Six On Saturday: Progress on the to do list

There is always a job to done in the garden and I admire those who systematically list them and then work through the list. But I suspect many gardeners set out to do one thing and get waylaid into doing something else. Fortunately, sometimes it is possible to do the original task and the silence the siren call of the new job. Last week I set out to pot on the tomato seedlings, the sun was shining and it was impossible to avoid noticing the shabby state of the potting shed. The five minute job I set out to do became a mornings’ worth of sweeping, sorting, reorganising and throwing out the debris of last season. But it was one job done from my mental list and the seedlings were potted on.

One

Here are those tomato seedlings which will eventually go into the greenhouse. I shall be sowing some extra seeds for a few outdoor tomatoes in the next week or so. This first set have moved on from the sunny windowsill above the radiator and are now colonising a sunny spot on a bedroom floor. I was a day behind in my plan to pot them on and I swear they grew at least an inch taller in that day.

Two

I’m a little shamefaced to show you this one. It is remarkably similar to a photo that graced this blog a year or so ago. The slabs were from removed from another spot in the garden and were stacked in front of the compost bins waiting to be used to even off the site. The end of the wait is in sight. I now have someone lined up to do the work. I have spent the odd moment here and there this week turning out the contents of the bins into builders’ bags so that I can move the bins and leave the builder with a cleanish site to work with. I have one more bin to empty. Two jobs for the price of one. Compost gets a turn and the site is cleared.

Three

It may have been cold and windy this week but when the sun did shine there was some warmth to it. The anemone blanda are just opening up here and are filling in the gaps among the primroses.

Four

The warmth seems to have finally encouraged last autumn’s planting of camassias to make a showing. These are camassia leichtlinii caerulea. I heave a great sigh of relief here. Autumn was so wet and when I planted them they were pretty much sitting in water. Winter continued to be wet and I thought they may well have rotted away. Some camassias like it damp and I am hoping I chose the right ones for this patch of the garden. The camassias elsewhere in the garden are already several inches taller.

Five

In the now pristine potting shed there remain two trays of foxgloves. I use the potting shed as a cold frame over winter, this year home to delphiniums, aquilegia and several trays of foxgloves. Two trays have gone out into the garden already and these apricot ones will go out next week if all goes to plan. The delphiniums are staying inside for a little longer but they have enjoyed a few hours outside on the warmer days.

Six

Last November I bought up half a dozen packs of tête-à-tête daffodils as an end of season bargain. I planted them all in pots so that I could move them out into those empty spaces that become all too apparent in Spring. They are just coming into bud now, well behind my older plantings of tête-à-têtes. I have put a couple out into the land grab border and I’m pleased to say they came out of the pots very well. At least half of the remaining pots are destined for the front garden. The rest will probably go into the western end of the north facing border but I have to keep their cheerful yellowness well away from the apricot foxgloves that are destined for the more eastern end. This will be my conundrum for next week’s gardening.

I suppose the upside of these strange times is that there is a little more flexibility in my week which does allow me to fit in a few gardening jobs. I am not sure that today’s sunshine and showers will fall at the right time but I am waiting with trowel and spade to hand! Happy gardening to you all, and to The Prop who manages to garden and run with great abundance. Take a good look at his website this week as it also holds the link for his fund raising for Macmillan, the cancer charity. As usual the links to other SOS posts will appear on his website.

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: Cold nights and Crazy days

I can’t really avoid the c word this week. These past few days have gone by in a whirl and we are all coming terms with profound changes to our lives. The discipline of spending a little time to write about the garden is finding a new level of meaning and spring has arrived so it is all the more enjoyable. It it so good to focus on the new life that is appearing and the joy that comes with seeing the perennials push through again.  Here are my six delights for this week.

One

There have been some cold nights and cold windy days this week but the sun has some warmth and the garden is responding.  I’ve seen the tulips in bud and this week the Thalia opened up.  Must have more of them was my response.

Two

I know everyone has done daffs over the last few weeks but I’m going to tip my hat again to Tete a Tete.  When I planted this ring of them around the persimmon tree I thought there was a stronger danger of it looking a little twee.  Maybe it does but seeing this cheerful ring of them every morning makes my day.  I’ve gone for over-egging the pudding and have also planted an inner ring of snowdrops.  I can’t wait!

Three

It feels a little early to be cutting back the hydrangeas but the new growth is coming through strongly now.  I am going to resist for as long as I can.  April can be cruel.  The penstemons are also sending out new growth but they aren’t going to tempt into a cut back just yet. 

Four

The new growth on the roses has this lovely reddish colour.  In admiring this exuberance I also noticed that some tying in was needed, which was duly done.  It is at this time of year I realise that I could have been more ruthless with some of the climbing roses.  Some people never learn.

Five

More new growth coming from the weigela florida ‘Variegata’.  I bought it new for this garden so it is about three years old now.  I’m happy to let it have it’s natural height but I think I may need to contain the spread.  I’m looking forward to May when it’s pink flowers appear.

Six

I anticipate a sudden influx of bees as the rosemary comes into flower.  Yes, indeed gardening and all its side benefits will be keeping my soul healthy this year.  

Thanks to The Propagator for his admirable work in keeping Six on Saturday together.  I shall be sowing seeds this weekend, definitely some cosmos, perhaps some zinnias and probably some tellima grandiflora and the grass needs cutting.  Enjoy your gardening jobs, take time to appreciate what’s growing now and celebrate Springtime,  for it is officially here!

 

 

Six On Saturday: No gloom here

I’ll reference the c word in order to wish everyone well in their life and work and as a nod to the historical record but there are encouraging things afoot in the garden to distract me. Here they are:

One

The magnolia is in bloom.  On time and ready to give a couple of weeks of joy.  A blue sky would add to the euphoria but it’s not available today!

Suddenly out of nowhere the delphiniums have shot up.  This is one of my most enjoyable moments of the gardening year.  They are up and so far are outpacing the slugs and snails.  I am jumping ahead of myself as I day dream about summer.  

Three

I inherited a patch of white hyacinths at the foot of the smaller fig tree.  Here they jostle for space with the green alkanet and in combination the two manage to look pretty good.  I think I am going to learn to live with the alkanet as my attempts to eradicate it have failed once again.  In its favour it does have a pretty blue flower.  

Four

I also inherited various daffodils dotted in random locations around the garden.  I dug them up and planted them all in a corner pending a decision on their fate and of course they get forgotten every year until they flower again.  I rather like this white one.  One day I will sort out the ones I like and find them a proper home.

Five

The blue anemones are peeking through the forget-me-nots this week.  And there is a tiny yew seedling, donated by the birds that sit in the branches of the viburnum tree above. 

Six

More excitement as the tomato seeds sown last week have germinated.  These are above a radiator, on a sunny windowsill in the kitchen.  Time to move them to a cooler spot before they get too leggy.

The garden is still soaked and it’s best not to spend too much time standing on the soil so I still have jobs to be done.  Meanwhile nature pushes on and how lovely it is. I hope you can find some positive distractions in your garden or those nearby.  My snowflakes are not in flower yet but I spotted a stunning clump of them just round the corner from me.  For more opportunities to admire other gardens just check in with Mr P who hosts all the SOS links which are guaranteed to dispel any gloom. 

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: Resilient roses, asters, bulbs and froglets

The torrential rain of Tuesday gave the garden a welcome soaking. Unfortunately steady showers followed on and the week had a wet and windy finish. I start this week’s six by paying homage to the roses which flower, get soaked by the rain, are defoliated by rose sawfly, and yet flower again.

One

This white rose ‘Jaqueline du Pre’ flowers at the far end of the garden and spotting a new flower in the gloomy mornings of this week was very uplifting.

Two

At the opposite end, in  a sunnier spot, the climbing version of ‘James Galway’ is making steady progress up the trellis and keeps putting out new buds.

Three

Newly arrived in flower is Colchicum speciosum ‘Album’.  These were part of last year’s autumn bulb order and one or two of them sprang into flower immediately after planting.  This year I have more of a full presence but I feel the need for more impact.  I feel another top up bulb order coming on.

Four

A top up because the second order arrived today. I’m not such a prolific orderer of bulbs as our host Mr P but somehow I have managed to total 110 in this order plus 150 crocus bulbs and 60 ‘Tete a Tete’ daffodils from earlier temptations. In this batch are Tulips: Dolls Minuet,  Ballerina, Lasting Love, Mariette and Sarah Raven, Camassias and Acidanthera murielae.  The last is related to gladioli, and is sometimes known as Abyssinian gladiolus.  The recommendation is to lift over winter but I maybe tempted to leave them in.   I did lift some tulips this year so I will see how much success I have with replanting them first.

Five 

I have only one type of aster in the garden but I have two of them.  The colour is perfect but I have them in the wrong place and I’m not sure where the right place is.   The problem is they grow so high, easily outstripping any of my pathetic attempts at staking . This year one has remained fairly upright and the other has spiralled all over the place.  Belatedly I realised I could have tried a wig-wam support system.  The right place is probably somewhere sunnier and where their height can be enjoyed.  Still thinking.

Six

This little fella was trying to wriggle away from SOS fame and fortune but he just didn’t quite fit into the gap.  It has given me an extra nudge into finding a site for a pond.  I am going to go small and cheap,  buying a pond liner and an insulation liner.  I have in mind a small area at the back of the garden that is currently being used to heel in plants that I have been dividing or moving.  I might miss that luxury but this year the garden has been full of froglets, or possibly one very active one.  I’m hoping I can offer them a permanent home. If it stops raining and I can start digging.

More rain is forecast overnight so I have low expectations of any productive work in the garden.  I will be optimistically inspecting some sweet peas that were sown last week and thinking about seeds for next year.  I’ll be finding out about other SOSers and their gardening ambitions by checking in with The Propagator and all the links he shares.  Happy weekend whatever the weather.

 

 

Six On Saturday: I was surprised!

Surprised like most of us in the UK to have such warm temperatures in February at the beginning of this week and surprised to find a few more plants in flower.  I thought it was all looking a bit dull out there.  I haven’t really got to grips with flowering shrubs and early spring bulbs for the garden yet. But all in good time.   Here’s what surprised me this week:

One

IMG_E3339

I could have sworn that I didn’t have any early daffs, but this tiny group of ‘Tete a Tete’ have just sprung up under a rose bush.  They must be a relic from past plantings and they look very well.  I am persuaded to add them to my bulb order wish list.

Two

IMG_E3340

These cowslips are from own planting.  They are in a sheltered corner and catch the morning sun.  I think they have been lured out by this week’s warmth.

Three

IMG_E3338

The north facing border must also been catching a few sunny rays.  The pulmonaria have opened up.  I originally had them in a south facing border but they were uprooted in the autumn and moved to the dark depths of the other side of the garden.  The slugs don’t seem to like them and I find their uncomplaining nature very agreeable!

Four

IMG_3337

It’s a dangerous time to be out in the garden.  The bulbs are all coming through so I really must be careful where I put my feet as I try to keep on top of the weeds and slugs.  I’m also hoping there won’t be any casualties as a result of the dry summer weather.  I didn’t really think about the bulbs when I was mean with the watering.

Five

From a distance the clematis looked like a tangled mass of dried up browness.  Close up there was an impressive amount of new growth and it was quite clearly time for some pruning.  Job done!

Six

I have another skip on site.  For every project in the house there is the opportunity of sorting out something in the garden.   It’s curtains for the BBQ and the spotted laurel.  The laurel clearly got wind of its impending doom and put out some very attractive berries.  But my mind is made up – not a frequent occurrence – and the laurel will be gone by the end of the month.  The severely cracked BBQ has already been skipped and I have a larger seating area as a result.  Now I need to choose a garden bench.

I have a long wish list of plants that I have come across from reading the SOSs that get posted every week.  If you are looking for inspiration go to  The Propagator  for links to temptations for every season!