In a Vase on Monday….er…Friday 

Having tried and failed to upload this from home, I’ve finally given up on our dodgy internet connection and decamped to Mum’s house. We haven’t got fibre optic cables to our village yet. And we live a mile down a single track lane. So there’s really no hope for us. The only up-side to this story is that mum made a cake. And regular readers know how much I love cake! As I’ve said before, I grow and pick flowers for my MIL Joan as a way of keeping her connected with me and my garden- showing her what’s in flower 52 weeks of the year. But this time I also picked a bouquet for a friend who is having an operation today. Hopefully the sweet williams, alstroemeria and first sweet peas of the season will brighten her day. Flowers do have the power to calm and reassure. 

Pink alstroemeria -from Viv Marsh Postal Plants, flowers virtually all year round in my unheated poly tunnel. I grow them in 60cm pots, as the roots have a reputation for spreading. Growing them under cover protects them from the weather and also from snail and slug damage. Flowers last  for about three weeks in a vase. Easy to grow, repeat flowering, and long lasting. They are no trouble at all. Please excuse the state of my poly tunnel, which needs a good clean. I’ve bought some special detergent from LBS Horticulture, which apparently just needs spraying on. Will report back when I’ve tried it. The one problem with poly tunnels is the algae. It’s not like having glass which can easily be washed down. And it builds up on the inside and outside surfaces. Still, it was cheap to put up and gives me a dry working area in the winter. 

I planted these sweet williams last summer. They arrived in a parcel as a twitter plant swop. I love free plants, and always have loads of my own to spare. I’m quite often posting margarine containers full of little seedlings all around the country. You can see my rather rickety hazel A-frame structure for sweet peas in the background. I just hope it doesn’t blow over in a storm. 

I love the jewel-like colours of these sweet williams. They last for ages in a vase and produce large quantities of flower in a small space. I’ve just sown some more to plant out in the autumn. The seeds germinated in two days in all the hot weather we’ve been having, and there are hundreds of little seedlings to prick out.

My sweet peas have just started flowering. I had a disaster with the autumn-sown seed. A mouse got in the propagator and snaffled the lot in one night. There was just a sea of snapped off stems. Not to be deterred, I planted the stems as if they were cuttings, and amazingly they carried on growing. Another tip if you are growing sweet peas is to use the pinched-out tips as cuttings. They will produce plants that will flower right up until November. I discovered this by accident when I left the pinched-out tips on a tray of moist compost and they rooted down and planted themselves.  Aren’t plants just amazing.

I’m growing High Scent, a good reliable sweet pea variety- and it really does have a wonderful old fashioned scent. It was raised by Keith Hammett and introduced in 2003. It has a creamy  ruffled flower with a delicate lilac edge. I’m also growing Albutt Blue, a very pretty pale blue flower with a deeper blue picotee rim.  It was raised by Harvey Albutt and introduced by Eagle Seeds in 1999. It’s been a favourite of mine ever since. I buy seed from Easton Walled Gardens, Roger Parsons and Eagles. If you don’t have  facilities to grow your own, you can buy mail order plants in the spring from Easton. Also, Mum and I spotted some really great sweet pea plants at Coton Manor garden nursery in Northampton in May, for just a few pounds each.  It’s good to have a back up plan. 

I always put lemon balm and mint in my cut flower bouquets. It goes so well with the sweet peas and roses. And for my friend, who’s spending the day in hospital, it will be a lovely scent to come home to. 

My potting shed, where I’m sowing seeds and making cut flower posies, overlooks a horseshoe pond and tall willows. On the other side of the trees is this view of surrounding countryside. I’ve cut holes in the hedge to make viewing points through. And all my hedgerows are woven with scented roses and honeysuckle. It’s a peaceful place….just don’t look at the weeds! 

Are you growing any cut flowers for friends and family this year? I’d love to hear  what’s  growing in your garden. And thanks, as always, to Cathy at  for hosting In a Vase on Monday.  You can join in even if you have jamjars like me.  And if anyone knows any miracle cures for low internet speeds in the countryside…..please, please let me know! Sigh 🙂 x 

27 thoughts on “In a Vase on Monday….er…Friday 

  1. Hi, Karen! It was nice to meet you on Sunday at Cathy’s open day. I thought it would be rude not to come and visit your blog. Loved seeing your sweet peas and sweet Williams. They’re two of my favourite childhood flowers. I must try to grow them more often. I know you must have enjoyed Cathy’s cakes on Sunday – the lime and coconut and the lemon drizzle cakes we know were delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello there, and thanks for getting in touch. It was lovely to see you at Cathy’s gorgeous garden. Mum and I had such a lovely day out. And the cake was a highlight – especially as we had a good view of the garden. Was so impressed with Cathy’s building skills. I am feeling really fired up with quite a few new projects – having been inspired by Cathy’s garden. Thanks for you kind words- and welcome to my blog! If you ever come this way, I would love to see you at Easton Walled Gardens for the sweet pea festival. I worked there last year. Such a heavenly place to work. I can highly recommend the tea and cake in the little cafe. Also I regularly visit NT Stoneywell, which belonged to my family. Let me know if you’ve got time to visit. Love karen xx


  2. Oh what glorious blooms Karen – and useful tips about sweet pea cuttings as well as a reminder to sow more sweet wiliiam NOW.! I would like some single colour varieties if I can find them – any ideas? Thank you so much for my little posy – handpicked flowers, grown and picked with love, are definitely the best, aren’t they? ☺

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    • Hello Cathy. A big thank you for inviting us into your garden. Mum and I thought it was a paradise! We were so happy sitting in your little garden room enjoying delicious cake and tea, with such a a heavenly view of the flowers. We talked about it all the way home. The conversation went…. ” and did you see that….” repeated! We went home with some treasures too. Loved the plant stall. I can highly recommend for single flower sweet williams. Particularly Oeschberg Violet and Sooty ( deep plum ). I’m glad you liked my little posy. See you again soon, I hope. You’ve fired me with new enthusiasm for my own garden. I’m not going to wait around for anyone to help me ever again! Love karen xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • You were most welcome of course and it was a joy to see you both – I am so glad you enjoyed the visit and thank you for all your kind comments, both on the blog and in person. I wonder what you took home from the plant stall…? Good luck with future projects now that your loins are girded…! 🙂

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  3. Karen her basket of flowers is gorgeous, her friend must have been very pleased to receive it. Sweet Williams love and smell wonderful. Smell Peas are beautiful and their fragrance is magical. Greetings from Margarita.


    • Thank you. Your kind words are much appreciated. My friend’s operation was a success and she loved the flowers. I feel that home-grown flowers are a little bit more special than bought ones. They last for ages because they are so fresh. Thanks again for reading the blog and getting in touch. Have a lovely weekend. x


    • Thank. You for your kind words. Ah, you’ll have free plants from those seed. I love that. My Mum has just sown some old fashioned auricular-eyed sweet williams. I’m growing some stained glass ones. Between us, we’ll have it covered. Have a lovely weekend xxx 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your flowers are beautiful. I’ve never had much of a green thumb. My husband is better at it than me, and he keeps the small groups of flowers around our townhome looking nice. I just get to sit back and enjoy them. 😊

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