Six on Saturday – Accusations

rose

There have been accusations.   Wicked and cruel lies.  Rumours abound that I have been flaunting the Six on Saturday rules.  It would be unfair to name names as to the source of this gossip, but I will give you a couple of clues to their identity – Haribos and edifices.

I would like to put things straight.  Firstly, I must reiterate that I am far too scared of Our Leader (who has a chart and gold stars and black grim reaper stickers) to waiver from anything but the strict party line.  Secondly, there are rules?  Why didn’t anyone mention this before?

Onwards and upwards.  The first goodie of the day is an unnamed rose, already in the garden when we arrived.  A couple of days ago my OH made a special request for a photo of this beauty.   He says it reminds him of me – prickly and a bit rough around the edges.  It could have been much worse.  Unlike me it is deliciously fragrant and a repeat flowerer.  I really should take some cuttings.

Scabiosa 'Plum Pudding'

Next we have Scabiosa ‘Plum Pudding’, which has been bashed and buffeted about but is still hanging on it there.  The flowers out of season are lighter in colour and smaller in size than a few months ago, but still worthy.  Earlier in the week I sent The Prop some seed of this wonderfully richly coloured scabious.  Yes, that is right, a little bribery and corruption, anything to get another gold star, although to be honest he hasn’t mentioned one.  A little lax in habit, when placed with some supportive friends it will thank you (just like me).

Lavandula pinnata

Now the first Lavanula pinnata flower of the year, with a few more coming along in the background.  At first I thought it was a snail nestling in the bloom, but I’m wondering if it is the rear view of a ladybird.  I suppose I could go and check, but I’m not going to, looks cold out there, another storm on the way.   Whichever, it is probably quite happily in dreamland, overcome by the lethean effect of the lavender.

liquidambar

This is a new one to me, a tentacled fruit of Liquidambar styraciflua.  I have never seen one before, on our tree or any other, however I might just have been looking at my feet at the vital moment.  The RHS website describes them as “inconspicuous” – not so Your Highnesses, not so!  Once ripe I will of course be collecting the seed.  If I have plenty, I might share with anyone who likes growing things from seed ……..

Salvia corrugata

On to Salvia corrugata, just beginning to come into flower.  The mother plant died last winter, which is not really surprising as its home range is Peru, Coloumbia and Ecuador.  This is a cutting that was kept safe and sound.  Apparently seed was first collected from the wild in 1988 and all plants in cultivation come from the six seeds that germinated from that trip.  Precious.

Lastly we have a view of a section of the Bed of Anarchy.  Left to its own devices it has gone from strength to strength.  A few plants are struggling in the fray, but mostly they are finding their way and giving protection one another from wind, rain and chill.  Read whatever you will from that.

Another SoS completed, in time and on budget.   And the rules obeyed.  I must find out just what they are in time for next week.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – Dreary

Osteospermum

It always takes me a few weeks to accustom myself to the shortening days and falling temperatures.  All week I have struggled to get up in the morning and when I drag myself out of bed I am more belligerent teenager than disco diva.   Today was no exception.  There is one word that concisely sums it up.  Dreary.  The weather is dreary, I feel dreary, all is bloomin’ dreary.  Still, I suppose it is all part of life’s rich tapestry, complaining will get me nowhere, least of all with you lot, so I will proceed with the always spectacularly undreary The Propagator’s meme, Six on Saturday.  I can’t be bothered to explain what it’s all about, if you haven’t a clue what I am talking about (which to be honest is a regular occurrence for some) pop over to his pad and he can tell you all about it.  Let’s get started.

We begin with a reluctant osteospermum.   Petals held tight, closed until at the very least a single ray of sunshine warms it’s aching heart.  I feel its pain.  Hyperbole, moi?

Geranium 'Blue Orchid'

Next an out of focus Geranium ‘Blue Orchid’.  This is at present lodging at the far end of the alley to nowhere, out of harm’s (read builders and scaffolders, but of course I am just kidding myself nothing is totally safe from their tentacles of destruction) way.  No I haven’t got over their recent little oops but I am working on it.   This lovely little geranium was a gift from Julie, my friend from horti college.  I could see a glimpse of blue out of the window so I went on a trek to find out who it belonged to.   Shimmying through and around I could just about, at arm’s length, with a sophora getting a little fresh, snap a photo.  It was a miracle of perseverance.

Liquidamber and nasturtiumOne of the reasons that it is becoming increasingly difficult to venture down plant alley is the relentless march of the nasturtiums.  Here they are shown avalanching over a liquidambar, whilst a cosmos admires their exuberance.  I keep pulling at it, it keeps on keeping on, laughing at me all the while.

Cosmos budsAnother plant which is showing no signs of slowing down is the cerise pink cosmos.  After a very slow, snoozing sloth-like start, buds are popping up like chickenpox.  This is a good thing.  And not in the least dreary.  I’m bored with dreary now, it is so, well dreary!

Rosa 'Rhapsody in Blue'It was a tough year to be a rose in a pot, even more so in a garden full of container grown plants where you have to jostle for attention.  Even so, it flowered well at the beginning of the year and has in the last few weeks gifted us some stragglers, this being one.

perlargonium

Lastly we have this diamond of a pelargonium and a confession.  This was given to me last year by Mrs Bun and I was supposed to be donating it to Nancy Nightingale for her garden.  For some reason it never ever made it there.  In fact it didn’t get much further than outside my back door.  My soul feels much better now.  It is very beautiful.

Another Six on Saturday week completed, and yes it definitely is getting trickier each week.  It is good to have a challenge.  Which is no doubt just what I will be saying next time.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – It’s a Miracle

Parahebe catarractae

It is Saturday.  Outside it is blowing a hoolie and periodically horizontal rain joins in the fun.  My ‘to do’ list makes War and Peace look like a novella.   I have writing to finish and don’t need any diversions thank you very much.  All great excuses not to participate in The Propagator‘s Six on Saturday.  But as I can be contrary even to myself, I thought, “why not, the rest can wait, I will brave the storm”.  And so I did.

First a stalwart of this little garden, Parahebe catarractae, which I believe might be now called Veronica catarractae, feel free to take your pick.  It was here when we arrived and flowers almost non-stop.  It was tempting to save this icy blue maiden for another day, for when I am desperate for blooms, but it deserved better than to be a fill-in.  Delicate, reliable, undemanding, all worthy attributes.

Liquidambar styraciflua

Liquidambar styraciflua

Next is our Liquidambar styraciflua, the American Sweetgum, which grows in pot in the small courtyard outside the kitchen door.  Totally inappropriate, but like a small child who wanted it now, I wanted it NOW.  Asking an assistant at a reputable plant centre (very very very reputable) if they sold liquidambars he said he had never heard of it and did I know the Latin name.  Um.  We found one in the end at “I can’t remember where” and it will have to stay in its temporary accommodation until we move to a mansion in the countryside with a couple of acres of land. Um again.

Argyranthemum

Argyranthemum

Right, who’s next?  Oh yes, this little argyranthemum, rescued in the spring from the bargain bin at a garden centre. It has battled, as everything out the front has, with prolonged and vicious mollusc attack.  Still, it has struggled through and hopefully will last the winter.  The Great Hedge of Ilfracombe next door has been cut down to a couple of feet, which has been wonderful for us and our sea views.  This might however be to the detriment of some of the more vulnerable over the winter months when the wicked winds pick up.  We will see.

Hedychium 'Tara'

Hedychium ‘Tara’

Now we have another of my beloved ginger lilies the exotic beauty, Hedychium ‘Tara’.  I think she speaks quite nicely for herself.

Pelargonium 'Calliope Hot Pink'

Pelargonium ‘Calliope Hot Pink’

On to a relatively new arrival to the fold, Pelargonium ‘Calliope Hot Pink’.  We are lucky hereabouts that pelargoniums often over-winter in our benign climate.  Cue the worst winter in living memory. Favourites do get protected from the worst of the rain and I think this may be one of the cossetted ones.  Just in case.

Fuchsia microphylla

Fuchsia microphylla

It wouldn’t be a Six on Saturday without a fuchsia.  So to conclude, the final contestant in today’s beauty contest is the diminutive and most charming Fuchsia microphylla.   When I was a child I loved visiting model villages, where everything was in miniature perfection.   This fuchsia evokes the same Lilliputian love in me.

There we have it Mr P.  Four weeks on the trot.  It’s a miracle.  It can’t possibly last.

 

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.