Six on Saturday: An interesting end to February

The last full week of February has been eventful but here the focus remains on the garden. Storm Franklin lashed a few more fence panels. Thankfully none of them are mine but there are some interesting gaps in neighbouring gardens. It has been a difficult week to find time to garden but a moment here and there was grabbed and the cut down of the herbaceous perennials continues. There is growth under the brown and the March surge is approaching. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

The fig tree had a prune. Three or four of the larger branches were shortened and the overall height was taken down a little. Come the summer the longer thinner branches will be shortened. It is amazing that despite the high winds there is still a number of last seasons figs clinging on.

Two

Last summer saw us say goodbye to two box shrubs which had succumbed to blight and caterpillars. It has opened up this corner of the garden to a little more sunshine. It will be brief lightening of a shady corner that will be back in shade once the trees are in leaf. This is also a big tick for cutting back the old stems on the phlox.

Three

I do have some crocuses in the garden that have withstood the wind and rain. If I remember rightly these are ‘Ruby Giant’ – not so ruby in colour.

Four

New buds on the climbing hydrangea are encouraging. This is year three for this shrub and gradually it is making its way over the fence.

Five

I used to have four of these euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii which made a dramatic impact in early spring. I’m down to two now and they are looking a little thin. I think the soil here is just too wet for them. Evidence of climate change perhaps. I have a couple of seedlings in other parts of the garden so we’ll if they do any better.

Six

I feel sure the viburnum usually has more flowers than this by now. They are only just beginning to open, perhaps March will push them on to a better display.

I think the garden is the place to be this weekend. Things are looking a whole lot more positive there! Mr P will no doubt be out and about one way or another and yet always finds time to cheerfully host the SOS meme.

Six on Saturday: Thinking aloud*

Having spent the last few months day dreaming of garden projects it is time to get real and decide what is going to be put in place and what’s not. I’d love to have a multi stem silver birch and have a space in mind for one, but it would mean displacing three Darcy Bussell roses and it would create a dry spot where the gooseberries grow. That’s not happening. Last year I talked myself out of planting up a grass corner on the grounds that it would be too shady. This year I am going to do it. I might lose a plant or two but that happens every year, usually due to slugs. I didn’t plant Jean D’Arc crocuses, deciding that, as they are Dutch varieties, they would be too large. This year I will go big and order them. February is a month of anticipation, pole position on the grid, foot hovering over the accelerator, but patience is required. There’s plenty of time yet. So ease back and enjoy what is happening now with this week’s six.

One

I noticed that flowers had started to appear on the rosemary bush. This and the sage were inherited and the sage was showing signs of age last year. I was ruthless in shaping it up and cutting out some very old stems. This year will show whether this results in rejuvenation or demise.

Two

The very first of the crocuses have shown up. These are in a dry spot underneath a magnolia so I am always impressed that they make it through every year.

Three

The annual showing of the fat buds of clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’. This plant helps the garden through February and into March. It’s scented and has pretty white/pink flowers.

Four

This is sarcococca hookeriana ‘Winter Gem’. A smaller growing (70cm) variety with a pinker flower. It has been a slow starter but in its second year it’s beginning to fill the space.

Five

The front garden hydrangea has a much more open texture than the back garden ones. It’s a lace cap variety and it looks pretty good in winter. The fat buds of this year’s growth are appearing.

Six

Aah, the egg box is no longer empty. The ‘Jazzy’ potatoes have arrived and chitting has begun. Vroom, vroom!

Blue skies are arriving and although it’s a cold morning the afternoon could see some gardening tidying being started. If that doesn’t happen there’s always the chance of an online garden mooch through the SOS links on The Propagator’s site. Take a look, join in, all welcome.

*with due acknowledgement to the radio programme of a similar name.

Six On Saturday: February round up

I have a letter excusing my absence last week, it says I was on plant ordering duties. I am preparing for a new border and of course added in one or two plants for other areas in the garden that need an uplift. More to come on the new plants but this week is a contemplation of February. The garden was not a pretty sight. The weather was not good: one week of rain followed by a week of cold weather followed by a wet and windy week. These were not the conditions to lure one out into the garden. This week has been drier and warmer and when I did venture out there was plenty of damage to see. I think there will be losses and set backs but spring is on its way and that thought lifts the spirits.

One

A much loved pot that has been with me for many years now has a crackled look. It is home to some fabulous lilies. I could break the pot up and replant the lilies but first I am going to see if I can repair the damage with some milliput terracotta repair putty. Ever the optimist I think!

Two

My first venture out the week after the cold weather was thwarted. I had planned to empty 2019’s leaf mould onto the raspberry beds but the contents of the bags were still frozen solid. I had to wait a few days but now the job is done and the soft fruit beds have also had a dusting of fish, bone and blood feed.

Three

Two years ago when pruning the rose ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ I decided to plant some stems to see if they would take. Now why would I want more of this vigorous climber? Do I even have a suitable place for it? The cuttings were doing very well until the cold weather came, now the leaves have crisped up but the new shoots look good. If they survive a permanent place in the garden will be the reward.

Four

The tête-à-tête daffodils are popping up thick and fast now. Even those in the shady and colder borders are being forthcoming. I was ruthless last year and streamlined the daffodils to tête-à-tête, pheasant’s eye and thalia. I have not missed the larger daffodils.

Five

This beautiful group of crocus picks up the early morning sun in the front garden and were stunning on this particular morning. Note to self: must add more of these.

Six

Pulmonaria, from a clump shared by a friend, dug up and divided many times since. There is always a little piece that remains in the original planting sight which doggedly sets off to clump up again.

I’ve also sown some tomato seeds which are for the greenhouse. The chilli seeds were poor germinators, two out of twelve! Four more were sown and two have come good. If I can keep four going that will be plenty. The rocket seeds in greenhouse are struggling along and other greenhouse autumn sowings are waking up. All is moving in the right direction.

I’m sure The Prop will be moving in the right direction too, he will be running, sowing or hosting the SOS threads. Take a look and if you would like to join in then explore the participant’s guide. Happy gardening.

Six On Saturday: Mid January

I have three definites for today. I am hoping that by the end I will have been inspired and will have discovered three more. I know this is not how the professionals go about it. Planning for weeks ahead, caption writers fully briefed, photos crisply in focus and revealing bountiful seasonal colour, and by professional I am referring to my fellow SOSers as hosted by The Propagator. I can only admire and aspire. Here are my offerings.

One

The so called warm weather forecast for last week came heavily laden with rain and those days that were dry were cold. But I did have urgent pruning to be done and so I climbed the ladder and pruned the vine. I peered enviously into my neighbours garden, full of greenery from their fabulous selection of shrubs. There was a feeble resolution to plant more shrubs on this side but in reality I prefer the big bang of summer perennials. Back to the vine. It was a joy to prune as I had the right equipment – more later – but there is still plenty of dead wood in there. Another year has passed without the grapes amounting to anything edible but the summers stems provide a shady corner.

Two

How wonderful it was to receive a smart new pair of secateurs for Christmas. I’ve struggled on with several old pairs for some time, never managing to achieve a truly sharp edge despite many attempts with the whetstone. With these I was able to slice through the vines with absolute ease and probably cut them back more rigorously then I would have done with the old faithfuls.

Three

Whilst I was up the ladder a flash of reddish brown caught my eye not more than two metres away. It was a fox jumping the fence. I had noticed the same fox earlier in the morning roaming around the garden paths. I cleared up the cut branches and returned inside to warm up. At this point the shouting started, a vixen in the middle of lawn calling for a mate. The original fox turned up pretty sharpish and for I was treated to a full on display of foxiness. In the middle of the day, so much for foxes being nocturnal animals.

Four

Ah, I have remembered one more thing. Just before the latest of the lockdowns I met up with a friend who returned an earlier favour, I had shared some hollyhock plants and when they grew on in her garden they flowered in a wonderful shade of burgundy. I was bemused as I had collected the original seeds from plants that I thought were burgundy but mine had flowered as pale pinks and yellows. Somewhere in the seeds I had collected were the burgundy ones and now I have them back again. I’m hoping they come true.

Five

Ooh, getting difficult now. We had our first snowfall of the year overnight and I was planning on finishing up with some snowy scenes but rain followed and the snow has now been washed away. The snowdrops are just beginning to appear but are not quite worthy of a photo but here’s a rain soaked crocus!

Six

Finally, please accept this as proof that I am getting round all the roses. I still have many more to do. I was encouraged by the latest Dig Delve newsletter to be more ruthless with the pruning, and aided and abetted by the new secateurs I went to town, so of course the pruning took a little longer. I had actually set out to cut down the autumn fruiting raspberry canes but I had to pass the roses on the way. This distraction meant that only one section of raspberries were cut back and only two blackcurrant bushes lifted. At least I have some gardening jobs to get me through the second half of January.

Six On Saturday: Creeping towards spring

The joys of sixing! Thanks to our host The Propagator I get to really notice when things start happening in the garden and what a difference a week makes. Second joy of sixing – the front garden gets a tidy up: this week’s haul: three aluminium cans, a plastic bag and several pieces of polystyrene blown over from a neighbour’s skip. Not much storm damage to report here, just a few twiggy branches and a sodden lawn. Let’s see what Dennis dumps this week. On to the six:

One

The vinca that never flowers has flowered!  And this is not the only one, I’ve spotted at least four more.  It’s a start.  The flowering period for most vincas is given as April – September, this one is early but no complaints. Judging by the height I think this is a vinca major of some sort.

Two

A few more of the front garden crocuses have opened up and these are a good purple colour.  Thumbs up for these too.

Three

Until now there was not a sign of a daffodil but the sunny skies of last week have enticed the tete a tete to flower.

Four

Round the corner from the daffs I came across a very healthy clump of pulmonaria officinalis.  Flowering period March to May, so just a few weeks early.

Five

The primroses have been slowly opening up over the last few weeks but now they’ve decided to go for it.

Six

Lastly the front garden virbunum tinus, often maligned for not flowering very strongly is having a real go at it, mainly on the sunnier side of the shrub. There are two in the front garden and both were given a good prune last year.  They also received a good mulch for the second year running. so perhaps that has helped to move things along a bit.

All in all, a much easier six this week.  Things are definitely looking up.  The greenhouse felt positively warm this morning.  This can only mean one thing: it is time to start gardening again.  Time to finish all that soft fruit pruning and time to pull off the dead stems from the phlox as I’ve spotted the new shoots coming through.  Due to impending storm Dennis it won’t get one this weekend.  Time, I think, for an indoors sort through of seeds to be sown for week four of February.  Yes, time to be organised.

Six on Saturday: Proper January cold

Blue skies and cold temperatures, the real January has arrived. On a walk round the suburban streets here I gently peeked into front gardens and spotted the first camellias opening up, beautiful sprays of red nandia berries and the delicate yellows of winter flowering honeysuckle. Blue Monday has passed and all is well. Inspired by what I had seen I looked more carefully at my garden and here’s what I found.

One

The first crocus is in bud, beautifully veined and full of the promise of butter cream flowers.

Two

The cyclamen bought on the cheap a year ago have decided to flower, the white is delicately flushed with pink, just perfect.

Three

The magnolia tree is in furry bud and some had even dared to open, perhaps a little too soon.  Temperatures for tonight are forecast to be lower and I’m hoping there won’t be too much damage done.

Four

In expectation of cold weather the evergreen agapanthus have been fleeced since November but the fleece, in its second year of use, is crumbling away.  If anyone can recommend some more reliable fleece I’d be pleased to hear from you.  I’ve gathered this together and tied the top up with string.

Five

In the greenhouse the temperature overnight on Friday just managed to stay above freezing.  I was thrilled to see the new growth on these rose cuttings that came all the way from  fellow SOSer, Fred in France.  I am very excited to think that I might have some beautiful white miniature roses soon.  Thanks Fred.

Six 

There are new buds on the cotoneaster villosus which, again, I have to hope won’t be crushed by frost.  So much excitement and so much jeopardy.  Is this why gardening is so thrilling?

Could this be the weekend the vine is pruned and the hellebores planted out.   Dry weather is forecast but will my fingers stay warm for long enough?   I’ll also have a look at the plans of other SOSers by visiting The Propagator, host of this meme and leader of the pack.  Happy gardening to all.