Sacrifice

Try and visualise this little scenario with me. Go on, give it a try. It is one that I have replayed over the last few weeks, I am very well aquainted with it.

You’ve been hanging on the telephone for an age, listening to the recording of a very sincere woman assuring you that “your custom is extremely important to us” accompanied by a first class ear worm. Gordon from Birkenhead eventually comes on the line, apologising for your wait. Unfortunately, by this point in time you’ve forgotten not only why you called, but the point of life itself.

Today we completed the purchase of our new home. There has been a similarity in the process with the scene above. Although, to be truthful, which I always try to be, I was significantly happier when we eventually got through.

For those of you who so generously offered their own personal sacrifices to The Big Moving Gods in the Sky, your selfishness has been most welcome. Thank you.

Six on Saturday – Hello

I just popped by to say “hello there”. To say “cooooeeeeee, I’m still hanging on to Planet Earth”. Perhaps even “did you miss me, did you notice I’ve been gone?” Too needy? Almost definitely. More importantly, I am here to share my last Six from Peggy’s house. Or rather, my last Six if the Big Moving Gods in The Sky are feeling benevolent and the ceremonial sacrifice of six jammy dodgers and a kitkat was considered adequate. I will say no more, I do not wish to jinx things. If you have a little time on your hands, it might be worth seeing what the other SoSers are up to. Pop over to The Prop’s site and all will be revealed. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have Diascia personata, the name of which I have a terrible time remembering. After an initial flowering, several pot ons, a severe chop back and a major sulk (on its part) it is now flowering again in a very civilised manor. Refined and understated, as befits the season. Fair play to you fine, *checks notes*, diascia!

“It is not dead” I kept telling everyone/myself, and I was right. This time anyway. The Tibouchina urvilleana is just forming flower buds, having pulled itself from the vortex of doom. I am very pleased because it was a gift from Mr and Mrs Fish and not only do I love it, I feel a certain responsibility of care.

Well along with road to snoozeland, the hostas are shutting down, withdrawing chlorophyll from their leaves and giving us a fine lemon drizzle display of colour. I rarely consider hostas as plants with autumn merit. I may well have to rethink that opinion. Remind me next year.

Onto Hedychium ‘Pradhanii’, which has sporadically produced some rather contorted, disturbed flowers for several weeks. The recent rains have suited it and now the blooms are as exotic and wonderful as they ever have been. Hip, hip, horrah!

Begonia grandis ‘Claret Jug’, is another beauty just coming into its own. Burgundy backed leaves and stems, fresh pink flowers held on Barbie branches, this is quite glorious.

Finally, Nerine bowdenii ‘Bicolor’ has thrown up two flower spikes this year and this is the first to shine. And shine it does. Now we just have to wait to see if its delicate relative, N. undulata is going to turn up to the party.

That is your lot. Hope you are all staying well and happy. ‘Til next time.

Six on Saturday – Slugs and Salvias

It is impossible to deny autumn any longer. Not that denying would have ever done any good, it was coming however much we imagined the fabled Indian Summer was just around the corner or that global warming could be a good thing. To me autumn is not really about temperature or sunshine or even turning trees; it is an inkling, a relaxing, a sudden lack of urgency, a submission to the inevitable. Quite why this disturbs me, I’m not sure. Other people love this time of year, perhaps if I stood close to these happy folk a little bit of optimism would rub off and turn my frown upside down. There is a solution to my problem! I know just where to find some of these curious beings – our Six on Saturday Capitan’s blog. Not only will you find autumn worshippers, you will also find an antipodean spring and I, for one, shall be basking in their narcissi strewn glory. Shall we proceed, it’s nearly Christmas.

When we first moved into Peggy’s house and garden there was a delightful absence of slugs and snails. It seems someone has been gossiping and now, exacerbated by cooler weather and heavy dews, they have found us out. This beauty was crossing the lawn in the general direction of the dahlias. They have now been diverted.

Next we have a tough, old, chewed and dewy leaf of a dark leaved dahlia. As the season progresses I care less about nibbling. Already my eye is set on next year’s finishing line.

The danglers are just coming into their own and Fuchsia ‘Bornemann’s Beste’ is no slacker in this department. Just waiting for Eruption now, hopefully by next week.

Penstemon ‘Dorothy Wilson’ is a rather diminutive lady, in plant form anyway. This is one of a group I bought last year, which at long last are beginning to show willing. She has been planted in a narrow raised border, all the better for appreciating her prettily perfect flowers and how they sparkle in the low morning light. I do love a penstemon.

Salvia involucrata ‘Hadspen’ and “understated” are not words generally found in the same sentence. It is brash and beautiful and I absolutely adore it.

Peggy recently proclaimed that she loves pansies. And pansies are just what she gets.

There we have it, another six over and done with. Wishing you all good health and happiness.

Six on Saturday – Pot Wars

Reporting from Limboland. Still no news on the house, which I suppose would negate our citizenship of Limboland, but I wanted to make it quite clear. Quite clear as to the mood. Tettering. Possibly the best word. There might be other words more appropriate. Still, I am but a single grain of sand in the dune that is SoS, check out the others at Chez Prop, you will love it. I’m late already so we had better shake a leg.

First, we have Fuchsia ‘Thalia’ which is just beginning to come into its own. I especially love the dangly fuchsias, or the triphylla for the more botanically minded of you. In the past few weeks I have struggled to keep my pots watered sufficiently, many need transplanting into either larger pots or the ground and are bursting to get out. Still, I persist, but they complain however hard I try.

Even the ginger mint is moaning, frazzled and weary. The flower is pretty though and the pollinators love it.

Onto Mandevilla laxa which should be climbing but has, quite wisely, decided to stay closer to the ground until all this uncertainty is resolved.

I am pleased that this Hedychium ‘Tara’ seedling is flowering, I thought it might sulk for a while. I waited as long as I could before I dug a piece up from our old garden as, on excellent authority, I believe it is best to wait until they just come into growth to move them. The flowers are not as big and juicy as usual, but I can forgive her that.

Next Pteris umbrosa, Jungle Brake, a tender fern from SE Australia. This one was actually from mid Devon, as I bought it at a Hardy Plant Society AGM. I chuck a piece of horti fleece over it during the worst of the weather and it has so far served me well. I’m very fond of it.

Finally we have the lax and lazy Impatiens puberula that is only bothering to pop out the odd bloom and that in a half hearted way. Earlier in the season I repotted this and cut it back hard, which might explain the reticence. Perhaps more than any, the impatiens have hated the dry and are top of the list when I’m watering.

Next year will be different. This time next year, Rodney, we’ll be millionaires!

That is your lot. Hope you are keeping well and happy. ‘Til next time.

Just a Heuchera

“All I need is a heuchera” said Professor Gadget as we entered the garden centre.

“Okeydokey” his faithful sidekick replied “just one heuchera it will be!” popping a little geum into the sweet mini trolley.

Unfortunately, The Prof didn’t find a heuchera he liked. He did, however, find a couple of other things to fill the gap in his life. I may have helped a little.

And we had to revise the trolley specification. Twice.

The best laid plans of mice and professors.

Six on Saturday – Turn Right

Everything has conspired against me in my Six on Saturday mission this week. I have had computer tantrums, a bread knife related finger injury and a dodgy camera. Did I let that stop me? Did I, hell as like! Captain Prop didn’t get to where he is today by letting an insignificant thing like a poorly pinkie stop him getting where he is today. Nor did he succeed by adhering to the rules, which is to my advantage because I haven’t either. My six are all about a day trip. Read on McReaders……..

I’ve been to the open air St Fagan’s National Museum of History many times. Scattered across wooded acres are reconstructions of Welsh buildings, rescued from the four corners of the country and rebuilt, brick by brick. There are iron age roundhouses and a 1948 prefab, a grand medieval court house and a beehive-shaped stone pig sty. There is a working mans’ institute, general stores, a bakery, a sweet shop and a fish and chip shop. You can look inside many of the buildings, which are furnished and often, if the weather necessitates, have a fire blazing. Fascinating stuff. I can’t get enough of this kind of thing. Since I last visited, admittedly a few years ago, they have installed a treetop walkway for kids and intrepid adults and a new pub project is in the process of building built.

In the main modern building, airy galleries house anthropological treasures including iron age jewellery, Neolithic skeletons, suffrage banners and a vintage Fergie tractor. Until quite recently the wonderful Everyman Theatre performed on site every summer. Beneath the heaven-reaching trees, we have enjoyed musical theatre, Gilbert and Sullivan and Shakespeare. We would arrive in daylight but by the time we departed night had begun to fall. It was always a magical walk back to the car park past the ancient buildings, their history more lucid in the twilight. One year, when they were performing The Pirates of Penzance, buccaneers roamed the site leaping out and scaring the bejezus out of everyone.

Something, however, I have never done before is to turn right when entering the main park. In fact I didn’t even know there was a right. Oh dear, what a mistake. How has this happened? No one told me it was possible. Right takes you to St Fagan’s Castle and Gardens with its ancient fish ponds, champion trees, fallen mulberries -thriving in their prone positions, herbaceous borders, grass parterres and knot gardens, cut flower borders and decrepit vineries. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

And it gets even better. I spotted a gate in the boundary wall and through that gate was a pub. We nipped through, had a quick half and a sit down, met a puppy and fully refreshed returned to our exploration.

Then, on the way out, we discovered a wall full of second hand books for sale where I picked up Three Dublin Plays by Sean O’Casey. Gardens, history, beer, puppies, books; a tailor-made day trip, it couldn’t have got much better. Perhaps a plant sales area ……. maybe not.

There is a further twist to this story. My camera battery was getting low and subsequently the photos are very disappointing. Which is a bit of a blow as I wanted to use them for my Six this week. Which I have, because I figured it was better than nothing.

My first picture is a gorgeous sanguisorba in the mixed formal borders in front of the Castle which, if you are being picky, is in fact an Elizabethan mansion built on top of a Norman Castle. I was especially impressed by this planting, full of grasses and late flowering perennials.

Next we have a charming little prefab, which unfortunately we couldn’t go inside. I love the long leggy hypericum in front.

A row of terracotta with associated spiders webs.

One of the fallen mulberries, still producing fruit and looking beautiful in their gnarled splendour. I noticed they had planted some striplings for future generations to enjoy. And yes I did eat a berry.

The only good place for fake grass.

And yes, I saw several young girls who would have ideal for pickling and bottling.

That is your lot. Have a good week, one and all. Stay safe and well.

Green Jumpy Things

Professor Gadget (no dimwit) appears to have an abundance of green jumpy things in his garden. Last week this Incredible Hulk was lurking unabashed on Rosa ‘Wild Edric’. As I struggled, with a cursory hand wipe on my trousers, to grab my camera, he posed and preened, pleading “make sure you get my good side”. Unfortunately, I got his rather blurry side.

Fast forward to today, if you wish you might make wooey/wooshy noises to aid the effect. New week, new green friend. I am not sure this little chap, lurking in the flushed mouth of a gladioli, can leap or not, but he has some fine antennae whatever his preferred style of transportation might be. PG also has lots of feathered and spikey and many legged residents. This is a very good sign. It indicates balance and good organic practice. The rewards of this are minimal disease and few pests.

He might say the major pest arrives on a Tuesday morning, drinks all the coffee, eats a pasty and then scurries home. But I wouldn’t want to put words into his mouth.

Six on Saturday – Reverted

Right from the off, just in case it isn’t clear, this week I have reverted back to “Good Cop with a Hint of Malice”. A role that I am much better suited to. It has been a rather gloomy few days, but I have it on very good authority (OH) that after the weekend all will be sun and glory. And don’t we need it. If you would like to hear about good things happening in the world, then catch up with The SoS Gang who hang out at The Propagator’s; believe me, it will lift your spirits. There may be a little black spot or slug damage, but that is as sad as gets. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have a rose which has been splendid for weeks now. It is quite rampant, and could do with a good dead head, but today I am dwelling on the positives and things that don’t involve work for me.

I went and done it again. Such a beautiful nemesia, reduced from £7 to 99p. Seriously, could you resist? I don’t believe you.

Onto, the third and final hibiscus, Chez Peggy. This is the navy blue bud of Hibiscus syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu’, also known as Bluebird, blowing us all a kiss. Weird or wonderful? You decide.

Now an unnamed helenium, bought at an open garden along with a couple (coughs) of other waifs and strays. I have planted this one in mum’s garden and it is making itself at home. A bit of a blurry shot, but apparently soft focus is where its at. Obviously, I made that bit up.

I first came across Salvia ‘African Skies’ at Cliffe, when Helen from Little Ash and her inimitable friend Bats came to visit and brought it as a gift. “What a lovely thought” I said, “and what colour is it?” Helen and Bats looked at each other, laughed and cried in unison “Blue!”. Of course, like the sky, I knew that ……. Whenever I look at it I smile in memory, which was reason enough to get another. It is also rather beautiful and I do love a salvia.

Finally …………….. ANOTHER LEAF ON THE ALOE POLYPHYLLA!!!!!!! *blows into paper bag* This is all the more exciting as I thought leaf No. 1, now known as least favourite leaf, was looking a little sickly. I am staggering around in the dark on this one. I have no clue on what to do for the best. I don’t want to under- or over-water, so I have been giving it a teaspoon of warm water every day or so and studying it (some might say obsessively) with Peggy’s illuminated magnifying glass. This is no tried and tested method discovered on Aloes-R-Us website, just a knee jerk reaction. Time will tell. Any top tips will be gratefully received, although no monies will be available to recompence your wisdom. I will, of course, keep you posted.

All done, hope you all have wonderful weeks wherever you might be. Spread the love.

Magpie, Magpie

There are an awful lot of magpies in these parts, some might say a glut. Perhaps even more than in Cornwall. It was here that a school friend, having been pinched for the upteenth time, declared that as there were so many of these piebald plunderers superstitions didn’t count and from that moment henceforth, in perpetuity (yes, she spoke like that), any spitting, nipping, spinning, counting and greeting was to be banned (she also had delusions). She did have a point though, it was rather time consuming.

Here they often line the garden fence, hopping or lolloping along as suits them, ever vigilant for devilment opportuities. For sport they toss things about, decorative shells, pot lining corks, empty pots and they steal twigs I’ve carefully placed to protect my newly sowed planters. Someone has been plucking out my sempervivum pups, dropping them in random places. I have my suspicions the perp is familiar to me, although have no concrete evidence. Sometimes they are alone, often not. We are thrown from joy to sorrow to boys to girls and even silver and gold on ocassion. Our emotions are frazzled.

This morning I spotted this moth resting on my Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Moas Toes’. After a little googly research I discovered it is a magpie moth. What else could it be?