The last of the summer flowers


I’ve been intending to share these flowers with you for several weeks, and here they finally are, not least because having a photograph with a picture of ‘October’ in it is a great motivation to get it published before November.

Life has been busy (isn’t it always) since my garden design course started in September. A raft of assignments ranging from plant recognition tests to essays about pest control, from sketchbooks of ideas for a shady garden to a package of graphics drawn in precariously smudge-able Rotring ink has kept me away from this blog, though not from the garden, I am pleased to report.


Bright October sunshine, that special, slanting light of long shadows and glistening cobwebs, has invited me on an almost daily inspection of the back garden, where Aster ‘Little Carlow’ has collapsed among the last of the calendulas, while the cosmos and roses seem to flower interminably onwards, and every low-growing plant is losing a daily battle against the inevitable smothering of fallen leaves.

My dahlias, unfortunately, have been a disappointment this year. Flowers were few, and those that came were on short, reluctant stems. What’s more, I have been sent at least one (if not two) incorrect tubers by She Who Charges A Lot And Shall Remain Nameless. The large coral ‘Watermelon’ I had been looking forward to put forth some very pretty but unasked-for pink and yellow flowers, while ‘Linda’s Baby’ was decidedly peachy yellow rather than baby pink. And it’s not just me affected in this way. I’ve noticed others on Instagram complaining of incorrect orders, while one gardener stated that her very best dahlias this summer had come from ‘a cheap bumper pack from Lidl’ and had been far superior to any special cultivars that she had paid a lot more for. Food for thought.



Meanwhile, the brickwork in the front garden is finally finished! This means that after about a couple of hours’ tidying-up I should be able to take some proper photographs and write a blog post about the maze that has taken me almost a year to complete. Just those pesky assignments to finish first …


Here in these vases we have what may or may not be Dahlia ‘Linda’s Baby’, some of what is most definitely not D. ‘Watermelon’, and some of what are undoubtedly Cosmos ‘Purity’, Aster ‘Little Carlow’, indomitable caledulas, elderberries, and various salvia sprigs. With these tiny vases, flowers can be swapped in and out as they bloom and fade for an ever-changing mantelpiece scene. In the bedroom, meanwhile, a single Rosa ‘Tranquility’ graces the chest-of-drawers, reminding me to take a deep, luxurious sniff of its lovely scent every time I go to choose a pair of socks.

‘In a vase on Halloween’ is not hosted by Cathy at Rambling In The Garden (sorry I’m late, Cathy!) but if you follow this link you will see her weekly Monday vase as well as those of several more punctual garden bloggers around the world, and it will be no surprise (boo!) to find that more than one of them has gone for a spooky theme.


Fruits of Summer


This has to be the best time of year for filling a vase with bountiful, colourful flowers, then still having enough flowers to fill … let me count … eleven other vases (some are admittedly just bud vases). I ran out of surfaces before I ran out of flowers.

I seem to recall using this black jug for August’s colourful bounty last year. Nothing else seems to do them proper justice, and the bright flame colours of late August suit it down to the ground. It’s also been a while since Mr Pig made a cameo; he usually lives on the hearth but he was in a festival mood so I let him join in and I think he made a very fine turn, don’t you?

In the vase are a multitude of pot mariogolds, Cosmos ‘Sweet Sixteen’, Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’, a stem of my miracle pinks, elderberries, a bit of the enormous fuchsia in the far corner of our back green, a stem of Centaura montana and some ripening blackberries. Has anyone else noticed that the blackberries are ripe much earlier this year? I normally bank on a blackberrying trip the second or third weekend in September, but I see I shall need to get my skates on and make haste to my secret blackberrying spot a bit sooner.


So now the flat is also filled with small vases full of sweetpeas, nasturtiums, borage, cosmos and marigolds on every bookshelf, fireplace and table. How I love this time of year, and will miss it in the dead of winter when all I have are foraged twigs and dried alliums sprayed silver.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, and I do recommend visiting her page and seeing what she has found in the garden for a vase today, along with many other garden bloggers across the world.


In a daze on Monday

Picked hastily on a Monday night are sweetpeas, dahlias, buddleia, verbena, and poppy seed heads.

I was in a race with the dying light at about 7pm. (If you were thinking that this photo looks as though it was taken on a bright afternoon, my thanks go to a tripod and Lightroom.)

I was also preoccupied with

  1. finding I had just watered my Canon 10-22mm lens
  2. my plan to tear up the front garden and start again

Which is why none of the flowers are facing the right way.

In a vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden and I do recommend visiting her page to discover many other Monday arrangers of garden flowers in vases.


Autumn’s Last Hurrah


We’re due frosts this week. Not that they ever really hit my sheltered little corner of back green … but, ‘gather ye rosebuds while ye may’, says the poem.


So I gathered the rosebuds. I also gathered the dahlias, the salvias, and the sweetpeas. Yes, I did say sweetpeas, which are still merrily producing long-stemmed blooms.


It was all starting to look a bit too summery for this time of year, so some yellowing-leaved tree branches and cotoneaster berries helped to make it seasonal.


Soon it will be time to cut down the dahlias and mulch well for winter. The roses are being pruned tomorrow. Who knows when the sweetpeas will stop producing and make their way to the compost heap?

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, and today is her third anniversary of creating this wonderful challenge. Do have a look at her page and see what autumnal blooms and branches have made it into hers and other people’s vases on this bright, cold day.


One Fine Dahlia


While ‘Totally Tangerine’ is now pumping out its perksome dayglo shuttlecocks like an overactive tennis ball machine, my other dahlias are taking much longer to produce. So I was delighted, while tidying up the back garden this weekend, to find an enormous pink flowerhead from ‘Bacardi’ quite low down and nestled among some foliage.

The aim was to avoid creating a similar vase to this one, since all the same flowers are still going strong in the garden. But in striving to make a different selection, some of which in retrospect don’t really go, I’ve created more of a happy muddle than a coherent arrangement. The dill, which is so delicate and graceful, belongs in a different type of arrangement altogether. (Or on my roast salmon. Either would be better than here.) And the foliage, which is gigantic strawberry leaves, has turned the vase into something else entirely from what I originally intended. Very often, less is more. I’m looking forward with great anticipation to the week when all my dahlias are in bloom together so I can create a pure dahlia vase: no foliage, no dill, perhaps a rose or two.



In a Vase on Monday is hosted by the shimmering Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. I recommend that you visit her page to see her wonderful pink vase, where you will also find links to many other vases created by fellow garden bloggers today.