United Nations


My favourite journey to work is the half hour’s drive to The Mantle’s estate on the edge of Exmoor.  The outward trip is always full of photo temptations, especially once the main route is left behind and I have ventured onto B roads, lanes and unmade track.  If I am in good time, dependent on tractors and how early I have fallen out of bed, I will pull into the side of the road and take a few snaps.  Most opportunities are missed; rabbits disappearing into the undergrowth, lambs scurrying back into the fields, a weasel shooting across my path, or perhaps wild snowdrops, honeysuckled hedgerows, meadows and moor views where no safe parking is apparent.  The journey home is similarly strewn with the photogenic teases.  Today a buzzard rose from the hedgerow to my right and glided low in front of the car, skimming the rough hedge to my right.  Perhaps it is proper that these images are captured only as memories.

These lounging cows were misinformed, just a thimbleful of rain today, if that.  The range of colours brought to mind a United Nations of Cattle.  All getting on splendidly.  We can only hope.

Six on Saturday – Birthday Girl


Saturday 14th July.  Now that date rings a bell.  Something or other is going on.  Don’t tell me, it is on the tip of my tongue.  Oh yes, Six on Saturday.   That wonderful meme hosted by the indomitable Mr Prop.   But there is a niggle that I might have forgotten another important event.  Silly me, it is the 229th anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille.  Always good for a knees up.  However I’m not sure, there is a nagging at the back of my mind, an inkling that there may be something else I should be celebrating.

How could have I forgotten?!  It is Peggy’s, AKA My Best Mum, 90th birthday.   Don’t worry, it won’t get mushy.  Or only a little.  I can’t help myself.  And don’t think this going to be a “my mother used to grow these in the garden of my childhood, whilst I frolicked amongst the sweet peas”, she barely knows the difference between a daff and a dandelion.  Truly, sometimes I wonder if she is my real mother.  Then I look at my fat calves, remember my propensity to blush at the drop of a hat and my compulsion to talk to absolute strangers on public transport, and I know that there is no avoiding it, we are truly related.

As the reason that I do this blog is the fault of the self said woman, it would be remiss not to celebrate, however tenuously, through SoS.  A meld made in heaven.  Or should that be Heavens.  Once Peggy told me “I have been very lucky, I have never wanted diamonds, pearls or fur coats”.  That is true.  And this is another thing that I have inherited.  Just as well really, because they were never coming our way.  For this special birthday she has been very strict, she doesn’t want anymore “stuff”.   What could be better then, than a Six on Saturday dedicated to you?!  My first gift is a sunflower, could you get any richer and more radiant than this Ruby Queen?  A jewel of the finest kind.


My second gift is an agapanthus, just considering blooming, strung with gossamer.  Or spider’s webs for the unromantic amongst you.  A classic seaside plant, my Mum loves the coast with a passion.  When she stays at our house, my first job of the day is to take her a cup of tea in bed.   I draw back the curtains and we sit and watch the boats and chat and all is well in the world.

Salvia viscosa

The third plant is a Salvia viscosa, an adorable little sage, grown from HPS seed.  Not the most extravagant of flowers, but it has a delicate charm that is as worthy as any other.  My Mum will chat with a Hells Angel or a Duchess, a tramp or a Queen, and she treats them all equally and with respect.  All are enchanted.

Fuchsia 'Thalia'

The next present is Fuchsia ‘Thalia’, which has toughed it out through freeze and swelter.  My Mum is from Yorkshire.  Let me translate for you – she tells it how it is, although years away from home she has alway remained a straight talking northerner.  This sometimes smarts, but is invariably for my good.


My next offering is a hydrangea, strangely blue this year, which I am guessing has something to do with nutrients being available in the drought.  But I might be wrong.   My Mum loves singing and is always quick to break into song.  At any time.  Which can be a little embarrassing.  But remember, she is from Yorkshire, and quite frankly doesn’t care!  This flower has nothing to do with singing, or any song I can think of, but it is still a pretty gift.

Lastly we have Daisy the cat, warming her belly on the baking bricks.  My Mum loves animals and they love her, as do I.  Nearly got slushy then.  She is my mentor, my best friend.  She keeps my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds.  Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  Happy birthday Peggy from Your Bestest Daughter!!!






A few drops of rain yesterday.  I was hopeful for a reprieve, but ultimately it was inconsequential in the scheme of things.  A pathetic effort.  No need to shelter or to wish waterproofs were at hand.

This trollius is a moisture lover.  It should be in a complete sulk.  At the moment it doesn’t seem to be complaining too much.  Those stamen are being flaunted outrageously and defiantly.  Long may it continue.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Ayesha’

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha'

This afternoon I had a short break from jack-hammering/mattocking/dynamiting the ground to extract couch grass, brambles and ivy.  Wandering around the garden I came across what I think might be Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Ayesha’.  This shrub had been squashed between closely planted trees and was therefore reaching for the sky, the only way was up.   Just one flower, due to my formative pruning in the autumn, but showing great promise.  I am optimistic that next year it will be quite splendid.

Thai Basil ‘Siam Queen’

Thai Basil 'Siam Queen'

I have been strong until now.  But today, I must confess, I succumbed to that most unforgivable of outbursts.   In my defence I was living it and it was hurting.  Anyone would weaken under the circumstances, crumble like a rich tea in a hot cup of tea.   All was fine until mid afternoon, at this point things started to go wrong.  The crescendo that had been slowly building reached its apex.  It was then the heinous crime was committed.  Although all alone On Button Moon, I suddenly exclaimed to the daylilies and anyone else who cared to listen “It’s too bloomin’ hot!”.

It was done.  Please forgive me.

The Thai basil just shrugged and said “bring it on!”.

Gaillardia ‘Aristata Tokajer’ – Blanketflower

Gaillardia 'Aristata Tokajer'

Until recently I wasn’t a gaillardia fan.  It was nothing personal, they just didn’t rock my world.  Bit nondescript.  Non-committal, that was me.  Take them or leave them.  Did someone mention an American daisy often used in bedding schemes?  Sorry I nodded off, don’t bother repeating yourself. Their merits had never been discussed with my peers, or even on piers.  To my knowledge I had never even said the word out loud.

That is until Mrs Bun introduced me to Gaillardia ‘Aristata Tokajer’.  Held aloft on sturdy stems, marmalade and lemon curd flowers shout “ignore me at your peril!”.  Very popular with pollen beetles too.  I am fine company.

When I stumbled over the word Mrs Bun giggled.  A little cruel I felt.  I think it was revenge.  Possibly deserved.

Six on Saturday – Ruthless

Bidens 'Firelight'

Beware, I am in a ruthless mood today.  Inhabitants of the garden that have not been performing to my exacting standards have been extradited to the green bin.  Oleander that has never flowered, promised once but was only joking – Out!  Dead stick thing that has been in extensive care for so long the label has rubbed clean – Out!  Scrubby grass with no aesthetic merit whatsoever but for some perverse reason I have always felt sorry for – Out!  OH has been hiding.

I feel cleansed and ready to write my Six on Saturday.  We are semi-anarchic group led by Prop Guevara, take a look at his manifesto and all will become clear.  You will also meet others in this band of merry folk.

My first offering is Bidens ‘Firelight’.  I am fond of bidens.  They seem to like me too.

Next we have Impatiens puberula,  which earlier this year I transferred from its pot in the back garden into a large barrel in the front garden.  After an initial period of homesickness, it has settled in very well, spreading dramatically and beginning to flower well.  It is not surprising that it is a little ragged around the edges.  The very un-British weather we are enjoying hasn’t really suited this native of cool moist forests in Nepal.

You can have too much of a good thing.  This Verbascum chaixii, the nettle leaved mullein, has done too well.  After it has flowered, in the autumn I suppose, it will be lifted and divided and shared to all and sundry.  In the meantime it is providing a feeding station for bees, no caterpillars spotted yet.

Catanache caerula 'Alba'

Catanache caerulea ‘Alba’, or the white cupid’s dart, is next.   I grew this from seed last year.   The joy of seeing a flower bloom that you have propagated never diminishes.


Now a watsonia seedling, a bit of a tender Terry, it was one of the many I was worried about earlier in the year.  It is not flowering as prolifically as it did last year, but I can forgive it for the harsh treatment it withstood.  The colour is wonderful.


Sat on the steps earlier, worn out by my tyranny, I felt that I was being watched.  Glancing sideways at the pot of begonias to my right, I saw this little chap, who kindly stayed in position whilst I dashed inside to get my camera.  As for the rest of the plants, you can all relax now.  For the moment anyway.

That is that.  All done.  Thanks for your leadership Propman.  Next week perhaps …..