Six on Saturday – The Long Goodbye

It has been a week of fare-thee-wells and packing; a few tears, plenty of reminising and a fair amount of box action. And we are not over quite yet, another week and a bit to go ’til M Day. I’m sure I will be lost for words when we are eventually settled into Nouveau Chez Nous (Fred?). Still all this turmoil is little excuse not to participate in the meme of champions, presided over by The Wizard of Prop and ably supported by multinational team of Munchkins. Time waits for no Munchie so let us proceed or we will never reach the Emerald City in time. Wagons Roll!

First we have Phlomis fruticosa, just coming into flower. I can’t praise this shrub highly enough for its resilience in the face of much torment and torture from wind and rain. It rocks and rolls all winter and then calmly produces a myriad of sunshine blooms. Top marks, my friend.

I am pretty certain that there used to be hyacinths where these flowers are blooming.  They seems a little loose to be hyacinths, but a little full flowered to be the evil Mata Hari known as the Spanish Bluebell.  Can these two related plants hybridise?  Are they Bluecyinths or Hybells?  Should I have a lie down?

There are undeniable signs that the Colquhounia coccinea has survived the winter. I gave a cutting to Jim last year which I believe flowered. This one has never flowered. Bitter? Moi?

Rain sodden strawberry flowers, escapees from the orginal pot, which are thriving jammed between wall stones. Read into that what you may.

If anyone is paying attention they might at this moment be sighing and thinking “what another aquilegia?”. However this one is featured as it is raising its head uncharacteristically in a “come on photograph me” kind of way. It was futile to resist. Either that or it was raining and I was in a hurry and looking for an easy option. You choose.

Lastly, you will have to indulge me once again. The above photo is not from my garden, but from Nancy Nightingale’s. This week was my last visit to her and her crazy garden. We dashed around in the rain, doing what we could whilst I gabbled instruction for the future. Things like “be gentle” and “I’ll be watching”. Digging a hole to plant out one of her many dahlias was enhanced/disrupted by puppy giant Snoop Dog, who admirably assisted me with my excavations. From my prone position, I noticed how he had carefully/fortuitously avoided the marigold with his great big delicious paws.

That is your lot, my friends. Have a good one and stay safe and well.

Six on Saturday – Buddy

Time once more to join The Propagator in the jolly jaunt that is Six on Saturday. Before we get going, clutching at the slim chance that you might be interested, too late to protest I’m telling you anyway, I will update you on Life in General. This week has been an assortment of delights. Some might have been a little past their sell by date, but on whole the lead up to La Grande Move is progressing well (Fred will translate for you). The exception is the demon named EE, who are presently resident at the centre of the dart board. Although moving from one room to another entails negotiating chicanes of boxes full and boxes empty, demanding snake hips extraordinaire, we are coping admirably. 20 days to go. Shall we proceed?

Last weekend I accompanied Hero and another friend to a craft fair at Broomhill Art Hotel. It rained almost constantly, tipping from the moment we arrived to the second we left. When we arrived home it was apparent that not a drop had sullied the washing line. But all was not gloom. A delicious (although luke warm) truffle mac and cheese was scoffed in the drizzle and some very talented people admired. I had a nice chat with one stall holder who was selling tempting flower printed light shades and fabrics. The hot topic was the virtue of the bud. Yes, I am that exciting. Here is Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ not quite in flower, but nonetheless beautiful.

Aquilegia time is imminent and this is our garden forerunner. They are ever welcome and I hope will be loved as much as I have loved them. Then cursed for their wicked and wanton ways. It is the way of the world and cannot be defied.

I try not to mention Erigeron karvinskianus often, I much prefer to talk about fleabane. Just coming into flower, it is a great favourite. In fact, we have a much-loved water colour painting of this contrary plant. It is one I will be looking out for to grace the fabled and far off and perhaps ficticious (no!) “New Garden”.

Now a rather bizarrely cropped rose bud. More buds, more potential. This is Rosa ‘Peace’, I am led to believe, also a much loved plant. I attempted to take cuttings, but I was a) too late b) too impatient c) lacking motivation and they failed. It is not only a beautiful rose but a wonderful sentiment to pass on.

Osteospermum ‘JK’ has begun flowering. There is no need to take a cutting, I will be close enough to the real thing soon enough. Wish me luck.

This last one is not in my garden, but please bear with me. A few weeks ago a friend of mine died; too young, too cruel. Above the house where he lived is a nature reserve, which this time of year is blessed with an exuberance of orchids. A couple of years ago he was eager to share them in their full and bounteous beauty. When we reached the glorious zenith, he was just as thrilled as I was to see them, although he had walked there every day and this was my first visit. It is a moment that is held safe, for when a special memory is needed. Yesterday I went for a walk with his sorrowed partner, also a good friend. I had been thinking about the Cairn but had hesitated to suggest a visit, thinking it was insensitive. Instead, we travelled in the opposite direction taking the coast path, heading east not west. After a while we left the main path, investigating some old ways, pushing between trail-encroaching self-seeded sycamores, past cliff top rusting railings and fallen gateways. And then I saw it; a lone orchid, standing proud and defiant and, of course, most beautiful. It stopped me in my tracks. We only saw the one.

Until next time my friends. Take care.

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 – 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.

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!

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