Six on Saturday

I’m beginning to feel some sympathy for the long lasting month of January.  Maligned in the old song ‘January, you’ve been hanging on me’ I’ve come round to thinking it does have much to offer.  My hands are cold as I’ve just come in from completing what is the first of my sixes.  Yes, I have been in the garden this week and here’s what I found.

One

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This morning’s main job was to prune the grapevine.  It produce grapes which inevitably split just as they seem to be ripening so I’ve come to accept that its main role is to shade the pergola.  This is my second year of pruning it (I’m in a new garden if you are new to this six) and I’m getting bolder.  This time I cut out a whole branch on the grounds that it was very clearly crossing.  Otherwise I restricted myself to cutting back to one or two buds, which were clearly  visible.  I think I did this job just in time.  The tree in the background is my neighbour’s enviable willow.

Two

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January is the month for pruning some types of fruit trees.  Earlier on I pruned the Persimmon tree and this week it was the turn of the apples and figs.  The smaller ones I did myself but I called in the professionals for the large fig and a large apple tree both of which had got to a height that had defeated me and my ladder. Which is not actually that great a height.  This photo is the apple tree after the prune.  It is much lighter, but I think the reshaping will take a year or two.

Three

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I recently spotted a bargain buy of 6 helleborus niger and they arrived mid week after a deluge of rain.  The lawn was sodden and the heavy clay soil of the borders was sticky and uninviting but in they went.  The seem to have settled very well. There’s also a bit of colour from some primroses.  I prefer the yellow common primrose but these are staying in for the moment.  Just behind you can see the first of the daffodils pushing through.

Four

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January is also the month when the first snowdrops appear.  Mine, planted in the green last year, are now getting into their stride, edging the line of small apple trees.

Five

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So despite the cold, windy and wet weather that we have had recently the garden is waking up.  Today I also spotted the first new shoots of the lovely magenta phlox that is dotted around the back border.  I can’t wait for these to be in flower again.  But first I’ll need to cut out last year’s dead stems.

Six

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Finally, a rosebud.  It may not make it into a fully formed flower if the rain and cold weather continue but it is another cheering sign that the seasons are changing.

Yes. It’s a thumbs up for the end of January at least.  For more news and views from the other sixer gardens stop  by The Propagator’s blog for links to the posts for this Saturday.

 

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Six on Saturday

Whilst our esteemed leader is scratching his itch and beginning to sow a few seeds I am still at the pottering stage.  The cold of January does not often entice me out into the garden but there are one or two things to be done.  Here I should state clearly the level of my gardening skills: pottering amateur. So what I do in my garden is not a recommendation or a ‘how to’ guide.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

One

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I have been buying a few seeds.  These are my Sweet Pea choices.  Last year was the first summer in a new garden.  It was a garden that needed clearing of weeds and then planting up.  I put in some roses and some 9cm pots of a few perennials and some plants brought from the old garden but I needed to fill in the spaces.  So I grew annuals.  My wigwam of Midnight Blue sweet peas were a great success and I’m growing those again.  I’ll also grow a mix of Gwendoline, Anniversary and Black Night for a second wigwam.  I’ll start them off in root trainers in February.  I also have a pot of  autumn sown sweet peas in the greenhouse which are doing well and need to be potted on soonish.  Eventually these will be planted out amongst some climbing beans on the veg patch.

Two

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Of course buying a few seeds is nigh on impossible. Another success from last year was Calendula Indian Prince and I will sow these again but I also discovered, late in the season, the wonderful Tithonia.  I saw a great cloud of tall orange flowers at a garden I visited and was smitten.  I am trying out Tithonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’.  The seed packet says height 1.2-2.5m and a flowering period of 3 months.  If I am successful it will be a bargain splash of colour.

Three

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Zinnias were my other success of last year.  I planted zinnia Lilac Rose and after nurturing them through the early days of slug attacks they put on a dazzlingly long lived display.  This packet of seeds is a mix of Benary’s Giant Lime, Benary’s Giant White and Benary’s Oklahoma Ivory.   Sorry, I can’t tell you who Benary is.  I will need to find the right spot for them as the flower height is 90-100cms, taller than last year’s zinnias which I used for edging. I’ll be finding a space for Lilac Rose as well.

Four

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Featured in an earlier six was the wildlife attack on my old sink filled with succulents.  I wasn’t sure that I really like them so the fox or squirrel did me a favour.  This year I am going to fill that sink with a cascade of nasturtiums.  I hope they will enjoy the gritty mix of compost that remained after all that furious digging.

Five

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I have also bought my seed potatoes.  May the chitting commence.  I put out a potato poll on twitter and had a lovely number of great suggestions.  I was influenced by the thumbs up for Sarpo Mira as the floury main crop choice and by the loyal support for Arran Pilot, a waxy first early.  The other two choices were Ratte, a waxy second early and Belle de Fontenay, a waxy maincrop which caught my eye at the nursery.

Six

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And just when you were thinking I hadn’t been out in the garden at all this week I bring you a clematis.  And here I stress: pottering amateur.  I had a lovely viticella which grew up into a lilac tree in the previous garden and I barely pruned it all, just pulled out the dead bits every now and then.  In this garden there is a clematis growing up a fence panel on either side an arch.  The top of the arch is dominated by a passiflora so I need the clematis to clothe the side panels.  I noticed that the clematis was already putting on new growth so I took the plunge and cut it back.  I hope the current drop in temperatures and the bitingly cold winds don’t freeze the new growth to death.

That’s the round up of my gardening week.  Take a look at what other sixers have been doing in their gardens at The Propagator where you can also read about that itch

 

Six on Saturday

January.  The second month of winter and often the coldest.  A walk round the garden to collect this week’s six was pretty grim.  But these are the cycles of the year and just when you think it’s all weeds and brown stuff something comes along to cheer the soul.  Let’s deal with the weeds and brown stuff first.

One

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Here’s the celandine that insinuates it way into so many nooks and crannies.  It’s looking very comfortable at the bottom of the hydrangeas.  Much as I despair of it, I know that it is a sign of better things to come.  The cheerful yellow flower just about passes muster and in no time at all it will be hiding away until next year.  This is one I have learnt to live with.

Two

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More weeds.  This is ground elder corner.  I spent a great deal of time last year digging out ground elder by the bag full.  I then planted up the space with annuals because I know I will be digging it out again this year.  The annuals have been pulled up and of course the weeds have jumped at the chance to put on a display.  But any day now… Please note: the broken flower pot is my frog shelter and not my careless gardening!

Three

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Brown stuff:  My kerria is in a bad way.  Last year the RHS reported on kerria blight and  my kerria have it.  The RHS advice is that it is caused by the fungus Blumeriella kerriae and that it is best managed by removing all infected plant material and either burning it or disposing of it at a local council composting facility.  That’s a job to add to my lengthening list.

Four

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Good grief! The tulips planted in pots are just appearing.   I planted two layers per pot and it may be that the top layer is a little shallow.  I hope they manage to put on a good show when the time comes to flower.  Time for some finger crossing.

Five

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Can you date a garden by the plants that grow there?  When was the height of planting for Bergenia cordifolia?   It’s not one of my favourites but it is listed as a perfect pollinator; it’s hardy; good for ground cover and it flowers early.  The leaves have lasted all winter and spotting this emerging flower was a happy moment.

Six

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Another uplifting moment was achieved with some contortion.  Hellebores are so modest, their flower heads studiously nodding downwards, but getting down to their level is well worth the effort.  This one is Pretty Ellen, featured in an earlier six but now getting into its stride.  I have just about won the battle with the fox who was using hellebore corner as a route through the garden.  Repairing the fence panel saved the hellebores from further trampling and the fox simply found another rotting panel to wriggle through.  I’m happy to allow the fox that route as it is in the corner behind the shed.

Wishing you all good things in your garden, winter is half way through and spring is fast approaching.  For more gardening news and views visit  The Propagator my plant obsession for a great selection of links to gardens from around the world.

Six on Saturday

After a few weeks away from these posts and the garden there is much to be done.  No time for looking back on past successes and inevitably remembering all that didn’t get done.  Here’s what is happening in my garden now.

One

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The first buds on the Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii have appeared.  I planted four as 9cm pots in Autumn 2016 and so this is the first flowering year.  Although one of the four is still suffering from an unknown malaise, possibly too wet a position, the other three are romping away and giving me the beginning of a structure to the new border.

Two

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This is Hellebore Happy Day.  I bought this from a market stall, seduced by the discounted price.  On doing some research I discovered that it is a Hellebore Niger which has been specially developed for early flowering, mainly from October to December.  I can confirm that it was early to flower and I am interested to see how long it keeps going. It is providing a good splash of brightness in the winter gloom.

Three

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Not yet in flower are these snowdrops.  These are also part of the new garden planting.  This time last year I dug out a good sized rectangle of grass around the fruit trees and on a cold and sleety day I planted about 100 snowdrops in the green along one edge of each of them.  In retrospect I should have planted greater numbers to create a bigger impact.  I will review them when they flower this year – one for a future six.

Four

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Getting to know a new garden is a long term process.  Understanding which parts dry out soonest, which stay wet and soggy and which are the sunny corners takes several years.  This osteospermum is a division of an existing plant that I moved in the summer.  It was probably the wrong time to move it, but the parent plant was very leggy and I was trying to weed around it.  Parts of the plant broke off as I tried to disentangle it.  With a gardener’s optimism I dug a hole in a sunny corner and planted the divisions.  I now know that the sunny corner is also very sheltered as the osteospermum has continued to flower through the winter.  Now I need to see what else will enjoy that spot.

Five

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Here’s a view of one corner of the veg patch.  The last of the parsnips have been pulled and eaten.  I grew Tender and True from seed planted in late April.  The other beds were for Carrots Nantes 2, Cucumber,  Onions and Shallots.  The cardboarded raised bed was for courgettes and sweet peas.  The far bed was the cut flower patch, which will host potatoes this year.  I’m a semi planner.  I won’t be doing multi coloured charts but I will rotate crops and I will be planting more varieties this year.  There may be a pencil plan in a notebook but I think that will be it!  I will share the progress here.

Six

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Saving the best for last, this morning I collected my new Niwaki herbaceous sickle from the post office.  I can’t wait to use it.  The borders are in need of a tidy but this morning we had the first frost for many weeks and I shouldn’t be walking on the frosted grass.  I can do along the paths and maybe there will be time when the frost has melted.  I came across this tool in Thomas Stone’s blog   Christmas gift ideas for the gardener in your life.  I am sure I am going to be tempted by more of Thomas’ suggestions.  Christmas may be over but the gardening carries on!

I hope you have some time to enjoy your garden or allotment this weekend. Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the wonderful Six on Saturday.  Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession