Six On Saturday: Too much of good thing?

I do like magenta pink. But truth be told I think I have too much of it in the garden. Lupins, geraniums, roses, phlox, salvias and more. A re-think is needed. The August garden is a bit patchy but the joy of Six On Saturday is that I get to show you the close up and can gleefully edit out the scruffy surroundings. Here are three magenta joys and a few others to break up the glare!

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R. Gertrude Jekyll.  I hesitate to show the magenta pink flowers as the colour can look even more garish in a photo.  The colour doesn’t look too bad today, the rose is surrounded by astrantia major and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’.  The salvia is a looking a bit scruffy now but the astrantia soliders on.

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R. Madame Isaac Pereire.  An old rose new to the garden this year, and supplied by occasional sixer Thomas Stone.  It’s a repeat flowering old rose and is doing very well in its first year.  Thomas recommend it for its ability to soak up the sun in a south facing border.  I agree.

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This is one of my grown from seed annuals – Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’.  If only you could see the chaos surrounding it.  This is meant to be a combination of the orange calendula ‘Indian Prince’ and the cosmos ‘Double Click Cranberries’.  All sown a bit late, so only just getting going, all flopping and falling everywhere – really should sow earlier, should sort out some gentle staking, should water more, in fact, should do better! But with selective vision they all look wonderful.

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Also in the should do better camp are my nasturtiums in a sink.  These are not they.  The sink based nasturtiums have given up, gone to seed most likely for lack of water.  These are in raised bed, in partial shade and have managed to survive on the rain water that comes their way.  They also have more room to trail and all in all this is a much more successful planting space for them.

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My other dahlia grown in a pot.  I’ve paid these a little more attention, feeding them with seaweed extract more or less once a week.  This is dahlia ‘Furka’ one of the cactus group.  Which sounds as though I might know what I’m talking about, but no.  I am still trying to decide if there is a place for dahlias in this garden, having just spotted some rather lovely bright red ones at Ulting Wick garden in Essex.  I have a plan to visit for their next open day especially to see them.  But then again, is it more of the same colour palette?

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My agapanthus are in full flower now.  These are the evergreen variety that I have to fleece up every winter.  They are tall, with large flower heads and I grow them in pots.  There are currently five pots of them dotted over the patio and they look especially good in the early evening light when the colour seems to intensify.  They work very well with my verging on magenta pink pelagoniums.

More delightful colours can be found on Mr P’s site.  There you will also find the links to the other SOSers that post from around the world.  I’m off to do some thinking, weeding and watering.  Enjoy your garden this weekend.

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Six On Saturday: Snow, sowing and growing

Clearly I have been spending too much time in the garden scouting out goodies for the Six On Saturday show.  I should have been cosy and warm inside reading the seed catalogues.  This has now been rectified and some seeds are on their way.  But it was the snow that arrived on  Wednesday.

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Wednesday was also the day scheduled for the builder to come and destroy  the brick walls of the old compost heap.  Bless him! He did come and the walls are no more.  I have three wooden bins ready to be installed but they can wait for warmer weather.  It was good day despite the snow.  All the garden rubbish went into the skip plus plenty more from the house.  The builder did not get frostbite and I didn’t run out of tea or milk!

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We moved to this house in 2016 and the garden was in need of a good weed and the addition of some new plants.  Each year another little patch of the garden gets my attention.  Last summer I managed to get this corner trellised and planted clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’.  It was a lovely surprise this week to see it putting on new growth and buds.

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For some unknown reason I missed planting out shallots and autumn onions.  Last year’s weather and lack of watering on my part did not lead to a bumper crop and the last few from the store have gone soft and been consigned to the bin.  The shallots did store better and they have encouraged me to try again.  A visit to the nursery is now urgent if I am going to get some purchases made before they sell out.

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I have been muttering for weeks that it is time to sow some sweet peas and as February approaches I feel that I might actually do it.  I find I always start talking about sowing sweet peas early but then actually do it a bit later.  These are my first two choices for this year but I am on the look out for a couple of extra packets, just in case.

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It’s still too early for me to be sowing tomato seeds but this year I do have some!  Last year in a bid to increase the number of varieties grown but decrease the number of plants I limited myself to six plants bought from my local plant sale.  This year I want to try ‘Green Zebra’.  For more variety I chose this seed collection which gives ‘Marmande’,  ‘San Marzano 2’ and a new (for me) yellow variety to grow – ‘Golden Sunrise’.  The ‘Green Zebra’ had to be bought separately.  I’m also looking forward to trying ‘Tigerella’.

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Here’s the compost area without it’s walls.  Once the bins are constructed I will see what tidying up I have to do round the edges.

All done for another week,  Mr P will be showcasing his goodies plus links to posts from around the gardening world.  Stop by and take a look.

Six On Saturday: a few ups and downs

The view of the garden from the kitchen window gives a grandstand view of the antics of the squirrels.  This week they have been tracking down the last few tiny edible figs and often knock off some of the others in the process.  As does the wind and the rain, which is all very helpful as there are still a great many figs to be taken off.   In all the gloom of this week there have been a few spots of colour:

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I still have berries on the cotoneaster leading to me to conclude that there is still plenty of food around for the birds.  The combination of the red berries and leaves and the ivy strikes a perfect Christmas note.

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I tweeted this photo earlier in the week and unashamedly share it here.  For one of my twelve days of Christmas I have six paraqueets-a-nibbling.   This tree is a real bright spot in the winter gloom and looks all the crazier with the addition of some neon green.

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This sad looking skimmia is not providing the much hoped for winter colour.  It was planted out last year underneath the magnolia and I had lovely visions of masses of red berries which have come to nought.  The skimmia was dug up and potted again, pending allocation to a better spot. Some place with more light and not so dry I think.

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The aforementioned magnolia is beginning to do its stuff again –  these new buds were  cheering to see.

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I ventured into unknown territory awhile ago and planted up some hyacinth bulbs for forcing for Christmas.  At the appointed time they were brought into the warmth of the house.  But this week they were  banished into a cold exile outside.  Their crime?  Well the bulbs are innocent but the cloud of tiny black flies that came with them were not greatly appreciated.

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I’ve got a few things going on in the potting shed.  The scented leaf pelagoniums have been cut back, the last of foxgloves are going to overwinter there now along with a few cuttings of penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ and pellies.  I am also trying to keep alive a few seedlings from euphorbia oblongata but I feel these are already slipping from my grasp.  I foresee causalities along the way.

Even though I may lose some seedlings over the winter the eternal optimism of the gardener continues.  New seed orders have been placed and the wish list continues to grow.  Enjoy your winter garden – plants and wildlife,  and if you are seeking inspiration look no further than The Propagator’s blog which will start you off on a world wide tour of gardens.

Six On Saturday: The power of seeds

On the whole it was a gloomy, wet and windy week here but a little milder than of late. It was with some trepidation that I ventured out into the garden to collect this week’s six but gardens have a great way of taking care of themselves and providing a few surprises.

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One of the major projects of this year was the laying of the garden path.  It was laid on top of the old path which worked well in most places but as the path rounded the corner to meet up with the lawn the height differential came into play.  The weather was so hot and dry that plans to build up the lawn height were put on hold until about a month  ago.  Part of the lawn was stripped off and the soil level was built up.  My lawn is a patchwork quilt of grass, creeping buttercups, wild yarrow, clover, daisies and much more.  The stripped off turves did not hold together and when re-laid there were several scrappy patches which needed seeding.  I had given up hope of the new seed germinating but I really was very excited to see that the first new shoots have appeared.

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This new growth reminded me of one or two other things in the garden that had sorted themselves out.  Last winter I lost a French lavender plant given to me as a house warming present.  It had done so well over its first summer but winter was just too much for it.  Or so I thought.  A few weeks ago I noticed new shoots of lavender appearing alongside the English lavender I had planted in its place.  This is the strongest of the bunch and I’m hoping that sheltered by the English lavender it might make it through this winter.  There are a couple of smaller seedlings that I am going to lift and overwinter in the greenhouse.  I would love to report back to the giver that I do still have the French lavender.

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This young yew tree was given to me by the birds!  I can’t bring myself to pull it out and would love to find a corner of the garden where I can nurture it along into something significant.  Maybe I can start up my own wild hedgerow along the back fence.  I’ve got a few wild blackberries that need to be taken in hand.  Throw in a dog rose and some years of patient waiting and I could be onto something.

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The back fence is already home to Iris foetidissima and these have helpfully self seeded very successfully.  The orange berries glow brightly through the gloom and a good colony of these in the dark corner will provide a much welcomed lift to the spirits through winter.

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I collected some Hollyhock seeds to bring with me to the new garden and now the seeds from those plants are starting to colonise well.  I have had to take a few in hand as they managed to get themselves going some distance from the main site.  I never know what colours are going to appear which is part of the fun.

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Another great self seeder is the foxglove.  I did not have any in the garden so I bought a packet of seeds and did some sowing around the end of August.  There was a good success rate and I have moved some out into the garden and left some to overwinter in the unheated potting shed.  I’m hoping this belt and braces approach will give me a reward.

The fireside keeps calling me but the garden won’t let go just yet!  Have a look at what everyone else is up to by visiting The Propagator’s blog – there’s no way Mr P will be putting his feet up just yet!

 

Six On Saturday: Returning friends and small beginnings

I hope I’ve said this before because it needs to be said.  Thank you to  the Prop   for starting up this meme and for keeping us all in order.  There’s much to be gained from taking a look at all the posts that are contributed and there is a lovely supply of help and support on offer, so take a moment to stop by.  Thanks to everyone last week who pointed me in the direction of gauras and pennisetums.  I always thought that grasses were not for my garden but now I think I have the perfect place for them.  Time to move on to this week’s six:

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IMG_2877.JPGCutting back plants after flowering really can work.  The alchemilla mollis which were sheared to the ground have come through again and at this time of year they look beautiful with their dressing of early morning dew.

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IMG_2884This is Geranium ‘Brookside’.  It roamed through the garden in early summer, knowing no boundaries and so cutting it back when it finished flowering caused me no stress.  The plant needed to be tidied up.  This week I noticed it was flowering again.

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IMG_2878Also starting up again are the seedlings of Nigella, love in a mist.  I have a carpet of them which I should probably be thinning out and sharing around the garden.  But I might just leave them all here to keep the weeds down and see how they come through next year.

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img_2879.jpgIn the greenhouse I have managed to keep a tray of foxgloves and echinacea pallida seedlings alive and it looks like some potting on needs to be done.  Temperatures are on the up next week so they I hope they will put on some good growth once moved into a pot.

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IMG_2880Encouraged by the good example of others I decided to try some winter vegetables. I rescued a tray of rainbow chard and perpetual spinach from certain death and planted them out a few weeks ago.  The pesky slugs made straight for them but they have pulled through and growth looks good.

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IMG_2881Last November I planted out bare root roses in a new border and Darcy Bussell is still flowering.  I am impatiently waiting for the roses to become fully established but even in the first year the flowers have been rewarding.

I hope your garden or allotment is rewarding you and that we all manage to find a moment this weekend to appreciate them.

Six On Saturday: Oops I did it again

With temperatures again in the 30s I went away for the week.  Yes, I know.  No real gardener ever leaves the garden in summer, not ever!  I did the usual frantic watering, moving pots into the shade and putting everything on trays or saucers and off I went.  My garden is well past its best so I was really quite relaxed.  I went in search of inspiration from some of the great gardens of England and I found that they too had gone over plants, roses devoid of flowers and scorched lawns.  But some ideas for late summer colour were found and I returned determined to take more care of my phloxes.

But here is what is happening in my garden this week.

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Rosa Natasha Richardson is in her second flowering and is looking gorgeous.  I’m very happy with the background of Agastache Black Adder but she needs something the other side of her.  I’m still looking for her ideal companion.

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Sometime in May I optimistically sprinkled some zinnia seeds that came free with a well known gardening magazine and in the week I was away they opened up.  They were sown at the foot of the now towering tithonia and in amongst the Pentsemon Plum Jerkum.   They have given me an extra spot of late summer colour.

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You would not expect me to visit three gardens and come away empty handed now would you? I nearly did as Hidcote had sold out of Agapanthus Navy Blue – a later flowering variety that’s now on my wish list.  Fortunately across the road at Kiftsgate I found a lovely pink Salvia microphylla Blush Pink.  It should flower into November and be frost hardy.  If it does I shall be very happy.

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I left my tray of Ammi visnaga out in a shady/sunny spot hoping they might put on a spurt of growth.  I really don’t know if they are going to make it into flower but I am going to plant them out anyway and enjoy their feathery green foliage in amongst the white zinnias as planned.

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My vegetable patch has struggled this year, falling foul of lack of rain and my feeble attempts to water it.  I harvested the onions before I left and put them in the potting shed to dry out – as if they needed that!  Small but delightfully formed I think.

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The apples are also much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this is the earliest apples have ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready for picking and I’m hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that arrived on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I also need to decide what to do with this poor specimen.  Do I shorten the leader and keep the laterals in tight or will the leader strengthen over time?  So much learning to be done!

The bulb catalogues are arriving and even as I review how to improve the August and September garden my thoughts are turning to Spring.  I am well and truly on the gardening roller coaster and on the whole enjoying it.

Be dazzled by the diversity of gardens that get shown each week by checking the links given on The Propagator’s blog You will see that there is an occasional ‘cheat’ and this week The Prop has smuggled three extras into his six.  There must be a sub section somewhere that allows that then!

The apples are also so much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this was the earliest apples had ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready to pick and I am hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that came on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I need to think what I do with this poor specimen.  Should I cut the leader much shorter and keep all the laterals in tighter or will the leader strengthen over time? There is so much learning to be done!

Six On Saturday: Stepping up a gear

Suddenly I have that feeling that I won’t get it all done in time.  But roses have been fed.  Seeds have finally been sown: Tithonia and nasturtium, carrots and leeks this week.  More annuals will be sown next week and those potatoes will be planted.  Here’s what’s in my garden today.

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A border was extended in November and I dug up a batch of bulbs to make way for the roses that will be the star attraction.  Impatiently I threw all in the bulbs in a corner of the border and forgot about them.  Of course with no care to the planting they have emerged as a perfect clump of colour.

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Continuing the yellow theme, the cowslips planted in a damp corner last year  have spread themselves out and look very settled.

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More spring colour on a subtler note comes from these Thalia narcissi.  I love the multi-stem format.  I’m mentally planning for next year and more of these are on the list.  I also want to plant some Paperwhite and White Lady narcissi together with a couple of clumps of Leucojum – now that I’ve perfected the planting in clumps technique.

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I thought that I had lost these fritillaries when all the work on the path was done.  But the new path is slightly narrower and these were just outside the trample zone. The slightly wider border is going to allow me to plant more of these too.

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The garden is full of birds and bird song at the moment.  I was planning to cut back the Verbena bonariensis but a charm of goldfinches were breakfasting on the seed heads this morning so I have been persuaded to leave that for another time.  Sadly  the free version of wordpress doesn’t allow video content so I can’t share the bird song, including the resident woodpecker, with you.  I’ll see if I can post to twitter (lol).

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Back down to earth: the inside of my shed!  The blackcurrants and gooseberries are all in leaf and I need to start thinking about how I protect them from those wonderful birds.  My favourite netting is the twisted coil of soft net but my local nursery has stopped stocking this one.  Last year I bought lengths of semi rigid plastic net which was easy to cut and fix to bamboo canes to make something resembling a fruit cage.  What do you use?  Do you have a favourite?

It is so amazing that so many are sharing their garden news under the Six on Saturday meme.  Go along to The Propagator and feast your eyes.  And keep gardening!

Six on Saturday

It’s a white out in my garden.  There are footprints from the wildlife and frozen flora abounds.  I was going to give you a peek into next week’s project: new paths.  The path project is a big one and ‘the professionals’ are coming in to do it.  Work is scheduled to start on Monday and fortunately temperatures are set to rise.   As the paths are covered with snow I’m going to show you some pictures of the garden last summer.  There will be the odd glimpse of the path along the way, but more importantly there is some beautiful colour from plants that were sown from seed last year and from the frozen perennials that now lie under the snow.

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This is how the border started out. The roses, irises and euphorbia are in.  The canes mark the spots for delphiniums, salvias and astrantias to be planted.  It is the path on the right that is being relaid.

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The borders were filled in with annuals, here are calendula and ammi.  The wonderful delphiniums were brought from the old garden.  More perennials were added through the year.  Some grown from seed, some from 9cm pots.

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IMG_1154This is the top end of the border. Sweet pea, cosmos purity and nicotiana lime green were sown from seed.  The lambs ears in the foreground looked bedraggled in last week’s six.  Will they survive after the freezing weather of this week?  This path is staying. It’s not very attractive and if I had a magic wand it would be transformed into a lovely brick cottage garden path.   I have also planted alchemella mollis and geranium brookside, both of which tumble onto the path edges.

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This is another view of the path that will be relaid.  It is very patchy and uneven in places. The agapanthus and verbena thrive against the sunny wall.  The rose in the centre is Scepter’d Isle and a pink hollyhock climbs skyward in the distance.

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The height of summer. I am sowing calendula seeds again. The bright orange was such a highlight.  They are scheduled for sowing in April.  I will sow in modules again.

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The clematis in flower and with some of those fascinating seed heads. It’s now one of the frozen flora. It was already putting on new growth and had been cut back to about 50cms. Here’s hoping those new shoots are made of strong stuff.

It’s a bit of a bending of the rules this week, but did you really want 6 shades of white?  I am curious to see what other sixers will post.  I encourage you to take a look at The Propagator’s blog and see what materialises. I am hoping all UK sixers are warm, dry and safe this weekend.  Over to you in the sunnier climes!

Six on Saturday

After a productive morning in the garden I now present my #SixOnSaturday.  And it is not quite as I anticipated.  My plan was to sow a few seeds and get the pruning of those blackcurrant bushes finished off.  It was a frosty start so I thought a light brushing down of a few cobwebs in the potting shed would be a good warm up.

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We all have our favourite tools and for me brushing down the cobwebs is done with the old brown brush.  First I had to find it.  So the rickety old shed was emptied out.  The brush was found about half way through the emptying but I’d started so I had to finish.  First job of the day turned out to be a spring clean of the shed.  The second job – look away now if you are faint-hearted – was also shed related.  If you are ready, read on.

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The dangers of plastic bags to wildlife are much in the news and I can only think that this rat fell foul of one my garden refuse bags.  I’m not a great fan of sheds at the best of times and my survival instincts were on the alert for large spiders.  I was not expecting to find this.  But it was dead, recently so I think, and so I coped rather well.  Disposed of it, had a cup of tea and with nerves steadied, moved on to brush down those cobwebs.

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Whilst I had my feet up in January, those more resilient than I were washing down greenhouses, washing up pots and scrubbing plant labels clean.  Well today I made a start on a few of those jobs in preparation for a little bit of seed sowing. Once some of those jobs were done, sweet pea Black Knight, Gwendoline and Anniversary were planted in root trainers and the first rocket seeds were planted in modules. I decided against planting the half hardy antirrhinums as the greenhouse is on the cold side and I think they can wait until early March. As a bonus I’ve included the latest photos of the autumn sown love-in-a-mist and end of summer penstemon cuttings.

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I sowed the love-in-mist in seed trays and when I potted them on I took the chance of planting a few directly into the soil.  They have survived the winter so far.  In the background is one of the foxgloves sown from seed last year and planted out at the same time.  The foxglove should be in flower this year.

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A little dot of colour to end on.  The first of the anemones has pushed through and opened out.  I had thought the autumn mulch had buried them, but one or two are beginning to appear.

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The half price tray of white cyclamen bought a while ago are evolving.  They have begun to take a gentle pink blush.  I wasn’t expecting this either but I find it far preferable to the dead rat.

For more garden excitement from around the world go to The Propagator for this week’s links to a lovely selection of six on saturday, generally horticulturally related but with the occasional meander off the garden path.

Six on Saturday

The fair weather gardener in me has  been dominant this week.  The temperatures are low and the lawn and borders are still squelchy and sticky.  I did refill the bird feeders, pull a few weeds and tie in a stem here and there but very little else was done.  Here’s my six:

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The new borders are going into their third summer.  The first was spent weeding, digging, suppressing weeds and feeding.  The second saw some perennial planting with annuals.  This year it is the turn of bulbs.  A mass planting of tulips and alliums took place in autumn and, with no apologies, I was very excited to see the first emerging shoots of allium Mount Everest pushing through.

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The last of the cutting back was done recently.  The sodden brown remains of iris siberica were removed and there was more delight to be found in seeing the first signs of the new growth.

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Over on the veg plot the onion and shallot sets are progressing.  I’ve kept the covers on to protect them from the birds but it is good to see there is strong growth.

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Every March I settle down to watch the new series of Gardener’s World and every year Monty brings out trays of seedlings he has sown in the depths of winter.  They are all ready to drop into the beautifully prepared soil for early harvests. This year I have got wise and I check in with Monty’s website each month.  Eureka!  Now is the time to plant your rockets seeds.  I’m going to put mine into modules so that I too will have a tray of plump rocket seedlings ready to drop into my beautifully prepared soil!

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My tray of violas from last week’s six was planted up and they are smiling away at the bottom end of the garden.  A good enticement for me to get out and about.

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Gardeners are generally sharing souls and this little pot of persicaria red dragon was given to me by a friend.  I’ve just got to find the right place in the new borders for it.

That’s my six.  For the links to a great many other sixes go to The Propagator.  You will find a treasure trove of good gardening from around the world.