In a Vase on Monday: Old Reliables

Freezing weather for the past week has turned all the open camellia, tea olive, loropetalum, and azalea blossoms in my garden to brown mush. It has also inhibited any buds that might have wanted to from opening as well. All the pansies and violas have not yet come out of their freeze induced hibernation. Consequently, I am once again led to rely on foliage for this week’s offering for In a Vase on Monday.


The vase and dish are both Waterford lead crystal.

The “old reliable” foliage in this simple arrangement is from Aucuba japonica ‘Mr. Goldstrike’ and Nandina domestica ‘Gulf Stream.’ My Arranger and I debated about the addition of the fruit; we tried a lemon to pick up the yellow in the aucuba, but the lemon on hand was too big for the scale of the arrangement. We then tried leaving the dish empty, but it seemed it still needed something. Of course, my Arranger came up with the winning solution of adding the pear, its red coloring complementing the shades of the nandina.

The aucuba has just started putting out its flower buds, hardy enough to withstand the cold…and just waiting for spring.


Let me suggest that you visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, the originator of this weekly idea to share what is growing in our gardens. See what she and others have created for our enjoyment this week.

About johnvic8

John Viccellio retired after 24 years in the U. S. Navy and began to dig into gardening when he could finally land in one place. He completed the Master Gardener course in 1992 and has since designed and constructed two of his own gardens. He wrote a monthly garden column for ten years and was a regular contributor to Carolina Gardener magazine. John published his first book, Guess What's in My Garden!, in 2014. He lives in a retirement community in Matthews, NC.
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22 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Old Reliables

  1. I like this; sometimes simple is simply perfect. Your photo has very pleasing, warm lighting too.


  2. Chloris says:

    IHow pretty. It is amazing what you can do with just foliage. I don’ t know this Nandina, the leaves are lovely. They match the pear perfectly, but also the table.


  3. johnvic8 says:

    Thanks, Chloris. The nandina turns this color in late fall with the coming of cold weather.


  4. I too have resorted to a bit of foliage…love the pairing with the pear (couldn’t resist saying it)…great foliage combo John!


  5. Cathy Testa says:

    The pear is perfect! Cathy T


  6. Christina says:

    The pear does a great job in tying the foliage together, sorry to hear about all the damage to your flowers and buds, hopefully they’ll recover in time.


  7. Cathy says:

    Marian said it in the first comment – sometimes simple is simply perfect. Love the shade of the nandina, and the beautiful pear! Sorry to hear about your frost damage – will you expect things to recover in due course? Thanks to you and the Arranger for your contribution – always welcome 🙂


  8. pbmgarden says:

    Very successful arrangement. Have been wanting to add acuba to my garden for some time but someone told me it can spread aggressively. How do you find it? The pear is a perfect element to complete the design.


  9. Cathy says:

    The pear was a very good idea, reflecting the colours so nicely. I like the unusual foliage – both plants are unknown to me.


  10. johnvic8 says:

    Thanks, Cathy. If you can find the aucuba there, it is a great plant for shade.


  11. Julie says:

    Beautiful simplicity – I love these winter arrangements of foliage and the pear is a perfect compliment. How sad to have lost all those buds to the weather though – are you experiencing worse weather than is usual? I have heard that the US is suffering from a hard winter again.


    • johnvic8 says:

      Thanks, Julie. It looks like I may have a few more foliage vases before the color comes back to my garden. This has been a rather harsh winter for us. I feel like it is unusually cold for a long period of time. Typically, here in our part of North Carolina, we can have very cold weather in winter, but it usually is quick and then back to milder days. This is different and other parts of the country are really getting it.


  12. Even without flowers, this is such a colorful arrangement! The pear is the perfect complement. I’m not familiar with either aucuba or nandina, but then, I’ve spent my entire life living in zones 4 or 5! They are really pretty.

    And hey, thanks for giving us a good view of the crystal this week! : )


  13. I like the Nandina and those yellow splotches on the foliage.


    • johnvic8 says:

      I grow another aucuba, ‘Crotonifolia,’ that has a bit darker leaves and not quite the yellow variegation. But it is doing well in the woods. I suspect it may see the light of Monday before long.


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