When the winter chrysanthemums go
there is nothing to write about
but radishes’. Matsuo Basho.
When the Pianist and I are on a long car journey we keep ourselves entertained by making up limericks about the places we pass by. But we’ll draw a decent veil over those. If we are feeling a bit more intellectual we make up haikus. The haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. It has three lines, the first and the last line have five syllables and the middle line has seven. There are usually two images and the concluding line often juxtaposes them. The poem above is a translation of a haiku by the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. Obviously in translation, the lines are the wrong length and it doesn’t really come off as a haiku, but I can’t read Japanese and you probably can’t either, so we have to make do with the translation.
I do try to have blooms in the garden for every month of the year but after several keen frosts, early December can be quite challenging. But we don’t have to talk about radishes yet, I still have a chrysanthemum looking good in the garden although the rest of them have collapsed. It is the peerless Chrysanthemum ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’. When it first comes out is a bronzey- rust colour but now it has faded a bit and the yellow is more prominent. It is still lovely though.
As we have a Japanese theme today I am using a Mason’s Ironstone jug in the Imari pattern.
And I am using some Japanese netsukes as props. Netsukes are elaborately carved toggles which were made for the traditional Japanese dress. They have holes underneath them which was for a cord to go through. These are probably fakes, signed antique ones cost a fortune.
With the chrysanthemum I have used some yellow sprays of Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ which has a delicate fragrance.
I used Winter Jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum with starry yellow flowers which blooms for weeks in winter on bare branches. If it wasn’t so ubiquitous we would all go mad for it.
I used some buds of Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’. The seedheads are Bupleurum fruticosum.
And then there are some fluffy miscanthus seedheads too. The green leaves are from a bamboo which seemed suitable for a Japanese theme.
I have used dogwood twigs in red, yellow and orange and the bright foliage is yellow Choisya x ternata ‘Sundance’ and Trachelospermum jasminioides which always goes red in winter’.
The orange berries are the wild Iris foetidissima which crops up all over my garden. It is very useful for winter arrangements.
The chrysanthemum or ‘Kiku’ in Japanese is the symbol of longevity and rejuvenation which is a comforting thought as the year is coming to an end and we have decay all round us in the garden.
To see other December vases pop over to the ever resourceful Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. A few frosty nights don’t deter her and her enthusiastic followers.