Six on Saturday

Another very cold and frosty morning in Cheltenham. Not a lot of activity at the moment other than rose pruning when the day warms up and assessing jobs to be done when February comes around. February is my weed/feed/mulch month and I am itching to get started.

These Chaenomeles japonica fruits are hanging on before they finally wither and drop off. In my garden, nothing seems to eat them. I have tried putting them out on the lawn for blackbirds, pigeons and other fruit eating birds but they are always ignored. Strange when you consider they are perfectly edible and apparently make good quince jelly.

Lots of fat buds on the Photinia fraserii ‘Red Robin’ bushes promising a good flush of red tips in April

The purple Honesty has almost shed all it’s mother of pearl seed discs, just leaving their ghostly outline. I am hoping for a good show next year if they decide to germinate. It is one of those plants that only seems happy if it decides where to grow itself. This one arrived by chance from the adjoining hedgerow where it revels in the poor soil and total lack of maintenance.

Even too cold for the snowdrops this morning and I don’t blame them. It was -5°C at 8am.. They will perk up once the sun warms them.

Such a beautiful clear blue sky silhouetting the birches. They had their annual trim this week to keep them looking good.

The prunings make good plant supports too!

Have a great weekend


Six on Saturday

Glorious weather for late March but a return to frosty nights is forecast next week. Some things like this Chaenomeles won’t mind but I am very concerned about my young Wisteria chinensis ‘Prolific’.

Just as the flower buds were about to burst open, a late frost killed them all last year at about this time. So, it looks like fleece will be required for a week or so to protect the emerging flowers.

My latest attempt at a solitary bee nest box! Not sure how successful it will be but I have already noticed ‘C’ shaped notches being cut out of rose leaves so the leaf cutter bees are nesting somewhere!

The professionally made one is untouched at the moment but perhaps in a better position, not so exposed. I once had a bee trying to make a nest in a hole in my front door as I was trying to paint it!

The hardwood cuttings of rose ‘The Generous Gardener’ I took 18 months ago have rooted well in pots and the remaining 8 plants have been planted out around bent wire supports . The idea is to train the young stems up and over to form a bell shape, hopefully covered in soft pink flowers. I will let you know if it works in June!

Best year yet for my wife’s little Magnolia stellata. Last year it only had 5 flowers! Feeding and mulching has obviously worked this year.

Surely it’s too early for Tulips?! These obviously don’t think so. I have still got narcissi to open and some snowdrops in flower but tulips already. Bonkers!

The carpet of Anemone blanda is getting a lot of comments from passers-by at the moment. The flowers open and close with the sunshine and work well with the lemon yellow daffodils, primroses and pink Chionodoxa.

That’s all for now. Sadly, I have tested positive for Covid so will have to spend all weekend in the garden. Oh well, ho hum!


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

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