Six on Saturday (5 February 2022)

Although it’s only February there were a few moments last week when it felt almost springlike at times. Birds have been singing, the evenings seem lighter, the odd daffodil of short stature is flowering and… there are blooming aphids on the emerging buds of my Sambucus nigra ‘Golden Tower.’ Colonies of the prolific sap sucking, parthenogenic-offspring-producing blighters. I’m beginning to wonder whether ornamental elders are worth the effort. Last year the aphids really went for the ‘Black Lace’ elder and it was a constant battle trying to keep them in check, squashing and hosing them off and getting all wet and aphidy in the process. The ‘Black Lace’ got chopped to the ground yesterday in an attempt to revitalise it but I found myself pondering potential replacement shrubs while I was doing it. Are their days numbered? We shall see. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. And we start with snowdrops. I think this clump was acquired from the old ancestral home up in North East Wales. I’ve noticed a few other little clumps coming up here and there, acquired in the green from the Country Market over the last few years. I’m still a long way off from having a carpet of snowdrops or even a small rug, but perhaps one day…

2. Next up, a plant that came with a label saying ‘Hug me! I’m soft.’ Delosperma echinatum (the Pickle Plant) was one of several succulents purchased last year to brighten up the south facing window sill in the living room, and they’re doing rather well. What was that? Err, no I haven’t. I’m not good with public signs of plant affection. However, I do often admire Pickles and the halo effect its soft hairs create in the sun.

3. Sitting to the right of ‘Pickles’ is ‘Sampy’ (I think it looks a bit like Samphire). Alas, it didn’t come with a label, just a ceramic pot.

4. Out in the garden the first of the Primroses has started to flower. Rather miraculously, it has remained unnibbled.

5. As have most of the variegated leaves of this half standard Euonymus japonica ‘Bravo’ that brightens up a border during the winter.

6. And finally… The first of the outdoor ‘Tête-à-tête’ have begun to flower. A rather pleasing sight, if a little early.

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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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 (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 (16 January 2021)

A wet and miserable day like today seems the perfect time to start planning and placing my seed orders. But before any hasty online purchases are made I’m going to spend an hour or so sorting through my leftover packets of seed, reminding myself of what grew well (Cosmos) and what was disappointing and will never be grown again (Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ will top that list). I’m also going to ponder whether to have a third and final attempt at growing the “easily grown in a cool greenhouse or sheltered spots” (but apparently not for me) South African Foxglove. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. Last year’s crispified flowers of the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’ are still adding some structural interest in the garden, although I find quite a few of the flower heads on the lawn after a breezy day. I must look up how to prune this come the spring.

2. I spotted a goldfinch enjoying the seeds of a Verbena bonariensis earlier in the week. Those in the south facing front garden have started to sprout new growth. Although it readily self-seeds around the garden, I tried taking cuttings of these new shoots last year, without success. Undeterred, I’m going to give it another go.

3. There are signs of new life elsewhere in the garden too. The Black Lace Elder is covered in leaf buds. Alas, the Golder Tower Elder that I over zealously sprayed with a home made aphid-zapping soapy concoction last summer is not. Lesson learnt. There are plenty of buds lower down the 7 foot stems though. I’m considering chopping it right back to the ground in the spring in the hope of generating some vigorous new growth.

4. Next up is something of a panic buy. It seems a little early to be purchasing Dahlias but I spotted these in Wilko, there were only a few left and it would have been madness not to acquire a pack there and then along with another variety that I’ll share next weekend.

5. The Dahlias haven’t been the only plant purchases though, oh no! I had a £10 voucher from Sarah Raven last month and last Sunday, with just 1 day left before the voucher expired, I started making my way through her spring catalogue. Several plants and a packet of seed were ordered but before I knew it I had strayed onto the websites of other plant purveyors. Several more purchases may have been placed, most of which won’t be dispatched until March. However, one lot arrived on Friday, which took me by surprise. I’d not purchased online perennials before the first Lockdown. I quickly discovered that posted perennials can be somewhat underwhelming, so my expectations regarding the contents of this box were far more realistic than they would have been in 2020.

Hopefully these will one day become a fully grown Geranium of some sort, Anemone leveillei and Anemone ‘Wild Swan.’ I think I’ll leave them in their pots for now.

6. And finally… Around this time last year I bought a few pots of bulbs to create some early indoor pre-Spring cheer. I’ve done the same again. This photo was taken 2 weeks ago.

And this is it now.

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. Stay safe.

Six on Saturday (15 February 2020)

Last weekend was spent in London. While my wife attended a course at Regent’s University I was left to explore the Big Smoke. On Saturday morning I wandered around Regent’s Park admiring blossoms and the early fresh green leaves of a hawthorn, gazed up at the exotic, if noisy, parakeets high up in the trees and watched a pair of nesting great crested grebes on the lake. Then in the afternoon I braved the Tube and headed to the West End to watch The Play That Goes Wrong, taking an accidental detour to Trafalgar Square after turning left instead of right out of Charing Cross Station. There was a definite springlike feel to the day.

A poor photo of great crested grebes

But come Sunday such springlike weather was but a distant memory. After battling against the elements to get to the British Museum, pondering the point of my waterproof coat as it channelled the rain directly to my trouser legs, I later pretended to be engrossed with one exhibit or another while secretly standing on top of or in front of heating vents in a desperate attempt to get dry, worrying whether our train would be running that evening and if our fences were still standing back home. Thankfully it did and they were. It appears we got off lightly in our part of Somerset. Whether we’ll be quite so lucky when Storm Dennis reaches us later today, who knows. The wind is already getting up. Anyway, time for my first Six on Saturday.

1. While admiring the blossom trees in and around Regent’s Park I felt a slight tinge of regret. This time last year I was writing about the flowers of the Prunus cerasifera ‘Hessei’. I chopped it down in November and replaced it with the Eucalyptus gunnii France Bleu, and while I’m fairly sure this was the right decision (the Prunus was getting too big, despite regular pruning) I can’t deny I’m missing it a bit. Still, the Eucalyptus leaves look good in silhouette against the sky.

2. This is exciting. Most of the Lupin Lilac Javalin seeds sown almost two weeks ago are up and they’re surprisingly chunky. The Antirrhinum ‘Circus Clowns’ have also appeared, but there’s no sign of the tomatoes yet.

3. This Primula featured a few weeks back but has upped its game since then, going full on floriferous. Something has almost polished off that centre flower though.

4. Next up, the unfurling red-tinged young foliage of the new rose tree Harlow Carr. Most of the roses in the garden are showing signs of fresh growth, including a patio rose that I really need to chop back as it’s become a little wild. Alas, Graham Thomas, the yellow climber that did so poorly last year, is showing no such signs of life. I fear he is no more.

5. The first of the new daffs have opened in the front garden. I suspect these are ‘Tete-a-Tete.’ I’ve tended to steer clear of tall daffodils in order to avoid any storm related casualties. I think I may have made the right decision.

6. And finally… Every year I admire the beautiful flowers of this Japanese Quince when I’m walking into town on a Saturday. Our neighbour has one too, growing against his south facing fence. I’m always tempted to acquire one, though where it would go I’m not quite sure. Perhaps I should be content to just admire them from afar.

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.