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.

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Six on Saturday (8 January 2022)

A blink and you’ll possibly miss it Six on Saturday today. And we’re diving straight in with…

1. The fragrant flowers of a Coronilla that are adding some cheer during the winter gloom. This is the paler yellow variety (subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’) that’s usually sold as a climber. What was that? Didn’t you show us this back in November? I did, and I suspect you’ll be seeing it again over the next few months.

2. Planted last September, these Cyclamen coum have been smothered by Foxgloves and were completely forgotten about until recently. Rounder of leaf than the Cyclamen hederifolium (although it took me a while to figure this out) the Foxgloves will be moved to another spot in the not so distant future. I’m hoping I haven’t missed the flowering stage.

3. Despite a very brief cold snap (still no frost mind you) it’s been a very mild winter so far down here. Quite a few plants have jumped the gun, including ‘Miss Belgium’ who was still sporting her old foliage until fairly recently. If frost doesn’t get these new leaves then the secateurs will come the spring.

4. It’s not the only plant that’s a little early. I’m assuming this is a Narcissi of some kind.

5. Next up, rose hips. I’ve taken a photograph of these most weeks but end up swapping them for something else at the last minute. Not this week.

6. And finally… another fragrant flowerer. The Lonicera fragrantissima is in full bloom and has been visited by the odd bee of late. I think that’s a tiny fly on the flower on the right.

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 (4 December 2021)

How did we get to December so soon? I feel far less prepared for the whole Christmas thing this year than last. There are cards to write, the artificial tree and decorations to retrieve from the loft and presents to shop for. On the plus side though, the garden is pretty much ready for the winter. Last Sunday the swing seat was covered up and the folding garden bench put away in the shed (much to the dismay of the sparrows that perch on it while they await their turn to use the nearby bird feeder). The lawn was aerated, the Banksia Rose chopped back, dug up and given away (a spur of the moment thing – trying to grow it against a 5 foot fence was pure folly) and the borders were mulched. Apart from a pack of tulip bulbs to pot up (when they arrive) and a rose or two to prune, that’s pretty much it gardening-wise for a few months. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. Thankfully, Storm Arwen left the garden unscathed. The only casualties were the brown crispified flowerheads of the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise,’ most of which are now scattered here and there in the borders.

2. Talking of brown and crispy things, the other month I adorned the garden arch with an allium seedhead. Despite the strong winds such adornage has remained intact, as have the flowers of Clematis ‘Freckles.’

3. Continuing with the brown and crispy theme, the seedheads of the Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ are just as lovely as the flowers when you get up close to them. The shrub will get chopped right back come the spring.

4. There’s still some proper colour to be found in the garden though. The green leaves of this Hydrangea ‘Miss Belgium’ have become tinged with red around the edges.

5. And the Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) is about to burst into flower, providing a succession of fragrant blooms over the coming months as well as pollen for the odd brave bee.

6. And finally… A Viola. Last year they didn’t do very well, many succumbing to some leaf spot disease or other. I’m hoping they fare better this winter.

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 (28 November 2020)

I have ‘the’ Lurgy. My wife caught it at her workplace and I tested positive on Monday. Neither of us started off with the classic symptoms where they advise you get a test (a new and persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of smell or taste). We both began with runny noses, slightly funny feeling throats (leading to the briefest cough every so often) and headaches; more like cold symptoms initially. My wife has completed her 10 days of self isolation and is feeling better. I’m getting there, I just have strangely painful eyes and feel achey. On Monday I wasn’t sure if the achiness was down to the Covid or from overdoing it in the back garden last weekend. And that leads me to my first SoS…

1. Bulb planting. It’s not a job I particularly enjoy and as usual I managed to slice through some of those planted last year.

2. On Sunday I started planting some of the tulips. I’m going to have to evict the sweet peas sooner rather than later as I’ve run out of pots.

3. Inevitably bulb planting resulted in moving the odd plant or two, including this young Sweet Box (possibly Sarcococca hookeriana ‘somethingorotherus.’) The parent plant was got shot of last year as it was getting too big and messy and had a tendency to sucker. This little fellow must have grown from some rooty remains lurking beneath the surface. It’s been relocated near the bird bath where its fragrance can be better appreciated early next year.

4. Talking of fragrance, the first of the Winter Honeysuckle flowers have started to open. Normally I would wax lyrical about the scent of these flowers. However, I can’t smell a thing. Both my wife and I lost our sense of smell around day 4 or 5 after testing positive. Trying to suss out if the milk is still okay to use is proving rather tricky!

5. Hopefully my sense of smell will have returned by the time the flowers of the Coronilla open.

6. And finally… in order to free up pots for tulips I finally got around to digging up some carrots that were sown way back when. They weren’t going to win any prizes.

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 (26 September 2020)

The weather seemed to mirror the astronomical seasons last week. Monday, the final day of astronomical summer, was all blues skies and warm sunshine. The next day things turned cooler and rather gloomy, and by Wednesday we had rain, something we’ve not had for a while here. The garden is still just about holding onto it’s summer colour, although my first Six on Saturday is decidedly autumnal…

1. The Pyracantha struggled last year for some reason. Leaves fell off, flowers turned black and berries were few and far between. This year it has fared much better and is covered in orange berries. The wood pigeons and house sparrows have already started on them.

2. The Graham Thomas honeysuckle has been flowering for many months. Just when you think this climber has finished blooming more buds appear. Alas these flowers are a little too high for me to appreciate their fragrance.

3. Ah, good old Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise.’ A ‘doer’ that flowers for months on end with regular deadheading. I grew some from seed several years ago but I can’t remember if this is from the original batch or one grown from a cutting. It seems to be easy to propagate; we’re talking Penstemon-shove-a-broken-peice-into-a-pot-and-hey-presto-a-new-plant easy.

4. I have a decision to make, and soon. Back in August I fixed a wire from the fence to the blue shed and pointed a few stems of the Clematis montana towards it. The ‘mile a minute’ monster has almost reached the other end and I’m not sure whether I should direct it around the corner of the roof (just under the guttering) or send the thing back towards the fence. It’s still having the odd mini flush of nutmeg scented flowers.

5. The lesser spotted front garden up next. South facing and prone to frazzling in the summer, I decided to add a few grasses, another Sedum and lots of sun loving annuals earlier in the year to mingle with the self seeded Verbena, Californian Poppies, Lavender and Rock Roses. It’s not looking too bad, although a cat has taken to using the foliage of a Rock Rose and the edge of the lawn as a litter tray; highly annoying as there’s bare soil in the neighbour’s border, surely a far more desirable spot for a feline to do it’s business? I’ve acquired one of those sonic cat scaring devices. Fingers crossed it works.

6. And finally… Grown in pots, Cosmos ‘Gazebo White’ has taken rather a long time to flower but it was worth the wait. The bees seem to think so 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.

Six on Saturday (14 March 2020)

I don’t know about anyone else but March seems to be racing by. Next weekend isn’t going to provide any opportunity for gardening so I’ll be cramming in as much as I can over the next two days, if the weather plays nice. Although the forecast isn’t looking very promising for tomorrow there’s a rumour that things are set to improve next week. I hope so. There are perennials to move, seedlings to pot on, lawns to edge and seeds to sow. Well, more seeds to sow, which leads me pretty sharpish to my first Six on Saturday…

1. Last Sunday I had a bit of a seed sowing marathon. Dahlias, Rudbeckia, Calendula, Cosmos, Zinnias, Pink Dandelions and African Foxgloves were sown in somewhat breezy conditions, one or two seeds taking flight. Some pots are now sat on window sills upstairs while others are in the mini greenhouse. I’ve already run out of space, which is a worry as I ordered a few more packets of this and that after perusing the Chiltern Seeds catalogue earlier in the week.

2. To the right of the mini greenhouse is the Winter Honeysuckle which has been flowering since December. Now the leaves are back the flowers are coming to an end. It’s been providing a source of nectar to some big bumble bees over the past few weeks and I’ve been inhaling the fragrant blooms each time I pass, making the most of them while I can. As soon as the flowers are no more I’m going to chop one big stem to the ground to help encourage some new growth. That’s the theory anyway.

3. The flower buds of the Daphne odora that featured a few weeks ago have opened. Photographing this was no mean feat as the border in which it’s planted is a clayey claggy mess. Growing near the small wildlife pond, it’s not in the most sensible place to appreciate the fragrant flowers but it was the only spot I could find. However, my mother-in-law’s large and ancient Daphne manages to fill her garden with scent so hopefully this one may do the same in years to come (I have made a solemn oath not to move it, so hopefully it will do okay).

4. Now the Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ was planted in a much more sensible location right next to the blue shed where its fragrant white flowers can be easily enjoyed come April. The buds are swelling nicely and the new leaves are looking all fresh and spring-like.

5. I experienced Jet Fire envy last spring as it featured in a lot of SoSs. Bulbs were planted in the autumn, though the clump on the left was purchased in bud from the local Country Market shop. Initially I was slightly disappointed when the flowers opened as the trumpets didn’t seem very orange, but as the days have gone by the colour has deepened and the petals have done their sweepy-back-whooshy thing. More will be acquired come the autumn.

6. And finally… I planted a rose tree (Harlow Carr) and a small rose (Togmeister) in the patio bed in November. I’ve been pondering getting a scented climbing rose for the tiny bed behind the swing seat in an attempt to make this area a fragrant hotspot during the summer and last Sunday, after a bit of research, I ordered a yellow climber called Teasing Georgia. This package was waiting for me on Thursday.

She’s supposed to be happy in bit of shade, something a Passion flower currently growing in this spot appears to struggle with. Alas, I’m off to work this morning (most inconvenient) so bare-rooted Georgia will be plonked in a bucket of water to await my return in the afternoon. I just hope there’s enough room for me to move the swing seat out of the way; it wasn’t something I planned for when I dug up some of the patio last 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 (21 December 2019)

Well we’ve almost made it to the shortest day. After tomorrow we can start to enjoy the prospect of lighter evenings and before you know it spring will be here. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself during these relentlessly gloomy, wet and blustery days. Not that I want to wish my life away, but I’m bored of this weather.

Still, things are set to improve for Christmas and come the 24th December I have ten days to enjoy the garden (probably from indoors) during daylight hours. Ten days to watch the birds on the feeders. Ten days to ponder seed purchases whilst munching on the odd home-made mince pie (once I’ve made them). Ten days to simply do not very much of anything. I’m looking forward to it. Anyway, let’s get on with Six on Saturday.

1. First up it’s the controversial fern that was purchased back in March. My wife isn’t all that keen on ferns for some reason, but this Tsusima Holly Fern has proved to be a great addition to the bed outside the back door. What’s more it’s turned out to be evergreen which means we (or should I say I?) get to enjoy its unfurling frondy ferny foliage all year round.

2. Another plant my wife wasn’t very keen on, this ‘dwarf conifer’ was acquired back in October 2018. Ever since two fellow SoSers informed me that their dwarf conifers had reached the same height as their houses I find myself glancing at it suspiciously from time to time. It was moved to the border near the conservatory/sun room earlier in the year to make room for the Hibiscus. I’m keeping a careful eye on it.

3. Next up, more green foliage. A rosette of leaves of a self seeded Foxglove. The Foxgloves tend to do their own thing these days, sowing themselves here there and everywhere. Occasionally they need repositioning, but this one will be left where it is.

4. The sweetly scented Coronilla subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’ that grows in the back garden has started flowering. It has a paler flower and a more greyey-green leaf than the Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca that grows in the front garden. The latter normally blooms first, but not this year.

5. Another scented winter flowering shrub has also started flowering. The Winter Honeysuckle grows outside the back door where its fragrant flowers can be enjoyed when nipping out to put the recyclables in the white shed. It has one or two rather dead looking branches this winter and I think I probably should have chopped it back last spring to encourage more new growth. I must do it next year.

6. And finally… a close up of a fake 6 foot Christmas tree. I know, I know, but it was either this, an out of focus shot of some Honeysuckle berries that stubbornly refused to be anything other than blurry for some reason, or yet more violas. It’s probably the height the dwarf conifer will reach in a year or two if I don’t keep an eye on it.

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. Have a Merry Christmas everyone.

Six on Saturday (5 October 2019)

I’m bored of blustery wet weather. There have been brief spells of fleeting sunshine, but more often than not the skies have been grey and prone to precipitation. The slugs and snails have been having a field day, which leads me to my first SoS.

1. Zinnia. Pink ones. The flowers of some varieties seem to last for ages, forming cone-like centres adorned with halos of yellow stars. I thought most of them had outgrown the slimy menaces of the garden, but I’ve noticed a few of the larger plants have been nibbled of late.

2. Many of the climbing plants in the garden have done poorly this year for some reason. The Graham Thomas rose hasn’t flowered at all. I chopped it right back in the spring in an attempt to get it to throw up a few more stems from ground level. It produced one stem and is looking very ropey indeed. Most of the clematis seem to have snuffed it and the Golden Graham honeysuckle is also looking a little sad, its branches leafless for the most part. However, it is producing a few late flowers, though a little too high up for me to appreciate their scent.

3. A mystery plant next. I spotted this growing in the border next to the conservatory a few months ago. I think it might be a cotoneaster of some sort.

I’ve decided to see if I can grow it as a standard but if someone identifies it as being a monster-like tree I may have to reconsider. It seems to be growing at quite a pace so it might be a foolhardy idea.

4. Some of the Sweet Williams have had a second flush of flowers. Next year’s batch are ready to be planted as soon as I’m feeling sufficiently motivated.

5. Now this is exciting. These Primula prolifera (Candelabra primrose) were grown from some seed that Jim kindly sent me a few months ago. There’s no sign of the others yet but I’ll try a second sowing in the spring.

6. And finally… This is the first year I’ve grown Cosmos in the garden. After a slow start, Cosmos ‘Fizzy’ has proved to be a great doer. The flowers appear to change colour over time. There are whites edged with pink…

Deep pinks streaked with white…

And all sorts of variations thereof, all on the one plant. I’ll definitely be growing this variety again.

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.

Six on Saturday (13 July 2019): Tree worries

I was doing a bit of pottering in the garden on Tuesday evening when I overheard a conversation taking place in the driveway of the house behind us that immediately set alarm bells ringing. “What’s wrong with your fence?” asked one voice. “Oh, we think it’s their tree” came the reply. Stealthily tiptoeing back to the house (which is vaguely pointless on a gravel path) I began pondering just what was amiss with the fence. It seemed fine from our side.

The next day, after a troubled night’s sleep, I made my way to the back of the blue shed, knocking a stack of pots over in the process. Peering over the fence I saw for myself what was wrong. The base of the fence near the tree was bulging out about half a foot onto their driveway. Our plot is about 2 foot higher than the bottom half of the neighbour’s driveway that slopes down towards their house. At this spot the back of the garden has a small retaining wall built with breeze-block holding everything back. Had the roots of the allegedly 2m-by-2m-in-20-years-but-more-like-3m-by-3m-in-8-years Prunus cerasifera ‘Hessei’ broken through and caused the problen? Armed with trowel, and feeling rather apprehensive, I started to dig away in the strange 15cm wide channel/gap that runs between the back of our garden and the actual fence. The channel was full of soil, gravel, rubble, a broken Guinness glass, screws and a newt, but no tree roots. It soon became clear that it was the compacted detritus (good word ‘detritus’) that had caused the lower part of the fence to bow and not the tree… or the newt. We’ve chatted to the new neighbour, explained the problem and at some point the fence will be fixed.

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However, during my excavations I realised that the tree is rather close to the retaining wall and I wonder whether it might be sensible to chop the tree down, dig it up and start again, planting something smaller and more manageable. I can’t say I relish the job or the sudden lack of structure and privacy the tree’s removal will create (and the birds aren’t going to be too impressed ), but perhaps it would be for the best. The Prunus ‘Kojo-no-mai’ that was planted in the perfect spot last Autumn may find itself on the other side of the garden come October. Anyway, enough of such woes. Time for my first SoS…

1. The pink dandelions (Crepis rubra) have been flowering away for over a week now and they’re lovely. I wish I’d sown a few more. I gave a batch to my mum and hers have lush green dandelionesque foliage but for some reason mine have very little. I wonder if they’ve struggled a bit with the dry weather (we’ve not had any proper rain for several weeks now). I’ve dead-headed some of them in the hope that they’ll go on flowering.

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2. Continuing with pink, this is a scented climbing rose, originally given to us as an anonymous patio rose almost 10 years ago. I planted it in the ground in August 2012 when we moved here and it soon became apparent that this wasn’t a patio rose at all. Last year an SoSer suggested it could be New Dawn.

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3. Yellow now. This Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’ was grown from seed a few years ago and is still going strong. It’s proved easy to take a cutting from too (we’re talking plonk-a-bit-in-a-pot-and-away-it-grows easy… unless I got lucky).

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4. More yellow: a perennial Evening Primrose acquired from the old ancestral home in Wales. This is it’s second year and it has been flowering away for a month or so. In the evening, when the buds burst open, the fragrant flowers almost glow in the fading light. But their beauty is fleeting. Come early morning they still look good but as the day wears on they begin to fade. The plant is looking a little tired and scruffy now but I’m rather reluctant to cut it back when it’s still flowering.

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5. I grew a dwarf pale yellow Cosmos a few years ago but this is the first time I’ve grown Cosmos of non-short stature. This is a white one grown from a packet of free seed that came with a garden magazine. I pinched them all out as seedlings and it seems to have taken ages for them to flower. This is the only one to bloom so far. I’m also waiting for Cosmos ‘Fizzy’ to get its act together.

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6. And finally… The dwarf shrubby honeysuckle was a show last year. This year it looks a little odd. It’s having delusions of grandeur, sending out several large stems as though it were a climbing honeysuckle. Still, if these flower it’ll be much easier to appreciate their delicious scent.

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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.

Six on Saturday (7 July 2018)

Finally, we had some rain here in Somerset. The garden is still looking a little sorry for itself, and the front lawn is decidedly crispy underfoot. However, the wet stuff was welcomed with outstretched arms by this gardener who took the opportunity to plant out some young snapdragon and scabious plants, oblivious to his increasingly drenched state until his wife poked her head round the back door and enquired whether he was aware that it was raining. He looked up, gazed at her lovingly and replied…

Anyway, here are my Six on Saturday…

1. The Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ has now exploded into flower and is looking rather vibrant, though not quite as vibrant as this picture would seem to suggest. My phone struggled to accurately capture the flaming red, adding a rather yellowy luminescence to the petals. As usual they’re begining to fall over, despite support, but they do look rather impressive when you’re looking out from the conservatory.

2. This shrub form of honeysuckle is doing particularly well this year (it appeared to enjoy being dug up and placed in a pot when the builders came). It never gets much taller than a foot or two as it’s pruned back each spring. Unfortunately this means you have to bend down quite a bit to appreciate the scent, which I’m finding increasingly trickier to do as the years go by (I think I may need to take up yoga) but it’s worth it.

3. The Californian Poppy tends to do it’s own thing each year, seeding itself wherever it fancies. I prefer this yellow version so naturally the orange one is proving far more successful in its going forths and multiplings and my frequent attempts at sowing the red Californian Poppy have been a dismal failure every time. It’s rather perplexing. They can get a little big and unweildly after a while but they don’t seem to mind being chopped back hard. The flowers last several days in a bud vase, closing up in the evenings and opening up again in the morning which is strangely saitisfying.

4. When we moved here 6 years ago I think the Jasmine had only been in the garden a short time, presumably planted to weave itself through the top row of trellis that runs along the fence and provide a bit of privacy. It’s hard to determine whether it began on our side of the fence or the neighbours’ side, but it’s really taken off over the past year or so. If the back door is left open in the evening and there’s a gentle breeze, its wonderful scent can fill our living room at the front of the house.

5. Verbena bonariensis is one of my favourite plants. It seeds itself around the garden, it doesn’t take up much room, the bees and butterflies love it (we’ve even had the odd hummingbird hawkmoth drinking from its nectar rich flowers) and once it starts flowering it goes on flowering throughout the summer and well into the Autumn.

6. And finally, water butts. Two of them. It seemed a shame to be limited to just the one slim line water butt when there was the potential to fit another to double the amount of free water for the garden. Admittedly two slim line water butts probably take up the space of one normal size one and it’s a bit trickier for my wife to squeeze past with her bike, but they’ve already proved a great success. The rain we had last Sunday filled the first one and half filled the other. The sound of the rain water trickling into them was strangley exciting and when the new one started to fill up filming was required to capture the momentous occasion. Prepare to be awed (if you’re viewing this on a web browser)…

By Wednesday the new one had already been emptied (despite the rain the ground is still bone dry) but as luck would have it we had more of the sweet smelling wet stuff leaving us with two completely full water butts and a very happy gardener.

Want to join in the Six on Saturday posts but not sure how? Then visit the site of the chap who started it all over at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com