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: 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: Celebrity opening

The new arch was installed last weekend after a little to-ing and fro-ing over how to put it up without having to prune the apple tree. One of the three cuttings of the rose ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ was planted at the base and all was well. I was then incredibly lucky to be able to have a celebrity cut the ribbon and officially declare the arch open and ready for use.

One

Yes, it is Perry the mascot of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games! #PoseWithPerry. What a treat, our first post lockdown visitor – outside only. I may be as mad as ‘mad Alf’ can be in putting this rose at the bottom of an arch but the cutting was sitting in the garden waiting for a home, so it was swiftly put to good use. Now for the other side. Has anyone grown clematis ‘Freckles’? I am very tempted by the flowering period of November to February but I’m not sure about the flower’s eponymous freckles.

Two

The warm weather brought out the blossom on the first of the plum trees. After four years of ‘let’s give it another year’ this tree had finally been condemned. When we took over the garden the tree was suffering from a split in the trunk that looked terminal but each year the tree healed itself a little more, as the trunk improved so the leaves seemed to dry up and die and the fruit crop diminished. This year the tree is covered in blossom, so inevitably it will get another year’s grace. Sadly temperatures of -2 degrees are forecast next week which may cause some damage to the blossom,

Three

The front garden magnolia buds fully opened up and for while there will be a pink cloud outside the bedroom windows. This is the view on a dismal grey day, so much lovelier in the sunshine but I missed the opportunity!

Four

I have been buying some plants for the shadier areas of the garden and my plan was to plant this hydrangea ‘Limelight’ in a particularly dark corner. Of course it will do better if it has a little more light and with the discovery that one of the blackcurrants has died overwinter I now have a better place for it. I feel quite relieved, but I am would be interested to know if anyone grows hydrangeas in deep shade?

Five

Having promoted the hydrangea to a better place I was serendipitously handed the perfect plant for shade. This is helleborus foetidus. I collected some helleborus hybridus from the Finchley Horticultural Society and there was one lonely foetidus among them so it came home as well.

Six

The thalia are out in all their glory now. They are such beautiful spring flowers and with three flowers to a stem they are very rewarding.

I have sown only one tray of flower seeds so far, some dahlia cacti mix which have germinated. The half hardy seeds I have decided to sow a little later than usual. Next week’s weather is colder and as the greenhouse is unheated I don’t think new sowings will do much. Half of my second early/main crop potatoes are in but I discovered a trench full of rubble where my second planting was due to go. More digging to be done. Spring onions, second tomatoes, and cucumbers are making progress. I have just about enough room on the windowsill for some climbing french beans to be started off this week but everything else is on hold until the cold winds change and the weather warms up again. The Propagator as always hosts SOS with humour – and is not really planning to concrete over his years of dedicated work. This week he features glorious daffodils shining in the sun. Happy gardening to all.

Six On Saturday: Gardening noises

It started with the sound of rustling of seed packets. A little bit of taking stock, did I remember to order everything, can I sow this year-old seed again? Now the chilli seeds have been sown along with an early batch of rocket. If felt good to be rummaging around in the compost again. I’ve also stretched the hamstrings with a little light gardening. These bones are getting going. Here’s six from the garden.

One

I should have spruced these up before presenting them here. They are the last of the parsnips. In truth they are also the first of the parsnips. It was another year of sporadic germination of seed. I think I sowed three times and this was all that came good. They have since been washed, finely sliced and turned into curried parsnip soup. Delicious. Parsnip seeds will be sown again this year, ever the optimist.

Two

I have decided to significantly streamline the potato growing this year and I have chosen one variety. Yes, just the one – Belle de Fontenay. It was the most successful and tasty of those I grew last year so all my eggs are going into one basket, so to speak. Chitting has begun.

Three

This brachyglottis is featured because I love the silver line that edges the leaves. It is showing up really well at the moment.

Four

A little bit of cheat here, this is last week’s downward facing hellebores taken from underneath. Yes, that involved a little bit of stretching too. And impossible to focus!

Five

My mass planting of snowdrops in the north border is still being recalcitrant. I have high hopes for a February bonanza. But this little clump that hides under a hedge is doing rather well.

Six

Some things in the garden are just zinging along. These are the new shoots of the day lily ‘Gentle Shepherd’. The excitement is just too much for me!

The other interesting noises heard this week were the squelch, squelch of the lawn and the beautiful bird song. My predication for rain not snow last week was completely wrong. Several inches of snow fell and stayed until Wednesday when it was washed away by several nights of rain. I had to choose my gardening jobs carefully but it was lovely to be outside. This week’s bird spot was the aptly named blackcap, a warbler apparently. Perhaps it was responsible for the tuneful notes bouncing round the trees. Here’s a link to an RSPB recording of a blackcap singing. Hoping you find much to enjoy in the coming week.

Mr P as always hosts this meme, join in at anytime.

Six On Saturday: Cheerfulness

Cheerfulness has been in short supply but I detect an upsurge coming our way. Last week I was desperate for six wonders from the garden. This week I feel more positive. Heavy snow is forecast for tomorrow but I am sure it will be rain. The garden is truly on the move and the signs of new growth are everywhere. I pruned another four rose bushes and only have three more to do. The goldfinches have reappeared, feasting on the verbena bonariensis seeds. I also spotted them enjoying some seed heads of lavender that had escaped a cut back. The hellebores are looking lovely and the 300 snowdrops I planted in the north facing border are shyly stepping out. Here’s this week’s six.

One

Helleborus hybridus, every so slightly ahead of their February flowering and looking just perfect from above.

Two

Hellebore ‘Happy Day’. The first hellebore to self seed in the garden, choosing a crack on the edge of some paving to establish itself. Looks inhospitable to me and I might intervene and move it to a more generous spot in spring.

Three

Hellebores again. I love the deep colour of ‘Pretty Ellen Red’ in its double form. I’d love these to self seed to, but not so far and I always miss the point when the seeds develop. More vigilance required.

Four

The melica is on the move, melica altissima ‘Alba’. This really cheered me up, memories of floaty seed heads swaying in summer breezes, I can’t wait.

Five

A little variegated variety from a cyclamen of some sort. Hastily purchased, label forgotten but its really striking leaves by the front door always catch my eye.

Six

The fat buds of clematis ‘Apple Blossom’. An evergreen clematis from the amandii group. It flowers in the leaf axils of the previous year’s growth and as it has been in the garden now for two years there are a good deal more of those axils to bear beautiful flowers in late February.

Yes, we can do this. There’s the chill of February to get through but the March surge is on its way. Mr P continues to channel humour and sartorial gardening elegance (past few weeks) and is hosting his way through another volume of the SOS posts with his usual panache. Don’t miss out!

Six On Saturday: Happy New Year Part Two

I feel it only right that I keep on wishing everyone a Happy New Year. It has been a wobbly start but we need to keep our stores of resilience up and good wishes from a friendly faces helps. I have been hiding from the cold and the wet but it is abundantly clear that nipping out to the garden with a pair of secateurs in hand while nosing around for six interesting things will not get the rose pruning completed. The roses are sending out the buds of new shoots so the job must be the focus for next week when I hear it might be a little warmer. I didn’t quite find six things in my garden so I am taking the liberty of topping up from this week’s exercise walk.

One

And the first one is a little cracker! Well, actually a little egret. The parks around us have brooks flowing through them and they have been overflowing in recent weeks. They are pretty much back to normal levels now but seeing the egret was a major surprise for me. I’ve only ever seen them before on visits to coastal Suffolk. It seems that they are increasingly common in the south east of the UK. This egret seemed very settled in a local stream and not at all bothered by runners, walkers, dogs and children passing by. I couldn’t not give it star billing.

Two

While I am on theme of new sightings I am, for good reason, sharing a photo of the persimmon tree again. There are only a few fruit left on the tree as the birds have been feasting for many weeks. As I don’t have anywhere to rush off to in the mornings I now spend some time staring out of the kitchen window observing the latest customers to this fine dining establishment. This week I was rewarded by the arrival of three to four redwings. Sadly I can’t show you them despite stalking them paparazzi style for far too long. But here’s a link to the RSPB site. That little smudge of red under the wing is very lovely.

Three

At the back of the garden, I have been reviewing the blackcurrants. They too are sending out new buds. I inherited these bushes and I suspect they are very old. They do crop fairly well if they are netted in time but the job of netting them securely is a chore. I am going to thin them out. I have about eight so I can happily halve the number and still have a good crop. I do have a back up plan to remove them all and start again with two brand new bushes which should be a doddle to net. I’ll see how this summer goes.

Four

One of the viburnums in the back garden is coming out into its lovely pink flowers. This is a tree sized shrub, once again inherited so I’m not sure of its name.

Five

Hellebores, of course. Niger to be specific. And very welcome too.

Six

Back out into the open spaces around me, I am finishing up with a tree heavy with mistletoe. There are many stories relating to the powers of mistletoe: warding off evil, cures for diseases and provider of vitality and vigour. But we must remember that mistletoe leaves, stems and berries are all poisonous and so it is best enjoyed from afar and its best to settle for the health giving properties of a long walk.

Once again, I wish you all well, SOSers far and wide, Our generous host The Propagator continues to weave our gardening posts into a wonderful thread. Do drop by to see all the links to other posts in this meme. Keep safe and well everyone.