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 with 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.

Six on Saturday – Interloper

A Six on Saturday update from Inbetweensville; house viewings are proceeding and a couple of “close but no cigar”, life Chez Maman rumbles along nicely, gardening is good. The optimism tank is not empty just yet. The interim pot garden is doing well and Peggy is not subtle in her demands for the future, “As the plants are now in my garden, they are now officially mine and must stay when you leave.” she announced the other day. This reminded me of when my lovely Cloggie Sister-in-Law first visited the family mansion in Cornwall and foolishly left her chocolate unattended in the fridge. “Stop! That is Ellen’s chocolate!” my Mum proclaimed, as she caught my Dad unashamedly tucking in. “But is is my fridge” he reasoned. End of story. Where chocolate was concerned, there were no holds barred. Lessons were learned. In our house the Easter Bunny ate our Easter eggs, meaning they had to be secreted with the utmost stealth. Which might explain a lot. For less tragic, more floriferous, stories you would be advised to check out what our SoS leader, The Prop, is up to. I am sure he would never take candy from a baby.

Onto my contribution, as tempus is, as always, fugiting. This week, after an initial smack in the chops, my six are rather muted. I will explain. I have been let down. Again. Which has turned me from from the bright side to the subtle side. All will be revealled in the fullness of time. Actually in the next paragraph.

I should know by now not to gloat. It seldom ends well. A few months ago I swaggered, very unattractively, after finally acquiring Lilium ‘Forever Susan’ . Never believe what you read on the label. It is not even close. Still, it is big and bright and very orange and is getting on rather well with Rosa ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. Small mercies. I’m not giving up in my quest, I will nab that ‘Susan’ if it is the last thing I do! Until then I am focusing on delicate hues in the (my) pot garden.

Next, a darling, dusky, Primula capitata ‘Noverna Deep Blue’ which has got on and done the business without fuss or fancy. Respect.

Now, we have a stonking great seed capsule of Trillium sessile, the one I grew from seed and was recently reunited with. I am watching and waiting and wondering if I have the patience to sow more seed. Anyone interested? What I mean is, is anyone interested in some seed, not if I am going to grow any, which is not very interesting.

Onto, the first flower of my dwarf French bean ‘Tendergreen’. Very pretty. Now get on and give me a bean!

Number five is Impatiens arguta ‘Alba’, just coming into to flower and very welcome at that.

Lastly we have Dahlia merckii, a gift from the ever generous Anna in Cumbria. This year she has shined like the star she is! Thank you.

All done, keeping staying well and safe, my friends. ‘Till the next time.

Six on Saturday – Gloomy

We have got to the point in the year where acceleration has reached optimum velocity. Any pretence of control has been thrown out the window with the OS map. There is no brake pedal (one of my favourite anxiety dreams) and we just have to free wheel down the hill as best we can without causing too much harm. Perhaps we should just lift up our feet and shout “wheeeeee!”. Enough with the analogies? Quite right too. You won’t find any of those kind of fripperies over at Prop Central, take a look to find out what the rest of the world has been up to, you won’t be disappointed. Before we go any further, I must explain the title “gloomy”, it refers to the weather and photos, not my mood. Now let’s boogie on!

First we have an aerial shot of my radish seedlings, taken from a drone. Not really, I just stood over the pot. But you didn’t really think …….? Aren’t they bounding along? Someone has taken a nibble here and there, but I don’t mind sharing a little. Just a little.

Next a new member of the family. More compost was needed so we popped into the garden centre and somehow (I’m sure you know how it is) this little lovely ended up in the shopping trolley. Soon, and yes I really mean soon, it will be potted up in its own special terracotta pot and given pride of place.

Now a rather dusty cactus. On the epic crammed journey from North Devon to South Wales, OH held this and equally spiky friend in a box on his lap. Jeopardy.

Onto a pot of bedding I planted to cheer up the front of the house, which has settled in very nicely. What a wonderful daughter I am.

For years I lusted over a variegated jerusalem sage in Phlomis Phlo’s and TT’s garden. I took cuttings on several ocassions, always ending in failure. They also took cuttings will zero success. Just before we moved TT came to pick up a large potted to feed his Australisian habit and with him he bought the above plant. The reluctant Phlomis ‘Rougemont’ had seeded itself in the surrounding gravel. It was meant to be.

Finally, Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, head hanging low due to the weight of her tresses. I liberated this from Zeus’ mum who was dismayed by her reckless habit. I was hoping she would behave herself a little more with me. Perhaps not.

And that is your lot, my friends. Hope you all have the requisite ratio of rain and sunshine in your lives. Til next time.

Sixish on Saturday

It has been a very good week. Highlights included: wheeless barrows, gin kits, a static Elvis, celeriac, a plethora of books, downward dogs in the rain and most importantly an adorable cat. I had tales to tell and pictures to share but not the time, or possibly the inclination, to write a blog about them. Hopefully I will catch up soon. Six on Saturday is a milestone in the week; even if I am not contributing I am thinking about whether I am going to or what excuse I can give myself not to. As you will have already deduced, this time I am. Before we get going, I must confess that I have strayed from the path, somehow an extra photo has snuck in. However, as one is for illustrative purposes only and should therefore not be counted, I believe I have staying within the perimeters and rigid guidelines as laid down in the three hefty volumes of SoS rules. In a futile attempt to conceal my rebeliousness from you top mathematicians I will use a) and b). I hope this is OK. Again, any complaints should be directed to my agent, Mr A Non, Refuse Lane, Bin Town, Rubbish County, Trashtopia. I doubt the Lord High Commander will give a fig, so neither should you. Shall we shake a leg?

First, residing at the opposite end of the tufa plant to the lithodora featured last week, is a fabulous little erodium. It is looking particularly lovely, bejewelled (a very Nigella word, don’t you think?) with raindrops. I must get more erodium, such great plants.

Recently I have getting in touch with my veggie side. When packing up to move I decided to send to storage all my flower seed but I brought my vegetables with me. This week, after a compost-buying visit to the local garden centre, I had a mini sowing spree. In this planter there is salad leaf, cut and come again, Mesclun Mix. In redundant terracotta window boxes I also sowed knicker elastic radishes and a mix of purple and orange carrots. In order to make quite clear to the local feline population that “this is not a cat litter box” I have placed twigs around the outside. I would be upset if my seedlings were disturbed. Even if it was Buster.

Whilst at the garden centre I was tempted (surprise, surprise) by the young tomato plants. Sungold is a long time favourite, Shirley the name of Peggy’s best friend. I bought an extra Shirley for my brother and his wife. I thought we could have a competition. Old habits die hard.

Onto a glorious yellow rose, unpruned and leggy, but still quite beautiful.

Aeonium ‘Zwartzop’ is a prime candidate for artistic raindrop shots. It would have been rude not to.

Lastly, a happy discovery in Peggy’s garden. I think this might be Jasminum beesianum but, as always, I am happy to be corrected. Whatever its name, the bees weren’t bothered, especially the diddy ones who are as zippy as they are petite. Five hundred and seventy six photos later, in the rain I might add, and I barely caught one of these allusive flitters. Still, after all that effort, you must see the bee in action, which somehow detracts from the beauty of the jasmine. So here we have it: a) bee and peripheral jasmine and b) bee-less jasmine in all its glory.

That is your lot, my friends. Have a good week!