Saturday, 23 December 2017

The Night Before the Night Before

Spirit of the season.
At last, the penultimate Saturday of the year.

This past week, the chard lovers among you sent in all sorts of tempting recipes, broadening my ideas about what I can do with the stuff. To you, I'm most grateful.

Thinking chard thoughts made me realise my antipathy towards it was laced with guilt over not eating my greens.  Or purples.  Or reds, as the case may be.  So while I'll indeed be trying your yummy ideas, next year I'll allow myself to simply enjoy seeing colourful chard jostle the other inhabitants of the flowerbed.

Now, my Six on Saturday.  This week, I'm including some chores that refuse to be put to the side simply because there's eggnog in the house.  Gardening magic does not come to those who do no chores.

1.  First chore, replanting bulbs uprooted by young Brer Fox for the 2nd time.  There are 3 or 4 regular fox who visit our street every night.  I suspect Brer Fox is the young kit who jumps from wall to wall until he gets our resident Doodle's attention.  Once Doodle sounds the alarm, Brer Fox alternates between grooming himself & making delicious eye contact with her.  A most aggressive act in the canine community.

This bedlam, I can endure.  Digging up my bulbs, I cannot.  Hopefully the new defence system'll slow Brer Fox down.

Battling Brer Fox.

2.  Pruning of the rapacious elder has begun.  My chronic fatigue means this has to be done in many, many stages.  Although there's currently a pile of branches in the middle of the lawn, both the kerria & the lilac will now be able to grow vertically, even if I were to overdose on eggnogg this very night.  The acer (discussed here), not so much improved.  I'm fairly sure it'll stay the hunched & wizened hag of my garden.

The great elder cull begins.

3.  This orchid waited a long time for some attention.  A castaway from my son's undergraduate days, it's been a prolific bloomer until this new house.  That's one drawback of frequent moves - houseplants get very attached to their particular windowsills & pout when they lose them.  Here's hoping in a week or two m'lady'll be back to her gorgeous self.

Sulking orchid pair, mother & daughter.

4.  Then there's a previous chore.  Two hollyhocks'd somehow seeded themselves in the lawn.  Not at the edge, but about 18" inside the grass, brazenly taunting mower & dogs.  All summer, I told myself that once they reached their mature height in a year or two, they'd be too obvious to get themselves murdered.  In late November, I lost my nerve & transplanted them near their parents, fairly certain my cowardice would result in their death.

Newly transplanted hollyhocks.

They not only survived that abuse, but met their first frost with courage . . .

First frost!

. . . braved the snow that followed, & scoffed at this week's hard frost.

And a hard frost.

Enough of chores.  Let's end with a pair of lovelies.

5.  Yonks ago, I lived in a 17th century rectory, the type of house that sucks all the moisture from the ground.  Our landlady (who knew ALL the Latin plant names, which impressed this rough holler dweller to no end) filled the surrounding flowerbeds with drought resistant plants.

And thus, I met curry plant.  Helichrysum italicum, to the rest of you.  It propagates easily, so I took a bit of it with me on every subsequent move, but the curry in my last house died for some reason.  So this is my very own, not stolen/not relocated/not cut-&-dragged-from-house-to-house curry plant.

This beauty sits near the back door, giving off its gorgeously savoury smell.  I love it to bits.

Helichrysum italicum - curry plant.

6.  I've admitted my rapture over creeping thyme before.  It smells great, covers a multitude of sins, looks wonderful 3 seasons out of the year.  Here it is in its Cinderella finery after the frost.

Frosted creeping thyme.

Winter largesse.

Once again, we're at the end of my Six on Saturday.  Be sure to visit The Propagator for not only his Six, but links to other gardeners rounding up a special half dozen for you.

Enjoy your holiday celebrations, whatever they may be!


  1. The hard frost looks beautiful on those leaves!

  2. Great frosty photos! We have an intruder who has dug up a few tulip bulbs too. I don't know if its a fox, cat, squirrel or something else but it's very annoying! Amazing how the scent from the helichrysum just appears in your nostrils. Mine is a few feet from the front gate and sometimes isn't noticeable but then comes as a surprise when I smell it even though I was the one that planted it there!

  3. My fox deterent of upright sticks seems to've discouraged it. For my flowerbeds, I often use circular plant supports to steer the dogs onto the path, so that might work as well in a larger area. Your helichrysum description sounds like there's some magic at work, which isn't surprising in a garden.