Six on Saturday: the one with all the Dutch Irises (27 May 2023)

In a week where I lost my phone (and over a year’s worth of unbacked photos) and was almost refused admission to The Newt due to a minor RHS student membership administrative oversight, the Dutch Irises have just been calmly getting on with things with minimal fuss.

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. Hmm. I know I said these SoSs were going to be brief over the next four weeks but perhaps there’s time for a sneaky encore SoS? I think there might be. Here are six views of The Newt…


Six on Saturday (20 May 2023)

The mini-greenhouse has been fixed and operation ‘harden off seedlings’ has commenced. Some of the seedlings are doing well (the Marigolds, Clary Sage and Strawflowers). Others are doing less well (the Cosmos is remaining stubbornly spindly and the few Zinnias that have germinated appear to have stalled). There’s so much going in on the garden at the moment that it’s getting harder to select just six things for Six on Saturday. Tough decisions have had to be made but hopefully some of those that were dropped at the last minute will still be flowering next week. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

1. We start with a Philadelphus of extremely short stature. ‘Manteau d’Hermine’ has been flowering for a week or so now. It’s a lovely fragrant mock-orangey little thing.

2. Up next is Centaurea cyanas which has a tendency to take over a bit and needs pulling up from time to time. However, the flowers are stunning and the bees love them.

3. Back in November I purchased a pack of shade tolerant Alliums called ‘Cameleon.’ I was a bit puzzled by the name initially but now I get it! A few days ago these were all white but they’re gradually turning pink. A little bit Wild Garlicesque but hopefully not so spready.

4. I first noticed this plant in the garden last year but didn’t have a clue what it was other than it looked rather Geranium-like. I spotted it in someone’s SoS post a few weeks ago but naturally forgot to write down the name so have had to do a bit of googling (other search engines are available). I think it’s Geranium phaeum and it’s lovely. I just don’t remember ever buying one.

5. The surprisingly tall Aquilegia ‘Black Barlow’ has returned for a third year. It looks less dark and moody with the sun behind it.

6. And finally… The first of the Roses has begun to bloom. I wasn’t hopeful that the deliciously fragrant Rosa ‘Friesia’ would survive when it arrived as a poorly grafted quarter standard back in 2020. Now it’s one of the healthiest roses in the garden. I’ve yet to have any success taking cuttings from it though. I must have another go.

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. This may be my last full length Six on Saturday until after the 20 June. Exams are looming again and revision anxiety levels are beginning to rise. One day I think ‘yes I’m remembering stuff.’ The next day I can’t remember a thing. I think I’ve finally memorised some of the water plant names though. Stratiotes aloides, Aponogeton distachyos and (the worst of the worst) Hyrdocharis morsus-ranae (sounds like a Harry Potter spell). I’m struggling to remember Myosotis sylvatica though (I had to look it up just now to type it) – a bit ironic considering what its common name is.

Six on Saturday (13 May 2023)

It’s been a funny old week of triumphs and minor disasters. The triumphs? I managed to find room for two more 100 litre water butts in the garden, making a grand total six water-collecting vessels now, and just in time to make the most of the torrential rain we had this week. And on Friday I acquired a bargain Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ to help satisfy my current orange flowers thing. The minor disasters? When I was gleefully blasting the black aphids off the Sambucus with my water spray bottle (and getting a tad moist in the process as the wind was blowing in the wrong direction) the water-filled bottle fell off the nozzle and snapped a large stem off the Daphne beneath it.

On Wednesday evening, as dusk was falling, I went to close one of the sliding doors on the mini greenhouse after a successful search for slugs. What happened next is still a bit of a blur, but just as I started to pull the door shut I heard the sound of shattering glass and found myself staring, rather bemusedly, at a plastic door grip in my hand minus the glass. There had been a slight chip on the edge of the glass door for a year or so, but why it suddenly decided to disintegrate into a thousand pieces there and then I have no idea. I’ve taped up the gap with fleece for now, picked up as much of the glass as I can from the floor and surrounding gravel (my, what fun) and ordered a replacement door and handle. In the meantime, I’ve developed a mini-greenhouse-disintegrating-toughened-safety-glass phobia. Hmm, that’s turned into another overly long intro. Time for a brisk Six on Saturday…

1. Narcissus poeticus always takes me by surprise as it flowers so much later than the rest of the Narcissus/Narcissi/Narcissusses/Daffs (delete as appropriate). Despite all the rain of late, the slugs and snails have left most of them alone.

2. You may have noticed a few splotches of pink behind the Narcissus poeticus. Over the years the Red Campion has seeded itself around the garden a bit, mingling rather nicely with pretty much everything, including orange.

3. The flower buds of the Photinia × fraseri ‘Louise’ have opened, looking vaguely reminiscent of fluffy floral clouds against a blue sky.

4. Talking of fluffy, the powder blue flowers of the standard Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repens have opened.

5. As have the flowers of this Phlox subulata something-or-other. Unfortunately, they seem quite popular with the slimy plant assassins of the night.

6. And finally… Alliums of the ‘Purple Sensation’ variety. They’ve been dwindling in numbers over the years and I’d given up on them. However, they seem to have multiplied a bit this time which is a pleasant surprise.

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 (6 May 2023)

The new fence has been painted, the first batch of seedlings have been potted on and the Coronation bunting is up and looking a little soggy. All in all a rather productive week. As Mrs OMAHGT and I were painting the fence I began to have a rethink about getting another climbing rose or two. Rosa ‘New Dawn’ has bounced back after a severe pruning back in November and there were a few thorn related injuries as I tried to push back the stems to get to the fence. I also heard the odd ‘ouch’ from the other end of the garden as Mrs OMAHGT tackled the section of the fence behind the swing seat where I’d planted the ‘practically thornless’ climbing Rose ‘Waterloo’ back in December. Perhaps Clematis or Honeysuckle would be a better option? Anyway, time for Six on Saturday and it’s something of a pinky-blue theme today.

1. First up, ‘Mistress Mystic.’ I think Sarah Raven suggested these tolerated shadier situations and they seem to do just that. A number of them have returned for a second year and I added a few more in November.

2. Growing nearby is the Weigela florida ‘Variegata.’ I don’t think it’s ever been quite this floriferous before. I was talking to my mum about this shrub the other day. I knew she’d grown this one from a cutting taken from a plant at the former ancestral home/free nursery on Flint Mountain, North East Wales. However, it turns out that the shrub back there was grown from a cutting she’d taken from a plant in the garden of an earlier ancestral home, in Buckley, back in the early 1990s. And that Buckley plant had been raised from a cutting taken from an even earlier ancestral home at Llanfair D.C. (the first one I can remember) back in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

3. On the opposite side of the garden are the so-called ‘English Bluebells’ that I planted years ago. It soon became apparent they were a hybrid of the Spanish sort and despite my best efforts to remove them every year there are more than ever. Still, they’re mingling rather nicely with Tulipa ‘Ballerina.’ As soon as they’ve finished flowering I’ll deadhead them and pull up the foliage to provide the other plants some space. I’ve given up trying to dig up their small bulbs – it’s an impossible task.

4. While I was potting on the seedlings on the lawn yesterday evening I became aware of the heady scent of the Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin.’ The buds are just beginning to open but it only takes a few of these tiny flowers to do the wafty fragrance thing. Allegedly, there are other Lilacs of short stature that produce a second flush of flowers later in the summer. I’m tempted to seek one out, although I’m not sure where I’d put it.

5. Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’ is growing happily in the shady border (although not quite as happily as the Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy,’ some of which has been pulled up and planted elsewhere). It has a very Forget-me-Notty flower.

6. And finally, the Clematis montana has begun to bloom. Despite my best efforts, it has somehow managed to make its way over or through the fence into the neighbour’s Pyracantha. I’ve been burying my nose in the flowers and enjoying their egg custard tart/nutmeg fragrance each time I walk past them.

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 (29 April 2023)

It’s been another mixed week weatherwise and decidedly chilly at times. Some more Cosmos has been sown (the RHS may no longer class slugs as pests but I beg to differ), the runner beans are up (my first time growing them) and some Strawflower seedlings could do with pricking out and potting on (I just need to create a bit of space in the mini greenhouse first). I was a lot later sowing anything this year, lacking my usual horticultural oomph for some reason. However, now that seedlings have emerged (something that never grows old) I’m feeling a bit more motivated. Whether I’ll feel quite so motivated once I start potting stuff on who knows. But enough preamble, ’tis time for Six on Saturday, and we start with…

1. A view of part of the garden. There’s a rather large Eucalyptus gunnii ‘France Bleu’ gap near the fence next to the shed. Having given the ‘dwarf’ Eucalyptus a severe pruning last month I pondered pollarding it so that the crown would begin below the top of the fence (rather than above it), providing a bit more privacy. Before I knew it, I’d chopped it down and dug it up. Truth be told I was never keen on the thing. Planted back in 2019 it didn’t seem to do much of anything for a few years and then last summer, rather suddenly, the trunk was surprising girthy and the branches increasingly towering-above-everythingy.

I bought it believing the hype that it would only reach an overall height of 2-2.5m. Last year I read an article that went something along the lines of “so far, indications suggest it will reach 3m in the medium term – we’ll let you know how it goes as trials continue…” Not very reassuring as it had already got to the 3m mark. While pruning it right back every so often would have ensured it remained suitably diminutive it would have rendered the thing rather pointless as a screening plant. So I’ve planted a Prunus lusitanica ‘Angustifolia’ in its place. True, that can get rather lofty if left to its own devices, but it can be pruned into a pleasing shape far more easily. I’m willing it to grow… fast.

2. Hmm, that first one went on rather. I’ll keep the rest of them snappy. Behold, Tulipa ‘Honky Tonk’ and ‘Peppermint Stick.’

3. Here’s Iberis sempervirens out in the front garden. It flowers for ages.

4. As does Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve,’ also out the front. It may well feature again.

5. The Box balls have that nice yellowy-green new growth thing going on at the moment. I’m keeping a close eye on these after Box Moths were spotted on them for the first time last autumn.

6. And finally… More Tulips. ‘Violet Beauty’ has begun to flower. I may try planting these in the borders once they’ve finished.

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 April 2023)

The garden appears to have moved up a gear, although in a somewhat lurchy first-time-behind-the-wheel-of-a-car-with-your-dad-trying-to-stay-calm-in-the-passenger-seat kind of way. The Hibiscus is sporting new leaf buds. A bee-fly has been enjoying the Muscari and the first of the Forget-me-not flowers. Seedlings have begun to come up in the pots on the window sill (alas, a rogue slug that was lurking in the compost finished off some Cosmos in the night). And the aphids have set up home on the Sambucus, again. April is racing by and I’ve found myself bidding a fond farewell to some of the harbingers of early spring, which leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. A final hurrah from the Narcissi (although there should be a few Pheasant’s Eye waiting in the wings somewhere). More and more are going over and after taking this photo yesterday I did a spot of deadheading.

2. All of a sudden the Lunaria has started to flower, taking me a bit by surprise. Sown several years ago it’s a great self-seeder and easily controlled if it get’s a little carried away.

3. The Loropetalum chinense ‘Black Pearl’ is still going strong and looking resplendent in all its burgandy-pinkness. I hope it survives many more winters to come.

4. Newly planted in November, I’m wishing I’d introduced Tulipa ‘Ballerina’ years ago. Elegantly orange, it also has a deliciously orange squash sort of scent (unless my nostrils are easily suggestible). I need to add some darker varieties next year (perhaps ‘Ronaldo’) to mix it up a bit.

5. More tulips up next. ‘Peppermint Stick’ has returned for a second spring. Alas, quite a few have been flattened by the wood pigeons as I foolishly hung a bird feeder nearby.

6. And finally… When the emergency Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ replacement was purchased the other weekend, a few other non-emergency plants were acquired at the same time, including this Bleeding Heart. A white one doesn’t appear to have survived the winter so I’m hoping I have more success with this one. Anyone else see an upside down turtle?

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 (15 April 2023)

Well, spring was nice while it lasted. The weather took a turn for the worse on Monday and has remained nasty, off and on, for much of the week.

Last weekend I finally managed to get most of the seeds sown (none of which have appeared at the time of writing this). That just leaves the packets of the scatter-and-hope-for-the-best lot to sow if I can find some soil that isn’t swamped by the foliage of Tulips and Narcissi. Talking of which…

1. Some of the earlier flowering Narcissi are starting to go over now. However, the paler varieties, most of which seem to flower later than the the yellow lot, are still going strong (apart from those that have been flattened by the wind and rain). On the left is a rather pretty variety that was in a free pack of mixed Narcissi from J Parker’s. On the right is ‘Sorbet’ which has flowered for ages.

2. Next up is Narcissus ‘Geranium,’ a deliciously fragrant variety that has returned for a second year. I must plant more of these come the autumn.

3. It’s not all Narcissi though. Oh no. The Tulips are managing to withstand the inclement weather. I think this one is ‘Burnt Sugar,’ planted back in 2020. I forgot to check out their scent when I took these photos.

4. Another Tulip planted back in 2020, ‘Green Dance’ appears to to be thriving in this spot. It’s an unusual looking thing. Sometimes I really like it. Other times I wonder why on earth I bought it.

5. I definitely like ‘World Friendship’ though. Tall yet surprisingly robust, it’s a lovely yellow.

6. And finally… Reading The Nostalgic Gardener’s SoS a few weeks ago I realised that my 10 year old Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ was looking decidedly bare of both leaves and flower buds. Upon further investigation the flower buds (which tend to start forming in the autumn) had barely developed at all and newly emerging leaves had died. Chopping back a stem revealed a tiny bit of green, but it didn’t look hopeful. I’m not sure what went wrong: the drought last summer, the cold snaps during the winter, the deluge of rain? Who knows. When I dug it up the ground seemed very damp and cold. It’s not an easy shrub to find and even the nursery we bought it from originally (Triscombe Nurseries) no longer listed it on their website. However, undeterred, my wife gave them a ring and it turned out they had two left. We reserved one (hence the blue label) and headed off early last Saturday to collect it. It has been planted in a new spot and a Hydrangea has been moved to take the place of the deceased Viburnum. Order has been restored. A spring without these fragrant flowers just wouldn’t seem right somehow.

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. Hmm, it looks rather pleasant out there this morning. Sunny and calm. Perhaps spring has isn’t over after all.

Six on Saturday (8 April 2023)

Well this is more like it. It felt like spring had properly sprung in the garden on Friday. The day was spent chopping back this, moving and planting that and possibly overdoing it a little. The front garden has been mulched (I’m sure the resident cats will be thrilled), the pond plants have been sort of tidied up (I’ll do a better job in the autumn) and I think I’m just about ready to start sowing some annuals. I’ve yet to motivate myself enough to repot the Dahlias (I’m coming to the conclusion they’re more trouble than they’re worth) or to purchase a tin of something-or-other to paint the new fence. Perhaps tomorrow. It hasn’t all work though, and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. Garden gazing from the newly uncovered swing seat for 5 minutes or so. Note to self: spend more time stopping and staring this year.

2. Narcissus ‘Tahiti’ has started to bloom. Possibly one of my favourites. Sometimes you need a bit of frilliness.

3. And sometimes you need a bit of chic. Narcissus ‘Thalia’ has returned for a second year. If someone can remind me to plant some more come the autumn that would be much appreciated.

4. Back in November I swapped the Sambucus nigra ‘Golden Tower’ and Photinia x fraseri ‘Louise’ around. It made more sense to have an evergreen that could provide all year round privacy over by the back fence rather than a deciduous shrub, especially one that needs chopping down to ground level every so often to encourage brighter, bigger foliage. I was never a fan of the regular Photinia but I rather like this one with its variegated mature foliage. It’s on the cusp of flowering.

5. Next up, Tulipa ‘Czaar Peter.’ This is the diminutive Tulip’s third spring. I’ve spent the past few years trying to decide whether I like it or not. I’ve finally been won over. The fragrant yellow flowers of Tulipa sylvestris have also opened in the sun.

6. And finally… While it has taken me a few years to warm to ‘Czar Peter’ I’ve never had any such doubts regarding Tulip ‘Prince Mixed.’ A batch of these get planted in a pot every 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’m off to a plant nursery to buy an emergency replacement shrub (a sad story which I’ll tell you all about next week).

Six on Saturday (1 April 2023)

Enough of the wet and wind already! The photos for this Six on Saturday were mainly taken early Thursday evening during a brief respite from the rain. Plant supports/sparrow perches were then hastily deployed in readiness for the strong winds that were expected on Friday. As I write this (Friday evening, soon after eating a melted cheese on savoury hot cross bun toasted in the oven) things seem to have calmed down a little and thankfully most plants are still standing. Despite the gloom, the sweet peas that were sown a few weekends ago have begun to come up. I must sow some more seeds soon. And then there’s the front garden to tidy, the new fence to paint, the swing seat to uncover and possibly oil, and the overwintered dahlia tubers to inspect and re-pot. Hopefully the lighter evenings will provide more of an opportunity to get things done… if the weather improves. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

1. We start with Tulips, possibly ‘Apricona,’ which have returned for a second spring.

2. Continuing the Tulip theme is Tulipa sylvestris, the wild native tulip. This has returned for a third spring and has become a favourite with it’s curving stems and vibrant yellow flowers. These are poised, ready to open. I planted another bag of them back in November.

3. Growing in front of the Tulipa sylvestris are the Grape Hyacinths. I have some mixed varieties out in the front garden, one of which is pretty hideous, but the traditional variety are my personal faves.

4. Next up, Loropetalum chinense ‘Black Pearl.’ I suspect this will be featuring again in a week or so. These flowers are lurking around the side of the half standard shrub of dubious hardiness. It has made it through its first winter (down to -6 and wrapped with fleece when I remembered). I can’t get close enough to these to check whether they’re fragrant or not. It’s the dark ‘dry’ leaves though that I like the most. It’s made me think I need to add some more dark foliage somewhere.

5. Hang on a minute. I already have. Two Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussey’ were acquired back in the spring of 2022 after seeing it featured in one of the Propagator’s Six on Saturdays. I moved this one several weeks ago when I was redoing the path. Where the second plant is I have no idea. I hope it turns up.

6. And finally… Narcissi. Working clockwise from the top left… ‘Part of that free Narcissi mix from J. Parker’s,’ ‘Charming Lady’ (which has returned for a second year and is described by Sarah Raven as having a “delicious stephanotis perfume”… one must assume she was stood next to an actual Stephanotis plant at the time as it has zero fragrance as far as I can tell), diminutive ‘Minnow’ and ‘Jetfire’ which has now developed its whooshy petals.

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 (25 March 2023)

Back in early March I seem to remember wishing for rain. Not heavy almost-every-day rain accompanied by blustery winds. Just some nice gentle H20 at night and sun and blue skies during the day. Alas, there rarely seems to be a happy in between when it comes to the weather lately. Still, last weekend I finally managed to get some seeds sown (only the Sweet Peas so far) and attacked the rather large ‘dwarf’ Eucalyptus gunnii ‘France Bleu’ (it won’t be featuring in any photos until it looks a little more picturesque). There was also time to do a spot of bargain plant shopping, which leads us reasonably swiftly to my first Six on Saturday…

1. I thought my quest for the perfect orange Rose was over last year, but ‘Simply the Best’ turned out to be more yellow than orange. I spotted a bare rooted ‘Joro’ on Poundland’s website and decided to pop into the store in town on Saturday to see if I could save myself some postage. They had one left; surely a sign? As it was only £2 I won’t be too disgruntled if it doesn’t survive.

2. Walking past the Country Market shop a little later I spotted this little fellow: Narcissus ‘Tête Bouclé.’ Having made such a saving on a bargain orange Rose t’would have been madness not to purchase it. What was that? Is that ‘Jetfire’ behind it? Err, yes. Another purchase from the same shop a month earlier. They’ve just come into flower.

3. Behold, a tray of Violas purchased at Hestercombe Gardens on a surprisingly sunny, rain-free Sunday. Though the planting schemes at Hestercombe rarely change, the whereabouts of the shop and café tend to alter on a regular basis for some reason. This time they’d moved the plant stall, causing a brief moment of panic. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to plonk these in the ground this weekend, although it’s not looking very promising out there at the moment.

4. Right, that’s the new plant purchases out of the way. Next up we have Hyacinths. They’re doing rather well this year, although the stripy pink lot required some support after all the rain and the slightly spindly dark pink lot (supposedly ‘Woodstock’) could do with planting in the ground once they’ve finished flowering.

5. They look rather good reflected in this small garden mirror that’s creating the illusion of a view through the fence. I’m pondering painting the frame white to match a garden mirror that hangs on the other fence.

6. And finally… The Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ has gone ka-bloom!

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.