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 – 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 – Thankful

Another week of lockdown passed; another Six on Saturday completed.  A few months ago I would never have dreamt that I would type those words.  Still, I consider myself most fortunate, I have many reasons to be thankful.   One of which, and a blessing indeed, is being a member of the wonderful Six on Saturday community.  For those of you still ignorant about this Meme of Memes, pop on over to Meme Master and he will enlighten you.  Don’t stand too close though.  It is very infectious.  Shall we proceed?

First we have Libertia grandiflora.  Actually I am a little miffed with this plant.  Not only did I get all excited due to a label misfunction and thought it was going to be a dietes, then it spread its seedlings across most of Christendom and I have been pulling them out of pots since February.  But the flower is nice.  It might get a big split when it has done showing off.

You now that feeling when something doesn’t come up and you are beginning to wonder if you actually planted it, then a nose pokes up and you are jubilant?  Well here is a prime example, the emerging Dichelostema ida-maia.  I have grown these strange creatures before and am very fond of them.  Hopefully they will make it through to flowering and I will share with you all.

Onto the most serene and worshipful Pulmonaria ‘Opal’.  A yogic amongst the chaos.

Now we have Rhodotypos scandens, an old SoS favourite, and quite rightly so.  Buffeted and blown all winter long, and again these last few days, it has been a-buzzing for weeks.

The violas have right-on-cue redeemed themselves, springing into glorious action just when I was thinking about replacing them with summer bedding.  Except I have no summer bedding, which is just as well really.

Lastly the exotic and most previous Impatiens stenantha.  Now living in an enclave with its other impatiens mates.  It seems quite happy.

That is your lot my friends, see you next week, take care and be well.

A Solstice Six on Saturday

In the northern hemisphere, tomorrow is the winter solstice.  It is a time of optimism, an opportunity shout “up yours” to winter and, whilst shaking an angry fist, “your reign is nearly over Baby”.  The currently submissive Day will begin to nibble at the dominant Night, slowly at first, getting hungrier as the weeks pass.  Before we know it spring will be making its welcome presence felt and we will have more hours of light to practice our noble profession.  Some perhaps not so noble.   It might take a while but at least we are the right road.  Before our very own Arch Druid, The Prop, starts prancing about in the altogether around the local football pitch, you could pop on over to his blog and find out what everyone else is up to.  I would keep your clothes on though, ’til tomorrow anyway.  Shall we proceed with SoSing?

First we have a viola, looking a little bit sad but soldiering on valiantly.  They usually have a nap through the worst of the winter, returning triumphant as the season wanes.  Although not vigorous these are popping open flowers on a regular basis.  It is much appreciated.

Next we have a swelling seed pop of Tibouchina ‘Groovy Baby’.  This little shrub has been flowering continually through hell and highwater.  Literally.  It is the first time I have noticed it setting seed and am keeping half an eye on its progression.  This might not be enough; I must be more vigilant.

Onto one of the bedding primulas which are planted in the Belfast sink at the front of the house.   The incessant harsh weather seems to have melted the petals.  Interesting.

Now a feisty soul, this pelargonium still battling through, deliciously dark flowered and edged with raspberry.

And the plucky Nerine undulata, bowed and ragged.   You can’t knock the intent.  Do you get points for “trying hard”?  I certainly hope so, both for the nerine and myself.

And lastly, the world.  Every year I buy at least one new decoration for our overladen tree.  This year it is a globe.  It appears that it is being pecked at by a gigantic bird.  Unfortunately, that is the least of its problems.

Happy solstice everyone, the only way is up!

 

 

Six on Saturday – Dyb, Dyb, Dyb

viola

I’m prepared this week.  No last-minute rush, all is calm and in control, just like a girl guide.  In real life I didn’t make it to the heady heights of girl guidom, but I was in the brownies, who quite frankly take anyone.  I can’t remember much of our exploits except there was a curiously large plastic mushroom placed in the middle of the room at all our gatherings.   Like many of my fellow gang members, my arm was bedecked with various badges.  Unfortunately they weren’t cool and sophisticated subjects in those days, no Inventing, or Aviation or Zero Waste.   Possibly there was Crocheting Toilet Roll Covers and Defrosting Arctic Rolls, although I can’t be certain.  The only one I remember for certain was the music badge.  Perhaps too well.  “What is this instrument?” the examiner asked pointing at a picture, “A bass” I replied.  “Can you be more specific?”.  I was puzzled, very puzzled, what could this highly technical terminology be.   I had studied my Ladybird book The Story of Music from back to front and front to back, I had been confident I had all subjects covered.  But I was flummoxed  No light bulb moments.  Eventually after much furrowed browing (which I blame for my present wrinkle predicament), some uming and a far amount of ahing, I conceded I didn’t know.  She made a terse note on her clipboard.  Now a little uncertain of myself, I went on to play my recorder solo, possibly a rendition of Handel’s Water Music, more likely Frère Jacques, as I say my memory is hazy.  It turns out this mystery instrument is called a “double bass”.  Give the gal a break!  And yes, I am still bitter.  And yes, I did get my badge.  And yes, it is time I moved on.

Seems I have wandered off the track once more.  I will lose my trekking award.  Back to the task in hand, which is Six on Saturday.  An event where billions of people from across the galaxy feature six items from their gardens, or an approximation on this theme, in a humongous horticultural jamboree.  If you wish to get your SoS arm badge then pop on over to our Akela’s site and you can discover much more, including the words to She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain which you will need for a sing-song later.

First we have a viola which is still in its reticent stage.  Each year is the same.  I plant them with great verve and expectation, praising and naming them with great aplomb No. 1 in my top ten of winter bedding.  Then they sit there. *time passes* Any flowers that deign to show their cutsie faces are nibbled by slugs in their overcoats, they grow lank and dishevelled.  *time passes*  Then eventually they wake up, read the contract and get into giving us a great display just when we are thinking about changing the display.  We are still at stage 2, although this little chap has avoided mollusc attack so deserves a show and tell.

Lamprocapnos spectabile 'Valentine'

Next we have the emerging foliage of Lamprocapnos spectabile ‘Valentine’,  or Dicentra specabilis ‘Valentine’ to those who knew it in its previous incarnation.  They are perfect in their infancy.  Scattered around are leaves from the large shrubby phlomis that shades it, torn off in the recent high winds.

Lillium 'Casa Blanca'

Now we have the first showing of the diva Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’.  This majestic lily was a gift from my favourite heckler.    I don’t wish to ruin his reputation so he will remain anonymous.

bindweed

Who invited you to the party?

potentilla

Onto the emerging leaves of Potentilla ‘Lady Mantle’.  This name has yet to be officially accepted by the Royal Horticultural Society.   Which is mainly because I dug a piece out of her ladyship’s garden and ran home with the hounds snapping at my ankles.  Without label naturellement.

camellia

Lastly a flower which is not in my garden, but it will be soon.  This beautiful camellia bloom belongs to our neighbour.  Soon, when it has bored of being splendid, it will drop over the wall onto the path that leads to our front door.   I think it is quite fair that I can share in its loveliness, the fee being that I will clear up the deceased.

There we go, six done and dusted.  Dyb, dyb, dyb, dob, dob, dob.

Six on Saturday – Tempus fugit

viola

Pay attention impetuous youth!  All you downy-haired saplings listen carefully to what I am about to say and take heed!  The rumours that Old Father Time presses his foot firmer on the gas with each passing year is in fact a painful truth.  Was it really a week ago since the last Six on Saturday?  Hard to believe.  Quite why this acceleration occurs is a mystery to me.  I am sure it has been pondered in scientific papers and debated long into the night by academics.  Whatever the reason may be, I don’t like it.  And rest assured I will be making an official complaint to the management.  Talking of highest authority, our SoS CEO The Propagator might be able to shed some light on this annoying phenomena.  If not he will definitely be able to explain the modus operandi of this Six on Saturday malarkey.  Anyway I haven’t got time to hang about.  It will soon be next Saturday.

To begin we have a viola, one of my favourite winter bedding plants.  That is once you come to terms with the fact that it often stops flowering over the worst of the weather and you start wondering why you didn’t chose cyclamen or primulas instead.   Then, just before your patience wears  dangerously thin, it bucks up its ideas and flowers its pretty little head off.  I planted some yesterday (including this darling) in the Belfast sink at the front of our house, before which I had rammed in 12 orange and 12 purple tulip bulbs.   In my mind’s eye these will make a dramatic display in the spring.  The truth of the matter may be quite different.

epimedium

As well as sorting out one of the planters I also cleared some of the rampant geranium and replaced it with an ompalodes and an epimedium.  I am a huge fan of epimediums, sometimes known as barrenwort or bishop’s hat, so it has been a great mystery (to myself only, no one else is the slightest bit bothered one way or the other) why I haven’t acquired one before.  I say acquire because this wasn’t actually bought.  It was half inched (with permission) from Lady Mantle.  Autumn colour in herbaceous perennials is often overlooked as a bonus.

bindweed

I am sure that many of you are well acquainted with the common bindweed, which has the great accolade of being my favourite weed, although I am also very fond of enchanter’s nightshade.  As a child (and even now when I get the chance) I loved to pinch the back of the flower and catapult the bloom out into space.  I find pulling up the long brittle roots very therapeutic, a challenge and conundrum.  As they don’t start into growth until quite late in the season, much else gets a head start which is very thoughtful.  They are good fun all round.  These days all bets are off when they get to the stage of flowering; a quick tug and a telling off and all is well in the world again.  If only it was so simple to solve other global problems.  This one is growing high in the hedge, out of reach of my twitching hand, and was looking very pretty in the sunshine today.  It was awarded a stay of execution until I find something to stand on.

Trachycarpus fortunei

When grown well Trachycarpus fortunei, known to its pals as the Chusan palm, is a fine and dramatic specimen to grace the garden.  Here is the rub.  This specimen is not grown well.  It is crammed into a pot, fair bursting at the seams, situated in the windiest position of the garden.  It is not happy.  It is ugly and angry but defiantly continues to produce new fan-like leaves, which before too long become burnt and ragged.  Sad really.  It should be rescued by someone kinder.

To add insult to injury, the poor palm has to share it’s already cramped living quarters with a tatty old ivy.  Where this Hedera helix came from, I have no idea, possibly snaked in from somewhere close by.  In part variegated, the rest reverted to dull type, it too is struggling.  Now they are inseparable in their agony, a chimera of pain.  I think I might be getting a little carried away.  Swiftly onwards …….

Fuchsia microphylla

We will end on a happier note, Fuchsia microphylla, the small-leaved fuchsia.  Also in a pot, but a quite different story this time, it has been tended to and adored.  Although not entirely happy with the stresses of the searing summer, it is now relaxed and healthy.  At the moment is has both fruit and flower adorning it.  Even better.  Talking of fruit, if you fancy a challenge take a look at  Mr K’s SoS, he has posed a little puzzler for us all.

That is it!  Done and dusted.  See you all in the gloaming.

 

 

Six on Saturday – Chocolates

Salvia leucantha 'Midnight'

Even though it was singularly uninviting, it being damp and windy and the weekend, I had to go out into the garden this morning.  Not just because of the pressing urgency of The Propagator‘s Six on Saturday, but because if I didn’t do certain jobs a visit from the local RSPCP officer was inevitable.  So I did, with dragging teenaged feet and hunched shoulders.  Not fair.  No one cares.  Not working?  OK.

Without further ado, or attention seeking behaviour, I will get back to the task in hand.  My Six on Saturday.  The first chocolate in the box today is the amazing Salvia leucantha ‘Midnight’.   It is tender, in spite of its furry coat, and takes a while to get up the energy to flower after the winter.  Hence it has only just begun to bloom here.  In my top ten of salvias.  For some reason marzipan springs to mind.  Purple marzipan, if it doesn’t exist it should be invented forthwith!

cyclamen

Now for the second morsel.  The aforementioned urgent job was to replant the containers outside the front door.  They were looking, let me chose my words carefully here, shameful.  I had bought replacements, including this cyclamen, a couple of weeks ago and they had been languishing patiently for me to uphold my part of the bargain.  Cyclamen are favourites of mine and even here, in the teeth of the wind, they will continue to flower until next spring.   What do you think, raspberry parfait?

viola

The next treat for you is a little viola, one of a mixed bunch also bought to jolly up the front of the house.  Although they have a tendency to stop flowering for a while, they always begin again just as I am thinking about chucking them out.   Somewhere beneath, I am hoping, are last year’s bulbs and corms.  Quite what these are will be as much of a surprise to me as it is to you.  I vaguely remember some crocus and perhaps Iris reticulata, oh and maybe some Jetfire.  You can’t beat a good surprise.  As for this one, I reckon it might be a mint chocolate.

apple

Now onto a definite hard centre, apple flavoured of course.  This tree was here when we moved in. Although it is undoubtedly on dwarf rooting stock, it is still too big for our little plot.  Each year the jackdaws find the fruit before they are ripe, pecking large holes in them, knocking many to the ground in the process.  When we do get to taste one they are delicious.  As it is unlikely that those clever corvids will forget where their late summer feast is, our share in the future is likely to be minimal.

fuchsia

Another of our inheritances is this fuchsia.  I am fond of fuchsias, and this is a rather pleasant one.  It is not however jaw-dropping, or stunning, or incredible, or magical.  Quite pretty, that is all.   If this was one of my chocolates it would be one of the last to be eaten, perhaps a toffee, or orange cream.   However I am well aware that there are plenty of people who would be picking this one first.  You are very welcome to my orange cream, I’ll have your praline.

Lastly we have some of the plants that have been replaced by the bright young things.  They are cuphea, argyranthemum and eccremocarpus.  These would be the misshapes, the ones that failed to meet the stringent standards.  After last week’s public outcry (OK, just John) I have potted them up to over-winter somewhere more clement, perhaps the Caribbean, most likely crammed into my tiny plastic greenhouse with a zillion others.

More thanks to Mr P for making me get out of bed early on a Saturday morning, stumbling around the garden taking photos, much to the amusement of my neighbours.  Mr P has the power.