Six On Saturday: New Shoots

It is the last week of January and there’s not a lot about. It’s been another cold week with minus 4.2 celsius recorded in the greenhouse. I’ve not been tempted into the garden but in honour of Six On Saturday I took a turn around it this morning. I can see signs of Spring and so that is what I am sharing this week.

One

Primroses. These have been in flower on and off since November but they are really making a push for star billing now. Very welcome.

Two

The very first tulip shoots have pushed their way through the thick layer of mulch. I’ve spotted camassias, thalia and tete a tete as well. I can’t wait.

Three

The first snowdrops were spotted a few weeks ago but it is February in this garden that they really begin to make a show. Here’s a clump that is very ready for dividing after flowering.

Four

More and more hellebores are coming through. These are self seeders, some flowers have opened but plenty more buds are just waiting to burst into life.

Five

Speaking of self seeders. Another euphorbia has colonised the veg plot along with an ox-eye daisy. I tend to leave the daisies to their own devices until they look like taking over. The euphorbia will very likely be moved somewhere else when the weather warms up.

Six

The very first signs of aquilegias are coming through. These are a.vulgaris ‘Alba’, a tall growing variety of about 90cms. This will be the second year in the garden so I am hoping they will clump up more this year.

There are some warmer day-time temperatures to look forward so I will have no excuse. Jobs to do include cutting back the grasses, finishing the rose pruning, cutting back the autumn fruiting raspberries, the blackcurrants and the grapevine. I would normally be starting of tomatoes for the greenhouse but as the main greenhouse is no more I am going to try a year of outdoor toms that I will start later. I’ve saved a few egg boxes for chitting the potatoes in. Top priority is to make my choice of variety and get them started off. And so it begins. Happy gardening to you all. Other SOSers have more colourful offerings so do drop by Jim’s for browse around.

Six On Saturday: Ever changing moods

Forgive the earworm, or not if it doesn’t happen for you. Ever changing moods has been my state of mind in January. One week wanting to take down the eleagnus but then realising that it provides great cover for the birds. The next being absolutely sure that I must find room for a hamamelis but then sensibly realising that I just don’t have the right long term space for this desirable winter shrub. I’ve moaned about constant rain and grey days, haven’t we all? Then thrilled to glorious blue skies and winter sun. The garden catalogues have arrived and I am being pulled this way and that by their temptations. I’ve settled down this week. Accepting that January in the garden is what it is. I managed to prune back a good number of the rose shrubs but there are more to do. The climbing roses weigh heavily on my conscience but there’s still time. Raspberries and blackcurrants need to be looked at but they too can wait a little longer. This week I happily left the garden alone. The paths were slippery with frost and the ground is frozen once again. There’s not much to show but it is January and that is how it should be.

One

The frozen ground and frost may seem inhospitable but the garden grabs each growing moment and gets on with it. These are day lily shoots and the first leaves of geranium phaeum. It will be some months before their time to flower comes.

Two

You can see why the climbing roses are on my mind. There is quite some sorting out to be done here. The ruthless gardener must be found and all these branches thinned out and the framework tied into the wires again.

Three

The hellebores will nod their heads downward so it was a little difficult to capture this ‘Pretty Ellen’ red against the sun. Here’s my best effort.

Four

Somewhere out in the garden are some foxgloves seedlings waiting to push through the mulch. Here, in the greenhouse, are two that didn’t get planted out. It looks like they will have a head start when the time comes to relocate them.

Five

At the end of October I planted some Japanese red onion sets. They seemed very slow to get started but week by week they are making progress. Could they be ‘Electric’? I really can’t remember.

Six

A month later at the end of November I planted out the winter bedding. I filled the pots with bellis daisies. They had a week to acclimatise before they were covered by six inches of snow and experienced minus 5 degrees Celsius for a week. They made it through that and have just experienced another week of minus degrees overnight. I am so impressed by their sturdiness and I know that they will just get more and more cheerful as the warmer weather creeps in.

It’s a weekend of cold weather here and I am not going to feel guilty about the garden. Far better to wait for a time when the fingers won’t freeze and the paths are safer. Happy guilt free waiting to you all. Happy gardening times are around the corner. Jim, our host for SOS, features the links to other blogs on his Garden Ruminations pages. He has some lovey photos this week. No wonder he is the leader of the pack!

Six On Saturday: Mid January, I’m looking for the positives

It can be so difficult at this time of year to keep the positives in focus. Wild, wet and windy weather can be dramatic but the leaden skies feel heavy and not conducive to spending time in garden. This was another week when the roses did not get pruned and the raspberry canes suffered the same fate. There was a cheering moment when I spotted two female black caps on the bird feeder, their soft hues seem just right for the winter colour palette. But otherwise I was not optimistic about finding much in the garden to celebrate. I sighed and went out to see what I could offer up.

One

Starting small, and not very successfully captured, my first delight was spotting new growth on the hydrangeas. Look closely, in amongst the brown there are some small fuzzy dots of green. Every little helps.

Two

Moving on. Little splashes of white on the iberis sempervirens. Another little nudge in the right direction

Three

Showing promise of things to come. The one year in the garden, cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ with its startling red stems looks good now, but in a few years it should be offering up a much sturdier hit of mid Winter colour.

Four

Heading round to one of the darkest, most inhospitable corners of the garden, this is the home of helleborus foetidus, the stinking hellebore. Also one year in the garden, it is offering up a good number of flower buds for future enjoyment.

Five

Heading to the very back of the garden where I about two years ago I planted asplenium scolopendrium, the hart’s tongue fern. It’s looking rather gorgeous in the rain. This is definitely a shady spot, but I wouldn’t really say it’s a damp spot but the fern has settled in well.

Six

Lastly, even though I struggle to maintain a quartet of euphorbia wulfenii in the main border, I do find that seedlings spring up with regular frequency. This one is from a transplanted seedling and those lovely lime green bracts are forming up well. When these open I will know that the Spring garden is under way.

I hope you can find some positive moments in your open spaces. Some SOSers will be sowing chilli seeds, others celebrating camellias. You can find out more by visiting Jim’s garden. He’ll have all the links to the SOS weekly blog posts, so take a stroll over there and see what’s occurring.

Six On Saturday: Challenges are opportunities

I went in with all gardening guns blazing last week. Optimism abounded, a New Year approached and signs of new growth filled the glass of life to the brim. It’s still pretty full but realism has to be given a space too. The clematis armandii maybe untouched by the cold spell but other things look to have suffered. There may well be gaps that need to be filled in the coming year. Here’s six things on my mind this week.

One

The choisya did not suffer too much in the cold but it was already showing signs of stress before the dry Summer. The leaves were yellowing and in the drought they drooped forlornly. It is clear now that there are dead branches to be removed. I will watch it through Spring but if it does not recover there’s an opportunity to replant. Note the gap in the fence – a fox route, every time I close it, the fox opens it. The fox has won.

Two

Poor, poor euphorbia mellifera. Hardiness rating H3, which translates to -5 to 1 degree. Another one to watch. It came to me as a self seeder so I can’t be too aggrieved if nature has decided to take it back.

Three

I inherited a hedge of viburnum, bay and eleagnus that divided the ornamental garden from the veg and fruit garden. I have managed to unhedge the viburnum and give it space to branch out freely but the bay and eleagnus have so far remained hedged. Over the years I have nibbled away at the eleagnus, I’m not a fan of its yellow and green variegation and have happily let it revert to a dark green. It was useful in disguising the greenhouse but now that has gone and may not be replaced, I find myself thinking that I could dispense with the eleagnus and plant something attractive. At this time of year I think of hamamelis, and at other times I wonder about amelanchier. Suggestions welcome.

Four

A few years back I planted a row of three pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’. The furthest one is growing faster than the other two but shows signs of yellowing. This end of garden definitely has access to some underground water and I am wondering if the wet winters are playing havoc with this pittosporum. The symmetry is being challenged here. Another one to watch.

Five

I managed to get the scented leaf pellies into the remaining greenhouse before the snow and cold arrived but it didn’t do them much good. I fear they have succumbed to damp conditions. They are looking quite dead but I will be patient and ventilate in the mild weather. If they don’t make it through to the other side I won’t be too sorry. I have had five years out of them and I am happy to entertain something new for the summer pots.

Six

I’m slightly concerned to see thalia and camassias nosing through the winter mulch but the snowdrops are very welcome and this week I spotted the first sign of flowers. Something good (if out of focus) to finish on.

It’s another wet weekend here and there is not much progress with the to do list. But we can only do what we can do and the time can be spent day dreaming for the garden and looking at seed catalogues. Don’t forget to stop by Jim’s garden in Cornwall. Our knowledgeable host features camellias this week.

Six On Saturday: Delightful or dastardly?

December. What a month. Lulled into complacency, I had only just begun to tidy up the garden for its winter snooze. My last post hinted at cold weather and I had to decided it was not the weekend to do much in the garden. By the Sunday evening I had succumbed to the lurgy from hell and the garden was covered in six inches of snow that was to last the whole week. Temperatures were around minus four to five all week and my smugness at never lifting the dahlias may well be misplaced. I coughed my way through another week in the run up to Christmas and although an amazing turn around in temperatures had once again revealed the garden I was still not inclined to venture out. So far December was dastardly. Today, still with the remnants of a cough, I finally took a turn round the garden. I was inspired. Yes there is much soggy browness to be dealt with but bulbs are nosing through, new shoots are braving it and the birds were signing as if it were Spring. Delightful is the final verdict. Here’s my six.

One

The first of the hellebores are opening up. This one is ‘Pretty Ellen’ white. The snowdrops will not be far behind

Two

Tucked away in a corner by the shed and a water storage tank another ‘Pretty Ellen’ is getting ready to shine. Of course this is PE red.

Three

The melica altisssima ‘Alba’ really took a bashing in the snow but it’s not giving up and new shoots are pushing through. This means I have to get out there and cut back the old growth. I just need a dry day now.

Four

This clematis was cloaked in snow for seven days. It’s an armandii with a rating of H4 which suggests it is hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5). I thought it would be a gonna but these fat buds suggest all is well. Flowers for February I hope.

Five

Viburnums are reliable at this time of year. I wasn’t at all worried about this one surviving so I was surprised to see that it also has a hardiness rating of H4. This one is just beginning to open up and will look lovely in a week or two. I inherited this one so can only say that it is likely to be a tinus variety.

Six

This viburnum is a pink variety with lovely shiny black berries after flowering. Also inherited, I have no idea what variety it might be. It could be another tinus.

I am also delighted to wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year. Let’s hope our gardens, pots, balconies, houseplants, whatever it is that we grow will work their magic next year and keep us all sane. Many, many thanks to Jim for taking on the SOS meme. Jim is posting sunny photos from Brisbane this week and hints at something interesting to come for the New Year. Many thanks, also, to all the SOSers who share their news every week. Roll on 2023, I think I am ready for you.

Six On Saturday: Br-r-r fr-r-r-osty

It’s the third day of frost here. Beautiful clear skies, frosted lawn and no doubt some amazing frosted perennials but I have not been down the path to take a look. I spent ten minutes in the garden yesterday afternoon. It was enough. Two bags of ornamental bark were emptied around the fruit trees and my toes and fingers were frozen. I quickly took my SOS photos and headed back to the warmth. Here’s this week’s six.

One

I’ve gone all abstract for this one. It is the solidly frozen bird bath testifying to the depth of the freeze. There are several more days of this to come. The birds are fluffed up against the cold. I broke the ice on the waterbutts and replenished the feeder. It was the least I could do.

Two

Berries are the order of the day. I hope the larger birds can forage enough to keep them well fed. These are from a cotoneaster that always gets a mention at this time of year.

Three

Cotoneaster horizontalis, the marmite plant. I know some who detest it. I inherited it here and wasn’t a fan, I have pruned it back into some sort of shape and it covers a fence and grows without further nurturing. That’s its clever plan. Keep your head down and I won’t really notice you and you get to stay forever.

Four

Leave your dahlias until they blacken in the frost – that is the oft repeated wisdom. Well here they are, well and truly blackened. I don’t usually lift dahlias. The ground is now frozen so I won’t be lifting these. I will cut them back and cover them with some mulch. Crossing fingers sometimes helps too.

Five

I added a cornus alba Sibirica to the garden last year. It’s had a tough year to deal with and hardly looks as if it has put on any growth at all. But the stems are wonderfully red. I will be patient.

Six

This was taken around 9am on Thursday morning. Thank you to my neighbours for having so many trees that I can borrow from time to time.

The last time I checked the overnight greenhouse temperature it was minus 2.7 degrees. I think it was colder last night. I won’t be doing any gardening this weekend. I might dwell a little on which variety of potato to choose for next year. I will be checking in with Jim at Garden Ruminations, there are beautiful colours on show in his garden and of course all the SOS links to other posts are there too. Wrap up well for the Northern hemisphere, bask in glory for Southern hemisphere.

Six On Saturday: Enjoying the change of season

On the third day of December two turtle doves came calling. The weather has turned cold and the light, oh so subtly, has changed to a wintery glow. Heavy skies and mists are to be enjoyed as the last of the gardening jobs are completed. Last year’s leaf mould was emptied out around the gooseberry bushes. The drop in temperatures encouraged a few more leaves to loosen their grip and also made it abundantly clear to me that the agapanthus really must be wrapped up this weekend. Here’s six things from the garden this week.

One

It was my ambition this year to grow some cyclamens from seeds collected from the garden. As always I completely missed the moment but nature has obliged with a few self seeders. I am sure they are doing better than any I might have collected. Once again I thank SOS for making me look closely at the garden every week.

Two

As you may have noticed a mushroom is photo bombing the cyclamen. Yet more were found in various spots around the garden. Nature does it own thing again.

Three

The pellies were despatched to their winter quarters last week, making space in the pots for some winter bedding. A layer of ‘Dolls Minuet’ tulips was the first step and then four bellis daisies topped off each pot.

Four

The last place in my grasses spotlight goes to hakonechloa macra, so much more easily remembered as hak mac. Again only planted out this year, so it will be a few years before they truly bulk up. This one is planted in a very shady spot and I have used others to fill pots that stand on concrete access points to the soak away that runs down the side of the garden. Those are an experiment, but I am persuaded that they will grow in pots for a few years at least.

Five

Last week I spotted a fox eating the windfall figs, but there will be slim pickings now. Here’s one that has rotted on the tree, looking rather like an early Christmas bauble. Taking off those that haven’t ripened is another job to do in the coming weeks.

Six

It seems to me that the leaves have stayed on the trees for longer this year. This week it was the turn of the oak leaves to fall and as the weather looks dry for the weekend there will be another sweep of the lawn with the mower to collect and shred leaves.

What a relief it is that the rain seems to have gone away. Cold weather and frosts seem much more preferable. I’ve dug out the winter gardening fleece and am set to go for a few more weeks. Who know’s what can be found for next week’s six but I’m sure there will be something to reflect on as the year winds down. I happily refer you to Garden Ruminations where Jim hosts the links to the SOS gardening blogs from around the world and inspires us all with such a variety of plants. For me, this week it is the marvellous pea seedlings!

Six On Saturday: Farewell November, farewell Autumn

Finally, the hose pipe ban has been lifted! I can’t think that I will be rushing out to water the garden any time soon, it has been drenched every other day throughout November. I have only just begun to plant a few tulips and a little tidying in the border has commenced. The regular downpours have served to show how infirm the potting shed greenhouse is. This one has a wooden frame and the apex has separated allowing rain to seep in. Sogginess abounds. Out in the garden things are pretty soggy too. Here’s six things I noticed this week.

One

I have just managed to complete a task that was long hanging over me. The scented leaf pelargoniums have been cut back, removed from their summer pots and moved to the potting shed greenhouse for the winter. I have overwintered these pellies for several years now and, dare I say it, I am just at the point where if they didn’t make it I wouldn’t be too sad. On the upside the potting shed and compost smell delightful at the moment.

Two

There are just one or two splashes of colour in the garden at the moment, this little ray of coreopsis continues to send out new blooms.

Three

The continual rain has more or less done for the roses. As each new flower arrives it is deluged by the next downpour. Here is ‘Gerturde Jekyll’ valiantly having a go.

Four

Strangely the seed heads of eurybia are holding up. They caught my eye during a spell of border tidying and were spared the chop.

Five

I may have mentioned that I’m just dipping my toe into growing grasses and this miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder’ has done well in its first year. Slightly fuzzy flower heads as they are so difficult to capture. I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses.

Six

Lastly arum italicum subsp. italicum ‘Marmoratum’. I’m guessing the ‘Marmoratum’ bit. I inherited this one. There were warnings that it was a thug and would spread uncontrollably. It must be in a very inhospitable spot because it has yet to move one inch. I like it, it even looks good after rainfall .

I’ve just received notice that I have one more green bin collection for the year. That gave me a wake up call. The gardening season is coming to a close. The last of blackberries need to be cut back and added to the green bin. That’s my next task and then there are more leaves to gather. No frost yet, but overnight temperatures have been as low as 2 degrees. December approaches.

Don’t forget to visit Garden Ruminations for all the links to other SOS posts.

Six On Saturday: Keeping my head down

It all feels a little grim out there so I’m focussing on the garden. Yes, pretty grim there too, at this time of year, but there’s always something to distract the attention from everyday life. The last of the tulip tree branches that landed in the garden a few weeks back have been shredded and the chippings were used to mulch the raspberries. Rain and foggy mornings have been the overwhelming features of the last week and those tulips bulbs are still waiting to be planted. The thin border seems to be missing some things and quickly the bare patches are being colonised by geranium ‘Gravetye Manor’. This will have to be taken in hand. I am thinking about planting some grasses along this border, something I didn’t think I would ever do here. But what is happening now? Here’s this week’s six.

One

These are the rain-soaked berries of sarcococca confusa, planted out to replace a box shrub. I’m very happy with this one and it’s doing well in the shadow, and dryness, of the front garden magnolia.

Two

I have dipped into planting grasses in a few spots in the garden. It was suggested to me that they combined best with plants with smaller flowers. But here I have planted them behind hydrangeas. This is calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’. It’s difficult to show its true effect as it is still a young clump but the winter colour is wonderful.

Three

Winter structure is what a garden needs now, and I don’t have much of it! I used to have four euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii but three gave up the struggle to survive in a heavy clay border. For some reason this one battles on and is looking quite strong at the moment. There is always a seedling or two going spare so I have planted out one in a sunnier spot and I have one in a pot ready to drop into a suitable place come Spring. With free plants available I am happy to try them again.

Four

Lining up against a sunny brick wall suits the sage and rosemary shrubs. The rosemary is in flower again, something for the bees to enjoy.

Five

The seeds pods of iris foetidissima are splitting open and giving splashes of colour here and there. These come up underneath the rhododendron and viburnum trees, happily colonising difficult spaces. They are very happy in these tough corners and every now and then need to be thinned.

Six

I am just wondering if I am going to have a second crop of potatoes this year. These are the ‘left behinds’. Could there be a crop for Christmas? I’ll leave them in for as long as the green manure stays and then we’ll see.

There are some fabulous colours on show on Jim’s Garden Ruminations, plus some thoughts for future sixes. With some ingenuity we will get through the winter and keep our posting going. It could become bizarre though! Take a look at the links that appear throughout the day and see what emerges. Happy Gardening.

Six On Saturday: Mid November with a touch of Spring

How strange to be saying what a beautiful few days we have been having. Temperatures in the high teens, hardy geraniums still pushing out the odd flower here and there, no sign of frost and mercifully, some dry weather. The garden is moving towards Winter but slowly. The evergreen agapanthus leaves are just turning yellow so it’s time to wrap them in fleece. I have some tulip bulbs to plant and a few weeks back I did manage to plant out some ‘Electric’ red onion sets. The figs are still cropping but the size is diminishing. As the days shorten the garden will settle into its Winter phase. In the meantime, here’s this week’s six.

One

My go to autumn shot is the persimmon tree. Usually laden with fruit at this time of year. But what a strange year it has been, so much sun yet only two fruits. Was it the dry summer, or simply that last year was a bumper crop so this year is the famine year. The parakeets will have to find something else to feed on.

Two

The bergenia thinks it is early spring and is putting out fresh flowers, offering some late nectar for the bees that are still around.

Three

In a more seasonal vein, hesperantha are adding some autumnal colour. These are earmarked for lift and divide session in spring. This is partly to reinvigorate them and also another attempt to control the marauding cinquefoil weed that spreads through this corner.

Four

There’s a useful splash of lime green coming from the euphorbia oblongata, going great guns this year. I’ve talked previously about this being described as a short-lived perennial which continues to defy this description. Long may it continue.

Five

Liriope muscari. It should be a clump of three, but only one survives. It does get overlooked but grows in a shady place so I’m grateful for any display.

Six

Yes, another rose. This is rosa ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’, from the Bourbon rose group. One of my favourites for fragrance.

I need to spend some time in the garden this weekend. The ‘to do’ list includes tidying up soggy agapanthus leaves, there are hellebore leaves to be cut back, some planting out of tulips and yet more picking up glass from the old greenhouse. The site has been cleared now and I am surveying the foundations and wondering if they will do for the new greenhouse. They are, of course, not in brilliant condition. The foundations are not level and there are frost shattered bricks to be cleared out. But maybe a new course will sort things out. Over at Jim’s there is a beautiful rhodochiton plus all the links to other SOS posts for the weekend. Enjoy your gardening weekend!