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.

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.

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 – Greatest Hits

This week, in the pretence of treating you to some joy at this festive time but in reality is because it is tipping with rain and I am in a grump, I will be presenting to you lovely folk six happy recollections of the year past. Whether or not this is permitted, perhaps an addendum in the tome that is the Six on Saturday rule book, quite frankly my dear etc etc. Please feel free to pop over to see what the generally law abiding SoS elves have been up to and if our very own Santa Prop has got his gardening mojo back. Let’s get this party started.

In the eye of the storm I managed two visits to RHS Rosemoor in the space of week. They were both joyful events. This photo is not staged. At the time I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I am still undecided.

In February, when we were all still innocents, we had an amazing few days in London. Always on the lookout for the green, on the banks of the Thames I spied some valiant lichen and evidence of a passing angel.

This picture always makes me happy. It is the seedling of, what I believe is, a lesser spotted orchid which has made its home in the furry arms of a large fern at Westwell Hall. And why wouldn’t you?

Onto a green variegated zantedeschia, donated by Mrs Bun to Max. It is always good to share, especially a plant which sounds so unlikely to be beautiful, and never fails to prove you wrong.

My cosmos were rubbish this year. Nancy Nightingale’s were wonderful. More than wonderful.

In August, as a birthday treat, Hero whisked me off in her campervan. After visiting Atlantic Botanic and a delicious picnic, we went for a walk on Braunton Burrows. I spent much of the time with my head down, marvelling at the wildflowers, including this little echium, growing in almost pure sand. A memorable day.

And to finish (and yes, I can count but refuse to cull any of the above photos, so stuff that in your pipe and smoke it) three doves. They are the symbol of peace and hope and of course love. Which is exactly what I wish for you all.

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.