Saturday, 15 February 2020

Stormy Weather

Six on Saturday is a weekly diary hosted by The Propagator & contributed to by gardeners all over the world.  For links to other SoS blogs, check out Mr P's comments & the Twitter hashtag, #SixOnSaturday.


Another weekend of high winds, yet the plants make it seem like we've turned the corner toward Spring.

1.  Post Ciara.

Ciara's winds got up to 70+mph, but we luckily had little damage.  The shed's already loose tar paper flew to Kansas, while some of the climber supports were left a bit whopperjawed.

This planter surprised me, as I thought it was too heavy to topple - it's an old kitchen composter.

While it stayed upright, it did, however, dance around, chipping the paint off the pallet.

2.  Allium.

Last year, the allium I brought with us gave a poor showing, so good excuse to buy new bulbs.

Based on where these are planted, I suspect they're the bog standard purple-blue globe on a stick.  There are other more varied ones in other parts of the garden.

3.  Cuckoo in the nest.

I noticed this coming up in the pot that was supposed to have daffs & tulips.

That looks like a hyacinth, to me.  If so, what got featured last week (below photo) as growing in the very spot the hyacinth were planted?

I used to be quite good at labelling my bulbs.  Obviously that doesn't hold true anymore.

4.  Wild plum buds.

This little darlin tickles me pink.

I bought this years ago in a village plant sale.  Although it was marked as a wild cherry, Jim identified it as a plum.  It's young yet & only produces a handful of fruit which go to the birds.  When it blooms, it becomes a thing of glory.

5.  Choco mint pellie.

I got 3 fancy pellies last year, 2 of which bloomed their hearts out.  The third, this choco mint, was forgiven for not blooming, as it has wonderful foliage with a nice scent.  It was too beautiful to chop back for winter & has spent these cold, wet months in the potting shed.

Now it has buds, spurred on, no doubt, by the strawberries behind it that haven't stopped blooming since November.

6.  Sweet peas.

After seeing Mr P's peas last week, I broke open my own packets.

In a week, they're already too tall for the propagator lid to stay on.

Winter aconite in the trough & crocus in the grass.

Time now to wait for Storm Dennis to pass.

Thanks for stopping by.  See you next time.

Saturday, 8 February 2020


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

Monk DoodleFace dressed for the weather.

It's not only snowdrops & hellebores that come alive in cold weather.

Temps've been in single digits all week, but I've been going like GangBusters (in my usual 10 minute increments).

Take a look at what I've been up to.

1.  Visited by Night Demons.

The tar paper came off the shed during a calm night.  Evidence of supernatural forces at work. 

Our attempts to fix this revealed our ladder too short & the garden wall in the wrong place.  Unfortunately, I'm too old to leap tall buildings anymore.  The tar paper's currently being held in place with several bricks until someone more agile can reattach or replace it.

2.  A problem I can solve.

My pots of aconite & Russian snowdrops didn't come up, possibly because it's been too wet.  The replacements were bought in the green, but are still a little wobbly.

I also got single snowdrops in the green at the same time, which look just fine.

The snowdrop bulbs that I planted last autumn look fine, too, but aren't as far along.

3.  Edging.

After putting in the green snowdrops, I decided to edge the beds.

Unfortunately, the ground's so wet, it was like edging taffy.  There's now 2' of ratty looking ditch right near the front door, & there it'll stay until things dry up a bit.

4.  Crocus surprise.

I planted crocus in the lawn last autumn.  Every time we come home from the BigNose Walk, I check out the grass, get disappointed.  The bulbs must've gone the same way of the aconite & Russian snowdrops, thinks me.

After one such walk & a there's-no-crocus check, I was upstairs when MlleDoodleFace sounded the alarm.  I opened the window to see if the bird seed guy was at the front door.  He wasn't, but seeing the lawn from above, there they were, dozens of little neon flowers.

Not sure what DoodleFace was upset about or how I missed these on my daily check.  There are cream ones, too, but they get washed out in the photos.

5.  Flower boxes.

These boxes were planted with daffs & tulips last autumn; the time'd come for them to be mounted.  The brackets exhausted my DIY skills, the boxes aren't quite straight nor evenly spaced.  There's still quite a gap between them & the goldenrod below, which hopefully trailers'll close later this summer.

Even so, I'm embarrassingly proud of myself, being able to lift a full flower box over my head, slip it into place.  Granted, I could only do one a day, but considering that 4 short years ago, I was bed ridden, I am officially amazing.

6.  Seeds!

And when I wasn't being amazing, I sorted seeds.

Some of which came from kind & generous SoSers in places far away.

Enjoy these violets, cuz that's all she wrote.  For this week, at least.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 1 February 2020

February, Thank Goodness You're Here

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

Our calendar says January's a month of incubation, not action, which is why resolutions seldom last.

I incubate quiet anxiety - over plants unseasonably budding & blooming.  Over dogs that've had Doodle crashing-through-the-woods injuries & BigNose old dog health concerns.  Over how the Home Office will process our paperwork.

Calming anxiety's my January work.

For today, that means thinking about 6 of my favourite things.

1.  Fatty japonica, Spidy Guy. 

This little guy came to live in a seating area  2 gardens ago.  He died back completely during the Beast from the East, then resurrected to tutor me on how much sun he needed in order to create the lovely spider web on his leaves.  This year, he got a shocking pink pot to show off his foliage.

Some SoSers don't like spider fatsia, but he suits me just fine.

2.  Shed blooms.

The strawberries (on left) have been in bloom since they arrived last November; I've not the heart to put them outside in the cold.  If that keeps them from producing this year, those blooms are quite the compensation.

The saxifrage have now joined them.  The saxifrage usually start a pinky red that fades to white, so not sure why they're starting as white.  Something to do with sunlight at this time of year, perhaps?

3.  Beating the Romanesco drum again.

Any plant that I can eat gives me a special joy.  This one has the bonus of being weird looking.

Of the original 21 plants, 17 lived, producing 11 heads so far.  Not a great ratio, but the other 6 aren't fully mature, yet, so I'm not sure if that number'll increase.

One of the non-head-producers has given us a purple leaf, though.

4.  Hyacinth Bucket.

Last year, I received a heart shaped bucket of forced hyacinths.  Come autumn, I planted them in the re-purposed linen baskets with the More Fool You If You Think We're Going To Bloom saffron crocus.

I'd given up hope, undoubtedly because of everyone's forced hyacinth, then this little guy made himself known.

6.  Oregano amethyst falls.

New to me last year, I'm loving this oregano in all phases.  At the moment, the textured leaves give great pleasure.

This photo doesn't so much show that texture, as make the leaves look spotted.  That's actually light catching on moisture from the morning mist.  Trust me, these leaves deserve being in the top 6.

Hibernation over incubation.

Undoubtedly, some of you are shocked & horrified that the Crooked Cherry didn't appear this week, but that's only because she's still sleeping.  Rest assured, she's my favourite of all favs, Romanesco not withstanding.

Well, I certainly feel better for spending time with my beauties, but even so, I spit on January, tff, tff.  Roll on February.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Look forward to seeing you next time.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

New, But Not Really New Stuff

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

Neighbour's viburnum. 

The sun's led us astray this week, plants & myself equally.  Temps've stayed mostly in single digits, yet there're buds & bulb tips everywhere.

The old has returned as new.

And me?  I just can't convince myself to wait for warmer weather.

January is the month of folly, it seems.

1.  Neighbour's shrubs.

Below, my neighbour's shrubs before my October pruning, new growth since my spring trim rather evident.   I cut back what could be reached from my side, sparing the viburnum (middle blob) because it was in bud/bloom.

I'd thought the neighbour's landlord didn't bother with his shrubs, as there'd been no activity in that department in the 12 months we've been here.  This week, he sent someone to do their side.

The viburnum still blooms, but they didn't take that into consideration.

2.  Proof of sun.

It's startling, the difference a bit of sun makes in taking a photo.  For my eyes, it washes out colour.  But o, how pretty those shadows are.

I think this is my hesperantha.

3.  Nigella.

A few weeks ago, my nigella sent shock waves through the SoS community by being . . . dare I say => in bud.  This week, with a beautifully cast shadow, we see that bud opening.

And not just one bud.  It's mass nigella hysteria.  They budded early last year, too, but didn't flower until the rest of the nigella world woke up.

Odd, that there's little colour to them.  I believe their ancestors were pink.

4.  Tip of the tongue, The Bride.

The sun's caused the hesperantha to play groundhog & the nigella to open.  Me, I kept saying it was too cold to plant things out, yet plant things out, I did.

Two shrubs mysteriously appeared in my garden a coupla summers ago, already potted, identity unknown.  They get featured in an SoS post every year when white blooms form all over them.  No SoSer's ever identified them, although someone (probably Jim) said the name was on the tip of their tongue.  I call them The Brides, because all shrubs covered in white blooms are called the Bride.  At least in the West, they are.

One of them got planted last autumn, but I couldn't decide where to put the other until the sun came out this week.

Bride the 2nd seems to've survived being dumped out of its pot, into the cold, cold ground.  There are leaf buds all over both brides, too tiny for my photographic skills to capture.  So we shall have our annual SoS Guess The Bride's Name later in the year.  Tip of the Tongue.

5.  Cyclamen growth.

These new cyclamen gave a poor showing of bloom at the end of last year, though the foliage made up for it.

This is the first time ever that I noticed how red their new growth is.  Not sure if this is specific to this type or if cyclamen in general have red new growth. The other thing I wonder, since the leaves are to the side, is this a baby cyclamen 'hatching' off the main plant?

6.  Rhododendron Scarlet Wonder.

Just last week, I had a discussion with a fellow SoSer about how she got her rhododendron to bloom, as mine never had.  Her advice dealing with soil & food was consistent with my own regime.  Subsequent research told me that certain rhodes don't bloom for a few years.

I promised myself to dig out its name & do research on its blooming habits.

Before I got round to it, I noticed this little guy at the back of the shrub.  Success.  And now I totally don't care if Scarlet Wonder is a late bloomer or not.

The peonies are coming!

That's my Six for this week.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Hope to see you next time.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Stormy Weather

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

A little damp after Mr BigNose's walk.
Storm Brendan sent the patio sofa into the calendula, which took it quite well.  The garden walls protected most everything else, letting plants get on with their wintering.

The winter garden's so different to itself in other seasons, making it endlessly interesting now, sometimes surprising.

My family don weak smiles at my too-many tales of old friends showing new growth & long lost bulbs suddenly appeared.  (There was, however, real joy amongst the cooks that the garlic was up.)

So, much as I like them, 6 things this week that aren't bulbs or new growth.

1.  Rose, Tough as Nails.

I haven't a clue what this rose is really called, as it & 4 others were here when we moved in.

They border the front lawn, which is where our neighbour's recycling ended up, courtesy the 50+ mph winds sending their bins AOT.  It boggles the mind that, after Brendan, these gals look so fine.

2.  Romanesco, again.

I decided to harvest one of the heads prior to Storm Brendan, just in case.  (The others weren't damaged.)

I'm not a cook - store bought tortellini is a culinary challenge for me - but I didn't want to wait for the cooks' return to try the romanesco.

A web search directed me to Nigella's recipe for serving it with a rosemary & garlic oil.

Certainly tarted up that tortellini.

3.  Glad tidings.

Speaking of the romanesco, the row of glads growing amongst them've only just now died back.

This is the first time they've survived into the New Year, & I'd put it down to the romanesco protecting them.  However, these glads below are at the edge of the raised bed, so less protected by big ole brassica leaves.

And equally less dead.

4.  Clematis Winter Beauty.

This got planted at the end of summer, & it's grown about chest high (on me).  I love the foliage.

There are minuscule buds on it, so hopefully there'll be clematis blooms in my future.

5.  Critical evidence.

A motion outside the kitchen window made me witness to a medium sized, dull coloured bird lifting off the ground.  It looked too slender to be a pigeon, which isn't much in the way of identification, especially since I didn't see its head.

Oddly, there wasn't another bird to be seen in the back garden.  I opened the door to absolute bird silence.  Sparrow hawk, thinks me.

Later, when cleaning up the neighbour's recycling from my front lawn, I found several of these in the grass.

While checking for debris out back, I saw this on the public footpath.  If you can't tell, those are the small body feathers of some bird or other, possibly of a very white complexion.

Most of our pigeon visitors are storm-cloud grey & the 2 white ones are still very much alive, not to mention ravenous.  If there were a murder victim, which seems likely, it's not one of our crew.

6.  Witches in red.

First up, what was sold to me as witch hazel Jelena.  She's very red, as a few Jelena seem to be in image searches.  However, the Jelenas in other SoS posts are more orange, so I'm not sure she was labelled correctly when she came to me.

I do like her quite well.  When she's in leaf, she nicely hides my pot store.

Here below is her cousin, loropetalum, whom I prefer calling lorapetalum.  After being brought to task for doing so, I only use that better name in private.

You get your money's worth with loro - she tends to bloom twice a year, spring & autumn, plus her foliage is beautiful.  This is her first spring flower to open.  If she's true to her nature, there'll be many more.

Quite a difference in the depth of red between the 2 witches.

Wind-drunk obelisk.

That's all for this week.  Now that Brendan has gone home, it might be a good day for moving the hemerocallis.  But I shan't be too hasty deciding.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Look forward to seeing you next time.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

The Importance of Being Ruthless

A big thanks to The Propagator for hosting this weekly diary.  For links from gardeners all over the world, check out Mr P's comment section & the Twitter hashtag, #SixOnSaturday.

Several years ago, my then landlady discovered me rescuing holly seedlings from the rose garden.

She had no qualms admonishing me,

Lora, if you garden, you must be ruthless.

To this day, I've not learned the importance of being ruthless.

Here are six examples.

1.  Alocasia Polly.

Polly has 2 leaves dying at the moment - the yellow in front & that bit of orange in the back.

I find the contrast in colours so pleasing, I've not the heart to cut the leaves off yet.

2.  Mahonia japonica update.

These 2 little guys were featured here last autumn after being found in the pumpkin/corn patch.  I kept them, even though I don't particularly like mahonia & the one on the right looks awful.  It might even be dead.

As I may've said then, I couldn't imagine where they came from, as none of my neighbours have mahonia.  Then this morning, I saw something familiar a mere 10 yards from our front door in a communal green space.

I think I've mentioned before that I'm not overly visual.

3.  Spinach.

When planting bulbs in the front garden this past autumn, I topped up the beds with recycled compost, mostly from pots where the original occupants had died back.  The spinach seemed pretty close to death but when I dumped the pot, they clung to each other.

Thinking they'd soon die of frost, I uprighted them & patted them in.  Three winter months later, here they still are, the bulbs growing up between them.

4.  Basil.

Other folk've said it's difficult to keep a basil plant through winter.  To be sure, I've never had one retain full health.  This bedraggled specimen's been retired from cooking duty but stays on the windowsill.  During its morning rotation, it gives me a good whiff of itself.

Latterly, there seems to be an undercurrent of cat urine to it, which certainly can't be attributed to our Mizzy BunnyButt.  I read in Bannerman's Scent Magic that a plant's odour changes as they age, going from sweet or savoury to faecal or rotting in order to attract a different type of pollinator, such as flies.  I suppose that's what's happening here.

5.  Valerian.

Only last spring, I discovered a volunteer valerian had wrapped itself around the roots of my favourite Crooked Cherry, nearly killing the tree.  You'd think my heart would've hardened toward the valerian, but no.  I moved it from the pot to the border.

This summer, another valerian (pictured above) self seeded in my akebia pot.  A ruthless person would've plucked it at first sight, or missing that chance, dumped this mature plant into the compost.  I am not yet a ruthless gardener.  This week it got moved to the blackberry row, in hopes it'll do no harm there.

6.  Grape hyacinth's neighbours.

When we moved in last year, there was an apparently empty pot in one of the borders which got unceremoniously dumped into the new beds.  Grape hyacinth appeared in the spot, & was well received.  When it died back, it was forgotten, so not separated last autumn, as you can see.

Its neighbours could use some ruthlessness.  To the left, honesty, which I loathe for its ugly foliage & flower, made worse by its propensity to take over any space.  To the right, purple toadflax, which I quite like, but which is equally invasive.

I'm thinking they might get transplanted into one of the many communal green spaces around here.

That's it for this week.  So glad you stopped by.  Hope to see you next time.