In a Vase on Monday – 15th July 2019

I’ve discovered, by accident, the magical effect of a sunset on sweet peas. It turns them into mini “stained glass” windows.

Picking them at 9pm, I suddenly find it’s too dark to take photos. Nights are rapidly drawing in. Mid-summer lulls you into a relaxed state of mind. Surely there will always be time to meander round the garden. Then, quite soon after the solstice, everything changes. There’s no streetlights here; dusk means picking your way through tall corridors of dark trees, along grassy paths, past the horseshoe wildlife pond. If you are lucky, you’re accompanied by a barn owl, sweeping along the hedge in eerie silence. You’ll marvel how such a large bird can ever catch any prey without being seen. But they make not the slightest sound and pass by like a shadow. If they see you, they don’t panic and madly swerve as some birds would. They barely acknowledge your intrusion, calmly changing direction and floating over the hedge to continue on the other side. They seem not to flap their wings, but soar and glide as if carried by the wind.

Our boundaries are made from farm posts and galvanised pig wire. We like to keep a connection with the surrounding fields. After all, our garden was once part of the farmland. We’ve simply borrowed the ground to grow fruit and flowers.

There are 10 beds, 1.3m wide by 3m long, divided by narrow slab paths. This year it’s a muddle of potatoes, broadbeans, Sweet williams, daisies and verbascum. A rickety A-frame of hazel rods runs through the centre, for sweet peas. This year I’m growing a combination of heritage types from Easton Walled garden and Higgledy Garden, and new varieties on trial from Mr Fothergills.

Amethyst and rubies; sweet pea flowers shine like jewels in the sunset.

My flowers are being sold at Six Acre Nursery, Costock, Leicestershire, with all proceeds going to Rainbows Hospice for children and young people. I am a voluntary fund-raising ambassador for Rainbows, and I also give slide shows and talks to garden groups for charity.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peaceful walk around my garden at dusk. There’s much to see, even in the gloom.

Links : Cathy In a Vase on Monday :

Easton Walled Gardens :

Higgledy Garden Seeds.

Mr Fothergill’s Seeds

Barn Owl Trust

Notes: Most birds make a flapping, swooping sound when they fly. Owls have special edges to the front of the wing that breaks the air into small streams of wind that rolls to the end of the wing. Comb-like feathers further break down the air into even more smaller streams to create almost silent flight.

33 thoughts on “In a Vase on Monday – 15th July 2019

      • Ha! I thought of planting it too, but it never seems to come up where planted! I collected seed, and put it where I wanted it, but nothing happened. Yet, it has no problem growing where it wants to grow. If you purchase seed, they will likely do just fine. I just resent purchasing something that grows wild.

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    • Thank you. Today I went back to work. It’s a struggle. Either the antibiotics or the infection leaves you with a confused brain! I can’t seem to remember things. Will take it easy for another few days. Thanks again x


      • I think the confusion you recognise is on both counts Karen. It takes the body time to adjust after an onslaught on it. The more mature individuals take a while longer to recover than us bouncy younger sprites! Multivitamins and minerals plus the probiotics go a long way to help in the restabilisation and re-establishment of our systems. The probiotics I settled upon are in capsule form. It’s incredible to see that each capsule contains numbers hugely larger than anything you could find in a retail pack of seeds.

        If it helps to know, I am still feeling a bit daft, but, not down now, after a system upset. The Pb’s,vits and minerals helped there. It’s time to get back to stimulating the synapses now. Each to his/her own way of doing it.
        Onwards and upwards!

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    • Thank you Audrey. There’s an explosion of mice here at the moment. So we are really hoping the barn owls and the tawny owls will help us out! They are running everywhere. We can’t bear to kill them. We set humane traps in the house and then frantically check every 15 minutes ( otherwise they are not humane ).


  1. You just took sweet peas to a whole new level, Karen! I’ll have to check out the effect for myself one day but, as my own sweet peas are long gone for the season, that’ll have to wait until next year. I enjoyed wandering through your garden and your magnificent long shots too.

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    • Thank you. That’s so kind of you to say so. I’ve started to tame the wilder areas. Found baby hedgehogs 5” long. So cute. Tonight we watched a ribbon of great tits, just fledged from their nest, flutter along the boundary hedge and on to the field gate. There was some desperate wing flapping going on to make forward progress. A lovely moment in time. Glad we caught it. Makes all the hard work of gardening worthwhile.


  2. Karen the sweet pea vase is magnificent, the flowers are divine and their fabulous colors, I love them. The vase over the fields and the sunset I love, and you’re right, it looks like a mini-stained glass window. Owls flying by your side without being scared of you, fantastic. My garden also ends at the end in the fields, except for a few meters belonging to a neighbor and has them wild and only cuts the wild grass and has them with a wire fence. The 10 beds of flowers and vegetables are so full that it is a pleasure to see them, I love them. Karen you are a treasure of person: you sell your flowers and you deliver all the income to Rainbows Hospice; and also give talks and you’re your ambassador. I was not wrong to choose you as a friend. Thank you very much for the walk through the garden, although I did not see well it has been a wonderful experience. All the pictures of your garden at nightfall are fabulous and very beautiful, I love them. Thank you very much for explaining how the owls fly, I did not know and I loved it. I hope you are fully recovered from the infection of the hand and the antibiotics that leave you without strength. I’m getting better day by day but with the heat that makes in Madrid I do not go out on the street. Today 36ºC because yesterday we had only 33ºC as a respite, but temperatures are starting to rise every day. Tomorrow, Tuesday 38ºC is what they forecast for Madrid. And the minimum of 23ºC, to sleep without undoing the bed! hahaha It is better to take it with good humor. I hope you have a very good weather. Karen love and health for all your family and for you. Take care and rest. Very loving greetings from Margarita.

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    • Thank you Margarita for your lovely descriptions of what you see in my photos. I’m finally feeling much better too. It’s been a trial as the antibiotics caused all sorts of problems. But finally I’m up and about and picking flowers. It’s 20C here. Last summer we had weeks and weeks at 30C and I thought we would expire. I don’t know how you are coping with such searing heat. Keep cool and rest. Much love and many greetings. And thanks for Your kind words . Karen xxx


      • Karen thank goodness that the bad effects of the antibiotics that you felt bad went through. As for thanking me for the descriptions you do not have to do it, that’s what I see, your garden is wonderful and I love it. I’m glad you have good temperature. I deal with the heat without leaving home and being lying down most of the day and in the afternoon reading or with the computer accompanied with the fan. People make normal life, but I with the medication I take can not with the heat. My ideal summer would be 25ºC maximum. But you have to put up with what you have. I’m very happy that you’re better now. Love and health and strength dear friend. Greetings from Margarita.

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  3. What a lovely effect the sunset has on those sweet peas – and well done for selling blooms to raise funds for the Rainbow charity. Good to see your garden and its surroundings too – thanks for posting

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    • Thank you Cathy. Discovered quite by accident when I’d left it too late to take photos. I stood the vase on the fence post for a minute and observed the effect. I suppose it’s a bit like a light box effect. Anyway, it was a nice surprise and I’ve learned something new. Hope all’s well with you. Love karen x


    • Thank you Eliza. I’d left it too late to take photos, and I just stood the jam jar on the post for a minute. Then I noticed the effect. So lovely to discover something new. I probably won’t be able to replicate it. It was a one off and a magic moment. Thanks again x

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