Six on Saturday – Gotcha

It got me in the end. The dreaded Covid. Stopped in my tracks. Unsure quite how, but still, it got me. After two years and several months, I have fallen. And here we are in poorly-land. It will be obvious that, due to my ability to scribble (metaphorically speaking) a spartan blog, I am not desperately ill, and for that I am thankful. Still, there is gardening that can’t be done, gigs not attended, family outings to forgo. Luckily I am surrounded by the warm arms of my family. When I told Peggy she said “Well, at least you’ll have time to turn up the hems of the two pairs of trousers I gave you to alter.” Hopefully all is well with the rest of the gang, pop over to The Prop’s site and all will be revealed. Shall we get on? I’ve got coughing and feeling miserable to get on with.

First we have the annual SoS display of Rhoodohypoxis baurii (or similar). They are looking a real treat at the moment. Joy to my heart.

Next, Viola ‘Molly Sanderson’, a happy discovery in a garden centre bargain bin. I have grown this lovely lady once before and she was lost along the wayside. Yes, friends, I killed her! Possibly best not to mention that fact in front of the new girl.

More joy, in the unlikely form of a greenhouse base. Now I just have to worry that it is in the right place, big enough, the actually greenhouse will turn up, the actual greenhouse putter-upper will bother coming. And breathe.

Onto another newby and perhaps a new obsession. Not that I have room for any more. I love this little nemesia!

One of the great pleasures of the garden is to see the wildlife beginning to use it. What was once a virtual desert is becoming an oasis. This Allium roseum is providing sustenance for both the bee and my tortured soul. I may be getting carried away.

Finally, the most glorious Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, another rescued rose, but this time from Zeus’ mum in Ilfracombe. I’m feeling better already.

That is that. Tired now. ‘Til next time.

Great Excitement

Today the men are here laying the slab base for my birthday greenhouse. So far it has not been an easy journey down the road to construction. Crazy quotes, broken down vans and lost work days have not endeared me to the process, but still I keep the winning post in sight. The workers arrived early, 7.45 to be precise, which seeing they have come all the way from near Windsor is admirable. True to form they wanted milk with two sugars in their tea, but worryingly refused the chocolate hobnobs. Should I be concerned at their builderly credentials?

Today I should have been constructing hanging baskets in The Prof’s greenhouse. Last week, strictly adhering to his exact and exacting instructions (see above), I planted wall planters with begonias. Lots of them. I lost count after a million. Having witnessing the hanging gardens of South Wales last year, I know that the effort is well worth it and I happily took on the challenge. And PG knows how to keep me happy; plenty of cups of coffee, Echo playing music to sing and dance along to and a pasty break was sustenance enough.

Because of having to rearrange the builders, who could only do the work today or in 2024, The Prof very kindly agreed to swap days, although I fear I will pay for it on Friday. Buster will probably have a grumble too. They love me really.

Six on Saturday – Windy City

It is always a challenge taking photos on a windy SOS days. Seems obvious when you think about it. Is it blustery/stormy/wild more often? Am I just doing that “when I was a gal” nonsense? Possibly not. An offset to our volatile weather is that we have digital cameras, we can take more photos and at least one should turn out blur free in the tempest. I’m not sure it is enough to save the world. Talking of the world, the whole shooting match is represented, in a Six on Saturday kinda way, over on The Prop’s blog. I would take a look if I were you. Now, all this chuntering isn’t getting the baby bathed, let’s get on.

First we have, now is this nemesia or diascia? I think it is diascia. It was liberated recently from a garden centre Death Row. A week later it is flowering its pretty little head off. Nowt so queer as folk.

Then another donation from Welsh Ann. I’ve never grown Solomon’s seal in my own garden and this big chunk has settled in nicely, just behind the pear tree. No sign of the evil (not to its friends and family) sawfly. Classically beautiful. Just like me. I can hear you sniggering in the cheap seats!

Ever ready to obey orders, and just for Granny, here is a picture of the front of the house. A 2m sliver of hypericum hedge, path and gravel. A very shady spot, it is potted up with Bob’s hostas, ferns and an impatiens, can’t remember which. Under the hedge are some of Prof Gadget’s London Pride and a few begonias. I am undecided about the hedge. There is a short wall behind it and doesn’t really offer any privacy or protection and I am not a great lover of it, for historical reasons. Nothing to do with Henry VIII, we had a lot of it in a former garden and I didn’t like it there either.

We have had a few hitchhikers in some of the larger pots. In one of the acers is a strawberry. I don’t think we will be feasting on Eton Mess any time soon, but it is a start. Quality over quantity.

The Jovenella punctata photo is a little blurry. Not only was it being buffeted about, I was crouching down, trying to share its special little purple and yellow throated flowers, usually the joy of the bee only. It is covered in bloom at the moment, I am very fond of it. Which is possibly why I haven’t planted it out yet. It is a little tender and I am especially protective of it.

Finally, the joyful ranunculus, inspired by their anemone neighbours, are making a fine showing. I know I shouldn’t have favourites, but the orange is quite a beauty.

That is your lot my lovelies, see you in the gloaming. Except JK, I’ll see you Tuesday. Unless you are hiding from me again.

The Sublime and The Ridiculous

Yesterday I worked in two new gardens and a more diverse pair would be hard to find.

First I visited a glorious country barn conversation with gardens full of fine shrubs and grasses and for the most part well tended. The above photo shows the view over the wall. Whilst cutting back and I found 3 plastic eggs, each containing a chocolate. It was possible they had been left for me, a welcome gift and perhaps a little bribery. It was more likely that the children of the house are not very good at Easter egg hunts. I resisted the temptation and carefully replaced them where I had found them. It was a very satisfying mornings work and I will be returning soon. Hopefully, it will become a regular things.

My second visit was to a housing association bungalow with fake grass, gravel, an assortment of interesting statues and lots of pots, some empty, some full. “I’m very good at gardening” my elderly client told me. Later, after I had planted the empties, pulled and pushed the others planters about and then returned them to their original positions, rearranged slightly disturbing child sculptures, all under the instruction of Old Lady Number Two, we had a cuppa. “I like you, you are my friend” she told me. “I like you too” I replied. This will not be a regular job. I am not sure I could cope.

Two gardens, so different from each other, but both fun, in their own special way.

You’re Fab

This is a sad post. A friend has died. I wish I could make this untrue. I wish I could soothe the pain it has caused. But I can’t. All I have is meagre words; I will use them the best I can. Let’s not make this a gloomy post, let us say to the world “she was a good ‘un” and “she will be missed”. And she was. And she will be.

And let me say the words I should have said to her.

Bonnie was challenged by this world in a way few are. In spite and despite these battles, she carved an indelible etching of creativity and joy as she travelled through life. She was brave and talented and dynamic and funny and strong and fierce and kind. She was my friend. She was ambitious; the only way was big and beautiful and crazy. She was scarily modest. She was both charming and disarming, which is a lucky rhyme. She was soft-hearted and hard as a smooth round pebble that gives you comfort when you reach for it in your pocket. She was passionate and funny, did I say funny already? She was doubly funny. She was inventive and practical and artistic and worked stuff out. She was lovely, pure and simple. She was many things I wish I could be and know I never can be.

Bonnie was undoubtedly a good ‘un and to say she will be missed just scratches the surface of truth. And she loved Wagon Wheels. There is nothing more to say.

Six on Saturday

Here we are again, Mad May, and things are speeding up again. Weeks are flying by, soon it will be mid summer’s day, then September and then months of gloom and doom. Have I cheered you up? I expect not. If you want a proper cheering up, or if you are cheery already and wish to boost to hyper-cheer, then pop over to Mister Chuckles himself, The Prop, who with the Chucklettes and will grant your wish. Let us proceed, it’s nearly August.

First we have Chambercombe Bob’s hostas. Before any smart Alec speaks up, they were his hostas and he kindly gave them to us. So far they are unslugged and looking rather lovely at the front of the house. Which reminds me, I forgot to show you the front when I did the grand tour. I am not foolish enough to think the mighty molluscs will continue to ignore them but you never know. Stranger things have happened. Or perhaps that would be too strange?

Next we have Chaerophyllum hirsutum ‘Roseum’, a glorious pink umbellifer. I did a little squeak when I saw it for sale at an open garden last summer, as it is a great favourite of mine. It was in a weeny pot and I wondered if it would make it through. It is still small but very keen. That is all I can ask of it.

One of my esteemed clients, Welsh Ann, let me dig this fern up from her garden. Again, she was witness and co-conspirator in the act. It is an ostrich fern I think, Matteuccia struthiopteris, and I love it. It too lives in the mysterious area called “the front of the house”.

Here we have an old faithful, Pelargonium cordifolium var. rubrocinctum. Typing that has just has just reminded me why I don’t feature it often. Seriously challenging in the spelling department.

Onto the wonderful Dodecatheon meadia. I have had this for several years in a pot, and it pops up every year and every year I say “oh blimey, I forgot how lovely you are” and then it fades away until the following year. Another annual event are the aphid. Still a squish and all is well.

Hold your breath everyone, there is a mini-peach on the peach tree. The single flower did its thing. Look at its lovely little bum! I am prepared for tears but live in hope.

That is it for this week, take care and be good(ish). ‘Til next time.

I needed to share

Yesterday I visited a nursery that I hadn’t been to before. We needed compost and on their web page they specifically mentioned that they stocked peat free compost. Always a martyr when it comes to plant shopping opportunities, I thought I would pop in on the way home and see what they had to offer.

After a quick scoot around, muttering to myself “keep moving, don’t be tempted, keep moving, don’t be tempted”, I went to the counter to ask the price of the compost. Which is where it all got a bit bizarre.

I was told, by the gentleman in charge, that because Monty Don had mentioned it, peat free was now trendy and therefore more expensive than anything else. That it had only become popular since last year and that all the local allotmenteers had changed back to peat-based as they had all suffered a significant reduction in their productivity and a plague of copious weed seed. That any impact was overblown and Ireland would not disappear into the sea in the foreseeable future.

Slightly taken aback, and verging on the hangry side, as it was well past pasty time, I listened to his diatribe, smiling sweetly. Then he moved onto the subject of diesel cars vs electric and that as he was ex-military he wouldn’t be bullied into changing anything about the way he lived his life. Still smiling sweetly, hopefully with a hint of menace, I told him that I had been using peat free for a considerable number of years, that indeed there had been quality issues in the past but that standards were improving all the time and that I thought any potential shortcoming was a small price to pay for saving the planet. I then asked for 3 bags of his peat free compost.

He took it upon himself to help me with the bags and said if I opened my boot he would put them in for me. I told him my boot was full of tools as I am a professional gardener. Cue instant change in attitude. Not quite so confident now, he shook my hand and told me how wonderful the nursery is and the fine quality of the plants. Still smiling sweetly, I took my leave.

Like many things, is all about education, not about blame or finger pointing, which can result in the blinkered mule-ish behaviour that I was subjected to. I recommend to all my clients that they should buy peat free, as I do, and I explain why. Ultimately it is their garden, and they do as they please (within the confines of the law, obviously!) and I can only advise and explain. And I can always vote with my feet.

Will I be returning to this nursery? Probably. I am not sure I have convinced him yet.

A Distinct Feeling of ….

Professor Gadget messaged me to say that we would be going to the garden centre to buy compost, top soil and perhaps some wooden stakes. We would not be buying plants. Definitely, without any doubt, not one single pot of herbaceous or woody material would be finding its way into the trolley.

I whole-heartedly agreed. It has been suggested to me, by The Honourable OH and legal co-owner of my our garden, that all waifs and strays should find their feet in the soil before any more purchases were made.

I can’t even say we tried very hard.

Excuse No. 374

I have been rather slack in the blogging department. It is not that I haven’t wanted to, and I’ve had lots to share, photos poised and tales to tell, but I seem to have lost the habit. And it was a good habit, not like my other less innocuous ones which seem to be holding on tight.

One reason for my reluctance, feeble though it might be, is that my computer is playing up. Every task is mollusc slow and liable for eccentric outcome and my nerves are shot with trying to trick it into submission. I will get a new one, once I have saved my pennies, but in the interim my ever pragmatic Mum, Peggy, has loaned me hers. She even told me the password.

The other glitch in my Off the Edge journey was the blog conversion mishap. After much soul-searching (two minutes), I have decided to ignore it. I find this is often the best solution for problems. Just pretend they don’t exist and they definitely won’t go away, but you can have a shilling of respite until they return to bite you on the bum.

The upshot of all this rambling, is that I will make a concerted effort to post more often. You may or may not think this is a good thing, it all depends on your point of view. But it definitely will be a good thing for me.

The above Lamprocapnos spectabilis was supposed to be ‘Cupid’ but isn’t. I should complain, but I have decided to ignore it, this one is unlikely to bite me on the bum, there is too much love for that.