Six on Saturday: frost, foliage and flowers (25 January 2020)

For the first time in months we had frosty mornings, blue skies and sunshine. This is how I like my winters; chilly, still and bright. It feels far healthier than all the mild damp weather we’ve had of late. Alas, as the week has gone on the days have turned increasingly murky. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. As well as proving good for the soul (further helped by the sound of bird song in the mornings) the brief cold snap provided an opportunity to take a few frosty foliage photos, which leads me to my first Six on Saturday.

1. The Iberis that featured last week has looked quite different with it’s frost tinged leaves. This photo was taken last Sunday morning.

As was this one of the lemon thyme.

2. Remember the new Lilac tree that I planted too close to the Buddleia a few weekends ago? It got moved a foot or so to the left last Saturday and, miraculously, not a single bulb was sliced in half this time. However, as I type this I’m trying to ignore a nagging feeling that I should have moved it just a few more inches…

3. A Nemesia planted in a pot last summer has survived the frosts and is flowering away. What was that? The pale blue of the flowers perfectly match the colour of the shed? You’re right, they do. I’d like to say that was planned but it wasn’t. In fact I don’t think I even noticed this during the summer.

4. It’s not the only plant that appears to have forgotten what time of year it is. This Erigeron karvinskianus that grows outside the front door is also flowering away. It’ll get chopped back in the spring.

5. As will the Verbena bonariensis which has seeded itself around the garden. It too is showing signs of new growth. These new shoots won’t survive the spring prune but I think I might try taking a few cuttings and see what happens.

6. And finally… Do you remember those two pots of bulbs I bought for my wife a few weeks ago? Well, they’re in flower. The heady scent of the Hyacinths hits you as soon as you walk into the living room. I tried photographing them throughout the week but the best photo I managed to take was this one from last Sunday with a van parked outside!

And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (18 January 2020)

Well that was a wet and blustery week. Initially I thought everything in the garden had escaped the storms unscathed. However, yesterday evening I noticed that a branch had been snapped off the Coronilla that grows outside the front door. A branch with emerging fragrant yellow pea-like flowers too. On the plus side, the fact that it was still light enough to spot this mini calamity when I returned home from work means the evenings are getting lighter. Thankfully several calm, sunny days have been forecast. We even had a frost last night. Anyway, let’s get straight on to my first Six on Saturday…

1. Last Sunday morning, in-between the odd shower, I planted my latest acquisition, a new standard lilac ‘Belle de Nancy’. There had been a brief moment of panic a few days earlier when, unpacking the tree from its sodden cardboard box, I glanced at a label attached to one of the branches. ‘3-4m in 10 years’ was considerably larger than the 2-3m maximum height in 20 years listed on the supplier’s website (and a few others). But after a hasty email to the supplier it turned out the label was incorrect. Hmm, I hope so. After multiple ponderings, re-positionings, more ponderings and a few more re-positionings I finally settled on a spot, dug a hole (slicing through several new bulbs in the process) and planted it.

Only later, as I was drinking a coffee and helping myself to a fourth After Eight, did I think to check photographs of the garden taken during the summer. And that was when I was reminded how big the Buddleia gets.

The Butterfly Bush had received a light pruning in the Autumn and I’d based my positioning of the lilac on its current size. I think I should have planted it further to the left, nearer the fence post. Then again, perhaps I should leave it where it is for now and see how things go. Okay, who am I kidding? The lilac’s getting moved later today.

2. My attempt at taking cuttings of this Iberis failed last year, possibly due to a lack of watering. However, I’m going to give it another go as I’d like more of its evergreenyness elsewhere in the garden. It’s already started flowering and should continue to do so for many months.

3. The majority of the Jacob’s Ladder plants in the garden are the offspring of a pale purple one that was planted 6 years ago. I’ve tried growing some white and pink varieties but they always tend to disappear. It’s one of of those plants where the foliage is just as pleasing as the flowers.

4. A Hydrangea next. Miss Belgium flowered for the first time last summer and her blooms, in all their various stages, have provided many months of interest. I should have got a Hydrangea years ago.

5. There are numerous bulbs coming up all over the garden. I can’t for the life of me remember what most of them are. However, even I can recognise the leaves of a crocus when I see them. Alas, a few of those near the small pond got trampled on by some clumsy clot planting a lilac tree.

6. Talking of which, when I was over on the other side of the garden planting the aforementioned tree I caught a whiff of some sweet fragrance. I was initially puzzled as there was nothing flowering nearby. Following my nose, I walked across the lawn to the curving path and found the source of the heady scent: the dwarf Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis (or Christmas Box).

Tiny flowers. Mighty scent. This is another plant I’d like to have more of. It’s much more compact than other varieties and is perfect for a small garden.

And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (11 January 2020)

Feeling rather gloomy last weekend, I decided a spot of online horticultural retail therapy might help lift my mood. Though there was an accidental last minute purchase of a small bag of Dutch Iris bulbs, the other purchases were of the premeditated, guilty as charged your honour kind, including a scented I-sort-of-know-where-it’s-going-to-go small tree and a few packets of seeds.

Some seeds I’ve grown before, like the Ceratotheca triloba or South African Foxglove (sadly it didn’t flower before the first frost struck but I’m going to try again) and the Crepis rubra or Pink Dandelion. Some I haven’t, such as the Bishop’s Children Dahlias (I’ve decided to give them ago after reading Joshua’s blog). This weekend I’m going to start checking my existing packets of seeds (many collected from the Garden News Magazine) to see what I’ve got. I probably should have done this before ordering any more. I also failed to take into account self seeders in the garden, which leads me to my first SoS.

1. A lot of seedlings are coming up in the patio bed. I planted Alyssum and cornflowers here last summer so I’m wondering whether any of these seedlings might be their offspring. Looking at this photo I’ve just noticed some clover that needs pulling up. An Erigeron karvinskianus (or Hestercombe Daisy) seedling may also have to go; it seeds itself everywhere.

2. The garlic is growing away nicely in the troughs and a big terracotta pot. Whether it will split this year and form some decent sized cloves who knows. I’d feel more confident if we had a spell of seasonably cold weather.

3. While the garlic is looking well, the same can’t quite be said for the Daphne x transatlantica Eternal Fragrance which has suddenly started to shed some of its leaves. The shrub is described as a ‘semi-evergreen’ so I’m not overly concerned, though I didn’t notice it losing any leaves when we had a cold spell last winter. I’ll keep an eye on it.

4. I almost bought my wife some flowers the other day but then, ever the romantic, decided that a few pots of bulbs would surely be better value as I could plant them in the garden after they flowered. I bought her some hyacinths (her dad always used to grow them in pots indoors)…

… and some Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’.

5. I’ve seen a lot of photographs of flowering Rosemary of late and I always feel a bit envious; ours has never flowered. It started life in a pot several years ago, got planted into a herb bed briefly, and was then dug up and put back in a pot. It’s remained small, mainly because we use it quite often in our cooking, and I’m assuming this is why it has never flowered.

6. And finally… Oh yes, the Violas are back. They’re thriving in this mild weather. I have a particular soft spot for this one and wish I knew what variety is was as I’d consider purchasing some seed. I might attempt to take some cuttings from it in the spring.

And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday: The January Blues (4 January 2020)

I always find it difficult at this time of year remembering how lush and colourful the garden once was or will become. At the moment it’s all looking rather bare and brown. The box balls and Daphnes add some evergreen structure and there are the odd splashes of colour thanks to the Winter Honeysuckle, Coronilla, Violas and Viburnum. Yet the heady days of summer are but a distant memory and spring still seems some way off.

In an attempt to banish my January blues, I’ve been looking at a few photos of the garden taken during the Summer of 2019 to remind/reassure myself that it won’t always look quite so gloomy. And that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. It’s been rather damp and murky of late. The lawn is a muddy mess and I’m missing the Prunus that I chopped down last October. The new Eucalyptus gunnii France Bleu is strangely invisible at the moment and the garden feels a little exposed.

January 2020

I’m also going to miss the blossom of the old tree come February/March. However, I need to remember that it was growing at a daft rate and required pruning several times a year. The lawn will also recover; it always does. And I’m sure the new dwarf Eucalyptus will start putting on some new growth next year (hopefully not too much though).

August 2019

2. Another now and then shot next. Last January I started taking up some of the patio to create more planting space. At this time of year you can see the stepping stone path I laid across the extended bed to avoid standing on the soil.

January 2020

Last summer the path proved slightly less practical as it became swamped by plants. Still, the view from the garden bench was rather pleasing.

August 2019

3. Some of last year’s plants are still looking good in their winter guise. The Sedum out in the front garden (possibly Autumn Joy) is just as beautiful now as it was in the summer.

4. And look, a potted Sedum seedling in the back garden is showing signs of new growth. Although there appears to be plenty of space in the borders for another Sedum, by the time the perennials have come up and the annuals have gone in I’ll struggle to find a spot for it, particularly once it gets bigger. I may have to give it away to a good home.

5. There are unseasonably early signs of spring if you go looking for them. This Primrose has been flowering for a while now.

In fact, the garden is slowly being taken over by Primula of various varieties, thanks to division and self seeding.

6. And finally… Do you remember the New Dawn climbing rose? No? Well, here’s a reminder…

I gave it a bit of a prune and tied back some of the branches a few weeks ago. This rose seems to have thrived when others have not and it got me thinking that another one would be a welcome addition to the garden. So, on a whim, I shoved some of the cut stems into the ground just on the off-chance that they might take. And I think this one may have done. I’m sure that bud is new. It’s early days yet but fingers are crossed.

And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (28 December 2019)

Well, that’s Christmas done for another year. Christmas Day dawned bright and frosty and most of my Six on Saturday selections were taken that morning, after taking a moment or two to enjoy the fragrant flowers of the Winter Honeysuckle.

It was a nice and perfectly timed respite from weeks of wet and gloomy weather. Alas, it was back to normal by Boxing Day as the temperature rose and the rain fell once more. However, while I’m bored of murky damp days, judging from my first SoS some of the garden residents have been thriving on them…

1. I’m not sure what has been nibbling on these Foxglove leaves. Initially I assumed it was the slimy plant assassins of the night but now I’m not so sure. A robin started chatting away while I was snapping this with my camera. Although not fluent in bird speak I think he might have said “Holy Digitalis leaves Batman!” (sorry). Although deadly to us humans the leaves are apparently harmless to whatever has nibbled on them, which is a pity. They’ve not touched my next SoS though.

2. I’ve not grown rhubarb before but I wasn’t expecting new leaves over the winter. Is it confused by the mild weather? Should I chop the new leaves back or just leave them be? Do I need to consider stocking up on tins of custard?

3. Next up, the skeletons of one of the small alliums adding a bit of structural winter interest.

4. A parcel arrived yesterday; a last minute compulsive pre-Christmas purchase of Iris ‘Alida (Reticulata)’ bulbs. However, I didn’t notice until after I’d planted the bulbs that the accompanying label was for a variety called ‘Joyce.’ So what had I planted? I contacted the supplier and they confirmed (with remarkable speediness) that they were indeed ‘Alida.’ Apparently they didn’t have any Alida bulb labels and had supplied one for a variety that looked similar (I was supposed to have received an email to explain this). There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between the two but I think I prefer ‘Alida.’

5. Over the past few days I’ve noticed the blackbirds snacking on the berries of the Pyracantha and the Cotoneaster hortizontalis. However, one particularly leisurely female blackbird was perched on a plant support enjoying the dark berries of the dwarf Christmas Box. The flower buds are forming nicely and come February they’ll be releasing their sweet scent.

6. And finally… There are quite a few primulas flowering in the garden but most have been nibbled by the slimy so-and-sos . However, this one has escaped their attention… for now at least.

And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (21 December 2019)

Well we’ve almost made it to the shortest day. After tomorrow we can start to enjoy the prospect of lighter evenings and before you know it spring will be here. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself during these relentlessly gloomy, wet and blustery days. Not that I want to wish my life away, but I’m bored of this weather.

Still, things are set to improve for Christmas and come the 24th December I have ten days to enjoy the garden (probably from indoors) during daylight hours. Ten days to watch the birds on the feeders. Ten days to ponder seed purchases whilst munching on the odd home-made mince pie (once I’ve made them). Ten days to simply do not very much of anything. I’m looking forward to it. Anyway, let’s get on with Six on Saturday.

1. First up it’s the controversial fern that was purchased back in March. My wife isn’t all that keen on ferns for some reason, but this Tsusima Holly Fern has proved to be a great addition to the bed outside the back door. What’s more it’s turned out to be evergreen which means we (or should I say I?) get to enjoy its unfurling frondy ferny foliage all year round.

2. Another plant my wife wasn’t very keen on, this ‘dwarf conifer’ was acquired back in October 2018. Ever since two fellow SoSers informed me that their dwarf conifers had reached the same height as their houses I find myself glancing at it suspiciously from time to time. It was moved to the border near the conservatory/sun room earlier in the year to make room for the Hibiscus. I’m keeping a careful eye on it.

3. Next up, more green foliage. A rosette of leaves of a self seeded Foxglove. The Foxgloves tend to do their own thing these days, sowing themselves here there and everywhere. Occasionally they need repositioning, but this one will be left where it is.

4. The sweetly scented Coronilla subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’ that grows in the back garden has started flowering. It has a paler flower and a more greyey-green leaf than the Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca that grows in the front garden. The latter normally blooms first, but not this year.

5. Another scented winter flowering shrub has also started flowering. The Winter Honeysuckle grows outside the back door where its fragrant flowers can be enjoyed when nipping out to put the recyclables in the white shed. It has one or two rather dead looking branches this winter and I think I probably should have chopped it back last spring to encourage more new growth. I must do it next year.

6. And finally… a close up of a fake 6 foot Christmas tree. I know, I know, but it was either this, an out of focus shot of some Honeysuckle berries that stubbornly refused to be anything other than blurry for some reason, or yet more violas. It’s probably the height the dwarf conifer will reach in a year or two if I don’t keep an eye on it.

And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at Have a Merry Christmas everyone.

Six on Saturday (14 December 2019)

After the Jasmine got it’s annual chop the other weekend I figured I’d put the garden to bed for the winter. Everything that needed pruning, potting, planting, covering, mulching or moving had been pruned, potted, planted, covered, mulched or moved. However, it turned out I’d forgotten something, and that something is the first of today’s Six on Saturday.

1. Well over a month ago I ordered a rose, Togmeister, named after the late Terry Wogan. The dispatch date was given as ‘between early November and early April’ and I’d forgotten all about it until this parcel arrived last weekend.

It’s a scented yellow rose that’s supposed to flower all through the summer. Bare rooted, it had to be plonked into the ground pretty sharpish. I’ve planted it in the new patio bed opposite the swing seat, though I had to move a penstemon, a few foxgloves and a verbena to create some space first and inevitably dug up the odd bulb or three. The new rose tree and Margaret Merril are also close to the patio so in theory we should get to enjoy lots of wafty rosey scent in this part of the garden.

2. Although it’s winter and most of the deciduous shrubs are bare of leaf (with the exception of the Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ that always seems to be the last to shed its leaves) some, like the Sambucus nigra ‘Golden Tower,’ have already started forming next year’s foliage. It’s hard to believe these purple buds will become bright green leaves come spring.

3. We’ve only just finished our supply of home grown garlic. However, it was a bit of a disappointment when it was harvested in the summer as very few of the bulbs had split to form individual cloves.

I’m hoping it does better this time around. There are already several shoots appearing.

4. Next up, it’s the hideous/cute (delete as appropriate) hedgehogs that came with the garden. They’ve proved invaluable over the past week, helping to hold down the swing seat cover in the recent gales. Come the summer though they’ll be banished behind the blue shed.

5. Now this is exciting, the first of the fragrant winter flowering shrubs has started to bloom. This Viburnum farreri was grown from a cutting taken by my wife from the garden of our first home. It went to look very ropey foliage wise in the summer but all appears to be well after all.

6. And finally… The Caryopsis ‘Heavenly Blue’ was a show during August, covered in blue flowers that were loved by the bees. When this plant was growing in the front garden it tended to get overlooked and it’s only now it’s located next to the curving path in the back garden that I’ve noticed how interesting the seed heads are.

And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at