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 (20 February 2021)

For at least a day or two it seemed as though Mother Nature had turned up the thermostat, opened those big cloudy curtains in the sky and allowed the sun to shine once more, encouraging the emerging shoots and buds to resume their growy-openy thing. But then the rain came. And the hail. And oh yes, the wind. The lawn is a muddy, squelchy mess, littered with casualties of the toppled white crocus kind. The borders aren’t much better. However, it’s not all doom and gloom out there.

1. First up, snow drops. It appears I have more than I thought. Some have begun to appear in the border near the wildlife pond. It has been a pleasant surprise as I’d assumed they hadn’t survived. The difference a bit of warmth and sun makes to their appearance is also surprising; they can look positively perky.

2. The sun also encouraged a few more of the Iris reticulata (possibly Harmony) to open…

3. … and this lone purple beauty that has since had to be propped up with a few twigs to help it withstand the wind and the rain.

4. Self sown seedlings have started to appear here and there. These popped up in the ‘wildlife’ border back in January but it’s only now the proper leaves have formed that I’ve been able to figure out what they are: Honesty, and there’s loads of them. Next month I’ll dig some of them up and plonk them around the garden.

5. While the cream crocuses in the lawn have been a disaster so far, one crocus, hidden away at the back of the Eucalyptus bed, has opened without incident. Fingers crossed some others will make it to flowerhood.

6. And finally… Last week I featured Hellebore ‘Single White Blotched,’ one of two Hellebores purchased the other week. This was the other one: Rodney Davey Marbled Group ‘Reanna’s Ruby.’

As the flowers have aged the marbling has become more distinct. They look almost metallic. I’m proud to say that thus far (good word ‘thus’) I have resisted purchasing any more. I have ordered another rose though.

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.

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.

Six on Saturday (22 February 2020)

Thankfully, the garden survived Storm Dennis unscathed and the rickety fences are still standing (something of a miracle as a new sturdy looking fence in a nearby garden was flattened). Having been off gallivanting these past few weekends, today and tomorrow will be spent at home. I’m hoping to sow some sweet peas and prune back a patio rose today (if the weather improves) and on Sunday I’m off to a garden centre to pick up a few bags of peat free compost as I’m down to just the one bag, something that always leaves me feeling strangely uneasy. I have vowed that during my visit to the garden centre I will be strong, resisting the temptation to purchase anything resembling a bulb, corm, twig or leafy thing. Willpower will be deployed. Oh yes! There will be no new plant-like purchases featuring in next week’s Six on Saturday. Err, did that sound convincing? No, I didn’t think so either. Ah well, time for for my first SoS…

1. Delphiniums. I sowed the Pacific Giant variety last summer. At the time I thought it was folly and I still don’t think it will end well for them. Previous Delphiniums, purchased as plants, haven’t lasted long, savaged by slugs and snails in the spring, never to recover. Having died back in the autumn, these have sprung to life again. I began to harden them off last September, preparing them for life in the great outdoors. However, the slimy ones soon found them and they were returned to the mini greenhouse where they have spent the winter. They’ll have to fend for themselves at some point though.

2. Last weekend I braved Storm Dennis to head up to the old ancestral home in North Wales for a long weekend. These beauties were photographed during a brief spell of sunshine on the Monday, after the storm had passed.

I’d been feeling a bit dismayed about the lack of crocuses in our own garden this year. However, I may have been a little too hasty in my woe-is-me-ing as I noticed quite a few of these yesterday. Later today, weather permitting, I shall be poised, ready to photograph them when they open.

3. Our garden is seriously lacking in snowdrops. Yet up at the ancestral home there were clumps of gorgeous Galanthus everywhere. I’m going to place an order with the free nursery in Wales for some of these.

4. Next up, tomatoes! Yes, they’ve finally appeared and a very pleasing sight they are too.

5. Now I have a bit of a love/not-quite-hate relationship with Vinca/periwinkles. I love their evergreeniness and the flowers. I’m less keen on their tendencies towards world domination. They get chopped right back a few times a year but inevitably some make a run for it. I think the purple variety has made it under the fence and into the neighbour’s garden.

6. And finally… I’ve always fancied a nest box but feared that with several feeders scattered around our small garden it was unlikely that anything would take up residence. Curious, I acquired this one a few weekends ago. I don’t think it’s deep enough for blue or great tits, though perhaps wrens may find it suitable. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

And 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.

Six on Saturday (8 February 2020)

Alas, the next few weekends aren’t going to provide any opportunity for gardening what with one thing and another. So last Sunday, keen to get sowing a few seeds, I cleaned the glass of the mini greenhouse (briefly regretting my decision to remove the slidey panes of glass on the roof as I couldn’t remember how to reinsert them afterwards) and, for the first time ever, washed a few plant pots and trays. Once these chores were done I was ready for business. The sowing of seeds could commence and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. Tomato seeds have been sown in the modules on the right; a cherry tomato called ‘Apero’ which I’ve not tried before and, for the third year running, Yellow Tumbling Tom. I usually grow them in pots outdoors come the summer but I’m pondering whether to plant one or two in the south facing front garden. We now have Neighbourhood Watch on our estate so surely nobody would dare help themselves, would they?

With the exception of tomatoes, most of my seed sowing is done in March and April. However, last weekend I sowed some Lupin Lilac Javalin, a long flowering scented hardy annual that I’m hoping is less needy than the perennial lot. I’ve also done a second sowing of a variety of Candelabra primula seeds that were kindly supplied by Jim last year and the blue Meconopsis x sheldonii, ‘Lingholm.’ Apparently the odds of successfully growing the Himalayan Poppy are slim and only one tiny seedling has survived from the batch sown in the Autumn. All of these early sowings are being started off on a window sill.

2. Joshua featured this white Bleeding Heart in his Six on Saturday last week and showing no willpower whatsoever I nipped into Wilko and purchased one too. I may have also purchased a few packets of summer flowering bulbs as well.

3. Ah, snowdrops. I wanted drifts of these and I planted quite a few bulbs a number of years ago, thinking they would go forth and multiply. This is the only one that appears to have survived. It comes up every year.

Over the past few weekends I’ve purchased the odd pot of snowdrops in the green from our County Market shop. I doubt I’ll end up with drifts of the little white beauties any time soon but a clump or two would be nice.

4. Next up, crocus. Last February they did really well and I’d assumed most of them would come up again this year. However, so far a grand total of three have appeared and one of those flopped over almost as soon as the bud formed. I suspect some of them went AWOL when I dug up the old tree last autumn but I’m not sure what’s happened to the others. Perhaps they’re simply biding their time. We shall see. A lack of sun and a full time job has meant I’ve yet to capture these in all their unfurled glory.

5. Tulips! After a successful attempt at growing tulips in a pot last year I’ve upped their number for 2020 and even risked planting a few in the ground.

6. And finally… The stars of the garden at the moment are the Iris reticulata. Remember the severely nibbled one last week? Well, some have escaped the attentions of the slimy ones. I’m not sure what variety this is. Possibly ‘Joyce.’

But it’s ‘Alida’ that has wowed me the most with its light blue feather like petals. They were planted at the end of December and I was afraid I’d left it too late. I needn’t have worried. I just hope they don’t all get flattened by Storm Ciara. More will be added next year.

And 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.

Six on Saturday (26 January 2019)

As January races on the days are definitely starting to get a little longer, the nights a little shorter. So much so I’ve actually been able to enjoy a proper view of the garden on the odd day I’ve managed to escape from work a little earlier than normal. And escaping from work leads rather nicely to my first Six on Saturday.

1. A few of us headed off to a book fayre during our lunch break yesterday. I found this month by month gardening guide by Geoff Hamilton whilst browsing through the gardening section. It was in pristine condition and a bargain at only 50p. Just as Peter Davison was my first Doctor Who as a kid, Geoff Hamilton was my first Gardeners’ World presenter. My mum still refers to him as ‘poor Geoff’ after his untimely death back in 1996.

2. Last week I went in search of flowering bulbs in the garden after reading other SoS blogs and tweets featuring snowdrops and the like. And viola… I mean voila, a snow drop! I’d hoped after a couple of years they might have gone forth and multiplied, but alas, no. I may have to buy some more to help things along a bit.

3. I also found the odd crocus in bud, including this yellow one.

4. And yesterday this iris was spotted in the bed near the back door.

5. A week ago I was musing on the pros and cons of digging up some of the patio to create a bit of extra plant space. However, a bit of musing was also required to figure out how to improve access to the patio as the curving path created in August had cut it off from the rest of the garden.

At the moment we just step over the plants but as they grow this could become more tricky and result in the odd mishap of the falling-flat-on-your-face-kind.

So last Sunday, armed with mallet, chisel, pickaxe, spade and trusty trowel, I set to work, mindful that I shouldn’t go too mad and dig up the whole patio. I took up a paving stone and then, after a bit of careful deliberation, I took up another one… followed by two more.

I’ve made some stepping-stones from the lawn to the patio with a paving slab that had been broken in half when the bird bath was dropped on it during a failed burglary attempt a year ago. I’m not sure if I’ve settled on the final layout of the stepping-stones (more musing from several vantage points to get a sense of the overall feng shuiness of things is required) but I think it’ll work out okay once there are a few plants in.

6. And finally… While I was working on the patio my nostrils detected the faint whiff of a rather lovely scent. Last week I featured two varieties of sweet box in my SoS. Well, the buds on the smaller variety near the patio are finally beginning to open and doing their wafty scenty thing.

And 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.