In a Vase on Monday – Chaotic energy!

It is still freezing outside. We’ve had a week of temperatures peeking just above zero by early afternoon. Brrrr! On the plus side, there has also been day after day of brilliant blue skies! It was, however, supposed to be warmer by last weekend. Sadly the east and south of England are stuck in the grip of a high pressure system and icy weather. Our potting shed recorded a temperature of  -7°C last night. (I’ve had to chuck loads of pots of dead cuttings away. Salvias and penstemons are going to be a scarce resource for vases this coming summer.) Right now even our snowdrops are bent double, touching the ground.

What could I use in a vase for today then? I went looking for twigs. Then, as I wandered around looking for material, I remembered that I am soon going to have to remove the contorted hazel from the front garden, in a re-arrangement of things for parking space.

So, it will come as no surprise that the twigs in today’s vase are hazel … of the mad, twisty, bendy kind.


Contorted hazel

They are, obviously, very tangled and proved terribly difficult to arrange 🤣. OK, I didn’t try, because even before that, the first hurdle was to get the twigs to stay in the vase! Each branch pushed in, tightened (or unwound) the rest, in ways I couldn’t predict. I resorted to using a heavy-based cut glass vase, with a flared neck to make the material easier to contain.

Then, it seemed appropriate to display the vase out in the frozen garden, in the sunshine. In fact, I decided that the frozen ice on the pond would make an interesting backdrop.


The pond is not completely frozen though, so I placed the vase as close to the edge of the ice as I could manage … Close to all the kinetic energy generated by water falling from a bamboo spout … to emphasize the chaotic nature of the contorted hazel. This proved slightly tricky, because the ice is full of bubbles and of very variable depth/strength at that point. Indeed, I managed to break off several chunks at the edge, until I got things balanced right.

So here is today’s, precariously balanced, contorted hazel vase, representing chaotic energy (as per title):


That was fun!

The vase is now back indoors, where I am hoping the catkins will continue to loosen up and cascade down.

I am joining Cathy@Ramblinginthegarden for her weekly In-a-vase-on-Monday challenge. Click on the link to see the outré material she has used in her vase today … I had no idea that you could do that to dahlias!!

Take care and keep warm!


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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18 Responses to In a Vase on Monday – Chaotic energy!

  1. Su says:

    What a fun idea! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Cathy says:

    I took posies with twisted hazel to my voluntary work location yesterday, so know exactly what issues there can be with trying to arrange it! The frozen bubbles from your water feature are amazing and it was inspired to use them as a backdrop – thanks for sharing this today. Another freezing night for us too, which wasn’t originally on the cards, but not as cold as for you.

    • I’ve lost a lot of plants to this year’s cold spell it seems, including potted bulbs in the greenhouse 😦
      I wish that the contorted hazel looked nicer in the summer, but it is fantastic in winter.

      • Cathy says:

        Sorry to hear you have lost plants this winter, and in the greenhouse too 🙄 Is the greenhouse unheated? I thought I might have lost Geranium palmatum, which often keeps its leaves over winter, but have seen new shoot this w/e. There has been frost damage though, including any hellebores that had begun producing flowers at the time. Time will tell if there is anything else – and the lack of rain won’t have helped

  3. A fabulous vase, I love it! I am always looking for something contorted that grows here and have yet to find anything.

  4. Noelle says:

    Totally inspired and I just love contorted willow or hazel. I use sections placed on the soil to deter cats and birds from digging up early spring bulbs, if I can ever find someone prunning their tree I ask for bits!

  5. Cathy says:

    Ooh, what a wonderful vase! I love those hazels and would love to plant one here one day. And the icy pond is such a fun way to show them off. Chaos can be beautiful. 😃

  6. Kris P says:

    You get extra points for originality and placement, Allison. The contorted twigs are perfect against that icy background. I hope you see a warm-up soon, though.

  7. shoreacres says:

    What an interesting plant. If I understand things properly, the species plant of this one is what we know as hazelnuts or filberts — lovely nuts, for sure. A little farther down the rabbit hole, I found this bit of history on the Missouri Botanical Garden site:

    “Contorta’, commonly called contorted filbert, corkscrew hazel or Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, is a contorted version of the species plant. It was discovered growing as a sport in an English hedgerow in the mid-1800s by Victorian gardener Canon Ellacombe. This plant was subsequently given the common name of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick in the early 1900’s in honor of Scottish entertainer Harry Lauder (1870-1950).

    I love your placement — both in the vase, and at the edge of the ice. It’s all perfectly quirky, and perfectly wintery!

    • 🤣 We never get nuts … too many squirrels! 🤣
      You research such interesting facts. I know that one of my neighbours harvests local hazel to make walking sticks. Maybe I should offer him some of the felled branches?

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    Wow, you definitely get an A+ for effort and creativity with today’s vase! Inspiring me to go out with my clippers. 🙂

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