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 (10 December 2022)

Finally, some frost. In fact it got down to -5 degrees Celsius one night. The Zinnias and Cosmos are no more, which is how it should be really, and the car has needed de-icing the past few mornings. Alas, there are no frosted foliage photos in today’s Six on Saturday (at this time of year most of my SoSs are taken the preceding Saturday or Sunday as it’s too dark to snap this and that during the working week). Perhaps next Saturday. Today you’ll have to make do with a selection of mostly brown and crispy, the odd splash of colour and some rusty metalwork.

1. And we start with a pot of summer bulbs that I didn’t get around to planting out in a border: Allium ‘Millennium.’ There’s something very pleasing about Allium skeletons.

2. Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ is still brightening a shady corner of the garden and possibly plotting a spot of world domination.

3. More brown and crispy up next. The yellow Aquilegia grown from seed a number of years ago has yet to produce any offspring. I’ve left the seedheads this year but forgot to harvest any. Fingers are crossed a few seedlings appear and that they turn out to be vaguely similar to the original plant colour-wise.

4. It’s getting very tricky to find anything pleasingly petalesque in the garden at the moment. This Cyclamen featured the other month but has produced even more flowers of late.

5. Over the years a number of metal garden ornaments have been added to the garden. Back in December 2021 these rusty metal ferns were purchased at a riverside shop in Exeter.

6. And finally… The leaves of the Cotoneaster horizontalis have turned all red and fiery. Moved last month, it’s been nice to see it in a more prominent position in the garden.

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 (10 September 2022)

Let’s just get straight into Six on Saturday today…

1. Mrs OMAHGT and I headed to London last weekend to see Eric Hutchinson give a rare UK concert. While we were there we did a few touristy things, including a visit to the Tower of London. After 3 hours we were well and truly historied out and sought some quiet solace at ‘Superbloom,’ the flower garden in the Tower’s moat. If I’d been a bit quicker with the old camera phone I’d have included a photo of a hornet mimic hoverfly that landed on my knee whilst I was sat down applying the old spf30 sunscreen.

2. On my own little patch of green is this Fuchsia ‘Army Nurse.’ She’s looked very sorry for herself this summer, struggling with both the heat and a lack of H2o. Thankfully, she’s perked up a bit after all the heavy rain we’ve had of late.

3. The border in the front garden is also looking more cheery, thanks mainly to the Zinnias that appear to be shrugging off the attentions of the slugs and snails. What was that? Famous last words? You’re probably right.

4. Also growing out the front is one of the few Calendula to have made it to flowerhood this year. Still, one Calendula is better than no Calendula and ‘Snow Princess’ is a beauty.

5. The Astrantia that last featured back in the beginning of July is having a second flush of flowers. And very lovely it is too…. whatever variety it may be.

6. And finally…ish… Aster frikartii ‘Jungfrau,’ bejeweled with raindrops. Around this time last year I said I was going to divide it to create a few more plants. And have I? Err… no.

To end, a sneaky flashback to some Lily of the Valley, one of the late Queen’s favourite flowers. Rest in peace HM Queen Elizabeth II and to quote P. Bear, thank you Ma’am, for everything.

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 (27 August 2022): a holidaying one

A fairly brisk Six on Saturday today as I have some last minute packing to do before heading back to Somerset after a week of holidaying in Falmouth. Instead of photos of the garden I’m afraid you’ll have to endure some holiday snaps: six collages of gardens visited/spotted over the past week.

1. Mrs OMAHGT and I normally travel to Cornwall by train but a rail strike last Saturday meant we had to drive instead. The journey was relatively uneventful, other than a battle of wits with a satnav that seemed hellbent on trying to send us via narrow country lanes every so often rather than sensible roads (we went old school in the end, following road signs and referring to handwritten directions, ignoring the frequent and somewhat snippy demands of the satnav to do a u-turn). On the way down to Falmouth a brief detour was made to the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

2. Most of the week has been spent in and around Falmouth, travelling by boat, train or foot. This is Fox Rosehill Gardens, a short walk from Falmouth Town railway station. They’re somewhere I’ve never visited before, despite having walked past them numerous times. A few of the paths in the gardens have been made with old gravestones and you find yourself stopping and reading each one and thinking “Gosh, I’m doing rather well to have survived this long.”

3. Next up, a view of some front gardens in an old street in Truro (that’s the Cathedral in the distance) and a cottage in St Mawes.

4. Talking of St Mawes, here are several shots of Lamorran Gardens, a personal favourite. They also offer a selection of hot beverages and delicious cakes (Mrs OMAHGT gave their scones, jam and clotted cream a 10 out of 10 and their carrot cake and coffee was also awarded top marks).

5. Back to Falmouth again. The top two photos were taken at Gyllyngdune Gardens (which provide a convenient shortcut to the seafront, stopping off at the Princess Pavilion for a spot of lunch on the way). The bottom two photographs are of the Queen Mary Garden located right next to Gyllyngvase Beach (the cafe there does a rather nice almond croissant).

6. And finally… a selection of other photographs of Lamorran, Heligan and Gyllyngdune Gardens.

They were my sort of 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. Right, time to check I haven’t left anything behind.