This morning I had a haircut, the first since lockdown. It was a bizarre affair, with masks and visors and trepidation. My lovely hairdresser did her upmost to tame my barnet and sent me, newly coiffured, off to The Mantle’s Estate. Standing in front of Their ‘Ships I waited for their opinions. Her Ladyship said all the right things. His Lordship was less than convincing, even though I believe he had practiced. He gets a point for effort.

Their hydrangea far outshone my new, marginally less wild, look. Best to dwell on the truly beautiful.

Six on Saturday – No Name

Sometimes you can get caught up in your own little world of misery. Which is what has happened to me this week, or perhaps a fortnight. It is tooth related, a design fault to my mind. In the scheme of things, it is small beer, but still, the mire of my mood persists. Weakness is sometimes hard to acknowledge, which is unfortunate as troubles are seldom unique.

Less of my self-pity. Let us get on with proceedings, that is, my Six on Saturday. Please pop over to our magnificent Prop’s to find out what else has been going on in the world this week. Gardenwise and perhaps other-wise.

First we have a glorious, unnamed, hydrangea which we inherited with the house. The spider came too. The flowers are such a wonderful colour, the photo only a meagre reflection of reality. Flowering perhaps a little bit early?

Next Penstemon ‘Gurt Big Purple’, grown from a cutting from an ex-client’s garden. Lush. I made up the name, just in case you wondered.

Now a fragrant-leaved pelargonium. I haven’t a clue what it is called; I can’t even remember where it came from. Although you can’t appreciate the scented foliage, you can admire the very pretty blushing flower.

Onto a scabious that, before it flowered, I thought might be ‘Blue Jeans’. It appears not. It is possibly a self seeder from the original that has now popped its clogs. Twice the height of its parent, this cuckoo is rather lovely with its pink brushed flower.

Now a flowering sempervivum which is a combination of obscene and wonderful. It came in a job lot from Lidl and, with its assorted mates, sailed through winter protected from the worse of the wet. I have grown rather fond of them.

Lastly a geranium, pilfered from a client’s garden, which has made itself at home on top of the cut-and-come-again lettuce. They look quite happy together.

That is yer lot, my friends. Have a good week. I’ll try to jolly up by next time.

Six on Saturday – Return of the Sun

I am happy to report that this Six on Saturday is written with the sun in my heart and, more importantly, in my garden.  Yesterday, when I took these photographs, it was doing the usual, no need to dwell on that nonsense, that is the past.  Let us raise a cup of tea to the Return of the Sun.  Expect the mood to be optimistic and expectant of great futures.  Don’t forget to nip over to The Prop’s to find out what is happening in lots of other gardens.  If you are nosy like me this is a godsend, there is absolutely no chance of getting caught rummaging in someone’s herbaceous borders and being firmly asked to leave the premises or the local constabulary will be called forthwith.  Not that that has ever happened to me of course.

First of all we have a desiccated hydrangea flower.  In a few weeks these will be removed, giving space for the new growth to emerge and the cycle to continue.  It is worth keeping the heads on, both for protection of the vulnerable young foliage and for decorative purposes.  Even when soggy they look good.  I wish I would say the same for myself.

Next my bully-boy Narcissus ‘Tête-à-Tête’ who are exploding from the front planters at a rate of knots.  “I was here first!” they shout as they push the poor pansies out of the way, lifting great clods of composts as they rise triumphant.  I will not tolerate such behaviour, there is room for everyone.

Now the empty husks of hosta flowers.  These live in the front garden, in pots just by the front door so we can be ever vigilant in our war against the slimy ones.  They still get eaten.  Still, for a short while we will enjoy them intact and the flowers are rarely attacked.

On to Campanula poscharskyana, looking very washed out in this picture, which seeds itself in walls both front and back.  This piece is on the short pillar on the pavement.  This pillar is very important to the local dog population.  Messages are left here to be sniffed by the next passer-by which are then promptly replied to.  Doggie Post Office.

For many weeks I have thought that these hanging brown bats on the Begonia fuchsioides were the last of the flowers which had been caught in the light frost.  On closer inspection they appear to be seed pods.  I collected them and brought them in to dry.  Already the miniscule seed is spilling out.  Small things, big smiles.

Yesterday I sat at my computer, checking my dreary photographs, trying to pick something at least vaguely in focus.  My eyes turned towards the window, as I wondered whether I should go outside and try again.  A single white feather slowly drifted to the ground.  The feather is a symbol of the spirit in many cultures, and some believe that a white feather is the sign that an angel has passed close by.  It would be nice to think that.  Nothing to do with seagulls at all.  Nothing.

All done, until the next time.

Six on Saturday – A Challenge

When I switched my phone on this morning the first thing I saw was a message from my sister-in-law “have you two tied yourselves to the house?”.  Curious.  And then it dawned on me, the news of our very own cuddly Storm Callum had reached the Netherlands.  For your information we are managing to stay attached at the moment, without the need for baler twine.  Unfortunately the plants are not doing quite so well, it has been quite wild out there in the big bad world.  Hence, it is a miracle that there are any photos today.  A feature peculiar to Chez Nous is that the weather is often different in the front of the house to the rear.  When it is sultry summer in the back garden it can be an arctic winter on the seaward side.  Today the front was merely dark, dreary and dank, a little horizontal rain but that is par for the course.  The rear however was a raging bough-splitting, swirling cataract of tempest.   I exaggerate not.   Photography was a challenge.  I took at least 5 million pictures and have managed to glean a scant six from the dull blur of the rest.  What I am blithering on about? Why the urgency?  I had to get enough photos to contribute the The Propagator’s Six on Saturday phenomenon of course!

There are positives and negatives to my first photo.  This is the little alley to nowhere flanked by the house on one side and the garden retaining wall on the other.  There is a shelf (rotting, I might add) on one side where I cosset the special ones.   Pots are stored underneath for winter protection and shade lovers are given some shelter beneath the whitewashed wall.   This is where all and sundry have been shoved in order to avoid damage whilst works are continuing to the house.  Whilst these unceremoniously shoved-in pots (not by me, I hasten to add) have been protected from the worst of the weather, all but a few on the margins are totally inaccessible.  Who knows what high jinx my nemses are up to?   And the interminable nasturtium is marching ever closer …….. It is a worry.


Come on, less of this misery, let us have a bit of good cheer! Here is a plucky gazania, continuing to flower in spite of the inclement weather.  Actually it is not strictly “continuing” as it, as well as others in the garden, had a short hiatus during the best/worst of the dry summer.

Magnolia 'Heaven Scent'

Next we have the tawney veined leaf of Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’, clinging on for dear life.  This tree was inappropriately purchased for reasons of name and cost alone.  I never said I was perfect.

Chilli Bishop's Crown

This chilli pepper, Bishop’s Crown, was rescued from the home for wayward plants a few weeks ago.  In a pot, far too small for its dimensions, I repotted it and then ignored it.  Really they should do some kind of home check before these neglectees are allowed into the hands of the public.  The fruit don’t look very Bishop’s Crown-y, not that I am an expert in this department.  I might try and over winter the plant, and be nicer to it next year.

Whilst much else is closing down and shutting shop for the season, this hydrangea thought fit to throw out another couple of flowers.   Blooms in minature, but the colour is just as fine, if not better, than earlier in the year.

Dicentra formosa 'Bacchanal'

Lastly we have Dicentra formosa ‘Bacchanal’, again flowering out of season.  This is a plant that has been on The List for a while and I was hyperventilating slightly when I spotted it last month on a stall at RHS Rosemoor Garden Show.   These flowers are much paler than I remember them being and I am optimistically presuming that this is due to the season, weather, planets aligning or some such variables.  We will see.

And that is it, the wind is still roaring and whistling around the scaffolding like something out of a Hammer Horror film, but I am cosy, unlike my poor plants, at the mercy of the monsters who roam ….

Thanks Mr P, take a look at his site and find out what else has been going on in the world of the SoSers.  It will keep you entertained, but I can’t promise that it will keep you out of trouble.




Another hydrangea, and why not?  It has made the effort to flower, and so beautifully.  Today on Button Moon, glowing in the low and most welcome sunlight, it was hard to believe that it wasn’t blooming just for our delectation.  Of course it doesn’t care a fig what we think.

An Interesting Story

Althaea cannabina

Some days toddle along, nothing particularly notable happens, nothing even close to news worthy occurs.  Most days actually.  Don’t get me wrong, no complaints here.  I am quite happy with my meandering life.  When I get home and recount my days in minutae my OH often nods off “was that one of Gill’s interesting stories?” he asks when he wakes.

Brace yourselves folks, there is one coming up.

The day began well.  A bacon buttie well.  Yes that good.  It was warm and welcome on my arrival at The Bun’s.  Mr B took one look and sighed one of his sighs.  I think it meant “you deserve that sandwich, take your time and enjoy it”.  Not absolutely certain though.

And the day progressed well.  Mrs B harvested some cucumbers from medusa’s nest, once known as a greenhouse (I had to pull her out twice by her feet) and bravely retrieved a few good ‘uns.  She kindly gifted me a brace which I placed on the grass by my tools.  It soon became apparent that someone else had designs on them.

Bobbie, who I had previously considered a friend and ally, ran off with one of them.  Mr B tried to fob me off with “she is looking after it for you until you leave” although I wasn’t completely convinced.  The slobber might have added a certain je ne sais quoi, but I decide to give it a miss.

Next I had a rendevous in the lovely village of Mortehoe, meeting on the lychgate steps outside the church.  A friend, who has yet to be named but on reflection I think Dahlia Dora will do the job nicely, is on holiday for the week.  Her family were on the beach and we had a couple of hours pencilled in for catching up.  As I was a little early I took the opportunity to wander the graveyard, examining the headstones, reading names and ages and years.   Although the village was busy I was alone in my contemplation of those that lay below.

Then coffee and scones and cheese and much gossip and laughter.  And even plants to admire.  Another day with nothing to report.  And I am very happy for that.



Six on Saturday – Birthday Girl


Saturday 14th July.  Now that date rings a bell.  Something or other is going on.  Don’t tell me, it is on the tip of my tongue.  Oh yes, Six on Saturday.   That wonderful meme hosted by the indomitable Mr Prop.   But there is a niggle that I might have forgotten another important event.  Silly me, it is the 229th anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille.  Always good for a knees up.  However I’m not sure, there is a nagging at the back of my mind, an inkling that there may be something else I should be celebrating.

How could have I forgotten?!  It is Peggy’s, AKA My Best Mum, 90th birthday.   Don’t worry, it won’t get mushy.  Or only a little.  I can’t help myself.  And don’t think this going to be a “my mother used to grow these in the garden of my childhood, whilst I frolicked amongst the sweet peas”, she barely knows the difference between a daff and a dandelion.  Truly, sometimes I wonder if she is my real mother.  Then I look at my fat calves, remember my propensity to blush at the drop of a hat and my compulsion to talk to absolute strangers on public transport, and I know that there is no avoiding it, we are truly related.

As the reason that I do this blog is the fault of the self said woman, it would be remiss not to celebrate, however tenuously, through SoS.  A meld made in heaven.  Or should that be Heavens.  Once Peggy told me “I have been very lucky, I have never wanted diamonds, pearls or fur coats”.  That is true.  And this is another thing that I have inherited.  Just as well really, because they were never coming our way.  For this special birthday she has been very strict, she doesn’t want anymore “stuff”.   What could be better then, than a Six on Saturday dedicated to you?!  My first gift is a sunflower, could you get any richer and more radiant than this Ruby Queen?  A jewel of the finest kind.


My second gift is an agapanthus, just considering blooming, strung with gossamer.  Or spider’s webs for the unromantic amongst you.  A classic seaside plant, my Mum loves the coast with a passion.  When she stays at our house, my first job of the day is to take her a cup of tea in bed.   I draw back the curtains and we sit and watch the boats and chat and all is well in the world.

Salvia viscosa

The third plant is a Salvia viscosa, an adorable little sage, grown from HPS seed.  Not the most extravagant of flowers, but it has a delicate charm that is as worthy as any other.  My Mum will chat with a Hells Angel or a Duchess, a tramp or a Queen, and she treats them all equally and with respect.  All are enchanted.

Fuchsia 'Thalia'

The next present is Fuchsia ‘Thalia’, which has toughed it out through freeze and swelter.  My Mum is from Yorkshire.  Let me translate for you – she tells it how it is, although years away from home she has alway remained a straight talking northerner.  This sometimes smarts, but is invariably for my good.


My next offering is a hydrangea, strangely blue this year, which I am guessing has something to do with nutrients being available in the drought.  But I might be wrong.   My Mum loves singing and is always quick to break into song.  At any time.  Which can be a little embarrassing.  But remember, she is from Yorkshire, and quite frankly doesn’t care!  This flower has nothing to do with singing, or any song I can think of, but it is still a pretty gift.

Lastly we have Daisy the cat, warming her belly on the baking bricks.  My Mum loves animals and they love her, as do I.  Nearly got slushy then.  She is my mentor, my best friend.  She keeps my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds.  Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  Happy birthday Peggy from Your Bestest Daughter!!!




Six on Saturday – Keeping Focused


It is incredible that I can manage to write anything at the moment.  The reason for my distraction is that seed from the Hardy Plant Society has arrived and I am very excited.   Possibly unnaturally so.  More of that tomorrow, today I must try to stay focused because it is of course Six on Saturday.   I missed last week and I am afraid I will be named and shamed or even worse, no one notices, if I don’t contribute.  For those of you who wish to join this not-so-secret sect pop over to the blog of our guru The Propagator and you will find out all about it.  Don’t send him any money though, he has all mine already.

Firstly we have some hydrangea flowers, well the battered husks anyway.  There are a few remnants left and I have begun thinking about pruning them.  Don’t cry out in fear my friends, the “thinking” is only stage one, the “actually doing” could be a few weeks down the line, by then hopefully the cold winds will have abated and the buds will be safe.


Next is a crocosmia shoot.  Anyone who has been listening will know that I am often cursing this sneaky cormous individual.  Many hours have been spent digging up montbretia, only for them to return the next year, if not sooner.  This one is however a little different.  It is Crocosmia ‘Coleton Fishacre’, syn. C. ‘Gerbe d’Or’, a wonderful (and well behaved) creature.  Rich olive green leaves set off the warmest of apricot flowers perfectly.  A gift from the lovely Hero, I am very happy to grow it again.


Number three is a new garden resident, he is standing guard at the base of a Japanese acer, hopefully scaring away predators.


Now onto Rosmarinus officinalis, just a bog standard Rosemary.  But it is very special to us.  Our beautiful Charlie cat, who features in the header of this blog, is buried beneath it.  She loved to sit underneath the large, gnarled and woody, specimen we have in the garden.  I often wondered if the fragrant oils soothed her as she slept, as now her place is taken by other visiting felines.  Charlie was left behind when our neighbours moved house and we took her in.  Before coming to us she lived outside for years, ever since they bored of her and got a puppy instead and the two could not live in tandem.  I like to think her final years with us were happy.  She soon became accustomed to laps and fires and cuddles and sofas.  Bless her.

Pelargonium cordifolium

Outside the back door I have a huddle of plants, that in a perfect world would be in a greenhouse, but as we all know it is far from that.  So I have herded them together for warmth.  One of these is Pelargonium cordifolium var. rubrocinctum (apologies).  It is statuesque, standing proudly in spite of its circumstances, and so far has not faltered in the winter weather.


Finally a horseshoe.  We bought this, and a couple of others, from a cardboard box of assorted sizes at National Trust property Arlington Court.  Here they have an amazing carriage collection and some magnificent horses to pull them.  Some say the shoes should be displayed prongs up in order to catch the luck, some say the prongs should be pointing downward to stop luck escaping.  Who knows?  Perhaps I will try turning them around and wait for the lottery win.  Or perhaps this life I have is considered lucky enough to be counted as lucky and I will be doomed if I move them.  I think I will leave well alone.

That, is that, my Six on Saturday.  Thanks Mr P.  Hopefully, if the horseshoes allow, I will be back same time next week.  If not, the puzzle may well have been solved.




Happy New Six on Saturday

hydrange seed head

Happy New Six on Saturday to you all.  What is Six on Saturday you ask?  Can I believe my ears?  Where have you been for the last century, Mars?  I suggest you take your rocket ship over to Mr P’s planet, our commandant’s home, and it will all become clear.  Let us proceed.

Earlier in the week we were visited by the feisty storm Eleanor*.  A sleepless night left us feeling a little battered the next day.  The windows are streaked with brine, the recycling is in Somerset and plants are looking slightly stunned.  This morning I smiled when I noticed a desiccated hydrangea bloom dangling from the telephone wire outside our bedroom window.  Today it has been sliding one way, then the other, like a floral tightrope walker.


A couple of weeks ago I was kindly given a coreopsis by one of my esteemed clients.  It was an unwanted gift.  Not for me, you must understand, for them.  It was very welcome for me.  During the recent skirmishes it was somehow robbed of its pot, which has not been found, and left embarrassingly naked from the waist down.  My dysfunctional gardener solution was to bung it in this oversized pot until I get around to sorting it.  Is that sirens I can hear?

coffee plant

Apparently there is an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.  There is good reason.  It is warm and the sun shines.  There is just one coffee plant in my back garden and it is looking a little the worse for wear.  It has been living in the house (quite rightly) but was sent outside to sit on the naughty step as it had an aphid infestation.  Then we (yes “we” ) forgot to bring it back in again when it got on the nippy side and a tad breezy.  Silver lining – there is no sign of white fly.

agapanthus seed head

That has got the weather stuff out of my system.  Let us move onto something else.  Oh yes, some agapanthus seed heads.   I love seed, a little too much perhaps.  But so does our leader The Propagator, and a mention will keep him happy.

spider plant

My other half loves spider plants.  I don’t.  As we live in a democracy (at the moment) I concede to this adoration.  It could be much worse.  So he keeps on propagating them, rather they keep propagating themselves and he pots them on.  Or divides them.  Many moons ago he read how they clean the air or some such nonsense (unfortunately for me, possibly true nonsense).  There is now at least one in every room of the house.  I took one off his hands and planted it outside.  It will die, I hoped.  It hasn’t.  It just looks even uglier.  Surrounded by weed and manky apples precisely sums up my feelings.  Yuk.


What a gloomy selection of photos, not to mention the doomy text.  That is not the way to start the new year.  I will finish with a picture to raise the spirits a little; crocus and Jetfire daffodils emerging through the violas.  Not long ’til  spring, but until then, let us enjoy what we have.

Thanks Lord Propagator for emotionally blackmailing me yet again into submitting my SoS, and of course for hosting the meme (yes I said meme again).  Fingers crossed for next week!

* I have generally found that whenever I moan or gripe about my life, indulge myself in self pity, things are inadvertently brought to my attention to put me to shame.  And quite rightly so.  If I am feeling ill, I read about someone far poorlier than I am hopping up Kilimanjaro with a smile on their face.  If I am feeling hard done by, I hear of some underprivileged soul doing kindnesses to those more fortunate than themselves.  And if the weather is getting me down, I am shocked by TV clips of blizzards and droughts and floods and general devastation the experience of which is far from mine.  Therefore please bear in mind that I am fully aware of the pathetic nature of any weather system that might befall us here in the UK and our embarrassing inability to cope with it.  It was a pretty windy though.


Blue is not the only Colour


My friend the Frustrated Gardener recently extolled the virtues of the blue hydrangea in his post True Blue.  I am totally with him on this one, they are an amazing spectacle at this time of year, to be honest I agree with him on most things.  But looking out off of my window this afternoon I spied my ruddy hydrangea, basking in the late sunshine, sadly neglected, planted by others, name unknown, and I thought, “do you know what?  blue is not the only colour.