Six on Saturday

Got to be quick today, off to play golf! Six things I found interesting this morning included this Waldsteinia ternata which I hardly notice for eleven months of the year but this morning it was resplendent and shouting to be admired, which I did.

Phizzy Pheasant. Not the sort of bird I encourage into the garden but he doesn’t seem to do any damage and just pecks around with his wife for an hour or so then disappears. The males can get very territorial and aggressive if they haven’t already found a partner but Phizzy is already paired up which is lucky for the postman!

Lovely peach Japanese Quince, Chaenomeles japonica, grown from a pip many years ago and now flowering in the drive border. The red, white and dark pink cousins are yet to appear.

An unusual double Anemone blanda which has popped up amongst the singles.

Flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum, nothing special but an excellent source of early nectar for bees and other essential pollinators.

Dhalia tubers shooting in the greenhouse are promise of a bright and colourful summer to come.

Enjoy your weekend.

Fore!

David

Six on Saturday

It has been a very good year for Narcissus and I am hoping it has something to do with the fact that I feed them with blood, fish & bone meal as they are coming through, before they flower. The botanical theory is that whilst they are pushing this year’s flower through the ground, the bulb is already forming next year’s flower so that is when they need nourishment, not after flowering as some would have you believe. It probably also has a lot to do with the weather, but that’s something we can’t control.

“Weed, feed, mulch” is my March/April mantra and the latter arrived on Wednesday ready for the weekend thanks to those nice people from Earth Cycle https://earthcycle.co.uk/

A large ‘dumpy bag’ is approx 1000 litres and is just enough to cover my important beds and borders with a 30mm layer to prevent annual weeds germinating, conserve moisture and add essential depleted minerals and nutrients to the soil. It works out at 10p a litre delivered to my door which I think is good value. And, I get a free dumpy bag for hedge cuttings and a pallet for my next compost bin!

I have a little colony of white violets which comes back every year and is a charming addition to the beech hedge where it seems to thrive in the leaf litter. It has been invaded by foxglove seedlings this year but I will relocate those tomorrow.

The ‘May flowering’ Narcissus poeticus, or ‘Pheasant Eye’ narcissus, are rather early this year! They are normally the last to flower but are way ahead of schedule. But they are not alone………….

Just a red tulip, nothing special, left in the ground to take their chances, are already flowering at least a month earlier than last year. Odd! They are obviously happy in this front border and get well fed alongside the herbaceous perennials.

Chaenomeles, or Japanese Quince, are a wonderful sight at the moment. Forgotten for the rest of the year, hacked back in August when the hedges are cut, they seem to enjoy their brutal treatment and flower all the better for it.

I love the way some plants adapt to their position. This Iberis sempervirens has decided to fall gracefully over the step, just a year after being released from its pot in the new rose garden. It will flower for weeks and takes no maintenance. Please excuse the mice, they are someone else’s idea of cute!

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

Late to the party today due to some real, actual proper gardening. All day, since 9am, non-stop. Loved every minute and enjoyed the endorphins it brought me after so many weeks of waiting and planning.

The flowering currants are looking good today although still some way to go before that Ta-dah! moment.

This lucky Lady found a home with its own water supply for the winter. Several of her sisters unfortunately disturbed today but those that were awake got relocated to a new home.

Very pleased with my rose cuttings which have all seemingly formed roots and are sending up new growth. Those that know about such things tell me to leave well alone until next winter and then pot them up separately ‘bare rooted’ and they should flower in 2022. Am I alone in marvelling at such a thing? Even now, I get a huge kick out of bringing cuttings to life.

.My first time using Strulch as a weed suppressing mulch and I have started with my strawberries. The mineralisation process of the straw is supposed to inhibit slugs and snails so this was a good place to start! I have another 5 bags to go so watch this space for opinions and results.

The new shoots of Sambucas nigra ‘Black Lace’ are stunning before they unfurl into leaves.

Myrtle got hit by the frost. Her new shoots will be snipped off and she will look as pretty as ever in a new outfit next week.

The thick layer of composted bark fines I used to mulch the Silver Birches has not deterred the spring bulbs which have had an extra 75mm to push their way through. Another couple of years and it should be spectacular.

Have a great weekend and stay safe

David

Six on Saturday

It was all going so well. Then I dropped my phone and smashed the screen. I say phone, but in truth it is my all encompassing communication device. You don’t realise just how important it is and how much you rely on it until you lose it, break it or have it taken away! Mine was sent off to a repair company in Kent never to see the light of day again. Written off, unserviceable, beyond economic repair – take your pick, it was bust and wouldn’t be repaired. Two weeks later and here we are again with a bright new shiny phone. Peace reigns, blood pressure has reduced, apps, contacts and photos have been restored thanks to Mr Google, and normal service has resumed.

My front door pots have been improved with the arrival of pink hyacinths in bloom. They were rescued from last year’s pots and have done well to flower so well again. Always a big decision whether to chuck it all away and start again fresh each year or try to save and store from year to year. I can’t bear to throw perfectly good plants, flowers or bulbs away, I will always try to find them a home and as my wife is fond of saying, “they’ve got two chances”.

Great excitement on Tuesday when the Which? Gardening Trial Seeds arrived in the post. The Dahlia ‘Bishops Children’, Bidens ‘Golden Nuggets’ and Agastache ‘Liquorice Blue’ were sown immediately and put in the heated propagator. The beefsteak tomato, French beans and lettuce will be sown later this month or April. I enjoy monitoring the performance issues requested and giving feedback at the end of the season. It makes an interesting distraction from growing just for pleasure.

This is proof that it is wise to follow good practice and leave the top growth on Penstemons until after the last frost. The new growth below is protected whilst the old growth takes the hit. I cut mine back by a third in December to prevent the wind from rocking themselves out of the ground. I also take a dozen cuttings just in case and pass them to friends if I don’t need them. This one is ‘Hidcote Pink’, probably the hardiest and longest lived of them all.

Just a random daffodil but one with the most gorgeous two tone orange trumpet backed by chucky egg yellow petals. Nothing special to a narcissus connoisseur but special to me and hopefully the people passing by.

The Euphorbia characias has perked up after all the snow, frost, wind and rain of January and February and is now almost upright again. A self sown two year old who will probably have to be relocated or passed on to a friend before it becomes huge and blocks the path. There are plenty more seedlings springing up in the wrong place too! Fortunately they re-establish easily when young so I pot them up and grow them on. People pay good money for what some would consider ‘nuisance’ plants.

If I’m not around next Saturday, it will be due to the Magic Money Plant and its unique powers of influencing the Camelot balls to drop in the right order. I’m in it to win it!

Have a great weekend

David

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