Six On Saturday: A tale of two skimmias

There is a tale of two skimmias to be told but first the tale of the headless chicken.

Finding myself with some spare time I set off to do some weeding. Yep, I was definitely going to tackle the patch by the gooseberries. But on the way I walked past the borders where I spotted some ground elder. No, stay focused. Oh dear, there’s some enchanter’s nightshade running along the wall behind the roses. I’d better do that first. And then there was the creeping cinquefoil, leading on to creeping buttercup, which was nudging up nicely to the hairy bittercress and then the oxalis came into view. Celandine was popping up everywhere and I wasn’t anywhere near the gooseberries. In headless chicken mode I ricocheted from one weed to another, feeling determined and feeble in equal measure. A small dent was made and the fight will go on. But for now here are six delights from the garden.

One

The first of the skimmias, ‘Kew Green’.  As far as I can understand this is a male skimmia, with no berries.  Which was fine by me, I wanted it for the lime green pannicles and to fill the space left by the removal of the  ailing choysia.  So here it is, much loved by the bees at the moment and I’m happy.  Now.  But this is the second skimmia I have bought,  The first, which came to me as skimmia ‘Kew Green’ went on to produce a few berries.  Curious, I thought.  Is it really ‘Kew Green’.  I really did want KG so I bought the second, which I really think is KG.  Are you keeping up?

Two

This is the first skimmia, which purports to be ‘Kew Green’.  Now it is in flower I can see it has smaller flowers which are white.  It looks fine, I don’t mind it, but it doesn’t look like ‘Kew Green’ to me.  I’d be interested to know if it is possible to identify it at all?

Three

I was very delighted to see that my leucojum aestivum, aka summer snowflake, are finally in flower.  I dutifully stuck to the recommended planting distances and now I have five rather lonely looking snowflakes.  Here’s hoping they will clump up over time. 

Four

Last week’s ‘World Friendship’ tulips have been joined by something that was meant to be  ‘White Triumphator’ but which doesn’t look very lilly flower like to me.  More gardening mysteries! 

Five

I’ve planted out the first of the autumn sown ammi visnaga.  This is the row that will run alongside the wild blackberries that I inherited.  I have a picture of this in my mind, let’s see if it materialises.

Six 

The promise of things to come.  Such a decision to make.   I’ve chosen the allium nigrum.  I was tempted by the buds of apple blossom or the seed heads of an early flowering hellebore that are on the point of bursting but I am most excited by these. I’ve previously planted ‘Mount Everest’ but they seem to disappear too easily so this year I’m trying nigrum.  I can’t wait to see them in flower. 

The second early potatoes are in, I’ve pruned the hydrangeas,  I’ve sown a few dwarf french beans – inside on the kitchen window sill and the sunflower challenge has begun.  It’s a busy time. I hope you are keeping well and finding some time to garden.  Mr P is doing sterling work keeping SOS going.  He’s well ahead of me with his seeds, leading the charge into the growing season.  Stop by and take a look. 

 

Six on Saturday: The first tulip is out and it is ‘World Friendship’

Cheerfully bright and looking very yellow in the sunshine, my first tulip of the year has arrived.  It is the aptly named ‘World Friendship’. A virtual high five to that! I’ve spent the week being very virtual – virtual meetings,  virtual events, virtual exercise and virtual language classes but I have also spent more time in the garden.   Here are six things that caught my eye.

One

The aforementioned World Friendship.  New to the garden last year and standing strong again this year.  Long may it last

Two

Narcissus ‘Bridal Crown’.  A few years back, when I was new to this garden, I squeezed a few of these into the border.  No real idea why and no particular plan.  They deserve to have had more consideration, either more of them or some other plants to work with.  On the ‘to do’ list.

Three

The first of the plum blossom is opening out.  This tree was in a bad way three years ago.  Oozing from a large split in the trunk.  The split is gradually healing and the oozing has stopped but last year the leaves withered, you can just make them out in the background.  I’m giving it one  more season to see if it can pull through.  I’ve lovingly fed it with bonemeal once a quarter and my fingers are crossed.  While it flowers like this there is hope.

Four

The tomato plants have been potted on.  I keep meaning to sow a few more seeds – some cherry tomatoes and some yellow ones.  That’s a job for the weekend then.

Five

During my morning fast walk round the garden I spotted a drop of pink under the rose bush.  Closer inspection revealed the first flower of geranium sanguineum var. striatum.  This seems very early and it is a little darker than usual, but hey, who’s complaining. 

Six

The online gardening community is doing a great job of keeping us all going. Thanks to Mr P for hosting the links to all the SOS posts.  I’d also like to give a thumbs up to twitter gardener @GardeningGent who is organising a Sow a Sunflower event.  I was very pleased to finally locate some seeds so that I can take part.  Sow seeds on April 1st – no joke- and post a weekly photo of progress.  I’ll  be there. 

Here’s hoping your gardening activities are helping you to spread seeds of happiness.  Cold weather forecast but I think it may be time to take the plunge and prune the hydrangeas. 

Six On Saturday: Cold nights and Crazy days

I can’t really avoid the c word this week. These past few days have gone by in a whirl and we are all coming terms with profound changes to our lives. The discipline of spending a little time to write about the garden is finding a new level of meaning and spring has arrived so it is all the more enjoyable. It it so good to focus on the new life that is appearing and the joy that comes with seeing the perennials push through again.  Here are my six delights for this week.

One

There have been some cold nights and cold windy days this week but the sun has some warmth and the garden is responding.  I’ve seen the tulips in bud and this week the Thalia opened up.  Must have more of them was my response.

Two

I know everyone has done daffs over the last few weeks but I’m going to tip my hat again to Tete a Tete.  When I planted this ring of them around the persimmon tree I thought there was a stronger danger of it looking a little twee.  Maybe it does but seeing this cheerful ring of them every morning makes my day.  I’ve gone for over-egging the pudding and have also planted an inner ring of snowdrops.  I can’t wait!

Three

It feels a little early to be cutting back the hydrangeas but the new growth is coming through strongly now.  I am going to resist for as long as I can.  April can be cruel.  The penstemons are also sending out new growth but they aren’t going to tempt into a cut back just yet. 

Four

The new growth on the roses has this lovely reddish colour.  In admiring this exuberance I also noticed that some tying in was needed, which was duly done.  It is at this time of year I realise that I could have been more ruthless with some of the climbing roses.  Some people never learn.

Five

More new growth coming from the weigela florida ‘Variegata’.  I bought it new for this garden so it is about three years old now.  I’m happy to let it have it’s natural height but I think I may need to contain the spread.  I’m looking forward to May when it’s pink flowers appear.

Six

I anticipate a sudden influx of bees as the rosemary comes into flower.  Yes, indeed gardening and all its side benefits will be keeping my soul healthy this year.  

Thanks to The Propagator for his admirable work in keeping Six on Saturday together.  I shall be sowing seeds this weekend, definitely some cosmos, perhaps some zinnias and probably some tellima grandiflora and the grass needs cutting.  Enjoy your gardening jobs, take time to appreciate what’s growing now and celebrate Springtime,  for it is officially here!

 

 

Six On Saturday: No gloom here

I’ll reference the c word in order to wish everyone well in their life and work and as a nod to the historical record but there are encouraging things afoot in the garden to distract me. Here they are:

One

The magnolia is in bloom.  On time and ready to give a couple of weeks of joy.  A blue sky would add to the euphoria but it’s not available today!

Suddenly out of nowhere the delphiniums have shot up.  This is one of my most enjoyable moments of the gardening year.  They are up and so far are outpacing the slugs and snails.  I am jumping ahead of myself as I day dream about summer.  

Three

I inherited a patch of white hyacinths at the foot of the smaller fig tree.  Here they jostle for space with the green alkanet and in combination the two manage to look pretty good.  I think I am going to learn to live with the alkanet as my attempts to eradicate it have failed once again.  In its favour it does have a pretty blue flower.  

Four

I also inherited various daffodils dotted in random locations around the garden.  I dug them up and planted them all in a corner pending a decision on their fate and of course they get forgotten every year until they flower again.  I rather like this white one.  One day I will sort out the ones I like and find them a proper home.

Five

The blue anemones are peeking through the forget-me-nots this week.  And there is a tiny yew seedling, donated by the birds that sit in the branches of the viburnum tree above. 

Six

More excitement as the tomato seeds sown last week have germinated.  These are above a radiator, on a sunny windowsill in the kitchen.  Time to move them to a cooler spot before they get too leggy.

The garden is still soaked and it’s best not to spend too much time standing on the soil so I still have jobs to be done.  Meanwhile nature pushes on and how lovely it is. I hope you can find some positive distractions in your garden or those nearby.  My snowflakes are not in flower yet but I spotted a stunning clump of them just round the corner from me.  For more opportunities to admire other gardens just check in with Mr P who hosts all the SOS links which are guaranteed to dispel any gloom. 

Six on Saturday: Reasons to be cheerful

Ignoring the awfulness of Thursday when, here, it rained all day with a real insistence there are reasons to be cheerful. I feel there is a sense of spring in the air. The garden is giving me strong signs that it is time to emerge from hibernation, open up the seed packets and get growing. This week I’ve sowed lupins, dahlias, a first batch of tomato seeds and three pots of basil seeds. I even gave the autumn sown ammi a brief outing in the sunshine.  There isn’t much new on the flowering front but progress is being made.

One

The clematis amandii ‘Apple Blossom’ has broken into flower.  This is it’s best side, further along there are one or two bald patches.  I hope these will fill out over the year.

Two

A small group of anemone blanda have deigned to push through again.  No sign yet of a new batch I planted in the north border.  I’m hoping a little more warmth will persuade them to show up.

Three

The fritillaries are dangling their lanterns again and reminding me that I must invest in a few more of these to make the impact stronger.

Four

The tulips leaves are marching on.  I particularly like these striped ones from ‘China Town’ 

Five

There is a rose to be seen! Battered by wind and rain but managing to look pretty even so.

Six

I was very happy to see some new growth on the alpine alchemilla.  I thought I’d lost this after the squirrels made short shrift of it when they planted a few acorns in the same spot.  Shame on me for being so despondent. 

The ground is still very wet, the weeds, particularly the bittercress, are enjoying the damp conditions and I’ll have to get to them soon before they find the energy to flower.  That means I’ll be in the garden which can’t be a bad thing.  And would you believe it, I’ve just had a delivery of 300 in-the-green snowdrops!  They are so late coming due to the poor conditions for lifting them from the fields.  That sorts out my morning.  Mr P has all the updates from other SOSers.  Plenty to admire and inspire! Cheerfulness all round I think.

Six On Saturday: Farewell to February

Thanks for the extra day. Thanks for more rain and wind. Thanks Jorge. It’s all a bit much and I’m not even flooded out. I am so sorry for those who are, the photos are terrible and the real thing must be so much worse. I am encouraged by the fact that this is the last day of meteorological winter and spring arrives tomorrow. In theory. Here’s six gardening related things.

One

March is the time to start a few seeds going.  First on my list and  a first for me, is trying to grow some dahlias from seed.  I collected the seed from ‘Orange Cushion’ that was new to the garden last year.  I liked it so I am having a go at growing from seed and if that fails I might have a go at taking some cuttings from the tubers later in the year.  If the tubers have survived.  I left them in the ground and although the weather has been mild the constant rain might have done for them,

Two

 

Lupin seeds collected from last year’s plants. I am starting these and the dahlia seeds off inside the house as the greenhouse has no heat or electricity supply.  Indeed the greenhouse is very leaky at the moment and I feel sure the pools of water on the floor can’t be the best environment for the overwintering plants.

Three

The sun is out so I’m off to the garden for more photos!  Some time later: The fig tree was pruned a few weeks ago but I was so excited by primroses, pulmonaria and such like that I didn’t show it.  Hey, Mr P I also have wood chip! This the large fig tree that shades much of the long border in the summer.  The height was reduced by a third and next year it will get another third taken off.  I’ll lose the fruit this year but it needed to taken in hand.

Four

The mild weather seems to have suited the salvia ‘Amistad’.  I took cuttings as a precaution against the garden plants dying off over winter but so far they have survived outside and are putting on new growth.  I think they will need a cut back to some strong growing points.

Five

The first cowslip is just about in flower.  These grow in the damp border. A small border that is guaranteed to be wetter than the rest of the garden and today there is standing water.  This should be perfect for the Siberian irises that grow there as well.

Six 

Oh dear. It looks like I’ve missed the moment to cut back the grasses.  When did they start sprouting? These are the melica altisssima ‘Alba’ that were planted in the north border last year.

I’m hoping for a dry day tomorrow as I have some free time.  Seeds to be sown, more FBB to be sprinkled around but it may be too soggy to tackle those weeds.  We shall see.  The Propagator will miraculously host this meme, comment on posts and have time to garden I am sure.  He may also throw in a long run.  All hail the Caesar!

Six On Saturday: The fourth week of February approaches

The fourth week of February is a significant week because this is the week I plan to sow some seeds.  Surely if I write this down I will do it?  The sap may be rising in the garden but my mojo is lagging behind.  I have had enough of howling winds and constant rain.  I have some gardening to be done as well as seeds to sow. There was some encouragement from the walk round today.  I can see the geraniums beginning to break through again, the camassias planted last year are coming along and I noticed the cowslips are in bud.   Last week’s primroses, pulmonarias and crocuses are still looking good and the hellebores continue to shine.  Here’s this week’s six.

One

Not one of my favourites but it a good indicator of the change of season.  That stalwart of front gardens, the forsythia has broken into flower.

Two

I’ve added a number of hellebore niger to the garden this year and they have just got their flower heads up off the ground.  I have some lovely soft pink hellebores but these white ones can be seen from the windows, shining beacons of light in the eternal rain.

Three

The annual splurge of euphorbia characias wulfenii is well under way.  Look carefully and you will see the ailing specimen of the four I have.  The regular downpours are not helping it in anyway and are completely destroying my artful symmetry.

Four

The clematis armandii continues to pump out the flower buds and soon there will be flowers.  I’m looking forward to those.

Five

I am training rosa Madame Alfred Carriere along the back fence and it was good to see these side shoots appearing this week.  More promise of things to come.

Six

I’ve been lucky not to have suffered any real damage from the winds.  No shed roof blown off, no broken windows in the greenhouse.  The fir tree in the front garden has stood firm, only shedding a great quantity of cones and one or two twiggy bits which has given the otherwise grey space a certain rustic woodland charm.

The Phillip Larkin poem ‘Coming’ has been on my mind this week, so I will leave you with these thoughts:

A thrush sings, Laurel-surrounded In the deep bare garden, Its fresh-peeled voice        Astonishing the brickwork. It will be spring soon, It will be spring soon –

Time to get the Fish, Bone and Blood sprinkled around and don’t forget to check in with Mr P for more signs of spring and if you get the chance, enjoy your gardening.

Six On Saturday: Creeping towards spring

The joys of sixing! Thanks to our host The Propagator I get to really notice when things start happening in the garden and what a difference a week makes. Second joy of sixing – the front garden gets a tidy up: this week’s haul: three aluminium cans, a plastic bag and several pieces of polystyrene blown over from a neighbour’s skip. Not much storm damage to report here, just a few twiggy branches and a sodden lawn. Let’s see what Dennis dumps this week. On to the six:

One

The vinca that never flowers has flowered!  And this is not the only one, I’ve spotted at least four more.  It’s a start.  The flowering period for most vincas is given as April – September, this one is early but no complaints. Judging by the height I think this is a vinca major of some sort.

Two

A few more of the front garden crocuses have opened up and these are a good purple colour.  Thumbs up for these too.

Three

Until now there was not a sign of a daffodil but the sunny skies of last week have enticed the tete a tete to flower.

Four

Round the corner from the daffs I came across a very healthy clump of pulmonaria officinalis.  Flowering period March to May, so just a few weeks early.

Five

The primroses have been slowly opening up over the last few weeks but now they’ve decided to go for it.

Six

Lastly the front garden virbunum tinus, often maligned for not flowering very strongly is having a real go at it, mainly on the sunnier side of the shrub. There are two in the front garden and both were given a good prune last year.  They also received a good mulch for the second year running. so perhaps that has helped to move things along a bit.

All in all, a much easier six this week.  Things are definitely looking up.  The greenhouse felt positively warm this morning.  This can only mean one thing: it is time to start gardening again.  Time to finish all that soft fruit pruning and time to pull off the dead stems from the phlox as I’ve spotted the new shoots coming through.  Due to impending storm Dennis it won’t get one this weekend.  Time, I think, for an indoors sort through of seeds to be sown for week four of February.  Yes, time to be organised.

Six on Saturday: snowdrops before the storm

Ciara is heading our way and it sounds pretty bad. I’ll be lifting all the pots down to the ground and finally getting round to picking up a few empty flower pots that always seem to lurk in the corners. The week has had a cold and frosty appearance and the beautiful blue skies tempted me out to the Hertfordshire countryside to view a snowdrop garden. I have one exciting non-snowdrop jewel from my garden but the other five are from the gardens at Benington Lordship.

One

I am always over-excited by the first flowers from any new planting in the garden and this week the newly planted Iris reticulata bulbs opened out.  I chose a single variety – J S Dijt and once again realise I should have bought many, many more.  The colour is stunning.  Allegedly there is a scent but so far I cannot vouch for that.

Two

Now on to the snowdrops. First, galanthus ‘Primrose Warburg’.  I completely fell for this one and if there had been any pots of these for sale I would probably have paid whatever the price was.  Online nursery price is £25 per pot.

Three

Galanthus elwesii ‘Comet’.  Retails at £20 per bulb.  But oh so pretty.

Four

Galanthus plicatus ‘Diggory’ Retails at £25 per bulb. Very distinctive with its textured petals  and curved shape.  Lovely.

Five

Galanthus  elwesii Jessica. Pretty green markings on the inner leaves.  Retail price £20.

Six

Galanthus Wasp. A snowdrop with such long slender petals deserve a more beautiful name but there it is.  The green inner markings are not quite visible but an internet search reveals them to be quite intricate.  Price £20.

My visit to Benington Lordship was a mid week treat and I felt like I was truanting but I could so I did and it was well worth it.  There were hellebores and aconites too and in a week or so I am sure there will more spring bulbs on view. The garden is open now until 1st of March but not on Sunday 9th February due to the weather warnings.

More from my garden next week and more from other gardens this week by visiting The Propagator for his cheery update and the links to other SOS posts.  Batten down the hatches and stay safe.

Six On Saturday: Something old, something borrowed, something blue

The bulbs are popping up all over the place.  A ring of tete a tete around the persimmon tree, thalia in the front garden, and signs that the tulips planted a few years ago are still willing to have a go. Today the sun is shining and once again that promise of spring is in the air. Here’s my six for the first week of February.

One

Something borrowed and something blue in the same photo.  The blue is the wonderfully uplifting sky.  The borrowed is the winter flowering honeysuckle from my neighbour’s garden.  The scent from it wafted over last weekend as I relocated a blackcurrant bush.  Yes, I have finally done my first bit of real gardening for the year.  The heady perfume was an unexpected and very welcome treat.

Two

Something new are these alliums.  This year I am trying out allium nigrum.  After a few years of growing Mount Everest I decided to add these into the mix.  The Mount Everest have a habit of disappearing for me.  Possibly due to the heavy clay soil.  I’ll see if these fare any better.

Three

Something old.  The north border has a wall that runs along its length.  At the bottom end it is about 30cms high climbing upwards to the top end where it is about a metre high.  It’s a higgledy-piggledy mixture of  all sorts and not very attractive.  At the bottom end I am persuading the ivy to entwine around itself along the wall rather than out into the very tempting lawn.  Or back into the borders.  Ivy twining patrol is a regular task but I am gradually achieving my aim.

Four

Further along the wall the moss is doing a grand job of covering the stones.

Five

I’ve not starting sowing seeds this year but the autumn sowing of ammi visnaga is coming along nicely.  I have a plan to under-plant the wild black berries with these.  Isn’t it wonderful how brilliant these ideas look in the imagination.   We’ll see.

Six

For February I have to include snowdrops.  Many gardens will be holding snowdrop days this month.  The NGS offers a list of gardens open for snowdrops and I hope to find one near me that I can visit.

Yes, gradually the gardening sap is rising, a gentle limbering up is called for and new inspiration propels me onward.  More inspiration will be found at Mr P’s site.  Links, comments and general good gardening cheer for all.