Medal

Today I have made gram flour crackers, drawn a picture of a pineapple in oil pastels, learnt some Dutch, entered a photography competition, set up a zoom meeting for the first time, practiced some yoga and shared some blue sky and Magnolia stellata flowers with you.

And yes, I do want a medal. It is unlikely to happen again.

Six on Saturday – Waiting

My photos for this Six on Saturday were restrained by the fact I had to be within hearing distance of the phone. OH was out doing the weekly shop, God bless him, and I was on high alert, loitering within ear-shot. Therefore, all pictures had to be taken within two leaps of the back door. As it happens, I could have wandered further. I was waiting for the call that never came, like some love sick teenager. Please pop on over to The Prop’s site and check out the other SoS who I am sure were more adventurous. Let us proceed.

First, we have a peek-a-boo Fuchsia ‘Eruption’ screaming “why are you denying my time to shine!”. Fleeced up for protection, it has managed to poke a couple of flowers out of a weak point in the defences. You will be pleased to hear, it is all tucked back in and cosy again.

Next, a Cornus ‘Porlock’ seedling, which is supposed to be deciduous but hasn’t been caught on yet. Perhaps cornus are like beech trees and hold onto their leaves whilst young. Yet another plant in waiting, we are all waiting.

Now, a ravaged leaf, ripped from the nearby brugmansia by the wicked wind, dumped on the steps and subsequently chewed.

Onto Callistemon masotti, presenting fat buds to aid our dreaming.

Whilst lurking I opened up my little plastic greenhouse for a breath of fresh air and at the same time had a poke about to see what had been happening. All the while listening out for a ring, of course. The sempervivum were looking quite fine and most dandy.

Lastly, hidden beneath the shifted fuchsia fleece, a lone Iris reticulata bud. This is the lolly-labelled pot, whose identification had biodegraded rather prematurely, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you the cultivar. Made me smile though.

Six on Saturday completed for another week, I hope you lot are all doing well and staying safe. All fine here. Like Vladimir and Estragon, I’ll must be getting on with my waiting.

Six on Saturday – Crisis? What Crisis?*

Second week in and 2021 is already looking rather tarnished. I’ve got an idea. Let’s buff it up, reintroduce a shine, give it a serious Six on Saturday make-over. If you visit the SoS Housekeeper’s site you will find a battalion of us from across the globe, armed with dusters, doing a bit of polishing, making their own corners sparkle. Without further analogy, which to be honest was getting a little out of hand, let us get on.

We start with Osteospermum ‘Double Berry Purple’, an oldie but goodie. This flower has been stuck in the self same position for the past few weeks, like a horticultural game of musical statues. Perhaps it opens and closes when I’m not looking. It may even do the oki-coki.

Next, we have Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’, dark, shiny and mysterious, like my soul. Not really, my soul is made of candyfloss.

On to a moth eaten viola, still, to my mind, quite beautiful. But then again I always did like the waif and stray, the underdog forever has my backing. Nice pop of orange too.

Now Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegatum’ which is a wallflower made of stern stuff. It grows in the gravel edge to a paved area, it is continually trampled to avoid bashing your head on the rotary clothes line, and swamped by its neighbours. No complaining, it just gets on with the job. Good chap.

Next a Miscanthus napalensis seed head, its golden locks now turned to grey. I think it very distinguished.

Finally, Vinca difformis ‘Jenny Pym’; always a joy, never a nuisance (not yet anyway), and so welcome in these chilly hours.

That is your lot, hope you feel the world is shining a little bit brighter now. Until next time, stay safe and well.

*with thanks to Supertramp

Six on Saturday – Left Overs

Bar the shouting, most of the Christmas craziness should be over by now, and we are probably all a little relieved. To my mind, Boxing Day is the most relaxing day of the festive season; there is minimal cooking, plenty of time to play with your new toys, have a little walk perhaps and room to reflect on the meaning of life. And lots of left overs. I am sure it will be no surprise that I am not writing this on Saturday, that would be over and above the call of duty and might cause some non-marital tension. But we are not far off, it is Christmas Eve. The ham is cooking, the red cabbage prepared and I am just about to search for our only table cloth for its once yearly performance. My name is Christine Control; all is calm, all is bright. How long do you give it? Whilst we are on the subject, our master The Prop is always the epitome of control and calm, except of course when it comes to tulips. Shall we proceed?

First, we have the carcass of a crocosmia seed head. I remove a lot of these unremarkable montbretia from the back of the garden, and still they spread with unconcealed glee. Today, this rusty reminder was most welcome. My icy heart may have thawed just a little.

Next another rogue, the three-cornered leek. Again, I have dug many of these out of the garden, to little avail. Still, if I didn’t know their reputation for invasion, I would think them quite lovely.

Onto the aeonium that is heading towards the stars, like an old fashioned camera lens. Looks like some untimely flowers are on the way. Who am I to argue with Madame Nature?

The other evening, whilst sitting in the front room learning my lines for the SoS panto, I heard a suspicious noise. Bravely/foolishly I went to investigate, armed only with my curiosity. I found nothing. A couple of days later the culprit was discovered. The Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella had leapt off the top of the filing cabinet in the office onto the floor below. It was put outside in disgust, into the naughty corner, where it has stayed.

Now onto my faithful friends, the fuchsias. You have got to hand it to them, they are stalwarts.

Lastly, the statuesque teasels; ever reliable, ever welcome. I have saved all the seed that I need to spread their joy to foreign climes, leaving plenty for our golden visitors.

I hope you are all relatively unscathed and had much fun and laughter over the last few days.
This time next week we will have a new year to cheer us!

Six on Saturday – Distracted

I have been a little distracted of late, which has resulted in a deficiency in the blogging department. The reason for being even more away with the fairies than normal is that we are moving house. To be more accurate, we are attempting to. Yes, you heard me right, we trying to sell our house in the middle of a pandemic. We wouldn’t want it to be too easy. For this reason, my mind in the last few months has often been elsewhere; wondering if anyone is actually doing anything constructive to further the cause and would someone please remind me how much an hour our solicitor gets paid for doing exactly what? In a sublime piece of synchronicity, several of my clients are also moving on, or have done already. Times are very strange on Planet Gill. Of course, to everyone in the else in the world all this is of meagre consequence, and quite rightly so. I bet our leader, The Prop, doesn’t even mention it. So, without further excusing, let us get on with the task at hand.

First, we have a plum pudding. Not really, it is a well wrapped Grewia occidentalis. This tender, cos it’s worth it, plant stubbornly refused to flower this year, possibly due to inadequate protection last winter. Slightly shamed by my short-comings I have made a special effort. Others thereabouts are quite rightly feeling a little miffed. Hopefully I will get around to them before too long.

Last Sunday I had a good clear out, horticulturally speaking. I rearranged and titivated The Step and surrounding area. The glass door opens out from the dining room, but is (luckily) seldom used. Sneaky slugs were dealt with, the disappointing dahlias put to dry and chosen pots snuggled together ready for their fleece as and when necessary. It was a cathartic experience and a start. Choices will have to be made; only the strong will survive.

Now, a lone, valiant, battered flower of Erigeron karvinskianus. A shadow of its heyday self, but still a daisy is a daisy is a daisy and always welcome.

Then, another lone survivor, the last leaf on our peach seedling. Whether this tree-ette will ever amount to anything is doubtful. Still, we don’t care, which is all that matters.

Onto, a spilling seed pod of the big blue agapanthus. It is big, it is blue and it is an agapanthus, any more I can’t tell you. Except it is liable to seed itself all over the place, which is both a blessing and a curse. I am hoping one will lodge in a pot to be carried to pastures new. Or I could just collect the seed, which doesn’t seem quite as romantic.

Lastly, a festive primula. Bright and joyful and all the things we need in these dark days.

Keep the faith, my friends. Now the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, I will attempt to shield you from the worst of our conveyancing traumas. Which I know are inevitable. And hope that sometime in the near-to-middle future we will have a new garden to dissect for SoS. Although sometimes the prospect seems a long way away.

Six on Saturday – Confusion

Anyone know what day it is? No, nor me. Hang on a minute, it must be a Saturday of some persuasion because I have that nagging feeling that I should be SoSing. That is all I’ve got. Perhaps The Prop will have more details, but be warned, you will find out an awful lot more than the date. Most of it will be good. Let us proceed.

First, we have Fuchsia ‘Bornemann’s Beste’, looking splendid even after a couple of chilly nights. Long may he reign.

Next, the aeonium that I bought from the house across the road during the first lockdown. It is now concertina-ing out in an alarming manner, I wonder what is going on?

I may have mentioned previously, that I try to only buy plants the names of which I can easily pronounce. Often, I fail. This is Correa schlechtendalii, who I believe was once a member of The Pussycat Dolls.

Now some variegated ivy, which caught my eye when buying my meagre winter bedding. I’m not usually a great fan of ivy, except of course of its wildlife nurturing properties, but this little one somehow wooed me. I think it was a good shout, it is looking rather lovely.

Next Salvia elegans. Hard as I might try, with camera or phone, I have never taken a decent photo of this lovely salvia. I’m sure there are all kinds of technical reasons, I like to think it is a curse. I will not be daunted, here it is, half the measure of flower it is in reality. You may have to use your imaginations.

Last, but definitely not least, is Nerine ‘Bicolor’. Lush, to the extreme. No confusion there.

That is it for another week or fortnight or month or whenever. In the meantime, stay safe and well and happy.

Six on Saturday – Hanging On

Everyone still attached? Hope so. A great point of contact, something to keep us grounded and in touch with the rest of the world, is Six on Saturday. And the glue that binds SoS together is our very own Mr Bostick. Have I gone too far with my analogies? Perhaps. If you’ve got a minute, pop on over and check out what everyone else is up to, you won’t regret it.

As you might have guessed, my theme today is Hanging On, although I may well run out of steam by the end. Shall we proceed, as always, with caution.

First we have Rosa ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ which has continued to pop open the odd bloom as it sees fit. I’m not complaining, keep on keeping on, my lovely!

Next we have Fuchsia hatchbachii which lives in the front garden, AKA The Frozen North. It is planted in a half barrel which is being held together with a forcefield of intent. Every leaf has been blown from its body. Still it holds on to a few flowers.

Most of the potted acers have now lost most of their leaves. This mummified acer leaf clings on tight, denying the onset of winter.

Now an unknown fuchsia, gifted by Steve and Dawn, again sited in the Frozen North. Again it has been stripped of all but a few blooms. In comparison, fuchsias in the back garden are quite lush still. I am slightly embarrassed at its naked state and I promise to treat it far better next year. In fact this very day I shall move it to a more sheltered position. Probably.

Onto the disappointing Cosmos, a little nibbled but still the pink eyed bloom is most welcome. I’m not sure what went wrong with them this year, but a few other SoSers have also complained. It is nice not to suffer alone.

Lastly, eventually this dahlia has bloomed. Although I am pleased to see it, I can’t help but think that the margin between first flower and first frost will be very narrow. The flower didn’t look familiar to me and I wondered which of my many under-performing dahlias it was. Luckily the pot had a label in it; unluckily it read “Mystery”.

Keep the SoS faith my friends, til next time.

Six on Saturday – Pale and Interesting

In my late teens, a few months after moving to Bristol, I returned to Cornwall for a first visit home. Whilst catching up with friends, someone commented that I was now “pale and interesting”. I interpretted this as he thought I looked ill. He was possibly right. This week’s Six on Saturday are pale and interesting, although none are, as far as I am aware, homesick.

First, we have Linaria ‘Fairy Bouquet’. As I am sure our Worshipful President The Prop, has a spreadsheet listing all entries in microscropic detail, double referenced, I would do well to confess that this little lovely has been featured before quite recently. This is a much paler seedling, and valiantly continuing to bloom, so doesn’t count.

Next we have a bonasi brugmansia. Brugmansia should not be bonsaied, it desperately needs to be repotted but the gardener has been lax. It is rather an embarrassment. The early morning dew captured on its hirsute foliage was an indication of the cold night. No frost yet though.

Now the ever delightful and diddy, Fuchsia microphylla. The common name is the small leaved fuchsia, although it is also small flowered. Pretty as a pixie picture. Try saying that after a pint of rough cider!

Next we have the skeletal remains of flower heads on the deep red hydrangea in the front garden. At the moment this shrub is holding new born, young, middle-aged and elderly flowers at the same time. I liked grandma the best.

Onto a rather tatty Salvia atrocyanea, doing its best in the circumstances. Blue flowers always make me a little giddy.

Lastly a magnificent tibouchina flower, but not the specimen featured last week in bud. I must confess to owning two plants, this one is Tibouchina ‘Groovy Baby’. Although not pale, it is very interesting and of course groovy, baby!

Stay safe and well my friends, I am especially thinking of those of you across the pond. Take care.

Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday, here we go again. Admittedly it has been a few weeks since I dabbled, but I’m sure I will pick it up again; the subtle nuances, the intricacies. Just like riding a bicycle. Unfortunately, I can only ride a bike in a straight line, as long as there are no cars, or other bikes, or pedestrians to distract me or I will wobble and fall off. Which is not good news for hopping back on the mega-tandem. However, I’ll do my best. I do remember that I have to name-check the illustrious Prop, our mentor with a dubious tulip affliction. Check out his blog and you will be introduced to folk from across the known universe, who have been more loyal to the cause than I have been of late. Shall we proceed?

First, we have a cyclamen which, along with assorted violas and primary coloured primulas, were bought to titivate the planters at the front of the house. I can just imagine them, waiting optimistically in the garden centre, dreaming of who will buy them and where they will make their loving home. Well my dearios, I’m afraid you drew the short straw. You will be living in the teeth of the evil northerly wind, where the sun has retired for the season. I am sure you will do your best.

Next, we have the rough tree fern, Cyathea australis, which has enjoyed the recent damp weather. Since it came to live at Chez Nous earlier in the year, it has outgrown two pots and is still curling out new fronds. Hopefully it will over-winter without too many dramas.

Onto a slack cosmos, both in habit and personality. My favourite annual has not thrived for me this year, with just this one plant flopping about popping out the odd flower as it felt fit. Not that I am complaining. At this time of year, you can forgive most slovenly behaviour.

The teasels have passed through their bee-magnet stage onto the goldfinch-larder stage, and we have already had the joy of watching these beautiful finches feast on the seeds. Again, these are in the front, Frozen North, garden, which wouldn’t seem the ideal place for a snooze. However, it appears that the snails in these parts are well ‘ard, not only cocking a snook at the cold wind but also at the thorny bed it has chosen to rest on.

Now an impatiens. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that until it flowered I wasn’t sure which one. The label just said impatiens, and I can’t blame the label because I wrote the label and I’m pretty certain that it said a lot more than that in the past. Now it is doing its floriferous thing, I am pretty certain that it is Impatiens flanaganae. It is doing very well and is perfectly pretty. I will now complete the label, so we don’t have this uncertainty again. Probably later today, or maybe tomorrow ….

Shall we finish with love? There are just two leaves left on the Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, and this is one of them. A love heart.

That is your lot. As Woody Guthrie said “take it easy, but take it”. And stay safe and well, my friends.

Radio Gaga

I have been under-sharing recently. This is not because there has been nothing to report, quite the contrary, a whole fleet of excitement buses have been passing by. The result of this procession has been a lack of both the energy or the wherewithal to fill you in on the sordid details. Actually, there is little, if any, “sordid” at all. I just wanted to keep your attention.

On this rainy day in North Devon, whilst listening out for Grumpy Cat timer to tell me it is time to put the bread in the oven, what better occupation than to recount one of these adventures? If you are sitting comfortably …….

Last Sunday I was on Toby Buckland’s morning show on Radio Devon. Not as someone wondered, possibly one of my loving family, in the Crimewatch section. Yes, little old me, on t’radio! I was flattered to be invited; concerned they had got me mixed up with someone else. After some initial technical shenanigans whilst setting up, and having ascertained that it wasn’t imperative to be wearing clothes as no one would see me, we were all set to go. When Toby announced the upcoming Garden Guru section, I thought, that will be nice to listen to whilst I’m waiting for my turn. Then I realised he was talking about me.

For some reason, perhaps our gas-powered internet wasn’t up to the job, part way through I went a little (and I quote Caroline the Producer) “Dalek”. A quick flip of my chosen disc and a transfer to ye olde telephonium and we were back to humanoid, an interpretation anyway. I blethered on for a while, mostly nonsense, rarely about gardening, before a large hook came and pulled me off centre stage. It was all over in the blink of an eye. Toby was nothing but charming, fun and, to be honest, was just as daft as I am. And I mean that in a very good way.

Perhaps I should have warned you; you could have listened live and felt my pain. But I was worried that I would say “bottom” or burp or become Monosyllabic Mona. As far I remember I didn’t. I may have said bottom. However, if you wish to hear my not so dulcet tones you can, due to the wonders of our modern world, catch up with Toby’s Show. I’m sure you will want to listen to the whole programme, but if you are late for your extreme macrame class, my piece is at approximately 12.25pm. At the very least you should get a good dance out of it.