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 (6 February 2021)

The frogs have returned. A newt too. Late on Tuesday evening, armed with a torch, I decided to take a nose at the pond to see if there was any sign of amphibian activity and lo and behold there was: two frogs and a male common newt in his wavy crested ‘look at me ladies aren’t I something?’ breeding getup. It prompted me to order some new bare root aquatic plants (hopefully more suitable for a tiny pond than past plant purchases). They arrived yesterday and were promptly potted up in some pond compost and gently lowered into the water. And it was while I was readjusting a submerged brick to alter the depth of an iris that my respect for amphibians grew. The water was flippin’ freezing. Potting up pond plants wasn’t the only bit of gardening I did last week, oh no. And that leads me to my first Six on Saturday.

1. I’ve been on something of a perennials spending spree of late but I think I’m done now. Possibly. One online order arrived last weekend and on Sunday I did my first spot of proper gardening of the year. ‘Verona,’ ‘Venice’ and ‘Washfield’ Astrantia and Astilbe ‘Rock and Roll’ have all been potted up until they get going, as has this bargain Geranium ‘Splish Splash’ from Wilko.

It felt good to get my hands in some compost, although I have to confess I struggled to work out which way was up with the ‘loose root’ Astrantia. They’ve all been labelled using sticks saved from frozen yoghurt ice lollies that have proved popular whatever the season.

2. I also sowed my first lot of ‘early’ seeds on Wednesday: a white Black-eyed Susan and a Morning Glory ‘Royal Ensign.’ They’re sat on a window sill in the spare bedroom. After a troubled year with seedlings last year, possibly due to the New Horizon peat free compost, I’ve splashed out on some Dalefoot this year, including a bag of their wool seed compost.

3. Next up, snowdrops. Last February there were but two solitary snowdrops in the garden, the only survivors from a pack of bulbs planted way back when. I planted some more bulbs in the autumn and a few were purchased ‘in the green’ back in March. I think these were acquired from the old ancestral home in North Wales last summer. It’ll be a while until I have a carpet of snowy white but perhaps I’ll have a small rug in a few years.

4. The primroses are starting to get into their flowery stride. The native variety have a simple elegant beauty.

5. Now I have a confession to make. While I love close up shots of Hellebore flowers, when confronted with a real life Hellebore an ‘oooh’ has turned to an ‘eeew.’ The flowers seemed freakishly out of proportion to the rest of the plant. What was that? You Hellebore heretic! Steady on. The other week I spotted a tweet regarding a fragrant Helleborus liguricus and decided “what the heck.” I think I can detect a faint fragrance from its stripy green flowers, though at the moment the heady scent of the Sarcococca is filling the garden, making it tricky to smell much else. I’ve been studying it from all angles and I’m getting used to its proportions. Have I become a Hellebore convert? Well, more have certainly been perused online over the past few days.

6. And finally… I was wandering around the garden yesterday and spotted an iris in bud. Half an hour later it had opened.

Here’s a compulsory close up.

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.