Six on Saturday (5 February 2022)

Although it’s only February there were a few moments last week when it felt almost springlike at times. Birds have been singing, the evenings seem lighter, the odd daffodil of short stature is flowering and… there are blooming aphids on the emerging buds of my Sambucus nigra ‘Golden Tower.’ Colonies of the prolific sap sucking, parthenogenic-offspring-producing blighters. I’m beginning to wonder whether ornamental elders are worth the effort. Last year the aphids really went for the ‘Black Lace’ elder and it was a constant battle trying to keep them in check, squashing and hosing them off and getting all wet and aphidy in the process. The ‘Black Lace’ got chopped to the ground yesterday in an attempt to revitalise it but I found myself pondering potential replacement shrubs while I was doing it. Are their days numbered? We shall see. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. And we start with snowdrops. I think this clump was acquired from the old ancestral home up in North East Wales. I’ve noticed a few other little clumps coming up here and there, acquired in the green from the Country Market over the last few years. I’m still a long way off from having a carpet of snowdrops or even a small rug, but perhaps one day…

2. Next up, a plant that came with a label saying ‘Hug me! I’m soft.’ Delosperma echinatum (the Pickle Plant) was one of several succulents purchased last year to brighten up the south facing window sill in the living room, and they’re doing rather well. What was that? Err, no I haven’t. I’m not good with public signs of plant affection. However, I do often admire Pickles and the halo effect its soft hairs create in the sun.

3. Sitting to the right of ‘Pickles’ is ‘Sampy’ (I think it looks a bit like Samphire). Alas, it didn’t come with a label, just a ceramic pot.

4. Out in the garden the first of the Primroses has started to flower. Rather miraculously, it has remained unnibbled.

5. As have most of the variegated leaves of this half standard Euonymus japonica ‘Bravo’ that brightens up a border during the winter.

6. And finally… The first of the outdoor ‘Tête-à-tête’ have begun to flower. A rather pleasing sight, if a little early.

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.

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Six on Saturday (29 January 2022)

The past week has flown by with alarmingly speed. Out in the garden there’s not a great deal going on photogenic-wise. More bulbs are coming up and Clematis ‘Freckles and the Coronilla are still flowering away. But you’ve seen them all before and therefore, in order to shake things up a bit, we’re venturing indoors for my first Six on Saturday…

1. Yes, it’s a houseplant, not something I tend to feature very often. A succulent of some sort (a Sempervivum?), it was acquired on holiday in Truro back in August. And look! A flower bud. Err… does that mean the end is nigh for this little fellow?

2. While we’re indoors I might as well show you another houseplant: Houseplantus redshinyflowerus ‘a cutting from my mum.’ It went to look rather ropey last year but seems to be thriving since being moved to the landing window. This is its first bloom. A proud moment.

3. Out in the garden there are encouraging signs of life on this Rosa ‘Timeless Purple.’ Planted back in November near the patio (or what’s left of it), I seem to have created something of a rose border without really intending to.

4. Not all that far away is a bird box that was put up back in the winter of 2020. Nobody took up residence last year other than a few snails and a weird looking spider (there may have been a minor manly shriek when I cleaned it out). Perhaps someone will move in this spring, although I wonder whether the blue tits and great tits object to the local gang that tends to hang out in the garden most of the day…

5. Until relatively recently house sparrows were a rare sight in this garden. Goldfinches were by far the most common visitors to the feeders. Yet over the past two years the goldfinches have all but vanished and now the garden appears to have been adopted by this lot. When they’re not in the back garden they can be found furtling in the hedge out the front. They’re a cheerful, chirpy lot.

6. And finally… I had a bit of a premeditated shrub shuffle back in September in order to make space for a Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso.’ As usual when it comes to online plant purveyor sites, the estimated overall height is a bit of a mystery. One site says this Salix will only reach 1.5m, another states it will grow to 3m in 20 years (but doesn’t say how much bigger it gets after that) and a third suggests a maximum height of 2.5 to 4m in 5 to 10 years. This standardised specimen was just over 2m tall when it arrived and though 4m would be far too big, it’s highly choppable so should be easy enough to keep in check. As well as providing a bit of privacy in the summer, it will hopefully provide some winter colour curtesy of its pinky-red catkins. A few have just begun to open…

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.