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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, November 30, 2015

In A Vase On Monday - 1 Advent

Sunday marked the first day of Advent which, in the liturgical Christian tradition, is the beginning of the year, a time to prepare, to share the expectancy, clear away and make space for the coming of a child. The story of a wonder child or god child born around the winter solstice predates Christianity and is present in many ancient stories from the classical and new worlds.  A Native American story relates that raven sees the people living in darkness, becomes a pine needle which is swallowed by the chief's daughter who gives birth to raven in the form of a child.    The raven-child steals, one by one, the stars, moon, and finally the sun  from the chief releasing them into the sky.  At this time of year, we light candles and burn fires to drive the dark away and to prepare for the returning of the light. In any case, it was with this feeling of expectancy that I went wandering in the garden in the dying light to cut stems for today's arrangement that give hope for the returning of the light and rebirth even as the old year is dying. (If you're interested in historic winter celebrations and the roots of many of our traditions, I highly recommend the book The Winter Solstice by John Matthews.)

Here's what I found.  Lots of rose hips, Euphorbia wulfenii which looks green all winter, seed heads from grasses, a branch of Paulownia tomentosa seed pods and some Berberis 'Orange Rocket' (just because it's pretty) and a few Callicarpa branches.

Sunday is a busy day and my arrangements tend to get thrown together fairly quickly.  Around the vase are crowded other things sitting around the house/garden containing the promise of new life.

A couple of amaryllis (hippeastrum) bulbs that just came home yesterday, a narcissus 'Angels in Water' from china, a bird's nest found in the garden years ago, some tulip bulbs from a bag on the back porch that are still unplanted, various seed pods, and a candle keeping the light in the darkness as we prepare a way.
We, as gardeners, prepare for the returning of the light by planting bulbs, ordering seeds, making plans for next year's garden projects, and by watching for signs of life and light in the deepining darkness of the season, promises of the spring and summer to come.  We are pregnant with possibilities and expectant of greater joy to come. 



Furrows, be glad though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

From "People Look East" by Eleanor Farjeon (1881 - 1965)

In A Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  Click over to her site to see her Monday Vase and those of other participating bloggers.  Thanks, Cathy, for this fun floral party!

29 comments:

  1. The arrangement (as always) is stunning and the words.....thoughtful and inspiring. Thank you for your wonderful blog.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words and for reading!

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  2. Oh, you've outdone yourself in this post with the writing. So much in it to ponder. I do like the winter solstice slant. Marvelous!

    I just ordered the book. Here's a link to an interview with the author. Good reading: http://loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=98-P13-00052&segmentID=1

    What a gift you have given us. Many thanks.

    PS The bouquet incorporating the candle and found objects is pretty darn nice, as well. So much symbolism there.

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    1. Thank you, Jane. Glad you enjoyed the post. I noticed when looking at Amazon that the author has also written a book called "The Summer Solstice" which I had to order. It's fun to throw some symbolism in every now and then.

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  3. Love the arrangement, in the vase and bellow. I have an affinity to birds' nests. I once found an empty nest and situated it in an outdoor pot. It looked beautiful until the raccoons tore it up the next day! Yours have much better survival odds; the tulip bulbs are a nice touch.

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    1. Thanks, Chava. The nest is pretty strong, made of mud and grass and has lived out on our back porch for several years now. Sorry about the raccoons tearing up your nest. Scoundrels!

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  4. Beautiful Peter, and thank you for the link/invitation to learn more. You never cease to inspire.

    (p.s...what is the vase made out of? It looks like a beauty)

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Loree. The vase is a clear glass thrift store find from years ago that never got used. The white color is from euphorbia sap.

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  5. Everything about this post is wonderful, Peter, from props to poem. Looking at your vase, I think I really should leave my roses alone to develop those beautiful hips - they fit the season well.

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    1. Thank you Kris! I stop cutting the spent roses at the end of August to allow the development of hips which is supposed to allow the bush to stop trying to bloom and to prepare it for the dormant season to come. Don't know if that's true or not but it's a reason to be lazy so I go with it.

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  6. This is a beautiful arrangement. The purple berries with the big fat orange rose hips go together so well. And then all the found objects placed around the base.

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    1. Thanks Alison! It'll probably be the last big arrangement for a while as winter pickings are usually a bit slimmer.

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  7. You always do the most beautiful, evocative arrangements. And an equally beautiful text. I have at least a couple of bookshelves of Christmas books, but gave the Solstice one away a few years ago. A lovely book.

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    1. Thank you! You are too kind. I also love Christmas books.

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  8. I love the natural, wild flair to your arrangement. Unpredictable. Just like the Child, I believe....

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    1. Insightful observations. I love this time of expectation!

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  9. One of my favorite hymns. Gosh, I do think you are an expert floral arranger--really! That's one of the best I've seen in the "in a vase" meme entries--especially with the staircase as the backdrop. Love it.

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    1. You are very kind! The staircase is a wonderful backdrop. I'm usually not satisfied with my own arrangements but throwing something together is a fun exercise.

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  10. You gathered quite a lot of plant material, then turned it into a very elegant and enormous fall arrangement, so lovely with all the swirling grasses and rose hips. The carved wood staircase is such a wonderful setting, and all the bulbs and bird nest are such interesting accompaniements. The Advent season and Solstice are part of the subject of the "Witness of the Stars".

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    1. Thanks Hanna for the kind words and for the book recommendation!

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  11. Oh, Peter, everything about this post is wonderful! The arrangement, of course, is lovely, and the surrounding objects are so meaningful. I know about "borrowing" the winter solstice to superimpose Christian beliefs, but I was not aware of "child" stories that predated Christianity. So besides all of the beauty in your photos and words, I learned something!

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I didn't know about the child stories either until I read the Winter Solstice. Humankind, especially in dark winter climates, look with anticipation for the returning light., probably because in agrarian cultures, so much depended on it.

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  12. Beautiful bouquet, Peter, and I love the wood work of the stair case behind it. Thanks also for the reminder of Advent. Darn it - I miss it every year! In Sweden, we light a candle for each Sunday, starting with the first of Advent. By the time we get to the fourth one, it's Christmas, and we have a nice tiered candle arrangement. But wouldn't you know it - somehow I always fail to get my candles out until mid-December. Which forces me to cheat a little in regards to candle burning, in order to achieve that clean, stepped look of the Advent candles. Always a bit behind, it seems. I will definitely check that book out - I find this stuff fascinating!

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    1. Thanks Anna. There's still time to catch up with the advent candles!

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  13. What a delightful post Peter - you are so creative with you words, your settings and your arrangements. Such a pleasure to see and read - thank you so much for sharing

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    1. Thank you for the kind words and for hosting IAVOM which is my reason to make arrangements.

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  14. Spectacular, Peter! The bulbs, birds nest and candle are inspirational props. Your creativity is a pleasure I look forward to. :-)

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    1. Thank you for reading and for your kind words, Eliza!

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  15. You really have a flair for flower arranging. I love the creative way you have set it off with all the surrounding objects. I was also glad to see that I am not the only one who has not finished tulip planting.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.