Saturday, 30 December 2017


Drenched acer.

The week's been

then snow
then rain
more rain
& even more rain.

Hailing from the mountains myself, I'd rather it rain than snow.

I need to check the prisoners in the basement.

My gardening companion, Mizzy BunnyButt doesn't agree.  She cries at the door & once open, refuses to go out, then stomps off in disgust as if the rain's my fault.  A few minutes later, she's back, rinse & repeat.

Lately, she's taken to wailing at cellar door.  Next best thing to prowling a waterlogged garden, I guess.

Enough with feline woes.  With Mizzy BunnyButt safely dry in the cellar, out I go into the wet, doing my best not to slip slide across lawn as I bring you my Six on Saturday.

1.  Right by the back door, there's a single rose bud battered by the holly next to it.  This rose was here when I moved in, so name unknown, but it's scented, with a lovely strong pink colour.

As to the holly, I suspect it's a self seed number, considering its proximity to the rose & location in front of the window.  I haven't decided how best to prune this warring pair, but it's a decision whose time has come.

Rose & holly.

2.  For all the rain, fortunately only the leptinella pot needed some plumbing.

Leptinella brass buttons

3.  While doing my rounds, I stopped to check on the nigella babies . . .

Nigella nursery.

& discovered (pun alert) a lovely in that thar mist!

A surprise nigella bloom!

4.  You may remember Madame Owl perches outside our downstairs bathroom.  This week, I noticed she appeared to have an injured wing.

Mme Owl thinking about shortbread.

She's made of metal & sits protected from the wind & flying debris, so a bit of a mystery as to how it happened.  Since it's fairly certain the fox kits've been climbing the tree to steal morsels from the bird feeder.  I wonder if they're to blame for this bit of damage as well.  A quick zip up the fatsia & they'd have her.

5.  Back inside, there were new books to read, seed catalogues to scour, & plans to scribble in my garden journal.  I've been using this particular journal for 5 years now, thinking of it as a tool rather than a record.

This week, I flipped through it, revisited former gardens by reading about plants I'd forgotten bloomed early in 2012, who got transplanted where the next year, lists of plant spacings, labels pasted in with the intention of finally learning a few Latin names, diagrams of what colour tulips were expected to reveal themselves & in which pots.

My garden journal is a journal of myself as well.  Fancy that.

Much anticipated inside activity.

6.  I'll end with another Great Unknown.  A new garden tool set appeared under my tree & there's one implement who remains nameless.  My guess is it's a medieval surgical instrument, but figure it'll perform the same tasks as the butter knife I keep in my trug.  Anyone out there recognise this fella?

Or maybe used to remove brains during Egyptian mummifying procedures.

There's my slightly damp Six. 

Post-wet walk Big Nose dog.

Now get yourself over to our #SixonSaturday overlord, The Propagator for his Six & links to all his garden-rabid minions' postings.

See you in the New Year!

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!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Four Seasons in a Week?

They'd rather be outside.

Before emigrating to the UK, I lived with four discernible seasons.  In winter, the snow'd get mid-thigh, so I'd let the springer spaniel break a glee-inspired crooked path through the snow to the car. 

This week in my garden, the temps are decidedly winter, but visually, one could argue 4 seasons co-exist here.

1.  In the spring category, bulbs known & unknown are coming up.  Although called summer snowflakes by their friends, the leucojum aestivum took the best photo.  Here, you can see a winter jasmine checking them out.  The yellow leaves against the wall = grasping wisteria that escaped pruning.

Leucogjum aestivum, aka summer snowflake.

2.  For my faux summer, there's still a lot of bloom in the garden - snap dragon, lavender, bergenia, hesperantha, some purple thing I can never remember the name of because I don't really like it but the rest of my family does.  And of course, my good friend calendula.


3.  Clematis seeds represent late summer, early autumn.  It's self-seeded in various cracks & pots over the summer, so I should dead head it, but they're so lovely to look at, I'm being rather foolish about them.

Clematis seed heads.

This clematis was here before us, so identity unknown.  Comparing a bad photo of it in early autumn with Google Images gave me several options, all of which look alike to my untrained eye.  Maybe western white clematis - clematis ligusticifolia - which apparently is native to the west coast of North America.

Last of the clematis blooms.

4.  For something well into autumn, weigela.  I got this one by layering an old shrub in my previous garden.  That house was built in the 1970s, the garden still containing much of the original landscaping, so this guy could be from that era.  It's leaves are unveriegated, the blossoms pinky purple.  Not much to go on, in terms of identification, but that's what it is.  I rather like the old guy.

Weigela photobombed by the cotoneaster.

5.  For all this pretend-season foolduggery, one (me) must admit it's actually winter.  This week we got the dread snow, which I'd hoped would kill off the chard. 

Please let it die.

As written previously, this chard came under the guise of a Christmas present in seed form.  Despite our best efforts, none of us enjoyed eating it, though the colours were pretty stunning.

Post snow photo.

The snow did kill off the cosmos next to it, though.  When I removed the cosmos, I found this sneaky little chard growing to beat the band.  You can see it behind the grown-up chard in the post snow photo.

Really purple chard.

So my love-hate of chard continues.  Its colour may win a permanent place in the flowerbed.

6.  Tales of Brer Fox.  I've been watching his antics in the back garden via my wildlife cam.  One of his regular habits is to stand in pots to get a better look at things before exiting the garden.  The snow revealed that a certain Doodle (who shall remain nameless), tracks his every move.

Doodle tiptoeing through the garlic.

This is the first time since last spring that Brer Fox dug anything up, though.  Hopefully this was one raucous night that won't be repeated.

Very glad Brer Fox left the bulbs for replanting.

Mizzy BunnyButt scouring for next week's SoS.

Thus ends the four seasons pretence.  Please be sure to hop over to The Propagator for his Six, plus links in his comment section to other Six on Saturday garden blogs.  New blogs come up over the weekend, so be sure to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter as well.

See you next week!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Totally Trees

Mizzy BunnyButt in the apple tree (summer photo).

I've kept a post featuring my trees on the back burner until there was nothing else going on in the garden.  This week alone there's been good weather, then rain, some frost, winds from Storm Caroline, all making their mark, not to mention another delivery of bulbs some fool ordered.

Time to take the bit in my teeth.  Trees it is.

1.  There's a notion in garden design (borrowed from Japanese gardening techniques, I believe) to use something beyond the garden boundaries as a focal point for the design inside the borders.  This birch would be that focal point, were I gifted in garden design.  In every season, at every time of day - & night, thanks to the street light - the eye goes to it first.  I'd love a garden large enough for a small copse of birch trees.

Birch from the abandoned garden next door.

2.  My acer's been featured before, when its leaves were at the apex of colour.  With most of them on the ground now, they've still got shades & tones.

The colour of winter via the acer.

What I didn't show before is its heroic determination to live.  Someone long ago planted it at the base of a brushed yew tree, but a self-seeded elder got between them.  Here you can see the acer growing horizontally to survive the squatter.  The yew is behind the both of them, out of this shot.

Old woman acer bending under the elder.

And a close up of the trunks, with the acer being the smooth, more grey colour & the elder a rough brown.  Ivy grows up the yew just visible at the back. 

The elder was beautiful in bloom & the acer is thriving so what to do, what to do . . .

Acer & elder grappling.

3.  Several years ago, a woman wrote an article about her addiction to growing monkey puzzles from seed.  I'd long wanted a monkey puzzle, so sent off for my own seeds.  For all my efforts, only 2 germinated, with only one of those surviving more than a few months.  Here is that sad little guy who, up 'til this summer, looked healthy.

Now it's brown on all its extremities.  I fear this year'll see the last of him.  Damn.  Anyone have suggestions?

Look at that sweet monkey puzzle face.

4.  I suspect our apple tree was planted about the same time as the yew.  Then or sometime later, the apple was given a wisteria for company.  The garden sat in neglect for possibly 10 years previous to our occupancy, which left the wisteria to go stark raving mad.  Shoots from the trunk made a latticework over the ground, going in one direction across the patio, into the garage.  In the other direction, it climbed the yew.

Yes, there's an apple tree in that wisteria.

It'll take a few years' pruning to pull it back to civility.  Despite it covering the apple's canopy, we had a great apple crop.  And it did look beautiful in bloom.

Apple & wisteria earlier this year.

5.  There's a trio of fruit trees planted near the acer, although 'planted' might really mean 'heeled in a single hole & left to their own devices'.  These are 2 apple & an ornamental cherry.  We got only 1 apple, but the cherry did okay producing fruit.

Trio of fruit trees.

If this is technique rather than neglect, I'd love to hear about it.

Close up the the trio trunks.

6.  In addition to those bulbs I don't remember ordering, this week brought a new 20th century Asian pear to replace one bought in the spring that didn't thrive.  The nursery were great on the phone, both with advice on ordering the first one, then when explaining why it only produced one sad little leaf.

This guy's been planted since the photo, so come on next year!

Doodle thinks this is her new stick.

So there you have it.  That's my Six.  But before you go . . .

Love them trees.

As always, please head over to the inciter of this meme, The Propagator where you'll find not only his Six, but links to many, many other Six on Saturday blogs.

See you next week!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Critturs & Thangs

Snow-loving Doodle.

I know you're out there, you folk committing wintery exploits in your gardens.  After a snow flurry on Thursday, I've kept to my warm living room.  However, there's critturs & other thangs in that garden of mine, let me tell you.

But let's start with what's not there.

1.  There's always been owls swooping through my gardens of the last 25 years or so.  Sitting in the trees.  Me at the base & them looking down on said inferior being.  Silent & calling.  Silent & calling.

Until now.  In this garden, I hear no owls, so my son got me this old woman of the night.

The only owl of the moment.

She faces the house rather than the garden, & can be seen through the downstairs bathroom window.

Watching through the window.

2.  Spiders were welcomed in my mother's house, their cobwebs untouched during house cleaning.  I, too, like a good spider, inside the house or out.  This gal in the next photo was in my garden but isn't now.

There were several of them conspicuously hanging around before the snow, stringing webs across footpaths, thinking they could catch me & make a tasty snack.  This lady in the picture below lived outside the dining room window.  I'd eat my breakfast & watch her lay in wait for hers.  Round about Wednesday, she disappeared.  When the spider goes, snow is coming, & that lady is gone gone.

Madam Window Friend

2.  There are few things that upset me as much as disrespecting my precious garlic babies.  As you can see, something's been a tad rough with them.  In the larger garlic planters, actual paw prints can be discerned.

Poor little abused garlic chillen.

Fortunately, this past spring, I bought a wildlife camera because there were some strange noises coming from the abandoned lot next door, coupled with a familiar musk on the morning air.

Now, thanks to that camera, I could track down suspects in the Great 2017 Garlic Babies Travesty.

3.  First, the vagabond cats.  Yes, despite Mizzy BunnyButt's most severe glares, some of these dared show their faces in the daylight.

The brazen ginger tom.

The more elusive feline intruders came at night.

The rare black & white fluff lion.

The greater spotted leopard tiger.

4.  Then Mizzy BunnyButt, curator of all things, pointed out a breach in the perimeter, perhaps connected to those musky spring sounds.

As Mizzy BB demonstrates, there's a tunnel under the fence.

5.  Which brings us to this fella.

Brer Fox

Footage shows that before Brer Fox ends his nightly visits, he hops up on various pots to inspect the garden from a higher vantage point.

As much as I love my garlic chillen, I love Brer Fox more.  His visits will be tolerated, but there'll be some sticks tucked in among the garlic to dissuade him from those pots.

Those are my six offerings for the week.  Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to check out The Propagator for his Six & for other Six on Saturday links in his comment section.

See you next week!  Stay warm until then.