Friends, flowers, and a wee bit o’ stouthrie




This week’s In a Vase on Monday, hosted as ever by the wonderful Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, gave me a reason, as if I needed one, to get out into Scotland’s glorious sunshine and go a-gathering. ‘Stouthrie’ is Scots for theft, and I own up, I do, because there is no cow parsley frothing and misting about in our back garden, not a bit. So whence cometh this lovely armful? From the swathes and swathes of cow parsley growing alongside the Meadows, that’s where. And what would happen if everyone in Edinburgh went out with their scissors taking bits of cow parsley. There’d be none left for everyone else to enjoy, would there? I hang my head in shame, and you may rap my light-fingered hands and teach me a lesson.


And lo, what have we here? White lilac, indoors? Don’t even get me started on that.



The splendiferous vase was a wedding gift from my very dear old friend, Leanda.


The butterfly lino cut is by another dear old friend, Tessa Hines, who has just had one of her incredibly intricate designs published on the front cover of Alain de Boton’s new book (US edition).


I used the left-over blossoms to fashion this bowl, using oasis salvaged from our wedding flowers. The beautiful silver bowl was another wedding gift from my mother-in-law’s Italian cousin, Laura. It is, in fact, a bread bowl to be lined with white linen and filled with fresh baguette, although in this household, bread barely makes it off the breadboard before being gobbled, boa constrictor-like, by hungry workers.


23 thoughts on “Friends, flowers, and a wee bit o’ stouthrie

  1. I don’t know about lilac indoors, pink or white, but is that may blossom indoors? I hope your grandmother never finds out.
    Leanda’s vase is beautiful, also Tessa’s butterfly, it all looks lovely together, fresh and cool. Is the allium Miami?

    1. It’s not May, it’s some strange thing that has climbed and is strangling one of the trees on the back green. Oh, well, maybe it is some kind of climbing hawthorn. I don’t know. It tumbles down most beautifully. Any kind of blossom is bad luck indoors, it seems. I am not sure about the Allium… I bought it in a pot named “Alliums, mixed” from Bodnant last year. I’d have thought Bodnant would have done me the favour of naming it, but alas not.

  2. Oh Joanna, I had to laugh at your admissions! As we were meant to of course, as this was such an eloquent and humourous post. Thank you for sharing both it and your stunning photographs. In truth you liberated the cow parsley before it was trimed along with the grass, as some of our verges have been recently

    1. Oh yes, I do like the term Liberated. Thank you for your kind comments! Edinburgh Council is wise enough to let the verges along Melville Drive go wild as their exceptional crocuses and daffodils die down. It all gets mown later, but I do adore the wild stage best of all.

      1. I was trying to picture what the verges would look like as I lived on the corner of Warrender Park Crescent as a child … but it was a long time ago 😉

  3. Lovely..I had to google cow parsley. Here in Michigan USA we call it Queen Anne’s Lace. Putting on airs, we are! Bit early for it here.

    1. QAL and CP are similar and belong to the same family (Apiaceae), but in fact are not quite the same thing. In North America, QAL is Daucus carota, the wild carrot. In the UK, cow parsley is Anthriscus sylvestris, which confusingly we also call Queen Anne’s Lace. If you google the two, you will see that the North American QAL is a little bit sturdier, more graceful and more deserving of the grand name than our cow parsley, which truly is a hedgrow weed, though a lovely one. Your QAL looks a great deal like Ammi (‘False Queen Anne’s Lace’), to which of course it is related.

  4. Beautiful Joanna – and you brought back memories of when I was a student living near the Meadows (I would never have done such a wicked thing!) But you know, I don’t remember the cow parsley at all … sad. It really is quite a stunning vase, perfectly set off by the vase itself. And your pictures are superb – I want pictures of your vase on my wall!

    1. Thank you for your generous comments! I am most flattered and would willingly send you .jpegs if you really meant it. It may be that the cow parsley is a new thing, since Edinburgh Council let parts of the edges of the Meadows grow wild whilst their bulb foliage dies down. Perhaps they didn’t use to do that. Alternatively, the cow parsley may not have been out before the summer term broke up and all the students went home. It really is a lovely sight, a froth of wilderness in the heart of the city.

  5. What a pretty vignette the flowers and the linocut art make! I’d love to have lilac in my garden, much less be able to cut it for the house.

  6. ‘Stouthrie’ is a most intrigiuing word Joanna that I’ve not come across before so thanks for the introduction 🙂 It sounds like a cross between theft and stealth. Here cow parsley has gone over already. We are fortunate to have it growing at the side of the lane leading down to our house. It’s great as a filler in vases and is the perfect companion for your other flowers.

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