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.

 

 

Six on Saturday – Sunny

Cosmos 'Purity'

The weeks are shepherding us towards winter, a time when finding suitable subjects for Six on Saturday becomes increasingly difficult.  The Lord of the Prop, whose mighty hand rules us SoSers, has followers from all corners of the earth and beyond.  For some of us spring is just getting into its stride, whilst for others the cold has already set in.  In this neck of the woods we are experience some deliciously clement weather, the sun is shining and although the mornings have a rousing chill, there is enough midday warmth to warrant a partial striptease.  Let us enjoy it whilst we can and get going on this week’s contribution.

After the hiatus in flowering, that I can only assume was caused by such heat and dry that nonplussed both plant and gardener, we are now making up for time.  There are many first time bloomers this week, including this Cosmos ‘Purity’ which although short in stature is forgiven for its perfect flowers.

Garlic 'Dario'

Top of the list for yesterday in the garden was getting my garlic planted.  This is a cultivar called Dario which is new to me, but I liked the name and felt like trying something new.  It is supposed to be strong-tasting and the word “excellent” was in the description.  Yes, I do believe everything I read.  We will have to wait until next summer to find out.   For the literatii amongst you, yes Mr K I’m taking about you, this photo is pre-planting.  It is posed.  If I posted a picture of a pot of planted garlic (tongue twister, give it a go) it would look like, well, a pot full of compost.   Rest assured that moments later the tubby cloves were pushed down to just cover their pointy heads.  Now we wait.

Salvia atrocyanea

Another later flowerer is Salvia atrocyanea, the Bolivian Sage.  Blue flowers have a special place in my heart and this is no exception.  Tall and vigorous once it gets going, this tuberous perennial is relatively hardy given a well-drained soil to snuggle up in.

osteospermum

The parent of this osteospermum didn’t make it through the various beasts of last winter/spring.  Luckily I had a back up which flowered earlier in the year and now is having another go.  Which has reminded me that I haven’t taken any cuttings.  Hopefully it isn’t too late, I am living rather dangerously.

Fuchsia 'Börnemann's Beste'

Now another plant that I have featured before, Fuchsia “Bornemann’s Beste”, which is also coming into its own at the moment.  It was glistening bewitchingly in the sun today, closer inspection (with specs on) revealed that it is covered with tiny silver hairs.  The gift that just keeps giving.

Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'

Lastly we have a tatty old leaf of Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’.  It is featured for its pure resilience.  I was certain there would be not a leaf left in the whole Shire after Storm Callum bullied his way through last week.  A round of applause for FP please.  You can let go now.

That’s it my lovelies, another SoS completed.  Don’t forget to see what the rest of his disciples have been up to over at The Prop’s.  Until next time …….

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – I’m Back

Fuchsia "Bornemann's Beste"

What do you mean you didn’t miss me?  I shall ignore you dissenters.

For those of you who have been paying attention, I am back with my Six on Saturday.  After one whole weeks’ absence.  This meme is run by The Propagator, pop over to his site to check out his half dozen and other contributors.  It’s all good clean fun.  Which of course might put some of you off.  Sorry about that.  Without further ado let’s get on with the task in question.

My first plant this week is Fuchsia ‘Bornemann’s Beste’ which was a gift from Harriet, container gardener extraordinaire, a couple of years ago.  Despite its exotic looks it seems to weather the winter without too much compliant.

Verbascum chaixii

Verbascum chaixii

Next we have Verbascum chaixii, the nettle leaved mullein.  It is on its second flush of flowers and has avoided any attack from the mullein moth caterpillar this year.  So a gold star to you.

Calopsis paniculata

Calopsis paniculata

Now something a little more unusual, the restio Calopsis paniculata.  I bought this at Powderham Garden Festival a couple of years ago.   At Cliffe we grew another restio, Elegia capensis, and since then I have been a fan of this South African grass/bamboo melange.

Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'

Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’

We have been growing our Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ in a pot for the last seven years and although it is not what I would call “happy” is it what I would call “hanging on in there”.  In the recent storms it fell over several times.   Cruel really.  I especially love the leaves at this time of  year, just before they fall. Like stained glass.

Hylotelephium 'Matrona'

Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’

What do we have now, oh yes, the name changer.  This is Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’ formally the artist known as Sedum ‘Matrona’.  This plant is particularly unusual as it was chosen and paid for by my long suffering OH.  Great taste.  Well he chose me didn’t he?  Or was it the other way around?

Hedychium greenii

Hedychium greenii

Finally, one that I tempted you with a few weeks ago, the incredible Hedychium greenii.  Not green, but orange.

So that is it for another week.  Thanks Mr P.  Upwards and onwards!

 

 

 

Fallen Leaves

Liquidambar leaves

Leaves of Liquidambar styraciflua

In my world death has lingered close this week.  More than one special friend has been touched by the great sorrow of loss.  Although once-removed from these sadnesses, it has caused me to be rather more reflective than usual.

Today I drove a friend to North Devon Hospice to pick up his car, left there after the passing of his friend yesterday.  This was my first visit to the hospice.  Like many of these oases, where the compassionate help the vulnerable in their final days, I have heard nothing but fine things about the care provided here.  But I had also heard wonderful things about their gardens.

As rain had decided to rest for ten minutes, I took it as a sign, and did not even attempt to resist the temptation to have a quick look.

cercis canadensis 'forest pansy'

Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’

The autumn garden was, as you would imagine, looking its best.  A large Cercis canadensis “Forest Pansy” looked stunning against the navy sky.  After last night’s gales the leaves of Liquidambar styraciflua, the American sweet gumcarpeted the lawn.  The cinnamon peeling bark of Acer griseum smouldered in the sun, with wheaten grasses and cyclamen providing a worthy under storey.  In the reeded pond a swamp cypress, Taxodium distichum, with ginger needles, paddled in the shallows.

This was just an illicit taster, just a small section of the grounds.  On three days each year they open these gardens to the public and I am determined to return to appreciate it fully.  Us gardeners know all too well the beneficial effects of a garden.  How much more can this be for those at crisis points in their lives?  Healing, soothing, calming.  Even a momentary escape from the harsh realities of life and death must repay a thousand fold.  A beautiful distraction to allow the batteries to recharge, to strengthen, attune, accept.

Before we left we came across a seating area, looking across the lawn to the trees beyond, protected from our fine North Devon weather by glass walls.  This shelter was etched with sayings, both apt and uplifting.  We walked around reading them out to each other.  Like a soothing mantra. One in particular stuck in my mind.  We could do worse than to remember this.

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Unfurling

IMG_3336 (2)Over the years it has become apparent to me that some plants are more reluctant to awaken in the spring than others.  They like to take their own time, pootle along at their own rate, unaffected by what others may be doing around them, namely participating in the Great Spring Re-Clothing.  These plants are players in a horticultural soap opera, complete with a dramatic “will they wont they?”  cliff hanger, the following episode culminating in an emotional finale “yes I am still alive, and it was actually all a dream”.   In my garden the reticent “I’m just not a morning person” is Cercis canadensis  “Forest Pansy”. It may have good reason to be sloth-like as I have held it captive for the last few years in a pot.  A large pot admittedly but still a pot.  I wouldn’t blame it for being a little miffed.  However today I have spotted some buds so we should be on our way very soon.  The fine weather, a handful of fertiliser and a few encouraging words (delusional I know) and before long those demon hearts will be emerging again.  Whilst in confessional mode I should point out that we have several trees in pots; some delicate like the Japanese Maples, some less so like Liquidambar styraciflua.  It is a prime example of when Plant Lust wins over Plant Sense.  One day they will be released, but only on the day that I have the space to liberate them.  Until then I will try my best to keep them happy and recount tales of halicon days to come, when they will feel the bare earth beneath their roots and they will be able to run free ……….

This acer, however, is not ashamed to unfurl its merlot leaves for all to admire.