Six on Saturday: hopeful signs (31 December 2022)

At this time of year the garden can sometimes seem a rather dreary place, especially after endless days of rain. Although we’ve made it past the shortest day spring seems a long way off. The borders are sodden and bare, the gravel path has become both muddy and puddly and let’s not mention the lawn. Actually, no. Let’s mention the lawn because, despite resembling something of a quagmire in places, there are hopeful signs of brighter and more colourful things to come.

1. Behold… some of the Crocus that were planted in the lawn a few winters ago have begun to emerge.

2. And while it’ll be a little while until the Crocus go all floral, the first of the flower buds on the Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ have begun to open.

3. Over near the bird feeding station there are more signs of hopeful stirrings. After a slightly disappointing performance flower-wise last spring I’m hoping the Hellebores will put on a better show in 2023.

4. Talking of the bird feeder station, I purchased a new ‘squirrel proof’ feeder yesterday after growing weary of two grey squirrels polishing off the sunflower hearts. Alas, the sparrows aren’t impressed and have given it a wide berth so far. Hopefully they’ll brave it in time. And the squirrels? Annoyingly, they haven’t visited since it was put up, depriving me of any opportunity to (hopefully) gloat.

5. While squirrels can be a nuisance, they can also be irritatingly cute at times. However, they’re not as cute as a felted mouse tucked up in a walnut shell with a stocking. Yes, it’s another new Christmas tree decoration.

6. And finally… the Violas seem to be doing okay so far, with no sign of the black spot-like disease that a batch suffered from a few winters ago. I may have mentioned this before but Violas are my most favourite of plants, especially during gloomy winter days.

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.

I’m probably going to be taking a short break from Six on Saturday blogging to focus on studying and exam revision during January. However, I’ll still be stopping by and enjoying SoS posts and I’ll definitely be back in the second week of February. In the meantime, all the very best for the New Year.

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Six on Saturday: a mostly frosty one (17 December 2022)

Last Sunday evening I ordered a bare root rose online. ‘Order now for guaranteed delivery before Christmas’ it said on the homepage. “Yeah right,” I thought. I was still waiting for deliveries of this and that which were supposed to have arrived weeks ago. But I was fine with a later rose delivery. The last thing I wanted to do in this cold weather was dig holes and plant stuff.

On Wednesday evening, while Mrs OMAHGT and I were eating our tea and watching The Chase, the door bell rang, accompanied by loud hammering on the door. I jumped a little, nearly spilling the gravy that I’d applied a little too generously over my chips and mushroom pie.

“Sounds like a delivery,” my wife said calmly. “I reckon it’s answer ‘A'” she added, nodding at the telly. I raised a skeptical eyebrow. It seemed rather late for a delivery and it was far more likely to be answer ‘C.’

I got up and made my way to the door, a little apprehensive. Was I going to be greeted by a pushy sign-up-to-a-charity-there-and-then person, an axe murderer or perhaps burly carol singers that wouldn’t believe I was loose-changeless? I paused at the front door, took a deep breath and opened it. A driver in a van waved as he drove off and there, on the door step, was a large paper bag. It was the rose.

And was I pleased that it was neither charity person, axe murderer nor burly carol singers? Well, yes. Was I thrilled the rose had arrived so quickly? Err, not really.

“What was it?” my wife asked as I returned to the sofa.

“That rose has arrived,” I replied glumly. “Which means I’ve got to plant it out on Saturday, in the cold, with the ground all frozen and my hands all chapped and sore. Why did they have to be so efficient?” I paused. “Err… what was the correct answer to that last question?”

“It was ‘A.'”

And after that long winded introduction it’s time for Six on Saturday, most of which are ever-so-slightly out of focus as my phone camera seems to object to the cold almost as much as my hands do.

1. First up, a frosted Box ball. I discovered Box moths in some of these back in October; the first time they’ve been spotted in the garden. I fear I’m going to have to keep a close eye out for caterpillars next year.

2. The Zinnia ‘Jazzy’ flowers look almost as good dried and crispy as they do in when all fresh soft of petal.

3. Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ grew quite a bit over the summer. The flowers have long since finished but the foliage is proving pleasing all year round.

4. It got down to minus 6.6 degrees Celsius on Thursday night. The Loropetalum chinense ‘Black Pearl’ has been wrapped up in horticultural fleece for a few weeks now, just in case conditions got a little too chilly for it. Peering underneath its protective layer yesterday evening it seems okay so far.

5. Continuing the frosty theme, Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ was looking rather sparkly the other morning.

6. As were the rose hips of the patio Rose ‘Violet Cloud,’ possibly one of the most floriferous and healthy roses in the garden. Talking of roses, I guess I’d better plant that new one if it thaws later today.

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 (3 December 2022)

Well, the bulbs are in. Thank goodness. As I carelessly shoved the last dozen or so in the ground, not caring about depth, grouping or colour scheme, I made a solemn vow not to plant any more in 2023, other than the odd packet for a spring pot or two. I’m fairly certain I made a similar vow this time last year. What was that? And the year before that? Yes, you could be right. I’m sticking to it next autumn though. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. We’ve not had a frost yet and some summer plants are still flowering away, although the majority of them have that sort of sad, Miss-Havershamesque thing going on. Here’s Zinnia ‘Jazzy Mixture.’

2. Last week I mentioned that bulb planting got sidelined for shrub shuffling instead. While the Sambucus nigra ‘Golden Tower’ helps screen the view behind the house during the summer, it doesn’t do such a good job in the winter when bare of leaf. It has swapped places with the half standard Photinia × fraseri ‘Louise’ that replaced an aphid infested Black Lace Elder in March. The budding Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ has been moved from the border near the fence to the spot formerly occupied by a Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ (now growing in someone else’s garden). I’m hoping it will sort of mirror the Bay Tree on the other side of the arch. And what’s replaced the Viburnum in the border near the fence?

3. Behold… Loropetalum chinense ‘Black Pearl,’ planted yesterday evening. Now this could be a foolish choice as they’re not completely hardy (-5 degrees Celsius in theory, like the Bay Tree) so protective fleece may need to be deployed if temperatures plummet. After getting shot of the Black Lace Elder I found myself missing its dark purple foliage. A semi-evergreen with a name that sounds vaguely Cilla Black-ish, this should produce a lorra pink Witch Hazel-like petals in late winter/early spring. Fingers crossed it does okay.

4. We return to the front garden for SoS number 4. Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ was planted back in the spring. I’ve never grown it before (I don’t really know why) and I’m wondering if I should try taking a few cuttings as it’s classed as a short-lived perennial.

5. Now here’s one of the few shrubs that didn’t get moved the other weekend. Acquired from the free nursery up in North Wales a number of years ago, the Weigelia ‘Florida Variegata’ is doing a good impression of an evergreen shrub.

6. And finally… When I was planting the Tulips, Narcissi, Alliums and whatnot last Sunday I discovered quite a few plastic pots of bulbs that were purchased in flower last spring, put to one side and completely forgotten about. Some were labelled, many were not, and they’ve all been plonked in the borders now. Most were just starting to produce green shoots. However, this pot of pale blue Muscari have jumped the gun rather.

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 (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.

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 (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.