Venus

Venus Fly Trap

Torrington Tina came a-calling this morning.  After a nifty about turn, we headed off along the coast road, bound for Combe Martin.  We parked in the car park above the beach where the waves were heaving white and headed off to seek adventure.  Which was possibly a little optimistic as CM was mainly shut.  However we found a fine bakery with a small cafe attached and drank coffee and chatted without repetition or hesitation for an hour and a half.  It was wonderful.  As we left TT bought Mr TT a sticky bun.  I bought my OH nothing because, as of today, we are on a healthy eating regime.  It was a kindness.

Yesterday was OH’s birthday and, amongst an assortment of other things, I bought him a Venus Fly Trap.  Although he didn’t say so, I couldn’t help but feel that he was underwhelmed by this gift.  I can’t think why, Venus is the goddess of love after all.  This fact may have been lost on him.  I can’t be certain, but he may well be thinking that TT is much better in the present department.

Six on Saturday – Firsts

You cannot get away from “Firsts” at this time of year.  Wipe the slate clean and start all over. There is a lot to be said for that.   A good approach to life.  As the year tootles along these firsts will become fewer and far between, but not yet.  And today was full of them, perhaps ad nauseam.  It was my first time scrabbling about in the garden thinking “what on earth am I am going to take photos of and isn’t it about time the gardener sorted out this chaos” whilst trying to avoid the gaze of the curtain twitching neighbours who are nodding to each other in a knowing manner.  It was my first proper gardening session.  My first time driving since the leap of faith that was unfounded.  And they are all good firsts.   OH has a man cold so I offered to go to the supermarket.  As I got in the car, turned on my music and shot off up the road I felt liberated.  Torrington Tina told me that the worse thing about her injury was that she couldn’t drive and until earlier I hadn’t realised quite how much I had missed it.  Later pootling about in the garden, getting reaquainted, I felt positive and inspired.  So it is in this frame of mind that I present to you my first Six on Saturday of the year along with my first mention of our leader The Propadoodle.

My first picture, is of Fat Ol.  He has been mentioned before and is my No. 1 favourite cat that doesn’t live in my house.  I love him because he is big and ginger and has an extremely high-pitched meow.  In human terms, he looks like a docker but speaks like the John Inman.  And I love even though he poos in my pots.  He accompanied me on my rummage before retiring to more important pursuits such as sleeping and snoozing.

Next we have my Tibouchina urvilleana, although you may not recognise it as such.  The threat of imminent frosts meant a quick wrap around with horticultural fleece, not enough but I didn’t have much and there are plenty of other needies.  It is still flowering beneath, which is a little bit sad.  Shopping list for Monday includes more fleece.

Now we have a very persistent pelargonium.  Situated in a pot at the front of the house, the land of perpetual winter gloom.  This morning I picked off mouldy leaves and spent blooms.  It won’t have any protection, there is neither room nor inclination and there are several around the gardens.   It is every pellie for themselves.  Who knows what the rest of the winter will bring, it might make it through!

Now for some pomegranate seed ….. not really, this is the burst seed pod of Sauromatum venosum.   I sowed my first seed of the year today.  A very restrained two.  Big Orange Tomato and some mixed species plectranthus.  Not these yet.  I’m planning to do a little research as to the best way to sow these ruby nuggets.  This may or may not happen.  I may just bung them in a pot full of compost tomorrow and hope for the best.

Next we have proof that the nasturtium is not wholly indestructible.  Today I pulled up reams of sog, finding all kinds of exciting things beneath, some I recognised, some not.  Hopefully tomorrow I will have space enough to plant the alliums that are begging to be in the ground.  Mind you, there are a few corners that the nasturtium still reigns supreme.

Lastly we have the husk of a flower.  It took me a while to work it out, but I think it might be the remains of a sunflower.  Whatever, I thought it looked pretty good lolling about in the rosemary.  I’ve let it stay.  For the moment.

There we have it, another first done and dusted.  Have a look at what the other SoSer have been up to over at SoS Headquarters, you still have time to join in the fun!

 

 

 

 

Slow

Today was just what a winter’s day should look like, an identi-kit.  Cold, but not too cold, golden and tranquil.   Perfect for a walk.  A slow and short walk of course.   I am far from full health, but am equally as distant from my injury.  It did us both good, we spotted badger and fox runs, confused bramble flowers, foxglove rosettes and the most incredible lichen.  Slow is sometimes better than fast.

After lunch I wrapped myself up again and ventured into the garden.  Tonight is forecast to be below freezing and some swaddling was required.  I tugged pots under shrubs and into huddles.  I carefully transported those small and precious enough down the steps to the courtyard.  I tipped used compost in mounds over still-in-the-ground dahlia.  And I crossed my fingers.

Whilst searching for last year’s horti fleece I pulled the door off the under stairs cupboard.   “I’ll fix it when I come back in” I promised.  I knew I wouldn’t have to.

Six on Saturday – Festive Frolics

Vinca 'Jenny Pym'

Today I tentatively ventured up the slippery steps in order to inspect the top garden and take a few photos.  And why, you may well ask, would I put myself at such risk?  All for you Mr Prop, all for you.   Also for all the other Six on Saturdayers and their followers.  And for my followers and those that just happen upon me and wonder what the bloomin’ Nora is going on here.  And of course for Father Christmas and all his little helpers.  Which brings me nicely back to The Prop again.   Yes, in case you hadn’t noticed, it is that time of year again.  The gardens are not awash with brightness, but who cares, our Christmas jumpers make up for any colour deficit.   Without further ado, here are my festive Six on Saturday.  Before I start I should make something clear, they are “festive” because it is that time of the year, not because they have anything with Christmas, unless I can find a tenuous link.  Or I might not bother.  Let’s see how it goes.

Let us begin with Vinca difformis ‘Jenny Pym’, with its pretty blushing flower.  This has been in the front garden for a couple of years and is bulking up beautifully.  As is my wont, I had forgotten about its presence until it caught my eye as I hobbled up the path yesterday.  I think I love it more each year.  And then I forget about it for nine months.

Next is my new greenhouse, complete with intact door and free from holes in places that there should not be holes.  The odds on my cuttings and seedlings making it through the winter have grown.  When a cold snap threatens I will wrap some horticultural fleece around and about.  They should be snug enough.  OH is vindicated.

Tibouchina urvilleana

We have had some dreadful weather in the last couple of weeks, driving rain coupled with persistent gales.  During this time I have been worrying about the plants “up the steps”, many of which need winter protection.   I need not have worried as they seem to have coped quite well without my rapt attention.  Much to my amazement/joy thisTibouchina urvilleana is in full flower, as are Salvia corrugata, Salvia leucantha and Lavandula pinnata. 

I had been warned, and the description was accurate.  The builders had indeed macheted a trail through the Bed of Anarchy.   It is what it is.  We can fix it.

Teasels are a tradition in our garden.  They pop up wherever and whenever and hopefully always will.  Earlier this week I was called to the window, the goldfinches had found their winter snackbar.  It all makes sense when you see these glamorous birds swaying in the wind on the barbed heads.  You will have to imagine them, or not, they look quite good alone in their spiky splendour.

nasturtium

The late, great, Freddie Mercury once sang “don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time” and many have since echoed his plea, including this nasturtium.   Many of its fellows have been frosted to mush or stomped into the ground, but this one, clambering through the rosemary bush, is determined to see Christmas.

So there we have it, six things that are happening today in the garden, where I was, the first time for a month.  I enjoyed my mini-sojourn and it has fuelled my will to get back to full health as soon as possible.   And even better!

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog, both those who make witty, kind, entertaining and, sometimes, challenging comments and those also who linger in the shadows (not in a scary way).  I really do appreciate it.   I wish you all a wonderful festive period, I hope it bring you everything you need and a little bit more.

ps Not one tenuous link, I must be losing my touch!

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – Immobile

There have been happenings this week.  Those who have missed out on recent events can find all the juicy details in my post A Different Boot.  Ok, it’s not terribly juicy, but I was trying to entice you in.   Will this accident keep me from my Six on Saturday obligations?  I think not.  I am made of much sterner stuff.  It would take something far more catastrophic to stop me contributing to The Propagator’s  worthy meme.  Oh, and Saint Propesa of Caversham told me to pull myself together, stop whingeing and get SoSing or feel the brunt of his wrath.  So I have. There may however be some bending/deviating from the rules which I generally adhere to like gorilla glue. In the circumstances I think I should be allowed a little leeway.  If you are in the slightest bit interested in how this all works, and quite frankly who wouldn’t be, check out this caring soul’s site for details of how to join in and who else is trapped in his evil grasp involved.

First we have a view from my front window, looking out, which I expect you had gathered.  The scaffolding is still in place and yesterday we had even more put up, an extension out over next door’s roof so the builders can render the chimney in safety.  I suggested holding the renderer by the heels whilst it worked but it was vetoed.  Something about health and safety.  Wimps.  We asked to keep the cracked chimneys when they were removed during Phase 876 of the work.  The plan is to use them in an imaginative and innovative way in the garden.  Yes, we will stick some pots in the top.

Next we have a view from the rear door, the scaffolding has gone, horrah!  It is all looking rather empty, but that won’t last.  A short stride up the steps into the main micro-garden and there are at least a million pots that need to come back down to the relative warmth of this little courtyard for the winter.  Looking for volunteers…..

jacaranda

Now we have my beautiful jacaranda tree.  The Borrowers would definitely recognise this as a tree, however most normal sized humanoids would view it as a nondescript plantlet.  It is all relative. This is my number one specimen, Big Daddy, which is why it has been brought into the house for the winter.  Anther one, which I affectionately call “squirt”,  will have to tough it out in the big bad world.  No room at the inn.

From a tree (yes it is) that lives in the house, to a house plant that lives outside.   Not this actual plant, but another, less lush looking one.  We have a lot of aspidistras in the house.  Too many.  They belong to my OH, dragged around with him from house to house for the last forty years.   At all too regular intervals he splits them to make more and they magicaly appear in new places around the house.  We also force other people to take them.  “Sorry no biscuits, but please take an aspidistra with your cup of tea?”  They are like tribbles.  In amongst the herd are a couple of variegated specimens.  Whether  this is a sport or there more than one variety, I have no idea.  I won’t bother asking.  Up until very recently I didn’t realise this variegation was a good thing.  I may be warming.

Enforced immobility has opened  the door to other more gentle activities.  I have mentioned before my surfeit of garden related books.  It is also true that I am an avid reader.  However I rarely read horticultural books.  Sometimes but not often.  As it happens I am reading two at the moment.  An upstairs book, Alys Fowler’s Hidden Nature, and this one, my downstairs book. This  has sat in my pile for a while.  Partly because I want to give it the careful attention it deserves.  Now I have the time.  I have read several of Richard Mabey’s books and enjoyed them immensely.  Having dipped my toe (one from the good foot) in yesterday, I have no doubt that I am going to love it just as much as the others.

yellow rose

And now a warning:  I am about to get serious.  Perhaps even a little sloppy, maybe sentimental.  Number six is a get well soon bouquet from my next door neighbour.   Not only neighbour but friend, the wonderful Michelle helped me and OH in our hour of need.  I am sure she won’t mind but I going to share this perfect yellow rose with everyone who has sent me good wishes and bad jokes.  For the friends near and far, real or virtual, who took the time to comment and sympathise.  All hail the positive power of the internet.  It is also for the NHS staff at North Devon District Hospital, who did their jobs with efficiency and kindness in equal measures and smiled while they performed them.  Superheroes, every one of them.

An eventful week, but certainly not all negative.  Stay safe everyone.

 

 

Tonics and Barks

As he does most Sundays, this morning OH trundled off to buy the papers.  He returned some time later with crisps, beer and this book (oh and the papers).  That is what I call fine shopping.

I am sure I am not alone in owning a significant number of gardening books, some might say too significant.   In recent years I have slowed down my purchases, veering towards the more specialised, the ancient and the pretty.  This RHS tome, written by Deni Brown and first published in 1995, is one book that had up to this point alluded me.  An initial, excited and therefore non-focused and random, flick through the pages shows it to be a comprehensive and wide-ranging encyclopedia.  From abelmoschus to ziziphus, history, geography, design and uses, much is covered.  Of course names may have changed in the last twenty-three years, reclassification is the nature of botany, but this doesn’t bother me, these things are easily checked.

The quotation on the title page struck me as something as relevant today as it was in mid-19th century America.  Something we should remember, something we should keep close.

Six on Saturday – Tempus fugit

viola

Pay attention impetuous youth!  All you downy-haired saplings listen carefully to what I am about to say and take heed!  The rumours that Old Father Time presses his foot firmer on the gas with each passing year is in fact a painful truth.  Was it really a week ago since the last Six on Saturday?  Hard to believe.  Quite why this acceleration occurs is a mystery to me.  I am sure it has been pondered in scientific papers and debated long into the night by academics.  Whatever the reason may be, I don’t like it.  And rest assured I will be making an official complaint to the management.  Talking of highest authority, our SoS CEO The Propagator might be able to shed some light on this annoying phenomena.  If not he will definitely be able to explain the modus operandi of this Six on Saturday malarkey.  Anyway I haven’t got time to hang about.  It will soon be next Saturday.

To begin we have a viola, one of my favourite winter bedding plants.  That is once you come to terms with the fact that it often stops flowering over the worst of the weather and you start wondering why you didn’t chose cyclamen or primulas instead.   Then, just before your patience wears  dangerously thin, it bucks up its ideas and flowers its pretty little head off.  I planted some yesterday (including this darling) in the Belfast sink at the front of our house, before which I had rammed in 12 orange and 12 purple tulip bulbs.   In my mind’s eye these will make a dramatic display in the spring.  The truth of the matter may be quite different.

epimedium

As well as sorting out one of the planters I also cleared some of the rampant geranium and replaced it with an ompalodes and an epimedium.  I am a huge fan of epimediums, sometimes known as barrenwort or bishop’s hat, so it has been a great mystery (to myself only, no one else is the slightest bit bothered one way or the other) why I haven’t acquired one before.  I say acquire because this wasn’t actually bought.  It was half inched (with permission) from Lady Mantle.  Autumn colour in herbaceous perennials is often overlooked as a bonus.

bindweed

I am sure that many of you are well acquainted with the common bindweed, which has the great accolade of being my favourite weed, although I am also very fond of enchanter’s nightshade.  As a child (and even now when I get the chance) I loved to pinch the back of the flower and catapult the bloom out into space.  I find pulling up the long brittle roots very therapeutic, a challenge and conundrum.  As they don’t start into growth until quite late in the season, much else gets a head start which is very thoughtful.  They are good fun all round.  These days all bets are off when they get to the stage of flowering; a quick tug and a telling off and all is well in the world again.  If only it was so simple to solve other global problems.  This one is growing high in the hedge, out of reach of my twitching hand, and was looking very pretty in the sunshine today.  It was awarded a stay of execution until I find something to stand on.

Trachycarpus fortunei

When grown well Trachycarpus fortunei, known to its pals as the Chusan palm, is a fine and dramatic specimen to grace the garden.  Here is the rub.  This specimen is not grown well.  It is crammed into a pot, fair bursting at the seams, situated in the windiest position of the garden.  It is not happy.  It is ugly and angry but defiantly continues to produce new fan-like leaves, which before too long become burnt and ragged.  Sad really.  It should be rescued by someone kinder.

To add insult to injury, the poor palm has to share it’s already cramped living quarters with a tatty old ivy.  Where this Hedera helix came from, I have no idea, possibly snaked in from somewhere close by.  In part variegated, the rest reverted to dull type, it too is struggling.  Now they are inseparable in their agony, a chimera of pain.  I think I might be getting a little carried away.  Swiftly onwards …….

Fuchsia microphylla

We will end on a happier note, Fuchsia microphylla, the small-leaved fuchsia.  Also in a pot, but a quite different story this time, it has been tended to and adored.  Although not entirely happy with the stresses of the searing summer, it is now relaxed and healthy.  At the moment is has both fruit and flower adorning it.  Even better.  Talking of fruit, if you fancy a challenge take a look at  Mr K’s SoS, he has posed a little puzzler for us all.

That is it!  Done and dusted.  See you all in the gloaming.