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.

Six On Saturday: November shines its way in

November is my favourite winter month and so far it is looking good. The first light frosts arrived this week followed by blue skies. The perfect weather for shovelling the large amounts of mulch I have sitting in dumpy bags. Progress is slow but it’s a wonderful outdoor work out. I am not a tidy gardener but I am always very happy with the sharpness of the border after a mulch has gone down. So all is well in the garden at least. Here’s six things that caught my eye this week.

One

Last week’s halloween fungus was identified as Coral fungus, probably ramaria stricta. This week I have another mystery to be solved. The front garden once again supplies the object requiring an id. Sorry, no prizes!

Two

I have been busy cutting back soggy leaves, in this border it was the siberian irises getting the chop and nearly losing a leg was this little fellah. I usually have a robin as company in the garden but this year the amphibians have been muscling in. I am hopeless at telling the difference between frogs and toads but previous creatures have been identified as toads so I’m going toad for this one.

Three

November is the season for bare root roses and there are always some discounts available which is very tempting. I still have one or two roses putting out small flowers. This one is ‘Jaqueline du Pre’.

Four

And this one is ‘Natasha Richardson’. This one is very floriferous through the year. If I am tempted to try to fit in one more rose it might be ‘Munster Wood’. But at the moment I’m just looking….

Five

A few weeks back I showed the leaves on the persimmon tree as they turned colour. The leaves have all fallen now, leaving the fruit to take centre stage. It’s a good crop this year, destined for the birds as I am not a great fan of the fruit.

Six

I have one fuchsia in the garden, an inherited one so I have no idea of the variety and I am sad to say that it looks like it has fuchsia gall mite. The ends of the shoots are distorted. Here’s the flower rather than the damage. Cutting back the affected growth seems to be the main option. A job for the weekend.

The week ahead promises mild weather here, I’ll be mulching and collecting leaves. The old shed will be taken down and I hope the new one is still on schedule for delivery end of the month. Meanwhile I’ll keep in touch with other SOS gardeners through the links on Mr Ps site. This is the time of year when sunny photos from Australia cheer us up.

Six On Saturday: last hurrahs from the garden

Where does the time go, or is it that my energy levels are declining with the decreasing hours of sunshine? Wednesday was a complete wash out, a deluge of rain that lasted all day. But I was determined to get some bulbs in the ground this week and Thursday saw the camassias go in. I may be pushing the boundaries for their growing conditions, liking moist conditions is one thing but I think my chosen spot for this batch may be erring on the wetter side. Time will tell. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

I struggle to get nasturtium seeds to germinate – can you believe that? But one year I did get a couple going, they languished in their growing spot so much so that I uprooted them and put them at the back of the garden along the edge of my failing asparagus bed. Here, left completely to their own devices, they have begun to take hold and are flowers have been forthcoming. A rather nice treat for this time of year and for the mainly shady conditions that now represent home.

Two

There are still flowers in the garden, dahlias, cosmos and zinnias clinging on but this week I was very aware of the foliage beginning to change. The persimmon tree is going from green to reds and will eventually become golden yellow as the leaves fall, leaving the fruit behind to ripen.

Three

The fig tree leaves are already heading to yellow and the numerous fruits will not ripen. What a job that is, taking them all off. It is a large tree and those much above head height never get removed.

Four

There are one or two flowers on the bergenias but this striking red leaf against the green was the attention grabber.

Five

The pulmonaria are enjoying the wet conditions, looking fresh and zingy this week. Such a contrast to their withered summer look. I didn’t think they would survive but they really are tough plants.

Six

Saving some flowers for last, helenium ‘Short and Sassy’ is still giving. What a trooper.

I have the borders to selectively clear, mulching to be organised, tulips and alliums to plant. A few more dry days would be helpful. And a little sunshine would be a bonus. Just hoping. The Prop will be a source of inspiration – so join me in taking a look at this week’s SOS from his garden. There will be much to enjoy from other gardens too.

Six On Saturday: a few ups and downs

The view of the garden from the kitchen window gives a grandstand view of the antics of the squirrels.  This week they have been tracking down the last few tiny edible figs and often knock off some of the others in the process.  As does the wind and the rain, which is all very helpful as there are still a great many figs to be taken off.   In all the gloom of this week there have been a few spots of colour:

One

G

I still have berries on the cotoneaster leading to me to conclude that there is still plenty of food around for the birds.  The combination of the red berries and leaves and the ivy strikes a perfect Christmas note.

Two

I tweeted this photo earlier in the week and unashamedly share it here.  For one of my twelve days of Christmas I have six paraqueets-a-nibbling.   This tree is a real bright spot in the winter gloom and looks all the crazier with the addition of some neon green.

Three

This sad looking skimmia is not providing the much hoped for winter colour.  It was planted out last year underneath the magnolia and I had lovely visions of masses of red berries which have come to nought.  The skimmia was dug up and potted again, pending allocation to a better spot. Some place with more light and not so dry I think.

Four

The aforementioned magnolia is beginning to do its stuff again –  these new buds were  cheering to see.

Five

I ventured into unknown territory awhile ago and planted up some hyacinth bulbs for forcing for Christmas.  At the appointed time they were brought into the warmth of the house.  But this week they were  banished into a cold exile outside.  Their crime?  Well the bulbs are innocent but the cloud of tiny black flies that came with them were not greatly appreciated.

Six

I’ve got a few things going on in the potting shed.  The scented leaf pelagoniums have been cut back, the last of foxgloves are going to overwinter there now along with a few cuttings of penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ and pellies.  I am also trying to keep alive a few seedlings from euphorbia oblongata but I feel these are already slipping from my grasp.  I foresee causalities along the way.

Even though I may lose some seedlings over the winter the eternal optimism of the gardener continues.  New seed orders have been placed and the wish list continues to grow.  Enjoy your winter garden – plants and wildlife,  and if you are seeking inspiration look no further than The Propagator’s blog which will start you off on a world wide tour of gardens.

Six on Saturday: Shamed into action

I have been shamed by my fellow sixers!  The shorter days and colder temperatures have me reaching for the blanket, the gardening books and a cuppa.  I was even considering not posting a six!  But reading Mr P’s links to today’s sixes have encouraged me to get out in the garden.  I have not sown my sweet peas seeds, planted any bulbs and only just in time did I fleece my tender agapanthus plants.  But then none of us are perfect are we?  The very least I could do was to share six from my garden this week:

One

img_3032.jpgI garden in London and so get a little complacent about frosts.  But this week the lawn has had a light frosting and it was clearly a sign that cold weather gardening had to start.  Last year’s fleece was in shredded tatters in the shed and I hate all those white flaky bits.  I hot footed it to Homebase and found some delightful green bags of 35gsm fleece with very handy draw string pulls.  I usually fleece up the agapanthus armed with a stapler but these jackets were easy to pull over the plants and the fetching shade of green is slightly less obvious than white.  Job done.

Two

IMG_3034I was certainly lulled into complacency by the balmy days I experienced in Suffolk last week but the cold evenings are changing the colours of the garden.  The persimmon tree is looking beautiful even as the leaves are falling.

Three

IMG_3033The previously sun scorched hydrangeas are also taking on their winter hue.

 

Four

IMG_3031But elsewhere the summer container plants are still in good health and I will leave them out throughout the winter.  In mild years I have been able to carry the geraniums over into the next summer.

Five

IMG_3036The white antirrhinum sowed from seed is still in flower at this end of the garden but elsewhere I have collected seeds from another plant that has done its bit for summer.

Six 

img_3035.jpgI recently planted out some gaura and pennisetums  in a west border and alongside them I put in some Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, which still thinks there’s time to put on a display.  Thank you!

Thank you too, to everyone who shares their gardens on a Saturday.  You provide inspiration, support and encouragement and always make me laugh!  What more can you ask for?  Well, if anyone’s free to plant a few hundred bulbs….

 

 

Six On Saturday: Stormy weather

The first storm of the winter arrived this week.  Some parts of the UK suffered more than others.  Here the weather was blustery and gusty for a few days but only minor damage occurred.  Here’s my contribution to the Six On Saturday meme:

One

IMG_2898Pride before the fall and fall the persimmons did.  Two branches came down, both  heavily laden with fruit.  They broke from the inside so nature has done a good job of opening up the tree.

Two

IMG_2905No sooner had the delphiniums put up their second flush of flower stems than the storm arrived.  Of course I hadn’t got round to tying in the tops but the ties at the bottom seem to have helped steady the stems enough to keep them safe.

Three

IMG_2900The stately cosmos that was just opening out its flowers was not so lucky.  I had tried to push a cane into the ground but there was no give at all. The plant snapped off at the bottom.  All was not lost as I cut back the side stems and brought them inside to fill a vase.

Four

IMG_2899The fruits of the passion flower are ripening and providing a focal point over the top of an arch.  These is the more common Passiflora caerulea and although the fruits are edible when very ripe I prefer to leave them be.

Five

IMG_2904There is a paragraph in the  participant’s guide  that encourages mention of gardening projects and time this week has been spent preparing the ground for some new plants.  It’s not a very exciting photo so here’s a link to the planting that inspired me:  Nice (no 3)  I was very taken by the combination of gaura and pennisetum, and I am going to try it out on a smaller scale here.  Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’ and Pennisetum villosum have been ordered and two corners have been cleared awaiting their imminent arrival.  Both should be shorter and smaller varieties of the original planting.

Six

IMG_2906Indeed the doorbell rang a moment ago and although it was not the aforementioned plants I was excited to receive the first of the bulb orders.  Excited on two counts: Yes! I had my six for the week (it was touch and go) and I could cross Colchicum speciosum Album off of the wish list.  I hope they are going to like the space I have ready for them.  Fingers crossed that it is sunny enough.

Six On Saturday: Changing seasons

It was a busy gardening weekend last week.  The extra day, a bank holiday in the UK, was spent helping out at the Finchley Horticultural Society allotment NGS open day.  Fortunately after the wash out that was Sunday, Monday remained dry and the allotment looked verdant.  Of course I was tempted by the plants the growers had for sale and I came away with this:

One

IMG_2810A persicaria – labelled as ‘pink’ so I can’t add any further information.  It goes some way to my getting persicaria into the garden but I am on the hunt for some of the dark red ones.  I planted it next to the salvia ‘Blush Pink’ bought earlier in the summer and I hope they will be happy soul  mates.

Two

IMG_2808I singularly failed to record the other great gardening activity of the weekend which was the apple picking.  It was a smaller crop this year, both in numbers of apples and size.  Some were little bigger than a golf ball but as they all go for juicing they were all picked.  In about a week I will know how many bottles this year’s harvest produced.  The bent double apple tree of a few weeks ago is now nearly horizontal so I took a picture of that!

Three

IMG_2819Every week I think about including this Cleome ‘Senorita Carolina’ in the six but for some reason it stays on the sub’s bench.  This week it makes it into the team.  I really don’t know why it has taken me so long, it’s been flowering like this all summer.  The real colour is slightly less vibrant than captured here.  It’s a tender plant so if the winter is anything like last year I shall probably lose it.

Four

IMG_2812Just coming into flower is the Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’.  Earlier in the year its poor leaves were scorched by the sun but as the season moves on it’s site is more in the shade where the splash of white shines through.

Five

IMG_2816
Also adding some brightness are the self seeded calendulars that spring up around the garden.  The insects seem to like them too.  The ones on the veg patch are dropping seed and new plants are already growing.

Six

IMG_2817Given the size of the apples this year I was surprised and impressed by the persimmon fruits.  They are much larger than last year and although I am not a great fan of the fruit I do enjoy their orange colour as they ripen in November.

That’s my six for the week.  There are plenty more to view at The Propagator.  If you stop off there I recommend you also read his Garden Blogger’s Hierarchy of Needs a brilliant summary of what gardeners do and why they sometimes post and sometimes don’t. I hope you all find time to garden this weekend – that’s the important bit.

Six On Saturday: Branching out

I foresee blue sky photos for this week’s sixes.  And about time too!  Here are mine.

One

IMG_2252The trees in the garden are beginning to put on a show.  First up is the persimmon tree.  There was a bumper crop last year but I’m not a fan.  I inherited it with the garden and it does look fabulous in winter when the leaves have dropped and the orange fruits remain.

Two

IMG_2255I also inherited a number of apple trees and here is some delightful apple blossom from one of them.   Again, there was a bumper crop last year, we don’t store the apples and there are only so many we can eat so the majority of them are taken off for juicing.  We are still drinking the 2017 vintage.

Three

IMG_2258The leaves on the fig trees are just opening.  Not such a good year for figs for me last year and the squirrels always get the best of them.  I managed to bag a handful!

Four

 

IMG_2257And after my winter pruning efforts  it is always a great relief to see new leaves on the vine.  It does produce grapes but so far they have split before we get the chance to taste them.  The grape variety is Black Muscat, which I understand is also known as Black Hamburg.  Again, I was fortunate enough to inherit this well established vine which shades the pergola.

Five

IMG_E2256There is a great foaming wave of Choysia in one sunny corner of the garden.  It’s perfectly lined up with a view from the window.  Many thanks again to the previous owner.

Six

IMG_2250Finally, all my own work!  The white triumphator tulips are still hanging on and are a great companion to the irises that have just begun to flower.  There is also a glimpse of the almost open allium ‘purple sensation’ – something for next week!

Wishing you all a great gardening weekend – and the extra day in the UK.  More time to read all the sixes on show at The Propagator’s blog. Blue skies all the way.