Six On Saturday: All will be well

It’s lovely how one phone call can lift the spirits.  Friday was the coldest day of the year for my garden and I was thinking about presenting a six shades of brown.  There were some truly great contenders but in the blink of phone screen my mind set changed and some colours came into focus.

One

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Shouting most loudly to be included this week is the lovely hellebore double ‘Pretty Ellen’.  Even with the downward aspect of the flowers the colour gives a warming glow to a shady corner of the garden.  I think I should have more of these and so I shall look into how to propagate them.  I imagine it will be a slow process.

Two

The viburnums in the back garden are fairing rather better than those in the front garden.  One is a large and oldish looking tree which has the pinker flower and the other is a smaller tree with more consistently white flowers. Both are much loved by viburnum beetle – which I’ve never seen, just the holey evidence of their presence.

Three

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It may be cold out there but the rosemary bush has a gentle dusting of pretty purple flowers.

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The iberis sempervirens that covers the rocky wall of the north facing border is also beginning to flower.

Five

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The leaves of Arum italicum looking beautifully glossy and untroubled by slugs.  I read that these combine well with snowdrops.  My snowdrops are being very shy this year.  It looks like I may have lost some which is very careless of me.  I think it will be another week before a snowdrop picture graces one of my posts.

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The last of my six gives the clue to my delightful phone call.   Last weekend I tackled a good part of the cutting that back that was needed.  Roses were pruned, geraniums and alchemilla mollis cut back and the builder’s bag that is serving as my temporary compost heap was overflowing.  I was longing for the day when the brick structure would be demolished.  I pushed over a few of the less stable bricks and poked and prodded the rest.  Hurrah, no more waiting.  My delightful builder has two free days and will arrive next week with an array of suitably destructive tools and a skip.  I will spend the weekend ferreting out all the debris that accumulates in the garden and down the side of the shed.  All will be well with the world.

For more stories from gardens around the world go to the links on The Propagator site.  Now there’s a man who loves his compost!

 

 

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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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Two  

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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.

Three

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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!

Five

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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.

Six

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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!

 

Six On Saturday: Is it summer, winter or spring?

The season is clearly changing but the garden seems to be in a state of confusion.  Here are six things from my garden this week.

One

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Natasha Richardson rose, one of the English roses that just keep on flowering.  Lovely pink flowers and new buds still appearing.  It could be summer!

Two

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Penstemon ‘Plum Jerkum’.  This suffered in the scorching sun of summer but it is happily putting out new flowers now.  It was a great companion to the Tithonia, which truly does know summer is over and is slowly curling up at the edges.

Three

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There are one or two last flowers on the rudbeckia but most have gone to seed.  I will leave them standing through the winter to give some shape to the border.

Four

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The agastache ‘Black Adder’ is also in its winter clothing.  This was an absolute winner this year.  Great colour and always thrumming with the sound of bees.

Five

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Elsewhere in the garden there are signs of Spring.  The primroses are out and offering a reminder that the slugs and snails are still active.

Six

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At the very back of the garden in a shady sheltered corner the hellebores are putting out new flowers.  I am sure these didn’t appear last year until January.  This one is Pretty Ellen.

I’ve got bulb planting to do this weekend.  The start I made last weekend resulted in only 18 bulbs being planted.  As usual I was distracted.  The dahlias needed cutting back, zinnias were pulled up and some of the foxglove seedlings were planted out.  This weekend I will be trying to put a few tulips in the border without crashing in on those that are already there.  Could be interesting.  Wishing you all well with your gardening pleasures. If you want to see what everyone else is up to visit The Propagator for all the latest links to other Six On Saturday posts.

Six on Saturday

I was going to dial in my apologies for this week.  There is much potential in the garden but could I really subject you to six photos of emerging shoots.  Could I cobble together something or would it end up a busted flush?  Well the social streak in me is strong and I enjoy being a part of the #SixOnSaturday meme so here I am again.

One

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As the new growth on the perennials comes through I cut back the old stems.  But the seed heads on these Agastache foeniculum can provide some winter interest in the border for a while longer.  They are  ‘Alabaster’ and give lovely white spires of flowers for the butterflies to feast on in the summer.

Two

Other plants do not fair so well over the winter.  Here are two plantings of Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’.  Those planted at the sunnier end of the border are holding their own but those at the shadier end are disappearing fast.  This is their first year in the garden so it will be interesting to see if they pull through.  But if not, I have the spot at the shadier end earmarked for some more hellebores.  It’s so important to have the right plant in the right place!

Three

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Yes, here is another hellebore photo.  I am becoming a great fan of them and love it when the white ones catch the sun.

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There was a tweet in the week about a rosemary being in flower.  Yes, it is in my garden too.  This border has the sun from early morning to mid afternoon and with its back against the brickwork the rosemary does well here.

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Also doing well are the penstemons. Known for being on the tender side, the advice is not to cut them back until new growth starts to come through.  These penstemons have come through the winter in strong leaf but I won’t cut them back until the weather is warmer and then I will cut back to points of strong growth a couple of centimetres up from the ground.

Six

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And here’s where I bust my flush!  It’s an emerging shoot.  No apologies for being excited to see so much new growth on this iris.  It is an allotment share from a well established clump and has a lovely tall stem with white flowers but I don’t know the variety.  I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and this shows that spring, although postponed for a week,  is on its way.

The Propagator is the place to go to read more #SixOnSaturday posts, just what’s needed after a chilly session in the garden.

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

Six on Saturday

As I write the first real frost in the garden is being melted by the sun.  It is the third frosty morning  and this time the water in the bird bath has frozen.  The birds have been active in the garden foraging for food and my first six is on this theme.

One


This one is for John Kingdon at the Rivendell Garden blog The blackbirds have found my cotoneaster and the display of bright red berries is diminishing.

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There are still jobs to done in the garden and this is one I completed yesterday.  Cutting back the old and diseased foliage of the hellebores.  I only have a few so it wasn’t arduous and it enabled me to appreciate all the new flower buds forming. This is Pretty Ellen and the bud that I featured a week or so ago has opened beautifully.

Three


There have been plenty of posts recently about collecting leaves, so here’s my leaf mould corner.  Made from chicken wire and a few posts put together with a staple gun.  A varied collection of leaves blow in from neighbouring gardens.  My contributions are from the fig and apple trees.  I collect these mainly by mowing the lawn with the blades set high, shredding and collecting in one sweep.

Four


And here is the deleafed fig tree.  Only a few figs ripened and even the squirrels are turning up their noses at those that are left.  I now have the mammoth tasking of removing all but the very smallest figs.  A job for many Saturdays.

Five


I have recently extended a border and the first planting is complete.  The old plants have been brought out from under the hedge, tulips planted and lastly the roses.  A robin waited expectantly as I took this photo.  He’s pretending not to be looking. But I wasn’t turning over any worms that day. There’s more on the new border at New garden, new borders, new optimism

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Back to some of my favourites for the last one.  R.Scepter’d Isle is still putting out new buds and providing some late season colour.  I would also like to put in a good word for geranium brookside.  I have plans to divide this once it is well established and weave throughout the borders.  It definitely earns its keep.

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


Six on Saturday

Some things on  the gardener’s to do list are there for several weeks.  My list has a few that have been hanging around for months.  I am pleased and relieved to present the first of my Six on Saturday for this week.  I have finally bought and planted out some onions.

One

Far from thoughtfully researching the most interesting, disease resistant and high yield bulbs I could find I simply bought what was in the nursery – radar, electric and jermor for the shallots.  The wire mesh and freezer basket are in place to keep the birds off until the onions are fully rooted.  I will leave these on for some months as I have learnt the lesson of taking them off too early.

Two

Still on the to do list is cleaning the inside of the greenhouse.  I promise you the outside did look wonderful about a month ago.  The ghostly apparition seen here is the lemon tree.  Having bought myself a  min max thermometer – another one crossed off – I could not avoid seeing the inside temperature fall to zero.  So I wrapped the lemon tree in 17gsm fleece.  The  top section has two layers of fleece and I have my fingers crossed.  Underneath the fleece I have decorated the tree with sachets of Amblyseius californicus mite.  These are a preventative control against spider mite.  And washing down the inside will also go some way towards eradicating those pests.

Three 

The leaves of Pulmonaria officinalis are looking fine at the moment.  This was a plant share and I am promised that the slugs avoid this one.  It has really bulked up from the tiny divisions planted earlier in the year.  You can also just spot a bit of new mulch.  Mulching is not complete yet but a start has been made.

Four

There is often a surprise to be found when looking for the six and this week it was finding a new flower on the hydrangea.  What a contrast the white makes with the pink of the autumn colouring

Five

Boxes of tulips arrived a while ago and planting up the borders has begun.  These Violet Beauty are joining Queen of Night, Barcelona and Shirley to form a line either side a path that runs through the border.  This border was first planted from about this time last year and it’s on the to do list to write up the story of its development.  I will. I will.

Six

There is one last shout of colour in the garden.  The container pelargoniums are stubbornly hanging on.  Cold weather is forecast for this weekend so its seems right to give them their five minutes of fame now.

Looking forward to seeing what’s going on in your garden.  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

Six on Saturday

There are some lovely bonuses to this meme.  Shared knowledge from around the world and the weekly deadline sends me out into the garden nosing around in every corner to find out what is new for this week’s post.  This also means I can’t avoid seeing the pests and  diseases to be tackled and the jobs that really must be done! Here’s the six.

One

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The first flowers on the viburnum have opened.  The poor tree is riddled with viburnum beetle but it doesn’t seem to affect the flowering.  Can anyone give a more specific identification on the variety?

Two

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I was also very pleased to spot this first hellebore bud.  It is Pretty Ellen Red which should begin flowering in February, so this is an unexpected early start.  I have planted a small group of these in a shady corner at the back of the garden.  The new growth is clearly providing a food source for the slugs.  Just wish something would eat the slugs. Job for the weekend: cut back the old foliage – looks like hellebore leaf spot has a hold.

Three 

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This is in its second flush of flowering, it’s a common border plant but I just don’t know its name.  It sprawls down a low wall.  Can someone put me out of my misery?

Four

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Apologies for the bright blue background.  I was using a plastic trug to collect any spilt compost as I potted up these tulips.  This year was the first time I have ever lifted and stored tulips.  These were grown in a pot, stored in the shed over summer and I have just spotted that they had begun to sprout.  Quick action required:  out of shed and into pots immediately.  Last year I used compost, this year it’s a mix of grit and compost.  This year’s new tulips for the borders will be planted out in the coming weeks.

Five

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The mulch has arrived.  Mulched borders are so lovely.  It’s like mowing and edging the grass.  Suddenly the garden looks tidier and healthier.  Some of this mulch is for the newly dug out border and the rest will gradually go to the other borders and the veg patch.

Six

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Speaking of vegetables, here is my last productive strip in the veg patch.  The parsnips.  I grew Tender and True, sown in May.  The weather is telling me that it is parsnip time and I’m looking forward to pulling up and roasting some of these soon.

I hope the weather is good to you and that there is some time, no matter how brief, for you to enjoy your garden 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