Six on Saturday (2 July 2022)

Back in December I mentioned that I’d been re-reading Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series about a young assistant pig keeper called Taran. I only recently discovered the author had compiled a companion book of short stories revisiting some of the characters, including Coll, the retired warrior-come-farmer/gardener.

After Coll rescues the white oracular pig Hen Wen, Dallben, the ancient enchanter, offers him a reward: a glimpse into his future from The Book of Three, a large leather-bound volume that sets down all that will come to pass.

Coll’s bald head turned pink and he pulled nervously at his ear, for he was a modest man and unused to such favors.

“Now then,” he answered, thinking hard, “I already know that spring will surely follow winter; and just as surely there will be sunlight and rain, good days and bad. And if I am to have any more such adventures – why, I would rather not know about them ahead of time. It is a great gift you offer me; but, thank you all the same, I have no need of it.”

“Think well,” said Dallben. “This chance will not be given to you again.”

“Wait!” cried Coll. “Yes, there is one matter I would know above all. Tell me, then, for it has been on my mind these many days: how shall my turnips fare this year?”

Dallben smiled. “To answer that, I need not open The Book of Three,” he replied. “They will thrive.” (from The Foundling and other tales of Prydain).

Now I’m not growing any turnips this year and I haven’t rescued any oracular pigs of late, but after something of a disaster with my pink dandelions last summer, I was curious to know how they’d fare this time round… What was that? Yes, you’re quite right. It was a rather long and tenuous literary link.

1. Sown from a packet of seed that was getting on a bit, the Crepis rubra has done much better this summer. I’ve planted them in the big pots with the sweet peas rather than in the ground this time and I’m wondering if the regular liquid seaweed feed that the sweet peas receive has helped. A bit of an understated beauty.

2. There’s nothing remotely understated about this flower though. This is one of a batch of Cosmos ‘Brightness Mixed’ grown from a packet of seed that came free with the Garden News magazine. A Cosmos of short stature with leaves and flowers that are almost Marigold like, I’ve had orangey red blooms and a yellow one so far. I’ll definitely be growing it again next year.

3. In theory this should either be Astrantia ‘Washfield,’ ‘Verona’ or ‘Venice.’ However, it doesn’t match any of the images featured on the J. Parker’s website. All three were purchased as bare roots back in early 2021 but this is the only one flowering at the moment. It’s growing in quite a shady spot but does a lack of sunlight affect the colours of Astrantia? Answers on a postcard please.

4. Next up is Orlaya grandiflora. Grown from seed harvested from a white lace flower last year, I now have half a dozen or so. They’re rather lovely and a good, compact umbellifer for a small garden. Popular with hoverflies too.

5. Growing in the border near the mini pond, this Viola is still looking cheerful despite being a little nibbled in places. The slugs and snails have been out in force after all the rain we’ve had this week.

6. And finally… a rampant climbing rose called Compassion. It got rather big, rather fast, last summer, resulting in the odd injury when entering the blue shed. I chopped it right back to the ground at the beginning of the year and feared I’d killed it. I needn’t have worried and I’m sure there will be more rose related injuries before long. Beautiful flowers though, with a wonderful fragrance.

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 July 2020)

It’s all change come Monday. After working from home full time since the 19 March I’ll be heading back to the office next week. While it felt strange initially, I got used to this working from home lark. I’ll miss the regular supply of coffee, the radio playing in the background and the snacks. So many snacks. But most of all I’ll miss the view of the garden from my ‘office’ (the conservatory) and the comings and goings of the birds throughout the day.

Ah well. As I’ll no longer be able to do any emergency midday waterings of seedlings I’m going to plant out the remaining pots of this and that over the weekend, including (drum roll please) the Zinnias. I have a late sowing of the troublesome annuals in reserve in case the slugs and snails polish off the first batch. But as no rain is forecast for a while perhaps they’ll do okay. Here’s hoping anyway. Right, time for Six on Saturday…

1. I don’t have much luck with Clematis. They rarely thrive and, more often than not, tend to snuff it. However, undeterred my wife and I purchased this ‘Nubia’ the other weekend. I’m planning on growing it up an arch… when the arch arrives (another thing I’ll miss about working from home; being in for deliveries). It looks the picture of health at the moment, flowering away in its pot. Little does this Clematis know that its chances of a long and happy life are slim.

2. Another Phlox is in full bloom. I call it the ‘Pink One’, not to be confused with the ‘Other Pink One’ which is a slightly different shade of pink and which will no doubt feature next week. In the distance is a plant that I’ve been meaning to feature for a while now but I’ve kept substituting it for something else at the last minute.

3. Not this week. The Veronica has thrived since it was moved to this spot last year and has been flowering away for weeks. Popular with the bees, I’m tempted to get a smaller variety for elsewhere in the garden. The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the Jasmine. Despite a severe chopping back last November it’s as monstrously climby and twiny as ever.

4. I’ve grown a few varieties of Linaria from seed this year, including Linaria maroccana ‘Licilia Red.’ It’s rather nice.

5. This slender Penstemon is in full flower. I think it might be ‘Garnet.’ A new purchase last June, it survived the winter and I have a few more growing in pots that I propagated last Autumn.

6. And finally… Crepis rubra (Pink Dandelion). They’ve been in bloom for a few weeks now. Keen to extend the flowering period of these delicate pink beauties I tried a second late sowing of seed direct in the ground a few weeks ago. The seedlings popped up within days… and then vanished. I was puzzled initially but the other morning I watched a young blackbird throwing soil here there and everywhere in the very same spot I’d sown the late batch. Mystery solved.

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