In a Vase on Monday: Forcing Spring

Although there are only hours to go until the Spring equinox, the few spring flowers that have managed to appear are now under a thick layer of snow again and the daytime temperature is back to below zero.

But I still have a vase to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme! And Cathy is celebrating her sixth blogging anniversary too, so do go and visit her! 😃


Last week I cut some Forsythia and Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) to force – within a couple of days both had opened their flowers. The Ribes, is a deep pinky red when it flowers naturally and is covered with all sorts of bees, but when forced it is a pale creamy white and looks even more delicate than normal. I wonder what the bees would think!


 I hope all of you in the wintry northern hemisphere are keeping safe and warm, and those of you in the warmer south are getting the weather you want!



In a vase on Monday: Iris, Snowdrops and Raindrops

That ‘inbetween’ time has begun and there are finally a few flowers beginning to open as winter draws to an end and spring knocks on the door. After a couple of mild and sunny days some crocuses and dwarf irises are providing tiny splashes of colour in the otherwise brown and ragged flower beds, and the snowdrops have opened up completely. Just enough for a small vase!

From my small clump of Iris reticulata I picked two deep blue flowers, and one pale ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ which has fascinating markings but in my eyes cannot compete with the gorgeous colour of the blue one. With the help of some artificial light you can perhaps appreciate what I mean…

A few snowdrops were added and I used my tiny pottery vase again, bought at the  Christmas market last year. The small rock in the photo is a reminder of a wonderful weekend spent in the mountains a couple of years ago, picked from the dry part of the river bed of the Isar near the Austrian border. 🙂

I am pleased to be back this week, joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her lovely Monday meme, and look forward to visiting many other vases over the next couple of days.

Have a great week!



Snow fleas? Pull the other one!

(If you don’t like tiny creepy crawlies, I suggest you go and look at a different post!)

On our walks in the woods recently we have once again noticed little black specks on the snow. Until now we thought it must be dirt from the machinery used for forestry or from old tractors driving through the woods, but this year it was extreme and so we took a closer look…

Here we saw that where tracks are (from tractor tyres, deer, our footprints, skis etc) there is more of this ‘dirt’. Could it be soot? Is our air so bad? Here, in the middle of nowhere, with no industry for miles…

When we got home my Man of Many Talents googled for ages, trying to find something about it, and when he showed me what he had found I was AMAZED! He went back to get more photos so we could check the facts!


Now I’m going to get even closer…

They are SNOW FLEAS! Now, maybe we are the only people in the world who have never heard of snow fleas before, so I hope I am not showing my ignorance, but aren’t they simply incredible? Here are several hundred or even thousands of them gathering in the hollows of tracks.

Now a little information that we found in German, summarized:

Snow fleas come out of the ground in February/March when the temperature is just above freezing. They are often thought to be soot, as they cover the snow quite thickly in places. But these ‘specks of dirt’ are all the same size (around 1 millimetre long). They can crawl and jump (about 10cm high). However, they aren’t actually fleas, but springtails, so Wikipedia says they are technically not insects.

They emerge at temperatures of about -3°C, and live on fungi, pollen or algae which provide them with a special protein that functions as a kind of antifreeze. They prefer damp forests with evergreens. It is a real migration at this time of year, as they use the snow to move more easily and to search for food and for new ground where they can increase their population.

For scientific purposes my Man of Many Talents let some crawl across his hand, and we think they are actually smaller than 1 millimetre…

So, please let me know if you have ever encountered these fascinating little creatures and any extra information would be very welcome!


Interesting links:




In a Vase on Monday: The Fair Maids

“Wait! the world shall waken;

It is not dead, for lo,

The Fair Maids of February

Stand in the snow!”

I finally picked a few snowdrops today, after waiting in vain for them to open outdoors, and put them in the little blue pottery vase I bought at the Christmas market especially for them.

The words above are from The Song of the Snowdrop Fairy, and along with my little flowers they offer me hope that spring will indeed come soon. What a grey winter it has been here. But we are practically half way through February already… 🙂

And just 20 minutes later they were opening. 🙂

With little to share the past few weeks I shall take extra pleasure today in viewing all the other vases posted for this lovely meme, which is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. As always I will start with Cathy’s very own creation, and I do suggest you take a look too!

I hope you have a sunny week!

In a Vase on Monday: Once in a Blue Moon

This week we will not only see the second full moon within one calendar month, but also the third of four full moons for this season, making it a ‘blue moon’. This doesn’t happen very often – hence the saying ‘Once in a blue moon’.

Now, if only I had one of those lovely Chinese moon flask vases to use for my Monday vase as I join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden once again… but this round one comes pretty close:

Now, what can I put in it?! Well, after searching the soggy garden I did manage to find something suitable…

Some lovely long hazel catkins, a hellebore from the patio pots and some hellebore leaves, grasses, and a few sprigs of St John’s Wort that hasn’t died back at all this winter. The sparkly white candle is left over from Christmas (I couldn’t bear to light it as it is so pretty) and is included here to symbolize the full moon. 🙂

I also filled another small vase with a hellebore and some Heuchera – the tiny pottery vase was bought at the Christmas markets with snowdrops in mind, but the little green shoots of my snowdrops are only just showing…

If you are in the northern hemisphere, I wonder if you have got snowdrops yet?

Have a good week, wherever you are!