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.

Six On Saturday: The walk of shame

What on earth will I find for this weekend? Finding six things to share brings home hard the reality that those gardening jobs are quietly building up – gooseberries to be pruned, raspberries to be cut down, the passion flower, long ago condemned, is still twining its way round the arch and the mild weather is doing the weeds the power of good. Everything is shooting away and gloomily I fear the worst. A prolonged cold spell must be on its way, I am postponing any cut backs in anticipation of a blast of icy weather but am I deluding myself? Shame over and done with, here’s the six good things I found this morning.

One

More hellebore love as the hybridised ones begin to open up.  Irresistible.

Two

The beautiful unfurling of the aquilegia leaves has begun, and diamond drops of rain add to its charm.

Three

The first flowers of the bergenia have appeared.  I’m one of those who underated these plants but I’m working around them, adding in some other leaf forms to create a textured area. It’s a work in progress and I’ll share more as the other plants grow on.  I found an interesting blog from the Beth Chatto garden which mounts a strong defence for the their use in the garden.

Four

The climbing hydrangeas, planted last year to cover the brown fence, are sending out buds right, left and centre.  I’m hoping for a good display of flowers this year but I think it will be a while before the fence is hidden.

Five

This brachyglottis also falls into the bergenia category for me.  Not much loved but once again I am beginning to appreciate it for being a good doer.  It had become very leggy but some serious cutting back last year has perked it up no end and it is looking very healthy.  It sits well under-planted between a mahonia and a viburnum.

Six

The iberis sempervirens is another flower making an early appearance.  Billed as a mid-spring reliable, its appearance in what is still mid-winter seems a little odd.  It is in a sunny corner in a sheltered spot so perhaps this is all normal.

I just need a few more weeks before spring really appears. I will make another promise to myself to get out into the garden and do some jobs.  Sounds like the shame is making a re-appearance.  But not to worry, I’ll ignore it until next week’s six.

Thanks to Mr P for instituting this regime – no, really I do mean that.  I am sure my garden is a better place for it.  If you’d like to be kept on your toes take a look at the blog and see what is going on in everyone else’s gardens.

Six on Saturday: Proper January cold

Blue skies and cold temperatures, the real January has arrived. On a walk round the suburban streets here I gently peeked into front gardens and spotted the first camellias opening up, beautiful sprays of red nandia berries and the delicate yellows of winter flowering honeysuckle. Blue Monday has passed and all is well. Inspired by what I had seen I looked more carefully at my garden and here’s what I found.

One

The first crocus is in bud, beautifully veined and full of the promise of butter cream flowers.

Two

The cyclamen bought on the cheap a year ago have decided to flower, the white is delicately flushed with pink, just perfect.

Three

The magnolia tree is in furry bud and some had even dared to open, perhaps a little too soon.  Temperatures for tonight are forecast to be lower and I’m hoping there won’t be too much damage done.

Four

In expectation of cold weather the evergreen agapanthus have been fleeced since November but the fleece, in its second year of use, is crumbling away.  If anyone can recommend some more reliable fleece I’d be pleased to hear from you.  I’ve gathered this together and tied the top up with string.

Five

In the greenhouse the temperature overnight on Friday just managed to stay above freezing.  I was thrilled to see the new growth on these rose cuttings that came all the way from  fellow SOSer, Fred in France.  I am very excited to think that I might have some beautiful white miniature roses soon.  Thanks Fred.

Six 

There are new buds on the cotoneaster villosus which, again, I have to hope won’t be crushed by frost.  So much excitement and so much jeopardy.  Is this why gardening is so thrilling?

Could this be the weekend the vine is pruned and the hellebores planted out.   Dry weather is forecast but will my fingers stay warm for long enough?   I’ll also have a look at the plans of other SOSers by visiting The Propagator, host of this meme and leader of the pack.  Happy gardening to all.

 

Six On Saturday: Part daydreams, part jobs to do

I had one last family gathering last weekend before the Christmas and New Year jollities were over and so it is only now that I come to thinking about the New Year in the garden. There are more signs that things are waking up. the first tips of bulbs are pushing through and the roses are shooting. There must be a cold snap to come but so far it continues to be gloomy and mild. A brief spell of sunshine enticed me out to finish planting the very last of the cowslips and I generously potted on some ammi seedlings that were destined  for the compost heap. My six for the week includes jobs to done  and the first of the late winter/early spring flowers.  It may still be winter but my thinking time is spent on plans for the summer.

One 

This is the first snowdrop to appear under the apple trees.  A very cheering sight but also a reminder that I didn’t plant enough here.  I was beaten back by the roots of the apple tree.  I have learnt my lesson on the need for quantity though and have ordered 300 snowdrops to add to the north border to give some early interest.  I hope that does it.

Two

The grape vine over the pergola needs the old grapes removed and its winter prune, something that mustn’t be left too late.  This is a well established vine but it never quite makes it to producing edible grapes.  There are a reasonable number of bunches but just as they ripen they shrivel up.  Even the birds turned their beaks up at them.  I am going to love bomb it this year with regular watering and seaweed extract feeds.

Three

This is the straggle of passion flower stems that clothes the arch.  I may have mentioned this before but as yet it still on the list: my job is to cut these down and try to dig out the roots.  The arch doesn’t have much going for it at the height of summer and I am hoping that a move to the traditional combination of roses and clematis will provide a more attractive view.

Four 

 

The hellebores are coming through now.  This is a hybrid bought from the Finchley Horticultural Society plant sale last year.  I have just order some more  hellebores, taking advantage of seasonal reductions – it is so hard to resist.

Five

This double hellebore, tucked away in a far corner of the garden,  is a favourite.  It is always a treat to find it in flower again.

Six

Celandines, yes but more importantly an empty space.  The celandines are making a land grab but, having cleared out a small self seeded hornbeam, they will be moved on again as the space is designated as the new home for a sarcococca hookeriana ‘Winter Gem’.  A smaller growing  version that I hope will fit into the narrow border.  The celandines will be dug out but never eradicated.  I have come to accept them and they are a sure sign that the season is moving on.

Almost mid January, almost mid winter, we are on the trajectory to spring.  The seed tin has been opened and the dreams of summer are beginning.   I’ve started thinking about seed potatoes and whether or not this is the year to add some grasses to the borders.  Enjoy your garden daydreams and follow those of other sixers at The Propagator a great blog to read and where the links to other sixes are listed.

Six On Saturday: Signs of things to come

This is a fatal time of year for me. The Christmas break takes me away from the garden and usually cold weather keeps me away. But SOS calls and even the briefest of walks around the borders reveals that sitting with one’s feet up is not what is needed. Those weeds are looking smugly healthy whilst other more valued plants are in need of a trim or a primp. There are more leaves to be taken off the hellebores and I spotted one or two wayward rose branches that need to be taken out. I don’t have the excuse of cold weather, in truth it has been quite mild here but the ground is very wet so I will have tread carefully. Here’s what else I found.

One

 

The clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ is fattening up very nicely.  It is growing rampantly in one direction but is a little bald in the other.  One side receives much more sun and it is the sunnier side that is worse for wear.   Perhaps it will re-balance this summer.

Two

A favourite photo for this time of year, the new growth of the sedum is pushing through.  The old stems can stay on a little longer though.

Three

A visit to the greenhouse paid some dividends as the overwintering pelagonium had put out new flowers.  It was quite a timely visit as the pellie is clearly sitting below a leak point from the roof and some of its leaves were gently rotting away. On the downside all the salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ cuttings have rotted off.

Four

There was some more joy in the greenhouse. Fred, a long time SOSer had sent me seeds of anchusa capensis back in September and I sowed just a few then.  Three of them came good and are currently looking promising.  I’ll be sowing the rest in the coming months.  Thanks Fred.

Five

That great herald of spring euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii is once again having mixed fortunes in the border.  I have four of them planted centrally in the long border to give an early blast of lime green but one of them always plays up. These two plants are about a metre apart but something is having a dramatic impact on the growth of one of them.  I will soldier on but I think they are not very fond of my heavy soil and the wet winter is doing them no favours.

Six

Always reliable in providing a great mound of evergreen structure is this sage.  It came with the garden and every year I give it a thorough prune.  The compost heap smells wonderful for few days.

Happy New Year to everyone, the long month of January has arrived and we need to keep our minds focused on the impending arrival of beautiful things.  Seeds to be sown, spring bulbs to be enjoyed and where we would be without a good moan about weeds, slugs and snails.  I’m ready for it all and so is The Propagator, he’s already sown his chilli seeds!

 

Six on Saturday: December delights

I had two incentives to get out in the garden today. Finding six gardening delights and collecting the greenery for decorating the house. I had a window of dryness this morning in what has otherwise been a very wet few days so armed with secateurs and the trusty phone camera out I went. The lawn is squelching and the borders are sodden. I hope the tulips can cope.

One

A wheelbarrow of wet ivy that has to dry out in a couple of hours so that I can start creating the annual stair banister decoration.  This is a combination of fake berries, ivy, lights and what ever else comes to hand.  Collecting the ivy involved pushing in around the blackcurrant canes which released their wonderful scent.  That made my morning!

Two

In a dark corner at the back of the garden I spotted that the ‘Pretty Ellen’ hellebores are in bud and looking full of promise.

Three

The background to these hellebores is a covering of euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’.  These are supposed to have pink tinged leaves in the winter but I’ve yet to spot them.  I’m not complaining though as the white tinged leaves were singing out from the gloom today.

Four 

More signs of things to come as the viburnums are coming into bud.  These are all very old shrubs, full of beetle holes but soldiering on nonetheless.  I’ve been snipping away at them for three years now, removing the dead branches and cutting back the shrubs around them, and I think I detect signs of stronger new growth and more flower buds.

Five

The first primrose has been out a few weeks now and really deserves a mention for reminding me that the cycle continues come rain or shine.

Six 

Winning a place this week for its longevity is this astrantia major, with new buds that are making into flower.  Testament to the general mildness of the winter so far.

This will be my last SOS for a couple of weeks.  I wish everyone a very peaceful and happy Christmas and I look forward to catching up with all the news in the New Year.  Many thanks Mr P for hosting this meme, keeping all the links in order and generally being an all round good gardening friend! Did you have any idea of what you were creating?

Six on Saturday: Cold arrives

Colder weather and a cold for me.  I thought I should get on and find my six before the energy levels dropped off so I braved the rain and snapped away. Now the sun has come out and everything looks different, But too late, here are my brown offerings.

One

Not all is brown.  Here is sunrise over the garden earlier in the week.  The neighbouring trees silhouetted against the pink sky gave a dramatic start to the day.  There have been one or two more light frosts but so far it has been a mild start to the winter here.

Two

The temperatures have dropped though and the plants are changing their green colours for brown as the cold takes effect.  I had plenty of this plant in the garden when we arrived three years ago and I have dug out several large clumps.  Can any fern lovers identify it? Or is it bracken?

Three

Some of the anemone leaves have fully turned brown which contrast well with those that are still green.  I’ve been working round the garden removing the brown geraniums and soggy delphiniums and it is a delight to see that weeds are doing so well at this time of the year.  They just cannot be defeated!

Four

The north border that was planted this summer is still looking a little sparse.  I’m hoping the melica grasses will bulk up next year and I have more astrantia seedlings to move in to the gaps.  I have yet to order them but I plan to add in a vast quantity of snowdrops.  I’m thinking a bulk buy of 300 might do it.  That will be fun for February.

Five

The second wave of hellebores have opened up.  Common or garden white ones.  Sadly I lost three of these over the summer.  One end of this border is much sunnier than the other and those at the sunny end suffered from my negligent watering regime. I am regretting that now.

Six

 

The choisya is having a go at its second flowering.  It’s towards the western end of the north border so receives a little of the winter sunshine.  Perhaps today’s sun will encourage a few more buds to open.

I’m hoping tomorrow will be a dry day.  I am probably going to forgo the garden today for a day of sniffling and sneezing inside.  But then that sunshine could be just the thing I need.  More garden updates will be found at The Propagator’s site.  More news from the Prop and from the garden family worldwide.

 

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.