Six on Saturday – Balance

Here we are again, happy as can be, all good friends and jolly good company. Another Six on Saturday and quite frankly I’m not sure I’ve got a lot to offer; no tales to tell, no yarns to spin. I have got a few plants to share with you, which after all is the point, it is all about the garden not the gardener. But surely the garden is the gardener. Unless you have a gardener. Too many gardeners? Can you have too many gardeners?

On reflection, I have possibly gone on a bit in the past. Perhaps I should aim for a more succinct approach. It is all about getting the balance right. Someone who would never fall off the balance beam of life is Olga Propagator, pop over to his site to see him in his leotard and meet all his lovely cheerleaders. Let us proceed.

First, we have Primula sieboldii ‘Winter Dreams’. This was a No. 1 Lockdown on-line purchase. It was transported with great care, and a few other bits and bobs naturally, from the wonderful Bluebell Cottage Nursery. This is its first flowering. I am not disappointed. Yesterday I discovered that Mr and Mrs Bun have moved to within 10 miles of this nursery. I am green.

Next, is my meagre collection of sempervivum, released from captivity and now in their summer home. No room for bottoms on benches around here. There is a fleece at hand just in case of arctic conditions, but so far this has just been used by Fat Ol for his afternoon snooze.

Onto a Mukdenia rossi flower spike. Rushing ahead of the leaves, which are only just beginning to emerge from the ground, they are a happy spring addition. One of the flowers has a red centre, whilst the rest are green, I wonder if the former has been pollinated. What do you think?

There was great excitement Chez Nous when a lone flower was spotted on our “grown from kernel” peach tree. We live in hope but are girded against disappointment. Expect tears.

Now another Primula sieboldii, this time ‘Essie’ which came home with me from Penny’s Primulas a few years ago. I was visiting the nursery in order to write an article about their National Collection and it would have been rude not to show willing. She is a great beauty and I am growing very fond of these Japanese primroses. I think I should get another, two is not a good number.

Lastly, Tulipa sylvestris and friends, who have since moved on. Although it has to be said that the vivid green aphid does rather set off the vibrant yellow flower. Not enough to be allowed to remain.

All done, hope all is good with everyone. ‘Til next time.

Bobbie, In Memorium

It has been a time of challenges. Can this be said too often? Turn off now if you think so. A’top of my own challenges, no worse and undoubtedly far less than many, there have recently been various sadnesses. On their own they would have been tricky, but added to the pile they seem to sting a little more spitefully.

Far more than a meagre sting, was to hear yesterday that my great canine friend and garden helper, Bobbie, has passed over to the great running field in the sky. In the few weeks since moving to Cheshire, a sudden and devastating illness proved too much for her. You do not need to hear about my tears, they are really inconsequential. I am pleased that I did not have to suffer her rapid decline and I consider myself honoured to remember her in her full crazy prime and that is how she will stay in my heart. If you are of the mind “but she was just a dog” then you may also switch off now, you are not needed here.

Mr and Mrs Bun have had sadness in their lives and have turned this pain into positivity, sharing their home with people who needed respite from their troubles. I have seen Bobbie, asking no reward, give unconditional love to these strangers. I have seen smiles on weary faces, a glimmer of hope where perhaps there had been none. I have seen people who were scared or dismissive of dogs, welcome her attention, indeed encourage it. Bobbie was special, a healing treasure. She was joyous and I never saw anything but love in those irresistible eyes. And perhaps a little mischief. Ok, a lot of mischief. Which makes it all the better.

There is a big hole in The Buns’ home at the moment and I send love to them. And I thank them for sharing just a little bit of their cucumber-stealing, apple-eating, chicken-guarding, hedge-living, ever-wandering, lovely girl by the name of Bobsie. One in a trillion. You should be very proud.

Six on Saturday – Boomerang

We’ve done it! We’ve made to astronomical spring unscathed. Perhaps a little water-damaged and nibbled around the edges, but on the whole not bad for a forever emersion in the dank months. Still, it’s nothing some longer days, later sunsets and a few shoots and buds won’t fix. I know I’ve already celebrated meteorological spring, but any excuse for a party. Pop over to see what is happening on Planet Prop to check out what is going on in the biggest Six on Saturday party of them all. Don’t forget your bottle of turnip wine and cheese straws. It’s time to get on with the task in hand, so without further ado…..

First, we have last year’s beetroot. This was an optimistic sowing in a window box without a window, then subsequently disregarded. I expect the roots will be rock hard, useful only if the Welsh invade. Then again, it might be more sensible to make friends with the Celts and negotiate a cut price journey back over the channel. In that case, the contents will be knocked out, their density assessed for cooking potential and then composted, leaving the terracotta container free for the journey across the water. Until then the leaves are very pretty in the sunshine.

Next, we have Exchorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’. Possibly, they usually are. Unruly in nature, beautiful in bloom. On balance, I can neither recommend nor dissuade you from growing this shrub. Today, it looks like a good option and it has only just begun to reveal its virginal blooms. Later in the year, when lack of discipline is begins to grate, I may not be quite so keen.

OH came home the other day and said “You know those stones that Indiana Jones had to rescue from the baddies, the ones with magical properties? Well I found one down the road and I’ve left in the front garden.” Of course I went out to have a look. And there it was, just west of the olive. It is indeed one of the Sankara Stones. Apparently they bring warmth and life but if you upset Shiva they will impart a fiery destruction upon you. So far it hasn’t proved to be massively helpful, but we live in hope. Perhaps I should warn any delivery drivers of the potential wrath.

Onto Muscari macrocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’. The flower begins the colour of dirty dishwasher opening to that of a lemon opal fruit (what are they called now?) that has been in your pocket for a couple of months, the has paper fallen off and it is now adorned with fluff and mud and unidentifiable detritus. Am I being harsh? Perhaps. Still the delicious scent makes up for its lack of glamour. It takes all sorts to make our world.

Listen! Can you hear something? It is the march of the nasturtium seedlings. And there is no stopping them. Resist at your peril.

Several or more years ago, when I was “on” rather than “off” the edge I sowed some seed of Trillium sessile. I loved them. It would be safe to say I pandered to their every need. Then I left them. Such is the nature of a flibberty gibbet. This week Hero messaged me with a tantalising photo of one of my prodigy. “Give it to me” I shouted. And here it is, returned, like a horti boomerang. It made me laugh when I saw it again in real life. I will never leave it again. Most probably.

Well my lovelies, that is your lot, have a great week and dont forget to stay safe and well.

Clues

Where have I been today? Let me give you a few clues.

Cherry-red tulips in a cerise-pink pot, leaning up against a turquoise cabinet.

It must be Nancy Nightingale’s garden!

Always a joy.

Sharp Shooter

Sometimes accompanying photos are meaningful, integral to the post, but sometimes they are incidental. It is tempting to invent a story about this picture of a fallen magnolia petal, how it represents the frivolous world, the glories of which are so easily cast aside, how its nibbled edges are a mirror to my own rough-edged soul and its dewy iridescence suggests a chance of redemption from the torment. But the truth is I wanted a chat and the photo needed using up.

On Friday I had “Le Jab”. As my “nothing is straightforward” life would dictate, the dedicated sharp shooter was not so sharp and a poor shooter. Her charm had been left at the door to hopefully be retrieved later. I am not here to judge, but after her attack my arm bled for longer than necessary and now sports a fine bruise. Maybe she saw the look on my face as I watched her mess up the previous victim. “Do you usually bleed when you have an injection” she accused . “No, but I expect it is my fault” I replied. “Correct” she barked. Scary posh women have been the bane of my life.

A sore arm, feeling a bit poorly and the further concreting of my fear of a certain kind of women, were all of course worth it. It is the way to go. Upwards and onwards. Ever upwards. And next time I am hoping for the someone who actually likes people.

Seriously, well done everyone who is working so hard to get us all vaccinated, to keep us safe, to set us on the road to hugs and reuniting with our loved ones. It must be tricky sometimes to keep a smile on your face. And I thank you. Even the grumpy gung ho ones.

One Last Time

As we will be leaving here soon enough, the sights and sounds of ‘combe are all the more poignant at present. Everything is potentially “the last time”. I have always loved drawing the curtains to see the survey boat in the harbour, with its undisclosed itinerary. And here it is again this evening, all lights and mystery. I wondered if there was much disappointment aboard, mourning a couple of solid land pints followed by a bag of chips and a battered sausage. Maybe they are too busy doing special secret stuff to worry about such fripperies. Still, it is a sight I relish and one that I will undoubtedly miss.

Sprung

Time is relative, apparently. To be honest, I am not sure I understand the intricacies of this statement. I nonchalantly fling these soundbites around with the bravado of a kinematic specialist. Which I am not. I am a gardener and I wing that most of the time. Except if you happen to be a present or potential client, to whom I confirm I am all knowing and glorious. What I do know is that spring has been a long time coming. Even longer than usual. Now that it has eventually arrived, it has proved to be everything I hoped for, perhaps even more. I would much appreciate it if the management could arrange a slowing down of time now. All the better for appreciating and even wallowing in the glory of this season of all seasons. Anyone know who I should write to?

Six on Saturday

I was all revved up for a Six a couple of weeks ago, in fact I had the photos lined up and scripts imagined. Then disaster struck and I had fisticuffs with my computer, which didn’t end well for me. We have since made friends (tentatively) and I am determined to join the throng this week. I considered using the same pre-trauma photos, but they were rather dull and I thought, perhaps that crotchety old computer knew best after all. Here are six brand-spanking new ones, which although not earth-shatteringly exciting, are hopefully not mind-numbingly boring. “What is she on about?” I hear the uninitiated wail. Well my lovelies, I’m talking about Six on Saturday, the “free to enter impossible to leave” meme hosted by our very own Games Master. Follow the link and all will be revealed, along with the exploits of many other participants, mostly wearing lycra. Shall we proceed?

First, we have a primrose, one that has featured in a previous blog. My thinking is that if I can’t remember what I said about it, you won’t either. This primula is growing between the stones of a wall in the back garden beds. It is not a colour that I would generally warm to. What would you call it? Anaemic pink with the saving grace of a butter yellow centre, perhaps? Still, in spite of myself, I love it.

Next, is the emerging leaf of a tortured hellebore. Last year I bought three Harvington hellebores and duly potted them up for planting out later. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the compost that I used for this and many other things last year. Some of you will know which one I am referring to. The poor plants struggled and gallantly held onto life. Last week I emptied each pot, carefully removing as much of the evil concoction from the roots as possible, and repotted using new compost. And look! This one is Double Lilac Speckled. I have great hopes.

This is more my kind of colour; no holds barred, in your face orange. Quite how this little viola has escaped the ravages of storm and snail is a mystery. Not that I’m complaining. Now is your time little violet!

Onto the challengingly named Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Moa’s Toes’ looking fabulous in the small sunny respite this afternoon. The new foliage is charmingly crimson (was that too horridly alliterative?). The cultivar name refers to the leaf’s similarity to the foot of the New Zealand Moa. Never having met such a bird (yet), I cannot confirm whether this is indeed true. But I think a couple of my SoS pals might know the answer.

It is tricky to explain why certain plants make your heart skip a beat, and I certainly don’t have the words, but this is one that gets my pulse racing to unnecessary rates. Here we have the almost open flower of Fritallaria meleagris, the snakes head fritillary. This is not a rare plant, easy enough to grow and widely available, but for me has an element of mystique and intrigue that is beguiling. It is also vulnerable to mollusc munching, so appreciate it whilst you can.

“Tarquin!” I exclaimed in horror “there seems to be an olive languishing in the front garden, do you have any idea how it might have got there?”. Without raising his head from the joys of Cave Diving for Beginners he said “Probably dropped by a passing seagull”. To be honest, your guess is as good as mine.

Take care my friends, until the next time!

Archive

Today I potted up my over-wintered dahlias, with only two “no labels” amongst them. We must rejoice over such small mercies. Now we wait.

As a pot of compost is not the most exciting image, even for you visionaries, I have dipped into my archive. Archive/marchive, I took this picture yesterday. This is Amaryillis ‘Red Dragon’, a gift from Lady Mantle. I was worried for its well being when the label said “keep at 21C”. Our house has rarely reached such heady heights. Still, it has proved the label wrong. Every move of this scarlet wonder has been a joy.