Six On Saturday: Mid January

I have three definites for today. I am hoping that by the end I will have been inspired and will have discovered three more. I know this is not how the professionals go about it. Planning for weeks ahead, caption writers fully briefed, photos crisply in focus and revealing bountiful seasonal colour, and by professional I am referring to my fellow SOSers as hosted by The Propagator. I can only admire and aspire. Here are my offerings.

One

The so called warm weather forecast for last week came heavily laden with rain and those days that were dry were cold. But I did have urgent pruning to be done and so I climbed the ladder and pruned the vine. I peered enviously into my neighbours garden, full of greenery from their fabulous selection of shrubs. There was a feeble resolution to plant more shrubs on this side but in reality I prefer the big bang of summer perennials. Back to the vine. It was a joy to prune as I had the right equipment – more later – but there is still plenty of dead wood in there. Another year has passed without the grapes amounting to anything edible but the summers stems provide a shady corner.

Two

How wonderful it was to receive a smart new pair of secateurs for Christmas. I’ve struggled on with several old pairs for some time, never managing to achieve a truly sharp edge despite many attempts with the whetstone. With these I was able to slice through the vines with absolute ease and probably cut them back more rigorously then I would have done with the old faithfuls.

Three

Whilst I was up the ladder a flash of reddish brown caught my eye not more than two metres away. It was a fox jumping the fence. I had noticed the same fox earlier in the morning roaming around the garden paths. I cleared up the cut branches and returned inside to warm up. At this point the shouting started, a vixen in the middle of lawn calling for a mate. The original fox turned up pretty sharpish and for I was treated to a full on display of foxiness. In the middle of the day, so much for foxes being nocturnal animals.

Four

Ah, I have remembered one more thing. Just before the latest of the lockdowns I met up with a friend who returned an earlier favour, I had shared some hollyhock plants and when they grew on in her garden they flowered in a wonderful shade of burgundy. I was bemused as I had collected the original seeds from plants that I thought were burgundy but mine had flowered as pale pinks and yellows. Somewhere in the seeds I had collected were the burgundy ones and now I have them back again. I’m hoping they come true.

Five

Ooh, getting difficult now. We had our first snowfall of the year overnight and I was planning on finishing up with some snowy scenes but rain followed and the snow has now been washed away. The snowdrops are just beginning to appear but are not quite worthy of a photo but here’s a rain soaked crocus!

Six

Finally, please accept this as proof that I am getting round all the roses. I still have many more to do. I was encouraged by the latest Dig Delve newsletter to be more ruthless with the pruning, and aided and abetted by the new secateurs I went to town, so of course the pruning took a little longer. I had actually set out to cut down the autumn fruiting raspberry canes but I had to pass the roses on the way. This distraction meant that only one section of raspberries were cut back and only two blackcurrant bushes lifted. At least I have some gardening jobs to get me through the second half of January.

Six On Saturday: Last jobs to be done

It’s still quite mild but the days are shortening and colder weather is forecast. I have risked leaving the lemon tree out but this is the weekend it will go into the greenhouse. The scented leaf pelargoniums went inside during the week and the evergreen agapanthuses in pots have been wrapped up in fleece. There are too many of these to move into the greenhouse so they brave the winter outside. The garden is mulched, the old shed has gone and the new shed is on schedule to arrive next week. That leaves the leaves! And the last tidying up in the borders. Oh, and a few dozen tulips still to be planted. So nearly there, but not quite. The garden looks as though it is going quiet but underneath the soggy earth the spring bulbs are waking up. Hurrah! Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

Testament to the mild weather perhaps, is this flower on one of the anemones I grew from root cuttings. I took the cuttings last autumn and managed to get them through the winter. I moved them to 9 cm pots in the summer and perhaps around the end of August planted them out in the garden. It’s a small flower on a small plant but it’s all my own work so much treasured.

Two

The figs have been falling from the tree. Some were ripe enough to make jam with but most are not. This was the result of one morning’s work and the windy weather of this morning has brought down a few more.

Three

Lockdown life is pretty dull which is my excuse for buying these purple cyclamen. Madness, I usually only entertain the white ones. But here they are, looking more pink than purple but they are purple!

Four

As mentioned the pellies are in the greenhouse, even as they continue to flower. They will need to be cut back for their overwintering, a job for next week.

Five

The leaf cage is getting full and the neighbours on both sides are contributing. It’s quite a social event!

Six

Roses are still giving little pops of colour, a cheery sight through the gloom of a drizzly afternoon.

This season is turning, there will be less gardening and more eating of hot buttered crumpets. But SOS carries on. Mr P will inspire us all with his ingenious finds to make it into each week’s six. I urge you to take a look.

Six On Saturday: November shines its way in

November is my favourite winter month and so far it is looking good. The first light frosts arrived this week followed by blue skies. The perfect weather for shovelling the large amounts of mulch I have sitting in dumpy bags. Progress is slow but it’s a wonderful outdoor work out. I am not a tidy gardener but I am always very happy with the sharpness of the border after a mulch has gone down. So all is well in the garden at least. Here’s six things that caught my eye this week.

One

Last week’s halloween fungus was identified as Coral fungus, probably ramaria stricta. This week I have another mystery to be solved. The front garden once again supplies the object requiring an id. Sorry, no prizes!

Two

I have been busy cutting back soggy leaves, in this border it was the siberian irises getting the chop and nearly losing a leg was this little fellah. I usually have a robin as company in the garden but this year the amphibians have been muscling in. I am hopeless at telling the difference between frogs and toads but previous creatures have been identified as toads so I’m going toad for this one.

Three

November is the season for bare root roses and there are always some discounts available which is very tempting. I still have one or two roses putting out small flowers. This one is ‘Jaqueline du Pre’.

Four

And this one is ‘Natasha Richardson’. This one is very floriferous through the year. If I am tempted to try to fit in one more rose it might be ‘Munster Wood’. But at the moment I’m just looking….

Five

A few weeks back I showed the leaves on the persimmon tree as they turned colour. The leaves have all fallen now, leaving the fruit to take centre stage. It’s a good crop this year, destined for the birds as I am not a great fan of the fruit.

Six

I have one fuchsia in the garden, an inherited one so I have no idea of the variety and I am sad to say that it looks like it has fuchsia gall mite. The ends of the shoots are distorted. Here’s the flower rather than the damage. Cutting back the affected growth seems to be the main option. A job for the weekend.

The week ahead promises mild weather here, I’ll be mulching and collecting leaves. The old shed will be taken down and I hope the new one is still on schedule for delivery end of the month. Meanwhile I’ll keep in touch with other SOS gardeners through the links on Mr Ps site. This is the time of year when sunny photos from Australia cheer us up.

Six On Saturday: Looking good on the surface but work to be done

I like to think that by June I’m on top of the garden. That I’ll just potter around dead heading and pulling a few weeds but essentially I will be sitting back and enjoying the balmy days and sweet perfumes. Not last week. The temperature dropped, the winds blew and there was some entirely unsubstantial wet stuff that pretended to be light showers. This all amounted to enough to keep me inside but enough to turbo charge Continue reading

Six On Saturday: Roses

The ‘moderate’ breezes of the last few days have scattered rose petals across the garden. There is dead heading to be done and a little extra support to be put in here and there but the fragrance of a good scented rose more than makes up for that. This week is all about the roses in my garden.

One

I am fortunate to have a walled boundary for about half the length of the narrow border and two ‘Blush Noisette’ climbing roses are beginning to cover a good part of it.  The flowers come in clusters and it is not my favourite to dead head.  The pink flowers fade away to a vintage white but there are always new clusters coming through.  

Two

The long border is in shade for parts of the day and so I chose ‘Wisley’ for it’s ability to survive on four to five hours of sun a day.  It is really in its stride this year.   When the growing notes say ‘elegantly arching stems’ be prepared to put supports in place.  It was one of the first roses to be planted about four years ago and is comfortable at its expected height of four to five foot. 

Three

The ‘Wisley’ roses flank either side of two ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ roses.  The middle of the long border has a sunnier aspect and the punchy pink of Gertie is a great centre point.  Gertie also smells divine.  It grows to a more compact shape than ‘Wisley’ coming in at a height of three foot.  I love it with the lime green of the euphorbias and the white alliums. 

Four

Down along the hedge border I planted three ‘Darcy Bussell’.  This is a truly sumpious red and also beautifully scented.  These roses are strong enough in colour to shine through the morning shade.  Later in the year salvia ‘Amistad’ will provide a dark purple backdrop.  

Five

Just a little along from Darcy grows ‘Jacqueline du Pré’.  I’m pushing my luck a bit here as the planting guidance recommends full sun and this end of the border is in shade until early afternoon.  Last year I was beginning to take pity on Jaqueline and was considering trying to move her but this year she has flowered well.

Six

 

Going back to the narrow border the centre space has been given to ‘Scepter’d Isle’. I do enjoy the shape of the flowers on this rose.  This is another rose that I use supports for, mainly to keep it from spilling out onto the path.  It does have good strong stems and is now at around four foot high.  

These roses were the among the first plants to be added to the garden in the winter of 2016. They’ve come along way and I’m so pleased to be enjoying them now.  Challenging times ahead for us gardeners though – drying winds, more sunshine and no rain forecast for my part of the country.  I’ve got to keep on my toes to keep the roses happy.  

Mr P has a colourful six this week and if that is not enough there will be plenty more gardens to take a tour round if you take a browse among the links.  Happy gardening. 

Six On Saturday: In the sweet shop

I seem to remember being a little excited over recent weeks, contrary to national sentiments at this time. This week I’m in the sweet shop anticipating a sugar overload whilst of course maintaining social distancing. The garden is throwing out new delights at every turn and some of the sulkier seeds have come through. I will definitely have enough courgettes – how could I have doubted that? The Eschscholzia have germinated and even though I am on the third hopeful sowing of parsnips I am optimistic. Here’s my six for the week.

One

I love it when the Siberian irises open up.  The combination of purple and green is just perfect. I divided these last year and spread the joy to friends.  They came to me from a division and it is only right that tradition continues.

Two

The first clematis flower arrived.  I have no idea which one it is, it came with the garden and this year I am very thankful for it.  I was a little tardy in cutting the clematis back so the bottom half is a bare but fortunately hidden by geraniums.  Must do better.

Three

Going back to reluctant seeds, two years ago I sowed an entire packet of euphorbia oblongata.  Four germinated, three survived and last year I squeezed them into small space in the border.  They looked pretty feeble and I did not expect them to survive a winter.  Well they did.  It was a lovely surprise to see them even though they are in the ‘wrong place’ in terms of the border layout. Perhaps they are in the right place for them.

Four

Dazzling away in partial shade is thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’, one of the Prop’s recommendations.  Good sir, I thank you for mentioning it.  This is its second year and it has definitely got its feet in the right place. 

Five

The just about to unfurl, perfectly curled, rose bud of r. Jacqueline du Pré.  When open the rose reveals beautiful golden stamens.

Six

Oh how I wish I could share the scent of this rose with you.  It is  ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’.  I also wish I could capture the rich shade of pink that this rose truly is but you will have to make a mental adjustment to compensate. I confess that I often walk down the garden just to inhale its fragrance.  Bliss. 

I hope you are finding bliss and a kaleidoscope of delights in your gardens this week.  It was a cold one with the early part of the week best forgotten.  Here’s hoping we are on the up from now on.  Mr P will have all the links to the SOSs of the week and of course his own inimitable gardening highlights.  If you have a moment stop by. 

Six On Saturday: Some shady specials and some for sun

I don’t know why it took me so long to discover the first plant in my six for today. I saw it an NGS garden visit and serendipitously spotted two small pots of it for sale at the Finchley Horticultural Plant sale last year. It has come on in leaps and bounds so without further ado here it is:

One

Tellima grandilfora aka fringe cups.  It is an absolute winner for the dry shade in my garden.  This version has pinkish flowers that fade to greeny white.  How clever is that?  There is another version, tellima grandiflora odorata, that is scented but I didn’t stumble across that one.  I could easily be tempted to track one down for another shady corner though. 

Two

I’m also enjoying geranium macrorrhizum in the very dry shade in the front garden.  The bluebells there are just going over but that blue and the magenta of the geranium has looked good over the last few weeks.  This is a space where only the strong survive, and this geranium just gets on with it.

Three

In the sunnier long border the ‘Mount Everest’ alliums have appeared.  These were much complained about for putting on a poor show and last year I decided to add in some allium nigrum.  It seems the threat of being usurped has spurred ‘Mount Everest’ on and they are making a go of it this year.  The nigrums are some weeks behind and are much shorter at the moment.

Four

 

I had to feature the sun loving osteospermums this week because I had never noticed their blue centres.  Shame on me and thanks to Off the Edge Gardening for pointing this out.  Apparently this is a sign of a hardier osteo.  

It’s May, the roses are popping out everywhere and filling the air with beautiful scent.  So the last two spaces go to them.

Five

An unknown red climber that I inherited.  It was a weak and straggly specimen that I cut completely to the ground three years ago.  It put on the growth again quite quickly but this is its most floriferous year so far.  It does battle with the alkanet – which I am going to try to dig out very soon.  Again, that is.  Last year’s half-hearted attempt just didn’t do it.

Six

Madame Alfred Carriere.  Another climbing rose that is making good progress over the back fence. It is in shade for the most of the day but catches the late afternoon/evening sun from the west.  This is it’s second year and it is beginning to live up to its nickname of ‘Mad Alf’.  I am very happy for it to go as mad as it likes.  There is plenty of fence to cover.

There is some wonderful weather for today and perhaps early tomorrow but cold air is coming.  There may be a need to fleece some things and it is definitely not time for the pellies to leave the greenhouse but I think another week might bring us into more consistent temperatures.  Wishing you all perfect gardening weekends. I am late posting today but I see I am in good company.  Mr P was distracted by having Friday off but he managed to get a post in on time and will be marshalling all the links to other SOSs.  

 

Six On Saturday: Things I have learnt this week

It would be perfect planning to have six photos about six things I have learnt this week but I don’t. I have a few general observations and then six unrelated photos. First observation is that no matter how many tree seedlings I pull up there will always be another thirty ready to come through. Second observation: there is no rhyme or reason to what germinates and when. The gardener can only have a go – well that’s the decision I’ve reached. I was up to four lupin seedlings, now down three. Two courgettes have germinated, four are still lounging around. I could go on. Last observation: I am an impatient gardener and having more time on my hands has made me worse. The roses have been in bud for days, possibly even weeks now. Why haven’t they opened? Because it’s not time – in this garden. Here’s my six for the week.

One

Most of the tulips are going over but the camassias have opened up.  I see now that I Continue reading

Six On Saturday: Cold nights and Crazy days

I can’t really avoid the c word this week. These past few days have gone by in a whirl and we are all coming terms with profound changes to our lives. The discipline of spending a little time to write about the garden is finding a new level of meaning and spring has arrived so it is all the more enjoyable. It it so good to focus on the new life that is appearing and the joy that comes with seeing the perennials push through again.  Here are my six delights for this week.

One

There have been some cold nights and cold windy days this week but the sun has some warmth and the garden is responding.  I’ve seen the tulips in bud and this week the Thalia opened up.  Must have more of them was my response.

Two

I know everyone has done daffs over the last few weeks but I’m going to tip my hat again to Tete a Tete.  When I planted this ring of them around the persimmon tree I thought there was a stronger danger of it looking a little twee.  Maybe it does but seeing this cheerful ring of them every morning makes my day.  I’ve gone for over-egging the pudding and have also planted an inner ring of snowdrops.  I can’t wait!

Three

It feels a little early to be cutting back the hydrangeas but the new growth is coming through strongly now.  I am going to resist for as long as I can.  April can be cruel.  The penstemons are also sending out new growth but they aren’t going to tempt into a cut back just yet. 

Four

The new growth on the roses has this lovely reddish colour.  In admiring this exuberance I also noticed that some tying in was needed, which was duly done.  It is at this time of year I realise that I could have been more ruthless with some of the climbing roses.  Some people never learn.

Five

More new growth coming from the weigela florida ‘Variegata’.  I bought it new for this garden so it is about three years old now.  I’m happy to let it have it’s natural height but I think I may need to contain the spread.  I’m looking forward to May when it’s pink flowers appear.

Six

I anticipate a sudden influx of bees as the rosemary comes into flower.  Yes, indeed gardening and all its side benefits will be keeping my soul healthy this year.  

Thanks to The Propagator for his admirable work in keeping Six on Saturday together.  I shall be sowing seeds this weekend, definitely some cosmos, perhaps some zinnias and probably some tellima grandiflora and the grass needs cutting.  Enjoy your gardening jobs, take time to appreciate what’s growing now and celebrate Springtime,  for it is officially here!

 

 

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.