Six On Saturday: ’tis the winter season

Not being one of the very early risers the gloomy mornings are only just starting to have an impact on me. Fortunately there are only two weeks to go until the shortest day and then we will be on the up again. Winter frosts have turned most of the herbaceous borders brown which is a reminder to me to get those soggy plants removed.  I was looking forlornly out of the kitchen window this morning wondering what my six would be when I realised that the garden was full of birds. The persimmon tree was hosting several species and one in particular caught my eye. Out came the book of birds and I was able to identify a redwing.  Once again Mr P’s Six On Saturday regime has come up trumps.  Armed with optimism I sallied forth to see what else was going on in the December garden.

One

One step outside the back door and the first reward was spotted,  The mint that had frazzled up and died in the summer is pushing through again.  This was grown from seed this year so I’m very pleased to see it’s resurgence.

Two

Two steps more and I was reminded of the annual moss cull that takes place at this time of year.  The birds descend and pull up the moss from the cracks in the paving.  They fling it around with gay abandon, they have no need for the moss now.  I imagine they are searching for insects.  What else could it be? I have some sweeping up to do.

Three

Down the steps, the hydrangeas are in their last throes of pinky-brown.  Some have advanced further into winter foliage and some have new buds forming.

Four

The leaves are down from the trees.  There seemed to be a never-ending supply of them but now they are piled up in the leaf cage it doesn’t look like much.

Five

 

Round the back in the nursery corner the salvia ‘Amistad’ that overwintered from last year is still in flower.  I am coming to view this plant as a late summer contributor.  I have six cuttings in the greenhouse that are doing well, so far.  There have been casualties though.  The salvia nemorosa caradonna cuttings have gone from three to one and the lavender looks a bit wobbly.

Six

It feels like a few years ago now but some time in the recent past I sowed a whole packet of euphorbia oblongata seeds.  Forty five I seem to remember.  I managed to get three plants which hovered between life and death for some months.  I tipped them out into the garden to do or die and one of them looks quite healthy now.  It will, of course, die over the winter.  But maybe not.  I’ll keep those fingers crossed.

Fingers crossed that your winter gardening throws up some joys.  I am thinking about the spring bulbs that are doing their thing below the surface at this very moment.  I have also thought about slugs that are lurking so tomorrow’s job will be to clear the sogginess.

Six On Saturday: Last Hurrah for November

I am going to ignore the gloomy wet week that has just past and revel in the blue skies and frosty morning of today. The water in the bird bath is well and truly frozen and the grass is fully frosted. It was a cold night. Time to enjoy the winter garden.

One

The beautiful view from one end of the garden.  Most of the leaves are now down but this tree is still glowing with autumn colour.

Two

The frost made finding six garden delights much easier.  These are the frosted leaves of  Cistus × purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’.

Three

Frosted Primrose leaves.  A sigh of relief goes with this picture. There were some lingering scented leaf pellies in this pot and I just got them into greenhouse in time.  Last night in the greenhouse it was -.08 degrees.

Four

The seeds of the verbenia bonariensis are going to provide a chilly snack for the birds today.  But if they come late morning things might have improved.  As I took these photos the sounds of dripping water indicated that the sun was melting the frost away.

Five

My parsnips.  They’ve had a couple of frosts now so its time for me dig up a few and see how they fared over the summer.  Definitely an improvement on last year when none of the seeds germinated.

Six

More beautiful leaf colour but also a bit of fail here as I didn’t prune the gooseberries in July and haven’t yet got round to doing the winter prune.  Still there’s plenty of time – if I can be persuaded out into the garden.

So now we settle into winter dormancy for the plants.  For me,   I will finish the rose pruning, take down the passion flower and prune the soft fruits and the grapevine.  I will, I will.

I wonder what is on Mr P’s to do list?  Stop by and find out and catch up with other SOS news from around the world.

Six On Saturday: Winter wonders

After the first frost of last week, two more came this week and the greenhouse thermometer recorded it’s first minus temperature -1 degree. That was more encouragement to get the last few jobs done. I’ve planted out most of the tulips now and some thalia bulbs found at the back of the shed. The pellies in the greenhouse have been cut back but I still have roses to prune. Here’s the six things that I spotted in the garden this week.

One 

The bright orange berries of iris foetidissima.  When I first moved to this house there was a small clump of them lurking at the side of the shed.  The birds have helped them self seed at various points around the garden and I have collected them up and moved them to a new clump under the rhododendron.  Three years on and they have become quite established.  The summer flowers are easily passed over but the winter berries are wonderful.

Two

I managed to track down some cyclamen hederifolium at the garden centre which were in flower then, a couple of weeks on and there’s not a flower in sight but the leaves look magnificent.  These are in the front garden, a space that is just beginning to get some attention from me.

Three

The front garden has, to my eyes, a very suburban look.  It’s a sequence of assorted shrubs which have  grown and grown over the years.  My least favourite was the cotoneaster horizontalis.  I say was, because after giving it some attention over the last few years, snipping off a branch here and there, it has now become quite an impressive feature which truly comes into its own at this time of the year.  It was on the ‘dig up’ list along with the forsythia but I’m going to be generous and let it stay.

Four 

Having put the pellies away for the winter I had dragged my heels on putting in some winter bedding.  In truth I am a little mean about spending money for the winter pots.  But the reliable mistreatment of plants at diy stores often throws up a bargain and this week I snapped up two trays of pansies for  £1.75 each.  I’ve put them in with  some pale purple primroses  primroses that had been dug up and were sitting around in pots waiting for their next move – which was likely to be the compost heap as I am a bit of purist on the primrose front.  Four containers full for under a fiver.  I’m happy.

Five

Almost all the leaves are down (yet strangely those on the apple trees still remain)  and now the full extent of the persimmon crop for this year is revealed.  It’s well up on last year which is good news for the birds as I don’t harvest them.  Once they are ripe the parakeets will descend which makes for a colourful sight on a December day.

Six

Lastly, the seed heads of the rudbeckia have blackened adding a striking note to the border.

Time for me to have a look at other SOS choices for the week.  Winter inspiration from the UK but summer gems from the other side of the world all at The Propagator’s site.

Six On Saturday: The promise of things to come

My enjoyment of November continues. This week the goldfinches have arrived in the garden to feed off the verbena bonariensis seeds.  My six on Saturday walk around has set me off thinking about next year.  This morning I spotted something in the wrong place aesthetically but clearly in the right place horticulturally.  I’m going to move it anyway.  My gardening jobs are few and far between and mostly seem to involve leaf collecting.  Here’s my collection of six for today.

One

This is astrantia ‘Roma’ looking lovely in the north facing border.  I collected a batch of astrantia major seedlings from the long border earlier on and planted them in the white section of this border.  Beautiful though it looks here, this surprise ‘Roma’ will be going back to the long border where it works very well with salvia nemorosa ‘Carradona’.

Two

I find that SOS walk round is always a good time to spot those plants that need tying in.  This is the climbing rose ‘Blush Noisette’ which has put out a late but very strong stem.  I’ve left it with some room to grow upwards to encourage more growth.  The rain continues to drown any new rose buds so I am not expecting much now but next year, next year.

Three

The lowest temperature in the greenhouse this week was 2.2 degrees.  I have half a tray of cowslips left.   I need to see if the slugs and snails have eaten those that I planted out earlier. If they have been devoured I shall be potting these on and then keeping them in the greenhouse over winter ready to plant out next spring.

Four 

The greenhouse was too cold to get these agapanthus seeds to germinate so they have been treated to a space near the window in the house.  They will be evicted when the N20 hotel opens up for Christmas and I’m not sure where they will go. For now I am pleased to see them making progress.  They were sown about a month ago.

Five

There has a been a leek disaster in the veg beds.  I didn’t have many growing and all of them have collapsed.  I am suspecting nibbling mice.  I thought I might be able to salvage them as baby leeks but none of them made the grade.  Leeks were on the list of things that I might not grow again and that has now been confirmed.

Six

With apologies for the poor focus, the autumn crocus speciosus  ‘ Albus’ bulbs that I bought on the cheap a few weeks back have just pushed up to the surface. Why does it always look like you have more than enough to plant and yet when the flowers appear you realise you had room for double the quantity?  There is a promise that they will form large colonies, something I shall be looking forward to.   I should have packed them in tighter among the forget-me-not seedlings.  I’m looking forward to those flowering next year too.

Damp and cold it may be but my gardening optimism is currently running high.  I hope yours is too.  There’s always plenty of gardening cheer to be found in the links to SOS to found on Mr P’s site.  Thank you Mr P for keeping us all going.

 

 

Six On Saturday: First Frost

There is nothing like the first frost to wake up this semi hibernating gardener. It was a light one but it had me scurrying to get the last of the pellies into the greenhouse. Not that my unheated greenhouse offers much protection, the thermometer recorded 1.3 degrees.  Winter approaches and six things in the garden becomes an interesting challenge.  Here’s my motley collection for the week.

One

The last vestige of summer – the second flowering of the delphiniums.  Hardly enough to make a show but such willingness to have a go must be admired.

Two 

Likewise for astrantia major.  This plant is happily self seeding in the garden.  There may come a day when I regard it as a thug but for now  I’m content to relocate the seedlings to other parts.

Three

The first of the hellebores has flowered.  This is a very early variety known as ‘Happy Day’.  I picked it up from a plant sale once upon a time and I’d like some more of them but I haven’t been able to locate them.  I never seem to be around when they are setting seed – note to self: must try harder.  It is time to have a look at the leaves of hellebores and remove last year’s foliage.  More advice on this can be found in this RHS article .

Four

All those good gardeners who have winter structure in their gardens will be smiling smugly now as I try to find the last three.  I don’t have much in the way of seasonal shrubs which I always mean to rectify but never quite get round to.  My long border winter structure comes from four euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii.  Every year they take it in turns to look unhappy.  Believe it or not, this is one of the healthier ones.  This year’s sad specimen is being closely watched but I now have two seedling understudies waiting in the wings.

Five

This is a part of the garden that’s waiting for some inspiration.  It is a narrow border and this half of it has been home to wild blackberries and a thornless cultivar since before we arrived.  This week’s job was to cut back last year’s fruiting canes and bring the whole thing under control again. The berries are welcome in the summer and no doubt some will be kept but each year I manage to get a little more this border turned over to flowers.  Maybe next year I’ll push on to the end of the path.

Six

Last week I borrowed a weeping willow tree from my neighbour and this week I am borrowing a gorgeous rose.  Who knows what it is, but it is leaning over into my garden and looks full of curiosity.  This weekend I will be browsing  rose catalogues from the comfort of an armchair in search for a new climber for this garden.  The passion flower is going and a new rose is coming.

Tulips and roses are in my thoughts for November.  The weather has been relatively gentle here so far.  That cannot be said for other parts of the UK.  I hope you are not suffering flooding or constant rain and that there is something still be found in your gardens.   All will be revealed in Mr P’s roundup and no doubt there will be blue skies from the other side of the world.

Six On Saturday: November rolls in

I am going to stick my neck out and say that I like November in the garden. It’s a wild, wet and windy day today and the leaves are dancing off the trees.  It’s the sort of day to to stay inside and enjoy the autumn colours through the window.  At this time of the year my neighbour’s willow tree sheds its leaves far and wide.  I just can’t photograph the sight of them twirling down into the garden but it is truly lovely.

One

Here’s my view from the inside.  The garden is surrounded by trees in other gardens and the falling leaves all get added to the leaf heap.  I’ve emptied out last year’s leaves into old compost bags to allow them to rot down for a few more months before they are spread around the raspberry canes.

Two

In my garden the large fig tree and the persimmon are changing colour and dropping leaves.  I had a bumper crop of persimmons this year until September.  Then the majority of them dropped off.  I think I’m left with about a dozen.

Three

I like November because I don’t  worry about what is giving colour in the garden.  It’s time to relax and enjoy the settling down for winter.  The manure for the veg beds has arrived.  In a week or two the tulips will be planted and there will be some tidying up of the borders but then it’s time to let it all go for a while and indulge in some wishful thinking for the next surge of growth.

Four

An update on the green manure sown in September.  It’s a bit patchy but maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.  It’s going to be dug in next week when the manure will be spread around the veg plot.  Then the worms can do their thing over winter.  Parsnips are my only winter crop so other than tidying up the soft fruit the veg plot will be off my radar for a while.

Five

There are still lovely plants filling the borders.  In the summer I bought a couple of small pots of gunnera magellanica to provide ground cover.  It has settled in really well and I like the small leaves.  There is a promise of flowers followed by berries but I haven’t seen any evidence of them yet.

Six

The roses continue despite the rain.  This is Gertrude Jekyll.  I will give the roses a winter cut back but for now I’m letting them bloom.

It’s a late post from me because I watched the rugby.  Oh well!  Time to catch up with the SOS posts on  Mr P’s site there’ll be plenty to see there.

Six On Saturday: Winding down

There’s no denying it. The leaves are falling and every now and then a cold night sneaks in. It’s time to move to those autumn/winter jobs. I left two tomato plants standing after the big greenhouse clear out but even those must be dealt with now. The mower blades will be set to high as the mower is used to collect leaves and tulip bulbs will be planted. This weekend I will take the scented leaf pelagoniums into the greenhouse but I needed a some more compost for their over-wintering pots, Of course that was fatal:

One

A trip to the garden centre, even at this time of year, is a dangerous thing.  Compost was purchased – peat free of course – but the route back to the exit went via the reduced bench and there were a few 3l pots of Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’.  Well they might as well sit in my garden as stand in the garden centre, don’t you think?  Especially at a bargain price of £4.50 a pot.  They’ve gone into my new orange and magenta border.  Dreams of next summer already!

Two

Speaking of borders here is the long border in its autumn clothing.  It’s definitely winding down here.  The asters at the far end keep going but the roses are putting out smaller and smaller flowers and the autumn crocuses were felled by the rain.

Three

The cuttings of salvia ‘Amistad’ were growing so strongly that I decided to pot them on.  I used a very gritty mix to start them off and the root system had developed well.  I’ve got six at the moment in the hope that I can get three through the winter.

Four

In the front garden the hydrangea that this year flowered blue has faded into the usual autumn colour.  I enjoy its muted tones at this time of the year.  I was not so fond of the blue, a result I think of the mulch it received last winter.

Five

Also looking autumnal in the front garden is my mystery plant.  It does flower but I never seem to catch a photo of it.  The single black berries are very attractive.  I think it is some form of cotoneaster.

Six

The greenhouse clear out meant bringing in the romano peppers.  A few had just about ripened and a week in the kitchen has moved them on a bit more.  Time to eat them!

A cold night is forecast  for Sunday and my evergreen agapanthus are already showing a few yellow leaves.  The time for fleece has arrived.  It’s also time to see who else is taking winter precautions.  A trip to Mr P’s site is called for.  Who’s still got colour and who is wrapping up for winter?

Six On Saturday: Delightful dahlias cheer up the garden

I have not ventured out in the garden too much lately but one day this week there was a gap in the downpours and I managed to do some work. I have a very sodden garden and I was squelching around in the borders. I managed to divide some day lillies and a knautia. I relocated some sanguisorba ‘Tanna’ that had not performed at all well and planted ten of the hundred or so bulbs that I have left to plant. The borders are slipping into winter dormancy and I thought there would not be much to show for this week’s six. But it is surprising what can be found. Here they are.

One

By today this dahlia had finally opened up.   Do I have the slowest dahlias in the UK?  I’m hoping the first frosts are a few weeks off.  To be fair, this dahlia was dug up and replanted in a pot after a slug attack had left it in tatters so I should be proud of its resilience.

Two

The Orange Cushion dahlias that I am hoping to propagate from seed have put out a new flush of flowers and I do much prefer this size of dahlia flowers.  Collecting seed has not been possible so far as the seed heads are a soggy mess.  Dahlia lovers – should I be cutting the heads off and bringing them inside to dry?  I have done this with my agapanthus and they did deliver some lovely black seed.

Three

These beautifully coloured mushrooms are now an annual feature of the garden.  I have quite a colony of them this year.  I think they come with the mulch that I buy each year and I am very happy to have them.

Four

This is my one flowering nerine for the year. It is  bowdenii ‘Ostara’. I planted about ten in April 2018.  I am having another go and as a result of special offer – end of season, we have so many we are giving them away – I now have 30 more.  Total cost £5.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’ve some in a pot now, hoping that they will be my insurance.

Five

The fig leaves have yellowed so much more over the week.  Sadly it is unlikely that the fruit that remains will ripen and I will have to pick them all off soon.  On of my least favourite garden jobs.

Six

The hylotelephium spectabile that I mentioned a few weeks ago have darkened to a good deep red.  I did move a few round in the front garden and have some spare plants to over-winter in pots.  As the garden matures my collection of plants in pots increases.  The self seeding geraniums and alchemillia mollis are growing in number but there are always gaps to be filled and they will be put to good use next year.

I take my hat off to Mr P who manages this herd of SOSers.  I had a busy week last week and didn’t get to read many of my usual SOS favourites.  I will do better this weekend – after I finish planting the allium and daffodil bulbs!

Six on Saturday: Mid Autumn

I noticed that the leaves on the fig tree have just begun to turn yellow and so I am accepting that autumn is here. I’d love to be poetic about the gently falling rain but it’s seriously disrupting my gardening. I managed to plant out the Red Electric onion sets and some Jermor shallots last weekend but I don’t think much will get done this weekend. Time to focus on the positives.

One

I’m starting with some lovely greenhouse surprises.  The Six On Saturday meme has gently persuaded me to do more propagation.  These are my first ever root cuttings.  I dug around the sides of the anemone ‘Honorine Joubert’ and found some thicker roots.  I snipped off six  cuttings and planted them up in September.  The first signs of life have just appeared and it is all very exciting.  Of course I now have to get them through the winter.  I will resort to my usual tactic of crossing fingers.

Two

As the outside garden dies back so plans take shape for next year.  I sowed some ammi visnaga in September and a good number of these have germinated.  This is my first successful autumn sowing of ammi.  I’m already looking forward to the froth they will add to next summer’s garden.

Three 

The hesperantha was struggling to open up this  gloomy morning but even its closed form adds a welcome burst of colour to this corner of the garden.

Four

Some weeks ago I was tempted by some pots of salvia ‘Mystic Spires’.  I was advised to treat them as annuals and I did feel it was slightly mad to be buying a plant that was only going to last a few weeks, but I did and I think it was worth it.  There is  a slim chance that it might overwinter and I could have a go at taking some cuttings.  I’ve got nothing to lose.

Five

Forgive me if I’ve said this before but I’ve been gardening here for three and bit years now.  This colony of  erigeron karvinskianus started out as three small pots bought from a plant sale in the early days.  They have done their thing and spread out well.  They have just begun to mask the stone wall that props up this part of the garden.  I even spotted a few self seeders in the cracks which is just what I wanted.  For me it’s a doer, flowering all summer.  I know others find it thuggish but for the moment it can run wild here.

Six

The skimmia ‘Lime Green’ that I added this summer has settled down very well and has just begun to flower again.  This is in the north facing border in the space previously occupied by an ailing choysia.  I have space for a few more plants here but I need something with height to cover the fence.  I think one candidate is a camellia.  Watch this space.

It’s time to bring the last of the tomatoes in, take the lemon tree to the greenhouse and, if it is ever dry enough, to prune the climbing rose, Mdme Alfred Carriere,  on the back fence.  Let’s hope there’s a small window of dryer weather soon.  And if not, then there’s more time to read the links hosted by Mr P.

Six On Saturday: Potatoes. What do I know?

If there’s one thing I know about potatoes it is that King Edward is the best potato for roasting. IMHO. I have spent the last few years moaning about the size of those that come in the supermarket bags. Too small and what a pain they are to peel. So I took matters into my own hands and bought a few to grow. Here’s the result.

One

As you can see I did no better than the supermarket buyers.  But worse is to come.  I don’t grow many potatoes but I like to have a few varieties.  The mix this year was Arran Pilot, Belle de Fontenay, Ratte, King Edward and Pink Fir Apple.  I buy them loose, filling up a bag and separating each variety with a slip of paper.  I chitted them and planted out the first and second earlies in a raised bed.  The King Edward and Pink Fir Apple went into the ground in a separate bed.  Arran Pilot did well but was not very interesting.  Belle de Fontenay was a joy and is definitely on the list for next year.  Ratte was a strange one.  Good taste but surprisingly floury for a new potato.  It did very well as a crushed new potato.  But how would the King Edwards turn out.  After several weeks of rain I finally got round to lifting the main crop.  The King Edwards did not look like King Edwards at all.  In fact they looked suspiciously like a new potato with a nice looking shape.  It very slowly and painfully dawned on me that I had mixed up my potatoes and had been happily digging up the King Edwards throughout August and subjecting them to large amounts of mayonnaise or butter and chives.  The shame of it! Thankfully I had a few left in the fridge which will be getting a good roasting very soon. There is more to share.

Two

Now on to the results of the ‘main crop’.  The result is sadly very pathetic.  There were only a handful of Pink Fir Apple and barely more than that from the mislocated Ratte.  The size is tiny.  The upside is I don’t have to peel them and there is the chance for one more potato salad.  Barring the Arran Pilot I will grow these varieties again next year.  I will keep improving the soil and will try to water more often.  Maybe results will be better. Who knows?

Three

Happily other things in the garden are doing well and have benefited from the October rain.  The hydrangea has put out several new blooms, they are such generous flowerers when the conditions are right.

Four

I have a second flush of delphinium flowers.  This is my reward for cutting them back as soon as they had finished flowering.  Those that I didn’t get round too quite so quickly have not delivered and who can blame them.

Five

Sometime ago I whined about the zinnias being late but they arrived and have been amazing.  The bees still have something to come into the garden for and the colour is beautiful.  If I remember rightly these came from a free packet of seeds. A bargain and a definite for next year.

Six

Last week I said I would be optimistically looking at my sweet peas to see if they had germinated.  I sowed the left over seeds from this year and some I had from a few years ago.  Last week they had just broken the surface and this week they are an inch or two high.  Time for tough love, they have been removed from the sunny windowsill and placed in the greenhouse.  Overnight temperatures there dropped to five degrees one night this week.

Thanks to Mr P for starting this meme off.  It works for me and if you are tempted to join in then take a look at the participant guide on The Propagator’s site.  I’m hoping to plant some more bulbs this weekend.   Let’s hope I can tell my onions from my daffs!