Six On Saturday: New Shoots

It is the last week of January and there’s not a lot about. It’s been another cold week with minus 4.2 celsius recorded in the greenhouse. I’ve not been tempted into the garden but in honour of Six On Saturday I took a turn around it this morning. I can see signs of Spring and so that is what I am sharing this week.

One

Primroses. These have been in flower on and off since November but they are really making a push for star billing now. Very welcome.

Two

The very first tulip shoots have pushed their way through the thick layer of mulch. I’ve spotted camassias, thalia and tete a tete as well. I can’t wait.

Three

The first snowdrops were spotted a few weeks ago but it is February in this garden that they really begin to make a show. Here’s a clump that is very ready for dividing after flowering.

Four

More and more hellebores are coming through. These are self seeders, some flowers have opened but plenty more buds are just waiting to burst into life.

Five

Speaking of self seeders. Another euphorbia has colonised the veg plot along with an ox-eye daisy. I tend to leave the daisies to their own devices until they look like taking over. The euphorbia will very likely be moved somewhere else when the weather warms up.

Six

The very first signs of aquilegias are coming through. These are a.vulgaris ‘Alba’, a tall growing variety of about 90cms. This will be the second year in the garden so I am hoping they will clump up more this year.

There are some warmer day-time temperatures to look forward so I will have no excuse. Jobs to do include cutting back the grasses, finishing the rose pruning, cutting back the autumn fruiting raspberries, the blackcurrants and the grapevine. I would normally be starting of tomatoes for the greenhouse but as the main greenhouse is no more I am going to try a year of outdoor toms that I will start later. I’ve saved a few egg boxes for chitting the potatoes in. Top priority is to make my choice of variety and get them started off. And so it begins. Happy gardening to you all. Other SOSers have more colourful offerings so do drop by Jim’s for browse around.

Six On Saturday: Ever changing moods

Forgive the earworm, or not if it doesn’t happen for you. Ever changing moods has been my state of mind in January. One week wanting to take down the eleagnus but then realising that it provides great cover for the birds. The next being absolutely sure that I must find room for a hamamelis but then sensibly realising that I just don’t have the right long term space for this desirable winter shrub. I’ve moaned about constant rain and grey days, haven’t we all? Then thrilled to glorious blue skies and winter sun. The garden catalogues have arrived and I am being pulled this way and that by their temptations. I’ve settled down this week. Accepting that January in the garden is what it is. I managed to prune back a good number of the rose shrubs but there are more to do. The climbing roses weigh heavily on my conscience but there’s still time. Raspberries and blackcurrants need to be looked at but they too can wait a little longer. This week I happily left the garden alone. The paths were slippery with frost and the ground is frozen once again. There’s not much to show but it is January and that is how it should be.

One

The frozen ground and frost may seem inhospitable but the garden grabs each growing moment and gets on with it. These are day lily shoots and the first leaves of geranium phaeum. It will be some months before their time to flower comes.

Two

You can see why the climbing roses are on my mind. There is quite some sorting out to be done here. The ruthless gardener must be found and all these branches thinned out and the framework tied into the wires again.

Three

The hellebores will nod their heads downward so it was a little difficult to capture this ‘Pretty Ellen’ red against the sun. Here’s my best effort.

Four

Somewhere out in the garden are some foxgloves seedlings waiting to push through the mulch. Here, in the greenhouse, are two that didn’t get planted out. It looks like they will have a head start when the time comes to relocate them.

Five

At the end of October I planted some Japanese red onion sets. They seemed very slow to get started but week by week they are making progress. Could they be ‘Electric’? I really can’t remember.

Six

A month later at the end of November I planted out the winter bedding. I filled the pots with bellis daisies. They had a week to acclimatise before they were covered by six inches of snow and experienced minus 5 degrees Celsius for a week. They made it through that and have just experienced another week of minus degrees overnight. I am so impressed by their sturdiness and I know that they will just get more and more cheerful as the warmer weather creeps in.

It’s a weekend of cold weather here and I am not going to feel guilty about the garden. Far better to wait for a time when the fingers won’t freeze and the paths are safer. Happy guilt free waiting to you all. Happy gardening times are around the corner. Jim, our host for SOS, features the links to other blogs on his Garden Ruminations pages. He has some lovey photos this week. No wonder he is the leader of the pack!

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: Delightful or dastardly?

December. What a month. Lulled into complacency, I had only just begun to tidy up the garden for its winter snooze. My last post hinted at cold weather and I had to decided it was not the weekend to do much in the garden. By the Sunday evening I had succumbed to the lurgy from hell and the garden was covered in six inches of snow that was to last the whole week. Temperatures were around minus four to five all week and my smugness at never lifting the dahlias may well be misplaced. I coughed my way through another week in the run up to Christmas and although an amazing turn around in temperatures had once again revealed the garden I was still not inclined to venture out. So far December was dastardly. Today, still with the remnants of a cough, I finally took a turn round the garden. I was inspired. Yes there is much soggy browness to be dealt with but bulbs are nosing through, new shoots are braving it and the birds were signing as if it were Spring. Delightful is the final verdict. Here’s my six.

One

The first of the hellebores are opening up. This one is ‘Pretty Ellen’ white. The snowdrops will not be far behind

Two

Tucked away in a corner by the shed and a water storage tank another ‘Pretty Ellen’ is getting ready to shine. Of course this is PE red.

Three

The melica altisssima ‘Alba’ really took a bashing in the snow but it’s not giving up and new shoots are pushing through. This means I have to get out there and cut back the old growth. I just need a dry day now.

Four

This clematis was cloaked in snow for seven days. It’s an armandii with a rating of H4 which suggests it is hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5). I thought it would be a gonna but these fat buds suggest all is well. Flowers for February I hope.

Five

Viburnums are reliable at this time of year. I wasn’t at all worried about this one surviving so I was surprised to see that it also has a hardiness rating of H4. This one is just beginning to open up and will look lovely in a week or two. I inherited this one so can only say that it is likely to be a tinus variety.

Six

This viburnum is a pink variety with lovely shiny black berries after flowering. Also inherited, I have no idea what variety it might be. It could be another tinus.

I am also delighted to wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year. Let’s hope our gardens, pots, balconies, houseplants, whatever it is that we grow will work their magic next year and keep us all sane. Many, many thanks to Jim for taking on the SOS meme. Jim is posting sunny photos from Brisbane this week and hints at something interesting to come for the New Year. Many thanks, also, to all the SOSers who share their news every week. Roll on 2023, I think I am ready for you.

Six On Saturday: Green, green grass

I’m a little late to the grasses party. I’ve some melica and a couple of Karl Foersters but this year I’m planting up the difficult area against the back fence with a grass combination. Having taken the plunge and chosen the mix I added a few more essentials to the shopping basket and the pricey ‘little’ package arrived this week. Here they are.

One

This is a selection of the back fence mix. I will be planting three miscanthus giganteus, three persicaria polymorpha, five luzula nivea and six stachys hummelo. I’m very much hoping the miscanthus will grow to their advertised three meter height asap and cover up the fence panels. The panels give a rain shadow to the border and the trees that surround our garden give plenty of summer shade. The miscanthus should be able to cope with this. Likewise the luzula should also enjoy the shade. For everything else, I have my fingers crossed. There is some late afternoon sun to help things along.

Two

Having made the main selection, I added in hakonechloa macra. This can also take a some shade and I am using it to underplant the ‘Darcy Bussell’ roses. The roses suffered with black spot last year so I really should be using salvias as per Sarah Raven’s advice. I think that does work. But no, I’m going with grasses. I do have a couple of salvia ‘Amistad’ cuttings that I plan to sneak in at the back so perhaps they will deal with the black spot.

Three

Finally I added a euphorbia palustris. My e. ‘Wulfenii’ have suffered over the last two years. The magnificent four have dwindled to one and a half. The soil has been too wet and heavy for them. A shout out on twitter gave the suggestion of this euphorbia which enjoys damp conditions. Sadly not evergreen but it has lime green flowers and good autumn foliage so I’m giving it a go.

Four

Speaking of euphorbias. the e.mellifera seedling that blew in from a neighbour’s garden has flowered this year. It is just over a metre high and is doing a great job of filling the border.

Five

Oh my, the tulips took bashing in the gusty winds on Thursday but miraculously there were no losses. These are ‘Purissima’ among the hellebores. I had forgotten that these open creamy yellow and then fade to white. I was expecting pure white but the creamy yellow works well.

Six

The diminutive ‘Doll’s Minuet’ which I plant in pots have just opened. These are last years bulbs that I lifted and stored. Good to see them in flower again.

While I will be out in the veg patch this weekend The Propagator will be on his 50k run and then taking a well earned rest. Miraculously he will also be hosting the Six On Saturday meme. Good on yer! It looks like the overnight temperatures will be a little warmer so I will be planting out the potatoes and onion sets. Wishing you well with your weekend gardening.

Six on Saturday: Storm Eunice

The garden was relatively unscathed by the ferocious winds that blew through yesterday. But elsewhere, sadly, there was loss of life as well as trees down and damage to property. This morning’s patrol revealed a few twiggy branches scattered across the lawn and the loss of some ancient fleece wrapped around the agapanthus but otherwise there was an eerie calm. I count myself lucky. Here’s six from the garden that withstood the storm.

One

The hellebores are in their stride so I start with three of the best. First ‘Pretty Ellen’ white. I think this is a mix of the single and the double version.

Two

Then the moodiness of ‘Pretty Ellen’ Red, the double version. It smoulders in a dark shady corner of the garden.

Three

Finally, Helleborus x hybridus. It’s a shame that hellebores don’t like being divided but this one does seem to be self seeding. There are one or two promising leaves emerging near the parent plant so I will lift a few to pot on and see if I can spread them that way.

Four

Suddenly the first Tête-à-tête daffodils have pushed through, there may be stormy weather now but spring is definitely on its way.

Five

Another spring front runner is the pulmonaria, happily hunkered down against the storm, it looked very comfortable in the shade of the rhododendron.

Six

I was just about able to reach up to take this photo of the first clematis armandii flower. The new growth that I felt sure would be blown off survived the onslaught of the winds but I know if I try to bend it down in the direction I want it grow there will be a sudden snap.

The Propagator suffered a lost fence panel and a felt roof torn off, and so has some non gardening jobs to do. I hope there’s not too much damage in other SOS gardens in the UK. It was a wild day. Wishing everyone well, and hoping that the weather settles down so that we can get out into our gardens safely.

Six On Saturday: Out and about

It’s mid February so it really is snowdrop time. Those in my garden are galanthus nivalis. I inherited one two clumps and since arriving here five years ago have planted about 400. They are beginning to settle in. But this week I visited Bennington Lordship, a private garden in Hertfordshire that opens in February to show its collection. So here are six photos from that garden.

One

This combination of hellebore and snowdrops was snapped at the entrance to the garden. This is a combination I have replicated in the garden here. My hellebore and snowdrop combination is in a north facing border and the hellebore is just beginning to open.

Two

The combination of winter aconites and snowdrops is used in the grass that edges the drive. I have resisted aconites so far but they do look cheerful in this mix.

Three

Paddy Tobin, galanthophile, often shows snowdrops with cyclamen. This is another combination I’d like to try out. At Bennington Lordship this pairing of snowdrops with tiny cyclamens caught my eye.

Four

I always enjoy seeing this yellow variety. There was no label by this clump but I wonder if they are ‘Wendy’s Gold’.

Five

And without fail, I am drawn to ‘Comet’. It looks so plump!

Six

This one is ‘James Backhouse’, another large form, this one has longer petals.

I couldn’t resist adding a bonus photo this week: Nobody is going to wrest the crown from this mossy chap!

Back to my garden next week. The Propagator has the links to all the SOSs from around the world so drop by and take a look. He might be out in the garden, or on a long run but somehow he still keeps us in order, for which many thanks.

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.