Six On Saturday: April chills

What a week! From balmy spring warmth to icy snow showers and freezing winds. There was a slight frost this morning. This was also the week the pergola was installed and the foxes had a fight in the rosemary bush, I think the rosemary came off worse. There were some brave tulips on show and the plum blossom appeared. Here’s six from the garden.

One

The first tulips to appear in this garden are ‘World Friendship’. They’ve last well over about three years but I think this is the year to top them up. They have a softer yellow colour, not too bright and I think they work well with the thalia.

Two

The plum blossom opened up at the beginning of the week, only to be thrashed about by a vicious north wind. Here’s hoping some of the blossom makes it through to fruit.

Three

The glorious sunshine of last weekend saw me tackle two gardening jobs on the same day! A good clear out of the potting shed followed by a clear out of this end of the thin border. Previously home to rampant blackberries, generously giving too much fruit to use, a first thinning out was achieved. I know I said I wouldn’t, but I do have a few white dahlias that used to live in pots. They have overwintered and I think for this year at least they will go in here along with some summer annuals while I mull over a permanent plan.

Four

I am a purist for the simple yellow primroses, but somehow I have inherited this dark red one. It has made a successful appeal to stay in the garden.

Five

The new green growth of the grass melica altissima ‘Alba’ caught my eye this week. Fresh and vibrant, it adds a good band of colour to the back of a north facing border. In the summer lovely dancing stems of white flowers sway in the breeze. I can’t wait.

Six

The pergola was installed amid howling winds and snow showers. The guys very cleverly built the new one whilst using the old one to support the vine. I kept the warming cups of coffee going and marvelled at the progress from inside in the warm.

It’s a beautiful blue sky morning here, cold but bright. Let’s hope we have done with the cruel weather, no more frosts please, it’s time to will those seeds into germination. The Propagator hosts this weekly gathering, stop by and see if you can catch him in the garden.

Six on Saturday: Oh, the impatience of me!

It’s coming up to mid March and I am pacing the garden in fervent anticipation of the explosion of colour to come in three months time. There are signs of the summer garden. I spotted the very first growth from the delphiniums and so now I am hoping the slugs are not sniffing around. The magpies are having fun in the borders, throwing leaves around and generally sticking their beaks into things, which hopefully includes a few slugs. Of course in anticipating July I am skipping over tulips and forget-me-nots and alliums and irises. So many treats to look forward but for now it is still a bit quiet. Here’s six finds from this week’s garden.

One

One of my favourite spring combinations, the primrose patch sprinkled with a few blue anemones.

Two

The supermarkets are full of trays of nodding fritillaries, here mine are just about to open. Very delicate and I should have more. Impatient I may be but I am going to resist buying pots in flower and will make a large note to self to buy more bulbs later in the year.

Three

In a fit of purity, last year I dug out the hotch potch of daffodils that dotted the garden and determined to have only dwarf tête-à-tête. Of course there is always one that escapes and this is it. Not looking too bad really.

Four

Last year’s bulb planting included a quantity of muscari bulbs and I could not squeeze them all into the gaps in the border. So I planted up the remainder in pots ready to drop into the gaps that suddenly become very apparent in Spring. These in the pots are more advanced then those in border. They have had the benefit of a sunnier corner and drier conditions. Somehow I also seem to have some love-in-mist seedlings. Works for me!

Five

About a month ago I showed the first flowers on the clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’. It really does seem to have been a slow month, even now much of the climber is still in bud with the flowers only gradually opening. Why am I impatient with this? Surely this means a longer display? I will develop some mindfulness and enjoy them more.

Six

Here I have kept my impatience in check. The new growth on the hydrangea is surging forward but I haven’t cut back the old flower heads yet. Sneaky nature will surely send a mean frost soon. I’ll wait a little while.

The first seeds have been sown, some tomatoes for the greenhouse, an early sowing of mange tout sown in root trainers in the greenhouse, and a small sowing of rocket and lettuce also in the greenhouse. I’ll find some patience and wait awhile before anything else is sown. The forsythia is out in the front garden so it really is Spring and the growing season is beginning . Mr P hosts #SixOnSaturday with his usual panache. All invited to stop by!

Six On Saturday: Reasons to be cheerful

It would be very easy to take a despondent tone at this time of year. Cold, drab days and a certain browness to the garden can cause the gardening sap to sink. The garden has other ideas though and regardless of the gardener the plants just get on with it. This week’s six shows signs of progress as well as the need for some jobs to be started.

One

First, one of my occasional moans about the local wildlife. It’s usually the fox but it could be the fat Persian cat that wobbles through every now and then, either way something has taken a branch out of the beautifully rounded daphne, leaving me with a hole in the middle.

Two

Then a job to be done. I got ahead with the pruning of the grape vine because the pergola is becoming unsteady and the plan was to deal with it over winter. Oh how time flies! This week I noticed that one leg of the pergola has collapsed down a few inches. This is a ‘must do soon’ job. But I shall need to find someone to install a new pergola. No doubt there will be a sucking in of the breath as I am told about the long waiting list I will have to join.

Three

But this is a positive post and it is most definitely cheering to see signs of new growth. The bergenia is in bud.

Four

I hope I am not alone in having one, possibly two, plants that generally get mistreated, left to their own devices, ignored. This is a very old cordyline. Left in a pot for well over twenty years. Poor thing. It doesn’t get protected overwinter, as you can see by the brown leaf ends, and occasionally it leaves a sign to say ‘Don’t forget me’. This year a leader has died away but two new shoots are coming through. Tough love seems to be working.

Five

More signs of growth and a call to action. The new growth on the phlox has started. This is always my cue to deal with the remaining browness of the garden. The temperatures seem to be slowly on the rise which is another encouragement.

Six

Snowdrops and hellebores continue to fill out. I spotted some leaves from the tête-à-tête daffodils and the odd tulip leaf is making an appearance. The primroses bear the promise of spring beautifully: cheerfulness abounds.

Don’t forget to take a peak at all the other SOS gardens. The Propagator holds the keys to the garden gates. All welcome!

Six On Saturday: The garden is on the move

I have spent every spare moment this week moving the compost and finally on Friday the bins themselves were dismantled. The space is ready and waiting for the landscaper. It is a little muddy underfoot, hopefully a few dry days will sort that out. I have two builders bags of compost, some of this will go to earthing up the potatoes later in the season and some needs a little more time decomposing. Two toads were carefully relocated in the process. All in all it was a good job done and I am giving myself a pat on the back. Meanwhile the garden is moving on a pace. Here’s what I spotted this week.

One

I was admiring via twitter the clumps of leucojum on display at St Timothees Garden and wondering when mine would put on a show. On Friday I saw the first flower. Not quite a clump yet but pleasing all the same. A note has been made to order more bulbs.

Two

The primroses that have been in flower for some time but they have really filled out this week. They are possibly my favourite spring flower, such a gentle yellow and yet still able to take centre stage.

Three

The clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ enjoyed the sun on Friday. It is full of bud now and the flowers are just opening. A few gardens down from me I can see my neighbour has something very similar and it is full flower. What a difference aspect makes.

Four

The border delphiniums are pushing on and of course the slugs are not far behind. This tasty shoot is so far untouched, Long may it last. I checked the roots of the delphiniums in the potting shed this week and they are coming along nicely but who was also snuggled up nicely in the pot? A tiny slug of course.

Five

Beautiful tulip buds. Such a welcome sight in the garden, good things are unfurling and soon the colour pops will be bursting out.

Six

Another welcome sight is this wonderful green growth in amongst the dead brown matter of the erigeron karvinskianus. There are just one or two new stems so far. I’ll keep a close eye on them and over the next week or so I will start cutting away the dead stuff. This and one or two other losses in this border will provide an opportunity for a re-think.

The epoxy resin for the pot repair has arrived and it looks like next week will be dry so I might get the chance to see if a miracle can be worked. If not, thanks to Paddy’s suggestion, I will be using the damaged pot as a feature somewhere else in the garden – which is rather a tempting idea. The Prop will be around as usual, hosting the meme and running, running running. Happy gardening to everyone.

Six On Saturday: Idle thoughts

Thwarted from posting last week and with the garden frozen over this week, I am going with last week’s intended post with a few updates: Good news that February is here and because it is such a short month there are only 22 16 days to go before March arrives. This week Last week I was happy to see the very first tops of the chilli seeds pushing through and although I said I wouldn’t I did, sow sweet peas that is. One lost packet from who knows where was found and sown. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Three have germinated. So much rain fell this the week before last that most gardening was done by staring out of the windows giving the thumbs down gladiator style to plants that offended the eye. Here are the top contenders and some stayers.

One

The snowberry that had a mention a few weeks back is in a direct site line from the kithchen window and does nothing to enhance the view. I leave it because I don’t think I can successfully rid myself of it and what else would grow in this dark corner? I hanker for hamamelis but would it thrive? At the moment the snowberry is in line for the chop. And a week on, still is.

Two

Out the front the dry north facing border is host to bluebells, forsythia, and that shrubby honeysuckle with the tiny leaves. Underneath that the periwinkle runs riot. It is gradually spreading along the border. encouraging because at least something will grow there but actually getting out of hand. I will definitely be trying to confine this to a smaller space.

Three

The front garden is also home to a mahonia which was slowly being suffocated by an hypericum. The hypericum has been cut back several times now and gradually the mahonia is re-establishing itself. This has given a bit more interest to this border and the reddish foliage is looking pretty good now. More nuturing to be done here.

Four

While the parsnips were a little erratic in their germination last year some late sown parsley took very happily to a spot in the greenhouse and has been providing a generous supply throughout winter.

Five

Last week so many SOSers were presenting stunning sarcococcas. This week I can sort of join in. Sarcococca hookeriana, planted up in Februrary 2020, has opened its flowers and if I get really close I can smell the scent. I think it needs some time to establish.

Six

Its time to give some love to the primroses, steadfastly fighting off the slugs and providing a sunny smile in so many corners of the garden. I’m going to move some of these out front to go with the bluebells.

The early sun has gone and with it that uplifting sense of warmer times to come. The temperature is falling and there maybe snow here again tomorrow. Snow came, not as much as before but it has been a week of cold weather with temperatures in the greenhouse falling to minus 4.8 degrees. All change for next week and then surely it will be downhill all the way to Spring! For now it’s time start enjoying the inventiveness of fellow SOSers as we meet the command of Mr P to find six things in the garden this week. It’s a wide brief – it could be anything! All welcome to join in.

Six On Saturday: Happy New Year

It’s hard to keep the mind on a positive track in this chaotic world and the garden that provides much enjoyment through the year can feel, well, rather uninspiring in winter.  But the Prop does not offer winter breaks and SOS continues. After a few mornings of looking at the frosty garden from a distance I went out on a recce. Here’s what I found.

One

First a surprise.  The vinca is in flower again.  One brave soul sheltering among the leaves.  It lifted the spirits.

Two

The viburnum in the front garden that flowers only on one side is true to form this year.  But there is promise for the future as there are definitely more flowers than last year. 

Three

More encouraging signs.  Primroses have been spotted over the last few weeks, just one or two small ones here and there. 

Four

Winter berries on a cotoneaster.  This has always been a mystery plant in the garden.  Variously thought to be villosus or possibly moupinensis,  I really have no idea but the black berries look rather bewitching. 

Five

While much of the garden is showing off various shades of brown the variegated leaves of euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ fill a dark corner of the garden.  Sometimes known as winter creeper, which seems to be an entirely appropriate name. 

Six

Snowberries.  Not mine, because my snowberry does not seem to keep its berries.  I hope this is because the birds eat them, but it is possibly because every year, several times a year, I go at it with the loppers trying to make some sense of the thicket of stems.   I would have dug the snowberry out by but I doubt you can ever dig out a well established snowberry.  

Positive vibes restored, it is a Happy New Year.  I wish you all happiness and health in the year to come.  I’m going to top up the good feelings with a dose of Nina Simone – it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good!  There is also some blue sky showing through the window so perhaps a spot of rose pruning would be a sensible job to get on with. Happy gardening. 

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: December delights

I had two incentives to get out in the garden today. Finding six gardening delights and collecting the greenery for decorating the house. I had a window of dryness this morning in what has otherwise been a very wet few days so armed with secateurs and the trusty phone camera out I went. The lawn is squelching and the borders are sodden. I hope the tulips can cope.

One

A wheelbarrow of wet ivy that has to dry out in a couple of hours so that I can start creating the annual stair banister decoration.  This is a combination of fake berries, ivy, lights and what ever else comes to hand.  Collecting the ivy involved pushing in around the blackcurrant canes which released their wonderful scent.  That made my morning!

Two

In a dark corner at the back of the garden I spotted that the ‘Pretty Ellen’ hellebores are in bud and looking full of promise.

Three

The background to these hellebores is a covering of euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’.  These are supposed to have pink tinged leaves in the winter but I’ve yet to spot them.  I’m not complaining though as the white tinged leaves were singing out from the gloom today.

Four 

More signs of things to come as the viburnums are coming into bud.  These are all very old shrubs, full of beetle holes but soldiering on nonetheless.  I’ve been snipping away at them for three years now, removing the dead branches and cutting back the shrubs around them, and I think I detect signs of stronger new growth and more flower buds.

Five

The first primrose has been out a few weeks now and really deserves a mention for reminding me that the cycle continues come rain or shine.

Six 

Winning a place this week for its longevity is this astrantia major, with new buds that are making into flower.  Testament to the general mildness of the winter so far.

This will be my last SOS for a couple of weeks.  I wish everyone a very peaceful and happy Christmas and I look forward to catching up with all the news in the New Year.  Many thanks Mr P for hosting this meme, keeping all the links in order and generally being an all round good gardening friend! Did you have any idea of what you were creating?

Six On Saturday: Last Hurrah for November

I am going to ignore the gloomy wet week that has just past and revel in the blue skies and frosty morning of today. The water in the bird bath is well and truly frozen and the grass is fully frosted. It was a cold night. Time to enjoy the winter garden.

One

The beautiful view from one end of the garden.  Most of the leaves are now down but this tree is still glowing with autumn colour.

Two

The frost made finding six garden delights much easier.  These are the frosted leaves of  Cistus × purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’.

Three

Frosted Primrose leaves.  A sigh of relief goes with this picture. There were some lingering scented leaf pellies in this pot and I just got them into greenhouse in time.  Last night in the greenhouse it was -.08 degrees.

Four

The seeds of the verbenia bonariensis are going to provide a chilly snack for the birds today.  But if they come late morning things might have improved.  As I took these photos the sounds of dripping water indicated that the sun was melting the frost away.

Five

My parsnips.  They’ve had a couple of frosts now so its time for me dig up a few and see how they fared over the summer.  Definitely an improvement on last year when none of the seeds germinated.

Six

More beautiful leaf colour but also a bit of fail here as I didn’t prune the gooseberries in July and haven’t yet got round to doing the winter prune.  Still there’s plenty of time – if I can be persuaded out into the garden.

So now we settle into winter dormancy for the plants.  For me,   I will finish the rose pruning, take down the passion flower and prune the soft fruits and the grapevine.  I will, I will.

I wonder what is on Mr P’s to do list?  Stop by and find out and catch up with other SOS news from around the world.

Six On Saturday: A change of mind

There is so much gloom around at the moment, I need the garden to pick me up.  It is trying very hard, many things are on the edge of flowering, the perennials are forcing their way up through the mulch and the birds are singing.  I have much to do so the mojo just has to get going.  This was how I started out yesterday but an energising night out in Shoreditch – yes I know, too old for all that really! – has got me going again.  The potatoes are chitted and ready to go.  This is the number one job for the weekend.  If I do nothing else, this will be done!  Here’s what is happening in the garden without my help.

One

The Thalia are just opening out on the south side.  Those in the north facing border are about a week behind.

Two

The fritillaries  have joined the throng.  I did mean to plant more of these but I had such fun trying to squeeze in extra tulips that I just didn’t get round to it.  On to the list that goes.

Three

My primrose border is filling out very nicely and I planted some anemone blanda ‘white splendour’  in amongst them.  Just at the bottom right are the shoots of some white phlox warming up for later in the year.

Four

The onions started off in modules are going in the ground this weekend. The red ones have been slower to get going.  Not sure why! They have been coming in and out of the greenhouse all week so should be well acclimatised.   There are a few self sown cornflowers making themselves at home in the space allocated for onions.  It seems a shame to move them on.  Maybe they can grow companionably side by side?

Five

Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’.  I have nurtured this plant for three years.  It wasn’t doing very well in the first planting spot and so last year I moved it to a slightly shadier space.  It is still very small but I think I have to give more time in it’s new home before I uproot it again.

Six

The north border of the garden is the focus of attention this year.  There are two choisyas there which I have left alone until now, but the time for action has arrived.   One of them is poorly.   One side is yellowing whilst the other looks green and glossy.  The plant has been hacked about in the past, with evidence of limbs having been cut off.  As there is a very happy choisya not too far away I am not too sorry to say that this one is getting it’s marching orders.  I could just cut off the yellow side and see what happens but no, decision made.  Out with the old and in with something new.

I’ve also managed to throw out the new block editor and go back to the old classic editor.  Yipee! More reasons to be cheerful.  I hope you are feeling cheerful in your garden this weekend.  Don’t forget to see what fellow sixers are up to, go to  The Propagator for all the links.