Six on Saturday – Hearts and Flowers

This is a special Six on Saturday.   Today was to have been the wedding day of my nephew Adam and his fiancée Jess.  Instead of white gown and morning suit they will be donning PPE’s, both at present working on Coronavirus isolation wards in The University Hospital of Wales.  I am immensely proud of them both.  I am sure they will be feeling a little sad today, so in a feeble attempt to sooth, I thought I would dedicate this post to them.  Be warned, there will be tenuous links, but they are all made with love.

It is only fitting that we start with a heart, the newly emerged leaf of Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’.  This small tree staggers on year on year, confined by a pinching pot.  Each spring, new growth is both a joy and a surprise that it has made it through another winter.

Now, as tradition would have it, Something Old.  Here we have the Helen Mirren of tulips, growing old beautifully.   Conveniently for the theme, photobombing from behind are a handful of violas, which are sometimes known as heartsease.

Something New is a double first.  A new frond for my new fern Cyathea australis.  Again, this plant is Jim’s fault.  I am definitely not buying any more plants.  However, I have just seen a very tempting protea.  One doesn’t count.

Something Borrowed, is a magnificent peony from The Buns’ garden.  The Chinese name for the peony means “beautiful”, which I cannot deny.  More appropriately to our cause, according to the language of flowers, it represents a happy marriage and good fortune.  Both of which I wish our heroes in the future.

Now for something blue.  Bluebell, obvs.

To symbolise our celebrations after the ceremony, I searched the garden for hanging vines or laden pomegranate trees.  I delved deep for sweet strawberries and lush ripe apples.  There were no fresh quinces or passion fruit.  Unfortunately, all I could come up with was a beer trap.  Needs must.

But everywhere there were hearts.  These are the new leaves of a dwarf green bean, Tendergreen.

And more hearts, this time Cercidiphyllum japonicum.

And even more hearts.  This is a young Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’, the name of which is most fitting.

For those of you out there clicking away on your abacuses, I agree, this is not strictly six.  It was the hearts that done it.  But surely you can never have too many hearts on your substitute wedding day?  If anyone has a problem they can contact my minder/legal advisor/fashion consultant/confessor The Prop and he will undoubtedly ignore you.

Finally, a message to the wonderful Jess and Adam.  Keep on keeping on, my heart swells when I think of you, but not in a bad medical way.  Shall we try again next year?

There is a plus side though, I have a while longer to get into my dress which appears to have shrunk on the hanger.

Stay safe and well everyone, ’til next time.




I’ve started back to work.  Not for all of my clients, just those who feel they are ready, and of course where it is safe to do so.  On Monday I returned to The Mantles.  They have done me proud.  It seems that they have been listening after all.  Weeded, mulched, dead-headed, the greenhouse full of rows of carefully tended seedlings.  Have I built-in my own obsolesence, I wonder?

Six on Saturday – Befuddled

Not only am I confused about what day it is, I am a little befuddled as to which week of the year it is.  Hence, I spent a fair amount of time on a blog which is appropriate to next week.   No matter, it is money in the bank I suppose.  We are getting paid for this right?

“Paid for what?”, you might ask, for Six on Saturdaying of course! That universal weekendly past-time of the great and the good.  To join our blissfully happy, mind-controlled crew, just pop on over to Propfessor X to find out what is going on.  There are definitely no subliminal messages hidden in this blog, definitely not.  Just don’t blink.  Shall we proceed?

First, we have Allium aflatunense ‘Purple Sensation’, one of many this week I should imagine.  In a slow crawl towards extending the season in The Bed of Anarchy, I planted these bulbs last year.  Or was it the year before?  Whichever, there aren’t enough of them to make a good show.  They move around the border all on their own, as if looking for more of their own kind.  I may well have to rectify that.

Now we have a lone lithodora flower.  Blue.  That is all that needs to be said.

Onto my arty-farty shot of the week and the interpretation therein.

The raindrops, suspended on the waxy surface of a hosta leaf, illustrate how we are living in our individual bubbles at the moment, where we have little choice but to reflect on inner demons and angels. There is no escape, we can see our loved ones in their respective bubbles, but can’t reach them.  If we did, we would destroy them.

A moment after this shot was taken next door’s cat knocked the leaf with her tail and the drops fell to the ground and disbursed.  I like to think this symbolises the futility of me trying to be serious.  The End.

Next strawberry flowers.  So white, such promise.  And if you are listening out there; Mr Slug, Mrs Snail, The Blackbird Clan; I am not sharing!

Then we have Aquilegia ‘Egg’, a flower I have featured before.  It is called Egg because OH nicked the seed from the farm where we used to get our eggs.  Later I asked the farmer’s wife what had happened to the mother plant, she said it had died.  My noble plan is to grow another and, at the dead of night, possibly wearing a balaclava, anonymously leave it on her doorstep.  Otherwise she might arrest me for seed theft, although it wasn’t me, honest guv.  She is rather scary, and looks very strong.  The farmer’s wife that is, not the aquilegia, which isn’t scary at all.

And finally, the biggest and most beautiful of our Woolies Acers.  The young leaves are at their best at the moment.  The stresses of grown-up life, the sporadic watering and summer winds that go with maturity, have yet to distress them.

That is my lot for this week.  Hope you enjoyed them.  Keep on keeping on, my friends.


Moaning Minnie – Part Two

Today didn’t pan out quite how expected and I only have myself to blame.  Today I was due to travel to Marwood Hill Gardens to interview and photograph for an upcoming article in Devon Life magazine.  Today I was to have wandered the gardens, free from the detritus of the public, to savour the beauty of these wonderful gardens free and unfettered.   I told people where I was going; my neighbour, Hero, my mum, anyone who cared or dared to listen.  I may have been a little smug.  That was, I believe, my downfall.

As yet innocent of my impending doom, I got up early and combed my hair whilst looking in the mirror at the same time.  I wore clean clothes, including my lucky knickers, and put a watch on for the first time in many weeks.  Off I set on my big adventure.

Then my car broke.  It didn’t strictly break down, it just made an alarming “boing, boing, boing” noise as I drove the 1/4 mile necessary before the nice recovery men would agree to help me.   I don’t know an awful lot about cars but it sounded like trouble to me.  It was as if I had run over Zebedee and he was trapped beneath.  I did check, just in case.  Which is how I yet again came to be loitering in my rescue place of choice, Tesco’s car park, waiting for a recovery vehicle.   Instead of wandering, possibly skipping, around the majesty of Marwood, I was eating a sun-aged winter mixture and wishing I hadn’t had that last cup of coffee, waiting for a knight in shining boiler suit to tow my car away.  In between Rescue Me and Being Resuced I had time to cherish a different kind of planting.  Please see above.

After the prognosis I decided, rather than take my rescuer’s offer of a lift home, to do a bit of shopping, so it wasn’t a totally wasted trip.   Little did I know that my normal calm demeanour was to be tested to the limit by the woman in front of me at the till.  She packed her groceries with all the urgency of a sloth, and twice asked a staff member to get her something she had forgotten, once for “you know, those little things you sprinkle on top of cappuccinos”.  All the while she catapulted sickly smiles at me whilst mouthing “I’m sorry” with a little giggle.  She then had a spillage in one of her bags, unseen by me and quite possibly imaginary, which had to be wiped up with all the drama of a wannabe soap opera diva.  I stood quietly, some might say too quietly, and I watched as others sped through adjacent tills.  And I was close.  Very close.

Then home with a loaded rucksack and two full carrier bags, not a cappuccino sprinkle in sight, to tell OH the wonderful news and impending doom bill.

My lucky knickers have been sacked.


Moaning Minnie

I have been wittering on for years about the annoying aquilegia in our garden.  How they elbow-out and bully their way around the garden.  How they are sneaky, underhand and not to be trusted.

Today I sat on the bottom step, my delicate behind cushioned on my inflatable kneeler, potting on and pricking out.   Either side of the step, and indeed in much of the rest of the garden, swayed the aforementioned reprobates, resplendent in all their deceptive finery.  As I worked, the air hummed, as these wicked and selfish self-seeders fed a myriad pollinators, of all dimensions and persuasions.

I feel rather guilty now.  A bit of a Moaning Minnie.

Six on Saturday – Thankful

Another week of lockdown passed; another Six on Saturday completed.  A few months ago I would never have dreamt that I would type those words.  Still, I consider myself most fortunate, I have many reasons to be thankful.   One of which, and a blessing indeed, is being a member of the wonderful Six on Saturday community.  For those of you still ignorant about this Meme of Memes, pop on over to Meme Master and he will enlighten you.  Don’t stand too close though.  It is very infectious.  Shall we proceed?

First we have Libertia grandiflora.  Actually I am a little miffed with this plant.  Not only did I get all excited due to a label misfunction and thought it was going to be a dietes, then it spread its seedlings across most of Christendom and I have been pulling them out of pots since February.  But the flower is nice.  It might get a big split when it has done showing off.

You now that feeling when something doesn’t come up and you are beginning to wonder if you actually planted it, then a nose pokes up and you are jubilant?  Well here is a prime example, the emerging Dichelostema ida-maia.  I have grown these strange creatures before and am very fond of them.  Hopefully they will make it through to flowering and I will share with you all.

Onto the most serene and worshipful Pulmonaria ‘Opal’.  A yogic amongst the chaos.

Now we have Rhodotypos scandens, an old SoS favourite, and quite rightly so.  Buffeted and blown all winter long, and again these last few days, it has been a-buzzing for weeks.

The violas have right-on-cue redeemed themselves, springing into glorious action just when I was thinking about replacing them with summer bedding.  Except I have no summer bedding, which is just as well really.

Lastly the exotic and most previous Impatiens stenantha.  Now living in an enclave with its other impatiens mates.  It seems quite happy.

That is your lot my friends, see you next week, take care and be well.


This morning I woke up with “one of my heads” and not the nice one.   Today, therefore, has been one less dynamic than the norm.   After the pain subsided I sat and read, something I have done little of recently.  Not enough anyway, especially as I have ample opportunity.

For Christmas I was given the script of Alan Bennett’s play Allelujah!  Up until this afternoon I have only given it a cursory glance, I like to keep a book’s innards secret until I come to explore them.   I am a massive Alan Bennett fan; his turn of phrase, his characters, his humour, his humanity.  He didn’t let me down with this one.

Serendipity is a wonderful word.  It transpires that this was the right time for me to read this play. First published in 2018, it is the story of a geriatric ward in a hospital threatened with closure.  This book snuggled within the nether reaches of The Pile for four months until its time was right.  Then it whispered “now, now, now”.  Or maybe I imagined that, I have had a bad head.  Whichever, I can highly recommend it and would love to see it one performed one day.

I was suppose to have a “computer off day” but as I finished it, I felt compelled to quote from this play.  These words are part of a short monologue very close to the end of the book.  It is spoken by a doctor who has failed his citizenship exam and is waiting to be deported.

“…. I must leave the burden of being English to others and become what I have always felt, a displaced person.

Why, I ask myself, should I still want to join?  What is there for me here, where education is a privilege and nationality a boast?  Starving the sick and neglecting the poor, what makes you special still?  There is no one to touch you, but who wants to anymore?  Open your arms before it’s too late. “

And I shouted, most probably internally, “don’t go we need you!”   Serendipity.

Crying Time

A client couple made me cry today.  It wasn’t “a lone, elegant tear slowly tracking down my downy cheek” à la Sinead O’Connor.  It was a full-on, scrunched-up, red-faced, ugly blub.

I won’t mention their names, although I really should.  As they deserve to be recognised.  For their kindness; kindness over and beyond.  It was much appreciated.  In a very small way of thanks, here is a string of hearts just for them.  They are shining stars.