Six on Saturday – Sunshine and Shouting

Japanese acer

First of all I must thank our glorious Six on Saturday leader, The Propagator of Lurve, for arranging this beautiful sunny day.  Take a look at his blog and all will be made clear about the SoS sect.  You may well come away more puzzled than before.  One or the other.   Anyway, this clement weather, subsection 3b “on a Saturday”, has been a long time coming.  I suppose our guru needed a little practice before he got it right.  There is no need for me to whine on about the depressing rain or snow or gales or drizzle or anything actually. People might begin to believe I am a happy, carefree kind of gal.  Here I was, proud recipient of the double whammy, inclination and opportunity, what could possibly go wrong?  But I had forgotten about external influences.  More specifically, a neighbour firing a nail gun intermittently all day, irregularly enough to make you jump a meter in the air at each shot.  In between times he was hammering, or shouting at his son, or they were both hammering or shouting, all on top of an enormous shed/store for artillery at the bottom of his garden.  Cheers mate.  Happy sunny day to you too.  Due to said suspect weapon stash I decided not to complain.  Not to him anyway.  Thanks for being a shoulder.

Let us get on with the job in hand, or it will be Sunday before we know it and I will be on the naughty step again and that Mr K will be pointing and giggling.  First of all we have a Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum, one of several we have in the garden.  All in pots.  Mainly brought from the greatly missed Woolworth’s for three shillings and thrupence.  The new foliage is a joy.

Secondly is a little alpine sink, which I replanted his last week with Sisyrinchium ‘E K Balls’, Scabiosa ‘Blue Jeans’ and Polygala chamaebuxus.  It had become overgrown and rebellious.  Now it is tamed and under my control.  I almost believed that when I typed it.  We all know different.

Virburnum x burkwoodiiNext is Viburnum x burkwoodii, an inherited shrub which battles on in the front garden, abused by weather and ignored by gardeners.  Until today.  Earlier in the week I visited some friends at The Round House in Ilfracombe.  One friend told me that, along with Daphne ‘Jaqueline Postil’, this hybrid was their favourite winter into spring scent.   Today, working in the front garden, the fragrance was incredible, both near and far.  How did I miss this?

On to the obligatory tulip, this time Tulipa ‘Blue Diamond’.  Not blue, no diamonds.  Pretty though.

Fritillaria meleagris 'Alba'

Now for a trio of white fritillaries, Fritillaria meleagris ‘Alba’.  This is a strange time of year, my gaze is intent on summer and I sometimes forget to appreciate the spring flowers that have struggled through such horrendous weather.  Although not as dramatic as its checkerboard brother, this albino sibling, with just a little blush on the shoulders, is a lovely light in the border.

And finally we have Fat Ol posing by a primrose.  Such a handsome lad and a great “help” to me in the garden.  Cat Help, that is.   This entails throwing himself in front of my feet causing me to do a cha cha cha in order to avoid standing on him, scratching posts in a virile manner, meowing at a pitch just above high C, insisting on attention when he wants it but ignoring me when I want it.  The usual.

Thanks to El Prop for another week of Six on Saturday and of course the good weather.  Same time, same place?





Six on Saturday – For Joy

Aunty Joy

Today is damp and dismal yet again.  According to the Met Office, and they are quite trustworthy, Devon was the wettest county in the UK in March, being the recipients of a generous average of 192.5mm of precipitation.  Yep, a lot, unless you are reading this in the Amazon or monsoon country when I expect you are thinking “moaning minny” and I wouldn’t blame you one iota.

This morning the incoming tide carried the mist with it and then the rain began in earnest.  Oh the wonders of a maritime climate!  It is also, of course, time for our Six on Saturday contributions.  Headmaster Propagator will be expecting our homework, and he is too cute to fall for my feeble excuses anymore.  Therefore, I will not shirk my duties, but you will forgive me if I put a little twist on proceedings.

Yesterday afternoon my Aunty Joy died.  She was a couple of months short of 102 years old and had lived independently up until the last year or so of her life.  Nothing to complain about there, a long and healthy life is a blessing indeed and I am aiming for one myself.  Still, sadness is inevitable, celebration most necessary.  Don’t worry, there will be no gloom here, just beauty and devilment, which is so much more appropriate.  I believe she would have been thrilled to be written about, so this week’s Six on Saturday will be for the wonderful Joy.

It was only recently that I discovered that her real name was in fact Irene.  I was rather shocked.  Had she been a secret agent, was she in a witness protection scheme?  No, her pseudonym was given to by her doting father because she brought him such joy.  My dad called me Gin.  This is true, but not for the reason you are thinking.

My first photo is of course the lady in question aged, I would imagine, about 2 or 3 years old.  She looks like an urchin fallen straight from the pages of Dickens novel.  For those who know me, not unlike yours truly.   Dishevelled, hair in the air, mud on the pinny, looking defiantly into the camera.  And just a little bit faded.

London PrideShe was a London girl, born and bred, and proud of it.  To recognise that, we have Chas and Dave singing ….. not really, I’m not that cruel, here we have Saxifraga x urbium otherwise known as London Pride.


Joy was very fond of Italy.  She visited frequently, took Italian lessons and recounted tales of her travels, including walking on the glorious beaches eating gelato.  This conjured up, to the little girl that I was, the most exotic images I could imagine.  Actually, sounds pretty attractive to me now!  This prostrate rosemary represents Italy.  I couldn’t find a picture of an ice cream, they don’t last long enough around here to be photographed.

pelargoniumA couple of years ago I bought her a Pelargonium called Joy.  In Joy’s later years she was quite hard of hearing and had a hate/hate relationship with her hearing aids.  I was never quite sure if she understood that the plant had the same name as herself, or not, as it comes to pass.

Fuchsia macrophyllaDriving was not Joy’s forte, I believe it took her 7 times to pass her test and then it might have been on the proviso that she only drove to the shops and not very often at that.  She drove a natty purple mini, for a while anyway.   For that reason I have included a “mini” purplish fuchsia, Fuchsia macrophylla.

roseOnce, as a wet behind the ears lass from Cornwall, I travelled across London with Joy during the rush hour.  This was Joy’s world and took the pushing, shoving and general chaos all in her stride.  A kind gentleman offered me his seat, much to her astonishment and amusement.  Apparently no one gave up seats to anyone during the rush hour, NO ONE!  I must have looked so terrified, uncomfortable, unqualified, that I melted even the hardest commuter heart.   Joy loved roses, we bought her one for a birthday and would always report back on how well it was doing.

We will finish with another photo of our star of the day, taken at the end of 2014 with the ceramic poppy she was so proud of.  This was one from the installation at Windsor Castle, a sea of poppies, one for each of the UK fallen in the First World War.  Including Joy’s doting dad.

Shall we celebrate this strong, resilient, funny, kind woman who I was so proud of?  I think it would be wrong not to.

Thanks for keeping us all in order Mr P, could you do something about the weather for next week please.  Pretty please?




Six on Saturday – the Frozen One

Let’s be honest, hands up, who wanted to do a Six on Saturday today?  Not me.  But as I live in fear of a) being called a wimp and ridiculed even more than usual by Mr K and b) the wrath of Our Commandant Mr P, here I am.  Expect a lot of white.

There are many tender plants in my garden.  They are what I like to grow.  I’ve not got a proper greenhouse.  This is not grumble, after all I’ve got other things that people with lovely warm greenhouses don’t have, like gold platform boots and good strong calves.  Frosts are here rare, snow is as common as hen’s teeth.  Well Henny Penny bit me on the bum this week.  Days of heavy frosts followed by a layer of snow and freezing winds.  The whole point of pushing limits in the garden is the hint of danger, not necessarily for me, but for the plants.   It remains to be seen what has survived and what has not, and this could take months to materialise.  You pays your money you takes your choice.

The thaw has begun and today this little primula has been exposed from beneath its blanket of snow.  Looking a little squashed but not unduly bothered.  The Tracy of my garden.

Next we have tulips, pushing their noses out of the snow.  I have no doubt that soon these will be jollying up the front of my house.  That might well be the kiss of death.

Next the hellebore of previous weeks’ SoS, face harshly pushed into the frozen ground, crushed.  Like my heart.

Now Digitalis lanata looking like a plate of over-cooked cabbage.  Unlike the self-seeded monbretia around it, who haven’t turned a leaf.  Hmph!

Look closely and you will see a crimson shoot of Paeonia mlokosewitschii reaching like a hand from an icy grave.  Takes more than a little snow to stop Molly the Witch.

This dreadful weather has brought wild birds closer to our homes, looking for shelter and food.  It is a moral dilemma for us as we have many cats in the neighbourhood and we don’t want to set up a feline snack bar.  The teasels however have been attracting goldfinches, lovely to see pulling seeds from the spiky heads.  For those of you unsure, this is an artist’s impression, spookily accurate don’t you agree?!

Thanks again Mr P, hope you all have a good week!




Six on Saturday – Optimism


It is that time of the week again, the time for excuses and diversions.  But wait a moment!  This week, all is legitimate and legal, photos and text both created today.  Unlike some I could mention, however I do not like to tell tales, do I Mr K ?

Six on Saturday time again hip hip horray!  For those of you still unsure of what this entails, pop over to The Propagator’s site and find not only how it works but contributions from others in his control.  Once you have signed your name on the dotted line in blood, you will never escape his evil grip.  But don’t let that put you off, come on, join in, the more the merrier!

To begin we have a self seeded aquilegia.  Last year they got a bit above their station and I promised to cull them before they trampled everything else.  They are tricky to get out, with their fleshy taproots and indomitable will, but I will persist.

Iris reticulata

Next we have a lone Iris reticulata, leaning at a rather jaunty angle.   I am especially fond of these irises, although I don’t often manage to keep them going for more than one year.  This is, I believe, due to the fact that they should be in full sun and sandy soil, neither of which they are afforded here.  This chap might be the only survivor, jostled by Narcissus ‘Tête á Tête’, crocus and violas.  I am very proud of him.  However, there is plenty of time for the others to wriggle through.

Paeonia mlokosewitschii

Now onto the obligatory “emerging shoots” photo of the day.  This is Paeonia mlokosewitschii  which, unless you are Polish is best called Molly the Witch.  It was a gift from my extremely talented, virtual friend Sue and has yet to flower yet.  As always, I am hopeful for this year.


This hellebore is the tricky dicky that I tried to photograph a couple of weeks ago.  It is in completely the wrong place and slightly irritates me every time I see it.  Which is a shame because it is good one.  I will move it after it has flowered and hopefully it won’t sulk too much.


A small parcel arrived this morning, with no return address.  I opened it and found a pot containing some plant material.  No note.  Very curious.  Then the two pound coin dropped.  The mystery plants were winter aconites, a gift from an extremely generous blogging friend, Chloris, who has an amazing garden in Suffolk.  I had been bemoaning (yes I know hard to believe) that I have never been able to grow Eranthis hyemalis  in our soil (a workman blames his tools) and she generously offered to send me some of hers.  They are now safely potted up and I am positive they will thrive in their new home.


For the finale I have chosen vermiculite.   Not a looker, but very useful.  On Tuesday I received a message from my friend Pat the Field asking if I had found the bag that she had left outside my front door the previous Friday.  “No”, I told her,”perhaps it has blown away”.  “I don’t think so” she said “it is quite big”.  So I asked my neighbour on one side, not a sign.  Then yesterday I saw my other non gardening, non going outside very much at all, neighbour on the other side “have you seen a bag of, um, light brownish stuff?”, “oh I wondered what that was”.  Luckily she had not thrown it away and popped it around later but asked no questions.  An animal feed bag full of vermiculite, what on earth did she think it was?  The mind boggles.

So there we have it, another week crossed off, soon I will be up before the parole board.  Until then, I will be under the control, for at least one day each week, of the magnificent Mr P.


Six on Saturday – Necessity

It’s raining it’s pouring, I’m not going outside again after getting soaked walking miles to pick up my camera that I stupidly left in Max’s Dads’ car yesterday after a wonderful day out and had no transport because OH had taken the car to do the shopping and anyway I had jobs to do in the High Street.  Not quite as catchy as the original, but I’m working on it.   So, fearing the wrath of The Propagator, who owns Six on Saturday, I have had to be inventive.  Necessity and all that.  Warning:  Some connections to my garden may be a little tenuous.

First, snowdrops in the sunshine.  It would be impossible to pass this sunny shot off as today’s photo.  In fact this picture was taken yesterday at Little Ash Garden where myself, OH and Max’s Dads met up with Rusty Duck and Torrington Tina to marvel at Helen’s masterpiece of a garden.  Although billed as a Snowdrop Day there were many other delights; hellebores, winter flowering honeysuckle, clematis, flowering quince, cake and coffee, and three varieties of homemade soup!  Two pots of snowdrops came home with me, ‘Magnet’ and ‘S. Arnot’.  They looked lonely.  They are now taking their chances in the deluge.   Where I refuse to go to take a photo.  So there.

Next we have my pride and joy, a brand new shiny labeller.  Don’t stand still for too long, or you will have a piece of tape across your forehead.

Fritillaria persica

Now a picture that was taken last week, but I imagine it is looking pretty much the same.  Perhaps a little damper.  These slightly nibbled shoots belong to an emerging Fritillaria persica, the Darth Vader of the fritillery family.  I bought this gargantuan bulb couple of years ago at Malven and it has yet to flower.   Fingers crossed for this year.  As the more observant of you might notice, yes you Mr K, there are some “kind to everything except slugs and snails” pellets scattered around.  It might be “closing the door after the mollusc has bolted”, but I thought it was a little early to worry about that kind of thing.  However, it has been an extremely wet and mild winter, up until this last week that is.  Perfect conditions, if you happen to be slimy.

Salvia viscosa

Some positive news, germination of more seed.  These triumphs include Alonsoa warscewiczii, Malope trifida and Salvia viscosa.  All of these I have grown before, although not for a while, and I am looking forward to getting to know them again.

A note in a Christmas card read “We have a couple of first edition garden books, would you like them?”.  This enquiry was from an ex-boyfriend’s parents, a wonderful couple whose company I always enjoyed and have remained friends with for the last 30 years.  It was at their soon to be permanent home in the South of France that I first read a gardening book.  Long before I gardened.  When the very thought would have provoked howls of laughter.  The book was Christopher Lloyd, The Well Tempered Garden.  A fine introduction to garden writing.


Lastly we have houmous.  As I couldn’t go outside I made some.  An essay I wrote in college came back with the comment “interesting, but perhaps a good humus content in the soil would be more beneficial than one rich in a chick pea dip”.

Thanks again Mr P. Pop over to his blog to read other contributions, most likely written by braver and less sensitive souls.  Here’s hoping that next week will be just a tad drier …..

Six on Saturday – Aforethought

Sophora microphylla

The weather forecast for today was dreadful; torrential rain, howling north easterlies, possibly frogs.  So, as a dedicated disciple of Six on Saturday, and a most sensible and organised person, I took my photos yesterday.  Today, so far, has been quite dry.  This is not the point, which is that I was prepared for all eventualities.  I doubt it will happen again.  It is however bitterly cold, so I am pleased that for once I thought ahead.  Some might say that the “Saturday” part of the title is an itsy bit fraudulent, but rest assured that little has changed since yesterday.  Can I depend on you not to tell The Propagator, our meme leader, whose name rhymes with “alligator” for good reason.  Please do pop over to his site to see what he has been up to, and also to check on the increasingly large number of SoSers.

First of all we have the wonderful Sophora microphylla, now in full flower.  I used to work with a mature gentleman (lovely old git) who had spent several decades travelling the world.  This included an extended stay in New Zealand, which is where this potentially small tree comes from.  He taught me several Maori names for plants including this member of the pea family, kowhai.  Imagine you are saying hello to a Jersey milker.  That’s it, you’ve got it!

Callistemon 'Masotti'

Next another Antipodean, Callistemon ‘Masotti’, a (hopefully) dwarf, red flowered bottlebrush.  It looks as if it is thinking about flowering.  It may be reconsidering this decision after the outrageous hail storm that just battered everything.  Now I feel vindicated.


A crocus, just about to unfurl, perhaps the perfect moment.


Germination!  In order to fool myself into thinking that I am doing something right, I generally sow something very easy along with the trickier customers.  This year it was Tagetes ‘Red Cherry’ and it didn’t let me down.  Nothing yet from any of the others, but it is early days.  I have had my little thrill fix, it will keep me going for a while.


Number five is tender new orange/red rose foliage.  Any aphids that are reading this will be salivating.  Bit too cold to venture out yet, ha!

Vinca 'Jenny Pym'

Lastly is Vinca ‘Jenny Pym’.  I was trying to take a picture of a hellebore, ill positioned for the photographer, I was struggling to hold the head, camera and focus at the same time.  In the background my eye was caught by this charming lady, a little pinker than usual, due to the chill perhaps.  Soon the hellebore was forgotten, for the moment anyway, perhaps next week I will get a little help from a friend.

Thanks Mr P, I think this might be becoming a habit.  There are worse things to become addicted to.