Six on Saturday (14 May 2022)

I’m sure the house sparrows think of the garden as their own and view me as an annoyance, disrupting their busy routine when I’m out pottering. A possie of them spend each day eating sunflower hearts and taking baths of both the watery and dusty kind. They battle with pieces of string I’ve used to tie in this and that (apparently it would be put to far better use as nesting material), squabble occasionally, and search amongst plants for aphids. Yet until earlier this week, they hadn’t discovered the horrible grey aphids that have set up home on the Sambucus nigra ‘Golden Tower.’ However, the other evening I watched as one sparrow ventured into the narrow elder of yellowy-green foliage and started to pick off the little sap-suckers. And where one sparrow ventures, others are quick to follow. A small flock of starlings have also been making frequent visits to extract leatherjackets from the lawn (it’s a bit disconcerting to see just how many of the grubs lurk beneath it). Now if only the resident amphibians would eat a few more of the slimy plant assassins of the night who will no doubt set upon my first Six on Saturday in a few weeks…

1. Last Monday I decided to start the process of hardening off some of this year’s seed-sown plants. Ah, it seems like only yesterday they were but tiny young seedlings. As is often the way, the weather turned wet and rather breezy almost as soon as I started, but I’ve stuck to the plan. I’ll carry on ferrying them in and out for another week and then I’ll have to figure out where to put everything.

2. Next up, Geum, ‘Tequila Sunrise.’ Part of the ‘Cocktail Series,’ I’m hoping it will produce more flowers than it did last year. Two ‘Banana Daiquiri’ may have been acquired in April and are being nurtured in pots until they’ve put on a bit more growth.

3. As the Tulips go over the Dutch Iris have started to bloom. I usually find myself planting more of these every autumn but I completely forgot last October. Fortunately, they seem to do well here, coming up each year. Although that wasn’t the case with my next SoS…

4. A Wilko purchase back in November 2020, only one rather sad looking Dutch Iris ‘Carmen’ flowered in the spring of 2021. However, there are at least three in bloom at the moment so perhaps they just take a little while to get going.

5. Alliums are also beginning to do their thing. This lot were carelessly tipped into a pot in the autumn during the I’m-flippin’-sick-and-tired-of-finding-somewhere-to-plant-blubs-I’m-not-bothering-next-year stage.

6. And finally… For many years I’ve tried to grow Welsh Poppies, transplanting some from my mother-in-law’s garden, scattering seed and even purchasing the odd plant. They have never returned or seeded themselves… until now. I’ve read warnings that they’ll take over and I’ll be forever pulling them up. Well, I don’t care. They’re wych.

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 (7 May 2022)

It was tough choosing just six today. The garden appears to have moved up a gear, aided by some much needed rain earlier in the week, and everywhere you look there are seedlings popping up and petals unfurling. I’m hoping some of those plants that didn’t make the final cut today will still be going strong next week… if the slimy plant assassins of the night haven’t polished them off. The recent wet weather has provided the slugs and snails with an extra glide to their slide and they’ve been particularly partial to my first Six on Saturday…

1. Narcissus poeticus (or ‘Pheasant’s Eye’) adds some lovely, late flowering narcissi action in the garden. I thought I’d have plenty of time to feature these, but to my dismay a growing number have had their colourful cups nibbled to nothing. Ah well.

2. Fleeting yet fabulously fragrant flowers up next. The buds of the diminutive Korean Lilac that featured last week have now burst open, releasing their heady scent. It’s just a pity you can’t appreciate it digitally.

3. While I don’t give a second thought to wandering around the back garden, crouching down to take photos of this and that, I always feel horribly self-conscious doing the same out in the front garden. I tend to peer out the living room window to make sure nobody is around before venturing out with camera in hand. Yesterday evening, thinking the coast was clear, I opened the front door, spotted someone walking their dog and immediately panicked, quickly closing the door. I probably come across as decidedly odd/dodgy (delete as appropriate). Anyway, as soon as the dog walker had disappeared I rushed out and snapped these daisies with the silvery grey foliage.

4. Then, after a furtive glance over the hedge to make sure the coast was still clear, I decided to risk photographing the ‘Candy Stripe’ Phlox that grows at the end of the hedge next to the pavement. Out in the open, there wasn’t time to dawdle. Photos were taken quickly and thankfully one turned out non-blurry.

5. We’re back in the relative privacy of the back garden for SoS number 5. Do you remember the white Bleeding Heart from Wilko a few weeks ago? Well, it’s looking even better now. A red variety may well have been purchased last Saturday.

6. And finally… Most of the Tulips have gone over. However, ‘Mistress Mystic,’ a shade tolerant variety, was planted in some less sunny spots around the garden. I wasn’t sure about it initially, but it’s grown on me.

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 (30 April 2022)

The neighbour’s fence that was toppled during Storm Eunice has been repaired. Posts and panels are upright once more and, as far as I can tell, with minimal plant tramplage on this side (although I noticed Gerty the climbing rose had been trussed up to a cane, presumably to minimise risk of injury from our side whilst battling with a Pyracantha on their side). New wires have been attached to the posts in order to tie in and train Gerty once more and the posts will be painted over the weekend once I’ve purchased a tin of green paint from Wilko later today, steering well clear of the plant and seed aisle. What was that? Oh ye of little faith. I have great willpower. Honest. And while we’re on the subject of honesty…

1. This has a tendency to get a little overenthusiastic in the wildlife border (the border with the small pond). Still, it’s easy enough to pull up. Last autumn I transplanted a few seedlings to some of the other beds. It’s looking rather elegant at the moment, although I should have been a bit more ruthless with one particularly large plant that appears to be loving the extra sun in the err… sunny border. I’ll let a few go to seed and pull up the rest.

2. Also growing in the sunny border is a plant I’d completely forgotten about. A new addition last autumn, the two Camassia bulbs are up and flowering. I’m baffled why I didn’t grow this years ago and more will definitely be acquired.

3. One of the main things I’ve tried to do with our small plot of green is to ensure that there’s scent to enjoy all year round. The Coronilla, Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ and Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’ are still all doing their fragrant flowery thing. However, the dwarf Korean Lilac (Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’) is poised, ready to join in the perfume par-tay. 

4. Like Honesty, the Forget-me-nots also have a tendency to be a little overenthusiastic at times. Again, they’re easy enough to keep in check if necessary. Sown nearly 10 years ago, they’ve seeded themselves here, there and everywhere ever since. The bee-flies love them.

5. Whereas I’m guaranteed Forget-me-nots and Honesty every spring, alas the same can’t be said for Saxifraga. I treat them as annuals. This time I’ve decided to plant them in the newly rockeryfied border under the swing seat. Will this make the slightest difference as far as their longevity goes? We’ll find out in 2023.

6. And finally… Tulips. A new batch of ‘Violet Beauty’ was potted up in December. It wowed me back in April 2021 and it’s wowing me again this spring.

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 (23 April 2022)

April is flying by at an alarming speed, although not quite as alarming as the speed at which the aphids are reproducing on the one remaining Sambucus. However, for the first time in a few years I’ve spotted ladybirds munching on them which is encouraging (although I’m still doing a spot of squishing). The garden is looking rather lush at the moment. Most of that lushness is down to the foliage of spring bulbs that I’ll soon find myself impatiently willing to die back in order to get on with planting other things. For now though I should just enjoy them, including my first Six on Saturday…

1. ‘Purple Doll’ is the sole survivor from a small batch that were planted in the ground last year. Some of the potted Tulips haven’t faired too well of late and I have a feeling a lack of watering is to blame. Bad gardener.

2. Growing nearby, and producing a beautiful flutey fragrance, is Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance.’ I think I say this every year, perhaps even a few times a year, but I can’t help feeling every small garden should have one of these. It certainly earns its keep, flowering off and on from March/April and into the Winter. It’ll get a light trim later in the year to keep it nice and compact.

3. Up next, a forget-me-not-like Navelwort: Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram.’ Growing in the shady border, this is its second spring. I was afraid I’d done it in last summer after a trampling incident but thankfully it seems to be tougher than it looks.

4. Like the Daphne, Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ is another great small garden shrub. The perfumed pompoms of floral loveliness only last a few weeks but what a few weeks. Besides, the developing pinky-red flower buds add a few months of pre-bloom interest.

5. Purchased in 2018, this mini standard Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repens grows in a pot in the front garden. Unlike the potted tulips it seems to thrive on neglect of the watering kind, which is a relief. The bees love it.

6. And finally… After 3 years and one fatality I have a flowering white Bleeding Heart. It was worth the wait. Hopefully Dicentra alba II (a bare root purchase from Wilko) will get bigger and better with each passing year.

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.

An Easter Six on Saturday (16 April 2022)

The long Easter Weekend has started off surprisingly warm and sunny. As I write this (it’s late Friday afternoon) the boisterous house sparrows are furtling around the borders searching for nesting material and occasionally stealing each other’s finds. There’s a spot of wood pigeon wooing going on over on the toppled fence that I suspect will end in failure as usual… Yes, she’s just flown off, unimpressed. A blue tit is battling with some nesting wool I put out earlier and a furry bee fly is enjoying the nectar of the forget-me-nots and Muscari. It’s all rather nice and spring like out there. Let’s hope this weather continues for the rest of the weekend. But enough gazing out the window, it’s time for Six on Saturday.

1. And we start with a Narcissus that I’ve admired in other SoSer’s posts for some years now yet always forgot to add it to my bulb order come the autumn. But lo! Narcissus ‘Thalia’ doth now grow in my garden. I just hope it does a better job of returning each spring than my next SoS has.

2.  ‘Minnow’ appears to have dwindled in numbers as the years have passed by. I think I’m down to just one solitary plant now which is a pity as this diminutive beauty has lots of charm.

3. Talking of diminutive beauties, Tulipa clusiana ‘Peppermint Stick’ has appeared (as have the greenfly). A new addition to the garden in the autumn, I’m thinking I may need to plant a few more.

4. Growing close by, the first lot of Bluebells have started flowering. Every year I eye these somewhat suspiciously, unsure whether they are the native variety or some native/Spanish Bluebell hybrid. There are some more in a shadier spot that I’m fairly certain are the real deal. I’ll have to compare the two when they flower. Still, these are pretty.

5. Another Narcissus up next. This is ‘Charming Lady.’ It has a “delicious stephanotis perfume” according to Sarah Raven. I can only assume she was stood next to an actual Stephanotis plant at the time as I can’t detect a whiff of anything.

6. And finally… Until today the song ‘Tiptoe through the tulips’ wasn’t one I could identify with in the slightest. I’d walked around a pot of tulips or stepped over a small clump of two or three, but tiptoeage through a mini-multitude of tulips? It seemed a highly unlikely scenario… until the other day when I had to make my way oh so carefully into this border to move a plant. Back in November I decided to try planting most of my new tulips in the ground rather than in pots. So far, so good – well, in this border at least.

Now, solo tulip tiptoeing is one thing but I’m afraid I won’t be asking my beloved to tiptoe through the tulips with me any time soon. There’d be lots of “careful – mind that tulip… and that one… stop! – you’re about to flatten the orange one… no the other orange one… heck, it’s ‘tiptoe through the tulips’ not on them…” Nope, it wouldn’t be a remotely romantic experience at all.

Anyway, 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. What was that? You’re going to have that ‘Tiptoe through the tulips’ song in your head all day? You’re most welcome!

Six on Saturday (9 April 2022)

It’s been a blustery old week, but for the most part the garden has made it through unscathed (although I’m trying to ignore new wobblage of a section of the fence that survived February’s storms). Last weekend I braved the cold and planted that bargain bare rooted rose, acquiring a few new flesh wounds in the process that resulted in a) some cursing and b) a solemn vow never to buy another rose ever again. I also did a spot of potting on…

1. It’s been 21 days since the first batch of seeds were sown. With the exception of some rather old Penstemon seeds that I don’t hold out much hope for, there haven’t been any complete no-shows. The Cosmos have already been potted on and are now braving the mini greenhouse. Another lot of seeds will be sown in pots tomorrow, weather permitting, and I’m going to try a scatter-over-the-borders-and-hope-for-the-best approach with some hardy annuals in an attempt to spare myself some work later on.

2. While the slugs have yet to find the Cosmos, they’re making short work of this vivid Primula that was acquired from the free nursery up in North Wales (my mum’s garden) a few years ago. Oh to be able to enjoy them in all their unnibbled floral glory.

3. Up next, a houseplant. Back in February I introduced you to Pickles (Delosperma echinatum). Its main attraction is the foliage but it turns out that this little succulent also sports some rather pretty white flowers with a lemon-yellow centre. Talking of yellow…

4. A few of last spring’s Tulips have reappeared in the borders, including the elegant ‘World Friendship.’ Tall yet surprisingly resistant to flattenage, I think I’ll plant some more of these in the autumn.

5. Another Tulip that has made a repeat appearance is ‘Czar Peter.’ Now last year I was decidedly undecided about the Czar. One minute I liked it, the next I didn’t, and I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t bother with this diminutive Tulip again. Those that were growing in pots were got shot of but I’d completely forgotten about the batch I’d planted in the curvy path border. And guess what?

Every single one of them has come back again. Have they grown on me? I’m still not sure.

6. I have no such doubts about Narcissus ‘Geranium’ though. I really must check out their fragrance later.

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 (2 April 2022)

Brrrrr. Last Saturday the sun shone warm and bright as I chopped back this and that and shuffled around that and this in an attempt to restore some order to the one and only border in the front garden. However, I think I’m going to have to don a few extra layers today and perhaps have a mug or two of black coffee before venturing out to plant a new bargain bare rooted rose. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. Lets start with a tropical Narcissus. Blowsy, yet oddly demur too as the yellow petals mellow with age, I think I plant a pack of ‘Tahiti’ every autumn as I’m not convinced many return for a second spring (possibly a result of careless bulb-splicing digging by the head gardener). I planted 10 more back in November so I might go round and count them all later and see what the overall tally is, once I’ve put on a thick jumper, a fleece, possibly a wooly hat and maybe some gloves.

2. A mere leap-over-the-mini-pond away (if you’re feeling adventurous) you’ll find the Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum,’ its flower buds poised.

3. We have to take another risky leap back over the mini pond to get to my third SoS (I really didn’t think the order of these Sixes through). Chionodoxa are normally devoured by the slimy plant assassins of the night, but not this spring. The gourmet gastropods appear to be savouring Primula petals instead.

4. Up next, some lightly fragrant Tulip ‘Prince Mixed.’ I only planted up one pot of these this time around which was rather foolhardy. An early flowering variety, I may plonk these in the ground when they’ve finished as the odd few I tried in the ground a few years ago are still coming up.

And look! A bit of colour mutation of the stripey kind.

5. Tulip sylvestris is doing its bendy-stemmed yellowy fragrant flowery thing for a second year running. According to Sarah Raven this wild native tulip will be in the garden for decades once planted. So far so good. I may plant some more in another border come the autumn.

6. And finally… Narcissus ‘Xit’ and before you ask, I don’t know how you pronounce it. I guess it’s either ‘zit’ (which is unfortunate) or ‘exit.’ This is its second spring and I’d forgotten how pretty it was, although, rather like a Hellebore, you have to lift the flowers up or lie on your back to fully appreciate them.

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 (26 March 2022)

I don’t know why, but I’ve not felt all that motivated gardening-wise this month. However, as more and more spring flowers open and young leaves continue to unfurl, my gardening mojo has begun to return. And that leads me swiftly to my first Six on Saturday…

1. Seed sowing. Last Saturday, after I’d finally sorted out my pots which lay scattered in toppled heaps near the mini greenhouse, on the patio and down the side of the shed, I mixed up some peat free compost with perlite (something I’ve not used before) and sowed the first batch of this and that, including several varieties of Cosmos. I think Cosmos might well be the speediest of seeds to germinate as they were up by Tuesday. Fingers crossed they fair better than last year’s batch which seemed to stall come mid summer.

2. These Narcissus ‘Lemon Sailboat’ were purchased as a pot of green leaves from the local Country Market shop in town around a month ago (along with a rather tasty coffee cake if I remember correctly). I wasn’t sure what to expect (apart from the lemony yellow) but I really liked the name. I’ve not been disappointed and an unexpected added bonus has been the fragrance. I hope these return next year.

3. And here’s another Narcissus. A dinky one. Whereas ‘Lemon Sailboat’ are still in their pot, complete with label, these are free range daffs growing in the borders, completely labelless. I spent a week trying to remember what they were but was stumped. And then it came to me at silly o’clock the other morning. ‘Toto,’ a name I can’t say without doing a Dorothy Gale impression. The yellow trumpets gradually fade as the flowers age.

4. Next up, some more yellow, this time in Hyacinth form. I do like yellow.

5. A mere snail’s throw away is the Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai.’ Bought as a half standard back in 2018, it was meant to help screen the view above the fence. And it probably will, one day, 20 years from now. Still, it’s growing faster than my Hibiscus and for a few short weeks it looks resplendent in its blooming blossominess.

6. And finally… The new seedling nursery… I mean swing seat. A few weeks ago the old rotting swing seat was dismantled and disposed of. It’s replacement arrived early Friday morning and was assembled in around 20 minutes by the delivery chap (I suspect it would have taken me several hours). I was slightly concerned it wouldn’t fit on what’s left of the patio but thankfully all was well. Here’s hoping it lasts as long as its predecessor, if not longer.

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 (19 March 2022)

Well it’s about time. Just as astronomical spring is about to begin, the weather has finally started to become, well, springlike. Wandering around Bath Botanical Gardens last Monday, the birds singing and the blossoms of this Magnolia radiant against a sky of blue, it felt rather cheering. The clement weather has continued, for the most part, and later today… or perhaps tomorrow… seed sowing will finally commence. But enough pre-ramble, it’s time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up, some fragrant stripy pink Hyacinths that almost collapsed during all that rain we had the other week and required some emergency proppage.

2. Slugs and snails are no longer pests. Slugs and snails are no longer pests. Slugs and snails are no longer… Nope, it’s no good RHS, I’m not ready to accept this just yet.

3. Still, they haven’t munched on these Narcissi. I appear to have planted more ‘Martinette’ than I thought as they’re bursting into flower everywhere. A casualty was plonked in a recycled mini glass bottle and is filling the living room with its heady scent.

4. Last weekend I finally started chopping back this and that, including the roses. Blood was spilled. However, ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ was given a serious chopping back a few months ago and is sporting some rather pretty red-tinged foliage.

5. The foliage of Muscari is slightly less appealing (it’s a tad messy at times) but all is forgiven when they bloom. I’ve planted a few other varieties of Grape Hyacinth but I think the regular bluey-purple lot are my favourite.

6. And finally… You caught a glimpse of it last week but here it is up close. The Coronilla has been flowering since December but in March it reaches its floral crescendo. Bumble bees have been enjoying the fragrant pea-like flowers as has this gardener. I shoved a cutting of this in a pot last autumn and to my surprise it appears to have taken. It will be nurtured and hopefully, fingers crossed, will replace this one some day (they’re not very long lived apparently).

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: farewell swing seat (12 March 2022)

When my wife and I got the keys to our new house towards the end of July 2012 the first thing we did was buy a swing seat. It was one of those flat pack jobs that came in many, many pieces and took the best part of a swelteringly hot afternoon to assemble. Although it was meant for sitting on and gazing at our little patch of evolving green whilst gently rocking back and forth, regular readers will know that it was usually occupied by pots of seedlings and dahlias in an attempt to keep them out of the reach of the slimy plant assassins of the night.

Last spring I spruced up the ageing swing seat, painting it a fetching ‘stone’ colour (a cunning remarketing of ‘white’). At the time I tried to ignore the odd sign of rot here and there and the fact that several of the seat slats were beginning to come away from their slots (despite the odd whack with a mallet) hoping it might last a few more years. Warning – the first Six on Saturday contains images some readers may find upsetting…

1. A new small tree arrived last Saturday and after plonking it in the spot previously occupied by a Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ (I couldn’t be doing with a fourth year of battling giant aphids) I decided to survey it from the swing seat. After removing its winter cover I sat down and heard an ominous crack. Alas, some of the slats that had been coming away from the frame of the seat had rotted. The feet and canopy frame were also ominously soft in places too. Come late Sunday afternoon my wife and I began to dismantle it, which proved a far quicker job than… err… mantling it. Then the power saw came out to ensure the remains will fit in the little Suzuki when they’re taken to the tip later today. Ah well, at least you can see the Coronilla more easily at the moment. I’ve spent the past week perusing swing seats online and I think I’ve finally chosen a replacement.

2. The other week I did an online health and safety course which stressed the importance of making sure your work area is clear of trip hazards. Did I heed such advice when embarking on the dismantlage of the swing seat? Did I heck as like. Bags of compost, a water feature and several pots resulted in the odd stumble and I very nearly fell on this Hyacinth. Photographed yesterday (and propped up after being flattened by the rain) the camera struggled a little with the vibrant flowers. I originally thought it was ‘Woodstock’ but I’m not so sure now.

3. Some more slightly soggy flowers: Narcissus ‘Rip Van Winkle.’ I wasn’t entirely sure I liked these when I saw one in flower at the Country Market shop a few weeks ago. But they were cheap and it would have been rude not to purchase a pot. Their shaggy appearance has grown on me.

4. That mixed pack of Iris reticulata from Wilko is still throwing up a few new varieties, including this one with its luminous central bluey-lilac feathery petals.

5. Another Narcissus up next. ‘Jet Fire’ is about to do its swept back ‘whooshy’ petal thing, if they don’t all get eaten first. I really should have planted more of these but forgot. Can someone remind me next autumn please?

6. And finally… after many attempts over the past few weeks to photograph this ‘Single white blotched’ Hellebore I’ve finally managed to get a reasonably non-blurry one. Planted last spring, it’s proving to be the most prolific flowerer of the three I have 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.