I’m enjoying these little signs of spring clustered around the house in tiny vases. This collection on the kitchen table – each vase is only an inch high – contains flowering rosemary, choisya, purple-leafed sage, white cyclamen and a few sprigs of the winter-flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, that I planted by the gate.
And over in the sitting room there are fragrant ‘Paperwhite’ narcissi on pebbles, white hyacinths in forcing jars, and more tiny vases – this time filled with a posy of violets that were miraculously in flower. (This corner was arranged for an aticle in The Sunday Telegraph; its components are now dispersed throughout the house). I like a lot of white flowers in the house – they are a peaceful presence to welcome in the new year after all the visual cacophony of Christmas.
The hyacinths have been lovely. I love them most just as the buds are splitting into separate flowers and opening – before they have become top heavy and threaten to topple over in their glass. I keep them in the porch where it is cold enough to prolong their flowering period and where their scent – too strong for some all the time – can hit one coming in and going out. They remind me of the ones in last year’s January post here.
And the last of the lovely ‘Paperwhites’ are just coming into bloom. I shall miss them until next November – they are a bit of a winter ritual with me; a talisman to take me through the cold months and out the other side into spring. This year we will be cheating a little and heading off on holiday somewhere hot. (Well why not? We haven’t been far afield for ages and everyone has been stuck with colds…)
So I’ll leave you with a poem again. A few years ago I had one of my favourite jobs ever: writing a book about flowers to go with beautiful photographs of flowers arranged by the interior designer Tricia Guild (the book I am writing now is another of the ones I have worked on with her). Anyway, as well as thinking up things to say about lovely flower pictures (it’s a hard job but someone has to do it), I had to compile a list of quotations about flowers that we could drop in alongside. One of my favourites was this, by the painter Georgia O’Keeffe (and one of the reasons I love my tiny glass vases so).
“Still, in a way
nobody sees a flower
it is so small
we haven’t the time
and to see takes time
like to have a friend
For background on our journey converting two Victorian railway carriages into an eco-home, plus more writing on gardens, interiors, green issues and other subjects, plus lots of photographs and information on past and current books, please visit my website.