In a Vase on Monday. Bonkers!

I have been rereading E.A. Bowles and his book ‘My Garden in Spring’  is a wonderful reminder that my favourite season is on its way. Bowles dedicated a whole chapter to what he called ‘The Lunatic Asylum‘ corner of his garden where he grew his ‘demented plants’. I was going to use ‘Lunatic Asylum ‘as the title for this post but my daughter is a Clinical Psychologist and she would be appalled if she saw it. Nowadays we have done away with these awful places and we are more caring and understanding about mental health issues. I hope I get away with using the word ‘bonkers’. Bowles first intended making a Japanese garden but then he realised that such gardens bristling with ‘bronze cranes and stone lanterns…giant toads and pagodas‘ had become fashionable. I am sympathetic with his horror at the idea of having a fashionable garden, after all which serious horticulturalist relishes the idea of being trendy? So then he decided to collect plants with abnormal and weird characteristics instead.

His first and most crazy occupant was the twisted hazel, Corylus avallana ‘Contorta’ which was then quite new. It was found growing in a hedgerow by Canon Ellecombe in 1863 and he gave a piece to Bowles. He added quite a few elders and trees with Witch’s Brooms. He grew strange or stunted forms of laburnum, ash and viburnum. I don’t know if they are still available but I am not interested in seeking out plants just because they are weird. But I love the corkscrew hazel in winter. It has lovely long catkins and looks beautiful backlit by the sun. Unfortunately its twisted leaves look awful in summer.

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

I am sure Bowles would have included Meuhlenbeckia astoni in his lunatic asylum if he had seen it.  This shrub comes into its own in winter when it looks like  shiny tangled copper wire.

Meuhlenbeckia astonii

Meuhlenbeckia astonii comes from New Zealand. It is a mass of  thin wildly zigzag bare branches and I love it. It is even crazier than the hazel.

Meuhlenbeckia astonii

Bowles included a dwarf form of the native Daphne laureola in his lunatic asylum and as I have this popping up all over the garden it is a good one to put in my vase. The little yellow flowers are not highly fragrant but I love the shiny, green leaves.

Daphne laureola

I looked round the garden but the rest of my plants seem quite sane so I finished off with a rose to add a bit of panache. After all a rose in January is bonkers.

My jug, a rather eccentric present from lovely, but eccentric friends, is peculiar as the pouring lip and the handle are on the same side making it useless for pouring.  Given the person represented on the jug this is perhaps intentional.

He is clearly having a bad hair day  but it is a bit windy.

Thank you Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting In a Vase on Monday. If you pop over there you will find lots of creative January vases with no lunacy involved.

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28 Responses to In a Vase on Monday. Bonkers!

  1. the running wave says:

    I love your jug’s bad hair day! And the rose in winter is perfect. I also checked out your vase last Monday, which I had missed! So many wonderful perfumes and a huge range of flowers. What a lovely seasonal garden you must have! Amanda

    • Chloris says:

      These twisty shrubs are great for creating crazy hairstyles. I am glad you enjoyed last week’s vase with all its scented treasures. I love your sweetly pretty posy. Next time I will be back to pretty things, I don’t want to give people nightmares.

  2. pbmgarden says:

    What fun to read your posts! Meuhlenbeckia astoni is fascinating. I love that daphne you’ve used today. I’ve never know of it before.
    (Even in vase form I wouldn’t allow that man in my house. Plan a ceremony to cleanse the evil spirits.)

    • Chloris says:

      Mueuhlenbeckia astoni is fabulous for the winter garden. I grow it in front of Prunus serrula with shiny chestnut bark.
      The jug is sitting on the dining room table. The Pianist insists on the face being turned away whilst he is eating. Don’t worry I’ll get rid of it soon, and you’ll never see it again.

    • tonytomeo says:

      I was sort of thinking the same thing. I don’t mean to dog the President. I just would not want ‘that’ in the home. ICK!

  3. I love those twisty branches. I wonder how many of those jugs were sold.

  4. bcparkison says:

    My Aunt brought me a head vase from England years ago. I think it is more of a jug but have never used it for flowers. Maybe I should. The Duke of Wellington would make a lovely vase.The daffs are beging to bloom.

    • Chloris says:

      The Duke of Wellington would make a rather more dignified vase than my crazy one. How lovelt to have daffs in bloom. My ‘Early Sensation’ ones are just starting.

  5. Cathy says:

    It was interesting to read of the origins of the twisted hazel – and strangely I don’t notice the leaves in summer so must remember to take note this year! The Meuhlenbeckia is amazing – like one of those molecular structures. How tall does it grow? I am wondering if I can fit one in… Love your thinking incorporating these oddities into you useless vase and I look forward to hearing if you decide to hold some sort of ceremony to clear the energies once it is gone! Still, thank you for sharing it!

  6. Kris P says:

    Oh to have Daphne popping up all over! As to the jug character, I think his bad hair days are perpetual…

  7. Bonkers is one of my favourite words. I too admire contorted hazel but dislike the sick looking curled leaves. Your vessel as vase is possibly the most ugly pot I have seen! Well done Chloris, a collection of looney toons

  8. Anna says:

    The meuhlenbeckia astonii is most intriguing Chloris. What does it get up to in the summer? Now that is one vase that I would not simply give house room to 🙂

  9. Chloris says:

    It is a lovely winter plant. In summer it is covered in small leaves and doesn’t look so exciting. I know what you mean, the vase gives me the creeps too.

  10. Looney times here as we watch the proceedings in the Senate. I have seen none of your plants except the Hazel, which I love. The mug is appropriate for the Muehelenbeckia, providing the perfect hairstyle. My husband will get a laugh from this but would have the same reaction as The Pianist.

  11. snowbird says:

    Hahahaha….just loved this! I’d have to turn that creatures face around while eating too!xxx

  12. I’m not sure if I would want to see that jug first thing in the morning, with or without flowers. That Muehlenbeckia is quite astonishing, like a plant designed by MC Escher.

  13. tonytomeo says:

    If I had a comment about the components here, that mug made me forget about it. But why are people in other countries as disgusted with American politics as we are?

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