Six On Saturday: Frosty but the garden pushes on

The majority of mornings have been frosty and the days that followed were cold. Last week was not a week that led to gardening of any sort other than the wishful thinking sort. Wishful thinking can lead to trouble: new schemes imagined, grand plans take root and the siren voices of online shopping call. I resisted immediate action. Let’s just wait another month. Although it feels like a quiet time it is the lull before the storm. There is clear evidence of growth and the last of the cutting back will have to be completed throughout February. Here’s six for this week.

One

My skimmia ‘Kew Green’ is looking less than healthy and I think I know why. It is planted towards the edge of a walled border and I think some of the walling extends inwards into the border. I think the roots on the front side of the skimmia have reached the buried bricks and don’t have enough soil to grow out into. I am going to move it towards the back of the border and see if that solves the problem.

Two

Unfortunately the empty egg box makes another appearance. Due to problems with suppliers – and I think we know what that means by now – my order for ‘Anya’, my second choice seed potato cannot be fulfilled. I have now chosen ‘Jazzy’. It’s twice the price so it had better be twice as good.

Three

The greenhouse is home to the overwintering pelargoniums and the lemon tree. This week the lowest temperature was -2.1 degrees centigrade and I didn’t even think to fleece the pellies. The lemon tree has a double wrap of 17gsm fleece. A cursory glance indicates that lemons and pellies survived.

Four

Asplenium scolopendrium, or Hart’s tongue fern. I’ve added three of these to the inhospitable back border. They’ve been in place for about a year and seem to coping well. The very back corner of the border is given over to a small log pile. It’s in the rain shadow of a fence and I don’t think much will grow there, except perhaps euphorbia robbiae which is incredibly tolerant, and of course invasive. The mulch is Strulch.

Five

Hellebores and snowdrops continue to entertain. Pretty Ellen Red, the double version, has opened up.

Six

And the 300 or so snowdrops planted throughout the north facing border two years ago, which didn’t do too well the first year, are looking a little more promising this year.

As always, thanks to the Propagator for keeping this show on the road and enjoy your gardening week

Six On Saturday: From a foggy London town

Yes, after some beautiful frosty starts followed by sunny days this morning came with fog. It’s still lingering as I write so the six is a damp and fuzzy six. Here they are.

One

My itchy, twitchy fingers last week resulted in a purchase, of course. This is cornus alba ‘Sibirica’. I’ve ignored the warning that it is mildly suckering and gone for the crimson red stems. I need to get it in the ground but I have been a fair weather gardener of late and the cold afternoons have not tempted me into the garden.

Two

The snowdrops are just beginning to come through. There are no rare, expensive or exquisite varieties to show here, just the basic galanthus but always a delight to see, even though this one turned out to be a fuzzy photo!

Three

Strange to find the snowdrops flowering in the company of a rudbeckia but that is what is in my garden this weekend!

Four

The Euphorbia mellifera that came as a self seeder from some neighbouring garden is going great guns, and provides some evergreen structure. I was warned that this might outgrow its welcome and it is certainly demonstrating a fondness for its growing spot. We shall see.

Five

The hellebores continue to come through. This one is ‘Pretty Ellen’ white, looking rather subtle in its flower bud form.

Six

The last spot goes to sarcococca confusa. I have it in a pot at the moment but there may be a space opening up for it in the front garden where I might benefit more from its scent. The berries, flowers and leaves combine beautifully.

Here’s hoping Sunday sees me in the garden, I have a sense that there are a few jobs to be done. Sitting with the plant and seed catalogues will not do. The Prop may be out on another of his runs but still finds time to host this meme, for which many thanks are sent.

Six On Saturday: Back in the garden

As I didn’t turn up last week let me start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year with much good gardening to enjoy and less and less of that covid stuff.

I used New Year’s Day to spend some time in the garden cutting back the autumn fruiting raspberries, sprinkling a light dusting of bonemeal around and then mulching with a layer of leaf mould. The fruit trees have had their quarterly dusting of bonemeal and soon the winter prune of the fig tree will be tackled. It felt like Spring already but a frost was to come with temperatures of -3 degrees centigrade recorded in the greenhouse. Now it seems we are back to a spell of warm and wet weather. In general the garden takes it in its stride. Here’s Six for the New Year.

One

I tweeted this frosted rose bub last week. This is the last rose I have to prune but it keeps on putting out new flowers. I think it is going to need a healthy dose of fertiliser come Spring to give it an energy lift. New buds or not it must be pruned soon.

Two

Also on the pruning list are the gooseberries, can’t imagine why I am putting this job off! But I have a new weapon in my armoury against those thorns. A much appreciated Christmas present of Gold Leaf gardening gloves which will offer some protection when I finally get round to tackling this task.

Three

I did grab a quick moment between showers to move a rose. ‘Souvenir du Dr Jamain’ had been lingering in an unhospitable corner trying to valiantly to put on a show for about three years. Not much progress had been made so I decided there was nothing to lose by digging it up and offering a slightly more hospitable spot. I confess to losing part of one root in the process which is a shame as there wasn’t much to start with. Clearly it was not happy where it was. I used mycorrhizal fungi and a helping of Fish, Bone and Blood to help the good Dr on his way.

Four

Some new seeds have been purchased. After the poor crop of ‘San Marzano’ this year I thought it was time to invest in new seeds. I also chose ‘Principe Borghese’ – sucked in by the shiny tomatoes on the packet! I haven’t grown Mangetout for some time but they deserve another go so a packet of ‘Snow Wind’ was thrown in for good measure.

Five

Seed potatoes have also been chosen but are yet to arrive – hence the vacant egg box! I was going to grow a French variety ‘Cherie’ this year but would you believe it, due to Brexit difficulties in sourcing and the high tariffs on things that can be sourced the supplier cannot provide them. Of course you can believe it! So it’s back to ‘Anya’ for me.

Six

The hellebores must get a look in. I’ve been cutting back old leaves here and there and enjoying the slowly developing show. These are ‘Pretty Ellen Red’ in the rain. They share a shady corner with some euonymus.

I have itchy fingers desperate to order new plants for the garden, a few more evergreens for structure and some herbaceous perennials for the border. In another month I hope it will be full steam ahead with more of the garden plans for the New Year.

I’ll be dropping in on The Prop host of SOS and other SOSers over the next few days. It will good to see everyone again. Happy gardening year to you all.

Six On Saturday: Last of the year

Mildness abounds except a local bout of fuming that took place yesterday afternoon. The Christmas tree proved reluctant to take its proper place in the tree stand and it was only after some hard work with the loppers and a saw that we were able to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The tree is about a foot shorter now but it is standing upright. Mildness restored, although the week ahead looks chillier. This is the last six from me for two weeks as Christmas and the New Year roll in.

One

The tree is bought from a local nursery and I couldn’t leave without a quick look round at their stock. I have not been imaginative with the winter planting for the containers so these bellis found their way to the cash desk in some attempt to liven up the pots.

Two

Hellebore and snowdrop season approaches and I was also tempted by, thanks to a SOS from Hortus Bailey, a small pot of ‘Christmas Carol’. Little by little the collection grows.

Three

I have seen so many tweets of cotoneaster this year. It seems to have been a great year for the leaf colour and the berries have stayed around for longer. This is a horizontalis, and over the years I have come to appreciate its contribution to the winter front garden.

Four

Pruning the roses continues and sometimes includes the cutting back of flowering stems. This is a miniature version of ‘Darcey Bussell’.

Five

As I now have several branches of Christmas tree going spare, I will be foraging in the garden again. This time I will be putting together some kind of garland for the bannisters. I have some kitsch fir cone lights and a slightly tatty length of fake berries. I’m hoping wonders can be created with the addition of ivy from the fences. If in doubt add more!

Six

I hope this rather unappealing collection of leaves holds much promise. The last veg standing on the veg plot is always the parsnips. Next week I shall be digging them up in the hope that there is enough for our Christmas lunch. If I’m lucky there may even be some left for a curried parsnip soup.

Wishing you all Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays and above all a Healthy New Year. Thanks to The Propagator for creating this meme and thanks to everyone who takes part and shares their love of gardening. See you all again in 2022.

Six on Saturday: Christmas is coming

What a week that was! Rain, sun, plenty of wind and a frost. I nipped out into the garden once or twice: rose pruning has commenced and the Christmas wreath making was completed. Here’s six from the garden.

One

First a little garden foraging to gather materials for the wreath.

Two

Some hours later…this year’s Christmas wreath. Using Spruce, Bay, Ivy, Holly, Choisya, Elaeaganus and Hydrangea flowers.

Three

The sedums have turned a rather lovely shade of purple. I only spotted these after I had made the wreath otherwise I think I could have happily sneaked a bloom or two into the creation.

Four

The garden has been hosting some new visitors this week – two collared doves. I hope it doesn’t take you too long to find them!

Five

The white hellebores are just beginning to flower and the dark red ones are in bud. Just when you think it is all going quiet the garden springs a surprise.

Six

The pretty pinky white flowers of the viburnum tree are opening up. They would also have worked well in the wreath, as would the berries but I decided to leave them for another day.

I’m hoping that there are no more storms for the next few weeks. I’ve got off lightly with only a squelchy lawn to speak of. Others have had snow, loss of power and a miserable time of it. Six on Saturday continues unabated, just knock on the door of The Propagator’s site and all will be revealed. Wishing everyone good times!

Six On Saturday: A new season rolls in

A new month and a new season, Winter is with us. There were some gloriously sunny days this week which was a great opportunity to plant the last of the tulips: fifty or so ‘Purissima’ bulbs. This is an early white variety which I managed to infiltrate among the white hellebores with not too much collateral damage. My next outing was Friday afternoon which provided a gloomy backdrop for this week’s six.

One

I think this is the cheeriest of the six! The annual reveal of the persimmons. I was surpised to have any this year after the number that dropped in September. But here they are again and the parakeets have been squawking around letting me know that they are almost ripe.

Two

The first real frost arrived last week and the last of the dahlias has duly blackened. This is the first year I have lifted all the dahlias. They may be planted out again, but there’s a strong chance that they won’t! For the moment they are loosely wrapped in newspaper in the garage.

Three

I had a cutting patch this year, China asters were my favourites but I couldn’t bring myself to cut very many of them. I used, for the fourth year, a wide spaced jute netting to help support the flowers. It looks like it’s time to admit I’ve had my money’s worth!

Four

The vast majority of the leaves are down now, thanks in part to Storm Arwen which blew through last week. The leaf cage is full and these leaves will sit here for a year. They will be just about ready to use as leaf mould by next Winter. It is used to mulch the blackcurrants and raspberries.

Five

Moody skies, moody mood! I still have hundreds of small figs left on the fig tree. The storm helped shake a few to the ground and I have been picking off the lower level ones for some time. More to do but some will be unreachable.

Six

This is the green manure that has been growing for about 3 months. It’s time to cut it down and dig it over into the ground. This mix contains crimson clover, broad leaf clover, white tilney mustard and westerwolds rye grass. The informative seed packet tells me that the clover will fix the nitrogen in the soil and the rye grass and mustard will improve soil structure. I cut down now so that the mix doesn’t sneakily set seed when I’m not looking.

There are a few jobs to be done before a tactical retreat from the garden is made. Rose pruning has been started and must be finished. The autumn fruiting raspberry canes need to be cut back and after the frost there are a few soggy plants in the border that need to be cleared away. Here’s hoping there are a few more crisp sunny days to come.

Six on Saturday is the creation of The Propagator who handily provides a helpful guide for participants. Thanks to Mr P for hosting the links every weekend.

Six On Saturday: Still flowering

The cold weather has arrived, the first storm has blown through and the first frost lightly touched the garden. Now I feel the push to finish the tulip bulb planting. ‘Cairo’ are in with the inevitable disturbance of the neighbouring camassias. I have about 40 ‘Purissima’ to plant amongst the white hellebores. That’s the top priority for this weekend. In the meantime here are six things that caught my eye today.

One

A few weeks back a variegated hebe was moved from an overcrowded spot in the front garden to the space behind the lawn roller. It’s leggy from past efforts to reach out for some light but it has immediately responded to it’s new location by putting out a flower. It’s always exciting to liberate overcrowded shrubs and give them a new chance to thrive.

Two

I have a small patch of tiarellas lining a path on the way to the compost heap and they are impressively flowering on. They work hard to keep the weeds in this area at bay and cope well with the shade.

Three

Speaking of compost. The compost bins have been turned. One emptied out onto the veg patch, just waiting to be spread around. I’d like to think of this as black gold but it will be rife with seeds. I am sure to have a good crop of verbena bonariensis seedlings if nothing else. The first bin has been turned out into the middle bin and can sedately rot down over the coming year. The first bin, briefly empty, has now begun to fill again and so the cycle continues.

Four

I nearly missed the first hellebore flower of the year. This is always the earliest and starts of thoughts of the spring to come.

Five

The orange berries of Iris foetidissima give a welcome splash of colour underneath the rhododendron. It’s a scrubby space and these fill it well. I was surprised to see that the RHS has awarded it an Award of Garden Merit. But why should I be surprised? It grows in inhospitable places, the flowers, while not showy are quite pleasing, the berries are bright and cheerful and it really is low maintenance.

Six

I inherited a large choisya which gets larger every year. It gives me valuable evergreen structure during the winter months and fragrant white flowers in Spring. And now in Winter. I have had a second flowering in other years but this one is quite impressive and long lasting.

Temperatures will remain low over the weekend so planting the bulbs will be a cold business. I have a little more mulching to be done and the rose pruning to start. But there is a sense that the garden is being put to bed for the winter despite those flowering anomalies! The Propagator leads us on through winter, a challenge here but those in the southern hemisphere fill the Six On Saturday blog space with sunshine.

Six On Saturday: Enjoying November

Another mild week passes by and the last few scented leaf pelagoniums have been cut back and despatched to the greenhouse for the winter. It looks like there may be some colder weather ahead and in anticipation I have made a start on lifting dahlias that are in pots. It’s not something I usually do but a revamp is taking place. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

Over the last year I have radically thinned out the gooseberries and blackcurrants. Last weekend I tackled the wild blackberries that loiter around the side of the shed. They’ve gone now, hopefully never to return but they can be very insistent. In celebration I bought a new blackcurrant bush. It’s a Ben Sarek. I’ve happily grown Ben Connann in the past and I inherited Ben Lomond which seem to be past their best. We’ll see if Sarek crops well next year. It had a dusting of bone meal and then a layer of leaf mould to get see on its way.

Two

The mild weather is persuading many of the summer flowers to keep on going, just a little at a time but enough to raise a happy smile. These are Knautia, Clematis, Coreopsis, Geranium, Nicotiana and Antirrhinum.

Three

The trees that surround this garden have been glowing in the sunshine. This time of year seems to me, to be the best time to appreciate their stately glory. I even enjoy collecting the leaves that fall.

Four

The hydrangeas are also looking particularly fine at the moment. The white flowers of summer have faded (and that doesn’t seem to be quite the right word) to a beautiful pink. Isn’t that a wonderful transformation?

Five

The snowberry is losing its leaves and revealing the underplanting of brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. The silvered leaves are just perfect for the winter garden.

Six

There’s been a start made on tidying up for winter and the shed needed a sweep out. Venturing into the dark corners is not something I do willingly, but I did and found a colony of mushrooms. Clearly they are enjoying the damp dark conditions! I left them there.

I was derailed from my six last week but happily normal service has been resumed. Jobs for the weekend involve leaf collecting, tulip bulb planting and more cutting back of those herbaceous perennials that will soon go soggy over the winter. Any slugs lurking around better watch out. Thanks once again to the host of this meme – The Propagator. His blog shares all the links to other SOS posts, I have some catch up reading to do!

Six on Saturday: A winter garden

This is another one of those ‘Not my garden posts’. Sorry to disappoint, the above photo is definitely not my garden. This week we were in Cambridge for a few days and spent a cold but sunny hour or two at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. It was a diversion on the way back to the station and I offer apologies to anyone out there who was disturbed by the trundling of our suitcase, a noise not compatible with the peaceful surroundings. Before departure the home garden was wrapped up for the cold spell, agapanthus under fleece for the winter and as there wasn’t time to transport the lemon tree to the greenhouse that too had a temporary double layer of fleece. This weekend I hope to get the lemon tree inside and it will be re-fleeced for extra protection when the cold weather settles in. Here’s four from the Winter Garden, Cambridge with its focus on ‘coloured stems, bark and foliage texture with winter flowers and fragrance until mid spring’. This garden begs to visited again in February when the snowdrops and winter aconites appear. The last two are from the Fountain planting.

One

The Mahonia, Oregon Grape ‘Winter Sun’ in the background draws the visitor down the path. The boundary hedges have been used to frame the colours and to trap the winter scents in the garden. The birch tree behind the bench is betula ermanii ‘Grayswood Hill’.

Two

The colour of the red holly berries and the variegated leaf exploded in the sunshine, botanical details: ilex aquifolium, ‘Argentea Marginata’. Or Silver Margined Holly, in translation. My only holly is the result of a donation form the birds and doesn’t look half as exuberant as this, but then it’s a freebie so I won’t complain.

Three

Scent was much in evidence from this Viburnum farreri, its leaves just turning a coppery red giving a double winter whammy. That’s not a very botanical description, but you get the picture.

Four

It wouldn’t be a winter garden without that trusted favourite, cornus. This one is Cornus alba ‘Siberica’, which seems to be regarded as too vigorous for most gardens, but there are many others to choose from. The bergenia provides a good foil at the base.

Five

Coming out of the Winter Garden now, I couldn’t resist including the planting around the fountains. Here the seed heads of Phlomis russeliana, Turkish Sage, provide strong winter interest. I’d love to take this idea for the garden here, but I don’t think I have the right conditions. But it is something I am contemplating.

Six

The phlomis around the fountain is mixed with a planting of Stipa gigantea, which glowed in the sunshine. There is no doubting why it is called ‘Golden Oats’.

There was much to take in at the Botanic Garden and the website is very helpful, providing planting lists and good descriptions of the garden highlights. It’s well worth a visit, either in person or virtually. Back in my garden I will be continuing to mulch and may even make a start on tulip bulb planting. The compost heap needs a turn and one bin is ready to spread on the veg plot. The dahlias, zinnias, cosmos and roses continue to defy the season and as the temperatures seem to be picking up again for next week I will leave them as they are for a little while longer. The Propagator hosts the SOS meme and all are welcome to take part or simply to read and enjoy.

Six on Saturday: I finally have that autumn feeling

Autumn jobs have been started. A free Friday meant that I could begin bringing a few things inside and a start was made on reigning in the wild brambles that we have lived with for five years. The increase in leaf fall from the trees pushed me to empty out last year’s leaf mould into old compost bags. These will be emptied out onto the soft fruit borders once the autumn fruiting raspberries are cut back. The weather has been so mild that the hydrangeas are still putting out flowering stems but as the last month of autumn approaches surely the temperatures will drop. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

The fig and the persimmon leaves are changing colour. The persimmon crop will ripen in December and is a winter donation to the birds. The figs often deliver a few fruit in November as a bonus crop but this year they look rather small and will probably not be worth harvesting. The fruit does still need to be picked, leaving on the tree only the smaller pea sized fruits for next year. This is one of my least favourite autumn jobs, so many fruit and some that are completely out of reach.

Two

Along with the odd rogue hydrangea flower there are one or two clematis flowers remaining but mostly it is the silky seed heads that add decoration to the trellis.

Three

The seed heads of the rudbeckia always look dramatic at this time of the year and will be left standing through winter.

Four

The last of the apples were picked a week ago. They are Braeburns and have given us crisp and juicy eaters. There were several small apples, a result of my less than ruthless thinning I’m sure, and generously I made up some apple feeders for the birds. They have been utterly spurned. Not pecked, not rumbled by the squirrels, left untouched. I suspect my neighbours of having higher quality bird food available.

Five

I have been cutting back the scented leaf pellies before bringing them into the greenhouse. This one was grown on from cuttings I took when they came out for the summer. It’s still flowering and so I keep pushing my luck and have left it out for this weekend. But next week the deed will be done and all the pellies will be inside again for the winter.

Six

I planted autumn crocuses last year, in amongst the hellebores. I can’t say that I have swathes of them but the one or two that have emerged look quite good. They are so fragile though and recent winds and rain have not served them well.

I have finally planted out the narcissus ‘Actaea’. Leaving only the tulips to do. It is uncanny how every spot I identified as needing a few bulbs turned out to be home to snowdrops. I can reveal that snowdrops have already begun their journey to the surface. I hope my disturbance of them won’t have caused too much of a shock to the system. Snowdrops and hellebores are my next seasonal marker. The Propagator is also planting bulbs and featuring a lovely Japanese anemone this week. Stop by, take a look and follow the links to the other SOS posts.