In a Vase on Monday. A Walk on the Wild Side .

I have been away on a cycling holiday in the beautiful Cotentin region of the Cherbourg peninsula.  This is a part of Normandy which people rush past on their way to the south. But for cyclists like us, anxious to get away from tourists it is perfect. It is a land of lonely marshes and meadows punctuated by dykes and lazy rivers.


The  wildlife is wonderful. We saw otters and storks. The otters were too fast for me but here is a stork.

Instead of acres of wheat and barley like we have here, there were little fields  and  hedges and meadows with beautiful Normandy cows and French Trotter horses or the distinctive donkeys of the Cotentin.

There was mile upon mile of empty beaches of golden sand.

But apart from the solitude and the  wonderfully flat, deserted roads, it was the abundance of wild flowers which particularly delighted me.  So I was inspired to use wild flowers for a vase this week.  It’s not really a walk on the wild side, just the bottom of my garden where the last vestiges of my wild flower garden are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. I used to have clouds of yellow daffodils followed by a froth of cow parsley and ox -eye daisies in the orchard. But then I got fed up with the total mess it looked in late summer and did away with it all  to make way for my secret garden. I have planted a little copse of birches at the bottom of the garden and here I have wild flowers  grown from seed along with the Ox Eye daisies and Knapweed which put themselves there.

I should have taken the photograph before I picked the flowers.

Just like in Normandy, the verges round where I live are full of Field Scabious, Knautia arvensis and Hedge Bedstraw, Galium mollugo. In the ditches and damp places you can find Meadowsweat, Filipendula ulmaria 

The cornflowers are from my cutting bed and the Meadow sweet, Filipendula ulmaria is from the damp edges round my large pond which is little more than a puddle this year.

Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria

Meadowsweet used to be used as a strewing herb as Gerard says ‘The smell thereof makes the heart merrie, delighteth the senses’ – so it seems a good idea to have it in a vase as strewing herbs seem to have gone out of fashion now we no longer gnaw on bones and throw them over our shoulders.  I have long admired Field Scabious and so I decided to collect some seed and grow my own. It is pretty enough to go in the borders. The little white starry flowers are Hedge Bedstraw, Galium mollugo.

Field Scabious, Knautia arvensis.

In another out of the way part of the garden I have set some Ladys’ Bedstraw, Galium verum. I forgot to put it in the vase in the first photo. So here is the vase now. Lady’s Bedstraw was also used as a strewing herb and I can see why as it is beautifully fragrant, it smells of honey. It is very invasive so if you grow it put it in an out of the way place where it can romp away.

Lady’s bedstraw, Galium verum

My Lady’s Bedstraw is in a sunny spot and it is abuzz with bees and butterflies and so is the Field Scabious and Greater Knapweed, Centaurea scabiosa. I have never actually planted the knapweed, in fact I spend my life trying to get rid of it. But the insects love it.

Tortoiseshell butterfly on Knapweed


Meadow Brown Butterfly on Field Scabious

I have also used oats which were growing up the lane, a bit of White Campion and a few sprigs of orange Hieracium aurantiacum which is sometimes called ‘Foxes and Cubs’.

Actually, I think it looks better without the yellow Lady’s Bedstraw but I am keeping it in because the honey scent fills the room. The jug is a Portmeirion one which I bought when we visited a few years ago. I love to have a few native plants about the garden as long as they are not too invasive  and the bees and butterflies really appreciate them.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by the endlessly inventive Cathy at ramblinginthegarden.

I am going over right now to see what she has been up to and to catch up with other blogging friends.



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28 Responses to In a Vase on Monday. A Walk on the Wild Side .

  1. pbmgarden says:

    Lovely vases and a terrific post. Stork, horses, cows, beach, and array of wild flowers–enjoyed learning about the wild side of your travels and gardens. Glad you had an interesting cycling trip. Have a good week.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Susie. I am crazy about wild flowers and what particularly delighted me in Frande were banks of wild orchids. I should perhaps have mentioned that the beaches included the famous Normandy DD landing beaches including Omaha and Utah.

  2. Cathy says:

    Oh thank you for your Fench photos as well as your vase – love the spotty cow!! And what an informative post this was, telling us about the wild flowers and their habits and uses – mind you, I am a bit taken aback that you no longer partake of gnawing bones and throwing them over your shoulder… whatecve is the world coming too…? 😉 I suppose you are going to tell me you don’t fill your matresses with Galium verum either? Never mind, your wild and countryfied vase is lovely and thanks for sharing

  3. It’s fun to think of you cycling in Normandy during the Tour de France, but I imagine you enjoyed a somewhat slower pace. Nothing tops tranquil countryside. I appreciated a similar view from my hotel window in Arnhem and it has stuck with me. Your tribute vase is quite charming, especially the starry bedstraw, with its tiny globes of flowers cascading over the rim.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Marian. Well I have to admit it was a much more sedate pace than the Tour de France. In fact I should come clean and admit that we have e-bikes! But you still have to pedal, it’s just that hills don’t leave you feeling in need of urgent medical attention. You see them a lot in France and Germany. But here in England people often shout out ‘ Cheat!’. I’m not sure who we are supposed to be cheating.

  4. Cathy says:

    I love the little starry flowers of bedstraw and meadowsweet and can imagine the lovely scent. Lots of native wildflowers may be untidy in the garden but produce lovely airy material for vases! 🙂

  5. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Such a wonderfully wild arrangement to celebrate your cycling trip. Love your container!

  6. Kris P says:

    Your holiday sounds absolutely wonderful to me. The idea of having a wild area where untamed plants can romp with abandon is also very attractive but, sadly, our lot doesn’t afford me that opportunity. Your vase is a great way to celebrate – and extend – your holiday.

    • Chloris says:

      Having a wild flower area is always a balance. It looks wonderful in spring but by late summer it looks a terrible mess. And it is not easy to look after as the rank weeds have a habit of taking over.

  7. Alison C says:

    Your holiday in Normandy sounds wonderful and looks beautiful. What interesting vases and so good to know the insects are catered for.

    • Chloris says:

      Indeed it was wonderful, I didn’ t know that you could find parts of France that aren’t swarming with English tourists.
      I love wildflowers and yes, it is a bonus to know that the insects are enjoying them too.

  8. When the WordPress notice popped up I thought you had put some cows in vases. Goodness,that is lovely and the whole thing must be what inspired Portmerion to start Botanic Garden. Followed by David Austin.

    • Chloris says:

      Cows in a vase? Now even Cathy wouldn’t have thought of that. I do love these Normandy cows though. They look as if they are wearing spectacles.
      I love the Portmerion Botanic Garden range and this hummingbird vase was irrestible.

  9. mrsdaffodil says:

    Lovely post. The hummingbird vase with its delightful bouquet. The butterflies! All that and travel photos, too.

  10. Oh, this sounds like an idyllic holiday. How interesting to hear Lady’s Bedstraw smells so delightfully of honey, I’ve often wondered about the connotations.

  11. Flighty says:

    Lovely post and pictures. xx

  12. Sam says:

    The part of France you visited sounds lovely and it looks as though you had good weather. I love wildflowers and we are encouraging them in parts of the garden. I may regret it but it’s all good so far! This is a gorgeous, effervescent combination and I love the vase, too.

  13. Bodger says:

    Meadowsweet, does what it says on the tin. Has to be one of my favourite flower perfumes and it grows in your garden, you fortunate person. Thanks for a great read.

  14. Brian Skeys says:

    Wonderful to see an arrangement of wild flowers. Love the spotty cow!

  15. Lavinia Ross says:

    A beautiful place to vacation, Chloris! And lovely flower arrangements, too. 🙂

  16. Anna says:

    A most interesting and beautiful area of France to spend a holiday in Chloris. Our ancient camper van took us there several years ago. Sadly we missed out on the otters and storks but appreciated those fabulous beaches and the solitude. Your flowers and vase were made for each other 🙂

  17. bittster says:

    An empty summer beach, what a refreshing scene. Sounds like you had a wonderful time and I hope you didn’t have to cycle too far each day to earn your dinner!
    The wildflowers look great, and it makes me wonder why I bother with all the floral fusspots!
    Nice to see the birches settling in.

  18. snowbird says:

    What a wonderful holiday, right up my street! Lucky you seeing otters, loved the stork, horses and cow pix. Your wildflower vase is just lovely, I always enjoy finding out more about plants here, you never disappoint. Good to have you

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