Saturday, 14 December 2019

Scraping Bottom

Six On Saturday is a weekly garden diary hosted by The Propagator.  For links from gardens all over the globe, check out his comments section & the Twitter hashtag, #SixOnSaturday.

Cleaning the bird feeder.

This week's SoS is scraping the barrel bottom for news.

There's plenty to do in the garden these days, but sharing it's nearly the equivalent of talking about emptying the dish washer.

The most interesting part of my week concerns the bird feeder, so let's start there.

1.  The big scary acorn feeder.

Last week, a woodpecker thoroughly inspected one of the trees outside my bedroom window, which inspired me to get a peanut feeder - an act accomplished before pricing peanuts.  I didn't know some peanuts aren't safe for wildlife, but safe ones cost.

I'm happy to facilitate woodpecker survival, but not until after Christmas.  Now I have an acorn feeder stuffed with suet balls cut in half.

The birds were terrified of it.

Day 1, no visitors to any part of the feeding station.  No birds waiting on the fence or neighbour's gable.  Day 2, I scattered seed on the ground & called to the pigeons who stoically remained on the gable.  Sparrows who usually filled every hole on the fence lattice, now complained loudly from 2 gardens over.  Day 3, dive bombing of the feeding station commenced amongst all birds, with intermittent ground feeding.  A brave pair of  robins did a dash & run at the basket furthest from the Scary Acorn.  Day 4, the usual feeding frenzy inexplicably resumed.

Day 5 & there doesn't appear to be any sampling of suet yet, though.

2.  Still planting.

The winter aconite & Russian snowdrop bulbs arrived.  They're now in pots where they'll hopefully multiple enough to be shared with the flowerbeds next year.

These are from Farmer Gracy who uses all recyclable packaging.  So the very last bulbs for this winter.  Promise.  Not sure the same can be said about bare root plants, though.

Astilbe Look At Me, actually ordered in August, delivered & planted this week.

3.  Playing the musical pots game.

It's that time of year where things are checked to see if they need new pots, then their old pots are passed on to whatever is ready to go up a size.

Here we have some of the players in their new pots - a skinny acer with a dead pear tree support, the spider fatsia & a coupla young hydrangea.

4.  Pulmonaria?

I don't tidy the garden much in autumn/winter, letting wildlife hide & feed where they may.  The dying plants often reveal some volunteer or other.  This spotted fella below, however, must've been here when we move in last February, living amongst the golden rod & only now making itself known.

  Pulmonaria, do you think?

5.  (nee) Sedum.

The sedum came with us when we moved here, so not a surprise, but a friend returned.

If you look closely, most of the rosettes are little natural cups with water droplets in them.

6.  Naked owl.

During summer, this owl sits up to its eyes within the akebia quinata.

The time of year has come when he struts his stuff.

Partial return of the sparrows.

That's my Six for the week.

So glad you stopped by.

See you next time!

Friday, 6 December 2019


Six on Saturday is a weekly garden diary hosted by Mr Propagator.  For links from gardeners all over the globe, check out Mr P's comment section & the Twitter hashtag, #SixOnSaturday.

Doodle Pool plants.

It's been a week of surprises in the garden - yes, can you believe it?  Garden surprises in the middle of winter.

Some were merely disappointing.  Some were rather ugly.  And some were most welcomed.

So let's do this thang, starting with Disappointment.

1.  Saffon.

Two winters ago, I planted 30 saffron bulbs in October & by November, had 30 blossoms to harvest from.  Last year, the bulbs multiplied well, but only 3 - 4 of them bloomed.  And now there's this year.

As you can see, there are a few more than 30.  But nary a bloom.  Some research is in order.

2.  Paper whites.

Last year's Paper White narcissi were absolutely delightful in bloom & smell.

I replanted them several weeks ago, & this is how they repay me.  Mega bummer.

Now, from the Disappointing to the Ugly.

3.  Nettles.

When we moved here in February, a single nettle grew just behind where we put the Doodle Pool.  Since nettles're supposed to add goodies to the compost, I let it stay.

And here we have my nettle crop with the trowel on top for scale.  All this from one tiny plant.  Not pretty but hopefully nutritious.

4.  Speaking of compost . . . 

The last few months, I've neglected harvesting the hot bin because there was so much tomato plant compost to recycle.  This time of year, about the only thing that goes into the bin are coffee grounds & kitchen waste (plus the occasional nettle crop), so it gave me a bit of a surprise when the lid wouldn't close.

The bottom hatch opened up on some seriously compacted compost.  The photo below was taken after it'd been hacked at by various sharp garden tools - a delicate process in itself as the bin is made of thick styrofoam.

Lesson learned.  Do not ignore the hot bin.

Let's end on the Most Welcomed.

5.  Strawberries.

A few weeks ago, some SoSers were raving about a strawberry called Summer Breeze Rose.  Their praise didn't tempt me because, although I like strawberries, I don't like them enough to make space for them.

And then Summer Breeze went on sale.  An SoS recommendation being on sale.  I didn't stand a chance.

When they arrived, one of them was in bloom with more buds, which made me think they'd been in a tunnel or glass house somewhere.  I potted them up & put them in the potting shed where no pollinators'll be visiting, but at least I'll see the buds open.

Don't they look like hirsute hula dancers?

6.  Romanesco.

The romanesco was meant to be one of my Disappointments, but when I pulled back the leaves, look what I found.

That's the knuckle of my index finger in the left side of the photo, so you can how teeny it is.  Will there be romanesco for Christmas, do you suppose?

Brass buttons, frosted.

And those are my surprises for this week.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by.

See you next time!

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Tail End of November

Six on Saturday is a weekly garden diary hosted by The Propagator, & contributed to by folk all over the world.  For links to more SoS posts, check Mr P's comment section & the Twitter hashtag #SixOnSaturday.


Thanksgiving's behind us & Advent hasn't yet started, but there's always Six on Saturday to bring joy to the week.

We've got foliage.  We've got late blooms.  We've even got something about being untidy.  And then there's a new arrival!!!!!

So let's do this thang.

1.  Black Swan update.

In last week's post, the Black Swan's leaves were turning yellow/green & outlined with frost.  Quite a change from summer's dark purple foliage which presumably gives it its name.  This week, the leaves're copper with lightly purple veins.  This is one beautiful tree in all seasons.

The tree itself has been confirmed as a weeping copper beech.

2.  Smoke bush.

The smoke bush didn't flower this year.

But it's making up for that now.

3.  Expanding the not-so-shady border.

Last week, a few SoSers discussed making compost, most specifically tidy looking compost.  I figured I can't be the only person who doesn't have the health or <insert resource> to create fastidious gardens, so thought I'd share how  a few months of untidiness helps me get creative in the garden.

I mapped out the area using our ubiquitous wool sheets straight onto the lawn.  The original border ends about 12" in front of the hellebores (top of photo) & in front of them, the wool sheets are still visible.  On top of the sheets, I dumped fresh garden waste (the middle section of the bed), using anything that isn't prone to resurrection, including smashed bits of the white Halloween pumpkins. 

Once the garden waste looked properly dead, I then piled recycled compost on top of it (bottom of the photo).  I planted that section up as I went, but can take my time composting the rest, as it won't be planted until spring.

It actually looks worse in real life than the photo suggests.  Based on experience, though, the expansion'll look like it's always been there by next summer.  Might even be tidy!  😉

4.  Honeysuckle.

This honeysuckle grows up the wall behind the Japanese anemone, & is still small enough to be protected.

On the BigNose Walk, we see mature honeysuckle toppling over walls & unprotected yet still in bloom.  Guess the abundance of brick in this neighbourhood is well suited to giving honeysuckle a long season.

5.  Salvia Amistad.

One of the s. Amistad cuttings, all of maybe 4" tall, has produced buds.

It's doing really well or getting ready to die.  Either way, I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a bigger pot.

I then put it in the newly bubblewrapped potting shed, hoping to slow down the growth until spring.

6.  Invincible Pear.

The pear tree is here!  According to both dogs, the packaging smells terrific.  The tree's called Invincible because it blooms twice in spring, which gives you insurance against late frost.  I love a pear tree in bloom, so this is double the pear blossom joy.

The nursery is Chris Bowers & Sons.  You can see the good smelling packaging is also mostly environmentally friendly.  The bare root was contained in a heavy plastic bag.

And here it is in its new home, the wisteria's old pot.

I can't wait to see both Invincible & my other pear, Louis Bonne, blooming next year!

Single flower.

That's my Six for the week.

Thanks for stopping by.  See you next time!

Saturday, 23 November 2019

A Cold Week

Six on Saturday is a weekly garden blog hosted by The Propagator & contributed to by gardeners all over the world.  Links to SoS posts can be found in Mr Prop's comment section & by following the Twitter hashtag, #SixOnSaturday.

Frosted creeping thyme.

We had our first hard frost this week, forming ice on the Doodle Pool.

I learned that 8C in the sun is brisk gardening weather while an overcast 7C is the 9th circle of Hell.

Nevertheless, we persisted.

1.  Final tulip bulbs.

Last week, I promised myself to rid the planters of those still-blooming begonias, come guilt or high water.  The frost damage made it so much simpler to cast them aside - the last 45 tulips got themselves planted.

So many SoSers featured their cyclamen last Saturday, I've left space in the planters for cyclamen plants that hopefully are winging their way to my door even as we speak.

2.  Black Swan, white outline.

The frost outlined all the leaves on my weeping Black Swan.

This tree was a present from so many years back, I don't remember for what.  I thought it was a hazel, but when I Google 'weeping Black Swan', (its name, which I do remember), it comes up as a beech.

To me, the leaves look more hazel than beech, but I'm happy to be corrected.

3.  Tithonia optimism.

There are always some plants that magically escape the frost, but the supple tithonia buds surprised me.  Not only are they in the middle of the lawn, away from shelter, but the rest of the plant looks dead.

Maybe the petals are just preserved by the cold.  Or maybe since they're planted with the castors, the tall guys gave them a bit of protection.

4.  Castor seeds.

As to the castors themselves, I wasn't sure how easily they could kill me, so dead headed them earlier in the summer.  The briefest of research soon proved it wasn't easy at all, but the damage had been done - only a handful of seed pods were produced.

I also learned (via direct experience, rather than research) that a small amount of pressure in the middle of the 3 connected pods causes a seed explosion!  For those with delicate fingertips, the spiky bits break off with a gentle side pressure.

5.  Indoor endeavours.

In early summer, one of our neighbours left some small jade plants at the end of her walk with a note asking folk to take them home.  My son adopted one for his office.  I'd never grown jade before, but the internet told me they didn't need much soil, so I put it into an old bonsai pot.

It's got tons of new growth since then, but recently it's been not quite its usual crisp self.  I moved it to a warmer room which seemed to help, but it still didn't look great.  I decided to re-pot it . . .

. . . in this hand thrown pot where my son's magpie is buried.  The pot's previous tenant, a viola, had a really bad summer living in it.  After several fruitless remedies & various comments from other SoSers, I decided the viola had outgrown the pot. 

So now both the viola & the jade have new homes, plus this lovely pot is on display inside the house, & the late great magpie takes his eternal rest in my son's office.

The same morning of the re-potting, I found an auricula that some crittur'd uprooted, so it got put into the bonsai pot with hopes it'll recover.

6.  They're up!

Some things haven't minded the recent cold.

I don't remember what these are, though I think they might be shade tolerant allium.  We shall see in due time.

Frosted castor.

Temps are supposed to go up this weekend & into next week, so I hope to get things ready for a new pear tree that's coming to live with us.

It's also the US Thanksgiving.  You can bet these resident aliens'll be cooking & eating & eating some more.

As ever, thanks so much for stopping by.  See you next time.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

More Chores

Six On Saturday is a weekly garden diary hosted by The Propagator & contributed to by gardeners all over the world.  Check out Mr Prop's comment section & the Twitter hashtag #SixOnSaturday for everybody's links.

Over the last few years, my ME symptoms tended to get worse as the days shortened.

This year, that's happening again, but to a lesser degree, which has me thrilled.

Thrilled to do chores?  You can bet your Aunt Lizzie's 3 legged hog on it.

Here's a few thrilling things that got done in the garden this week.

1.  Breakfast club.

I've spent half a century or more starting my day by feeding animals.  However, these morning silhouettes waiting on the neighbour's gable for me to give them brekky?  That's new.

When the sky's grey & wet, they look positively creepy.

2.  Wisteria.

The not-so-shady bed's been empty since the great plant rescue of Summer, 2019.  That's because the wisteria needed repotted, so better to keep the space in front of it empty than risk plants getting trampled.

Well, the new pot happened this week.

While the Possessors Of Brute Strength in my household willingly help outside, tasks involving live plants require the Great Triumvirate - Brute Strength's availability, good weather, & my energy level to be up.

In this instance, that didn't work out, so it took me 5 days to repot the wisteria on my own.  I don't regret a moment of it - just look how the turning foliage of the Japanese anemone loves that new pot.

Hopefully next week there'll be some plants in the not-so-shady bed to show you.

3.  Bulbs.

There's been planting in other parts of the garden though.  I started the week with 120 tulips bulbs & some leftover daffs that'd previously lived in the tree pots.

By the end of the week, there were 45 tulips left to plant, & that's because of the . . .

4.  Begonias.

They're wind & rain battered, but they simply won't stop blooming.  These were a free gift with an order a few years ago.  While most are o so gorgeous doubles . . .

. . . this single is pink on the back & yellow on the front.

Despite how much they delight me, they take up the planters where the 45 tulips need to live.  Next week, the begonias have to go.  Definitely.  Shoo!

5.  Hydropod clean up.

My first year using this, & 19 little plants have taken root, which is probably more than in my entire gardening career combined.  Of course, how many survive the winter is another question altogether.

But the hydropod's been cleaned & stored until next year's adventures.

6.  Bubblewrapping the shed.

This is my 2nd winter with this shed, but the first that I've used it for live plants - the hydropod success has taken over my indoor sills & ledges.  The wisteria pot came with tons of bubblewrap, so inevitably . . .

I found a YouTube video showing how to hang it like a curtain, rather than attaching it to the window - a real labour saver.  However, no one mentioned this should be done BEFORE the plants were inside.  You can see how big Choco Mint pellie has grown, so yes, it got interesting, especially with little plastic bowls of seeds drying everywhere.

And that's all from me this week.

There's a few dry days in our future, so hopefully the last of the last of the last'll get done by next Saturday.  (That means you, begonias.)

As always, thanks for stopping by.

See you next time!

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Clean Up

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator.  For links to weekly garden diaries from around the globe, check out his comment section & the Twitter hashtag, #SixOnSaturday

Annual washing of the Halloween dead fingers.

It's the type of autumn where things are unexpectedly blooming, seeds & berries are being raided by wildlife.  The wildlife in turn sometimes escapes the cold by coming inside the house.

Time in the garden is spent tidying borders, packing things away.

And of course, there's the little discoveries.

1.  Carrots.

In the spring, I'd sprinkled last year's carrot seeds around the tomato plants.  In 7 of the 8 planters, the carrots were smaller'n an electrical cord.

And then there was planter #8.

2.  Pellie neglect.

Last week, the carving of the pumpkins made room in the potting shed for the pellies.  The chocolate mint pellie'd grown so large, the inside pots needed shuttled a bit for it to fit.  Something or other interrupted this process & Choco Mint stayed out all night.

Apparently his way of complaining about my oversight is to turn red around the edges.  Rather beautiful, but warning enough for me - he's now inside, all safe & snug.

3.  Corn seed.

The garden's corn stalks usually end their lives as Halloween decorations.  You may remember we had an abysmal corn experience this year with young plants dying & the few survivors producing tassels but not silk.  None of the dried stalks were worth putting on display.

There were, however, 2 tiny cobs which are now drying on the rake as next year's seed.

4.  Fennel flower.

The self seeded fennel in the fire pit cum flower bed has produced buds.

I'm wondering why I didn't transplant it when it first came up.  Maybe next year, if I'm careful . . . or maybe not.

5.  Mahonia?

I found these 2 little guys when cleaning out the corn & pumpkin patch.

If they're mahonia, I'm not a big fan, but they might convert me.

6.  Acer love.

Some nursery or the other (Thompson & Morgan, maybe?) had 2 acers for £5.

They're both so young that their trunks are about the size of my carrots from planters 1 through 7.  But o what a punch that colour packs.

Not even close to being the last rose.

That's my Six for the week.

The drop in temps makes being outside less attractive, but there's still tulips to be planted then more tulips to be planted, then after that, tulips . . . to be planted.

So maybe, just maybe, see you next time.