Six on Saturday – Imagination

You will need to use a little imagination to fully appreciate my Six on Saturday this week. You will have to channel your seasonal goodwill and indulge me, which to be honest you often do. There is not a lot to shout about in the garden at the moment and what does deserve a hip horray is blurred. Such is life. If you wish, and I highly recommend it, you can check out the rest of the SoS Community in Father Propmas‘ workshop and find out what he and his stocking clad helpers have been up to. Let’s get on, it will soon be Christmas.

We are still transporting plants and accoutrement from Peggy’s. This little chap arrived in his new home this week. The car was full to bursting with boxes and plants and he winked at me as if to say “don’t forget me”. I wrapped him in some kitchen towel and put him in my handbag. He was a gift from a very special friend and for that reason he is doubly loved.

Next we have the new diddy border. It seems that there are two schools of thought when planting: leave ample room between plants for maturing in an elegant and restrained manner or cram the little darlings in for instant impact. No brainer.

Earlier in the week I sorted through my seed box and found three packets that required cold stratification. Today I potted them up and abandoned them to their fate in the far reaches of the estate (easily viewed from the back door). I don’t want a cold winter, but if we do have one then I might well have germination of nomocharis, anemonopsis and roscoea. Win, win. Or perhaps lose, lose.

Salvia conferifolia is still valiantly flowering. I have yet to get a decent photo of this very special salvia. Today reinforced that fact. In fact I believe I am regressing.

Eventually, the Pyrus ‘Chanticleer’ is beginning to turn. About time too. I was beginning to wonder if it was some strange evergreen version. Once the leaves have fallen there will be a diminished sail effect and in turn less rocking and rolling in the wind. All of which will lead to a less stressed out Gilly.

Finally, under the evil influence of Professor Gadget, I have acquired some red hot pokers for the garden. To be more precise, four red hot pokers. They came bare-rooted and, it would seem, had been packaged up for a while. Still, where there is life there is hope, and if they fail His Gadgetship will be on the case. A fabulous collection: Nancy’s Red, Alcazar, Ice Queen and Sunningdale Yellow.

That is your lot. Next Saturday is the big day, so I’m unlikely to be on parade. Hope it’s a good one for you all, my friends, full of fun and laughter and lots of love and green triangles. ‘Til next time.

Six on Saturday – Pretty Maids All in a Row

It has been a fortnight since I last reported and I am worried that you are expecting great things of me. I am sure you do not wish to hear excuses, if necessary I can come up with a baker’s dozen, so I will just say “these things can not be rushed, I am an artist and I must wait for my muse to inspire me”. Which of course is bunkum, but worth a try. What I present you with here is a particularly dull Six on Saturday. Apologies, but perhaps you could read it just before bedtime to aid a good night’s sleep. If stimulation is what you are looking for, pop over to Mr Dynamo himself, The Prop, and find out what himself and his acolytes have been up to. Right, let us get this over with.

To begin, a new border, the first. It is north facing. I may call it The North Border, although this is unlikely. At present it is pathetic and feeble, pretty maids all in a row, but it is a start and the hydrangeas especially needed to have their feet in the soil once more. Talking of soil, I am pleasantly surprised in that department. A few inches of nice dark stuff, then a more red sandy clay type. Not a fag packet, Gregg’s carrier bag or bit of rusty metal in sight. I must get a pH testing kit. I was asking Jim a couple of weeks ago about a small camellia to suit and I would rather not grow it in a pot.

In the new North Border (working title) I planted a cutting from our wonderful red hydrangea in Ilfracombe (above not looking very red), Hydrangea aspera ‘Hot Chocolate’, Impatiens omeiana and Begonia ‘Claret Jug’. All a bit deciduous so in the middle went Pseudopanax ‘Moas Toes’, which is heading for the stars. I’m thinking about nipping out the top to encourage some horizontal growth, any thoughts? I will wait til spring so you have time to think about it.

Much as I would love a hand crafted artisan compost heap, I am realist enough to accept that a dalek is as good as it is going to get for the foreseeable. This is enough to make me very happy. The evidence of border excavation is nearby. As tidy a pile as an untidy pile can be.

I had bulbs to plant. I had no pot to plant them in. So I made a mini bed and planted out Rodgeria ‘Heavenly Gill’. If ever a plant should not be in a pot, surely it is a rodgersia. Hopefully it will thrive here, it has struggled up to now.

Then in with the bulbs of Lilium ‘Forever Susan’. This must be my five hundredth attempt to find the real thing. Fingers crossed for next year. And yes I did cover the bulbs with soil.

Some traditions must not be ignored. The violas are doing very nicely.

Your trial is over, you have stayed the course. I can’t promise much more excitement next time. I can promise I will try. Stay safe my friends.

Six on Saturday – First Steps

Hello and welcome to my first Six on Saturday from Nouvelle Maison, or perhaps I should say Cartref Newyd. The top news of the week is that, joy of joys, I have eventually started to work in the new garden. Not that anyone would notice, but a few tentative steps have been made. It would be foolish to rush into such things. In my experience, you have to build up a relationship with a garden, have shared experiences, failures and successes, appreciate and tolerate personalities, weaknesses and strengths. This takes time. I am often naive in life, but not so much to think this will be a quick fix. Let me share with you the story so far. But first, don’t forget, to find out what other SoSers from across the globe have been up to, check out The Prop’s site. We had better get going, there is a long way to go.

As you can see, our starting point is small, modern, heavy on the lawn and patio, nigh on featureless. Bare bones. If I switch on the horti-translator for just a moment, this equates to POTENTIAL! The plan is obviously complex in both design and concept, but to simplify we could say “much grass culled, lots of plants in big borders, compost heap and greenhouse down the side”. Something like that anyway. I may need a hosepipe.

In the top right hand corner there is a small border in which is planted the ornamental pear, Pyrus ‘Chanticleer’. It is about 20ft tall and ominously rocked and rolled like a manic Little Richard throughout the recent gales. Still in full leaf, it has a large sail to be caught by winds. Something to be considered. Will you stay or will you go now? A prize for IDing that quote.

Not strictly in our garden, but a few meters from our front door on a communal green area, is this young fastigiate oak. I like to think of it of our tree. I am planning on some planting some bulbs and perhaps a few primroses around it. Then the corporation chaps will come and mow them down. Perhaps I should have a chat with someone.

There are a few plants in the small pear tree border. Some young privet next to the fence (days are numbered), an astilbe, a couple of manky hostas, a ladies mantle and a large clump of violets. Today (yesterday) I planted a Helleborus x hybridus ‘Anna’s Red’, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket’ (gift from my lovely sponsor), some Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’ and Fritilleria meleagris. It felt good. The jury is out as to whether the violets stay.

A few more plants have travelled from Peggy’s to Patio, including the gorgeous Fuchsia ‘Eruption’. There are an awful lot more to take the treacherous journey. The tibouchina is just coming into flower so can’t be moved, I will wait for the dahlias to die back for ease and others will come piecemeal as we visit. Each time I have to make the decision to which to bring back with me I feel a little bit guilty. How do you choose between your dear ones?

Finally a collection of fossils and shells which had been wrapped in tissue and stored in a box since Bristol. Devil’s toenails and tiny amonites, mother of pearl and lucky stones. They can live outside now.

That is your lot, my lovelies. The first six, the first step. Onwards and upwards!

Six on Saturday – Hello

I just popped by to say “hello there”. To say “cooooeeeeee, I’m still hanging on to Planet Earth”. Perhaps even “did you miss me, did you notice I’ve been gone?” Too needy? Almost definitely. More importantly, I am here to share my last Six from Peggy’s house. Or rather, my last Six if the Big Moving Gods in The Sky are feeling benevolent and the ceremonial sacrifice of six jammy dodgers and a kitkat was considered adequate. I will say no more, I do not wish to jinx things. If you have a little time on your hands, it might be worth seeing what the other SoSers are up to. Pop over to The Prop’s site and all will be revealed. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have Diascia personata, the name of which I have a terrible time remembering. After an initial flowering, several pot ons, a severe chop back and a major sulk (on its part) it is now flowering again in a very civilised manor. Refined and understated, as befits the season. Fair play to you fine, *checks notes*, diascia!

“It is not dead” I kept telling everyone/myself, and I was right. This time anyway. The Tibouchina urvilleana is just forming flower buds, having pulled itself from the vortex of doom. I am very pleased because it was a gift from Mr and Mrs Fish and not only do I love it, I feel a certain responsibility of care.

Well along the road to snoozeland, the hostas are shutting down, withdrawing chlorophyll from their leaves and giving us a fine lemon drizzle display of colour. I rarely consider hostas as plants with autumn merit. I may well have to rethink that opinion. Remind me next year.

Onto Hedychium ‘Pradhanii’, which has sporadically produced some rather contorted, disturbed flowers for several weeks. The recent rains have suited it and now the blooms are as exotic and wonderful as they ever have been. Hip, hip, horrah!

Begonia grandis ‘Claret Jug’, is another beauty just coming into its own. Burgundy backed leaves and stems, fresh pink flowers held on Barbie branches, this is quite glorious.

Finally, Nerine bowdenii ‘Bicolor’ has thrown up two flower spikes this year and this is the first to shine. And shine it does. Now we just have to wait to see if its delicate relative, N. undulata is going to turn up to the party.

That is your lot. Hope you are all staying well and happy. ‘Til next time.

Six on Saturday – Pot Wars

Reporting from Limboland. Still no news on the house, which I suppose would negate our citizenship of Limboland, but I wanted to make it quite clear. Quite clear as to the mood. Tettering. Possibly the best word. There might be other words more appropriate. Still, I am but a single grain of sand in the dune that is SoS, check out the others at Chez Prop, you will love it. I’m late already so we had better shake a leg.

First, we have Fuchsia ‘Thalia’ which is just beginning to come into its own. I especially love the dangly fuchsias, or the triphylla for the more botanically minded of you. In the past few weeks I have struggled to keep my pots watered sufficiently, many need transplanting into either larger pots or the ground and are bursting to get out. Still, I persist, but they complain however hard I try.

Even the ginger mint is moaning, frazzled and weary. The flower is pretty though and the pollinators love it.

Onto Mandevilla laxa which should be climbing but has, quite wisely, decided to stay closer to the ground until all this uncertainty is resolved.

I am pleased that this Hedychium ‘Tara’ seedling is flowering, I thought it might sulk for a while. I waited as long as I could before I dug a piece up from our old garden as, on excellent authority, I believe it is best to wait until they just come into growth to move them. The flowers are not as big and juicy as usual, but I can forgive her that.

Next Pteris umbrosa, Jungle Brake, a tender fern from SE Australia. This one was actually from mid Devon, as I bought it at a Hardy Plant Society AGM. I chuck a piece of horti fleece over it during the worst of the weather and it has so far served me well. I’m very fond of it.

Finally we have the lax and lazy Impatiens puberula that is only bothering to pop out the odd bloom and that in a half hearted way. Earlier in the season I repotted this and cut it back hard, which might explain the reticence. Perhaps more than any, the impatiens have hated the dry and are top of the list when I’m watering.

Next year will be different. This time next year, Rodney, we’ll be millionaires!

That is your lot. Hope you are keeping well and happy. ‘Til next time.

Six on Saturday – Turn Right

Everything has conspired against me in my Six on Saturday mission this week. I have had computer tantrums, a bread knife related finger injury and a dodgy camera. Did I let that stop me? Did I, hell as like! Captain Prop didn’t get to where he is today by letting an insignificant thing like a poorly pinkie stop him getting where he is today. Nor did he succeed by adhering to the rules, which is to my advantage because I haven’t either. My six are all about a day trip. Read on McReaders……..

I’ve been to the open air St Fagan’s National Museum of History many times. Scattered across wooded acres are reconstructions of Welsh buildings, rescued from the four corners of the country and rebuilt, brick by brick. There are iron age roundhouses and a 1948 prefab, a grand medieval court house and a beehive-shaped stone pig sty. There is a working mans’ institute, general stores, a bakery, a sweet shop and a fish and chip shop. You can look inside many of the buildings, which are furnished and often, if the weather necessitates, have a fire blazing. Fascinating stuff. I can’t get enough of this kind of thing. Since I last visited, admittedly a few years ago, they have installed a treetop walkway for kids and intrepid adults and a new pub project is in the process of building built.

In the main modern building, airy galleries house anthropological treasures including iron age jewellery, Neolithic skeletons, suffrage banners and a vintage Fergie tractor. Until quite recently the wonderful Everyman Theatre performed on site every summer. Beneath the heaven-reaching trees, we have enjoyed musical theatre, Gilbert and Sullivan and Shakespeare. We would arrive in daylight but by the time we departed night had begun to fall. It was always a magical walk back to the car park past the ancient buildings, their history more lucid in the twilight. One year, when they were performing The Pirates of Penzance, buccaneers roamed the site leaping out and scaring the bejezus out of everyone.

Something, however, I have never done before is to turn right when entering the main park. In fact I didn’t even know there was a right. Oh dear, what a mistake. How has this happened? No one told me it was possible. Right takes you to St Fagan’s Castle and Gardens with its ancient fish ponds, champion trees, fallen mulberries -thriving in their prone positions, herbaceous borders, grass parterres and knot gardens, cut flower borders and decrepit vineries. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

And it gets even better. I spotted a gate in the boundary wall and through that gate was a pub. We nipped through, had a quick half and a sit down, met a puppy and fully refreshed returned to our exploration.

Then, on the way out, we discovered a wall full of second hand books for sale where I picked up Three Dublin Plays by Sean O’Casey. Gardens, history, beer, puppies, books; a tailor-made day trip, it couldn’t have got much better. Perhaps a plant sales area ……. maybe not.

There is a further twist to this story. My camera battery was getting low and subsequently the photos are very disappointing. Which is a bit of a blow as I wanted to use them for my Six this week. Which I have, because I figured it was better than nothing.

My first picture is a gorgeous sanguisorba in the mixed formal borders in front of the Castle which, if you are being picky, is in fact an Elizabethan mansion built on top of a Norman Castle. I was especially impressed by this planting, full of grasses and late flowering perennials.

Next we have a charming little prefab, which unfortunately we couldn’t go inside. I love the long leggy hypericum in front.

A row of terracotta with associated spiders webs.

One of the fallen mulberries, still producing fruit and looking beautiful in their gnarled splendour. I noticed they had planted some striplings for future generations to enjoy. And yes I did eat a berry.

The only good place for fake grass.

And yes, I saw several young girls who would have ideal for pickling and bottling.

That is your lot. Have a good week, one and all. Stay safe and well.

Six on Saturday – Reverted

Right from the off, just in case it isn’t clear, this week I have reverted back to “Good Cop with a Hint of Malice”. A role that I am much better suited to. It has been a rather gloomy few days, but I have it on very good authority (OH) that after the weekend all will be sun and glory. And don’t we need it. If you would like to hear about good things happening in the world, then catch up with The SoS Gang who hang out at The Propagator’s; believe me, it will lift your spirits. There may be a little black spot or slug damage, but that is as sad as gets. Shall we shake a leg?

First we have a rose which has been splendid for weeks now. It is quite rampant, and could do with a good dead head, but today I am dwelling on the positives and things that don’t involve work for me.

I went and done it again. Such a beautiful nemesia, reduced from £7 to 99p. Seriously, could you resist? I don’t believe you.

Onto, the third and final hibiscus, Chez Peggy. This is the navy blue bud of Hibiscus syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu’, also known as Bluebird, blowing us all a kiss. Weird or wonderful? You decide.

Now an unnamed helenium, bought at an open garden along with a couple (coughs) of other waifs and strays. I have planted this one in mum’s garden and it is making itself at home. A bit of a blurry shot, but apparently soft focus is where its at. Obviously, I made that bit up.

I first came across Salvia ‘African Skies’ at Cliffe, when Helen from Little Ash and her inimitable friend Bats came to visit and brought it as a gift. “What a lovely thought” I said, “and what colour is it?” Helen and Bats looked at each other, laughed and cried in unison “Blue!”. Of course, like the sky, I knew that ……. Whenever I look at it I smile in memory, which was reason enough to get another. It is also rather beautiful and I do love a salvia.

Finally …………….. ANOTHER LEAF ON THE ALOE POLYPHYLLA!!!!!!! *blows into paper bag* This is all the more exciting as I thought leaf No. 1, now known as least favourite leaf, was looking a little sickly. I am staggering around in the dark on this one. I have no clue on what to do for the best. I don’t want to under- or over-water, so I have been giving it a teaspoon of warm water every day or so and studying it (some might say obsessively) with Peggy’s illuminated magnifying glass. This is no tried and tested method discovered on Aloes-R-Us website, just a knee jerk reaction. Time will tell. Any top tips will be gratefully received, although no monies will be available to recompence your wisdom. I will, of course, keep you posted.

All done, hope you all have wonderful weeks wherever you might be. Spread the love.

Six on Saturday – Bad Cop

Shall we cut to the chase. We have known each other long enough to be totally honest with one another. You know what comes next. I give The Prop a bit of a big up and a semi-amusing title, he totally ignores me, I waffle on a bit about stuff that no one quite understands and then I share some photos with you. Same old, same old. Well from now on there is going to be a new me: tough, unforgiving, ruthless. No more creeping around TP, no more nice little Gillykins, I have a new persona – Bad Cop. I’ll give a go anyway. Come on, you motley crew, let’s get this over and done with.

First we have a hitchhiking nasturtium, I love the scary teeth and its insistent ways. It doesn’t let anything stand in its way, it just forces through, taking no prisoners in its quest for garden, nay world, domination. Most admirable. (And the bumblebees love clambering through to the rewards behind.)

Next is Impatiens omeiana, slow to flower even though I have tended it. Some plants you just can’t please. You give and give and they can’t even be bothered to try. (Although to be honest the beautiful foliage is quite enough.)

Then Salvia ‘Neon’ which is looking rather pathetic in the rain. Don’t fall for that romantic raindrop nonsense. (The colour is stunning and not captured by my photo, I always have trouble with strong pinks.)

Now an unknown plant which was in a basket of flowers that my brother bought mum for Mothers Day. As soon as I moved in I chucked it out. Peggy needed to be reminded who was No. 1 child. (In reality it didnt go far and this little beauty is doing quite nicely. I will pot it on.)

Onto Correa schlechtendalii, what a name, seriously does anyone expect me to remember that! (But of course I shouldn’t moan about a word that isn’t familiar to me because it hails from a foreign language. Oh yes, and the flower is very pretty.)

Finally, another flouncy show-off attempting the dewy eyed look, AKA, the second Hibiscus syriacus in my temporary garden. (It is a large shrub and in the far corner, so I picked a few stems and put them in a vase for Peggy to admire.)

Over and out. (How did I do?) (Have a good week) (Take care and stay safe)

Six on Saturday – AWOL

I am not actually here. In fact at this very moment I am probably jet washing Lord and Lady Mantle’s silverware or polishing the throughbreds. Yes, we have left Welsh Wales for the weekend and are visiting the grand abode of the aforementioned dignitaries. In normal circumstances, this would make it tricky to post my offering, but I have been able to complete my Six on Saturday mission with the help of a secret accomplice. Many thanks to him. I may well pay later. Find out what is happening on planet SoS by visiting The Grand Vizier of Propolopolis where his royalness and his faithful acolytes can be found Sixing all over the world. Shall we proceed, the chinchillas won’t walk themselves.

First we have an unnamed hibiscus in Peggy’s garden. I suspect it is H. syriacus and I also suspect that I planted it, along with another which is just about to bloom. Something of the exotic is always welcome.

Next a lacecap hydrangea which is being bullied out by its neighbours but has managed to sneak a couple of flowers through the foliage of the offending shrubs. It is very pretty, I might take a cutting. Hydrangea-love is something that sneaks up on you unawares. Not that I’m complaining, the more love the better.

Now we have a cutting of Abelia floribunda which at 10cm tall is getting a little ahead of itself. Not yet, my lovely, concentrate of growing strong before you start showing off! I nipped off the bloom just after the photo was taken. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

One of the very few plants (leave me to my delusions) that I have purchased since moving here is this white agapanthus. It sang the Song of the Sirens to me when we were visiting an open garden in the village. Do not fear, this is not a confession of another felony, it was in the plant sales.

A couple of weeks ago I got a top tip that some hanging baskets were going cheap and these hanging baskets were stuffed full of apricot tuberous begonias. The rest is history.

Finally, when ordering some radish seed a couple of weeks ago, somehow a packet of Aloe polyphylla fell into my virtual basket. I have been mesmerised by this Fibonacci succulent for a while now, but I have never been able to justify the cost of a plant. The little five seeds have been soaking in water for a few weeks and, thrillingly, one of them has germinated. This week I potted it up into a small terracotta pot and am hoping for the best. I have a feeling it might end in tears. It is tiny and vulnerable, the horicultural grit looks like landscape of boulders. Still, faint heart never grew fair aloe.

That is your lot for today. Hope all is well with the gang. ‘Til next time.

Six on Saturday – PS Peggy

Shall we get the obvious out of the way before we get going? It has been hot. Hot for us Brits. We are ill-equipped for such things. We are sleep deprived and smelly. We are pink and dehydrated and grumpy. This week I have mainly been watering pots, talking about how hot it is, sweating and trying to sleep. I have woken to find the weather has broken; it is windy and wet and warm, a generous gift from the alliteration gods. It is too early to say whether this is a preferred option, it is undoubtedly one I am more accustomed to. Crikes, a garden chair just flew past the window! Wait a moment while I rescue it. Well, that was exhilarating and a little bit scary.

I’m trying to think of someone who would have stayed chilled this week and calm in a storm…… just a minute it is on the tip of my tongue ……. oh yes, our Six on Saturday leader, The Prop. Let us shake a leg, this SoS won’t write itself.

First, we have a plant that I took without the owner’s permissions. I nicked it. At the earliest opportunity I confessed, which makes it alright. I think. He didn’t call the police. But I have moved house since. Perhaps I am on the run and don’t even know it. It was however a crime of passion, so there is absolutely no way I would be charged in a Disney court of law. It is a rather beautiful geranium that I don’t know the name of, I didn’t go so far as to steal the label, but I call it Paul’s geranium.

My cucumber ‘Marketmore’ has taken off and there are more flowers and baby cucs on the way. I have been removing the male flowers, for no other reason that I thought the bad boys might make the fruit bitter. Or is that courgettes? The plant has decided that my cane support was not adventurous enough and headed in a tomato-ey direction. As the saying goes, “You can lead a cucumber to bamboo but you can’t make it climb it”. Unless you tie it on and cut off all the tendrils of course.

Last week it was Peggy’s birthday. As we skated to my brother’s house for a celebratory meal, mum on her rolator, me and OH on rollerblades, we bumped into a local gardener. “It is my mum’s birthday” I said, just like a three year old would. The generous woman disappeared into her greenhouse and came out with this little beauty, Salvia ‘Senorita Leah’. “Happy birthday” she said, and then to me “You can easily take cuttings”. I was already on it.

You might well hang your head in shame Dahlia coccinea! One day you have red flowers, the next you decide to start blooming orange. A mystery indeed. I blame Brexit/heatwave/alien invasion.

This is the first time that my Hydrangea aspera ‘Hot Chocolate’ has flowered. To be honest it hasn’t been a long wait, a little over a year, and you have to let a chap settle in. The lovely peachy blooms are a pleasant surprise. I bought the plant for its foliage (and name) and hadn’t considered flower colour. Very nice.

The watsonia seedling has also flowered for the first time. It was a gift from Steve and Dawn at Devon Subtropical. Here it is growing in association with a more reliable orange dahlia, Bishop of York. When I say “in assocation” I mean, I stuck the pot next to it.

And here is an extra. However I have got an exemplary excuse for this misdemenour. Are you sitting comfortably? Since we have been living with my mum, I’ve enjoyed sharing my plants with her. I bring the pots in that are small enough, or help her outside for the larger ones, and tell her a little bit about them. Yesterday afternoon we were looking at this Fuchsia procumbens ‘Variegata’ and she was smitten. “Shame, I’ve already got my Six on Saturday photos sorted” I told her. “Can’t you have it as a PS?” Of course I can. So here it is: the adorable variegated creeping fuchsia.

That is your lot. Rain this weekend, which is much needed. Hopefully not floods, which are seldom welcome. Take care, my friends. ‘Til next time.