Six on Saturday (26 November 2022)

I think it may have rained pretty much every day last week. And my, what rain. Horizontal at times. As a full-time nine to fiver, gardening opportunities are limited to weekends during the autumn and winter and if the weekend forecast is bad you’ve had it. Luckily, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning turned out to be pretty decent weather-wise, providing a few shower free hours to tackle my first Six on Saturday…

1. Bulbs. Alas, after taking this photo I got completely sidetracked and ended up spending both days moving shrubs instead (more on that next week), although I did manage to plant a few packets of ‘Ballerina’ Tulips. I’m going to do better today, weather permitting.

2. Growing nearby is the fragrant Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima). I usually chop a few of the older stems right down to the ground in April or May but didn’t bother this time. It has just started to flower and will hopefully go on flowering from now until the spring, providing nectar for the odd brave bee over the coming months.

3. Remember the Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ last Saturday, with its flaming red foliage? Well this is it what it looks like now…

4. Growing nearby is the lollipop Bay Tree that was planted back in 2019 I think. I’ve yet to pick any leaves for culinary purposes as someone on Twitter put me off the idea after suggesting it would have been sprayed with who-knows-what to provide a pristine, sale worthy specimen. Surely it should be okay to pick the odd leaf now though, 3 years later?

5. Up next, a Viola. A few trays of these bargain beauties were bought last Saturday from the plant man in town. Most of them will probably end up being plonked on the top of potted up tulip bulbs. Expect to see more in the coming weeks.

6. And finally… a non-pesky snail. It’s been a while since I’ve featured Bolt. He’s still hanging around the wildlife pond and occasionally getting toppled by the boisterous sparrows.

They were my Six on Saturday, a meme originally started by The Propagator. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, head over to the blog of the current Six on Saturday host, Jim.

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Six on Saturday (19 November 2022)

After many years of procrastination, the rickety half trellis fence is no more. All of the fencers who provided quotes seemed jolly good and were similar price-wise, but only one was able to do the work before the spring. The idea of bulbs getting flattened on the cusp of flowerhood wasn’t very appealing and so the chap who was able to replace the fence before Christmas (well before Christmas as it turned out) was hired. He did a great job too…

1. An overly rampant Jasmine used to help provide some privacy on the trellis section of the old fence in the summer but during the winter you were left feeling very exposed. In theory, the Jasmine (which appears to have started life on the neighbours’ side between the fence and their raised bed) is no more, although I suspect there’s still quite a bit lurking beneath the soil, just biding its time. The new fence is wonderfully anti-social and somehow you feel more at ease when out pottering. It is rather fence-like though, and that leads us to SoS number 2.

2. A Cotoneaster horizontalis. The Pyracantha that was originally growing in this spot was chopped back and dug up the other weekend in preparation for the new metal posts (I’m sure a blackbird eyed me disdainfully as the berry laden Pyracantha branches were loaded into the car). Last Sunday, at dusk, I decided to fill the spot vacated by the fearsome Firethorn with a Cotoneaster that had been growing, largely forgotten, in a dark and shady spot on the other side of the garden. Acquired from the former ancestral home/free plant nursery in North Wales a number of years ago, I hadn’t realised how big it had gotten. Last minute winter evening shrub moving doesn’t really lend itself to careful diggage to ensure mininimal root damage, but hopefully it will survive and provide the birds with berries for many years to come.

3. Another plant that had to get chopped back and dug up was a Coronilla that had been grown as a climber. I’ve plonked it back in the ground in the hope that it survives. If not, a replacement will be acquired; a second winter/spring without the fragrant pale-yellow flowers of a Coronilla in the back garden is unthinkable. In the meantime, the Prunus Kojo-no-mai (which is looking even more fiery than it did a few weeks ago) will have a bit more space to spread its branches. I suspect they’ll be bare of leaf in a week or so.

4. Now I’ll come back to the flowering red rose that’s growing near Kojo in a moment. First though, come and take a look at this climbing patio rose growing up the metal arch. ‘Little Rambler’ has never looked so good or smelled so sweet as it does now. Planted back in 2020 it’s finally starting to make some progress of the vertical kind.

5. Back to the red rose, ‘Nerf Herder’ is still going strong. What was that? Err… no, that’s not its real name. I’d have to search past posts to remind myself of what it’s really called.

6. And finally… it’s a Calendula that also featured a while back. How much longer flowerage will continue now that temperatures have begun to fall who knows. It got down to 0.6 last night.

They were my Six on Saturday, a meme originally started by The Propagator. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, head over to the blog of the current Six on Saturday host, Jim.  Right, I’m going to make a start on bulb planting. I just wish I was feeling a little more enthusiastic about the task.

Six on Saturday (12 November 2022)

After spending most of last weekend preparing the garden for Operation New Fence (which commenced on Thursday), I was looking forward to doing absolutely nothing this weekend. However, it looks like the fence will be completed this morning and in theory that means stuff will have to be moved back to its usual position, including the mini-greenhouse (minus the spiders this time). Unfortunately, once that’s all done I’ll have absolutely no excuse not to start the joyous task of bulb planting… unless it rains. Anyway, another brisk Six on Saturday…

1. And we start with a Viburnum (possibly farreri). Grown from a cutting my wife took of a plant in our old rented house over 10 years ago, this is the best it has ever been flower-wise. Lovely and fragrant too.

2. Growing nearby is another fragrant plant, Sarcococca somethingorotherus (a dwarf variety I think). Although it’ll be a few months yet until bloomage, the flower buds are already forming.

3. The other week I took photographs of packets of bulbs figuring they’ll come in handy for future SoS’s when I’m struggling to find anything of interest. This week: Allium ‘Cameleon,’ which allegedly tolerates shade.

4. Talking of shade, this Zinnia (one of the ‘Jazzy Mixture’) isn’t getting much sun now, growing in the increasingly shady north facing back garden. However, it’s still producing the odd flower.

5. Holey Rhubarb… Batman.

6. And finally… The Calendula were rather slow to get going this year but appear to be making up for lost time. ‘Snow Princess’ has featured before and could well feature again.

They were my Six on Saturday, a meme originally started by The Propagator. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, head over to the blog of the current Six on Saturday host, Jim

Six on Saturday (5 November 2022)

A briskish Six on Saturday today. After thinking I had weeks to prepare for a new fence it turns out the fencing chap is starting work on Thursday. The next few days will be spent emptying and moving the shed a few feet and digging up those plants that are most at risk of tramplage. Naturally, the weather is set to be decidedly damp over the next few days, but luckily I was able to take Friday afternoon off, making the most of a brief dry spell. The Pyracantha, Coronilla and various climbers that were growing up the trellis fence have been chopped right back to the ground and the lean-to mini-greenhouse has been detached from the shed. Note to self – don’t plant anything near fence posts in future. Anyway…

1. We start with something else I’m going to have to move before Thursday. Pots. This is one of those not-so-hardy Cyclamens that has spent the past year or two outdoors and is still going strong.

2. While brown and crispy is usually a bad thing during the spring and summer, in the autumn it can be rather lovely, especially when it comes to Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise.’

3. Next up, a Cosmos out the front. It looked rather splendid when the sun shone yesterday afternoon.

4. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai,’ waiting for it to reach peak autumnal fiery foliage perfection before taking a photo. However, you don’t want to leave it too long as you may end up with a shrub that is bare of leaf instead. This was taken just before the Coronilla got the chop and I wonder if I may have jumped the gun ever so slightly. I might try again next week.

5. Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ doing its strangely artificial looking, purple-berry thing. I didn’t used to be a fan. I am now.

6. And finally… Remember the Delphinium requienii that was on the cusp of flowerhood last Saturday? Well, this isn’t that one. However, it dawned on me that I planted another seedling in the south facing front garden. I went in search of it one morning before work, hoping that it might be further ahead than those out the back. It was. More will be grown next year.

They were my Six on Saturday, a meme originally started by The Propagator. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, head over to the blog of the current Six on Saturday host, Jim. Right, I suppose I’d better make a start on the shed. If you hear a manly shriek, don’t be too alarmed, it’ll probably false widow spider related; there seem to be a few that have set up home near the shed and greenhouse.

Six on Saturday (29 October 2022)

It has been unseasonably mild of late; positively balmy at times when the sun has shone. However, the clocks go back tonight and it’ll soon be November. Hardly a sensible time for my first Six on Saturday to think about blooming and yet here it is…

1. … a Delphinium requienii, on the cusp of flowerhood. I read about these in an SoS at the beginning of the year and decided to give them a go. Unlike regular Delphinums, which I never have much luck with, it’s glossy of leaf and slug resistant. I assumed it would bloom next summer (it’s classed as a biennial on a lot of websites) but these seem keen to give it a go now. I just hope the buds open before the first of the frosts.

2. Some plants have flowered all summer long, including Erysimum ‘Apricot Twist.’ Planted in the spring, I wasn’t sure about it initially, preferring the Siberian Wallflower, but I’m now a big fan. It also goes rather nicely with the blue shed.

3. The Zinnias growing in the south facing front garden have done really well this year, especially Zinnia ‘Jazzy Mixture.’ It’s featured quite a bit in my SoS’s over the past few months.

4. Another fantastically floriferous plant (adorned with a sleepy bee in this photo) is Alyssum which has formed a soft white blanket of honey-scented flowers in the patio border.

5. Now I must confess I’ve always been a bit anti-Mahonia. The flowers are lovely and fragrant, but I find the spikey leaves a bit strange proportion-wise for some reason. Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ won me over though with its pleasingly ferny and perfectly proportioned foliage. It’s just a pity the flowers (which are very popular with wasps, bees and ants) aren’t fragrant. Ah well.

6. And finally… a Chocolate Cosmos. Now in its second year, it struggled a bit during the heatwave and has only produced a few flowers. In the not too distant future it will get dug up and overwintered in the mini greenhouse.

They were my Six on Saturday, a meme originally started by The Propagator. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, head over to the blog of the current Six on Saturday host, Jim.

Six on Saturday (22 October 2022)

Last Saturday evening my wife and I booked a very last-minute break in Bath. Just the one night, heading up by train on Sunday morning and returning the following afternoon. Now when I first encountered Bath, many moons ago, I must admit I wasn’t that impressed, finding it all a bit yellow (something Mrs OMAHGT never fails to mention whenever we visit). Yet as I’ve grown older (and marginally wiser) I’ve come to embrace the whole Bath Stone thing and we tend to make a couple of daytrips to the city every year. However, this time we decided to make the most of the extra time a sleepover afforded, hopping onto a bus to explore a nearby garden gem. And that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. The American Museum and Gardens in Claverton. One of the first collections I listed as a keen young archivist in Somerset over **coughs** years ago related to the Skrine family of Warleigh, Bathford. It included correspondence concerning the sale of Claverton Manor to Dr Dallas Pratt who established an American Museum there (you can read more about it here). However, it wasn’t until I happened to catch a programme following Pam Ayres around the Cotswolds last year that I became aware of the gardens. It was our first visit and definitely not our last.

2. Back to one’s more modest estate next. While the past few days have been pretty miserable weather-wise, we enjoyed the odd misty morn earlier in the week. The car was festooned with bedewed cobwebs, but they weren’t quite as photogenic as those on this Verbena bonariensis.

3. Fashionably late after a scorching summer, this Japanese Anemone ‘Whirlwind’ has been flowering for a few weeks now.

4. Oxalis somethingorotherus has begun blooming again. Fantastic flowers up close, although I’m less keen on the foliage during the summer as it tends to go rather sickly looking.

5. Now I’ve been meaning to feature this beauty for a while. Geum ‘Lemon Delight’ has been flowering off and on for months but seems to reach the peak of petalled perfection in the autumn (funnily enough it featured as an SoS this time last year). All my other Geums tend to flower just the once, early in the summer, but not this variety.

6. And finally… some more views of the gardens at the American Museum, just because it was such a perfect, sunny autumnal day.

They were my Six on Saturday, a meme originally started by The Propagator. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, head over to the blog of the current Six on Saturday caretaker, Jim.

Six on Saturday (15 October 2022)

I visited a garden centre last Sunday (purely for the benefit of my mother-in-law you understand as she was after some heathers) and was alarmed to discover it was Christmas. Baubles, illuminated mini festive villages, twinkling fairy lights, elves, artificial trees, glittery toadstools (because nothing says Christmas more than a glittery toadstool), tinsel, chocolate sprouts… Had I stepped through a time portal and skipped October and November altogether I wondered? When my mother-in-law offered me a mince pie with a cup of tea later that afternoon I was really starting to worry. But no, it was (and still is) October, which is a relief as I haven’t planted any bulbs yet, including a packet of yellow tulips and two packets of alliums that were situated a mere fake snowball’s throw away from a giant cuddly toy Christmas rat at that garden centre. Anyway, moving briskly on…

1. Up first, Erigeron karvinskianus, otherwise known as Mexican fleabane, otherwise known (in our house at least) as Hestercombe Daisy. A seedling of this prolific plant hitched a ride with a potted rose that we brought with us from our first rented home over 10 years ago. Alas, the rose is no more but the Hestercombe Daisies are growing everywhere and have now colonised the crack between the driveway and the side of our house…. and that of the neighbours too. It is pretty though and flowers for months on end.

2. More white, this time courtesy of Fuschia ‘Hawkshead.’ A friend grew it from a cutting a few years ago and I’ve been nurturing it in a pot waiting for it to get a bit more established before planting it somewhere. I’ve yet to figure out where that somewhere is.

3. Temperatures got as low as 2 degrees Celsius one night last week so I’m not sure how much longer the summer annuals will be around for. After something of a Cosmos disaster last year, they’ve mostly done okay this time around (apart from one that got flattened by my better half while she was negotiating the herbaceous obstacle course created by yours truly enroute to the electric and gas meters).

4. As the nights grow colder I must decide whether to dig up some of the more tender perennials and overwinter them indoors or risk leaving them in the ground. Osteospermums have proved a bit hit and miss survival-wise when left in the ground. If I opt for the indoor overwinterage option again though I must remember to water the things occasionally. Last year’s batch were stored in the shed, next to a window, and completely forgotten about. Result? Deceased Osteospermums.

5. Thankfully my first attempt at overwintering Agastache ‘Black Adder’ indoors was more successful (they never survive winter outdoors here). Stored in the mini greenhouse, they were far less out-of-sight-out-of-mind than the Osteospurmums. This one is still flowering and mingling rather nicely with Erysimum Apricot Twist’.

6. And finally…. remember the buds of the back-from-the-dead Clematis ‘Freckles’ that featured last week? They’ve opened.

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 (8 October 2022)

The garden appears to be giving a final floral encore, looking far more colourful now than it did during the second half of summer. Despite the odd day of blustery winds and heavy downpours, the annuals aren’t looking too shabby. Thick carpets of Foxglove seedlings have sprung up in the borders and gravel path, and the lawns have pretty much recovered from the drought, requiring regular mowing once more. However, there can be no escaping the signs of autumn and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. The Pyracantha may need to get pruned back hard in the not-so-distant future in preparation for a new fence. Hopefully the birds will get a chance to polish off the berries before that happens.

2. Up next, Garlic Chives. I think they may be my most favourite Allium. Always the last to flower, they’re pretty things with multi-coloured stamens. They’re rather tasty too. I just wish I had more luck with the regular variety of chives.

3. The rampant climbing Rose ‘Compassion’ is having a second flush of flowers. Growing it up the corner of the blue shed has proved a mixed blessing. It’s the perfect location to appreciate the fragrant flowers but it can get a little over enthusiastic, its thorny stems making it tricky to open the shed door without risking injury at times. I pruned it right back to the ground in the spring and it’s as big now as it was this time last autumn.

4. Another week, another Calendula. What was that? Only a few weeks ago you were muttering how you’d not had much success with Calendula? I know, Apparently they’ve been hiding, just biding their time. I’ve no idea what variety this is but the petals have a pinkish tinge.

5. Last year a few of my established Sedums/Hylotelphiums went all floppy at the flowering stage. Now apparently this is just one of those things every Sedum will experience at some point in its life, especially as it gets older. However, I read that the ‘Chelsea chop’ could help prevent this issue and so decided to give it a go (although by the time I got around to it the Hampton Court Flower Show was looming, making it more of a ‘Hampton hack.’) I was slightly worried I’d left it too late, but they’ve finally flowered.

6. And to conclude… Clematis ‘Freckles.’ Back in August I feared the worst as its leaves and stems had been burnt to a crisp. But look! Buds! Masses of buds on the brink of bloomage. A pleasant surprise and something of a relief.

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 (1 October 2022)

Last November, towards the end of a particularly tedious bulb planting session, I decided I would seriously cut back on bulb purchases in 2022, figuring the whole point of bulbs was that they should come back each spring. Admittedly some would get accidently sliced when digging up this and that, and a few would inevitably vanish, never to be seen again. Yet surely there were enough already in the ground to provide ample colour for several years? Nope. I’d limit myself to just a few packets of tulips for the odd pot or two.

However, when I was in Wilko a few Saturdays ago, innocently shopping for bird food, I foolishly paused in front of the newly stocked bulb section. Before I knew what had happened I was making my way to a till with a bag of sunflower hearts for the birds and several bags of tulips, alliums, narcissi and irises, having decided it was madness to ignore such bargain bulbs, especially when they would probably be replaced by all things Halloweeny in a week or so. But that was it. There would no more dormant-spring-plants-in-modified-stem-form purchases. Oh no. It was merely a temporary wobble. A momentary lapse. A one-off thing… and so was the accidental online “oops-how-did-those-end-up-in-my-basket?” bargain bulk bulb purchases made last Sunday. Anyway, I think we should move swiftly on to today’s Six on Saturday selection.

1. And we start with a flowering Clematis montana. It got hacked right back to nothing in April so that the Storm Eunice damaged fence could be repaired. Annoyingly it had been on the cusp of flowering when it got the chop and I figured there would be no blooms this year. But lo! It’s almost as big now as it was this time last year and has already managed to escape into the neighbour’s Pyracantha and ivy.

2. Grown from a cutting taken from one of my mother-in-law’s Salvias a few years ago, this aromatic leaved beauty has been flowering for months. More Salvias may be added in 2023.

3. Scabious/Scabiosa/Scabiouses up next. I grow a batch from seed every spring, although some often survive a winter or two. They’re one of those plants that look good in bud, full flower and every stage in between.

4. Whilst a lot of the Japanese Anemones struggled with the lack of H2o over the summer, this Anemone hupehensis ‘Prinz Heinrich’ hasn’t faired too badly. It’s also the only variety in my garden that tends to spread.

5. Fuchsia ‘Delta’s Sarah’ was a new addition back in 2021. Growing in the same border as the Anemone, it’s looking a lot healthier than poor old ‘Army Nurse’. Frequent pinching out of the tips earlier in the year has helped create a fuller shrub.

6. And finally… a Cosmos and another of those rusty metal swallows that were purchased at the Taunton Flower Show in August. I can’t decide whether I should leave the swallows out over the winter or allow them to migrate to the more clement conditions of the shed. What do you think?

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 (24 September 2022): Farewell Summer

As an Astronomical Autumn chap I’ve had to face up to reality: summer is no more. While there’s still quite a bit going on in the garden there can be no ignoring the signs of the switching seasons. The sun is sitting lower in the sky and has been a bit dazzley of late. The car windows have been covered in condensation most mornings. It’s getting darker when the alarm clock goes off in the morning and it has been decidedly chilly at times, so chilly that I really need to do something about my first Six on Saturday…

1. A rather ancient indoor Pelargonium with sherbet lemon scented leaves got chopped back severely a number of months ago and I must have randomly shoved one of the discarded prunings into the pot with the dark leaved Dahlia ‘Dark Angels Mixed.’ I’d completely forgotten about it until recently when I noticed its vibrant green foliage contrasting nicely with that of the Dahlia. I really must dig it up, pot it on and bring it indoors before the first frost.

2. Another pleasant surprise: a flowering Abyssinian gladiolus. I’d given up on these, assuming I was only going to get foliage this year. I’m daring to hope some of the others will bloom soon. They’re nice and fragrant too.

3. While some plants are flowering for the first time, others are enjoying a late second flush of blooms. Rosa ‘nerf herder’ (far easier to remember than Rosa Flower Carpet Ruby ‘Noafeuer’ which I always have to look up) is blooming again. The camera sometimes struggles to cope with the full-on redness of this healthy standard Rose but it didn’t do too badly this time.

4. A plant that has pretty much flowered non-stop since the spring is this perennial Viola called ‘Etain.’ It was stuffed in a pot with the sweet peas, and while the sweet peas have long since gone over this super plant is still going strong.

5. A few weeks ago I was bemoaning my lack of Calendula success this summer. Well, I spoke too soon. A few others have appeared. What variety are they? Good question. I’ve no idea.

6. And finally… The Dahlias have done a lot better this year compared to 2021. Not well enough to convince me to acquire some additional varieties next spring but I’ll certainly attempt to overwinter my existing lot. Dahlia ‘Honka Fragile’ has become a firm favourite with flowers like little floral windmills (alas they don’t spin around in the wind).

And those crayon like markings at the centre are also rather lovely. Hmm, maybe I should try and take a few cuttings of this one next year if it survives the winter.

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.