Defiance

I am rather fond of the Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Spessart’ growing in Max’s garden. It is thriving beneath a large magnolia, and is uncomplaining about shade or drought. The foliage not only forms a weed suppressing blanket, but as an added bonus the leaves are fragrant and colour crimson in autumn. The flowers, which are produced early in the season, long before any potentially upstaging competitors, are dark pink in bud and pale pink to white in full bloom.

This morning, when I saw the defiant dandelion in the midst of such harmony, a smile came to my face. Perhaps the intruder was shouting “stop me if you can!”. Or maybe I just imagined it. Maybe it was me.

Six on Saturday – No Publicity

It is that time again, the weekly Six on Saturday fix, although I do seem to be a fortnightly kinda gal these days. Exciting/terrifying times and all that. The intention is strong, the ability weak. Someone, also with a lot on his plate but seemingly excuse-free, is our esteemed leader The Propagator. It goes without saying he is incredible/wonderful/magnificent and all that sycophantic blarney which quite frankly gets us no further up the leader board (and I am positive there is one) but does anyone else have a problem spelling his name? Each time I have a battle with o’s and a’s. Perhaps not. Just me. Ever wished you hadn’t mentioned something? Shall we?

First, we have the long awaited (in my house) arrival of the aeonium flowers. They have been mustering-up for many months and eventually they are letting rip. I realise it is the dance of death, but hey ho, easy come, easy go. *sobs*

Next the leaf bud of Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’. Can I depend on you to be discreet, as the subject is yet to be broached? The decision has been made that we will be leaving this beautiful young tree behind when we move. Too large, too delicate. Ten years ago, we crammed this young tree, already far from bijou, into the back of the Ford Fiesta as both an inappropriate and irresistible bargain bin purchase. I have enjoyed our relationship, time for us both to move on. *more sobbing*

Onto Anemone nemorosa ‘Robinsoniana’ which is growing in our front garden and was a gift from the fine folk at Andrew’s Corner on the edge of Dartmoor. I have left the majority for the new incumbent, digging up a few rhizomes for both myself and my friend Pat the Field. They will enjoy South Wales, I am sure of it, and soon enough form an impressive springtime clump of joy. “Clump”, although a good word, is not to joyful word, perhaps cluster would be better?

Pat the Field, when she picked up her anemones, brought with her a bunch of her wonderful cut flowers; crazy parrot tulips, anemones, chunky rananculus, multi-headed narcissus, camassia. Hers is not just any field, it is a flower field. I am enjoying her blooms immensely; they are not only beautiful, but grown organically and with love. You just can’t beat that.

Tulipa ‘Burgundy’, I believe. A wonderful purple/red, blue centred lily flower, full of stardust. Oh, and another of those darned aphids!

Finally, there is a little misunderstanding that must be resolved.  There have been outrageous suggestions that Fat Ol is the Nom de Guerre of my OH. Nothing could be further from the truth. His name is not Ol.  In order to set the record straight, above is a rare shot of the infamous FO. He is a shy and retiring chap and, although at pains to put the record straight, is no lover of publicity. Reluctantly he agreed to the above shot. I hope that you now satisfied.

That is it, another six sixted. I can’t promise when next time will be, but there almost definitely will be one. Take care my friends.

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?