In Vase on Monday – Oriental Charm


This week’s Vase on Monday features just one species – the Prunus Kojo-no-mai. I wanted to capture the charming cherry blossom before it went over.  The flowers lower down the branches are already going over possibly helped on their way by the bees which seem drunk on the nectar.

I knew exactly which vase I wanted to use.  I bought it many years ago when I was a teenager and we travelled as a family a number of times to Australia stopping in Hong Kong or Singapore en route.  One such trip coincided with my Mum’s birthday and so we went for a day trip over the border into China.  This was when England still held the lease on Hong Kong and the borders were very tight.  They took an itinerary of all our cameras, watches etc which was checked when we came back across the border to make sure we hadn’t sold them.  We were told not to photograph the locals as they believed that their souls might be captured by the cameras.

It was a real eye-opener for an impressionable 16 year old.  We travelled by train in packed carriages with local people carrying net bags with various live animals in them such as ducks which you knew was for their family’s dinner.  We got a red star in our passports and were then put on a coach for the official tour.  We went to a typical house, obviously we didn’t notice the shanty town that we drove through, and were happy to believe that everyone lived in houses such as the two storey large detached house we visited.  I also remember that we went for a real Chinese meal and also to see panadas but they were all crated up ready for shipping somewhere.  Finally, we went to a typical department store! It was so typical that it only sold things aimed at the then small tourist industry and this is when I bought this vase.  When we came out of the store we had to wait for our coach and collected as a group on the pavement.  You could tell how unusual it was for westerners to visit as we were soon surrounded by local people who stood and stared at us.  Interestingly one of the American ladies who had ooed and arhed over the caged animals was completely freaked out at being stared at herself!

The black box beside the vase was bought on one of our visits to Hong Kong.  The little landscape inside is carved out of cork and is incredibly fragile.  Somehow I have managed to keep it in one piece all this time.

So there you go a little bit of the orient for Monday.

For more Monday vases visit Cathy over at Rambling in the Garden


14 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice to combine these sweet memories with the lovely cherry blossoms, it looks just perfect.

  2. Anca Tîrcă says:

    A vase that has brought together so many nice memories, congratulations for the oriental idea! Simply beautiful!

  3. Cathy says:

    That is a lovely story about the pretty vase, and I do love your cherry blossom too! I have the same miniature tree, but mine is still far too tiny to cut any and isn’t quite flowering yet, but won’t be long now.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      My Prunus is just over 5ft fall now so quite a bit of foliage to cut

  4. Brian Skeys says:

    A lovely story Helen, it must have been a wonderful experience. Just right for Cherry Blossom time.

  5. Cathy says:

    Simplicity itself – but it doesn’t need any more, and the cork landscape and your completed (hurrah!) sampler set it off brilliantly. Thanks for telling us about your China trip – fascinating and what an experience for you. I have very recently read Wild Swans, a real eye opener about China

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      I read Wild Swans a few yeses ago and you are right it is very enlightening about China. Just as A Fine Balance is enlightening about India

    2. Cathy says:

      Will look out for that one Helen…

  6. Chloris says:

    Lovely to have a vase with a story and your blossom is beautiful. I have this Prunus but yours must be much bigger than mine as you have enough to cut such impressive branches for your arrangement. Beautiful.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi C
      My shrub is just over 5ft tall. I have had it for 6 or 7 years. It’s a wonderful shrub

  7. Julie says:

    I really enjoyed reading your story about China Helen and how beautiful your blossom looks in that chinese vase. It is so nice to appreciate the blossom whilst it is flowering – the blossom season goes so quickly.

  8. What a perfect vase Helen to put those cherry blossoms…stunning!

  9. That’s a lovely little still life!

  10. Kris P says:

    Cherry blossoms are so beautiful they need no accompaniment, yet you added grace to yours with the wonderful vase and staging. Even the shadows on the wall add to the overall picture.

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