Six on Saturday (1 January 2022)

Will the relentlessly mild and miserable damp weather never end? Oh for some blue sky and winter sunshine to relieve the monotonous grey squelchfest of the past week or so. Oh for the chilly, sub-zero nights of this time last year to create some photogenic sparkly frost-tinged foliage to include in a Six on Saturday. Oh for… What was that? “And Happy New Year to you too?” Err… apologies. Happy New Year. On a more positive note, the days are getting longer (well, I assume they are, it’s been so dark and dank most days it’s rather hard to tell) and it’s the start of a new gardening year; time to start browsing the sites of online plant purveyors for seeds in readiness to sow this and that. Now there’s something to look forward to… and I’m sure all the slugs and snails that are enjoying this warm wet winter are thinking the same thing. Anyway, enough moaning. It’s time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up, a view of the garden in all it’s resplendent dreariness. However, there are a few ‘summer’ flowers to be found here and there, though just like the Christmas decorations once the festive season is over, they look a little sad somehow.

2. Like this Geranium sanguineum. Bloody Cranesbill, doesn’t it know what time of year it is?

3. The Lavender out the front also seems confused.

4. Rosa ‘Alec’s Red’ is still sporting the odd bloom.

5. As is Calendula ‘Snow Princess.’ She’s been flowering for months now and shows no sign of stopping.

6. Still, the Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ has finally shed its leaves, festooning a nearby fern with its faded foliage. About time too.

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. Right, I’m off to make a cheese, Pastinaca sativa and Salvia officinalis roulade. Wish me luck with the rolling of the roulade stage.

Six on Saturday (10 July 2021)

July, like June, seems to be racing by and I feel like I’m getting a bit behind with this and that. There are robust looking weeds/wildflowers growing here and there that need pulling up. Some of the Geraniums, Geums and Ox Eye daisies that have gone over need chopping back. And I still haven’t planted many of the annuals nor any of the Dahlias. I also need to get a move on and sow a few Sweet Williams for next year. Talking of which…

1. The Sweet Bills have flowered a lot later this year, not helped by someone taking rather a long time to get around to planting them out. They’ve also turned out to be predominantly pink thus far. Hopefully a few more varieties will make themselves known soon. They’re unfussy things and don’t seem to mind a slightly shady spot.

2. Neither do these Anemone leveillei that are growing close by. Planted back in early spring, they were so small when they arrived in the post I wasn’t totally convinced they’d make it. But behold! Flowers, although the petals seem a lot narrower than those pictured on the Interweb.

3. In the same border is this compact Hydrangea ‘Miss Belgium.’ Her blooms are at my favourite stage, when the lime green petals are just beginning to flush pink.

4. Continuing the unintentional shady-ish border Six on Saturday theme is another new plant. Back in the winter I sent off for some ‘first grade roots’ of this dwarf Alstilbe ‘Rock and Roll.’ There are three in total and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the red-stemmed fernyesque foliage. The fluffy white flowers are proving to be more of an added bonus. It was chosen partly for its short stature and partly for the name as my wife enjoys rock and roll dancing (alas, she’s had to make do with me as a dance partner since the pandemic pandemonium). A groan-worthy flower joke can be found here.

5. Next up, Bloody Cranesbill or Geranium sanguineum, growing in a sunny spot in the garden. First acquired from that free nursery up in North Wales, it’s been split several times over the years.

6. And finally… A mere snail’s throw away from the geranium (which isn’t that far the way I throw) is this rather striking Poppy ‘Shirley Single Mixed,’ grown from a packet of free seed. I must sow the rest next 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.

Six on Saturday (19 June 2021)

I’m going to try and ignore the fact that the longest day is almost upon us and the nights will begin drawing in. It seems too soon for such things. I’m also trying to ignore the daft Minerva Rose whose flower buds promise so much as they begin to open but then shrivel and turn brown around the edges for some reason. Hopefully it will sort itself out. I probably shouldn’t ignore the aphids that have now discovered the Golden Tower Elder nor the nibbled Zinnia seedling on the ‘slug and snail proof’ swing seat (I think a slimy critter has made its way across a stem of a nearby climbing rose that has formed a handy bridge to the delectable delights).

However, I can’t ignore the sorry state of the standard Buddleia. I blamed the wind for the snapped young branches initially. But the other day I observed a wood pigeon attempting to land on it (presumably channelling it’s inner sparrow) to get at a bird feeder. It flattened a few fairly substantial looking stems in the process and was swiftly seen off by an annoyed, arm waving gardener. Alas, I found another four long, leafy Buddleia appendages on the ground yesterday after a calm day weather-wise. The bird feeder has now been moved. But enough gardening gripes. There’s more good than not-so-good in the garden at the moment which leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. Several years ago I spotted a Common Valerian plant in a ‘wildflower’ section of a garden centre. It did well initially, producing the odd offspring, but numbers had begun to dwindle. I sowed some seed last spring and several plants have finally done their thing this year, producing tall stems adorned with frothy floating white clouds of fragrant flowers.

2. Grown from the same packet of seed as the yellow variety that featured last week, this Aquilegia was photographed in mid flight, zooming across the conservatory border.

3. Next up, Philadelphus ‘Bette Etoile.’ It was dug up and banished to the back of the hot dry border in early 2020 after I grew bored of its straggly nature and the annual aphid attacks. Left to fend for itself, I didn’t expect the troublesome mock orange to last long but it did surprisingly well and it’s doing even better this year. The easiest way to appreciate the orangey fragrance of the flowers is to make your way behind the blue shed rather than risk tiptoeing through the border.

Admittedly you have to be careful not to get snagged on the Gertrude Jekyll Rose or entangled in the dangling stems of a Montana Clematis. You also have to avoid skidding on some spilt horticultural grit or tripping over numerous stacked pots and the odd bag of compost. But once you’ve made it to the back of the shed, carefully squeezed your head through the narrow gap between the water butt and the fence, and inhaled deeply, the effort to get there all seems worthwhile.

4. This Erodium manescavii, grown from seed kindly provided by Jim, is flowering a lot earlier than last year. It’s also developing into a much more substantial plant. I’ve sown some left over seed so fingers crossed I’ll have a few more in the future.

5. Another week, another Iris. Presumably from the Iris ‘Metallic Mix,’ this one is all dark and brooding… and slightly out of focus.

6. And finally… A white Geranium (possibly ‘Alba’) from that free plant nursery up in North Wales. Which is where I’m headed today. I’ve studied the Covid rules for both England and Wales and I’m not really any the wiser to be honest, but I think so long as I don’t have more than 6 hamsters in the car from three extended households all is good.

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 June 2020)

Last Sunday afternoon, as soon as the neighbours had gone out, I finally got around to tackling the frazzled border in the front garden. South facing, some plants can tend to struggle a bit come July and August. However, everything usually looks all right in May and early June; not this year. A dry and sunny spring left it looking very sorry for itself. A singed Buddleia ‘Buzz’ has been dug up and a self seeded Sedum that I didn’t think I had room for has been planted. Some of the gaps have been filled with Scabious and Cosmos grown from seed and a new Lavender has been added. I also decided to risk planting a Dahlia that looked as though it was big enough to fend off the slimy plant assassins of the night. I was wrong. The little divils relished all the rain we had towards the end of the week and have polished most of it off. Still, the border is looking better than it was, mostly thanks to the first of this week’s Six on Saturday…

1. Last summer I acquired a number of plants from the free nursery up in North Wales (my mum and dad’s garden) including several small Stipa grasses. They’re starting to bulk up now and will hopefully help add a bit of structure to the border. They look good throughout the year (especially in an arty close up shot) and watching the grasses waft about in a gentle breeze can be strangely calming.

2. This Candelabra Primula was also acquired from the free nursery last year and has bucked the trend of previous Candelabra Primulas by not dying. Result.

3. Hmm, there seems to be an unintentional theme developing here. This Geranium (possibly Bloody Cranesbill) also started off life at the old ancestral home. I’ve split it over the years and it’s now growing in a few spots, both sunny and shady.

4. A number of Scabious plants have survived the winter. This one isn’t far off flowering. The buds are just as interesting as the fully formed flowers.

5. Next up, Violas. A number of those that were planted last Autumn are still going strong. Possibly one of the cheeriest of flowers.

6. And finally… An Agapanthus. I planted several in the ground a number of years ago. They didn’t flower and all but one disappeared. I dug up the surviving plant in 2016ish and plonked it in a pot. A few years passed and in 2018 it had two flowers. Celebrations were held and I figured Aggie would flower every summer from then on. Last year? Nothing. Advice seems to vary. They like to be pot bound; they don’t like to be pot bound. They like feeding; they like neglect. They prefer jazz; they prefer prog rock. An attempt to re-pot Aggie with fresh compost last month proved impossible without potentially damaging the foliage. She wouldn’t budge. So she was left as was but given a good talking to and the occasional feed. Aggie is now sporting six flower buds.

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 and happy summer solstice!