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.

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Six on Saturday: Limbering up

There have been the occasional forays out into the garden over winter but I have been mainly gardening from my armchair or computer.  That’s all about to change and it is important to make the right start.  It’s time to limber up, get those muscles going again and really importantly, stretch them out after your gardening session.  Take care of your back!  The warmer temperatures lured me into the garden and here is what I found.

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It’s not all flowers and veg out there.  I uncovered this creature whilst turning over a pile of turf that had been left to rot down.  He was buried under the soil and he quickly pushed his way back down again. It reminded me that the wildlife have pretty much had the run of the garden over the winter and I need to go carefully as I start to make my presence felt.

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The landscapers who laid the path left some free gifts.  I have two pieces of 6 x 2, which I am sure I will put to good use – or they can join the rest of my ‘might come in useful one day’ collection. I do have more immediate plans for these sections of re-enforcing  grid.  I’m going for the industrial chic look and will use them as supports for a climbing rose.  I will let you know how I get on.

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The hydrangea buds are bursting forth.  I think I’m pretty safe to cut back the old flower heads now, but I’m going to leave it another week – after I’ve seen what the next beast brings.

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Sweet pea update:  Gwendoline is just coming through, Black Knight is about an inch high, Midnight Blue is definitely making a show but Anniversary is a non starter at the moment.  All were sown on 15 February.  My pot of autumn sown sweet peas need to be planted out but I’m trying to get hold of some hazel poles.  Request made, response awaited.

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The mahonia in the front garden is about to shine forth.  The bees love it, the smell is great and it is one of the few yellows that I like in the garden.

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By contrast, a yellow I’m not so fond of:  the forsythia.  I find it just a bit too much to take en masse.  But a few branches in a vase are a definite statement of spring.

For more news of spring explore The Propagator’s blog.  I spied a lovely tulip bud there.  Happy Gardening: In the UK it’s time to spring forward with the clocks!