Six On Saturday: Slim Spring pickings

It’s been a tough week. The weather is still cold, with warnings of cold winds from the North and the possibility of a snow flurry or two. The garden has an air of neglect as it patiently waits to burst forth. The heavy mulch that was put down in December is beginning to show cracks as new growth pushes through so I know that it is all just ready and waiting for the temperatures to rise. In the meantime there’s not too much on show. Here’s my six for this week.

One

These are the new shoots of Japanese anemones, forcing their way through a good layer of mulch. Strange to think that it will another five or six months before these are in flower.

Two

Warming up for their appearance in May, new tulip shoots. These have been in this corner for several years now and a reasonable amount are coming back each year. I’m not one who treats them as annuals, preferring to leave them in peace for as long as possible and only topping them up when they are really thinning out.

Three

Cold weather or not, the pulmonaria is coming into flower. This gets divided regularly, it puts up with complete neglect and happily offers its flowers to the early bees. One of those ‘taken for granted’ doers.

Four

The cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, relatively new to the garden is putting out a good number of new buds. I’m following advice that recommends not cutting new plants back for the first two years. Once it is established it should have annual cut back in Spring

Five

Last summer I planted out three lavenders in a large pot. ‘Munstead’, I think. Although I do really prefer ‘Hidcote’. They put on good growth last year and have come through winter unscathed. I think I chose ‘Munstead’ over ‘Hidcote’ as ‘Munstead’ is thought to be hardier. Seeing them looking nonchalantly content encourages me think about the summer warmth to come.

Six

Lastly, so nearly there but probably still two weeks off opening, the almost ready to flower clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’. When this flowers I will know that the garden is really off and running again.

I’ve been shuffling seed packets, looking at my overwintered perennials sown from seed last year and planning out the veg patch. The gooseberries, other fruit bushes, and borders will be fed in the next few weeks as the weather warms up. I try to do that just before a good downpour of rain but there’s little of that in the forecast. I’m limbering up on the starting line ready to make that dash forward. But not just yet! If you are curious to see how other SOS gardens are doing, then stop by at Jim’s. He is our generous host and shares the links to other posts.

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: 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: 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: 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.