambling in the Garden

Thanks Cathy!

Have a good week everyone!

A Butterfly Diary (July)

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Flutter by, butterfly,

Floating flower in the sky.

Kiss me with your petal wings—

Whisper secrets, tell of spring.

~

(Author Unknown)

~~~

There have been butterflies in numbers, but not much variety this month. I am still waiting for the elusive Swallowtail to visit me… a friend in our small village has already seen one, but it hasn’t flown in my direction yet! I am also still waiting to see a Comma and more Hawk Moths, with only two different ones making an appearance so far… so I will include them in my August diary.

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The Cabbage Whites, Skippers, Common Blues and Brimstones are still very profuse, but the main visitor this month has been the Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina, Großes Ochsenauge) with the characteristic orange and the eyespot on the upper wings…

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They have been feeding on the lavender, Marjoram and Oregano, and of course my prized Centranthus ruber. The larval foodplants are mainly grasses, oats etc. They are most commonly seen in this position with the wings closed, but I also managed to get one resting with open wings, and it suddenly seemed much larger – about a 4 or 5cm wingspan…

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This was a male – less colourful then the female.

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Next, the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus, Faulbaum-Bläuling) – such a delightful sight! A small speck of blue light flashing past, and then when it stops a moment the closed wings are equally pretty, reminding me of the fans used by Japanese ladies in hot weather

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The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings.

(The words of Joyce Kilmer)

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They are common here and are typically found in and around deciduous forests. The caterpillars feed on all sorts of hedgerow plants and shrubs such as Prunus, Dogwood, Buckthorn, Vetches, etc.

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The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta, Admiral) is still around. You can see a photo of its outstretched wings in my June post and this photo shows it with closed wings, which I think have such an interesting texture, as well as the beautiful markings of course.

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The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia, Kaisermantel) has been a regular visitor and I just have to share another photo, although this already made an appearance in my  Butterfly Diary in June

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Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold,
Thou songless wanderer mid the songful birds,
With Nature’s secrets in thy tints unrolled
Through gorgeous cipher, past the reach of words,
Yet dear to every child
In glad pursuit beguiled,
Living his unspoiled days mid flowers and flocks and herds!

(from Ode to a Butterfly, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson)

~~~

The Mint Moth ((Pyrausta purpuralis, Purpurrote Zünsler) featured in my April post has also been around again, very happy on the Marjoram, which has been flowering all month and has attracted so many bees and other insects…

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~~~

Another flying wonder (although not a butterfly but I’m using poetic licence here to include it!) was this dragonfly: the Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly (Libellula depressa, Plattbauch). I showed you the male back in May, and in July the female spent several days in the rockery…

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Her colouring is completely different, with no sign of the blue of the male. She really shimmered like gold in the sunlight. Don’t we have some amazingly beautiful creatures passing through our gardens!

I have also seen many of those already featured in my past Butterfly Diary posts – Peacocks, Tortoiseshells, the Marbled White and lots of Skippers.

In the UK there was apparently a Butterfly Count last week…. if anyone hears about the result, please let me know as I might miss it! Thanks! 🙂

Please share with us the butterflies you have seen this month!

Links:

Beautiful North American Meadow Butterflies Video

Rare Blue Butterflies UK