Inner Voices

We are now the proud owners of a water butt. It arrived a couple of weeks ago to greetings of “wow, that is big!” and “I didn’t realise it would be so enormous!”. Still, this is South Wales, not known for desert conditions. Soon it is sure to be full and I can water the garden with aplomb instead of guilt as the water bill rises.

DIY is not the house speciality. We accept this fact with a little sadness but are resigned to our fate. The printed instructions for installation of the butt were incomprehensible. I trawled the internet and found a video. We watched the video. Easy-peasy. You just remove a section from the downpipe, fit the thingy into it and then the other end of the elephant trunk goes into to the butt. OH will manage that, if not easily, then eventually.

“I’ve decided” OH announced, “that we will install the water butt together” as if it was some grand romantic gesture. “Great” said I. Inner voices were saying something quite different.

Time passes

“Today, I am going to have a day off, no chores, no admin, just suiting myself”. I said. “That is the best idea, you relax, you’ve been working very hard.” was my caring OH’s reply.

Half an hour later. “Shall we do the water butt now?”. “OK” I replied. Inner voices were shouting something quite different.

We watched the video again. “Would you like to see it one more time?” I asked. “No need, I think I’ve got it.”

I was in charge of holding onto the downpipe whilst he sawed and reminding OH what was on the video. Let us just say, it was not a bit like the film. There was minimal shouting, a lot of adjusting and reassuring ourselves that there must be quite a large margin for idiots. Once the pipe was severed, I left him to it.

Time passes.

I was called to inspect the work. It is in place. It is rather skewy, charmingly at a jaunty angle, but it is definitely in place. “It is just perfect.” I said “Like us. Perfectly unperfect. ” And for once my inner voices agreed.

Whether it works or not, is a different issue. Since then, not a drop.

The suspense is palpable.

Six on Saturday – Fly in the Ointment

Things are toddling along quite nicely, all is growing well, all is either flowering or showing intent, the only blackfly in the ointment is ……. have you guessed yet? I hope so, or we have problems. This demon aphid is thick as plush velvet and not fussy as to who it visits. I understand that it can take a while for ecological harmony to be achieved in a new, previously untended, garden. And I have faith it will be found in the long run, but at the moment it is far from balanced. I have been wondering what happened to the ladybird larvae I spotted a few weeks ago. There are several options: a) I imagined it, b) it has been eaten by one of the greedy sparrows, c) it saw the task ahead and thought “I’m good, but not that good” and is hiding under a leaf until the hoverflies and blue tits sort things out, or d) it has gone for reinforcements who will soon arrive, possibly in a Red Arrows-esque formation, to smite the foe. I am hoping it is going to be d). For the moment I am squishing and contemplating garlic magic, whilst looking to the skies for a spotted sign. You may well see a few photobombing critters in my six today, but my focus will be on the stars not the spoilers. Shall we change the subject, focus on the half full bit for a while? Good plan, let’s start Sos-ing! Don’t forget to check out The Prop and his gang, they are bound to be up to lots of interesting stuff.

First we have the poppy that was in bud a couple of weeks ago. Almost. Same poppy, different bud. I rummaged and found a label (clients please note) identifying it as Papaver orientale ‘Brilliant’, which it is.

This is Impatiens arguta ‘Alba’, one of several impatiens I am lucky enough to grow. I happened upon a very nice nursery website yesterday and I thought, “although these all look lovely, I have enough impatiens and no room for any more”. Strong Willed is what they call me, Gill the Mighty, Queen of Restraint, Empress of All Things Minimal. Stop laughing, it is my new persona. For one day only.

Did I mention that we bought a Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ the other day. Must have slipped my mind. Our last one was deemed too large to transport and it was abandoned to its fate, which was possibly a very nice one. We came across this bargain (£19.99 since you ask) in the garden centre. Seriously, it would have been rude not to.

Now a dark leaved, orange/red dahlia which was grown from seed and is a boisterous fellow. Quite frankly, I love it. The leaves, the flowers, the habit, the everything.

Then the yet to be named border that faces west-ish. The observant will notice the aforementioned dahlia, last weeks Salvia ‘Neon’, a white scabious, Rosa ‘Grace’ and lots of other goodies yet to come into their own. Loving it, loving it!

Finally, Dahlia ‘Peggy Pearlers’ has her mojo back! She struggled in a pot and I am hoping she will get much stronger now she has her feet in the clay. Still not the strongest but certainly the most special. For those of you who don’t know the story behind this dahlia, you can read about it here.

That is your lot, six all accounted for. Have a good week. ‘Til next time.

Six on Saturday – Disappointment

I was inspired by Jim’s post last week. “This week I think I’ll do a video” I told The Prof. “show progress in the garden and all that stuff, what do you think?”. He proceeded to wax lyrical on file size and WordPress limits and editing software and I pretended to listen and nodded, in possibly inappropriate places, whilst all the while wondering where there might be a plant sale or if it was nearly pasty time. Yesterday, in the murk, I had a trial attempt with my posh camera. I showed the result to OH, who said it was hardly Quentin Tarrantino, which luckily for all out sakes was not what I was aiming for, and barely Disney, which was somewhat of a disappointment. Unabashed, I attempted to upload my masterpiece, only to be told, in no uncertain terms, that my current doobermeflip did not support video, that I should not get above my station and was to continue posting burry photos whilst pretending it was windy. So I am going to do just that. I am not sulking at all. It seems my film making career is going the same way as my ballet career. And you missed a treat, whatever OH might tell you. Pop over to The Prop and, along with all his mates, he is sure to bring a little Busby Berkeley to the proceedings. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have Geranium pratense ‘Plenum Album’ but I call it Paul’s geranium. A little gem.

Next we have the flowers of Heuchera ‘Brohna’s Mum’. Because it is special to Lady Mantle, it is special to me. It has been shuffled several times already since it was planted out, moved forward as the border has expanded. Has it complained? Not on your Nellie! As you can see, it also has the most amazing scarlet flowers. Another small but beautifully formed fellow.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying seed, or indeed a plant, just because of its name. This is Mangetout ‘Ezeta’s Krombek Blauwschokker’. Go on, try saying it out loud, shout it if you dare!

Every year I attempt to photograph a certain kind of pink of which I am very fond. Every year I am frustrated by the result. This is Salvia ‘Neon’, a feeble representation.

This rose is a cutting from Mr and Mrs Bun in Georgeham. It was rooted in an old milk bottle and caused much laughter in the process. I call it Bobby’s rose, which as long as it is with me, will be what it will be known as.

Finally, Polemonium ‘Purple Rain’, Diascia perfoliata and Geranium ‘Rozanne’, living in perfect harmony.

That is your lot, my lovelies. ‘Til next time.

Thinking of You

Peggy is reluctant to go out into the garden on her own. This is wise. There are many trip hazards and she is not as sprightly as when she won first prize in the Yorkshire limbo dancing championships. Which means we must concentrate on what can safely be seen from the windows. A few weeks ago she thought she would like a rose to put in pot to be viewed from the kitchen. “Your Dad loved red roses, I’d like one of those”. A quick Google later and ‘Thinking of You’ was found. A gimmick, undoubtedly. A beautiful rose, undeniably.

It is now happily blooming away in a large pot. Next to it is the run-over ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ liberated from Professor Gadget, which is soon to flower and recovering nicely. Both in full sight to be admired whilst washing up. Job done.

Six on Saturday – Spoilt for Choice

What a difference six months makes in the world of Six on Saturday. In the depths of winter I was scrabbling around, wondering if a vaguely interestingly shaped stone would suffice. Today, foraging the garden for SoS options, I was spoilt for choice. I snapped away, eventually whittling the options down to ten. This obviously would contravene the SoS Mandate of 1863; both unacceptable and irresponsible. Determined not to incite an international event, I asked OH if he could advise as to which photos I should use. “The poppy is nice” he said . “That is the flower of a mangetout pea” I replied. On reflection, I should have insisted that he put his glasses on before helping. He is forgiven, his help has been exemplary this week. More of that to come. I love a cliff hanger. Still, decisions have been made, and others will remain for another day/week/year. A man who seldom falters when it comes to decision making is our very own Propulator, king of the road and champion of all things prop. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have Osteospermum ‘Purple Sun’, a plant purchased last year when we were staying at Peggy’s, which is showing no hard feeling after a rather brutal, “it is for your own good”, cut back early in the season. Admittedly, this is its good side, the other is less eager to impress. Such is the joy of selective photography.

Another import from gardens not forgotten is Iris ensata ‘Moonlight Waves’, elegantly photobombed by Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’. I am not surprised that Gertie has turned out to be an attention seeker.

Now a crazy fasciated tomato flower. This is Tomato ‘Red Brandywine’, which I have in the past found to be a little eccentric in its growth. It also has trouble with errant leaders. I can sympathise with that.

This really is a poppy and is a little late to flower, most likely due to it being planted out late. I can’t remember what its name is. In bud it is more orange than I thought it would be. It probably is called ‘Orange Delight’ or something like that, although I doubt if I would have bought it if it was, I do like a traditional true red poppy.

Next is Erodium manescavii, if you haven’t got one, stop reading this immediately and go and find one. Or maybe three. I love it.

Finally, we have a pond. Earlier in the week, when I was out living it up and misbehaving with Lady Mantle, OH was digging a gurt big hole for our mini-pond. I was very happy. I am still very happy. The plan is for a pygmy waterlily. Then I will extend the border to meet it. Happy days.

That is your lot! Have a great week everyone. See you in the gloaming.

Small Emerald

Today, whilst rummaging in the undergrowth, I disturbed this flighty gem. After some research (yes, I googled “blue/green moth”) I discovered it is most likely the small emerald moth. The caterpillars feed on native clematis, commonly known as old man’s beard, and the adults fly from July to August. This one is fashionably early. Or perhaps we must blame climate disruption. You pick.

Ewenny and a Special Cat

Today I had an unexpected day off as my friend Buster is not very well and Professor Gadget is tending to his ills. Taking advantage of the clement weather, OH and myself visited Ewenny Priory, a heavily fortified former Benedictine monastery. It seems they were fierce chaps those 12th century monks.

They were filming on site, apparently a murder mystery with undisclosed actors starring, but still we were free to wander. On this warm, early summer morning, it was a peaceful place with more than a hint of dilapidation, a little like myself on a good day. The grounds had wonderful mature trees, beeches both purple and green, yews of course and even a lightning tree. There were dandy peacocks and flighty house martins, fallen walls, gargoyles, a pet cemetery, curious locked doors and barred gateways through which I peered to nature-claimed gardens, thigh deep in vegetation with a half collapsed/half standing (whichever your point of view might be) glasshouse in the distance.

In the beautiful associated church, alongside the wide girthed columns and ancient gravestones, was a pew much longer than the others. At one end, carved in wood, was a dog chewing a bone, at the other a cat enjoying a mouse feast. It reminded me of my poorly pal. Get well soon, Buster, there are more mice to be stalked!

Six on Saturday – Grounded

The beginning of June, and my SoS problems are not what can I include but what not to. Always problems. What will still be looking good next week, or the week after, what needs to be shared before the peak is passed? Even in my new garden things are moving apace. Of course, I am not alone in my happy troubles. Some are winding down, some are winding up, all are over at The Prop’s, take a look if you dare. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have a rather blurry Impatiens stenantha, like all its cousins, it is very happy to at long last have its feet in the ground. I never fail to be charmed by these blooms.

A once named but lost in the mists of time pelargonium has also found its way into one of the borders. Again, it seems happy, although I am not sure how it will fare in a clay soiled winter. Perhaps it will be confined for the wet and windy season.

Onto Rodgersia ‘Heavenly Gill’ which has well and truly made itself at home in the border. Previously struggling in a pot and, however hard I tried to bring it comfort, was miserable and resentful. Now she loves me. And I love her.

I am very pleased with this little corner of the little garden. It looks almost like a proper grown up garden.

On Wednesday we went on a post-Covid trip to the garden centre. I was told “We don’t need any more plants”. Inside I was chortling as I gravely nodded in agreement. As we independently looked up and down the rose aisles I was stopped in my tracks by a lone “Absolutely Fabulous”. Just as I was admiring the glorious blooms, OH called out to me “Come and look at this one”. He had come across the very same rose and was similarly charmed. The result was inevitable. I wish I could say it was our only purchase. I wish I could say it was the largest. I would not lie to you.

Finally, I was thrilled to find this little critter yesterday, a ladybird larvae. Oh yes, and it seems that I have actually, after many years and much disappointment, managed to grow Lilium ‘Susan’. And very lovely she is too. Although a little small. Next year …..

That is your lot. Keep the faith, ’til the next time.

Staying Positive

This Saturday is the long awaited wedding of my fabulous nephew Adam and his lovely partner Jess. The date has been rearranged twice. There has been much heartache and expectation in the process. Everyone has been looking forward to it for two years. My much-missed younger brother and his family from The Netherlands will be there, my sister-in-law’s family will be arriving from Norway; all celebrating in the amazing surrounds of St Audries Park on the edge of Exmoor. Our room has a four poster bed, chaise longue and views across the immaculate formal garden. The footprint of the bathroom is similar to that of our house and has the deepest slipper bath imaginable. But there is a chance we will not make it.

We are still Covid positive.

There is hope, of course, a couple more days for the dratted line to give up and go home. Twice in a row.

And if I can’t go, I have vowed, like a second class Miss Haversham, to wear my special dress all day and weep into my prosecco. Which we haven’t got, so it will have to be tonic water.

Of course, the last thing we want is to put anyone at risk, and we will stay away if there is any doubt. But I really, really, really, really, really want to be there. What I am asking is for some serious, global entreaties to be sent to the powers that be, in order for us to get there. Perhaps a little communal chanting or some serious visualisation. Are there any witches (white) or wizards close by to cast a spell or two? I’m sure a few of you must have some ethereal clout. Thanking you in anticipation of you doing your very best.