Six on Saturday (1 May 2021)

Finally, rain! On Tuesday I had three completely empty water butts and one half empty/half full (delete according to your outlook on life). On Wednesday I awoke to find the two connected to the guttering of the house completely replenished. Plants are certainly looking a lot perkier but I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on some of my seedlings; I fear the slugs and snails are going to have an extra glide to their slide.

Later today the process of hardening off the sweet peas will begin. Once they’re ready to live out the rest of their days in the garden I’ll have space in the mini greenhouse for the adolescent Black-eyed Susan and Tomato seedlings that have been living a far too cushy life on window sills. The Black-eyed Susans are growing at a frightening pace despite pinching out the main shoots. Still, they’re not in quite the same league of rampant growiness as my first Six on Saturday.

1. Clematis Montana may well be the only clematis I haven’t managed to finish off. It’s buds have just started to open and the egg custard/nutmeg scented flowers are looking rather splendid, especially against a blue sky.

It grows up and occasionally over a fence. I usually chop it back hard every other year or so, but last year I decided to send it over to the blue shed, bridging the gap with some wire. I may come to regret this (shoots have already made it inside the shed) but it’ll be easy enough to stop the monster Montana in its tracks should I need to.

2. From Montana to Mahonia, not something I thought I’d find myself writing as I’ve always been a bit anti-Mahonia. The flowers are lovely and fragrant but I’ve always found the leaves to be freakishly out of proportion somehow. I know, I know, I have issues. But a few years ago I came across Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ and found myself adding it to my maybe-one-day wish list. On a trip to a garden centre early in April I spotted this little Mahonia, the last one, and it’s now planted in the rather shady conservatory bed to help provide some more structure. The leaves are pleasingly ferny (and in proportion) and the flowers will be an added bonus come late summer and autumn.

3. Growing in the same bed as the Mahonia are these Blue Bells, the native English variety. Those growing in another bed are almost certainly a hybrid lot that I’ll attempt to get shot of once they’ve finished flowering, although I don’t fancy my chances of success.

4. Next up, a Saxifraga. A White one. They never survive the winter here for some reason so I treat them as annuals.

5. The Forget-me-nots have been flowering for a while but they’ve gone full-on frothy now. Once they’ve started to die back and set seed they’ll be removed to make space for other things.

6. And finally… I appear to be somewhat lacking in flowering Honesty this spring, though there are plenty of seedlings coming up in the wildlife bed. Perhaps I was a little too ruthless pulling up last year’s seedlings.

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.

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44 thoughts on “Six on Saturday (1 May 2021)

  1. You have the description of the Montana smell down to a tee! That reminds me to go and check on mine which is on the windowless side of the house.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I love it, and my husband says he doesn’t, so I make a small one, and then he tastes it and says he does, and not just once either! I tend to make creme caramel though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I laughed at loud at “more glide to their stride”, supercool molluscs in your garden! Lovely montana pictures, I didn’t know that it was fragrant, sounds delicious. I’m also a fan of Soft Caress (slightly dodgy name perhaps), your standard mahonia is a little too spiky for my liking. Have a great week. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is a walk in a nearby garden which is named The Fragrant Walk – lined with mahonias and the scent is indeed very beautiful there. M. ‘Soft Caress’ is a particularly good plant but there are others with far better flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your comments on slugs on your blog, ‘an extra glide to their slide’ is brilliant! You know, I have the same feelings about Mahonia, and haven’t been able to put my finger on why you I don’t like them, but now that you mention it, I think you are right, the leaves are somehow a bit freakish! But I like this one you’ve planted, very elegant. Montana is a beauty too, so nice a combo with the soft blue painted shed.

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    1. I saw a few big Mahonias on my way into town the other day that had been pruned to look a bit like standards and they looked more acceptable that way! The flowers are deliciously fragrant though. It just struck me that painting the shed is going to be a lot more fiddly with plants growing along/up it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Clematis is looking good. I think I’ll get a montana to scramble up a very big photinia tree. The spanish bluebells – dont let them go to seed – they increase rapidly through seeding which is why mine keep coming back even after I have removed all the plants!!

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  6. What a relief that the water butts are full again! I was admiring your Clematis, thankful that I have purchased two plants. If mine grow as well as your C. Montana do, I’ll be over the moon. They are such beautiful flowers. Your feelings about Mahonia sum up how I feel about that plant……until I saw your Mahonia. After reading Paddy’s comment I think I had better go and see what other varieties are available.

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      1. I’ve just planted the Clematis, which are only about 2 inches high. They are both tube stock plants. They probably won’t grow too much over winter but will hopefully establish a strong root system and grow well once it starts to warm up again.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely photos Graeme. Those white mossy saxifragas do seem tricky to me too. The pink ones seem to do better overwinter for me than the white ones. Your clematis is spectacular.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Saxifraga are the same for me. I did manage to overwinter one last year (when it was a very wet winter) and it rotted away, but some of it did manage to flower again. Then that was that. Dead. Gone. Pretty enough to have in a pot or two as you say, as an annual. I have a white ASDA Montana – I am now going to see if it has any scent. The really old massive one on the opposite fence has pretty much slid (I think the wind may have helped) over onto the other side so I hope the cattle in the barns appreciate it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your photograph of the clematis montana turnes out well. I full support your decision to train its rampancy across a wire to the blue shed. A lovely, “overgrown” look and well worth any trimmings that may be required to prevent a full-scale invasion.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have honesty, purple, for the first time. I’m not all that taken with it. I won’t pull it out, and if it self-seeds, fine. Forget-me-nots are such a pretty color. Mine are the Chinese forget-me-nots, not related to yours, but they do looks the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve had to embark on a little fact finding mission about English v Spanish bluebells, and now I can see the difference! The English ones are much prettier, but perhaps not so easy to find here.
    I like Honesty, but have had difficulty getting it to establish here. Probably I don’t have enough shade. Your Montana looks stunning against that bright blue sky.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Do you use the Japanese chain method for water collection from your guttering or an extension of the downpipe. I am fanatical about harvesting and saving water as we are on a water meter.

    I managed to buy some sweet pea seeds on a trolley dash to a diy store. Providing the snails don’t eat them they are almost ready for potting on. I have been threatening to grow them for ages. I love the scent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a diverter thingy that you insert into the downpipe (having sawn out a section for it) that connects to the water butt with a tube. I have another water butt linked to the first one.

      I’ve a few bad years with sweet peas but last year they were a big success.

      Liked by 2 people

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