Six on Saturday

It will be my first attempt at growing tuberous begonias this year and I am just stunned by how such unpromising, shrivelled, brown gnarly things could possibly produce such beauty and abundance. Of course, they may not! Like a lot of advertising these days, the picture on the right may be after ten years! However, from little acorns (tubers)……….

My little patch of hardy Cyclamen coum have doubled since last year but are still very few. Mind you, they started from one pink and one white so haven’t done bad. They seem to like it under the Silver Birches in the leaf litter and composted bark mulch. I am told they are mostly propagated by ants which like the sticky sweet coating on the seeds and disperse them in the process. I do have a lot of ants! Every year my lawn resembles seaside sand dunes in summer thanks to the ants and their elaborate tunnel highways.

My first vase of home grown early daffs. Hopefully the first of many. These were picked in bud and opened within a few hours of being brought indoors. Remarkable! Nature never ceases to amaze me!

This is year one of the transplanted snowdrops and, understandably, a bit sparse as yet!. Received wisdom from those in the know suggested planting “groups of six bulbs 12″ apart” which is roughly what I did. Eventually, the groups are all supposed to join up and look ‘au naturel’. It will be awhile!

The Iris reticulata ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ shrugged off last weeks snow and are resplendent in their powder blue and speckled yellow. But, who was Katharine Hodgkin? A quick internet search revealed only that she was raised by EB Anderson in the 1960s but not who the elusive Katharine was. Wife? Mistress? Neighbour? Answers on a postcard please.

They are going to regret it! Surely these tulip ‘Queen of Night’ are emerging far too early? They normally don’t appear until March to flower in May. They have done well to survive at all from year to year in my clay soil., This is their fourth year in the ground without any cosseting or covering so I am impressed with their resilience, if not their timing!

Have a great weekend.

Wrap up warm, it’s going to be cold out there!

David

Six on Saturday

Erysimum ‘Parrish’s’

Happy Boxing Day to one and all! I do hope you managed to enjoy Xmas day with family or friends. Our gardening club WhatsApp group posted pics of what was in flower in their gardens yesterday and these were some of mine.

Primula vulgaris

Primroses are beginning to appear under the beech hedges and the shady shrubs. They look so fragile but are actually as tough as old boots.

Erysimum ‘Apricot Twist’

I love this little Erysimum and have got loads of cuttings to spread it throughout the garden next year.

These wild alliums are a real nuisance. I stupidly allowed one or two to go seed many years ago and simply cannot eradicate them now. They are easy to lever out with the bulbil attached but there are hundreds every year!

Finally, I am pleased with my winter pots by the front door this year. They add a little bit of colour and cheer on dark days and remind me of better days to come.

Stay safe
David

Six on Saturday

Not a particularly glamorous start but gardeners are not the squeamish type, so a picture of composting worms hard at work should not offend the sensibilities of my blog readers.

I bring the wormery into the greenhouse for the winter to keep it dry and slightly warmer and the worms reward me by carrying on with their vital work, munching all our kitchen waste. They produce approx 100 litres of rich compost (worm poo) each year which I mix into peat free potting compost at the rate of 10:1. The ‘worm liquid’ (worm wee) is diluted in the same ratio and used as a nutritious liquid feed for tomatoes and potted plants. I swear my agapanthus, in particular, thrive on it and flower better as a result.

Incredible but true, this early daffodil flowers before Xmas every year. Most of my other daffs are barely out of the ground but this one likes to be seen first, Obviously a bit narcissistic!

Right next to it is Narcissus canaliculatus, a miniature daff with the tiniest white petals and chucky egg yellow cup. My chrysanthemum border is planted with lots of narcissus where they provide early colour and the ugly dying foliage is hidden by the chrysanths as they grow.

Many of the cuttings produced in the Hydropod in late September were just too small to stay outside over winter so they are tucked up in the greenhouse where they continue to form strong root systems. I have just taken the final Erysimum and Penstemon cuttings which may or may not make roots in the Hydropod. I am not sure how much temperature plays a part in vegetative propagation compared to hormones, so we will see!

Centranthus ruber (Red Valerian) continues to flower periodically throughout the winter and is a lot hardier than its glaucus foliage would suggest. It is a real survivor in my garden and I am constantly digging out seedlings in the gravel paths and between paving. Lovely plant though and great for pollinators.

The last of the leaves are now in the composter. Have you noticed, you can’t buy leaf mould, you have to make your own. Probably because this lot will only produce 50 litres at best, but as a top dressing for woodland plants like hellebores and cyclamen it can’t be beaten!

Have a great weekend.

David

Six on Saturday

It is getting more difficult to find six interesting things to feature on Saturday at this time of year, particularly when it is cold and wet. However, there is always something going on so here goes.

This little delicate Pelargonium ‘Apple Blossom’ is still going strong although now indoors. It is definitely one of my favourites and may keep going through the winter if I can keep it cool and carefully watered.

Most things in the garden are going to sleep or puckered up with the cold but this Anthemis punctata (I think!) never seems to stop flowering. It seems to be happy in this spot and, apart from a light trim in March, is maintenance free. Like all my grey leaved, sun loving plants, I never water or feed it.

The Blackthorn tree at the end of the road is once again laden with sloes, although only at the top where the local foragers have been unable to reach. The blackbirds will demolish them in double quick time. I notice that people on forums are noticing an absence of birds feeding in their gardens at the moment due to nature’s current bounty.

Frost on the sedums last week.

This gorgeous Salvia patens ‘Cambridge Blue’ is flowering again! This time in the greenhouse but still remarkably late.

Finally, the cold frame is now full of young plants which will hunker down for the winter and burst into life next year to fill gaps, replace losses and fill the sales tables at gardening club meetings…if we ever have any!

Have a great weekend and why not have a bash at the Quiz!

David