In a Vase on Monday. Sunshine in February.

Well actually, there is no sunshine today, we have grey skies and snow. But never mind I have brought some sunshine into the house for my vase this Monday.

Forsythia x intermedia

Of course it is not in bloom outside yet, but I cut these branches last week and they open up in the warmth of the house very quickly. Forsythia is such a common sight in every garden that it doesn’t stop us in our tracks, although perhaps it would if we saw it for the first time. I am not sure which this one, probably either’ Lynwood Gold’ or ‘Spectabilis’. I have dug up countless forsythias in this garden, but I keep this large one simply for the pleasure of bringing some early spring into the house. The flowers are a shiny and bright, even rather brash yellow.


In my last post I came clean and admitted to being a cherry blossom snob and now I have to admit to being a forsythia snob. But when buying plants I do believe in buying the best and choicest cultivars. Rather than choose the ubiquitous canary- yellow forsythia I would go for the lovely primrose yellow Forsythia suspensa ‘Nymans’. But then perhaps on a day like today, the brighter the better.

Not even the pickiest plant snob could object to any of the dear little reticulated irises. The name comes from the fact that the bulbs are covered in a net-like coat. They come in a wonderful range of colours and there are some gorgeous new hybrids. Some little irises come up year after year, specially any of the histrioides hybrids. Others such as the yellow Iris danfordiae disappear without trace so you have to treat them like annuals. As it is such a dismal day I thought I would bring a few into the house. Some I had in pots in the greenhouse, the others I had to grub around in the snow to find. I used Iris ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’, ‘Alvide’, ‘Harmony’,’Pauline’, ‘Painted Lady’ and ‘Katharine’s Gold’. I have nice fat buds of other varieties waiting to open, so the little iris season doesn’t come all at once.




Thanks to Cathy at ramblinginthegarden for encouraging us to have some cheery vases to enjoy, specially during the bleakest winter months when we gardeners are champing at the bit waiting for spring.

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57 Responses to In a Vase on Monday. Sunshine in February.

  1. Christina says:

    Iโ€™d read the weather was very bad in England. Here is was absolutely freezing all day but today it has warmed up a bit. I love all your little Irises, I must buy some more for n cut year; there are very few this year in the garden.

    • Chloris says:

      I’ve been looking at the long range forecast and it doesn’t look very cheery here.
      A lot of these little iries don’t last long because they split up into little bubils and get lost. If you pot them up they will grow on. Or look out for Iris histrioides which is much more robust.

  2. pbmgarden says:

    The forsythia is cheery but my heart goes to those gorgeous reticulated irises. Haven’t seen such color ranges–just lovely. Have a great week. Hope the sun finds you soon.

  3. What a wealth of iris and I especially like your mix of colors. Our forsythia is not yet flowering, but I have Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’, the Japanese flowering apricot, and she is (thankfully) managing to hold her own despite the bitter cold that has outstayed its welcome. The forecast is looking better for the coming week though. Hope you get a respite too.

    • Chloris says:

      Oh I don’t know Peggy Clarke but I just googled it and it looks very similar to my Prunus mume ‘Beni-Chidori’ which is looking glorious now. I am worried in case this cold spell will turn the flowers brown.

  4. What a pretty colour combination of irises and your Forsythia is indeed very sunny!

  5. Those little Iris are so pretty! Nothing shouts spring! like a jar of Forsythia,the brighter the better.

  6. I love Forsythia and miss them as they do not grow in the South.

    • Chloris says:

      They come from Asia I believe. I suppose it is too dry for them where you live. They are a bit overplanted here so people tend to despise them a bit. But they are welcome for their early blooms.

      • Actually, I’m on the wet side of Texas. We deal with swamps, fungus and countless insects. Similar to New Orleans. I enjoy all your bulbs, as most don’t make it here and either rot or get eaten by bugs. We received 60-90 inches of rain this year depending where one lives in the county. My guess is Forsythia do not get enough cold time in the winter.

      • Chloris says:

        Oh I see. My geography of America is a bit vague but I always imagined Texas as dry and hot with lots of oilwells, cows, and rattlesnakes.

      • Yes, most people do and I did before I moved here. We have the oil wells, cows and snakes, just wetter. I am often surprised about your part of the world and how early your flowers are blooming. Blogging sure does make the world a little smaller.

  7. Oh you made me happy to dream of spring even more with these vases….I do have to cut some forsythia stems soon and my favorite early bulbs are reticulated irises!

    • Chloris says:

      I have never tried cutting forsythia so early before but it came in to bloom very quickly. I am now trying some apple blossom. Yes I love these little irises too.

  8. mrsdaffodil says:

    A lovely combination of irises – perfect complementary colours. Just the sight of them gives me pleasure and anticipation of what’s to come.

  9. Cathy says:

    Ah, so THAT’s what you are, a plant snob – sytraight from the horse’s mouth…! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I always had my suspicions… ๐Ÿ™‚ Only teasing, Chloris, as I am something of the sort too, although not of course in the sme league as you are so knowledgable on all the ‘best’ cultivars. I remember when you showed forsythia another year in a vase and it really made me think again, for the very reasons that you have talked about today. I have none here, but perhaps if I was to go down that route I need to look for F suspensa โ€˜Nymansโ€™, as recommended by The Master (Mistress?). What a lovely selection of iris you have too, something else I am mentally making a note of for future plans… Thank for sharing, as always

    • Chloris says:

      Indeed, it’s a touch of the pot calling the kettle… You are very fussy and discerning about what you plant I’ve noticed. I wouldn’t keep that forsythia if it was in a prominent place but it is fine where it is, a bit hidden away. And I do love cutting big branches of it for Easter. I have never cut it so early before and it is a bonus to be able to enjoy a potful in early February. I am now trying some apple blossom to see if I can get it to open up early.
      I am really into little irises in pots, I shall do more next year.

      • Cathy says:

        Hmm, perhaps there is some evidence to that effect; perhaps I ought to take the line of least resistance and plead guilty…

  10. Sam says:

    I love little irises (more so than the big summer ones) but I am afraid I do not like forsythia in a garden one bit. Your stems in a vase bring a lovely splash of sunshine indoors, though.

    • Chloris says:

      I see what you mean about forsythia in the garden, it’s a bit suburban. Once all the daffodils are out we don’t really need such an overload of bright yellow. But as I said I keep this one bush for early cutting. But F. suspensa ‘Nymans’ is a more delicate primrose colour and can be used as a climber

  11. Beautiful Iris reticulata. How I love them. I now have them growing outside every window of the house so that I can see them whatever the weather throws at us. I know what you mean about Forsythia – it’s tricky to place, but a few stems in the house is a cheery addition at this time of year.

    • Chloris says:

      Hello Sarah, nice to hear from you. Little iris are gorgeous and there are so many new hybrids with yummy colours. I’ve got my eye on one called Eyecatcher for next year.
      My forsythia is hidden away and I keep it for cutting, I love watching the flowers unfold in the warmth.

  12. Peter says:

    Thank you for both the brilliant sunny yellow Forsythia and the delightful iris! I hope your snow disappears soon!

  13. Kris P says:

    You need to make a trip to Southern California! There’s no dreary rain here and plenty of warm sunshine. You don’t see Forsythia much here as it’s not suited to our climate but then forcing blooms isn’t a “thing” here either. I do wish I could find Iris reticulata, though. They’re charming.

    • Chloris says:

      I love the idea of being in California in the warmth but I don’t suppose it will ever happen. I love the idea of being able to garden all year round without having to wrap up like the Abominable Snowman. I hope you find some Iris reticulata, they are little jewels.

  14. tonytomeo says:

    Because so many other flowers bloom through winter here, forsythia is uncommon. I like it, not only because it is such flashy bright yellow (and not an Acacia dealbata!), but also because it looks ‘wintry’. I know that sound silly, but there are not many plants that look like they should in a real winter.
    These are the first Iris reticulata that I have seen as a cut flower. I did not think that had much stem to them, or that they would last long once cut.

    • Chloris says:

      To me forsythia looks springlike, it blooms along with the daffodils here. Acacea dealbata is not hardy here. I spent a few winter weeks in the south of France a few years ago and near Nice there are mimosa forests which I found magical. I have one in my greenhouse to remind me.
      I have never picked the Iris before so I don’t know how long it will last.

  15. Alison C says:

    Another idea for me to try. I’ve just looked at my forsythia and it is in tight bud so I’ll have to bring some in. I fear it is the run of the mill ubiquitous one but bright and sunny none the less.
    Your Iris are a delight.

  16. Eliza Waters says:

    Spring beauty! Being so easy, I think everyone should have at least one forsythia bush for cutting to force inside in winter. So cheerful, as are your iris. I often wondered why they never came back a second year for me. I planted some I.histroides this fall, so perhaps they will return. Time will tell.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes and your winters are so long and cold that cutting some branches and watching them open is a particularly good idea. I am experimenting with different ones. Good luck with the irises.

  17. Irises and Forsythia blooming–how nice! I’m at least a month behind you. My Forsythias bloom in April, so I should be able to force some in March. Thanks for sharing your spring blooms!

  18. snowbird says:

    I like Forsythia, it is always a welcome sight in spring. Oh, oh….those iris in that vase…..to DIE for. Just gorgeous!xxx

  19. Anna says:

    I think that I might be a forsythia snob too Chloris although a primrose version sounds much more pleasing to the eye. I do appreciate the shrub outside the allotment gates though and confess to having occasionally cut off the odd small branch to bring home with me. Your bowl filled with little irises is quite exquisite.

    • Chloris says:

      The forsythia is hidden away, I don’t give it the time of day when it blooms in the garden but it is lovely for cutting. The irises are divine, you can never have too many.

  20. Forsythia is so… well, all sorts of adjectives spring to mind … and yet it was one of the first shrubs I could recognise, even as a three-year-old, as we had one where I lived, and so I have a stubborn fondness for it, however unfashionable it remains. There is a big shrub of it on our communal backgreen, and because it does not belong to me I couldn’t possibly remove it, and that is my excuse!
    I didn’t really know the difference between the reticulata and histroides irises until I had to dig my Iris ‘George’ (histroides) up and move it in the autumn, and found that the bulbs were five times bigger than those of the reticulata, and a fleshy white colour rather than the fibrous pale brown of the reticulata. ‘George’ comes back every year with no fuss at all. However, I have had some success with a few reticulata too, and in fact I noticed that some are popping up just now for their third season. We are very cool and damp here, and perhaps that’s what they like.

    • Chloris says:

      Common, is that the word you are looking for? But yes forsythia and flowering currant take me straight back to my childhood. And it is great for cutting.

  21. Those Forsythia are very much like sunshine!

  22. I am not a great forsythia fan myself, I did once grow a variegated one that had lovely foliage. Still they look nice in a vase, so perhaps I am softening. But the iris are a different thing altogether. Love them!

  23. Chloris says:

    I wouldn’t put forsythia anywhere prominent, it is hidden away and I don’t look at it in spring. But now when the ground is frozen solid it brings some sunshine into the house. Yes the iris are special. I love them in pots, the ones in the ground are looking a bit limp.

  24. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Those little irises are delightful. I wonder if they would grow in a very challenging climate such as the one we have here in New South Wales. Extremes of temperatures. I can grow bearded irises quite successfully.

    • Chloris says:

      Hello Jane, welcome to my blog. I don’t see why Iris reticulata shouldn’t cope with your climate. But some of them dwindle here after a year or two. But they are very cheap to buy and lovely in pots.

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