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: Challenges are opportunities

I went in with all gardening guns blazing last week. Optimism abounded, a New Year approached and signs of new growth filled the glass of life to the brim. It’s still pretty full but realism has to be given a space too. The clematis armandii maybe untouched by the cold spell but other things look to have suffered. There may well be gaps that need to be filled in the coming year. Here’s six things on my mind this week.

One

The choisya did not suffer too much in the cold but it was already showing signs of stress before the dry Summer. The leaves were yellowing and in the drought they drooped forlornly. It is clear now that there are dead branches to be removed. I will watch it through Spring but if it does not recover there’s an opportunity to replant. Note the gap in the fence – a fox route, every time I close it, the fox opens it. The fox has won.

Two

Poor, poor euphorbia mellifera. Hardiness rating H3, which translates to -5 to 1 degree. Another one to watch. It came to me as a self seeder so I can’t be too aggrieved if nature has decided to take it back.

Three

I inherited a hedge of viburnum, bay and eleagnus that divided the ornamental garden from the veg and fruit garden. I have managed to unhedge the viburnum and give it space to branch out freely but the bay and eleagnus have so far remained hedged. Over the years I have nibbled away at the eleagnus, I’m not a fan of its yellow and green variegation and have happily let it revert to a dark green. It was useful in disguising the greenhouse but now that has gone and may not be replaced, I find myself thinking that I could dispense with the eleagnus and plant something attractive. At this time of year I think of hamamelis, and at other times I wonder about amelanchier. Suggestions welcome.

Four

A few years back I planted a row of three pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’. The furthest one is growing faster than the other two but shows signs of yellowing. This end of garden definitely has access to some underground water and I am wondering if the wet winters are playing havoc with this pittosporum. The symmetry is being challenged here. Another one to watch.

Five

I managed to get the scented leaf pellies into the remaining greenhouse before the snow and cold arrived but it didn’t do them much good. I fear they have succumbed to damp conditions. They are looking quite dead but I will be patient and ventilate in the mild weather. If they don’t make it through to the other side I won’t be too sorry. I have had five years out of them and I am happy to entertain something new for the summer pots.

Six

I’m slightly concerned to see thalia and camassias nosing through the winter mulch but the snowdrops are very welcome and this week I spotted the first sign of flowers. Something good (if out of focus) to finish on.

It’s another wet weekend here and there is not much progress with the to do list. But we can only do what we can do and the time can be spent day dreaming for the garden and looking at seed catalogues. Don’t forget to stop by Jim’s garden in Cornwall. Our knowledgeable host features camellias this week.

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: I’m not enjoying this cold weather

I thought I would get straight to the point. It has been misty, foggy, and damp week with cold winds. March is not inspiring me to get out into the garden. And when I do step outside I am greeted by more signs of frost damage. A scene to awful to share is the brown curled up mass that used be a well established clump of erigeron karvinskianus. The RHS give it H5 for hardiness. This means hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters (-15 to -10). I can only hope that somewhere underneath the browness there are some fresh shoots emerging. This is the fifth winter in the new garden and this is the first time there has been so much damage from the cold weather. I am thinking it is a combination of the very cold weather followed by some early morning sun. Here’s what I am sharing this week.

One

Cold or not, there are jobs to done and last week I carried out a very modest land grab from the lawn. The motivation for this audacious activity was borne out of an idle moment. On looking out of the window I realised that the transition between flower garden and veg patch was not a pretty one. I decided on impulse that an arch was needed to break up the view. With more impulsivity I immediately ordered a rusted steel ornamental arch. Of course the arch needed a certain width of garden space and the border was not quite wide enough. Manic digging took place, pavers re-positioned and an empty trench needing top soil was the result. This tiny corner border now has a little more substance to it. At the end of last week I did get round to dividing the snowdrops and I have filled one corner of the trench with some of the divisions. My local nursery has just opened again so I am planning a daring and thrilling visit to purchase some top soil. I am also consulting my SOS wish list to see what plants I need.

Two

I also tackled another border this week, which is probably why I am so moany about cold weather! I decided that the very back of the garden is too shady to grow vegetables and so a shade-happy selection of plants was ordered. I am not very good at fitting in that all important evergreen structural layer but this time I have included some hart’s tongue ferns. These were planted out last autumn and with a H6 for hardiness they are unscathed. They have been joined this week by tiarella cordifolia, hosta undulata var. albomarginata aka Thomas Hogg and Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Alba’. When (if) they break through, I will also add in some thalictrum delavayi ‘Album’. I am currently also using this border to store a small hydrangea and a blackcurrant bush – as you do when you move something and don’t quite know what to do with it.

Three

The north border of the garden was planted up about a year ago with three sturdy specimens of pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’. Hardiness rating H3, since you ask. This means ‘ -5 to 1 degrees centigrade, half-hardy – unheated glasshouse / mild winter’ in the UK. Which may explain why they look like this now. Oh well, perhaps they will respond to a good trim when the time comes.

Four

I hope I am not tempting fate, but the delphinium seedlings which overwintered in an unheated greenhouse have started to put out their new shoots. I sowed seeds saved from the purple ones in the garden. It’s a balance between turning a plant soft and losing it but I have decided they can stay inside for a little longer.

Five

Sorry, it’s another oh dear! Gardening can be very trying at times. Fifth winter here, as I might have mentioned, and in the first summer I planted four euphorbia characias subspwulfenii to form the centre piece to the long border. One of them is doing stupendously – the background filler. Two of them are ticking over quite well and one just suffers – the foreground. So much suffering in fact, that I have had to replace it twice. Fortunately there is always a seedling to hand and so on we go. One day I will give up, my symmetry will be abandoned, and I will plant something that likes this particular spot. I just wish I knew what is so bad about this particular spot.

Six

While I am finding it all rather cold, the hydrangeas are pushing on and are begging to be cut back. Surely not you fools, there will be a frost and your fresh green buds will drop off. Please do not tempt me. I am going to ignore you for another week. There are dahlias to pot up first.

I had a little fun with word press this week – living dangerously again – and used a large drop cap! I do need to get out more. I am sure the Prop has been out and about as will have other SOSers. To take a peek at all the garden news on offer just stop by The Propagator’s site. All the links are there.

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: snowdrops before the storm

Ciara is heading our way and it sounds pretty bad. I’ll be lifting all the pots down to the ground and finally getting round to picking up a few empty flower pots that always seem to lurk in the corners. The week has had a cold and frosty appearance and the beautiful blue skies tempted me out to the Hertfordshire countryside to view a snowdrop garden. I have one exciting non-snowdrop jewel from my garden but the other five are from the gardens at Benington Lordship.

One

I am always over-excited by the first flowers from any new planting in the garden and this week the newly planted Iris reticulata bulbs opened out.  I chose a single variety – J S Dijt and once again realise I should have bought many, many more.  The colour is stunning.  Allegedly there is a scent but so far I cannot vouch for that.

Two

Now on to the snowdrops. First, galanthus ‘Primrose Warburg’.  I completely fell for this one and if there had been any pots of these for sale I would probably have paid whatever the price was.  Online nursery price is £25 per pot.

Three

Galanthus elwesii ‘Comet’.  Retails at £20 per bulb.  But oh so pretty.

Four

Galanthus plicatus ‘Diggory’ Retails at £25 per bulb. Very distinctive with its textured petals  and curved shape.  Lovely.

Five

Galanthus  elwesii Jessica. Pretty green markings on the inner leaves.  Retail price £20.

Six

Galanthus Wasp. A snowdrop with such long slender petals deserve a more beautiful name but there it is.  The green inner markings are not quite visible but an internet search reveals them to be quite intricate.  Price £20.

My visit to Benington Lordship was a mid week treat and I felt like I was truanting but I could so I did and it was well worth it.  There were hellebores and aconites too and in a week or so I am sure there will more spring bulbs on view. The garden is open now until 1st of March but not on Sunday 9th February due to the weather warnings.

More from my garden next week and more from other gardens this week by visiting The Propagator for his cheery update and the links to other SOS posts.  Batten down the hatches and stay safe.

Six On Saturday: Something old, something borrowed, something blue

The bulbs are popping up all over the place.  A ring of tete a tete around the persimmon tree, thalia in the front garden, and signs that the tulips planted a few years ago are still willing to have a go. Today the sun is shining and once again that promise of spring is in the air. Here’s my six for the first week of February.

One

Something borrowed and something blue in the same photo.  The blue is the wonderfully uplifting sky.  The borrowed is the winter flowering honeysuckle from my neighbour’s garden.  The scent from it wafted over last weekend as I relocated a blackcurrant bush.  Yes, I have finally done my first bit of real gardening for the year.  The heady perfume was an unexpected and very welcome treat.

Two

Something new are these alliums.  This year I am trying out allium nigrum.  After a few years of growing Mount Everest I decided to add these into the mix.  The Mount Everest have a habit of disappearing for me.  Possibly due to the heavy clay soil.  I’ll see if these fare any better.

Three

Something old.  The north border has a wall that runs along its length.  At the bottom end it is about 30cms high climbing upwards to the top end where it is about a metre high.  It’s a higgledy-piggledy mixture of  all sorts and not very attractive.  At the bottom end I am persuading the ivy to entwine around itself along the wall rather than out into the very tempting lawn.  Or back into the borders.  Ivy twining patrol is a regular task but I am gradually achieving my aim.

Four

Further along the wall the moss is doing a grand job of covering the stones.

Five

I’ve not starting sowing seeds this year but the autumn sowing of ammi visnaga is coming along nicely.  I have a plan to under-plant the wild black berries with these.  Isn’t it wonderful how brilliant these ideas look in the imagination.   We’ll see.

Six

For February I have to include snowdrops.  Many gardens will be holding snowdrop days this month.  The NGS offers a list of gardens open for snowdrops and I hope to find one near me that I can visit.

Yes, gradually the gardening sap is rising, a gentle limbering up is called for and new inspiration propels me onward.  More inspiration will be found at Mr P’s site.  Links, comments and general good gardening cheer for all.

Six On Saturday: Part daydreams, part jobs to do

I had one last family gathering last weekend before the Christmas and New Year jollities were over and so it is only now that I come to thinking about the New Year in the garden. There are more signs that things are waking up. the first tips of bulbs are pushing through and the roses are shooting. There must be a cold snap to come but so far it continues to be gloomy and mild. A brief spell of sunshine enticed me out to finish planting the very last of the cowslips and I generously potted on some ammi seedlings that were destined  for the compost heap. My six for the week includes jobs to done  and the first of the late winter/early spring flowers.  It may still be winter but my thinking time is spent on plans for the summer.

One 

This is the first snowdrop to appear under the apple trees.  A very cheering sight but also a reminder that I didn’t plant enough here.  I was beaten back by the roots of the apple tree.  I have learnt my lesson on the need for quantity though and have ordered 300 snowdrops to add to the north border to give some early interest.  I hope that does it.

Two

The grape vine over the pergola needs the old grapes removed and its winter prune, something that mustn’t be left too late.  This is a well established vine but it never quite makes it to producing edible grapes.  There are a reasonable number of bunches but just as they ripen they shrivel up.  Even the birds turned their beaks up at them.  I am going to love bomb it this year with regular watering and seaweed extract feeds.

Three

This is the straggle of passion flower stems that clothes the arch.  I may have mentioned this before but as yet it still on the list: my job is to cut these down and try to dig out the roots.  The arch doesn’t have much going for it at the height of summer and I am hoping that a move to the traditional combination of roses and clematis will provide a more attractive view.

Four 

 

The hellebores are coming through now.  This is a hybrid bought from the Finchley Horticultural Society plant sale last year.  I have just order some more  hellebores, taking advantage of seasonal reductions – it is so hard to resist.

Five

This double hellebore, tucked away in a far corner of the garden,  is a favourite.  It is always a treat to find it in flower again.

Six

Celandines, yes but more importantly an empty space.  The celandines are making a land grab but, having cleared out a small self seeded hornbeam, they will be moved on again as the space is designated as the new home for a sarcococca hookeriana ‘Winter Gem’.  A smaller growing  version that I hope will fit into the narrow border.  The celandines will be dug out but never eradicated.  I have come to accept them and they are a sure sign that the season is moving on.

Almost mid January, almost mid winter, we are on the trajectory to spring.  The seed tin has been opened and the dreams of summer are beginning.   I’ve started thinking about seed potatoes and whether or not this is the year to add some grasses to the borders.  Enjoy your garden daydreams and follow those of other sixers at The Propagator a great blog to read and where the links to other sixes are listed.