Six On Saturday: The fourth week of February approaches

The fourth week of February is a significant week because this is the week I plan to sow some seeds.  Surely if I write this down I will do it?  The sap may be rising in the garden but my mojo is lagging behind.  I have had enough of howling winds and constant rain.  I have some gardening to be done as well as seeds to sow. There was some encouragement from the walk round today.  I can see the geraniums beginning to break through again, the camassias planted last year are coming along and I noticed the cowslips are in bud.   Last week’s primroses, pulmonarias and crocuses are still looking good and the hellebores continue to shine.  Here’s this week’s six.

One

Not one of my favourites but it a good indicator of the change of season.  That stalwart of front gardens, the forsythia has broken into flower.

Two

I’ve added a number of hellebore niger to the garden this year and they have just got their flower heads up off the ground.  I have some lovely soft pink hellebores but these white ones can be seen from the windows, shining beacons of light in the eternal rain.

Three

The annual splurge of euphorbia characias wulfenii is well under way.  Look carefully and you will see the ailing specimen of the four I have.  The regular downpours are not helping it in anyway and are completely destroying my artful symmetry.

Four

The clematis armandii continues to pump out the flower buds and soon there will be flowers.  I’m looking forward to those.

Five

I am training rosa Madame Alfred Carriere along the back fence and it was good to see these side shoots appearing this week.  More promise of things to come.

Six

I’ve been lucky not to have suffered any real damage from the winds.  No shed roof blown off, no broken windows in the greenhouse.  The fir tree in the front garden has stood firm, only shedding a great quantity of cones and one or two twiggy bits which has given the otherwise grey space a certain rustic woodland charm.

The Phillip Larkin poem ‘Coming’ has been on my mind this week, so I will leave you with these thoughts:

A thrush sings, Laurel-surrounded In the deep bare garden, Its fresh-peeled voice        Astonishing the brickwork. It will be spring soon, It will be spring soon –

Time to get the Fish, Bone and Blood sprinkled around and don’t forget to check in with Mr P for more signs of spring and if you get the chance, enjoy your gardening.

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: 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: 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: 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: 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.

Four

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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.

Six

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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!

 

 

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!

One

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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.

Four

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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.

Four

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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.

Five

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.