Six on Saturday – Cabbage

It is going to be tricky to feature anything in this Six on Saturday that does not resemble over-cooked cabbage. The ground has not thawed since last week, I am sure I am not alone, and I am resigned to having lost a fair few of my vulnerable plants. This is what happens if you push your luck, sometimes it runs out. As us gardeners know, a lost plant is a shopping opportunity. A man who advocates this very ideology is our shepherd Camellia Jim. It is as well to listen to those who know.

The bed of anarchy has had any thoughts of revolution knocked out of it. I am confident that it will rise again, with a few new members to boost the brigade.

Onto a lone bud of Rosa ‘John Ystumllyn’, frozen in time. I do not fear for the roses, they are both beautiful and resilient. Now that is something to aim for. Perhaps in my next life.

Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’ is an annual which was destined for the compost bin. The petals have held their colour unlike any other in the garden. These, along with their diamante central bosses, make them eerily attractive.

Nerine bowdenii ‘Bicolor’ has been trapped at this very same point for the past week and a half. I wonder if it will ever open. The weather is due to warm slightly from today onwards, so maybe it will wait til Christmas morning. Romantic, me? Never!

This Polypodium cambricum flops hysterically at every frost and rises, Lazarus like, with the warmth of the sun. I’ve got your number, mate!

Finally Coprosma repens ‘Pacific Sunset’, rimy with frost and still standing. So far anyway.

That is your lot. Hope all is well in the rest of SoS-land. Til next time.

Is Someone Trying to Tell Me Something?

This year has been a bit of a soap opera. I know I am not alone in thinking this. There have been cliffhangers, glimpses of good times, twists in the plot and an epiphany. And that was just last week. All we are lacking is some suitably evocative theme music. The storyline goes something like this:

On the way home from shopping our leading man breaks down at the roundabout exiting Sainsburys supermarket. This is a busy road and the other car drivers are lacking any christmas cheer or compassion. He calls the leading woman. She walks across the frozen desolate moor to offer support and a mobile phone app. Mike from Green Flag turns up and loads the car onto his trailer and off to the garage. The self-same garage where the car was towed just a few weeks ago and had a new clutch fitted at great expense. Now it seems the gearbox is broken. The prognosis is gloomy. The car is emptied of shopping and tools and, forlorn, they trudge home. Work will have to be cancelled.

Cut to leading woman cooking tea. Several hours have passed. She notices a missed call from the garage. Tentatively she calls back. Apparently all is not lost. The gearbox cable was loose and they have fixed it free of charge. It can be picked up in the morning. Jubilation. Work is reinstated. Night falls.

The next morning all is frosty. Leading woman goes to pick up car. It is ready to be picked up and they have even pumped up the flat tyre. She drives very slowly over the uneven and frozen forecourt and onto the clear road. Entering the estate where she lives, as yet adopted by the local council, she realises that the road is becoming increasingly Narnia-esque. The steep hill to home is an ice rink, two curse worthy sideways skids later and she pulls up safely outside the house. She vows not to do that again. But what about work next week? Night falls.

Day dawns. The leading woman draws the curtain and is aghast to see snow! She thinks “someone is trying to tell me something”.

Six on Saturday – Earth Stood Hard as Iron

One of the things I have wistfully dreamt of, along with having slim ankles and a puppy named Marvin, is a picture-book frosty winter garden. In this dream, in which I have adequately protected my tender plants, the low sun is shining poetically upon rimy seed heads whilst goldfinches feast gratefully on teasel and thistle. On the whole, this is not a common scenario in the west of our country. Sog and slowly disintegrating mush is more the look we go for. Today, however, my wish has come true. Well one of them anyway. It is a proper, fully paid up member of Club Frosty, there even is a light dusting of snow. If you wish to see more gardens, which may or may not be chilly like mine, then pop over to our Meme-Master Jim and share their worlds. Too cold for hanging about, let’s get on. I warn you, there will be little variation on the theme.

Throughout the heatwave we made sure there were plenty of water sources for the birds. One, an old baking tin, we called The Lido as it was where the sparrows like to bathe. This morning, after an initial foray into the garden to scatter some apples for the blackbirds, I told OH that all water was frozen apart from the avian swimming pool. As I was making a cuppa in the kitchen he shouted “a sparrow has just walked upon the water”. Nil point for observation. Some anger management ice-breaking ensued. Here are some ice-bound water hyacinth which are undoubtedly doomed. Enjoy then while you can.

The multi-headed sunflowers did well this year and my idealistic, unrealistic, aims were for plump heads of seed for the winter foragers. Truth: small, tiny seeds. Disappointing. Next year I will undoubtedly be thinking the same.

This Salvia leucantha should not be here. It should be wrapped and cosy. Would someone please call the Salvia Protection League. The plan was to bring it into the greenhouse but I got diverted and then it was too late. Please forgive me. I have cuttings. Harsh but true.

I’m not in the slightest bit worried about the pansies. They might be bowed at the moment but I have confidence they will pop right back up.

How did these sempervivum miss the scan? Feeling a little bit guilty but guessing that excess rain will be more of a demise than cold. Fingers crossed.

Lastly we have Correa backhousiana, new to the garden, but aren’t we all. I have grown this before, at Cliffe, and am happy to have it around again. It has spent the summer stifled by a Salvia curviflora and now has emerged to find winter. Hope it isn’t too unhappy.

There you have it: six. on. saturday. Stay warm/cool whatever applies. ‘Til next time.


I dislike Cotoneaster horizontalis, I have mentioned this often, to a flurry of horror: “but it is so wildlife friendly!” and “How I love to watch the bees dance upon its myriad virginal blooms in spring!”. Although I acknowledge these facts are true, I do not falter from the path. I still dislike Cotoneaster horizontalis. It is my kill command. Use it at your peril. There is one heinous characteristic that cancels out all of the, admittedly excellent, traits. All I have to say is “supermarket car parks” and the vociferous defenders give a nod of understanding. I also dislike baked beans. This is also often met with similar disbelief. I will save that argument for another day. Too much dislike is not a good thing.

This is a cotoneaster, I am not sure which make and model. It is not dusty or depressing, pruned to jagged oblivion. It is joyful and uplifting. It is also not Cotoneaster horizontalis. I concede that not all cotoneasters are the same. Nothing else.

Two Looks and Some Sunshine

After yesterday’s temperful weather, it was a joy to be working in The Profs’ garden today, where there was not even a hint of bluster or bad behaviour. Not by the weather anyway. Weeds were weeded, the lackadaisical were removed and general pottering undertaken.

This morning I noticed a fly half-submerged in the bowl of a sleeping fountain. The water-feature is very close to a full-flowered fatsia, buzzing with late autumn nectar lovers, and I reckoned the fly had over-indulged. It died replete and happy, I supposed, if flies have the capacity for happiness, and who am I to say they don’t. It is probably best to err on the side of caution. Then a slight shimmer of the water and I realised that the fly was still alive. I scooped the drowning-not-waving mite out on the tine of my hand fork and carefully placed it in a small square of sunlight. After a quick word of encouragement, I moved on and thought no more, except perhaps of Androcles and the Lion, but for a moment only.

Later I explained this to The Prof. He gave me one of his looks.

Later, I cleared the remnants of the annual morning glory which had been piggy-backing the Trachelospermum jasminoides, you may call it star jasmine, throughout the summer months. It has seeded well and mini-me’s are popping up as evidence to where it thrived. Some remaining pods were at the far reaches of the vine and I picked a few to save. I knew I had collected some already, but they were irresistible in all their black shiny potential. I wouldn’t be surprised, I thought, if some clever horti-scientist discovered that seedpods give off some intoxicating pheromone or entrancing mist that forces gardeners to put them in their pockets. It would make good evolutionary sense.

Later I explained to The Prof that these seed were drying in the greenhouse. He gave me one of his looks. He then found me some kitchen towel to place them on and promised not to throw them away. He understands really.

Six on Saturday – Most Things Come to Those Who Wait

The garden has changed significantly over the last couple of weeks. After the shock of the hot dry summer, which seemed to stall growth, a few weeks of clement weather allowed the plants to come into their own, albeit a little late. Now, several severe batterings by wind and rain later, the garden has had a ballot amongst its members and declared defeat. All is beginning to shut down. Many are showing battle scars. There are exceptions, a few last hurrahs. If you would like to see what else is going on in Six on Saturday-land, where and how the gardeners of the world are doing their thing, pop over to Jim’s and all will be revealed. Well perhaps not all, but a tantalising glimpse. Shall we shake a leg?

First, we have Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’, another newby from fellow salvia lover Creigiau John. It is in a pot sunk into The Bed of Anarchy all ready to be taken into the relative warmth of the greenhouse. If I get taken unawares by Jack Frost, there are well-rooted cuttings. Sorted. I hope I haven’t tempted fate.

This Pennisetum villosum was grown from seed collected from some cut heads given to me in North Devon. It has been hidden from view by an exuberant dahlia and needs much more room to shine. In my winter reshuffle it will be given just that.

This Tibouchina urvilleana has the look of a wily tom cat after a rough night on the tiles. There are many other buds, which, if the weather is kind, might yet make some pretty pictures.

Onto Salvia confertifolia, yep that darned Creigiau John again. Just coming into flower and I realise that I have no cuttings. It might be a full excavation.

Now, Bulbinella frutescens, having a second flush of flowers. I think this needs lifting for the winter, it might struggle to get through a soggy Welsh winter. It’s on the list.

Yep, it has eventually arrived, the first flower of Brugmansia sanguinea. Better late than never.

That is your lot, my friends. Until the next time.

Self Control

I’m on my way home after a few days away. I’ve had a wonderful time but, as things invariably and quite rightly should, it came to an end.

I have taken the train journey out of and back to Cornwall, many, many times. Sometimes alone, often with OH and occasionally with family. As my dad worked away, he was also a frequent railer, returning home on a Friday night and leaving again on a Sunday. It must have been exhausting. But he was a sociable man and I’m sure he would have enjoyed the company of other travellers, just as I do myself. In this we are similar, but we differ in our love of routine. He did, I don’t. One such custom was set in stone, sandwiches were scheduled for Teignmouth. If I travelled with him, I would argue that our train had left later than usual or simply that I was hungry and surely I deserved a vote in this democracy. He was not to be swayed. And anyway, who had said it was a democracy?

One day, when I was in my early twenties, he drove me to Penzance train station, helped me onto the train with my luggage, made sure I was comfortably seated and no dubious characters were in close environs and we said our (possibly on my part) teary farewells. When he had left, for reasons of emotional comfort, m’lud, although admittedly still in the station, I unwrapped my sandwiches. I was just about to take a bite when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my horrified dad on the adjacent platform. He had rushed round to wave again from a different angle. Although I am no lip-reader, there was little doubt that he was mouthing “Not ’til Teignmouth”

Although my dear dad died many years ago, today I waited until we had pulled out of the station before I started on my sandwiches. It sparked this happy memory, and as I munched was sure that somewhere he was shouting “We’re not even close to Teignmouth!”.

Six on Saturday – Long Live the King

Did anything happened whilst I was away? I believe it did. It seems we have a new ruler. The Prop has handed his crown and sceptre to Jim at Garden Ruminations, who will now be in charge of all things Six on Saturday. Great work Prop, you did a sterling shift. You brought a disparate bunch of ne’er do wells together, from across the globe and beyond, only for us to discover we had a lot more in common than just plants. I’m sure Jim will follow keenly in your footsteps. He’s a good ‘un. Shall we look at some plants?

I’ve been trying to get a decent photo of Salvia patens for a little while, to no avail. It is in a non traditional, rather shady, position for a salvia. Although it seems to be rallying rather well, it is not ideal for photographs. Here is a half decent attempt. Still, it is blue and a salvia, we could forgive a lot less.

I read on Fred’s insta/twitter/something feed that a final flower was emerging on his brugmansia. Mine has been a little ungenerous in the blooming department ie nothing. Ever hopeful, I dashed (waddled) out to see if mine had any late intent and low and behold there were a couple of buds. Hope they make it.

Another “nearly there” is Tibouchina urvilleana, just coming into bud. Every year we have to weather the self same will it/won’t it conundrum. Ever the optimistic, I am sticking with “it will”. This winter it will spend the worst of the weather undercover (did I mention my new greenhouse?) and hopefully will not get its annual knock back. We shall see if it thanks me for this cosseting.

The impatiens floundered during the dry spell, often dramatically so. It made me doubt the sense in growing these beauties. Rain and mild temperatures have revived them and they have shone throughout these autumn months, causing me to doubt my own misgivings. Impatiens flanaganae has flowered intermittently, each and every bloom savoured.

I don’t know exactly when, but a couple of weeks ago, I sowed some oriental salad leaves. Tonight (last night if we are pretending that I am typing this on Saturday morning) we had some for our tea. I would like to be better at edibles, but the ornamentals always win though, each small victory a triumph. They were delicious and very pretty.

Finally, possibly my favourite salvia, Salvia corrugata. More tender than the rugged leaves would imply, it is the perfect blue-jean navy to set my heart a-racing.

That is your lot. Hope the week is kind to you. Let us hope that other leaders can take good example from SoS and sort themselves out. And yes, of course they read it!

Cookie Crumbles

My life seems to oscillate between one of two phases:

a) A Challenge: When it is struggle to understand how it can be so difficult to get something right. A simple word is misinterpreted, you are sidelined, undermined and frustrated. How ever many times you try, the tossed coin never falls on heads. Everything fails as you plod on, desperately holding on to the last vestige of hope. Things break. Exhausting.

b) A Cinch: These are the times when pool balls pot with a mere glance and the dart hits the bullseye. You are loved and extolled, perhaps even understood. The dropped buttered bread lands the right way up. You are capable of anything and you have faith in that fact. There is skipping and even a geriatric cartwheel. Exhilarating.

At the moment I am in the former phase. I am hoping, very soon, to move to the latter. That is the way the cookie crumbles. I will have to take it on the chin.

And, as I have recently, to my great shame, been reminded, there is always someone far worse off.

Six on Saturday – Horizontal

I’m thinking of starting a new gardening trend. It is called The Hortizontal Method. My inspiration is the current view of my garden. No, I am not having a nap, it is the plants bending double in the wind and rain. Poor things. There are only so many times you can spring back before you break. It seems the autumnal storms have arrived with a bluster and my voluptuous borders can’t cope with such rough behaviour. Still, it is late in the season and my eyes are partly on next year’s prize. Before the destroyer arrived I managed to take a few gently-swaying SoS photographs. For once aforethought was my saviour. Anyone new to this Six on Saturday shenanigans, or anyone who didn’t learn their lesson first time around, should pop over to our memetor’s site, The Prop, and all will be revealed. Shall we proceed?

First we have a mega tuberous begonia, spilling over the off-the-back-of-a-lorry whisky barrel. Each and every year I become more enamoured of begonias in all their outrageous and less so forms. The Hanging Gardens of South Wales, a la Professor Gadget, have certainly helped.

The sweet peas are still doing well, they were late starters so had some catching up to do. I’ve stopped picking them and am hoping they will set seed for next year. Not sure they have got the memo.

To illustrate my more subtle side, Begonia grandis ‘Claret Jug’ is doing splendidly in the desert regions beneath the ornamental pear. Dry and shady, bring it on!

I spotted this plectranthus in Cowbridge Physic Garden plant sales. There was no debate, it was coming home with me. Cuttings have been taken. It took me as long to spell “physic” as it did to write this post.

It is October and this is only the second bloom on this particular dahlia. Strange things are afoot this year, I appear to be suffering from an extreme case of dahlia amnesia, either that or someone is playing a not so amusing trick on me. There is no label and I’ve not a clue as to what it might be. Who cares? All are welcome. It is one of two plants that didn’t make it into the garden and subsequently were more stressed by the drought. The other hasn’t flowered at all. We must be glad for small mercies. Next year we will be millionaires.

If you have a new greenhouse, you need some pellies to go in it. It is the law. This little darling is Pelargonium reneforme. I am quite smitten. There may be others I am yet to confess.

That is your lot, my friends. Hope the world is treating you well. Keep the horti faith.