Six on Saturday – Balance

Here we are again, happy as can be, all good friends and jolly good company. Another Six on Saturday and quite frankly I’m not sure I’ve got a lot to offer; no tales to tell, no yarns to spin. I have got a few plants to share with you, which after all is the point, it is all about the garden not the gardener. But surely the garden is the gardener. Unless you have a gardener. Too many gardeners? Can you have too many gardeners?

On reflection, I have possibly gone on a bit in the past. Perhaps I should aim for a more succinct approach. It is all about getting the balance right. Someone who would never fall off the balance beam of life is Olga Propagator, pop over to his site to see him in his leotard and meet all his lovely cheerleaders. Let us proceed.

First, we have Primula sieboldii ‘Winter Dreams’. This was a No. 1 Lockdown on-line purchase. It was transported with great care, and a few other bits and bobs naturally, from the wonderful Bluebell Cottage Nursery. This is its first flowering. I am not disappointed. Yesterday I discovered that Mr and Mrs Bun have moved to within 10 miles of this nursery. I am green.

Next, is my meagre collection of sempervivum, released from captivity and now in their summer home. No room for bottoms on benches around here. There is a fleece at hand just in case of arctic conditions, but so far this has just been used by Fat Ol for his afternoon snooze.

Onto a Mukdenia rossi flower spike. Rushing ahead of the leaves, which are only just beginning to emerge from the ground, they are a happy spring addition. One of the flowers has a red centre, whilst the rest are green, I wonder if the former has been pollinated. What do you think?

There was great excitement Chez Nous when a lone flower was spotted on our “grown from kernel” peach tree. We live in hope but are girded against disappointment. Expect tears.

Now another Primula sieboldii, this time ‘Essie’ which came home with me from Penny’s Primulas a few years ago. I was visiting the nursery in order to write an article about their National Collection and it would have been rude not to show willing. She is a great beauty and I am growing very fond of these Japanese primroses. I think I should get another, two is not a good number.

Lastly, Tulipa sylvestris and friends, who have since moved on. Although it has to be said that the vivid green aphid does rather set off the vibrant yellow flower. Not enough to be allowed to remain.

All done, hope all is good with everyone. ‘Til next time.

Six on Saturday – Boomerang

We’ve done it! We’ve made to astronomical spring unscathed. Perhaps a little water-damaged and nibbled around the edges, but on the whole not bad for a forever emersion in the dank months. Still, it’s nothing some longer days, later sunsets and a few shoots and buds won’t fix. I know I’ve already celebrated meteorological spring, but any excuse for a party. Pop over to see what is happening on Planet Prop to check out what is going on in the biggest Six on Saturday party of them all. Don’t forget your bottle of turnip wine and cheese straws. It’s time to get on with the task in hand, so without further ado…..

First, we have last year’s beetroot. This was an optimistic sowing in a window box without a window, then subsequently disregarded. I expect the roots will be rock hard, useful only if the Welsh invade. Then again, it might be more sensible to make friends with the Celts and negotiate a cut price journey back over the channel. In that case, the contents will be knocked out, their density assessed for cooking potential and then composted, leaving the terracotta container free for the journey across the water. Until then the leaves are very pretty in the sunshine.

Next, we have Exchorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’. Possibly, they usually are. Unruly in nature, beautiful in bloom. On balance, I can neither recommend nor dissuade you from growing this shrub. Today, it looks like a good option and it has only just begun to reveal its virginal blooms. Later in the year, when lack of discipline is begins to grate, I may not be quite so keen.

OH came home the other day and said “You know those stones that Indiana Jones had to rescue from the baddies, the ones with magical properties? Well I found one down the road and I’ve left in the front garden.” Of course I went out to have a look. And there it was, just west of the olive. It is indeed one of the Sankara Stones. Apparently they bring warmth and life but if you upset Shiva they will impart a fiery destruction upon you. So far it hasn’t proved to be massively helpful, but we live in hope. Perhaps I should warn any delivery drivers of the potential wrath.

Onto Muscari macrocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’. The flower begins the colour of dirty dishwasher opening to that of a lemon opal fruit (what are they called now?) that has been in your pocket for a couple of months, the has paper fallen off and it is now adorned with fluff and mud and unidentifiable detritus. Am I being harsh? Perhaps. Still the delicious scent makes up for its lack of glamour. It takes all sorts to make our world.

Listen! Can you hear something? It is the march of the nasturtium seedlings. And there is no stopping them. Resist at your peril.

Several or more years ago, when I was “on” rather than “off” the edge I sowed some seed of Trillium sessile. I loved them. It would be safe to say I pandered to their every need. Then I left them. Such is the nature of a flibberty gibbet. This week Hero messaged me with a tantalising photo of one of my prodigy. “Give it to me” I shouted. And here it is, returned, like a horti boomerang. It made me laugh when I saw it again in real life. I will never leave it again. Most probably.

Well my lovelies, that is your lot, have a great week and dont forget to stay safe and well.

Six on Saturday

I was all revved up for a Six a couple of weeks ago, in fact I had the photos lined up and scripts imagined. Then disaster struck and I had fisticuffs with my computer, which didn’t end well for me. We have since made friends (tentatively) and I am determined to join the throng this week. I considered using the same pre-trauma photos, but they were rather dull and I thought, perhaps that crotchety old computer knew best after all. Here are six brand-spanking new ones, which although not earth-shatteringly exciting, are hopefully not mind-numbingly boring. “What is she on about?” I hear the uninitiated wail. Well my lovelies, I’m talking about Six on Saturday, the “free to enter impossible to leave” meme hosted by our very own Games Master. Follow the link and all will be revealed, along with the exploits of many other participants, mostly wearing lycra. Shall we proceed?

First, we have a primrose, one that has featured in a previous blog. My thinking is that if I can’t remember what I said about it, you won’t either. This primula is growing between the stones of a wall in the back garden beds. It is not a colour that I would generally warm to. What would you call it? Anaemic pink with the saving grace of a butter yellow centre, perhaps? Still, in spite of myself, I love it.

Next, is the emerging leaf of a tortured hellebore. Last year I bought three Harvington hellebores and duly potted them up for planting out later. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the compost that I used for this and many other things last year. Some of you will know which one I am referring to. The poor plants struggled and gallantly held onto life. Last week I emptied each pot, carefully removing as much of the evil concoction from the roots as possible, and repotted using new compost. And look! This one is Double Lilac Speckled. I have great hopes.

This is more my kind of colour; no holds barred, in your face orange. Quite how this little viola has escaped the ravages of storm and snail is a mystery. Not that I’m complaining. Now is your time little violet!

Onto the challengingly named Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Moa’s Toes’ looking fabulous in the small sunny respite this afternoon. The new foliage is charmingly crimson (was that too horridly alliterative?). The cultivar name refers to the leaf’s similarity to the foot of the New Zealand Moa. Never having met such a bird (yet), I cannot confirm whether this is indeed true. But I think a couple of my SoS pals might know the answer.

It is tricky to explain why certain plants make your heart skip a beat, and I certainly don’t have the words, but this is one that gets my pulse racing to unnecessary rates. Here we have the almost open flower of Fritallaria meleagris, the snakes head fritillary. This is not a rare plant, easy enough to grow and widely available, but for me has an element of mystique and intrigue that is beguiling. It is also vulnerable to mollusc munching, so appreciate it whilst you can.

“Tarquin!” I exclaimed in horror “there seems to be an olive languishing in the front garden, do you have any idea how it might have got there?”. Without raising his head from the joys of Cave Diving for Beginners he said “Probably dropped by a passing seagull”. To be honest, your guess is as good as mine.

Take care my friends, until the next time!

Six on Saturday – You can’t keep a good fern down

February has arrived; which is officially the last month of winter. That is if like me you prefer to adhere to the meteorological interpretation of events, at this end of the year anyway. And it’s a shortie so should fly by. Then, baby, the only way is up! My Six on Saturday this week has no particular theme, which is remiss as I do love a theme. It is however led by endeavour and finished with love. Any newbies to the SoS phenomena should pop on over to The Prop’s site and all will become perfectly clear, or perhaps not so. If in doubt treat it as a Dadaist interpretive inter-planetary art project.

Let us start with a sight that made me grin when I saw it, a coyly unfurling frond of Cyathea australis beneath its veil of fleece. You can’t keep a good fern down.

Next, we have the front garden hellebore, which has done very well this year and seems to have multiplied admirably. Unfortunately, I failed to undertake the promised move, so to admire its mottled flower face requires the flexibility of Simone Biles. I will move it for the new owner.

Onto cyclamen seed pods, which have corkscrewed down and are now poised to push into the soil. Self-sowing; nature is a wonderful thing, and we are part of this amazing world. How this indisputable fact is continually over-looked is a complete mystery.

Question: What could possibly be better than a bud? Answer: A furry bud! The Phlomis fruticosa in the frozen north is gearing up for an early display.

Now we have a defiant osteospermum, its blue boss hinting of its hardiness. The petals are curled in defence of the weather, slimming its profile, looking quite different to its summer appearance. Two for the price of one!

Lastly, we have a heart-shaped leaf of Pelargonium cordifolium var. rubrocinctum, having absorbed its chlorophyll ready to drop. On reflection I should have saved this picture for Valentine Day, but you can’t go wrong with a symbol of love, there is more than enough to go around.

That is your lot, you lovely people. Hope all is good in your worlds. Stay safe and well.

Six on Saturday – Arrival

It cannot be denied that I have been a little distracted of late. In fact it has been previously noted. I wish I could say there were noble intentions afoot, that I’ve been performing the complete works of Gilbert and Sullivan at the home for delinquent seniors or knitting ponchos for orphan lambs, but no. Selfish to a fault. It cannot be denied, m’lord, I have been navel gazing. Do not lose hope; we may be at a turning point in my self-obsession. Yesterday, eventually, after much wailing and head bashing, our house sale was completed. Feel free to set a taper to the firework display you have been saving for this very ocassion. If necessary, a sparkler will suffice. Someone who will undoubtedly not care a jot about my personal life is maestro Prop, whose consciousness is busy with all kind of important bulb and seed issues, with perhaps a little judicious seasonal pruning. And of course SoSing. Check him and our gang out, it will definitely be educational and you might well find some sunshine. This week’s six are neither colourful nor in focus, but it seems I am on a slightly off kilter road at the moment. Let’s shake a leg, or there will be complaints from the management.

First we have Phyllostachys aurea, the golden bamboo, in a particularly notable blue sky. I believe this is called pathetic fallacy to those who enjoy wordy definitions. Whatever it is, it was very welcome.

Next a frazzled leaf of Geranium maderanse ‘Guernsey White’. Serves you right for poking your paw out from under the fleece. Don’t worry, the rest of the plant is quite plump and healthy ready to crack into action later in the year.

Now the raddled trunk of our rosemary, under which was the lounging place of choice for our dear departed Charlie Cat. A soft heart has saved this whale of a herb. There is nothing wrong with a bit of sentimentality.

Onto the remaining stamen from the still flowering Tibouchina urvilleana, which is yet to be protected from the elements. I am slightly shamed by this lack of care, slightly proud of the shrub’s resilience. As we know pride comes before a fall. I, and possibly the tibouchina, are bound for a plummet. It is also a particularly poor photograph. Lose, lose.

Next, a phormium, grown from seed by a client/friend in Bristol. To my shame I rarely acknowledge it except in winter. After 14 years I think I should acknowledge this as a trend.

Now Helichrysum bracteatum, which it seems, is truly everlasting. Whilst much of the plant is frost-induced sog, it is making an admirable effort to flower again. There is possibly a lesson for us in this; I will leave you to ponder it.

That is it, another week passed in our seemingly unrelenting crawl towards spring. Stay well and safe, my friends.

Six on Saturday – Waiting

My photos for this Six on Saturday were restrained by the fact I had to be within hearing distance of the phone. OH was out doing the weekly shop, God bless him, and I was on high alert, loitering within ear-shot. Therefore, all pictures had to be taken within two leaps of the back door. As it happens, I could have wandered further. I was waiting for the call that never came, like some love sick teenager. Please pop on over to The Prop’s site and check out the other SoS who I am sure were more adventurous. Let us proceed.

First, we have a peek-a-boo Fuchsia ‘Eruption’ screaming “why are you denying my time to shine!”. Fleeced up for protection, it has managed to poke a couple of flowers out of a weak point in the defences. You will be pleased to hear, it is all tucked back in and cosy again.

Next, a Cornus ‘Porlock’ seedling, which is supposed to be deciduous but hasn’t been caught on yet. Perhaps cornus are like beech trees and hold onto their leaves whilst young. Yet another plant in waiting, we are all waiting.

Now, a ravaged leaf, ripped from the nearby brugmansia by the wicked wind, dumped on the steps and subsequently chewed.

Onto Callistemon masotti, presenting fat buds to aid our dreaming.

Whilst lurking I opened up my little plastic greenhouse for a breath of fresh air and at the same time had a poke about to see what had been happening. All the while listening out for a ring, of course. The sempervivum were looking quite fine and most dandy.

Lastly, hidden beneath the shifted fuchsia fleece, a lone Iris reticulata bud. This is the lolly-labelled pot, whose identification had biodegraded rather prematurely, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you the cultivar. Made me smile though.

Six on Saturday completed for another week, I hope you lot are all doing well and staying safe. All fine here. Like Vladimir and Estragon, I’ll must be getting on with my waiting.

Six on Saturday – Crisis? What Crisis?*

Second week in and 2021 is already looking rather tarnished. I’ve got an idea. Let’s buff it up, reintroduce a shine, give it a serious Six on Saturday make-over. If you visit the SoS Housekeeper’s site you will find a battalion of us from across the globe, armed with dusters, doing a bit of polishing, making their own corners sparkle. Without further analogy, which to be honest was getting a little out of hand, let us get on.

We start with Osteospermum ‘Double Berry Purple’, an oldie but goodie. This flower has been stuck in the self same position for the past few weeks, like a horticultural game of musical statues. Perhaps it opens and closes when I’m not looking. It may even do the oki-coki.

Next, we have Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’, dark, shiny and mysterious, like my soul. Not really, my soul is made of candyfloss.

On to a moth eaten viola, still, to my mind, quite beautiful. But then again I always did like the waif and stray, the underdog forever has my backing. Nice pop of orange too.

Now Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegatum’ which is a wallflower made of stern stuff. It grows in the gravel edge to a paved area, it is continually trampled to avoid bashing your head on the rotary clothes line, and swamped by its neighbours. No complaining, it just gets on with the job. Good chap.

Next a Miscanthus napalensis seed head, its golden locks now turned to grey. I think it very distinguished.

Finally, Vinca difformis ‘Jenny Pym’; always a joy, never a nuisance (not yet anyway), and so welcome in these chilly hours.

That is your lot, hope you feel the world is shining a little bit brighter now. Until next time, stay safe and well.

*with thanks to Supertramp

Six on Saturday – Left Overs

Bar the shouting, most of the Christmas craziness should be over by now, and we are probably all a little relieved. To my mind, Boxing Day is the most relaxing day of the festive season; there is minimal cooking, plenty of time to play with your new toys, have a little walk perhaps and room to reflect on the meaning of life. And lots of left overs. I am sure it will be no surprise that I am not writing this on Saturday, that would be over and above the call of duty and might cause some non-marital tension. But we are not far off, it is Christmas Eve. The ham is cooking, the red cabbage prepared and I am just about to search for our only table cloth for its once yearly performance. My name is Christine Control; all is calm, all is bright. How long do you give it? Whilst we are on the subject, our master The Prop is always the epitome of control and calm, except of course when it comes to tulips. Shall we proceed?

First, we have the carcass of a crocosmia seed head. I remove a lot of these unremarkable montbretia from the back of the garden, and still they spread with unconcealed glee. Today, this rusty reminder was most welcome. My icy heart may have thawed just a little.

Next another rogue, the three-cornered leek. Again, I have dug many of these out of the garden, to little avail. Still, if I didn’t know their reputation for invasion, I would think them quite lovely.

Onto the aeonium that is heading towards the stars, like an old fashioned camera lens. Looks like some untimely flowers are on the way. Who am I to argue with Madame Nature?

The other evening, whilst sitting in the front room learning my lines for the SoS panto, I heard a suspicious noise. Bravely/foolishly I went to investigate, armed only with my curiosity. I found nothing. A couple of days later the culprit was discovered. The Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella had leapt off the top of the filing cabinet in the office onto the floor below. It was put outside in disgust, into the naughty corner, where it has stayed.

Now onto my faithful friends, the fuchsias. You have got to hand it to them, they are stalwarts.

Lastly, the statuesque teasels; ever reliable, ever welcome. I have saved all the seed that I need to spread their joy to foreign climes, leaving plenty for our golden visitors.

I hope you are all relatively unscathed and had much fun and laughter over the last few days.
This time next week we will have a new year to cheer us!

Six on Saturday – Distracted

I have been a little distracted of late, which has resulted in a deficiency in the blogging department. The reason for being even more away with the fairies than normal is that we are moving house. To be more accurate, we are attempting to. Yes, you heard me right, we trying to sell our house in the middle of a pandemic. We wouldn’t want it to be too easy. For this reason, my mind in the last few months has often been elsewhere; wondering if anyone is actually doing anything constructive to further the cause and would someone please remind me how much an hour our solicitor gets paid for doing exactly what? In a sublime piece of synchronicity, several of my clients are also moving on, or have done already. Times are very strange on Planet Gill. Of course, to everyone in the else in the world all this is of meagre consequence, and quite rightly so. I bet our leader, The Prop, doesn’t even mention it. So, without further excusing, let us get on with the task at hand.

First, we have a plum pudding. Not really, it is a well wrapped Grewia occidentalis. This tender, cos it’s worth it, plant stubbornly refused to flower this year, possibly due to inadequate protection last winter. Slightly shamed by my short-comings I have made a special effort. Others thereabouts are quite rightly feeling a little miffed. Hopefully I will get around to them before too long.

Last Sunday I had a good clear out, horticulturally speaking. I rearranged and titivated The Step and surrounding area. The glass door opens out from the dining room, but is (luckily) seldom used. Sneaky slugs were dealt with, the disappointing dahlias put to dry and chosen pots snuggled together ready for their fleece as and when necessary. It was a cathartic experience and a start. Choices will have to be made; only the strong will survive.

Now, a lone, valiant, battered flower of Erigeron karvinskianus. A shadow of its heyday self, but still a daisy is a daisy is a daisy and always welcome.

Then, another lone survivor, the last leaf on our peach seedling. Whether this tree-ette will ever amount to anything is doubtful. Still, we don’t care, which is all that matters.

Onto, a spilling seed pod of the big blue agapanthus. It is big, it is blue and it is an agapanthus, any more I can’t tell you. Except it is liable to seed itself all over the place, which is both a blessing and a curse. I am hoping one will lodge in a pot to be carried to pastures new. Or I could just collect the seed, which doesn’t seem quite as romantic.

Lastly, a festive primula. Bright and joyful and all the things we need in these dark days.

Keep the faith, my friends. Now the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, I will attempt to shield you from the worst of our conveyancing traumas. Which I know are inevitable. And hope that sometime in the near-to-middle future we will have a new garden to dissect for SoS. Although sometimes the prospect seems a long way away.

Six on Saturday – Confusion

Anyone know what day it is? No, nor me. Hang on a minute, it must be a Saturday of some persuasion because I have that nagging feeling that I should be SoSing. That is all I’ve got. Perhaps The Prop will have more details, but be warned, you will find out an awful lot more than the date. Most of it will be good. Let us proceed.

First, we have Fuchsia ‘Bornemann’s Beste’, looking splendid even after a couple of chilly nights. Long may he reign.

Next, the aeonium that I bought from the house across the road during the first lockdown. It is now concertina-ing out in an alarming manner, I wonder what is going on?

I may have mentioned previously, that I try to only buy plants the names of which I can easily pronounce. Often, I fail. This is Correa schlechtendalii, who I believe was once a member of The Pussycat Dolls.

Now some variegated ivy, which caught my eye when buying my meagre winter bedding. I’m not usually a great fan of ivy, except of course of its wildlife nurturing properties, but this little one somehow wooed me. I think it was a good shout, it is looking rather lovely.

Next Salvia elegans. Hard as I might try, with camera or phone, I have never taken a decent photo of this lovely salvia. I’m sure there are all kinds of technical reasons, I like to think it is a curse. I will not be daunted, here it is, half the measure of flower it is in reality. You may have to use your imaginations.

Last, but definitely not least, is Nerine ‘Bicolor’. Lush, to the extreme. No confusion there.

That is it for another week or fortnight or month or whenever. In the meantime, stay safe and well and happy.