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: Plan, plan and then cross fingers

Things are definitely on the move in the garden.  The bulbs are poking up their first leaves and here in London some of the perennials are beginning to stir.  Storm Eric poured in yesterday and is blowing itself out today.  The sun is shining and optimism is rising.

One

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There was a brief lull in the weather this week.  The snow disappeared and the ground wasn’t too wet so the opportunity was taken to plant out the asparagus crowns.  I dug out the trench, created the ‘w’ shaped profile and elegantly draped the crowns across the top.  The trench was then back-filled to just cover the crowns and over the coming weeks as the crowns send out shoots there will  be more back filling to ensure the crowns are well buried.  A scattering of fish bone and blood also went into the mix.  I opted for one long trench and I think I have space for a border of companion plants. Recommendations are to plant tomatoes and basil in an attempt to fend off asparagus beetle.  I am growing tomatoes from seed this year and I’m sure I will have some spare plants.  The extras can go by the side of the asparagus as a first barrier.  I’m happy to sow a few basil seeds as well.  That’s the first plan.  We’ll see if it works.

Two

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The potatoes have been bought and chitting is underway.  The second plan is where to put the potatoes this year.  My veg plot has a three year rotation plot.  (I don’t grow brassicas).  Potatoes are followed by onions followed by root crops.  The lay out of the veg plot gives me two larger beds and then three thinner strips.  There is also one medium sized raised bed.  I have to decide if  I use the raised bed for half the potatoes and one of the larger smaller strips for the remainder.  You may be a little confused by now – as I am.  I have a few weeks to sort this all out.

Three

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Beans will also have to fit into the plan and this year I am forgoing the climbing bean ‘Blue Lake’ in favour of a dwarf french bean.  The simple reason is I don’t enjoy untangling the beans and twine from the wig wam at the end of the season.  I also reasoned that the dwarf beans would fit very nicely into one of the thin strips.  A long term plan is to combine two of the thin strips, but that’s on the wish list.

Four

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My final purchase of sweet peas seeds has been made.  Let’s see how ‘Iris’ and ‘Gwendoline’ get on with ‘April in Paris’.  The first batch of sweet peas was sown last weekend.  These will be sown in a week or two.

Five

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Onion choices have also been made.  Sturon, Red Baron and Longor shallots.  I am going to start off the onions in modules this year ready to transplant as the weather becomes warmer.  A first time of trying this for me so fingers crossed here too.

Six

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The first flower on the Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’  has appeared.  It is nestled under a Mahonia in the front garden.  Yes, Spring is on its way.

 

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.