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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.