I’ve been re-reading the five books written by Lloyd Alexander that make up The Chronicles of Prydain series about a young assistant pig keeper called Taran. They’re a sort of Lord of the Rings for children and adults, only less wordy, more humorous, inspired by Welsh mythology, often profound and frequently moving. One of the characters, Coll, is a retired warrior-come-farmer who loves his garden, but I never really appreciated the gardening references until now.
“You are the oaken staff I lean on,” Taran said. “More that that.” He laughed. “You are the whole sturdy tree, and a true warrior.”
Coll, instead of beaming, looked wryly at him. “Do you mean to honour me?” he asked. “Then say, rather, I am a true grower of turnips and a gatherer of apples. No warrior whatever, save that I am needed thus for a while. My garden longs for me as much as I long for it,” Coll added. “I left it unready for winter, and for that I will pay a sorry reckoning at spring planting.” (from The High King)
I’ve been slightly remiss in preparing the garden for the winter this year. Not that I’ll be growing turnips come Spring, but I should probably give the standard Buddleia and the standard roses a slight prune to prevent wind-rock. I definitely need to clear the increasingly soggy piles of fallen leaves from the gravel path, and I still haven’t tidied the pond. I should have plenty of time to tackle these gardening tasks when I finish work on the 22nd December for Christmas (the days will start getting longer too!) Not that it feels much like winter temperature-wise at the moment and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…
1. Strawberries. They’re free range, roaming about the garden mostly unchecked, and I rarely manage to get to them before the slugs or birds do during the summer.
2. Another week, another Ilex. This one is Ilex Crenata ‘Dark Green’ and it went to look very sickly back in the summer of 2019. I chopped the shrub right back, dug it up and plonked it in a pot, not holding out much hope for its survival. Left to fend for itself, the little Ilex appears to have recovered.
3. The Daphne x transatlantica ‘eternal fragrance’ is still flowering. There haven’t been many months this year when the semi-evergreen hasn’t been in bloom. A grand shrub that really earns its place in a small garden.
4. Back in the summer I felt the need to add some more evergreen structure to the garden. As well as acquiring a lollipop topiary Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ I also added a standard Euonymus japonicus ‘Bravo.’ The variegated foliage is helping to provide some cheer on gloomy days. I’m trying to ignore a nagging feeling that I may have planted it too near the blue shed and a climbing rose.
5. A ray of floral sunshine, this Calendula is still going strong out in the front garden.
6. And finally… Inspired by Pádraig’s Six on Saturday I decided to add some Christmas cheer to the garden, hanging the odd bauble about the garden.
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 have a Happy Christmas.