November 26, 2010


It was minus 4 degrees when I got up this morning and we have had diamond-hard frosts all week. Snow has fallen deep further north, and is due to arrive here over the weekend. I finally have to face the fact that there will be precious few flowers in the garden now until next spring.

Wandering around the garden, beginning to thaw in the watery sunshine, I was struck by how lovely the last remaining blooms were, frost whipped and decaying, but still having a broken sort of beauty. The chocolate Cosmos, Austin rose, and Bidens alba all look ragged, with the transluscence of damage, but their final-days fragility is somehow still exquisite to me.

I also have to flag up the wonder that is the scabiosa genus. Despite looking like this  last week,

my two big perennial Scabiosa.caucasica 'Miss Willmott'  clumps are still trying to bud and flower after 6 straight months of blooming. They always seem to look beautiful in bouquets, bobbing high on their wonderfully wiry long stems, adding a bit of cream elegance and blending effortlessly with other flowers and colours. The bluey-violet ones are pretty too, but the colour, to me, verges on pastel-y schmastel-y so I don't adore them quite as much.

In this white and green arrangement, they look so fresh with cosmos and ammi. They last for about 7 -10 days once picked, if they are harvested when the middles are still 'quilted' as below.

If I have any quibble at all, it is that their habit in garden is a bit lax and lanky, and needs some staking unless you can forgive a bit of trailing, somewhat horizontal growth.

And then there are the annual cousins, easypeasy to grow from seed and absolutely, heartstoppingly gorgeous. Feast your eyes on my favourite, Chile Black and also Beaujolais Bonnets (which is actually a perennial but can fail in winter, in which case I buy cheap plugplants and treat as an annual),

The two  photos above of Scabiosa 'Beaujolais Bonnets' were taken after a frost so they are a little damaged at the edges but you get the gorgeousness.

The genus has giant (about 1 metre tall), and dwarf forms, grow like mad, flower for months and the more you pick, the faster they flower. The annual form is gently scented and lives up to the pretty Pincushion Flower name. Honestly if you want to grow flowers to pick, these are the business. 

Have a lovely, perhaps snowy, weekend!


  1. Scabious are the best! I have always grown the annuals and had a couple of Miss Wilmott plants, then this spring planted a whole row of plug plants, both white and blues. I didn't expect much off them this year but they have bloomed and bloomed and bloomed, each flower perfect. A constant joy! Next year, I'll be adding some Ping Pong for the fabulous seedheads. Jan x

  2. I love the arrangement.
    I am very fond of white and chartruese green that frost covered scabious is tempting me!

  3. Gorgeous arrangements - and I love scabious. No snow here though in Melbourne although I think daughter in Durham at Uni there has had some! Brrr - early this year!
    Glad you liked the Gifford circus post - how exciting you are related - and you are just as talented Belinda ! x

  4. Beautiful flowers, Belinda. It is great to hear that you too are getting snow ( it is only fair ). I tolerate a few centimeters of snow, but when it snows all the time, I feel desperate. Christmas is around the corner, January so terribly long, but after February, things start looking better. Enjoy your weekend!

  5. they are so lovely, I must grow some next year. meanwhile my garden is buried under a huge blanket of snow. keep warm this weekend x

  6. Hi Belinda,

    We had the teeniest dustissng of snow this morning in Oxfordshire. It left me wanting more, more, more!

    I've been through my wardrobe, by the way. I told you your posts left me thinking!! I got rid of about six things. I do honetly wear all my thing regularly but those were the things that I felt were looking a bit ropey so off they went!

    I hope you're proud of me!!!


  7. I love the way you talk about and appreciate your beautiful flowers!

    And I love what you're doing in providing cut flowers straight from the plot, rather than the scandalous business of airfreighting flowers from this country to the auctions in Holland to be airfreighted back again for sale in the UK. Makes supermarket distribution centres look almost OK.

  8. Glad you agree Jan, and I'll be googling Scabiousa 'pingpong'! I am really hoping the perennial form is fully, robustly hardy.

    Hostess, I am with you, I adore white and fresh limey green! More recently also getting into deep chocolate coloured flowers and chartreuse for a completely different vibe.

    Hi S-E, yep, I think there is masses of snow up north, Durham will be looking magical. Uniqlo do cheap thermals you can tell her!!

    Mette, I can't imagine months of white-out, but we are off to stay with friends in Norway after Christmas so I will experience the Scandinavian wintertime!

    Hi Driftwood, you will enjoy the scabious next year I am sure, just need sun and not too acid soil to really thrive. Keep cosy!!

    Sarah, SO PROUD OF YOU!! Just sorting and making life more organised is so boring to do, but so great afterwards! Just empting the wardrobe of summer clothes is something I have never done before, but I am coming rather late to this.

  9. Good Morning, Oh, snow. we're not there yet. I still have some lovelies blooming away in garden but I'm too damn busy to go see them. if they can hold on till Sunday..

    I had no luck with scabious in the garden this year??? Thank God we get them in the shop and I can play with the colors and shapes there.

    Talk soon.

    xo jane

  10. Hi Belinda,

    No snow but no central heating either!!! Part coming on Tuesday..... fingers crossed!

    Lovely flower pics, especially the cow parsley my absolute favourite, had it everywhere at my wedding ( when it was warm!!! )

    Sarah x

  11. That is a shame about your scabious Jane, but it must be fun playing with all the varieties you see at work.

    Hope Thanksgiving was fab - hoping for a post or two about it? Can the Lab move or is she grounded with turkey leftovers? Knowing your cooking, there probably weren't many leftovers actually! Hope you get some serious relaxation tomorrow!xx

    Hi Sarah, thanks for the lovely comment, cow parsley is one of my very top faves aswell, so much so I have been developing my logo for business cards etc, to include it! Always looks so fresh and lovely, and the seedheads are architectural but delicate too, mmmm!x

  12. Hi Blue Hands, a warm welcome to my blog. I feel so encouraged when people, like you, 'get' what I am trying to do, really gives me a boost, so thank you!

  13. Dear Belinda,

    It's a joy to look at your bouquets. They make me miss my garden even more. I know exactly how you feel about the last flowers. It always makes me feel a bit melancholic. Not for long though. I am already looking forward to see the first snowdrops in February!

    Scabiosa is one of my favourite flowers. I have never seen your pink variety, but it is very pretty. They look so lovely in bouquets, like yours!

    Enjoy your weekend! From a still snow free, but very cold Holland,

    Lieve groet, Madelief

  14. Belinda, lovely iced flowers! I will need to do some looking for scabiosa next year. I am not at all familiar with all those varieties - wonder if we get them this side of the pond. Also did not know that you get so much snow on that side of the pond. My education continues!!

  15. Oh, what beautifully frozen specimens! Being naive, I had no idea there were such things as chocolate cosmos.

  16. There is a special beauty to the fragile, frosty tinged flowers. You've captured them perfectly. I had thought Scabiosa 'Beaujolais Bonnets' was a perennial. Now I don't feel bad that it failed to return after last winter. I was ready to give up on it, but you've inspired me to seek out seeds.

  17. MMD, oh dear, whoops a daisy and all that, 'B.Bonnets' is indeed a perennial, you are quite right. But mine also sometimes fail, which is why since I discovered it a few years ago, I tend to buy as seed or plug plants and treat as an annual to avoid disappointment!