Today I bought a dodgy half whisky barrel off the back of a lorry. Off the back of a van, actually, but that didn’t sound quite so impressive. It wasn’t dodgy either, it was one of many used whilst filming a murder mysteries series at the Priory, just up the road from where I was working. I am kicking myself now that I didn’t ask what they were used for, although there was sand in the bottom of this one. A clue …… Anyway, the props guy (van driver) didn’t want to take them home. It definitely, however, is a half whisky barrel. I had a choice of cognac or whisky, I prefer the latter. We jammed the chosen one into the back seat of the Ford Focus. Driving home, even with my limited talents in the olfactory department, I sensed fumes filling the car, a heady fug of oaky booze. If I had been stopped by the police there would have been a lot of explaining to do.

Before I set off for home, I hesitantly called OH to warn him about the impending arrival. He was remarkably calm about the situation and has offered to drill holes in the bottom. Now where to place it and what to put in it? The kind of problems I relish.

Six on Saturday – Single Track

Today is the day after the day I have been waiting for. That was a blatant lie. Truthfully, it is the day I have been waiting for, but to keep up Six on Saturday appearances I am pretending that it is Saturday and not Friday afternoon. It is a bit like the results show of Strictly Come Dancing. At this very moment, there is a rather nice young man in the garden putting up my greenhouse. He is very nice, polite, hardworking and he has only eaten two of the biscuits I pestered Professor Gadget to remind me to buy on the way home from work. Apparently the man will be going home when he has finished the job. What would I want another man for? I have one already. He has bought me my first ever proper grown-up greenhouse for an impending special birthday. It would be difficult to beat that. Don’t forget to pop over and see what The Prop and his gang are up to, I’m sure it will be worth a trip.

I’ve got a new greenhouse. Sorry to repeat myself, but I am very excited. I’ve got a greenhouse that is not made of plastic and kindly donated by my sponsor. I am chuffed. It is not a posh one, there are no finials or decorative edgings, but it is beautiful. I am smitten. It is all I can think about.

The window opens all on its own and then closes again and it has vents at the back. It is just the right size for the garden and I am already planning how to use it. It has been suggested that I keep it tidy. I will take that suggestion on board and file it. I like to think that a greenhouse is like a handbag, it doesn’t matter how big it is it will get filled. When I was at Cliffe, we had an enormous Edwardian, extremely rickety, glasshouse, with three separate sections. I managed to fill that easily enough. It won’t take long.

Here is one of our sophisticated add-ons. At some point we may get proper water catchers, but for now we have a bucket with a brick in it on one side. I’m thinking “industrial chic”.

OH asked if I had a plug. I did my puzzled face until I realised he wanted it for the ceramic sink that he had placed underneath the other downpipe. Then, with an electric light bulb pulsating out of my head, I rushed into the kitchen. For a couple of weeks I have been saving the wax coating from the Babybel’s that we have a liking for in this house. Does that sound weird? I have been using it to top bamboo canes. It occurred to me it would make the perfect sink stopper-upper. What we had in reserve was a little meagre, so we were forced to eat a couple more to make a perfect seal. I did wonder that if it gets very hot again it might melt away!

The first residents have arrived! A chilli pepper and two aubergines are now in situ. Since this photo a few others have shimmied in, including two manky cacti from the house and the shy to flower brugmansia.

Just in case you have forgotten what it looks like, the final picture is of the greenhouse in all its glory. I can’t wait to get using it. And today, the real today, it is raining. Everything worked out well in the end. I am very, very pleased.

Have a good week, my friends. By the way, did I tell you, I’ve got a new greenhouse!


I am ashamed to say, I didn’t have a go on the trampoline. I really wanted to, but after standing staring wistfully at it for a while, I decided that there was just too much jeopardy – embarrassing injury and CCTV to name a couple of potential downfalls.

And now I feel I have missed an opportunity. My inner voice is telling me “You’ve let your family down, your friends down and most of all you’ve let yourself down.”

Mind you, I’m there again next week.

Six on Saturday – Not Cool

This is neither the time nor the place to reprimand the climate change naysayers. For those who do not avidly study the UK weather, it is hot here, unprecedented for this vanilla isle, and scarily so. Record breaking temperatures are forecast. We are not talking about good record breaking. There is no one in a blazer from Guinness holding a stopwatch and a clipboard. It isn’t the same as juggling 63 copper kettles whilst whistling Beethoven’s Ninth or being the first to hop the length of Offa’s Dyke dressed as a kangaroo. This is bad record breaking.

Earlier in the year we had “danger to life” storms, now we have “danger to life” heat. “Told you so’s” offer faint satisfaction, a Pyrrhic victory. Apart from the small matter of our survival on this planet, as gardeners this extended dry and hot period poses “danger to life” for our plants. It is often near impossible to keep everything properly hydrated (including ourselves). We have to pick favourites for special treatment, the vulnerable, the special, the sentimental. Tricky. But we struggle on. Anyone crying yet? Or perhaps screaming “for goodness sake, stop your moaning and get on with it”? As I said, not the time or place, we come to SoS for joy not despair. If you want to share some happy souls’ garden universes, pop over to The Prop (who hopefully has not been out running in the crazy heat) and let your spirits be refreshed. Ok, shall we get this done?

I do love a marigold; calendula, tagetes, French, African, Mexican or common, I love the lot of them. In the past I have struggled to protect tagetes from the demon slimy ones. This year I have succeeded. More luck than judgement, I fear. Come back next year and molluscs might have caught on.

Which leads beautifully onto another marigold, although of a different genera. I must warn the purists out there, I am a little vague on the name front this week. Pure laziness. At the end of my last season on Button Moon I collected some seed that took my fancy, with permission, obviously. I wrote “Westwell Hall Buff Calendula” on the packet. One out of six plants came true, or rather what I remember to be true. Not bad. And the others accentuate its glorious dignity with their brightness.

We have a waterlily! It has caused much excitement Chez Nous (forgive me Fred). This is its fifth leaf, the birth of each is carefully monitored and celebrated. If a flower ever appears there will be fireworks. I can’t remember the name, but it has a red flower and is in the diddy category.

Next we have the glorious Dahlia merckii. Last year, or perhaps the year before, I moaned about not receiving part of a dahlia order. This plant was sent to me by the wonderful Anna in Cumbria. To say I was pleased is an understatement. Now allowed to have a free root run, it has done wonders this year. Here it is propping itself up on Diascia personata, a beautiful thug. Thanks again Anna.

I am wittering on a bit this morning, must speed up, my boiled egg is on!

I have never grown monarda in my own garden. This is Monarda ‘Cobham Beauty’. What was I waiting for?

Finally a sunflower. Can’t remember it’s name. Not sure it is necessary.

That is your six. Keep on doing what you can. Keep cool. Keep the faith.

Inner Voices

We are now the proud owners of a water butt. It arrived a couple of weeks ago to greetings of “wow, that is big!” and “I didn’t realise it would be so enormous!”. Still, this is South Wales, not known for desert conditions. Soon it is sure to be full and I can water the garden with aplomb instead of guilt as the water bill rises.

DIY is not the house speciality. We accept this fact with a little sadness but are resigned to our fate. The printed instructions for installation of the butt were incomprehensible. I trawled the internet and found a video. We watched the video. Easy-peasy. You just remove a section from the downpipe, fit the thingy into it and then the other end of the elephant trunk goes into to the butt. OH will manage that, if not easily, then eventually.

“I’ve decided” OH announced, “that we will install the water butt together” as if it was some grand romantic gesture. “Great” said I. Inner voices were saying something quite different.

Time passes

“Today, I am going to have a day off, no chores, no admin, just suiting myself”. I said. “That is the best idea, you relax, you’ve been working very hard.” was my caring OH’s reply.

Half an hour later. “Shall we do the water butt now?”. “OK” I replied. Inner voices were shouting something quite different.

We watched the video again. “Would you like to see it one more time?” I asked. “No need, I think I’ve got it.”

I was in charge of holding onto the downpipe whilst he sawed and reminding OH what was on the video. Let us just say, it was not a bit like the film. There was minimal shouting, a lot of adjusting and reassuring ourselves that there must be quite a large margin for idiots. Once the pipe was severed, I left him to it.

Time passes.

I was called to inspect the work. It is in place. It is rather skewy, charmingly at a jaunty angle, but it is definitely in place. “It is just perfect.” I said “Like us. Perfectly unperfect. ” And for once my inner voices agreed.

Whether it works or not, is a different issue. Since then, not a drop.

The suspense is palpable.

Six on Saturday – Fly in the Ointment

Things are toddling along quite nicely, all is growing well, all is either flowering or showing intent, the only blackfly in the ointment is ……. have you guessed yet? I hope so, or we have problems. This demon aphid is thick as plush velvet and not fussy as to who it visits. I understand that it can take a while for ecological harmony to be achieved in a new, previously untended, garden. And I have faith it will be found in the long run, but at the moment it is far from balanced. I have been wondering what happened to the ladybird larvae I spotted a few weeks ago. There are several options: a) I imagined it, b) it has been eaten by one of the greedy sparrows, c) it saw the task ahead and thought “I’m good, but not that good” and is hiding under a leaf until the hoverflies and blue tits sort things out, or d) it has gone for reinforcements who will soon arrive, possibly in a Red Arrows-esque formation, to smite the foe. I am hoping it is going to be d). For the moment I am squishing and contemplating garlic magic, whilst looking to the skies for a spotted sign. You may well see a few photobombing critters in my six today, but my focus will be on the stars not the spoilers. Shall we change the subject, focus on the half full bit for a while? Good plan, let’s start Sos-ing! Don’t forget to check out The Prop and his gang, they are bound to be up to lots of interesting stuff.

First we have the poppy that was in bud a couple of weeks ago. Almost. Same poppy, different bud. I rummaged and found a label (clients please note) identifying it as Papaver orientale ‘Brilliant’, which it is.

This is Impatiens arguta ‘Alba’, one of several impatiens I am lucky enough to grow. I happened upon a very nice nursery website yesterday and I thought, “although these all look lovely, I have enough impatiens and no room for any more”. Strong Willed is what they call me, Gill the Mighty, Queen of Restraint, Empress of All Things Minimal. Stop laughing, it is my new persona. For one day only.

Did I mention that we bought a Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ the other day. Must have slipped my mind. Our last one was deemed too large to transport and it was abandoned to its fate, which was possibly a very nice one. We came across this bargain (£19.99 since you ask) in the garden centre. Seriously, it would have been rude not to.

Now a dark leaved, orange/red dahlia which was grown from seed and is a boisterous fellow. Quite frankly, I love it. The leaves, the flowers, the habit, the everything.

Then the yet to be named border that faces west-ish. The observant will notice the aforementioned dahlia, last weeks Salvia ‘Neon’, a white scabious, Rosa ‘Grace’ and lots of other goodies yet to come into their own. Loving it, loving it!

Finally, Dahlia ‘Peggy Pearlers’ has her mojo back! She struggled in a pot and I am hoping she will get much stronger now she has her feet in the clay. Still not the strongest but certainly the most special. For those of you who don’t know the story behind this dahlia, you can read about it here.

That is your lot, six all accounted for. Have a good week. ‘Til next time.

Six on Saturday – Disappointment

I was inspired by Jim’s post last week. “This week I think I’ll do a video” I told The Prof. “show progress in the garden and all that stuff, what do you think?”. He proceeded to wax lyrical on file size and WordPress limits and editing software and I pretended to listen and nodded, in possibly inappropriate places, whilst all the while wondering where there might be a plant sale or if it was nearly pasty time. Yesterday, in the murk, I had a trial attempt with my posh camera. I showed the result to OH, who said it was hardly Quentin Tarrantino, which luckily for all out sakes was not what I was aiming for, and barely Disney, which was somewhat of a disappointment. Unabashed, I attempted to upload my masterpiece, only to be told, in no uncertain terms, that my current doobermeflip did not support video, that I should not get above my station and was to continue posting burry photos whilst pretending it was windy. So I am going to do just that. I am not sulking at all. It seems my film making career is going the same way as my ballet career. And you missed a treat, whatever OH might tell you. Pop over to The Prop and, along with all his mates, he is sure to bring a little Busby Berkeley to the proceedings. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have Geranium pratense ‘Plenum Album’ but I call it Paul’s geranium. A little gem.

Next we have the flowers of Heuchera ‘Brohna’s Mum’. Because it is special to Lady Mantle, it is special to me. It has been shuffled several times already since it was planted out, moved forward as the border has expanded. Has it complained? Not on your Nellie! As you can see, it also has the most amazing scarlet flowers. Another small but beautifully formed fellow.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying seed, or indeed a plant, just because of its name. This is Mangetout ‘Ezeta’s Krombek Blauwschokker’. Go on, try saying it out loud, shout it if you dare!

Every year I attempt to photograph a certain kind of pink of which I am very fond. Every year I am frustrated by the result. This is Salvia ‘Neon’, a feeble representation.

This rose is a cutting from Mr and Mrs Bun in Georgeham. It was rooted in an old milk bottle and caused much laughter in the process. I call it Bobby’s rose, which as long as it is with me, will be what it will be known as.

Finally, Polemonium ‘Purple Rain’, Diascia perfoliata and Geranium ‘Rozanne’, living in perfect harmony.

That is your lot, my lovelies. ‘Til next time.

Thinking of You

Peggy is reluctant to go out into the garden on her own. This is wise. There are many trip hazards and she is not as sprightly as when she won first prize in the Yorkshire limbo dancing championships. Which means we must concentrate on what can safely be seen from the windows. A few weeks ago she thought she would like a rose to put in pot to be viewed from the kitchen. “Your Dad loved red roses, I’d like one of those”. A quick Google later and ‘Thinking of You’ was found. A gimmick, undoubtedly. A beautiful rose, undeniably.

It is now happily blooming away in a large pot. Next to it is the run-over ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ liberated from Professor Gadget, which is soon to flower and recovering nicely. Both in full sight to be admired whilst washing up. Job done.

Six on Saturday – Spoilt for Choice

What a difference six months makes in the world of Six on Saturday. In the depths of winter I was scrabbling around, wondering if a vaguely interestingly shaped stone would suffice. Today, foraging the garden for SoS options, I was spoilt for choice. I snapped away, eventually whittling the options down to ten. This obviously would contravene the SoS Mandate of 1863; both unacceptable and irresponsible. Determined not to incite an international event, I asked OH if he could advise as to which photos I should use. “The poppy is nice” he said . “That is the flower of a mangetout pea” I replied. On reflection, I should have insisted that he put his glasses on before helping. He is forgiven, his help has been exemplary this week. More of that to come. I love a cliff hanger. Still, decisions have been made, and others will remain for another day/week/year. A man who seldom falters when it comes to decision making is our very own Propulator, king of the road and champion of all things prop. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have Osteospermum ‘Purple Sun’, a plant purchased last year when we were staying at Peggy’s, which is showing no hard feeling after a rather brutal, “it is for your own good”, cut back early in the season. Admittedly, this is its good side, the other is less eager to impress. Such is the joy of selective photography.

Another import from gardens not forgotten is Iris ensata ‘Moonlight Waves’, elegantly photobombed by Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’. I am not surprised that Gertie has turned out to be an attention seeker.

Now a crazy fasciated tomato flower. This is Tomato ‘Red Brandywine’, which I have in the past found to be a little eccentric in its growth. It also has trouble with errant leaders. I can sympathise with that.

This really is a poppy and is a little late to flower, most likely due to it being planted out late. I can’t remember what its name is. In bud it is more orange than I thought it would be. It probably is called ‘Orange Delight’ or something like that, although I doubt if I would have bought it if it was, I do like a traditional true red poppy.

Next is Erodium manescavii, if you haven’t got one, stop reading this immediately and go and find one. Or maybe three. I love it.

Finally, we have a pond. Earlier in the week, when I was out living it up and misbehaving with Lady Mantle, OH was digging a gurt big hole for our mini-pond. I was very happy. I am still very happy. The plan is for a pygmy waterlily. Then I will extend the border to meet it. Happy days.

That is your lot! Have a great week everyone. See you in the gloaming.