The Living And The Dead

November is a funny time of year. Certain plants remain in flower across the garden mainly salvias and roses but also Acanthus mollis, pelargoniums and Cerinthe major and their bright blooms look quite out of place beside those that are dying back.

In July I harvested all the spent allium seedheads, and plonked them in a hurry into a vase on our bedroom chest of drawers, where they have been annoying both of us ever since. The arrival of a new jug prompted me to do something about them, and so I cut their long stems back to size and rearranged them. In a month’s time I will probably spray them with a dusting of silver and use them as Christmas decorations.


The drawing is called ‘January Beeches’ and is by an artist called Pamela Grace, who is exhibiting at the Dancing Light Gallery at Whitmuir Organic Farm, just a few miles south of Edinburgh. Winter trees are an appropriate subject for today’s post, because one might say that, like Schrödinger’s Cat, they are both dead and alive at the same time.

And just to prove that we still have plenty of plants still alive and kicking, I made a second vase in this little pewter cup Cerinthe, Salvia ‘Amistad’, the David Austin rose ‘Tess Of The D’Urbevilles’ and a stem of snapdragon in the identical shade of velvet red. If anyone is looking for a deep red rose, I couldn’t recommend Tess enough.


In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden, and I do recommend visiting her page and taking a look at all the blooms, both dead and alive, that she and gardeners across the world are cutting from their gardens today.


45 thoughts on “The Living And The Dead

  1. The title captivated me, I couldn’t help but read. There is still so much beauty in a plant skeleton, allium seedheads especially. I love the idea of a little silver spray. The art is beautiful as well. 💐💞

  2. Alliums are certainly value for money Joanna – the flowers are attractive, bee magnets and the seedheads are a work of art in themselves. I managed to save a couple before they drifted off from their moorings and have thoughts of festive silver spray in mind too. A fabulous drawing which illustrates that black and white can be just as effective as colour. The intricate detail round your fireplace is a treat too. Tess is a lovely looking rose indeed.

    1. Thank you for your nice comments, Anna. Alliums are such good value, I agree. I just exhumed mine (I’m digging everything up and redesigning the garden) and I’m so desperate to get them back in as I don’t know where I’d be without them!

  3. Many seedheads are so attractive and you have managed to save more intact alliums than I have – bringing them in early sounds a good idea, but will I remember next year? Showing them alongside the b&w drawing is inspired and your tankard of blooms is surprisingly sumptuous for late November

  4. What a great idea to spray your allium heads silver for Christmas. I have a Tess of the d’Urbevilles which I planted last winter but only got a few blooms this year, maybe because it is rather choked by Crocosmia. How long have you had yours?

    1. I’ve had mine two or three years but she has always done marvellously. Roses don’t like competition, so I’d scoot out the crocosmia and give the rose a really nice feed in March and again in about June. Perhaps she’ll perform better for you next year with some TLC?

  5. Oh how lucky to have flowers all season…such rich colors. My roses were blooming into Nov. until we had a hard freeze. What a treat to see the allium seedheads from July looking stunning in the pitcher now. A fabulous arrangement, picture of beeches and all. I should cut back many seedheads in late summer to keep for winter as by the time I look for them, they are gone.

    1. Thank you Donna. We have such mild coastal weather here in Edinburgh that flowers can last on and on. I think I plucked my alliums out in about July, as it was quite windy and thought I’d lose them if I didn’t grab them sooner rather than later.

  6. Quite a contrast between the 2 vases but both are beautiful in their own right. I planted Allium this fall with the hope of enjoying both the flowers and the seedheads next year. When I attended the Garden Bloggers’ Fling in the Washington DC area in June, I discovered that gardeners there spray painted their Allium seedheads blue in the interest of extending their term. I tried leaving my spent Agapanthus blooms (of which my garden has an abundance) in place as decoration, only to have the crew that showed up to trim my hedges cut them all down – apparently they weren’t impressed. Maybe if I’d painted them gold, as some bloggers recommended, they’d have been left in place…

  7. Oh dear, you have answered my question about the artist of the print. We have too many pictures, but I’m afraid I must now have something by Pamela Grace. The deep peace that comes from these winter trees…

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