Pulmonaria offinalis, not the most glamorous of early flowering perennials.  They lurk in the background, often unnoticed, out-shone by showy daffs and moon-faced hellebores.  But take a moment to study the first red turning violet flowers, hirsute sepals glistening in the soft sunlight.  As the blooms mature they achieve this colour change by adjusting the pH of the petals.  Just a dull old lungwort.  I don’t think so.

Six on Saturday – Optimism


It is that time of the week again, the time for excuses and diversions.  But wait a moment!  This week, all is legitimate and legal, photos and text both created today.  Unlike some I could mention, however I do not like to tell tales, do I Mr K ?

Six on Saturday time again hip hip horray!  For those of you still unsure of what this entails, pop over to The Propagator’s site and find not only how it works but contributions from others in his control.  Once you have signed your name on the dotted line in blood, you will never escape his evil grip.  But don’t let that put you off, come on, join in, the more the merrier!

To begin we have a self seeded aquilegia.  Last year they got a bit above their station and I promised to cull them before they trampled everything else.  They are tricky to get out, with their fleshy taproots and indomitable will, but I will persist.

Iris reticulata

Next we have a lone Iris reticulata, leaning at a rather jaunty angle.   I am especially fond of these irises, although I don’t often manage to keep them going for more than one year.  This is, I believe, due to the fact that they should be in full sun and sandy soil, neither of which they are afforded here.  This chap might be the only survivor, jostled by Narcissus ‘Tête á Tête’, crocus and violas.  I am very proud of him.  However, there is plenty of time for the others to wriggle through.

Paeonia mlokosewitschii

Now onto the obligatory “emerging shoots” photo of the day.  This is Paeonia mlokosewitschii  which, unless you are Polish is best called Molly the Witch.  It was a gift from my extremely talented, virtual friend Sue and has yet to flower yet.  As always, I am hopeful for this year.


This hellebore is the tricky dicky that I tried to photograph a couple of weeks ago.  It is in completely the wrong place and slightly irritates me every time I see it.  Which is a shame because it is good one.  I will move it after it has flowered and hopefully it won’t sulk too much.


A small parcel arrived this morning, with no return address.  I opened it and found a pot containing some plant material.  No note.  Very curious.  Then the two pound coin dropped.  The mystery plants were winter aconites, a gift from an extremely generous blogging friend, Chloris, who has an amazing garden in Suffolk.  I had been bemoaning (yes I know hard to believe) that I have never been able to grow Eranthis hyemalis  in our soil (a workman blames his tools) and she generously offered to send me some of hers.  They are now safely potted up and I am positive they will thrive in their new home.


For the finale I have chosen vermiculite.   Not a looker, but very useful.  On Tuesday I received a message from my friend Pat the Field asking if I had found the bag that she had left outside my front door the previous Friday.  “No”, I told her,”perhaps it has blown away”.  “I don’t think so” she said “it is quite big”.  So I asked my neighbour on one side, not a sign.  Then yesterday I saw my other non gardening, non going outside very much at all, neighbour on the other side “have you seen a bag of, um, light brownish stuff?”, “oh I wondered what that was”.  Luckily she had not thrown it away and popped it around later but asked no questions.  An animal feed bag full of vermiculite, what on earth did she think it was?  The mind boggles.

So there we have it, another week crossed off, soon I will be up before the parole board.  Until then, I will be under the control, for at least one day each week, of the magnificent Mr P.


Garden Poker


I will match your brambles, couch grass and let-loose mint with an attentive robin, sweet winter box and a golden bossed camellia.  Then, just in case you imagined there was still a chance of winning, I will raise you one day of wall to wall sunshine.   I would fold if I were you.

If the gloves fit


A few months ago I made an official complaint about the availability of small sized gardening gloves.  I feel a little bit silly typing that.  Really?  Is that all you have to worry about?  Boo diddums!  The fact that I can’t easily find working gloves that fit is not an earth shattering problem, quite the contrary.  Shame on me.

All the same, I am a professional gardener, of sorts, so why shouldn’t I have kit that fits?  I am not alone, there are plenty of us Horti Heroines out there.  When you look at available working clothing you would think not.  One day, not so long ago, a plumber working at the same house as I was said to me “I didn’t realise that there was such a thing as lady gardeners”.  Yes, quite true, although a perfectly affable chap he was amazed at my profession.  If I had just beamed down from the Starship Enterprise he would have been less shocked.  Let us just reflect on that a moment.  Indeed.  Quite.

After trying, yet again, to buy some new gloves at a certain well known chain of garden centres, I decided on direct, non violent action.  I emailed the Managing Director of the aforementioned store, said my piece and sat back and waited.

It didn’t take long.  The next  day I had a call from one of the MD’s PR team.  After an extended placating chat they promised to send me some “without prejudice” freebies and address the problem.  Today I called into the same garden centre.  True to their word they are now stocking small gloves, and proper hard wearing ones too.  Not the ones that look pretty but are as useful as a chocolate teapot.  So I would like to say thank you to them.  Thanks for listening and thanks for doing something to redress the imbalance.  It is much appreciated.

I didn’t set out to buy plants.  Who does?  OK, I do, but it isn’t always planned.  True, the very fact that we visited not one but two places that sold them meant there was an outside (inside) chance that I would succumb.  Really, it was inevitable.  Today I have welcomed to the fold Scilla peruviana Carribean Jewels ‘Samphire Blue’ and Polygala chamaebuxus.  I am sure they will fit in very well.

As I thought a photo of a pair of gloves or a, yet to be exciting, plant in pot would be a little dull, I decided to share a very undull hellebore with you.  A picture that has nothing at all to do with this post.  Any complaints, please email the MD.

I do like to be beside the seaside


I was brought up by the sea and now I live within tsunami range.  Every day I study its plethora of moods from my window; the good, the bad and often the ugly.  But this familiarity has not bred contempt.   Quite the contrary.  On our road trip last week, when Max’s Dad suggested that we took a little stroll from our luncheon pub to the beach, I was eager to explore.

So different to our northern shoreline.  Pebbles and vast scapes rather than our macho cliffs and sandy beaches.  But just as mesmerising.  I doubt I will ever get enough.

Six on Saturday – Necessity

It’s raining it’s pouring, I’m not going outside again after getting soaked walking miles to pick up my camera that I stupidly left in Max’s Dads’ car yesterday after a wonderful day out and had no transport because OH had taken the car to do the shopping and anyway I had jobs to do in the High Street.  Not quite as catchy as the original, but I’m working on it.   So, fearing the wrath of The Propagator, who owns Six on Saturday, I have had to be inventive.  Necessity and all that.  Warning:  Some connections to my garden may be a little tenuous.

First, snowdrops in the sunshine.  It would be impossible to pass this sunny shot off as today’s photo.  In fact this picture was taken yesterday at Little Ash Garden where myself, OH and Max’s Dads met up with Rusty Duck and Torrington Tina to marvel at Helen’s masterpiece of a garden.  Although billed as a Snowdrop Day there were many other delights; hellebores, winter flowering honeysuckle, clematis, flowering quince, cake and coffee, and three varieties of homemade soup!  Two pots of snowdrops came home with me, ‘Magnet’ and ‘S. Arnot’.  They looked lonely.  They are now taking their chances in the deluge.   Where I refuse to go to take a photo.  So there.

Next we have my pride and joy, a brand new shiny labeller.  Don’t stand still for too long, or you will have a piece of tape across your forehead.

Fritillaria persica

Now a picture that was taken last week, but I imagine it is looking pretty much the same.  Perhaps a little damper.  These slightly nibbled shoots belong to an emerging Fritillaria persica, the Darth Vader of the fritillery family.  I bought this gargantuan bulb couple of years ago at Malven and it has yet to flower.   Fingers crossed for this year.  As the more observant of you might notice, yes you Mr K, there are some “kind to everything except slugs and snails” pellets scattered around.  It might be “closing the door after the mollusc has bolted”, but I thought it was a little early to worry about that kind of thing.  However, it has been an extremely wet and mild winter, up until this last week that is.  Perfect conditions, if you happen to be slimy.

Salvia viscosa

Some positive news, germination of more seed.  These triumphs include Alonsoa warscewiczii, Malope trifida and Salvia viscosa.  All of these I have grown before, although not for a while, and I am looking forward to getting to know them again.

A note in a Christmas card read “We have a couple of first edition garden books, would you like them?”.  This enquiry was from an ex-boyfriend’s parents, a wonderful couple whose company I always enjoyed and have remained friends with for the last 30 years.  It was at their soon to be permanent home in the South of France that I first read a gardening book.  Long before I gardened.  When the very thought would have provoked howls of laughter.  The book was Christopher Lloyd, The Well Tempered Garden.  A fine introduction to garden writing.


Lastly we have houmous.  As I couldn’t go outside I made some.  An essay I wrote in college came back with the comment “interesting, but perhaps a good humus content in the soil would be more beneficial than one rich in a chick pea dip”.

Thanks again Mr P. Pop over to his blog to read other contributions, most likely written by braver and less sensitive souls.  Here’s hoping that next week will be just a tad drier …..