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.

Cloud Monster

It wasn’t until I looked at this photo of a beautiful and anonymous rhododendron in Max’s garden, that realised I had missed something. In the background, as I admired the most wonderful bee-hugging blooms, a cloud monster waved his arms in anger. I bet he was upset that I was ignoring his voluptuous curves, but it is so easy to be distracted by the plethora of blooms at the moment . Springtime is a tough one for cloud monsters.

Six on Saturday – The Cupboard Isn’t Bare

Earlier this week, my old man said follow the van and don’t dilly dally on the way. Never one to miss the opportunity for a little van following, off we scooted to South Wales, hot-tailing a Luton full of plants from our garden. These cherished ones are now residing in my brother’s garden, where I am sure they are being tended and cherished as if they were his own. Or perhaps his lovely wife is in charge of the T & C. I am confident they will be quite safe for the scant four weeks we have before we leave here. I mean what could go wrong in 4 weeks? Perhaps it is best not to dwell on the subject. Do not fear, my friends, there is plenty left in the garden to share in this week’s Six on Saturday and lots more to come. More spring/autumn madness, hemisphere dependent, can be found with The Prop and the gang, pop over and take a look. Shall we proceed?

First, we have my mini-greenhouse, emptied of its precious cargo, now holding a pair of my wellies and a pair of ousted trainers. Oh, and a couple of pots of late/early cuttings: big purple penstemon and a double purple osteo. These need a keener eye than the transported ones.

Next is the bronze fennel, yes, the one that I spent many happy hours removing every single piece of from The Bed of Anarchy. The moral of this story is that when you name a border you have to accept the consequences. And this glorious thug will follow us. Many of the pots that have been stored below are already blooming a purple skirt of seedlings.

Onto Lavandula pinnata which has strolled through winter, flowering intermittently whilst cocking a snook to the season. I forgot to take any cuttings, and it is too late now I suppose, still it might come my way again.

Now an osteospermum which had been in a pot, but has now been transferred into the garden. The flower is looking a little cold nipped; still a beauty though. I have had to make painful decisions as to which to abandon and which to take with me. It is happy here, so best left to its Devon destiny.

Next, a wild strawberry, which I am quite sure will continue to delightfully pop up around the garden. I have potted up some cultivated strawberries for the new owner, hopefully they will give her fruit this year.

Finally, Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Valentine’, nestled between the phlomis and hydrangea in The Frozen North. A little beauty and happy as Larry.

That is your lot. Same time, same place? Possibly different time, but same place. Take care my friends.

Defiance

I am rather fond of the Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Spessart’ growing in Max’s garden. It is thriving beneath a large magnolia, and is uncomplaining about shade or drought. The foliage not only forms a weed suppressing blanket, but as an added bonus the leaves are fragrant and colour crimson in autumn. The flowers, which are produced early in the season, long before any potentially upstaging competitors, are dark pink in bud and pale pink to white in full bloom.

This morning, when I saw the defiant dandelion in the midst of such harmony, a smile came to my face. Perhaps the intruder was shouting “stop me if you can!”. Or maybe I just imagined it. Maybe it was me.

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 – Balance

Here we are again, happy as can be, all good friends and jolly good company. Another Six on Saturday and quite frankly I’m not sure I’ve got a lot to offer; no tales to tell, no yarns to spin. I have got a few plants to share with you, which after all is the point, it is all about the garden not the gardener. But surely the garden is the gardener. Unless you have a gardener. Too many gardeners? Can you have too many gardeners?

On reflection, I have possibly gone on a bit in the past. Perhaps I should aim for a more succinct approach. It is all about getting the balance right. Someone who would never fall off the balance beam of life is Olga Propagator, pop over to his site to see him in his leotard and meet all his lovely cheerleaders. Let us proceed.

First, we have Primula sieboldii ‘Winter Dreams’. This was a No. 1 Lockdown on-line purchase. It was transported with great care, and a few other bits and bobs naturally, from the wonderful Bluebell Cottage Nursery. This is its first flowering. I am not disappointed. Yesterday I discovered that Mr and Mrs Bun have moved to within 10 miles of this nursery. I am green.

Next, is my meagre collection of sempervivum, released from captivity and now in their summer home. No room for bottoms on benches around here. There is a fleece at hand just in case of arctic conditions, but so far this has just been used by Fat Ol for his afternoon snooze.

Onto a Mukdenia rossi flower spike. Rushing ahead of the leaves, which are only just beginning to emerge from the ground, they are a happy spring addition. One of the flowers has a red centre, whilst the rest are green, I wonder if the former has been pollinated. What do you think?

There was great excitement Chez Nous when a lone flower was spotted on our “grown from kernel” peach tree. We live in hope but are girded against disappointment. Expect tears.

Now another Primula sieboldii, this time ‘Essie’ which came home with me from Penny’s Primulas a few years ago. I was visiting the nursery in order to write an article about their National Collection and it would have been rude not to show willing. She is a great beauty and I am growing very fond of these Japanese primroses. I think I should get another, two is not a good number.

Lastly, Tulipa sylvestris and friends, who have since moved on. Although it has to be said that the vivid green aphid does rather set off the vibrant yellow flower. Not enough to be allowed to remain.

All done, hope all is good with everyone. ‘Til next time.

Bobbie, In Memorium

It has been a time of challenges. Can this be said too often? Turn off now if you think so. A’top of my own challenges, no worse and undoubtedly far less than many, there have recently been various sadnesses. On their own they would have been tricky, but added to the pile they seem to sting a little more spitefully.

Far more than a meagre sting, was to hear yesterday that my great canine friend and garden helper, Bobbie, has passed over to the great running field in the sky. In the few weeks since moving to Cheshire, a sudden and devastating illness proved too much for her. You do not need to hear about my tears, they are really inconsequential. I am pleased that I did not have to suffer her rapid decline and I consider myself honoured to remember her in her full crazy prime and that is how she will stay in my heart. If you are of the mind “but she was just a dog” then you may also switch off now, you are not needed here.

Mr and Mrs Bun have had sadness in their lives and have turned this pain into positivity, sharing their home with people who needed respite from their troubles. I have seen Bobbie, asking no reward, give unconditional love to these strangers. I have seen smiles on weary faces, a glimmer of hope where perhaps there had been none. I have seen people who were scared or dismissive of dogs, welcome her attention, indeed encourage it. Bobbie was special, a healing treasure. She was joyous and I never saw anything but love in those irresistible eyes. And perhaps a little mischief. Ok, a lot of mischief. Which makes it all the better.

There is a big hole in The Buns’ home at the moment and I send love to them. And I thank them for sharing just a little bit of their cucumber-stealing, apple-eating, chicken-guarding, hedge-living, ever-wandering, lovely girl by the name of Bobsie. One in a trillion. You should be very proud.

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.

Clues

Where have I been today? Let me give you a few clues.

Cherry-red tulips in a cerise-pink pot, leaning up against a turquoise cabinet.

It must be Nancy Nightingale’s garden!

Always a joy.

Sharp Shooter

Sometimes accompanying photos are meaningful, integral to the post, but sometimes they are incidental. It is tempting to invent a story about this picture of a fallen magnolia petal, how it represents the frivolous world, the glories of which are so easily cast aside, how its nibbled edges are a mirror to my own rough-edged soul and its dewy iridescence suggests a chance of redemption from the torment. But the truth is I wanted a chat and the photo needed using up.

On Friday I had “Le Jab”. As my “nothing is straightforward” life would dictate, the dedicated sharp shooter was not so sharp and a poor shooter. Her charm had been left at the door to hopefully be retrieved later. I am not here to judge, but after her attack my arm bled for longer than necessary and now sports a fine bruise. Maybe she saw the look on my face as I watched her mess up the previous victim. “Do you usually bleed when you have an injection” she accused . “No, but I expect it is my fault” I replied. “Correct” she barked. Scary posh women have been the bane of my life.

A sore arm, feeling a bit poorly and the further concreting of my fear of a certain kind of women, were all of course worth it. It is the way to go. Upwards and onwards. Ever upwards. And next time I am hoping for the someone who actually likes people.

Seriously, well done everyone who is working so hard to get us all vaccinated, to keep us safe, to set us on the road to hugs and reuniting with our loved ones. It must be tricky sometimes to keep a smile on your face. And I thank you. Even the grumpy gung ho ones.