Six On Saturday: The first rule of gardening is…

Things always take longer than you think.  I could have shared six photos from the one gardening job I had to do this week but I didn’t have the phone with me.  It started well.  The two roses I had bought from Thomas Stone arrived.  Thomas had suggested Rosa Madame Isaac Pereire for a sunny south facing border.  I’ll just put them in before it gets dark I thought.  No need to change I thought, this won’t take long.  There were a few trips up and down the path to locate the fish, bone and blood and the spade, oh and the hand fork for a few weeds, and then the  trug for the weeds to go in but then I was ready.  Suddenly that space didn’t seem quite big enough.  The fennel had to come out and those penstemons.  Down the path again for the fork.  Two penstemons, the fennel and a hollyhock later the rose was ready to go in with a sprinkle of FBB and some mycorrhizal powder.  On to the next one.  Again the space didn’t seem quite big enough so there were more penstemons to be moved.  Two found places in a new location but one had to be heeled in.  The verbena bonariensis also looked a bit close so that came out too.  Time to dig the hole.  The rose was going into a spot that turned out to be quite near the dead tree (which has been cut down and buried by mulch).  So back down the path for the loppers to cut through various tree roots.  Turns out this spot is also where I squeezed in several spring bulbs.  So they were relocated.  Finally time to put the rose in.  Darkness is now descending.  Where is the mycorrhizal powder?  Oh yes, under the heap of soil I dug to create the hole.  Rose goes in at last.  Tools collected up and put away, shed is very dark now and clearly full of spiders.  Jeans are filthy.  Hurrah, the roses are in.  But in the night I think Tony Tomeo flew over from the West Coast (into Heathrow).  In the States they plant their roses differently – with the union at soil level.  Here, I do as I’m told and plant the union about 2 inches below soil level. The next morning this greeted me!

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My  heeled in plants joined several others in a spot I am trying to keep clear for onions.  It now houses several delphiniums relocated to make way for the gaura and penesetums, a hebe from the front garden, a polemonium – recovering from slug attacks, and now the fennel and penstemons.  They’ll have to find new homes in the New Year.

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In all the trudging up and down I did notice the first of the white hellebores – just in time for Christmas.  It is being photo-bombed by primrose leaves.

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Fat balls have been made for the birds. One part fat, two part whatever is around – dried fruits, bread and some oats.  Of course the squirrels get to them first!

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The blackcurrants have gone!  I kept four for myself – heeled in around the garden and the others have gone to good homes.  The smell as they were dug up was wonderful. Now I have a blank canvas on the north border for my white shade loving plants.

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Time to wish you all Happy Christmas.  Decorating the house has just begun and my small contribution to seasonal light pollution is the wrapping of a string of lights around a bay tree.

It’s a busy time of year but if you need a moment of peaceful relaxation then drop by at Mr P’s.  He maybe playing a bit of Slade but everyone is welcome!

 

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Six On Saturday: frost arrives and a rose

The first lingering frost arrived this week.  A scraping the ice off the windscreen and frozen bird bath sort of frost.  A ‘don’t walk on the grass frost’.  But another of the bare stem roses arrived too.  So I did walk on the grass in order the plant the rose.  Here’s my six:

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The frost came on a clear sunny day and as I was scanning the garden front and back for suitable greenery for the house I remembered that I have a rather large fir tree that sometimes deigns to drop a few fir cones.  I gathered two and looked longingly up at the rest.

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I periodically wail about the lack of shrubs in the garden but whenever I get the chance to put something into a newly cleared space I choose a rose.  This week ‘Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’ arrived.  I must thank the good folk at Ulting Wick garden in Essex who tweeted about this rose for a north facing situation.  It’s a climber and I’m hoping it will romp away all over that brown fence of mine.

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I just got my photo of the cotoneaster and the ivy into last week’s six in the nick of time.  This week the berries have been stripped and the leaves have all gone.  My festive offering for this week is holly.  But no berries.

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I still have a drop of colour in the garden.  The hydrangea is turning down its bracts (I think I’ve got that right but please correct me if I’m wrong!) and showing off the pink undersides.

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My neighbours’ viburnum are beginning to flower quite beautifully now.  Ours has one single solitary flower head.  All suggestions as to how get more will be gratefully received.

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The buds on the rhododendron are forming.  This is a very large specimen on the north facing border.  The north facing border is the focus of my attention for 2019.  Watch this space for  indecision, digging  and hopefully, developments.

All the links to other SOSs from gardens around the world can be found at our genial host’s site The Propagator Blog.  If it’s cold outside stay inside and have a good read!

Six On Saturday: a few ups and downs

The view of the garden from the kitchen window gives a grandstand view of the antics of the squirrels.  This week they have been tracking down the last few tiny edible figs and often knock off some of the others in the process.  As does the wind and the rain, which is all very helpful as there are still a great many figs to be taken off.   In all the gloom of this week there have been a few spots of colour:

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I still have berries on the cotoneaster leading to me to conclude that there is still plenty of food around for the birds.  The combination of the red berries and leaves and the ivy strikes a perfect Christmas note.

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I tweeted this photo earlier in the week and unashamedly share it here.  For one of my twelve days of Christmas I have six paraqueets-a-nibbling.   This tree is a real bright spot in the winter gloom and looks all the crazier with the addition of some neon green.

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This sad looking skimmia is not providing the much hoped for winter colour.  It was planted out last year underneath the magnolia and I had lovely visions of masses of red berries which have come to nought.  The skimmia was dug up and potted again, pending allocation to a better spot. Some place with more light and not so dry I think.

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The aforementioned magnolia is beginning to do its stuff again –  these new buds were  cheering to see.

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I ventured into unknown territory awhile ago and planted up some hyacinth bulbs for forcing for Christmas.  At the appointed time they were brought into the warmth of the house.  But this week they were  banished into a cold exile outside.  Their crime?  Well the bulbs are innocent but the cloud of tiny black flies that came with them were not greatly appreciated.

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I’ve got a few things going on in the potting shed.  The scented leaf pelagoniums have been cut back, the last of foxgloves are going to overwinter there now along with a few cuttings of penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ and pellies.  I am also trying to keep alive a few seedlings from euphorbia oblongata but I feel these are already slipping from my grasp.  I foresee causalities along the way.

Even though I may lose some seedlings over the winter the eternal optimism of the gardener continues.  New seed orders have been placed and the wish list continues to grow.  Enjoy your winter garden – plants and wildlife,  and if you are seeking inspiration look no further than The Propagator’s blog which will start you off on a world wide tour of gardens.

Six On Saturday: The power of seeds

On the whole it was a gloomy, wet and windy week here but a little milder than of late. It was with some trepidation that I ventured out into the garden to collect this week’s six but gardens have a great way of taking care of themselves and providing a few surprises.

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One of the major projects of this year was the laying of the garden path.  It was laid on top of the old path which worked well in most places but as the path rounded the corner to meet up with the lawn the height differential came into play.  The weather was so hot and dry that plans to build up the lawn height were put on hold until about a month  ago.  Part of the lawn was stripped off and the soil level was built up.  My lawn is a patchwork quilt of grass, creeping buttercups, wild yarrow, clover, daisies and much more.  The stripped off turves did not hold together and when re-laid there were several scrappy patches which needed seeding.  I had given up hope of the new seed germinating but I really was very excited to see that the first new shoots have appeared.

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This new growth reminded me of one or two other things in the garden that had sorted themselves out.  Last winter I lost a French lavender plant given to me as a house warming present.  It had done so well over its first summer but winter was just too much for it.  Or so I thought.  A few weeks ago I noticed new shoots of lavender appearing alongside the English lavender I had planted in its place.  This is the strongest of the bunch and I’m hoping that sheltered by the English lavender it might make it through this winter.  There are a couple of smaller seedlings that I am going to lift and overwinter in the greenhouse.  I would love to report back to the giver that I do still have the French lavender.

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This young yew tree was given to me by the birds!  I can’t bring myself to pull it out and would love to find a corner of the garden where I can nurture it along into something significant.  Maybe I can start up my own wild hedgerow along the back fence.  I’ve got a few wild blackberries that need to be taken in hand.  Throw in a dog rose and some years of patient waiting and I could be onto something.

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The back fence is already home to Iris foetidissima and these have helpfully self seeded very successfully.  The orange berries glow brightly through the gloom and a good colony of these in the dark corner will provide a much welcomed lift to the spirits through winter.

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I collected some Hollyhock seeds to bring with me to the new garden and now the seeds from those plants are starting to colonise well.  I have had to take a few in hand as they managed to get themselves going some distance from the main site.  I never know what colours are going to appear which is part of the fun.

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Another great self seeder is the foxglove.  I did not have any in the garden so I bought a packet of seeds and did some sowing around the end of August.  There was a good success rate and I have moved some out into the garden and left some to overwinter in the unheated potting shed.  I’m hoping this belt and braces approach will give me a reward.

The fireside keeps calling me but the garden won’t let go just yet!  Have a look at what everyone else is up to by visiting The Propagator’s blog – there’s no way Mr P will be putting his feet up just yet!