Six on Saturday – Too Tired to Count

I have been on my travels, and I’m not talking about trips down the stairs off my feet. I have been visiting my homeland; I’ve been to Cornwall. Unlike today, when the rain sheets and the wind joins the party, the weather was for the most part good. I am a simple soul and any journey that involves good food, wine, exemplary company and a few gardens is the recipe for a fine meal. It will not surprise you that many plant photos were taken, too many. Which is why, this week, I have decided to share a few with your good selves, six to be precise. When I say precise, I mean “roughly”. I have struggled to whittle my pictures down to the golden number. For that I would need six hundred on Saturday. I am saving more for next time. Before I shimmy on, I must point you in the direction of our mentor and spiritual guide, The Prop, here you can enjoy his and all the gang’s gardens. Shall we make haste?

Our B&B was sublime. We have stayed there several times before, but there is always the worry of The Returners’ Curse. We had nothing to fear. Great hosts, fabulous rooms, amazing food and a floriferous welcome. Perfect.

My hedychiums were either hidden out of view or are reluctant to flower, they are known sulkers when moved. Although many in Penlee Park had gone over, there were a few in bloom to remind me just why I love them. Whilst I was in Cornwall I saw no plant labels. Not one. You are at my mercy.

In a small park opposite Jubilee Pool there are several large stands of Fasicularia bicolor. Perhaps a little indelicately, I peer ed into rosette after rosette until I found just what I was looking for. Fantastic.

Another Penlee Park beauty, the highly poisonous but downright beautiful Cestrum parqui. Night scented, moth pollinated, worth the jeopardy.

Behold, a phytolacca fruit stalk! As I was photographing this wonderful plant, a women pulled up on her bicycle and asked if I knew what it was called. She explained that she cycled past it every day and had always wondered about it. I told her and we had a bit of a chat. I was then taking some photos of the nearby tulbaghia and the couple on the bench asked if I knew what the purple berried plant was. I told them and we had a bit of a chat. I think they need labels. Although I do enjoy a chat.

Also in Penlee Park is Colquhounia coccinea, a great favourite of mine. I left mine in North Devon, it had never flowered, although I am sure it is blooming its blooming head off now. In the small walled memorial garden it had grown to a tree. I was jaw droppingly impressed, as were the bees.

I don’t have the best eye sight, but I can spot a plant table at 100m. Wandering around the back streets of Newlyn, I spotted a suspicious blur in the distance. I did not raise my hopes, having walked past one in St Ives selling aeonium cuttings for a disgraceful £12 for a small pot. No such nonsense here. I was jubilant; a jade plant, a hottentot fig and, joy of joys, a small variegated agave. £8 for the lot and all for a children’s charity. Add to this the cuttings that our lovely landlady took of all her succulents and we had a nice little box to bring home. Happy, happy, happy.

What do you mean seven? Surely not! Let us move on swiftly and say our goodbyes. ‘Til next time.

Sick on Saturday

I am daft. There is no disputing it. You may know that already. But I have further evidence. A couple of weeks ago, I slipped on the stairs and hurt myself. My friend Dorchester Doris said “have you considered living in a bungalow?”. She has a point. Daft. It needed to be said again. Head in the clouds and rushing about, always my downfall. For more than the last fortnight I have been pretty miserable. No gardening, no blogging, no fun. However, the last couple of days have seen an improvement in both body and spirit. Which means I am here, sixing along with the best of you. Pop over The Prop’s and all memories of my my sad tale will be replaced with wonder. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have an amaranthus, an absolutely ridiculous plant, but if you can get past the crazy poodle puff, it is rather lovely.

Next we have Begonia grandis subsp. evansiana ‘Claret Jug’. Please forgive it for such an outrageous name. This has been sat happily in the rain shadow of the Pyrus ‘Chanticleer’ and done rather nicely, thank you very much.

Rodgersia ‘Heavenly Gill’ suffered over the summer, not surprisingly for a moisture loving marginal. It held its own for a while and I wasn’t that bothered when the large leaves started crisping up, I was already on “next year”. However, HG was not on the same page, as you can see new leaves are being produced.

Next we have Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’. I split a pack of mixed red hot pokers with The Prof and they have been a little slow. I was really pleased to see this one making an effort, although I am not sure it does actually belong to Nancy. Any thoughts? Does it matter?

A couple of years ago, I visited a garden in North Devon and my guide gave me some flower stalks of Pennisetum villosum, saying they make very good dried flowers. I thanked her, but with mischief on my mind. So I harvested the seed. And then I sowed the seeds. And then I raised a plant. And then it came to South Wales. And then it flowered. The end. Actually, in truth, it is the beginning.

In my Ilfracombe garden I tended/untended the Bed of Anarchy. Uncontrolled, uncontrollable. Looking at my new garden, these last couple of days, after its enforced fortnight of neglect, I felt a certain nostalgia. But I must also acknowledge, both to you and myself, that perhaps it is my natural state.

The only way is up, baby. ‘Til next time.

Six on Saturday – Ostrich

More head in the sand antics this week, nothing to see here, no doom and gloom, no worrying about the future. We must gain pleasure from what and where we can, at no cost to others, well that is my philosophy anyway. And something that gives me a lot of pleasure, is the garden. My garden, your garden, the garden over that wall over there or abutting the footpath. If that is where you get your pleasure too, not exclusively of course, we all have our other joys, then pop over and The Prop and The Gang will give you all you desire, in the plant department anyway. Not sure he can sort out the energy prices, but I wouldn’t put it past him. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have an annual that I haven’t grown before, Scaevola aemula, also known as the fan flower, for obvious reasons. It definitely won’t be last time I grow it as it has thrived and been beautiful, two worthy attributes. Another rescue from a supermarket “what do you mean we have to water plants” trolley.

An aubergine, Black Beauty to be precise, and she has a friend of similar size behind her. It is in my greenhouse. I love my greenhouse. The honeymoon period is far from over.

These sweet peas are very late to the party. They were rescued from death row and have had to have some intensive therapy to get back into the swing of things. As with all the photos this week, I took this picture in the rain and it is very blurry. I considered going out and trying again, until I remembered that I picked it. I will pretend that I used a romantic filter called Cartland.

Salvia uliginosa, Bog Sage, has struggled with the hot dry weather. It has now rallied admirably. Sky blue, one of my favourite colours.

This Salvia curviflora has been in flower for weeks. I have struggled to get a decent photo of it and still haven’t managed achieve anything even half good. You will have to use your imaginations and trust me that it is a wonderful bloom.

Finally, last week I had a complaint that all the photos looked the same, and I admit there were a couple of yellow daisy types in the mix. So especially for this undisclosed person, and you know who you are Peggy Heavens, here is a non-yellow daisy. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Sahara’ to be precise.

That is your lot, my lovelies. Have a great week. Don’t let the beepers grind you down.


I accidentally visited an open garden the other day. It was a happy accident.

I was staying at Peggy’s, for our monthly Texas Hold’em and spam fritter night, and Welsh Ann tipped me off that her friend CJ was opening his garden the following day. It would have been rude not to make the small effort; it is just up the road from Mum’s and, more especially, he has the plant sales of legends. I cleared it with OH, assuring him that all purchases would be for clients’ benefit only (fingers crossed at the time, obvs).

And I was very glad that I popped by. Apart from the obvious purchasing experience, it was joyful to wander the garden alone, appreciating the many and varied aspects of his plot. And it also reminded me of things I needed reminded of.

Analogy alert: If undue and often tenuous comparisons offend you, you should at this point leave the post by one of the designated safety exits.

I’ve been watching the Athletic World Championships/Commonwealth Games/European championships all summer long. The noble competitors train day in, day out, often with little funding or support, whether they are triumphant record holders or the valiant also-rans. And, to my mind they all deserve their moment centre stage.

The same can be said for the many private gardens that pepper our world, tended by fine folk who work relentlessly when sometimes it all seems a hiding to nowhere. They battle contrary weather and non-compliant wildlife. Months in advance they must provide dates for opening to the public, when they hope their gardens will be tiptop, ever at the mercy of the precariousness of the seasons. Still they share their gardens and expose their very souls for criticism. Have I gone too far again? Perhaps, but there is little as personal as offering up your own kingdom, designed and tended over months and years, only for Joe Public to point out a weed. And all this for charity.

What I needed to be reminded of is that we need to support these Open Gardeners, tell them they are great, buy their plants, listen to what they say and be inspired.

So, here we go. CJ you are great, your garden is amazing, your plants happy and healthy, keep on keeping on! I’ll be back. Unless you ban me for harassment, which is a distinct possibility.

Six on Saturday – The Shock of the New

“Rain, rain come again.” And it has. And everything is a little more plumped and perky. Some stems have fallen from the shock of the new, others have a petticoat of petals as flowers were battered by the onslaught. They will recover from this rough treatment. I am getting slightly obsessive about water capture. Another obsession, just what I needed! I’m a little late on parade today so mustn’t tarry with waffle, pop over to The Prop if you fancy, I’m sure the gang will welcome you. Shall we proceed?

Bidens ‘Hannay’s Lemon Drop’ has begun to flower. It has wilted on and off during the dry weather and now is a little bedraggled. I wonder if I will rue the day I planted it here, as it does have a tendency to wander. Today, I am pleased I took a chance, as it towers above the border along with its fellow tall customers, Verbena bonariensis and multi-coloured sunflowers.

Another with a propensity to travel about a border is the achillea. Again, perhaps desperate for ground cover, I have planted a plant with attitude.

This is the first time I have grown zinnia, strange but true. I don’t know why, except they are little tricky to get going. Not sure I like this colour, but perhaps I do.

I might have forgotten to tell you about this little beauty, Colocasia esculenta. It has been on my wish list for a while and I happened upon one a few weeks ago in the plant sales of a NGS garden. Whoops!

Penstemon ‘Laura’ came to me as a plug plant while I was in North Devon and it has really come into its own this year. There is a very strong possibility that I was inspired by Graeme to get it. We shall blame him anyway. Thank you.

This is another gift from Welsh Ann, Rudbeckia fulgida, I believe. Yes, it may well need a little taming from time to time, but as with all of my exuberant ones, I shall share the love.

That is me done for another week. The rain is heavy outside. No need for watering today. Hope all your water butts are full. Live long and prosper.


Over the last few weeks our garden has been home to a number of racing pigeons. The reason I am vague as to the exact number is that they all looked pretty much the same. The first was called Racy, he flew in and out throughout the day and would hoover up the grain that I “accidently” spilt when feeding the wild birds. He was a chirpy chap and I was confident he would refuel and head off again. I have some experience with these non-homers. At Cliffe we had several visitors, including Pedro, Peggy and the infamous Pooping Percy. These had the decency to look quite different from each other, no embarrassing mistaken identities.

Alas, one evening I saw a local cat cross the garden with someone looking suspiciously like Racy in her mouth. I guessed that his athletic career had come to a premature finale. We promised that in future we would discourage this cat from our haven.

A week or so later, I was most surprised, nay disturbed, to see Racy wander across the lawn looking for titbits. Racy had either risen from the grave, feigned death until he could escape or it was indeed another caller at the Heavenly Pitstop. I rejoiced, although OH swore blind he was a different bird. And then he disappeared, heading home to where he would get a hero’s welcome. I hoped.

That is until a few days ago when a very similar looking but much thinner pigeon appeared. I gave him food and water and kind words. When the torrential rains started I made him a little shelter from a dustbin lid and an upside down rose pot. Each morning I expected the worst as I rushed out to see if he was in his little corner, but every morning he would be there and peer at me as I asked “how do you feel today?”. I interpreted his beady gaze as “the look of love” but might well have been one of horror. Once or twice a day he would walk the few yards from his base to look into the French windows and then walk back again. We never saw him fly, just waddle.

This morning he seemed a little more adventurous and walked onto the lawn before heading into his corner. At lunch time he settled just outside the back door holding his wing in an odd manner. OH said “what if he is in pain?”. I found a basket to put him in, gathered him up in an old towel and took him to the vets. They took him into a back room and asked me to wait. After a couple of minutes a nurse came out asking “what exactly do you think is wrong with him?”. I explained he was holding his wing in a peculiar manner. She went back to the treatment room. After another few minutes the nurse returned to say they could find nothing wrong with him except he just didn’t want to fly, he was wandering around quite happily. I felt a little red-faced. “So, he was just trying it on, it wasn’t a pidgey plea for help”. “No, he is fine”. They kept him and promised to look after him and would contact the owner.

I miss him already. OH is terrified he will return. Or maybe it will be a different one, one that has heard on the racing pigeon hotline about the soft-touch in South Wales. On the way back in the car he asked in despair “why do they always come to us?”. Because they know we will do our best for them. He sighed.

Later I watched the bees stick their lovely little noses into the monarda flowers. Which helped. I’ll ring on Monday to see how he is getting on. Perhaps he is missing me too.

Six on Saturday – The Bright Side

Shall we get this over and done with? It is hot. Hot for us. Too hot for me. I could have shared six frazzled plants from the garden, or even a frazzled gardener, but I have decided not to. I expect you have some of your own casualties. Here I will be showcasing the bright side. Any crispy leaves which have snuck in looking for sympathy are an aberration, please ignore the attention seekers. If you wish to share in the world’s happy sixes take a look at The Prop’s post where you can share the love. Let us shake a leg, free from haste and gently does it.

First we have Helenium ‘Short and Sassy’ along with some photobombing zinnia. I’ve just spotted a monarda also getting in on the act. The helenium were donated by my sponsor with some mutterings about an appropriate name. No idea what he meant by that.

I wasn’t sure that I liked the flowers of Hydrangea aspera ‘Hot Chocolate’, that it was worth growing for its dusky leaves alone. But I have decided that I do. This shrub has had a couple of heat inflicted swoons but soon perks up with a can of water. Hold on in there my lovely!

I have some dahlia problems, more specifically, labelling problems. There are only three dead certs and the rest have been, or are to be, a surprise. I am guessing this is a honka of some persuasion, not Obsidian as that is elsewhere and one of the few certainties. Nice though.

This is Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’ although the central boss is not as green as I remember from growing it in the past. Perhaps the boss is always greener on the other side. Dreadful, I know.

OH hammerited the iron bands of the dodgy barrel and here it is planted up. It was more a case of what needed a home than a well thought-out design plan, but sometimes that is the best way. Generally I feel “the Force” rather than agonise for too long. It usually works. And if not, there is always the autumn shuffle.

Visiting a well-known posh supermarket the other week, I spotted a man at the check out with a rather lovely dahlia. “Nice dahlia” I said. “Security!” he shouted. Some people just don’t know how to be friendly. On my next visit, a couple of weeks later, another specimen was situated just by the entrance door. “If it is less than £10 I am having it” I thought. It was £9. What is a gal to do? Welcome to Dahlia ‘Souvenir d’Eté’ It is shown here snuggling up to the Gardeners’ Delight whilst I find the perfect spot for it. I must write a label for it.

That is your lot, my lovelies. Stay cool, unless you are somewhere cool and then stay warm. ‘Til next time.

Diamonds are Forever

Yesterday I reached the significant milestone of sixty years on Planet Gill. Strange but true. Generally, I’m not bothered by the passing years. For one, it is wasted energy and for two, I rarely act my age. However, for the preceding couple of days I felt unsettled by the whole idea. It occurred to me that time was running out. That I should have achieved something by now, that my chance of doing anything worthy before I needed substantial support was diminishing. Quite frankly, that I had under-achieved. Up to 11 August 2022 retribution had been a possibility and now it seemed unlikely. Oh dear, how maudlin.

Then it happened. And it was the best day ever. I cried a lot, possibly more than your standard birthday. I was humbled by the kindness of my family and family. I did all the things I love to do: I ate good food and drank champagne, I rummaged for bargains in an antiques market, I wandered through the parched Physic Garden and bought plants, I picked out a lino-cut in an exhibition, all in good company.

Much later, I sat in the garden, G & T in hand and watched the bats flit and flutter. And I realised that I had achieved what a lot of people sadly fail to do. I have surrounded myself with wonderful people, compassionate and considerate and funny. It really couldn’t have been a much better day. Thank you.

ps New diamond studded boots photo courtesy of my very clever younger brother. Not that the older brother isn’t clever too, of course.


Today I bought a dodgy half whisky barrel off the back of a lorry. Off the back of a van, actually, but that didn’t sound quite so impressive. It wasn’t dodgy either, it was one of many used whilst filming a murder mysteries series at the Priory, just up the road from where I was working. I am kicking myself now that I didn’t ask what they were used for, although there was sand in the bottom of this one. A clue …… Anyway, the props guy (van driver) didn’t want to take them home. It definitely, however, is a half whisky barrel. I had a choice of cognac or whisky, I prefer the latter. We jammed the chosen one into the back seat of the Ford Focus. Driving home, even with my limited talents in the olfactory department, I sensed fumes filling the car, a heady fug of oaky booze. If I had been stopped by the police there would have been a lot of explaining to do.

Before I set off for home, I hesitantly called OH to warn him about the impending arrival. He was remarkably calm about the situation and has offered to drill holes in the bottom. Now where to place it and what to put in it? The kind of problems I relish.

Six on Saturday – Single Track

Today is the day after the day I have been waiting for. That was a blatant lie. Truthfully, it is the day I have been waiting for, but to keep up Six on Saturday appearances I am pretending that it is Saturday and not Friday afternoon. It is a bit like the results show of Strictly Come Dancing. At this very moment, there is a rather nice young man in the garden putting up my greenhouse. He is very nice, polite, hardworking and he has only eaten two of the biscuits I pestered Professor Gadget to remind me to buy on the way home from work. Apparently the man will be going home when he has finished the job. What would I want another man for? I have one already. He has bought me my first ever proper grown-up greenhouse for an impending special birthday. It would be difficult to beat that. Don’t forget to pop over and see what The Prop and his gang are up to, I’m sure it will be worth a trip.

I’ve got a new greenhouse. Sorry to repeat myself, but I am very excited. I’ve got a greenhouse that is not made of plastic and kindly donated by my sponsor. I am chuffed. It is not a posh one, there are no finials or decorative edgings, but it is beautiful. I am smitten. It is all I can think about.

The window opens all on its own and then closes again and it has vents at the back. It is just the right size for the garden and I am already planning how to use it. It has been suggested that I keep it tidy. I will take that suggestion on board and file it. I like to think that a greenhouse is like a handbag, it doesn’t matter how big it is it will get filled. When I was at Cliffe, we had an enormous Edwardian, extremely rickety, glasshouse, with three separate sections. I managed to fill that easily enough. It won’t take long.

Here is one of our sophisticated add-ons. At some point we may get proper water catchers, but for now we have a bucket with a brick in it on one side. I’m thinking “industrial chic”.

OH asked if I had a plug. I did my puzzled face until I realised he wanted it for the ceramic sink that he had placed underneath the other downpipe. Then, with an electric light bulb pulsating out of my head, I rushed into the kitchen. For a couple of weeks I have been saving the wax coating from the Babybel’s that we have a liking for in this house. Does that sound weird? I have been using it to top bamboo canes. It occurred to me it would make the perfect sink stopper-upper. What we had in reserve was a little meagre, so we were forced to eat a couple more to make a perfect seal. I did wonder that if it gets very hot again it might melt away!

The first residents have arrived! A chilli pepper and two aubergines are now in situ. Since this photo a few others have shimmied in, including two manky cacti from the house and the shy to flower brugmansia.

Just in case you have forgotten what it looks like, the final picture is of the greenhouse in all its glory. I can’t wait to get using it. And today, the real today, it is raining. Everything worked out well in the end. I am very, very pleased.

Have a good week, my friends. By the way, did I tell you, I’ve got a new greenhouse!