Six on Saturday (10 April 2021)

While quite a few of my seedlings appear to have stalled a little (I’m trying not to worry as it’s early days yet and a lack of sun and warmth is hopefully to blame), established plants out in the garden are sporting lots of lush new growth. And that leads me, with surprising swiftness, to my fist Six on Saturday…

1. Roses. I’ve added quite a few to the garden over the past 12 months, planting them within easy sniffing distance of the paths and patio. They received their second feed of the year last weekend and the foliage is looking nice and healthy and surprisingly red. Inevitably, aphids have begun to take up residence (although a wren was picking them off yesterday) and I’m sure black spot will affect some, but I’m hoping for fragrant blooms aplenty over the summer.

2. A new purchase up next, acquired during a visit to Hestercombe Gardens over the Easter Weekend. The stand had a label noting what sort of Primula this was but naturally I’ve completely forgotten its name. Hopefully I’ll be able to split it in a year or two and gradually dot it here and there. That’s the plan anyway, although plans don’t always go to… err… plan.

3. Take Anemone blanda for example. Over the years I’ve planted quite a few of these, mostly dug up from my mother-in-law’s garden where they multiply happily. Yet for some reason they refuse to do the same in my garden, disappearing over time. This plant was spotted in the outdoor plant section of Morrisons the other week and before I knew what was happening I was scanning it at the self-service checkout. Fingers crossed it will appear again next spring.

4. I was still recovering from Covid when I planted the tulips back in November and apparently I wasn’t totally with it when it came to labelling what was what. That’s my excuse anyway. These two pots were labelled ‘Blue Lagoon.’ They’re not, and after checking through my tulip orders I think they must be ‘Violet Beauty.’ I haven’t found a pot labelled ‘Violet Beauty’ though which is rather worrying. Hopefully they’re lurking somewhere.

5. Growing close by is this pretty Narcissus ‘Xit.’ Xit has but one fault – the flowers point downwards, rather like a Hellebore, so you have to lift the flowers up or lie on your back to fully appreciate them.

6. And finally… In the past the Pasque flower out the front has tended to get swamped by its neighbours. But I’ve been much better at giving this furry leaved, shiny purple and yellow beauty its own space lately. I had another one out the back (the offspring of this plant) but I fear it is no more.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday: Easter Weekend (3 April 2021)

Now that the clocks have gone forward there have been more opportunities to do a spot of gardening in the evening. A second sowing of seeds that failed the first time has been made (mostly Scabious and the usually easy to grow snap dragons). Dahlia tubers have been plonked in pots of compost (I’ve still got plenty of time to figure out just where I’ll plant them all). And the troublesome Escallonia hedge has been fed, watered and the dead bits pruned out. There’s still quite a bit to do, starting with some more seed sowing this afternoon and a spot of potting on before the weather turns decidedly chilly on Monday.

At the moment the garden is mostly filled with yellow and blues but there are other colours beginning to appear courtesy of the tulips, but more on those later.

1. First up is this pretty pale narcissus called Minnow. It didn’t do all that well last year, proving popular with the slimy plant assassins of the night. A lot more were planted in the autumn and they’ve faired much better this time.

2. A few weekends ago I tackled the Periwinkles that were taking over the shady bed. I doubt the Vinca has been totally vanquished and I suspect those that made it under the fence into the neighbour’s garden will return for a visit in the not so distant future. Still, the new Hellebores and the Pulmonaria have gone in, as has this forget-me-not like Navelwort, Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram.’

3. While most of the blue Hyacinths have gone over, a few yellow ones have started to bloom. This is Hyacinth ‘Wilko Barginus.’

4. An old favourite up next. This double primrose was acquired from a work colleague over 15 years ago. It’s split most years and planted around the garden. Last spring someone on Twitter suggested it might be a variety called ‘Snow.’

5. When I first grew this unusual daffodil a few years ago I wasn’t sure I liked it initially. But ‘Tahiti’ soon grew on me and I tend to plant a few more each autumn.

6. And finally… The first of the tulips are in bloom; Single Early Prince Mixed. Other varieties are just starting to flower but I’ve exercised considerable restraint and limited myself to these. I can’t promise I’ll do so well next week.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (27 March 2021)

I’m a little distracted as I write this. I tackled the circular lawn the other evening, aerating it with the old garden fork, scarifying it with the spring rake and sprinkling grass seed on the numerous bare patches. Three days later, most of the grass seed had vanished, polished off by squabbling wood pigeons. Some more has been sown today and I’ve spent the past few hours leaping up to defend my small patch of patchy green. Sometimes a flick of the venetian blinds is sufficient to scare them away but with a few particularly ‘hard’ wood pigeons one is required to rush outdoors to see them off. They don’t go far though, perching on the roofs of nearby houses and returning mere minutes later once the coast is clear. While they seem quite blasé about the whole thing, I’m becoming increasingly frantic in the old arm waving and a tad reckless, tripping over my laptop cable moments ago in my haste to shoo them away. Is it worth it? Probably not. Will I succeed? I very much doubt it. Should I give up? Never. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up, Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai.’ It grows in a corner at the back of the garden and is slightly hidden during much of the winter by the swing seat cover. Last weekend the swing seat cover was removed, allowing the zig-zaggy branched blossoming beauty to be better appreciated from afar. Its flowers are proving popular with the bees, as are those of my next SoS…

2. The Coronilla has been flowering since December. During the winter you have to get up close to the flowers to fully appreciate their scent, but now that the sun is warming up, the fragrance of the pale yellow blooms can be enjoyed whilst sat enjoying a cup of coffee on the patio.

3. The blasted pigeons have returned. Excuse me a moment… Not even decoy bird seed seems to distract them from the grass seed for long. Where was I? Oh yes, Scilla. I must plant some more. I’d never noticed its blue pollen before.

4. Continuing the bluey-purple theme, it’s marvellous Muscari up next. The Grape Hyacinths have been flowering for a few weeks now. I’ve been splitting these every-so-often and planting clumps elsewhere to help spread the joy around the garden.

5. This little self sown… just you try it mate… Primula has come up in the gravel path. It’ll be moved to a more suitable spot once it has finished flowering.

6. And finally… While the ‘Tête-à-tête’ daffodils are going over, these fragrant narcissus are coming into their own. At least 10 of them are Jonquilla Martinette but there are a lot more than 10 and I suspect some might be the Falconet that were planted back in 2019. They look identical.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. A wood pigeon has just landed on the bird bath. If it thinks I’m falling for that old ‘I’m just here for a drink’ routine again it’s in for a shock.

Six on Saturday (20 March 2021)

As the evenings get ever lighter I’ve started doing a spot of after-work gardening, chopping back this and tidying up that. The Hydrangeas have been pruned, last year’s deceased annuals have been pulled up and most of the old flower heads of the Hylo… Hylotelly… Hylotelephone… the Sedums have been removed. There’s still a fair bit to do though. The lawn needs sorting, there’s the big Buddleia to chop, a Lupin or two to relocate (once I’ve figured out where they can go) and I’ve yet to make a start on revamping the shady corner of the garden. One task I don’t need to worry about any time soon is the planting of a recent acquisition…

1. Last Saturday I remembered I hadn’t taken a nose at a recent David Austin rose catalogue. I spent a while flicking through its contents but nothing really tempted me and I soon found myself browsing other roses online. Before long an order had been placed for a fragrant repeat flowering purple patio rambler called Purple Skyliner. It arrived a mere 3 days later and I was all set to plant it until I glanced at the accompanying instructions. Apparently, as a recently dug up and potted plant, it needs time to ‘root out’ into the compost before it can be plonked safely in the ground. I will be patient and leave it a few months.

2. The rose wasn’t the only purchase last weekend. A trip to a garden centre resulted in a trolley filled with essentials like chicken manure pellets, a bag of grit, seaweed feed and some woolly slug pellets. It also resulted in a few accidental purchases, including a house plant (I give it 2 months before snuffage), a packet or two of seeds (having vowed I didn’t need any more) and this purpley blue Viola.

3. There are a number of varieties of daffodils in the garden and naturally I have no idea what most of them are any more. This pale and pointy petalled yellow one has been in the garden for a few years now. It’s rather nice.

4. Up next, Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign.’ I’ve been meaning to add one of these to the garden for a while now. It will be going in the shady bed, once I’ve dug up all of the Periwinkles. An attempt at keeping the rampant evergreens in check through regular chopping has resulted in fewer flowers and I’ve decided there’s not much point them staying. The Vinca’s voracious growing days are numbered (cue maniacal laughter).

5. This pretty Primula grows behind the bird bath. It’s looking rather nibbled, as are many of the spring flowers. It seems far too early in the year to be starting nightly slug and snail patrols but I fear action may have to be taken sooner rather than later.

6. And finally… One plant the slimy plant assassins of the night really seem to go for in my garden is the Chionodoxa. I’ve tried growing it on numerous occasions in the hope that I will end up with swathes of the blue beauties but they never do very well. The few that do come up are promptly polished off. I planted more in the autumn but I’ve only spotted two plants so far. Every single flower on one of them has been munched upon. Miraculously, this one has survived untouched so far.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (13 March 2021)

The garden has received a bit of a battering over the past few days. Thankfully, most of the spring flowers are made of pretty tough stuff, shrugging off the strong winds and showers. Around this time last year I had uncovered the swing seat. I can’t see that happening this weekend, but I do have a list of chores to keep me occupied, weather permitting, mostly of the choppy-back-diggy-up-and-movey kind. And that leads me swiftly to my first Six on Saturday.

1. Forget-me-nots. Originally sown from seed about 8 years ago, they have spread themselves here, there and everywhere. I started tackling a thick carpet of them near the patio last weekend, transplanting them around the garden. I thought I’d done a good job but I must have gone forget-me-not blind as further thinning is definitely required. A few have begun to flower.

2. Sown at the end of February, the tomato seeds have germinated. My tomatoes were something of a disaster last year, taking an age to get going. This year I’ve gone for a dwarf variety of cherry tomato called Minibel. They shouldn’t require any staking and hopefully will do okay in pots outdoors.

3. Next up, ‘Tete-a-Tete’ Daffodils. Soggy ones. More will definitely need to be planted come the autumn.

4. Now this is exciting. Last year a grew Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’ from seed. Two plants survived but I wasn’t very hopeful either would make it through the winter. But look! Life! I guess I’ll have to commit to planting them in the ground at some point.

5. Last autumn’s Violas haven’t done all that well, many succumbing to some sort of fungal disease soon after they were planted. I’d decided not to bother replacing them but then I spotted this variety in Wilko. Resistance was futile.

6. And finally… Oh yes, more Crocus. Probably long since flattened since this photo was taken earlier in the week.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (6 March 2021)

Having declared Spring sprung last weekend, I donned my scruffy gardening getup (not worn since November and inexplicably snugger fitting than I remembered) and set about this and that. The mini greenhouse was cleaned, several packets of seed were sown, the still rather sodden circular lawn was given a quick trim and I tackled a bit of hard landscaping. And that leads me to my first Six on Saturday.

1. Annual mulching has resulted in borders that are higher than the paths. The recycled bricks that I used to edge the paths (thankfully not cemented down) had begun to disappear under the earth and gravel. Initially I just intended to clear the soil and gravel from the edging, the surface of which was flush with the level of the path. However, before I knew it I’d started raising the bricks a little.

By the time I got to the the blue shed I found myself wondering whether the path needed to be quite so wide and, somewhat inevitably, a little more border space was created. My wife has yet to attempt to retrieve her bike from the shed since this minor alteration, but surely more planting space is worth a little less bicycle manoeuvring space?

2. An increasing number of Daffodils/Narcissus are beginning to flower. I think this one is Jetfire, although the petals have yet to do their swept back ‘whooshy’ thing.

3. The pruned roses are sporting some nice new growth. Worryingly, a few aphids have already been spotted on the fresh red leaves.

4. Next up, Hyacinths. Those on the left are growing in the front garden and appear to be a double variety of some sort. The one on the right grows next to the tiny wildlife pond. Talking of which…

5. You might remember that, for the first time ever, the frogs had spawned in the pond. But by Sunday morning the frogspawn had vanished, presumed eaten by something or other. I feared that was that but on Thursday more appeared, and on Friday more still. Fingers crossed this lot survives.

6. And finally… Yes, it’s another Crocus.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (27 February 2021)

It’s a few days shy of March but what the heck, I’m declaring spring sprung here. The birds are suddenly more tweety, leaves are beginning to unfurl and, for the first time ever, the frogs have spawned in the little pond. Yesterday, in preparation for seed sowing, I gave the mini greenhouse a clean. Tomatoes and sweet peas will hopefully be sown later today, after an apple and blackberry crumble has been made. But first things first; it’s Six on Saturday time.

1. And we begin with the fragrant flowers of the Daphne Odora. Planted around two years ago, it hasn’t put on much growth. In fact it looks rather bare of leaf and I wonder whether I should have plonked it in a less shady spot. I’ll give it another year and see what happens.

2. Growing next to the Daphne is this Oxlip. It has started to form a nice clump and will be split once it has finished flowering.

3. The Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ was a new addition to the garden last April. She has been covered in flower buds for months and they’ve finally started to open. Alas, they’re not fragrant but the flowers are pretty and it’s adding some nice evergreen structure to the East facing border.

4. Another Viburnum up next. A deciduous variety that was grown from a cutting nearly 10 years ago. It’s supposed to bloom during the winter months but has yet to fulfil it’s wintery-flowery potential. The unnibbled fresh new leaves are a pleasing sight.

5. Now you may want to sit down for this one, I know I did. A few of the white crocuses that were planted in the lawn have actually made it to flowerhood without toppling over or getting stood on.

They’re rather pretty but I’m not sure it was the wisest of ideas with such a small lawn. If they don’t return next year well, hey-ho. I definitely need to plant some of these elsewhere though.

6. And finally… Iris reticulata ‘Alida.’ Most were grown in pots but those in the beds have done just as well. I have my eye on a few other varieties for next spring, including ‘Blue Note.’

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (20 February 2021)

For at least a day or two it seemed as though Mother Nature had turned up the thermostat, opened those big cloudy curtains in the sky and allowed the sun to shine once more, encouraging the emerging shoots and buds to resume their growy-openy thing. But then the rain came. And the hail. And oh yes, the wind. The lawn is a muddy, squelchy mess, littered with casualties of the toppled white crocus kind. The borders aren’t much better. However, it’s not all doom and gloom out there.

1. First up, snow drops. It appears I have more than I thought. Some have begun to appear in the border near the wildlife pond. It has been a pleasant surprise as I’d assumed they hadn’t survived. The difference a bit of warmth and sun makes to their appearance is also surprising; they can look positively perky.

2. The sun also encouraged a few more of the Iris reticulata (possibly Harmony) to open…

3. … and this lone purple beauty that has since had to be propped up with a few twigs to help it withstand the wind and the rain.

4. Self sown seedlings have started to appear here and there. These popped up in the ‘wildlife’ border back in January but it’s only now the proper leaves have formed that I’ve been able to figure out what they are: Honesty, and there’s loads of them. Next month I’ll dig some of them up and plonk them around the garden.

5. While the cream crocuses in the lawn have been a disaster so far, one crocus, hidden away at the back of the Eucalyptus bed, has opened without incident. Fingers crossed some others will make it to flowerhood.

6. And finally… Last week I featured Hellebore ‘Single White Blotched,’ one of two Hellebores purchased the other week. This was the other one: Rodney Davey Marbled Group ‘Reanna’s Ruby.’

As the flowers have aged the marbling has become more distinct. They look almost metallic. I’m proud to say that thus far (good word ‘thus’) I have resisted purchasing any more. I have ordered another rose though.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (13 February 2021)

Around this time last year the first of my outdoor daffodils had opened. Not this year. As daytime temperatures struggled to rise above freezing most days last week, things have stalled a little in the garden. Crocuses and irises that were about to bloom have thought better of it, the Sweet Box and Winter Honeysuckle have been bee free, and the frogs and newts that had emerged from hibernation have abandoned the small frozen pond. I’ve quite enjoyed this cold spell, it is February after all, but I got rather anxious when temperatures were predicted to fall to -5 one night. And that leads me to my first first Six on Saturday…

1. While the new Bay tree has shrugged off the subzero temperatures so far, it’s only classed as being ‘generally hardy’ to -5. Late on Wednesday evening I donned my beamy (a woolly hat with a built in LED light) and braved the cold to wrap up the Bay with some horticultural fleece. In a rare moment of genius I placed an insulated foam pipe protector around the trunk. It doesn’t look pretty but it’ll do.

2. My small collection of gardening books is gradually growing. This was received as a birthday present earlier in the month. I’ve only had a quick flick-through so far but it contains tips (and a few recipes) from loads of gardeners, including some green-fingered celebs such as Dame Helen Mirren, Julian Clary and Joanna Lumley.

3. Remember the first lot of seeds that were sown the other week? Well, the Morning Glory ‘Royal Ensign’ have germinated. There’s no sign of the white Black-eyed Susan yet.

4. Up next; a Viola. Several trays of these winter resilient plants were plonked in pots last autumn. Their cheerful floral faces usually help brighten up the patio during the winter and spring, but alas not this year. Most appear to have succumbed to some black spot-like fungal disease or other. Thankfully, a few have survived.

5. Another book, a Christmas present this time. Back in the autumn I ‘attended’ a Zoom talk by Nick Bailey on how to achieve all year round colour in your garden. His book was ordered post-haste. He’s doing a talk on planting schemes on Thursday that should be interesting. Hopefully I’ve cracked Zoom and won’t experience the same panicky heck-I’m-going-to-be-late-oh-blast-I-am-late log on issues as last time.

6. And finally… Yes, it’s a new Hellebore. One of two that arrived earlier in the week. It’s an Ashwood Garden Hybrid ‘Single white blotched.’ I vowed they would be my last plant orders of the year but I’ve spotted a yellow Hellebore that I’m trying my best to ignore.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (6 February 2021)

The frogs have returned. A newt too. Late on Tuesday evening, armed with a torch, I decided to take a nose at the pond to see if there was any sign of amphibian activity and lo and behold there was: two frogs and a male common newt in his wavy crested ‘look at me ladies aren’t I something?’ breeding getup. It prompted me to order some new bare root aquatic plants (hopefully more suitable for a tiny pond than past plant purchases). They arrived yesterday and were promptly potted up in some pond compost and gently lowered into the water. And it was while I was readjusting a submerged brick to alter the depth of an iris that my respect for amphibians grew. The water was flippin’ freezing. Potting up pond plants wasn’t the only bit of gardening I did last week, oh no. And that leads me to my first Six on Saturday.

1. I’ve been on something of a perennials spending spree of late but I think I’m done now. Possibly. One online order arrived last weekend and on Sunday I did my first spot of proper gardening of the year. ‘Verona,’ ‘Venice’ and ‘Washfield’ Astrantia and Astilbe ‘Rock and Roll’ have all been potted up until they get going, as has this bargain Geranium ‘Splish Splash’ from Wilko.

It felt good to get my hands in some compost, although I have to confess I struggled to work out which way was up with the ‘loose root’ Astrantia. They’ve all been labelled using sticks saved from frozen yoghurt ice lollies that have proved popular whatever the season.

2. I also sowed my first lot of ‘early’ seeds on Wednesday: a white Black-eyed Susan and a Morning Glory ‘Royal Ensign.’ They’re sat on a window sill in the spare bedroom. After a troubled year with seedlings last year, possibly due to the New Horizon peat free compost, I’ve splashed out on some Dalefoot this year, including a bag of their wool seed compost.

3. Next up, snowdrops. Last February there were but two solitary snowdrops in the garden, the only survivors from a pack of bulbs planted way back when. I planted some more bulbs in the autumn and a few were purchased ‘in the green’ back in March. I think these were acquired from the old ancestral home in North Wales last summer. It’ll be a while until I have a carpet of snowy white but perhaps I’ll have a small rug in a few years.

4. The primroses are starting to get into their flowery stride. The native variety have a simple elegant beauty.

5. Now I have a confession to make. While I love close up shots of Hellebore flowers, when confronted with a real life Hellebore an ‘oooh’ has turned to an ‘eeew.’ The flowers seemed freakishly out of proportion to the rest of the plant. What was that? You Hellebore heretic! Steady on. The other week I spotted a tweet regarding a fragrant Helleborus liguricus and decided “what the heck.” I think I can detect a faint fragrance from its stripy green flowers, though at the moment the heady scent of the Sarcococca is filling the garden, making it tricky to smell much else. I’ve been studying it from all angles and I’m getting used to its proportions. Have I become a Hellebore convert? Well, more have certainly been perused online over the past few days.

6. And finally… I was wandering around the garden yesterday and spotted an iris in bud. Half an hour later it had opened.

Here’s a compulsory close up.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.