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 (24 December 2022)

A brisk Christmas Eve Six on Saturday before I head off to North Wales…

1. First up, Euonymus japonicus ‘Bravo’ doing its all year round variegated evergreeny thing.

2. Clematis ‘Freckles’ is still adding some interest, this time with fluffy, tassel-like seedheads.

3. Another variegated evergreen up next. A new addition to the garden in spring, the Photinia × fraseri ‘Louise’ tree is sporting new, bright red buds. I was always a bit anti-Photinia (I don’t really know why) but so far so good, I think.

4. Every summer I intend to chop a few stems of Honesty to dry indoors for a display of pristine silvery paper disks but never do. I tried it this year and ended up with sticky, aphid infested green seed pods that were thrown out after a few weeks. I’ll have to make do with these slightly battered lot outdoors instead.

5. The Cotoneaster that featured a few weeks ago is now bare of leaf but still sporting most of its berries. It looks rather festive but not as festive as my last SoS…

6. A new decoration has been added to the artificial Christmas Tree. Meet Little Sausage Dog who has joined a rather varied collection of festive ornaments, some of which featured this time last 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’d better be going. Happy Christmas everyone.

Six on Saturday: a mostly frosty one (17 December 2022)

Last Sunday evening I ordered a bare root rose online. ‘Order now for guaranteed delivery before Christmas’ it said on the homepage. “Yeah right,” I thought. I was still waiting for deliveries of this and that which were supposed to have arrived weeks ago. But I was fine with a later rose delivery. The last thing I wanted to do in this cold weather was dig holes and plant stuff.

On Wednesday evening, while Mrs OMAHGT and I were eating our tea and watching The Chase, the door bell rang, accompanied by loud hammering on the door. I jumped a little, nearly spilling the gravy that I’d applied a little too generously over my chips and mushroom pie.

“Sounds like a delivery,” my wife said calmly. “I reckon it’s answer ‘A'” she added, nodding at the telly. I raised a skeptical eyebrow. It seemed rather late for a delivery and it was far more likely to be answer ‘C.’

I got up and made my way to the door, a little apprehensive. Was I going to be greeted by a pushy sign-up-to-a-charity-there-and-then person, an axe murderer or perhaps burly carol singers that wouldn’t believe I was loose-changeless? I paused at the front door, took a deep breath and opened it. A driver in a van waved as he drove off and there, on the door step, was a large paper bag. It was the rose.

And was I pleased that it was neither charity person, axe murderer nor burly carol singers? Well, yes. Was I thrilled the rose had arrived so quickly? Err, not really.

“What was it?” my wife asked as I returned to the sofa.

“That rose has arrived,” I replied glumly. “Which means I’ve got to plant it out on Saturday, in the cold, with the ground all frozen and my hands all chapped and sore. Why did they have to be so efficient?” I paused. “Err… what was the correct answer to that last question?”

“It was ‘A.'”

And after that long winded introduction it’s time for Six on Saturday, most of which are ever-so-slightly out of focus as my phone camera seems to object to the cold almost as much as my hands do.

1. First up, a frosted Box ball. I discovered Box moths in some of these back in October; the first time they’ve been spotted in the garden. I fear I’m going to have to keep a close eye out for caterpillars next year.

2. The Zinnia ‘Jazzy’ flowers look almost as good dried and crispy as they do in when all fresh soft of petal.

3. Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ grew quite a bit over the summer. The flowers have long since finished but the foliage is proving pleasing all year round.

4. It got down to minus 6.6 degrees Celsius on Thursday night. The Loropetalum chinense ‘Black Pearl’ has been wrapped up in horticultural fleece for a few weeks now, just in case conditions got a little too chilly for it. Peering underneath its protective layer yesterday evening it seems okay so far.

5. Continuing the frosty theme, Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ was looking rather sparkly the other morning.

6. As were the rose hips of the patio Rose ‘Violet Cloud,’ possibly one of the most floriferous and healthy roses in the garden. Talking of roses, I guess I’d better plant that new one if it thaws later today.

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 (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 (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.

Six on Saturday (19 November 2022)

After many years of procrastination, the rickety half trellis fence is no more. All of the fencers who provided quotes seemed jolly good and were similar price-wise, but only one was able to do the work before the spring. The idea of bulbs getting flattened on the cusp of flowerhood wasn’t very appealing and so the chap who was able to replace the fence before Christmas (well before Christmas as it turned out) was hired. He did a great job too…

1. An overly rampant Jasmine used to help provide some privacy on the trellis section of the old fence in the summer but during the winter you were left feeling very exposed. In theory, the Jasmine (which appears to have started life on the neighbours’ side between the fence and their raised bed) is no more, although I suspect there’s still quite a bit lurking beneath the soil, just biding its time. The new fence is wonderfully anti-social and somehow you feel more at ease when out pottering. It is rather fence-like though, and that leads us to SoS number 2.

2. A Cotoneaster horizontalis. The Pyracantha that was originally growing in this spot was chopped back and dug up the other weekend in preparation for the new metal posts (I’m sure a blackbird eyed me disdainfully as the berry laden Pyracantha branches were loaded into the car). Last Sunday, at dusk, I decided to fill the spot vacated by the fearsome Firethorn with a Cotoneaster that had been growing, largely forgotten, in a dark and shady spot on the other side of the garden. Acquired from the former ancestral home/free plant nursery in North Wales a number of years ago, I hadn’t realised how big it had gotten. Last minute winter evening shrub moving doesn’t really lend itself to careful diggage to ensure mininimal root damage, but hopefully it will survive and provide the birds with berries for many years to come.

3. Another plant that had to get chopped back and dug up was a Coronilla that had been grown as a climber. I’ve plonked it back in the ground in the hope that it survives. If not, a replacement will be acquired; a second winter/spring without the fragrant pale-yellow flowers of a Coronilla in the back garden is unthinkable. In the meantime, the Prunus Kojo-no-mai (which is looking even more fiery than it did a few weeks ago) will have a bit more space to spread its branches. I suspect they’ll be bare of leaf in a week or so.

4. Now I’ll come back to the flowering red rose that’s growing near Kojo in a moment. First though, come and take a look at this climbing patio rose growing up the metal arch. ‘Little Rambler’ has never looked so good or smelled so sweet as it does now. Planted back in 2020 it’s finally starting to make some progress of the vertical kind.

5. Back to the red rose, ‘Nerf Herder’ is still going strong. What was that? Err… no, that’s not its real name. I’d have to search past posts to remind myself of what it’s really called.

6. And finally… it’s a Calendula that also featured a while back. How much longer flowerage will continue now that temperatures have begun to fall who knows. It got down to 0.6 last night.

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’m going to make a start on bulb planting. I just wish I was feeling a little more enthusiastic about the task.

Six on Saturday (12 November 2022)

After spending most of last weekend preparing the garden for Operation New Fence (which commenced on Thursday), I was looking forward to doing absolutely nothing this weekend. However, it looks like the fence will be completed this morning and in theory that means stuff will have to be moved back to its usual position, including the mini-greenhouse (minus the spiders this time). Unfortunately, once that’s all done I’ll have absolutely no excuse not to start the joyous task of bulb planting… unless it rains. Anyway, another brisk Six on Saturday…

1. And we start with a Viburnum (possibly farreri). Grown from a cutting my wife took of a plant in our old rented house over 10 years ago, this is the best it has ever been flower-wise. Lovely and fragrant too.

2. Growing nearby is another fragrant plant, Sarcococca somethingorotherus (a dwarf variety I think). Although it’ll be a few months yet until bloomage, the flower buds are already forming.

3. The other week I took photographs of packets of bulbs figuring they’ll come in handy for future SoS’s when I’m struggling to find anything of interest. This week: Allium ‘Cameleon,’ which allegedly tolerates shade.

4. Talking of shade, this Zinnia (one of the ‘Jazzy Mixture’) isn’t getting much sun now, growing in the increasingly shady north facing back garden. However, it’s still producing the odd flower.

5. Holey Rhubarb… Batman.

6. And finally… The Calendula were rather slow to get going this year but appear to be making up for lost time. ‘Snow Princess’ has featured before and could well feature again.

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.