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.

Good Boy

Initially, I was horrified to see Nancy Nightingale’s pup running around the garden with a chicken head in his mouth. On closer inspection, it appears that dear, lovable Scooby had decapitated NN’s metal rooster. This naughtiness is quite out of character. Apart from digging up many of the muscari I planted last week, wrecking the red hot poker by rolling around on top of it, chewing both my bag and my sleeve and (apparently) getting into the dishwasher to lick the plates, he has been a very good boy. There is no photo of him as he was banished inside, sitting with his wet nose pressed to the window, suffering the hardship of injustice. As a substitute you get a chicken head.

OK, stop your moaning, here is one I took last week.

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.

Accustomed

With barely a month left to run its course, I have become accustomed to autumn. Two days of sunshine has helped my conversion immensely.

If I could put in a weather order for the next few months, today would be the template. No pinching frosts to nip vulnerable plants and fingers. For moisture I request only a heavy dew. The air must be calm, with perhaps a little laundry-drying breeze from the south. I am willing to negotiate on the details. There is one thing I will not compromise on; I demand the life-enhancing, low light that allows even the most to modest shine. Surely that is not too much to ask?

Does anyone know which department I should write to?

It’s Just a Shower

It has been a sad day, and the weather matched it perfectly. I think, in literary circles, this is called pathetic fallacy. I remember the phrase from studying that comedic masterpiece, Tess of the D’urbervilles. Feel free to correct me if I have got the wrong end of the stick, it was a long time ago.

The reason for my gloom, is that Lord and Lady Mantle are moving to mansions new. Today was my last visit to their grand estate. Although I am devasted to see them go, there were several pointers to suggest that my time with them was complete. First of all Her Ladyship used the word “node” and in the correct context, later she suggested that she write a label for a newly potted up specimen (quite unheard of), followed by using my preferred pronunciation of the word “crocosmia” (usually a très posh crow-ko-smia). Lord M. emptied full wheelbarrows with only subtle hinting necessary, he tipped plants out of pots with tender loving care and then fed me quiche with garlic bread and coleslaw for lunch. And all day they only had the teeniest disagreement, over the thorny issue as to the best way to fold a tarp. Between hail, thunder, lightning and torrential rain storms we managed to complete all the jobs on the gardening list. Or we think we did as the list was in Lady M’s head.

I came away with some booty; several plants (yes, I do need them), a Tom Jones LP with the most splendid cover and a couple of lovely prints. And on the way out, for the first time ever, I managed to turn my car and get out of their drive in one go. Unfortunately, nobody was watching.

In attempt at balance, I outline below both the negatives and positives of my time with The Mantles:

Things I won’t miss:

  1. The single-track lane with its inherent threat of agricultural machinery and delivery drivers,
  2. Reversing whilst being marked out of ten by those mentioned in 1. above.

Things I definitely will miss:

  1. Phil and Brohna
  2. Brohna and Phil
  3. Lady Mantle
  4. Lord Mantle
  5. Lord and Lady Mantle
  6. Young Wills (although it is unlikely he will miss me).

On the drive back, I met a delivery driver on the lane. Luckily for me he was one of the very rare subspecies Politeandgenerous who reversed for me. It was a sign.

My time with you is done. Thanks for the good times, my friends, I will miss you very much. Love you both xxxx and a special x for Wills.

Walkies

After a “will she, won’t she” morning (she didn’t), and a good few hours making life or death decisions about my seed collection, the weather cleared. My mind and body needed some fresh, preferably dry, air so I ‘proofed up and headed out into the fray.

It was busier than I expected, although I suspect this was because my stroll co-incided with Walkies. I felt a bit conspicuous in my dog-less state. Perhaps I should have borrowed one.

In an attempt to avoid the canine tangle, and my obvious short-comings, I took a path that I hadn’t walked for several months, not since the first weeks of lockdown. At that time the trees were yet to leaf, today they were in the process of shedding their garb. A lot has passed since. Somehow it all seemed a lot simpler then.

Brighten

If the start of your day is anything like mine (wet, windy, miserable) then you will definitely be needing something to lift your spirt. Here are some autumn crocuses (or should that be croci?) to, hopefully, do just that.

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.