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.

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.

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.

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.

Six on Saturday – All The Fun of the Fair

Outside the wind is shrieking like the waltzers and I’m fed up of spinning now. It has been a week of sadness and some pain. A dear friend died, leaving another dear friend broken hearted. And I have hurt my back. It is obvious which is the most important. I wonder if I will ever learn that somethings can’t be fixed by force, but only by time. I suspect I will keep trying.

An addiction to Six on Saturday is a sometime blessing and occasional curse, but for your delectation I struggled outside into the demon fairground to take some shots. For those of you unacquainted with SoS, and question what could inspire such noble devotion, nip over and introduce yourself to the legend that is The Propagator. You will not only uncover the intricacies of this cult but also those of his many sycophants. Chop, chop, let’s shake a leg!

First, we have a hellebore that was so desperate to be photographed it held its head uncharacteristically high, meaning no bending was necessary for the photograph. After all that effort, it would be contrary to resist. My aching back thanks its thoughtfulness.

Next, stripy crocus, shaming the under-performing violas they co-habit with. I am not surprised about the violas’ frankly disappointing show, the exact same happens every year and every year I despair. And then, just before I am poised to replace them, my trowel in vengeance mode, they go on hyper-drive and become irresistible. Each year I am fooled. There is nothing to suggest that this will not be repeated ad infinitum.

Less of the seasonal, onto the misguided. Here we have Lavandula pinnata, which has been popping out the odd flower since autumn. Respect.

Now we have a grumpy lion, a bench-end valiantly holding together a rickety seat. I am a Leo and sometimes a grumpy lion. It is all about empathy. A bench is good place to start.

Earlier in the week I started the rose pruning, perhaps a little late as they have already sprung into action. When I say “start” it is not because I am the proud owner of acreage of floribunda, but because there is a climbing rose that needs some serious reformative pruning. The green bin is now full, and my hands pin cushions, despite protective gloves. It was time for a break. This is Rosa ‘Peace’, as identified by SoSers, and is rather further forward than the others. This little shoot had a reprieve, to keep up the good work.

Whilst pruning, during several diversions, I investigated whether Molly the Witch had begun her journey. I ripped away the surrounding mass of damp crocosmia foliage, like some horti archaeologist, and low and behold there she was, Paeonia mlokosewkitschii (not an anagram). Perhaps a flower this year?

All done, six in the bag. Hope all is well on your planets. ‘Til next time.

All Things Come to Those Who Wait

Buying new plants is out of the question. We will be moving in the next few months and it would be beyond foolish to add to the already ridiculous number of pots that are lurking in the garden. Let me reiterate: beyond foolish.

I have been lusting over Lilium ‘Forever Susan’ for some time. I clearly remember the first time I was entranced by her loveliness. I was at my Mum’s and we were watching the TV, me lounging on the sofa, her with her feet up in her bionic chair. More than likely we had a cup of tea and perhaps a jammie dodger. Sadly, it has been a while since I have watched Monty with my Mum. Let me make it clear, I’m not talking about a programme called “Monty with My Mum”, although I am sure it would be very entertaining. What I mean is, I was watching Gardeners’ World whilst I was at Peggy’s house. Hopefully I have averted the potential disaster of disappointed souls desperately scanning for back episodes on iPlayer. Back to the lily in question. As I was too comfy/lazy to get up and grab a pen and paper, I convinced myself I would remember the name. Luckily Peggy knows me better and scribbled the name on the back of her Handgliding Weekly. From that moment onwards I have been poised to attack, on high level lily alert.

Unfortunately, there was the tawdry incident when I got over-excited and bought ‘Forever Linda’ by mistake and have ever since been trying to reconcile the fact. Linda is a lovely lass, but Susan was my first love. Still she evaded my clutches.

Today, in search of Babybel and avocados, I wandered into our local discount supermarket, the one that rhymes with idyll. Even before I got to the hand-sanitiser I spotted her, nestled in a box of other lilies. Standing undecided for all of a millisecond, I grabbed a packet, gave it a quick squeeze to ensure firm bulbs lay within, and before I could create a biohazard, they were in my shopping trolley. I must admit I was all of a flutter. It was meant to be. All things do come to those who wait. She had better be as good as I have been dreaming.

Six on Saturday – You can’t keep a good fern down

February has arrived; which is officially the last month of winter. That is if like me you prefer to adhere to the meteorological interpretation of events, at this end of the year anyway. And it’s a shortie so should fly by. Then, baby, the only way is up! My Six on Saturday this week has no particular theme, which is remiss as I do love a theme. It is however led by endeavour and finished with love. Any newbies to the SoS phenomena should pop on over to The Prop’s site and all will become perfectly clear, or perhaps not so. If in doubt treat it as a Dadaist interpretive inter-planetary art project.

Let us start with a sight that made me grin when I saw it, a coyly unfurling frond of Cyathea australis beneath its veil of fleece. You can’t keep a good fern down.

Next, we have the front garden hellebore, which has done very well this year and seems to have multiplied admirably. Unfortunately, I failed to undertake the promised move, so to admire its mottled flower face requires the flexibility of Simone Biles. I will move it for the new owner.

Onto cyclamen seed pods, which have corkscrewed down and are now poised to push into the soil. Self-sowing; nature is a wonderful thing, and we are part of this amazing world. How this indisputable fact is continually over-looked is a complete mystery.

Question: What could possibly be better than a bud? Answer: A furry bud! The Phlomis fruticosa in the frozen north is gearing up for an early display.

Now we have a defiant osteospermum, its blue boss hinting of its hardiness. The petals are curled in defence of the weather, slimming its profile, looking quite different to its summer appearance. Two for the price of one!

Lastly, we have a heart-shaped leaf of Pelargonium cordifolium var. rubrocinctum, having absorbed its chlorophyll ready to drop. On reflection I should have saved this picture for Valentine Day, but you can’t go wrong with a symbol of love, there is more than enough to go around.

That is your lot, you lovely people. Hope all is good in your worlds. Stay safe and well.

Six on Saturday – Arrival

It cannot be denied that I have been a little distracted of late. In fact it has been previously noted. I wish I could say there were noble intentions afoot, that I’ve been performing the complete works of Gilbert and Sullivan at the home for delinquent seniors or knitting ponchos for orphan lambs, but no. Selfish to a fault. It cannot be denied, m’lord, I have been navel gazing. Do not lose hope; we may be at a turning point in my self-obsession. Yesterday, eventually, after much wailing and head bashing, our house sale was completed. Feel free to set a taper to the firework display you have been saving for this very ocassion. If necessary, a sparkler will suffice. Someone who will undoubtedly not care a jot about my personal life is maestro Prop, whose consciousness is busy with all kind of important bulb and seed issues, with perhaps a little judicious seasonal pruning. And of course SoSing. Check him and our gang out, it will definitely be educational and you might well find some sunshine. This week’s six are neither colourful nor in focus, but it seems I am on a slightly off kilter road at the moment. Let’s shake a leg, or there will be complaints from the management.

First we have Phyllostachys aurea, the golden bamboo, in a particularly notable blue sky. I believe this is called pathetic fallacy to those who enjoy wordy definitions. Whatever it is, it was very welcome.

Next a frazzled leaf of Geranium maderanse ‘Guernsey White’. Serves you right for poking your paw out from under the fleece. Don’t worry, the rest of the plant is quite plump and healthy ready to crack into action later in the year.

Now the raddled trunk of our rosemary, under which was the lounging place of choice for our dear departed Charlie Cat. A soft heart has saved this whale of a herb. There is nothing wrong with a bit of sentimentality.

Onto the remaining stamen from the still flowering Tibouchina urvilleana, which is yet to be protected from the elements. I am slightly shamed by this lack of care, slightly proud of the shrub’s resilience. As we know pride comes before a fall. I, and possibly the tibouchina, are bound for a plummet. It is also a particularly poor photograph. Lose, lose.

Next, a phormium, grown from seed by a client/friend in Bristol. To my shame I rarely acknowledge it except in winter. After 14 years I think I should acknowledge this as a trend.

Now Helichrysum bracteatum, which it seems, is truly everlasting. Whilst much of the plant is frost-induced sog, it is making an admirable effort to flower again. There is possibly a lesson for us in this; I will leave you to ponder it.

That is it, another week passed in our seemingly unrelenting crawl towards spring. Stay well and safe, my friends.