Six on Saturday (1 January 2022)

Will the relentlessly mild and miserable damp weather never end? Oh for some blue sky and winter sunshine to relieve the monotonous grey squelchfest of the past week or so. Oh for the chilly, sub-zero nights of this time last year to create some photogenic sparkly frost-tinged foliage to include in a Six on Saturday. Oh for… What was that? “And Happy New Year to you too?” Err… apologies. Happy New Year. On a more positive note, the days are getting longer (well, I assume they are, it’s been so dark and dank most days it’s rather hard to tell) and it’s the start of a new gardening year; time to start browsing the sites of online plant purveyors for seeds in readiness to sow this and that. Now there’s something to look forward to… and I’m sure all the slugs and snails that are enjoying this warm wet winter are thinking the same thing. Anyway, enough moaning. It’s time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up, a view of the garden in all it’s resplendent dreariness. However, there are a few ‘summer’ flowers to be found here and there, though just like the Christmas decorations once the festive season is over, they look a little sad somehow.

2. Like this Geranium sanguineum. Bloody Cranesbill, doesn’t it know what time of year it is?

3. The Lavender out the front also seems confused.

4. Rosa ‘Alec’s Red’ is still sporting the odd bloom.

5. As is Calendula ‘Snow Princess.’ She’s been flowering for months now and shows no sign of stopping.

6. Still, the Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ has finally shed its leaves, festooning a nearby fern with its faded foliage. About time too.

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. Right, I’m off to make a cheese, Pastinaca sativa and Salvia officinalis roulade. Wish me luck with the rolling of the roulade stage.

Six on Saturday (4 December 2021)

How did we get to December so soon? I feel far less prepared for the whole Christmas thing this year than last. There are cards to write, the artificial tree and decorations to retrieve from the loft and presents to shop for. On the plus side though, the garden is pretty much ready for the winter. Last Sunday the swing seat was covered up and the folding garden bench put away in the shed (much to the dismay of the sparrows that perch on it while they await their turn to use the nearby bird feeder). The lawn was aerated, the Banksia Rose chopped back, dug up and given away (a spur of the moment thing – trying to grow it against a 5 foot fence was pure folly) and the borders were mulched. Apart from a pack of tulip bulbs to pot up (when they arrive) and a rose or two to prune, that’s pretty much it gardening-wise for a few months. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. Thankfully, Storm Arwen left the garden unscathed. The only casualties were the brown crispified flowerheads of the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise,’ most of which are now scattered here and there in the borders.

2. Talking of brown and crispy things, the other month I adorned the garden arch with an allium seedhead. Despite the strong winds such adornage has remained intact, as have the flowers of Clematis ‘Freckles.’

3. Continuing with the brown and crispy theme, the seedheads of the Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ are just as lovely as the flowers when you get up close to them. The shrub will get chopped right back come the spring.

4. There’s still some proper colour to be found in the garden though. The green leaves of this Hydrangea ‘Miss Belgium’ have become tinged with red around the edges.

5. And the Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) is about to burst into flower, providing a succession of fragrant blooms over the coming months as well as pollen for the odd brave bee.

6. And finally… A Viola. Last year they didn’t do very well, many succumbing to some leaf spot disease or other. I’m hoping they fare better this winter.

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 (13 February 2021)

Around this time last year the first of my outdoor daffodils had opened. Not this year. As daytime temperatures struggled to rise above freezing most days last week, things have stalled a little in the garden. Crocuses and irises that were about to bloom have thought better of it, the Sweet Box and Winter Honeysuckle have been bee free, and the frogs and newts that had emerged from hibernation have abandoned the small frozen pond. I’ve quite enjoyed this cold spell, it is February after all, but I got rather anxious when temperatures were predicted to fall to -5 one night. And that leads me to my first first Six on Saturday…

1. While the new Bay tree has shrugged off the subzero temperatures so far, it’s only classed as being ‘generally hardy’ to -5. Late on Wednesday evening I donned my beamy (a woolly hat with a built in LED light) and braved the cold to wrap up the Bay with some horticultural fleece. In a rare moment of genius I placed an insulated foam pipe protector around the trunk. It doesn’t look pretty but it’ll do.

2. My small collection of gardening books is gradually growing. This was received as a birthday present earlier in the month. I’ve only had a quick flick-through so far but it contains tips (and a few recipes) from loads of gardeners, including some green-fingered celebs such as Dame Helen Mirren, Julian Clary and Joanna Lumley.

3. Remember the first lot of seeds that were sown the other week? Well, the Morning Glory ‘Royal Ensign’ have germinated. There’s no sign of the white Black-eyed Susan yet.

4. Up next; a Viola. Several trays of these winter resilient plants were plonked in pots last autumn. Their cheerful floral faces usually help brighten up the patio during the winter and spring, but alas not this year. Most appear to have succumbed to some black spot-like fungal disease or other. Thankfully, a few have survived.

5. Another book, a Christmas present this time. Back in the autumn I ‘attended’ a Zoom talk by Nick Bailey on how to achieve all year round colour in your garden. His book was ordered post-haste. He’s doing a talk on planting schemes on Thursday that should be interesting. Hopefully I’ve cracked Zoom and won’t experience the same panicky heck-I’m-going-to-be-late-oh-blast-I-am-late log on issues as last time.

6. And finally… Yes, it’s a new Hellebore. One of two that arrived earlier in the week. It’s an Ashwood Garden Hybrid ‘Single white blotched.’ I vowed they would be my last plant orders of the year but I’ve spotted a yellow Hellebore that I’m trying my best to ignore.

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 (9 January 2021)

One of the main things that Six on Saturday has taught me over the past few years is that even during the short cold days of Winter there’s always something going on in the garden. There may not be as many cor-look-at-that-stunning-flower photography moments, but when you start looking you always find some signs of life and reminders that the garden will be green once more and filled with floriferousness aplenty come the spring.

1. Some signs of life seem a little early though. These new unfurling leaves on the Hydrangea ‘Miss Belgium’ took me by surprise. It seems far too soon for such goings on and I’ve not chopped off her faded flowers from last year yet.

2. The Persian Slipper Lupin is also sporting new foliage. This variety tends to fare a bit better than other lupins when it comes to slugs, snails and aphids. It got relocated a few months ago when I was doing a bit of rearranging so it’s nice to see it has survived its move.

3. Now this one is more of a sign of signs of life; of the feathered variety. Over the past week the blackbirds have polished off most of the Pyracantha berries (with some assistance from a male blackcap). I guess they’ve been saving them for a cold spell. Only a few bunches remain, over by the mini greenhouse where they aren’t quite so easy to get at.

4. Next up, a photo of the frosted foliage of the Esceallonia hedge out the front. 20 years old and shared with the neighbour, it has been looking increasingly sorry for itself over the past few years. Sections have become brittle and bare of leaf in the summer and other Escallonia hedges on the estate appear to be suffering from the same problem. I tried cutting one plant right back to the ground last spring and a section of the stump sprouted some new growth, but not much. It was also sprayed every now and then with an organic black spot treatment and given a regular feed during the summer, but I’ve not noticed any obvious improvement. Our neighbour doesn’t seem too concerned but I wonder whether the whole lot will need digging up and replacing at some point. I hope not.

5. Since the Autumn the edge of the shed roof, just above the guttering, has been sporting an increasing number of green mossy clumps. I do like a bit of moss.

6. And finally… Daphne odora II is sporting flower buds. Hopefully it won’t be long until the fragrant flowers open and I can tiptoe across the border again, trying to avoid trampling on the emerging shoots of bulbs, to inhale their delicious scent and take another photo.

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.

Six on Saturday: frosty foliage (2 January 2021)

Before I had a garden I used to think January was a gloomy old month. Nowadays I feel a bit differently about it. Though there’s a while to go until spring arrives, there are early signs of hope as bulbs begin to poke up through the soil and the days gradually start to lengthen. There are winter flowering shrubs to appreciate, the antics of the birds to enjoy and beautiful frosty morns to marvel at. Talking of frosty morns…

1. Thursday and Friday dawned bright and sparkly, turning most of the evergreens into variegated versions of themselves. While the Daphne x transatlantica ‘Pink Fragrance’ hasn’t flowered anywhere near as prolifically as the white Eternal Fragrance, it’s starting to add some welcome structure to the border near the conservatory door.

2. The standard Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ is also helping to provide some evergreen winter interest in a nearby border. It looks like there’ll be flowers soon too.

3. For reasons unknown I don’t think I featured a flowering Verbena in 2020. Madness. Still, it looks just as lovely with its frosted seedheads.

4. Before the frost I was struggling to think of six gardeny things and feared I may finally have to resort to a Box Balls SoS. But you’ve been spared that fate. Here’s a close up of one instead.

5. Next up, the prettified foliage of the patio rose ‘Violet Cloud’.

6. And finally… a Rudbeckia. Yes, it’s still going and looks very much like it has been sprinkled with sugar in this photo.

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. All the very best for 2021 everyone. Stay safe.

Six on Saturday (22 December 2018)

Well the 21st December has been and gone. From here on in the nights will be getting shorter and the days longer. Hurrah! At the moment the garden is looking rather soggy but there are plenty of signs of life. Bulbs are beginning to poke through the ground and some of the winter flowering shrubs are doing their thing and err, flowering during the winter. And there’s still the sweet box and Daphne odora to look forward to yet.

The Christmas holidays have also begun. No more work until the 2nd January 2019. Eleven days to look out at the garden during daylight hours, watch the birds feeding, perhaps do a little planning for the spring, enjoy the odd mince pie and chocolate and, oh yes, enjoy time with family. Anyway, on to my first Six on Saturday…

1. The Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’ has a few flowers out at the moment. It seems to flower throughout much of the year and I wouldn’t be without it. I’m hoping ‘Pink Perfection’ does just as well. Time will tell.

2. The plants making up the little nursery over by the swing seat seem to be doing okay, with the possible exception of one of the three coronilla seedlings potted up in April which is looking a little ropey. I’m not entirely sure it’s going to make it through the winter. The nursery includes a few purchases that I never got around to planting as well as some cuttings, mystery plants/weeds and herbs.

3. Last week I featured a purple vinca/periwinkle. Now a white one has flowered. They’re a bit thuggish and I suspect some have escaped into the neighbour’s garden. Still, they provide all year round ground cover and a splash of colour in a shady part of the garden.

4. The sedum went over weeks ago but it’s still proving some nice structural interest in the garden (front and back). It’ll be chopped back in the spring.

5. The coronilla out the front has been in full flower for several weeks now and will hopefully go on flowering well into April and perhaps beyond. At the moment you have to get up close to the flowers to fully appreciate their scent, but come the spring, when it gets a bit warmer, the scent will become wafty, greeting you as you come up to the front door. I make no apologies that this will probably feature as a SoS quite a lot over the coming months.

6. And finally… remember the Graham Thomas rose hip from the 17 November?

Well, it’s deepening into a rather nice red. Looking out at the garden from an upstairs window I noticed a lot more of these hips on the neighbours’ side of the trellis. They’ve obviously been getting to enjoy the flowers too!

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. Merry Christmas.

Six on Saturday (1 December 2018)

Well, it’s the 1 December and the start of the meteorological winter. However, if you prefer to determine when your seasons begin and end based on the astronomical method, winter won’t arrive until the 21 December. I think I follow the meterological seasons. It seems to match the ebb and flow of the garden and nature more closely (although apparently that’s a whole other way of determining your seasons – the phenological method) plus spring gets here that much sooner. Why wait until the 20 March to celebrate the start of spring when you can celebrate it on the 1 March?

While some of the antirrhinums, scabious/scabiosa/scabiousesses (delete as appropriate) and a rose are still just about flowering, the garden definitely has more of a winter look about it now. The rain and gales over the past week have rendered most of the deciduous shrubs leafless, with the odd exception of the Philadelphus which is still looking quite green and leafy.

1. This photograph of the Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ was taken last Sunday when we had a rain free day. It’s turned a lovely colour. However, glancing out into the gloom a few mornings ago, it was looking a lot barer. Next year’s flower buds are developing nicely though.

2. In addition to the dwarf sweet box, which featured in a SoS a few weeks ago, we have a larger variety (Sarcococca confusa, I think). It’s rather messy looking and, as you can see here, tends to sucker.

Yet it’s a mass of flower buds that will hopefully soon open and release their sweet fragrance.

3. The Daphne odora appears to have coped okay with being moved a third time. Last year it took a while to recover from being repositioned and didn’t flower at all.

This time however we have flower buds! My mother-in-law has one of these and it fills her garden with heady scent early on in the year. After this one has flowered I’m going to give it a light pruning to see if it will encourage new growth further down the rather bare branches.

4. The leaves on the Cotoneaster horizontalis have begun to turn all autumnally and will soon fall.

5. On that rain free Sunday I planted the tulips that featured in last week’s SoS.

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One pot has the 15 bulbs planted in three layers. This was the first layer, with a bit of added grit. The ‘frost resistant’ pot has seen better days. The snow and ice we had last winter caused quite a bit of damage. I’ve planted the 7 Humilis Persian Pearl bulbs in another pot.

6. And finally… after I’d planted the tulips I topped the pots off with the newly purchased violas

And rather jolly they’ll look too over the coming months, their cheerful faces looking towards the house.

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 (24 November 2018)

“What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.” I’ve always taken heed of these wise words of the poet William Henry Davies. Every morning, before setting off for work, I take a moment to look out at the garden and watch the antics of the birds on the feeders. As a worrier this provides me with a moment of calm, a minute or two where I take a brief break from trying to anticipate what lies in store for the rest of the day. However, as winter fast approaches and the hours of daylight continue to dwindle, I’m aware that very soon I’ll only get to see the garden and its feathered visitors on Saturdays and Sundays and the odd day off. I’ll miss these early morning pre-work worry free moments but I’ll make the most of the calming and restorative power of garden gazing and pottering during the winter weekends.

1. Every spring I admire tulips in other people’s gardens and eye them rather enviously on Gardeners’ World when Monty or Carol wax lyrical about the beautiful varieties that are available. However, the last time I attempted to grow tulips (in a pot) they didn’t do very well and I’ve given them a miss ever since. Yet tulip bulb planting has featured a fair bit in other gardening blogs and tweets over the past couple of weeks and I began to wonder whether it was time to give them another go. Last Sunday I succumbed to the lure of the tulip and purchased a few packs during a visit to our local garden centre. I’ll be planting them later today or tomorrow, as soon as I’ve retrieved a few pots from behind the blue shed (never an easy task).

2. I think the Viola may be my favourite plant. Pansies are a bit too blowsy for me, but there’s something very endearing about violas.

They provide a welcome splash of cheerful colour during the winter, offer a bit of scent up close, and will go on flowering well into the spring.

With any luck they’ll do a bit of self-seeding and pop up elsewhere in the garden. And there’s a huge variety of colours to choose from.

3. Talking of cheerful colour and self-seeding. The Snapdragon growing in the crack between the house and the drive is flowering again.

And there are still a few flowering in the back garden too. I think these may run violas a close second.

4. Sea pinks (or thrift) remind me of holidays on the Isles of Scilly. This clump grows outside the front door and has started flowering again.

5. The Japanese anemone that I purchased last month is still in bloom. I still haven’t decided where to plant it yet. Maybe near the Daphne odora (which, rather surprisingly, appears to be doing okay after its move a month or so ago).

6. And finally… My wife and I went for a walk in Taunton’s Vivary park last Saturday to suss out a new cafe for my weekly Saturday coffee and cake fix (Americano, black, no sugar in case you’re interested and pretty much any cake really, though I am particularly partial to carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting).

After a nice coffee and generous slice of vegan chocolate and cherry cake we walked back through the park and discovered this lovely scented Viburnum:

Initially I identified it as Viburnum ‘somethingorotherus’. But yesterday evening, when I was scrolling through Twitter, I came across this tweet asking if anybody knew what this was…

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A knowledgable tweeter identified it as a Viburnum bodnantense. I reckon the one we saw in the park could be the same variety. What do you think?

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.