Six On Saturday: Celebrity opening

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

One

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

Two

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

Three

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

Four

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

Five

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

Six

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

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

Six On Saturday: Comings and goings

There’s not much coming and going from the house at the moment but the garden is constantly busy and the extra time spent at home has meant that I have been taking longer looks at the view. I’ve accepted that the snowberry is going nowhere but I have manged to reel in its sideways expansion and have once again reduced the height. Last week The Nostalgic Gardener was discussing Forsythia with The Prop and whilst I sympatfise whole heartedly with their views I know that mine are here to stay. This week my eyes fell upon the cotoneaster horizontalis. It does give a beautiful display of red berries in the winter but at the moment it is in danger of losing its place to a sarcococca confusa I rashly purchased a month back. I’ve potted on the sarcococca whilst I contemplate the cotoneaster.

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The sarcococca has been potted on into the vacant pot left by the planting of this daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ in the border. Poor daphne had been in the pot for about two years and although the guidance is that it is suitable for container growing, once a space in the border became available a move was inevitable. One of the fig trees rotted away at the base of the trunk last year and had to come down. Last week I managed to dig out the last (I hope) of the large roots. Daphne now has a new home and so too does the sarcococca.

Two

The compost corner has been paved. I had forgotten just how much space those towers of two x two slabs took up. The paved area looks better suited to a performance space, a garden dance floor perhaps? But no, the bins have been reconstructed and now I have the job of refilling them. The extra space around the bins will come in useful, most immediately it has been dubbed ‘covid conversation corner’ as this is an ideal meeting place for a socially distanced chat with adjoining neighbours.

Three

Speaking of neighbours, there was some sad gardening news last weekend. The glorious willow tree in next door’s garden has to come down. The increasing lean and lack of leaf signalled a problem and the upshot of an inspection was that the tree is predominantly dead. It has been propped up until work to take the tree down can be started. Sad times, but that does mean new opportunities for the neighbours and perhaps for me. It might make a corner of this garden less shady.

Four

A new arrival to this garden came on Friday. The impulsively ordered arch has been delivered. Even in pieces it looks lovely. I hope to be able to put in place this weekend.

Five

The fritillaries have also arrived. These are on my list to look out for in the next autumn end of season bulb sales, but I may order a few in August to be sure I have more next year. The arrival of fritillaries is often swiftly followed by red lily beetles. Time to be vigilant and this year I am going to try Grazer’s Lily Beetle protection. It is to be used before the nasties are sighted so that is a job to do this weekend.

Six

Sunshine was another, albeit brief, arrival this week and the spring flowers shone. I couldn’t choose which one to include so here they all are. The first tulip – ‘World Friendship’, the first thalia, and the first cowslips. The cowslips are self-seeders relocated from elsewhere in the garden. Filling out the garden for free is one of gardening’s great joys.

As always there is more joy to be found at the aforementioned Prop’s site where all the links to other SOS posts can be found in the comments sections. Also a good place for gardening chat

Six On Saturday: Cold nights and Crazy days

I can’t really avoid the c word this week. These past few days have gone by in a whirl and we are all coming terms with profound changes to our lives. The discipline of spending a little time to write about the garden is finding a new level of meaning and spring has arrived so it is all the more enjoyable. It it so good to focus on the new life that is appearing and the joy that comes with seeing the perennials push through again.  Here are my six delights for this week.

One

There have been some cold nights and cold windy days this week but the sun has some warmth and the garden is responding.  I’ve seen the tulips in bud and this week the Thalia opened up.  Must have more of them was my response.

Two

I know everyone has done daffs over the last few weeks but I’m going to tip my hat again to Tete a Tete.  When I planted this ring of them around the persimmon tree I thought there was a stronger danger of it looking a little twee.  Maybe it does but seeing this cheerful ring of them every morning makes my day.  I’ve gone for over-egging the pudding and have also planted an inner ring of snowdrops.  I can’t wait!

Three

It feels a little early to be cutting back the hydrangeas but the new growth is coming through strongly now.  I am going to resist for as long as I can.  April can be cruel.  The penstemons are also sending out new growth but they aren’t going to tempt into a cut back just yet. 

Four

The new growth on the roses has this lovely reddish colour.  In admiring this exuberance I also noticed that some tying in was needed, which was duly done.  It is at this time of year I realise that I could have been more ruthless with some of the climbing roses.  Some people never learn.

Five

More new growth coming from the weigela florida ‘Variegata’.  I bought it new for this garden so it is about three years old now.  I’m happy to let it have it’s natural height but I think I may need to contain the spread.  I’m looking forward to May when it’s pink flowers appear.

Six

I anticipate a sudden influx of bees as the rosemary comes into flower.  Yes, indeed gardening and all its side benefits will be keeping my soul healthy this year.  

Thanks to The Propagator for his admirable work in keeping Six on Saturday together.  I shall be sowing seeds this weekend, definitely some cosmos, perhaps some zinnias and probably some tellima grandiflora and the grass needs cutting.  Enjoy your gardening jobs, take time to appreciate what’s growing now and celebrate Springtime,  for it is officially here!

 

 

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.

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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.