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 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


34 thoughts on “Six on Saturday (18 January 2020)

  1. I laughed at the lilac planting, I’ve been that cowgirl. Definitely the right choice to move it now, it will barely know that it has been out of the soil. I love polemoniums too, in one of my gardens they seed everywhere, an added bonus!

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  2. The Jacob’s ladder thief has been active in my garden too. Also, someone in huge wellies has trodden on some of my shoots. Grannysgardenhimindoors swears that it wasn’t him, he gets lost if he ventures further than the patio.

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  3. This photo of hydrangeas is beautiful. You did it very well.
    Perhaps you should have pruned the butterfly tree a little more? … it will become very invasive because grows all the time. Maybe you’ll get many new young plants everywhere on your lawn and in your borders… if not already done

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    1. Thank you. I tend to give the buddleia a slight prune in the autumn and then chop it right back to the main trunk in the spring. I’m always amazed how much growth it puts on. Last year a lot of the new branches got snapped off in the wind and yet it still recovered. I moved the lilac this afternoon so fingers crossed it’ll have enough room now.

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  4. Love Christmas Box. Found some in our garden purely by the smell as we didn’t know it was there. It’s a keeper! Have had a fair bit of work done this last week, so will get a blog ready for next week (she said confidently).

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  5. My Jacob’s ladder disappeared last year never to be seen again, a shame as it was a very pretty pale blue. And where is your Sarcococca hookeriana planted? I bought one and it’s in a pot but the leaves have all dropped off and it’s probably dying and all the flower buds have shrivelled up 😥 I was so looking forward to some winter fragrance too!

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    1. Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that. This one is growing in a reasonably bright spot in the ground but it grew just as well in a shadier bed (it got moved when I shifted the wildlife pond a few years ago). Would vine weevil grubs attack Christmas Box??


    1. Luckily it still has some other flowering branches. It does seem prone to windrock out the front and the branches seem to flop over on this one when they get too big for some reason. I chopped it right back a few years ago and that seemed to solve the issue. I may need to risk another big prune in April. They have a lovely scent.


  6. The strength in scent of sarcoccoca astounds me, especially considering the size of the flower. Yours obviously has some power to it, drawing you across the garden. Your hydrangea is full of character at the moment, isn’t she? And which iberis do you have? I’m not familiar w/the plant but an image search shows me all sorts of goodies that are annuals, perennials, shrubs & border plants. Which o which should I buy? All of them, you say?

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      1. Thanks so much for that link. It says it’s a brassica & so of course, caterpillars like it. Do you net yours or is that why yours hasn’t become invasive?

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  7. I’ve got some shrub moving to do too. My lilac is a beast now filling a good 4m high by a good distance across. It’s quite a big space for the short burst of flowers but I’ve taken out too many established shrubs currently so don’t want to leave the whole garden bare.

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    1. I’m very wary of stated plant sizes now. They seem to vary wildly from one supplier/magazine to another and I don’t know what to believe. This lilac is supposed to be a smaller variety. We shall see. It’s part of my quest to add more vertical interest to the garden and scent.


      1. Yes, come to add a couple of metres to a lot of the stated sizes of trees and deduct from the size of smaller flowers. The lilac scent is great. I think I’m probably going to have to take out my Korean dwarf lilac which I think you have too. Sadly three shrubs are too close and that’s the easiest to remove or move.

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  8. When I read about your standard lilac it reminded me of Russell Page writing in ‘The Education of a Gardener’.
    ‘Lilacs look their best and are easier to prune and keep shapely when you grow them as half-standards. For the first two or three years they will be disappointing, but after that they will make great rounded heads covered with flowers.’ It sounds to me like you’re on to a winner and I hope to see pictures of it in flower.

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