First Six on Saturday of 2022 – 1st January

I’ll start by thanking the Propagator for publishing his Six today, because without that I would’ve had absolutely no idea what day of the week it is! Secondly – happy new year everyone! I started the day fed up (isn’t that obligatory on 1st January?) For me, rather than a chance to start afresh, it always feels like anything good that I achieved in the previous year is null and void and I’ve got to start from the beginning again! As if the whole point of the year is to get to the end, only once you do, it just starts again and you’re back to square one. Of course that’s not true and once I’ve given myself a good talking to, I get a grip and the eternal optimist in me wins out.

As part of my getting a grip, I decided to go out into the garden and see what’s going on. I have to say, I could’ve come back in thoroughly depressed because it’s a mess! A combination of a bad back, the weather and the time of year means that nothing’s been done out there for some time (other than hubby taking it upon himself to clear a load of leaf fall) and you can tell. However, my back’s starting to feel a bit better and the weather will improve soon so I’ll be able to crack on and get a lot done before too long. In the meantime, here’s what caught my eye today.

I’ve got a little ahead of myself because my first picture is actually inside the back door. I got this lovely little cactus from my brother, sister in law and niece. Isn’t it cute in its little teacup? Perfect colour to brighten up a dreary winter’s day too. Cacti are one of the few plants I can grow inside because our cats have learnt not to go near them!

Continuing the yellow theme next is this lovely biden bloom. I’ve featured my bidens a couple of times over the summer but didn’t think they’d still be going now after a couple of coverings of snow and several frosts. Admittedly there aren’t many flowers left, but this one is certainly not too lonely. The plant does look a little straggly now so I’ll have to see how it goes and whether it will revitalise for the summer.

Speaking of snow covering, my poor cordyline suffered a bit, as you can see! The fronds have bent down under the weight of snow. It seems to be recovering a bit already so hopefully all is not lost. Maybe next year I should put some protection around it.

As I wandered behind the squished cordyline I noticed this grass. This was a freebie from my mum when I visited last May when restrictions were finally lifted. It’s doing really well. I obviously managed to (accidentally) plant it somewhere that it appreciates. Actually, despite being on the shady side of the garden, things planted here do, on the whole, thrive. There’s still a bit of space here so I’ll have to find something to fill it this year.

I’m going to finish with two photos of good things to come! Firstly you can see the daffs are already pushing through with their promise of gorgeous yellowy hope in a few short weeks. I can’t wait – I feel so cheered when the first daffs bloom because then warmth and light stretches out ahead of us for months!

Moving to the front garden and the hope is continued there in the form of camellia buds! This is a beautiful deep pink camellia and, although the blooms only last a couple of weeks before they drop, during that fortnight they make my heart happy

Right, nearly time for tea, and it’s kind of a last supper before the new year healthy eating regime starts (again!) I’m remaining positive that the sunny holiday that we have booked in April IS going to happen, unlike the last two that we’ve had booked, and I’m determined to feel comfortable in swimwear!

Hope everyone still off work enjoys the rest of their holiday, and for those who have had to work throughout, like my hubby, you can feel smug in the knowledge that you don’t have that sinking ‘going back to work’ feeling to come! Having said that, I’m hoping I don’t have that – my new year’s resolutions are mainly work related so I’m going to make this a positive career year.

Six on Saturday 19th June

My offering is late this Saturday because I’ve spent all day in the garden, mainly focused on one particular project and finishing off with a little bit of general gardenkeeping (is that a word? Housekeeping is, so why not gardenkeeping?)

Anyway, this week I’m mainly talking about my new planter which I have bought in an attempt to fill the problem space alongside our lawn and underneath part of next door’s jungle which gets no sun (literally none) and is zapped of all goodness and moisture due to the aforementioned jungle. I figure a planter will be easier to maintain since I can control the soil and the watering much easier. That’s the idea anyway. Who knows if it’ll work. Here’s hoping because the planter was flipping expensive and backbreaking to put together (although I am suffering with my back at the moment, so it may not be so bad for a healthy backed person!) and I had to put A LOT of compost in it!!

Here is it with hubby valiantly brandishing the screwdriver as if he did the whole lot!!!! To be fair, he was at work when I put the majority of it together and I’m too impatient to wait for help unless absolutely necessary. Each of those half moons of timber was separate and had to be joined, and they didn’t have pre-drilled holes! I just needed help to put the panels together once I’d constructed them because it was pretty unwieldy because of the size.

I decided to fill some of the bottom with various paraphernalia to use up some space because I’d calculated that it would hold 1000 litres of compost. It was quite good actually to get rid of some of the rubbish lying around the garden and put it to good use (and save me some money!) As it turns out, either my calculations were wrong, or the dimensions given were wrong, but it actually took 1350 litres of compost, even with the detritus in the bottom, which involved two trips to Homebase. Luckily hubby wasn’t working this morning so I didn’t have to carry it all from the car to the garden because that really wouldn’t have done my back any good! It’s already complaining about the amount of lifting and digging that I did actually do.

Eventually, after that second trip to Homebase, I managed to get it filled and, what do you know, it stayed together and I think it looks pretty good, even before the plants were added.

In the lefthand side of the planter we have, back left, my very first sale table plant that I’ll be really upset at if it doesn’t tolerate being moved, my hebe Purple Pixie. It’s one of the few plants that actually has managed to compete successfully with the jungle. In front of that, the pinky thing, is a weed I think, but it’s a pretty weed so I kept it and in front of that is a hosta which is a shade-lover anyway so has managed to stay alive there for a couple of years. Next to the hosta is a sedum which self-seeded itself elsewhere in the garden. Also a shady lady so should be fine there. Behind that is my fuchsia Delta Sarah which also prefers some shade. It’s a couple of years old now and has come back to life this year. I pruned it quite significantly back to the regrowth so hopefully it won’t object to the upheaval. Behind Sarah is a new plant that I picked up a couple of weeks ago at Dobbies. It’s a nepeta and it should be ok with shade as long as I keep it topped up with water until it establishes. Nestled next to the nepeta is an Asiatic lily. I really don’t know how that will take to the movement, but I thought I’d try it – you never know. In front of that I added some white begonias because they’re pretty tolerant of anything that you do to them and they brighten up a darker spot.

Moving to the back right of the other end of the planter we have acer Butterfly. This is also new so I’ll make sure it gets everything it needs to thrive. In front of the acer is my coprosma. This is the third time the poor thing’s been moved because it wasn’t doing well in it’s first two spots. I talked nicely to it and promised never to move it again if it can do its best to settle in well here. Next door to the coprosma is a plant that my in-laws bought for me and I can’t remember what it is! Having just consulted google, I think it may be a Japanese laurel. Back and left from there is another new plant. I ordered this one from Thomson and Morgan in February and it only turned up a couple of weeks ago! It’s a sarcococca which I got because my aunt told me that they smell amazing and should be ok with shade. Immediately in front of that is fuchsia Snowcap. This is one of the six that I ordered from QVC which got turned upside down by Hermes and arrived in a bit of a sorry state! I’ve been tending to them carefully ever since and I think I’ve managed to save them all (although one is still a bit touch and go – it’s in one of Granny’s pots for good luck). Goodness knows where the other four are going to go, but I really should decide before they get pot bound! At the very front is another sale table find and I can’t (even with the help of google) remember what it is. It has a really odd flower that looks like some kind of alien, however it didn’t look very happy before I moved it so I’m not expecting it to survive, but, again, you never know! I’ve left a bit of space at the front because I’d like a couple of heucheras there but I don’t own said heucheras yet and I think I’d better wait till pay day to make any more purchases!!

I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out and it looks so much better than the mostly empty space before did. I’ll have to keep on top of the maintenance because most of the jungle is made up of fir trees which like to drop their needles in abundance. This is good sometimes because I think it does help to keep moisture in, but it’s not good when it covers the poor plants just trying to survive underneath. I hope I haven’t planted things too close together – I’ll just have to see how they get on as they (hopefully) get bigger.

I’m going to finish up with another raised bed that I’ve been tending today and over the last couple of weeks.

I’d already planted out the marigolds, sweetpeas and runner beans and they seem to be doing ok despite being trampled on by any number of neighbourhood cats, foxes, squirrels and magpies! The runner beans and sweetpeas are all starting to wind their way up the wigwams and all the marigolds have buds waiting to spring forth with orangy gorgeousness. Today I added four sunflowers (short ones) that have been growing in the greenhouse. They got attacked by slugs so were somewhat put back in their growth but I’m hopeful that they’ll survive. I also planted out my second batch of cosmos after the first lot also fell foul of the slimy critters. You can’t really see them, but they’re in the middle. I don’t normally stake cosmos, but they were all looking a little droopy so I decided to give them a little helping hand, especially as we’re expecting rain again tomorrow which might batter tiny plantlets (I’ve made that up, but they’re more than seedlings, but not quite plants yet).

All in all it’s been a most satisfying (if expensive) day of gardening and I’m feeling happily accomplished. I’m off to check out some of the other Sixes now that I’ll be able to find on the Propagator’s blog – why not join me? Enjoy the rest of the weekend – happy gardening!

A weekend in the garden – finally!

I haven’t done a Six on Saturday for a couple of weeks, partly because the weather’s been so rubbish that I’ve barely been able to get out in the garden, and partly because due to said pants weather nothing’s really been happening out there other than weeds growing! I’ve also been speed crocheting a secret present which has taken up every spare moment, but is now almost finished (more on that when it’s been gifted).

However, despite a terrible weather forecast this weekend, I have managed to get out there in between showers and downpours. Yesterday I spent a bit of time in the greenhouse. I have lots of happy places, but one of them is definitely in my greenhouse with a compost filled table, some bits of paper (last year’s Gardeners’ World calendar) a trowel and some seeds.

I noticed in the week that something had started to eat my seedlings!!

How annnoying is that?! They’ve chewed my sunflowers, decimated my cosmos and absolutely obliterated my zinnias. I found the culprits – nestled underneath my seed trays were two snails and a slug! All three were swiftly disposed of down the end of the garden where they can eat weeds to their hearts’ content for all I care!

I do have some have intact seedlings/plants left and I decided that some of them were big enough to move to the new cold frame to start hardening off. First of all I had to remove the biggest herb Robert I think I’ve ever seen! This weed thrives in our garden, and especially, it would appear, likes the heat of the cold frame!

It would seem that the slimy things don’t like sweetpeas because they’re largely unscathed and three sunflowers look to be redeemable. I must remember to go out this evening to lower the lid.

Back in the greenhouse, I did some replacement sowing and some later seeds that needed doing. I sowed my petit pois in my raised bed a good couple of weeks ago, and absolutely nothing is happening! I don’t know if there’s any hope or if they’ve been eaten and/or dug up by animals but in case I don’t get any from the direct sown seeds, I sowed some in pots to transplant (hopefully) so I at least get some petit pois. I also sowed some more cosmos, because out of twenty that I sowed (most of which were growing nicely) I now only have three that haven’t been chewed! Then I decided it’s finally warm enough to sow my runner beans.

Then I potted up some pansies and begonias that have been patiently waiting for some time.

I did actually still have a couple of pansies in the pots which had managed to survive the winter. The begonias in the wheelbarrow are a yellow and orange mix again. If they turn out like last year’s did, then they’ll be beautiful all through the summer (if we ever get one) and into the autumn. I’ve ordered these from Thomson and Morgan the last couple of years because you don’t seem to be able to get yellow and orange from garden centres very often and they are just so pretty. I hope there are enough in the planter. I ordered fifteen, but a couple didn’t survive the post and three went in my hanging basket. We’ll see.

I decided to try something a bit different for my other hanging basket.

I bought this grass Nigrescens a few weeks ago intending to put it in one of Granny’s pots, but I changed my mind. I think it’ll be ok in here, and it’ll be nice to have something in there all year round. I can always pot it on if it gets too big.

Just before I headed in, I decided to go and dig up the euonymous that I noticed at the end of the garden. It was quite tricky to get up because it seemed to be in several pieces all surrounded by nettles and borage (work in progress!) but hopefully the bits I got will thrive.

Today I headed back out there not sure how long the rain would stay away, but apart from one brief shower, it stayed away until well into the afternoon.

Our garden can be quite daunting because there’s still so much to do, and I’ve found that it’s best to pick a small area or job and concentrate just on that, otherwise you run the risk of coming in feeling overwhelmed and a complete failure. Today I picked this area behind my birthday planter.

I think I did a pretty good job getting the weeds up. I’ve learnt not to be too precious with gardening. It’s never going to be perfect, so it’s best to just accept that from the get go. There were some giant stinging nettles that did their best to sabotage me. There were right in the corner behind the hydrangea, next to a holly bush and some brambles! A somewhat spiky area to tackle.

You can’t see the bramble, but I decided to leave it in the hopes that we might get some blackberries. If it gets too wild in the meantime I can always change my mind. You can just see on the left that the rhododendron is teasing me with pink flowers. Hopefully they’ll pop out soon. Bottom right is my much-loved eupatorium. It’s taking it’s time (as is everything else given the cold spring) but it’s slowly getting there.

Towards the back, in the middle is a new addition. My Mum gave me this grass from her garden when I saw her briefly at Granny’s funeral. Driving back from Surrey with it in the back of the car was like having someone dancing in a hula skirt in the boot all the way home! I’ve been trying to decide where to put it, and Mum said it needed somewhere where it can go crazy, so I settled on here. Hopefully it won’t mind the shade of next door’s jungle.

I made two discoveries in this area. One is a fern in the back corner. Hopefully it’ll grow nice and big.

The second has self seeded from a Juncus Spiralis grass in my birthday planter.

As you can see, I’ve dug this one up and potted it on to get a bit bigger before I decide where to put it. It’s also called corkscrew rush, and you can see why.

This is exactly the look I was aiming for when I practised curling my hair yesterday ready for my first proper night out out post lockdown in a couple of weeks. Nature does it much better than curling tongs!

Sticking with the self seeded plants, I decided to fill my new wall basket with beautiful self seeded cowslips.

Since the very first cowslip appeared at the end of the garden, we’ve had a few more appear each year. Good job I like them, but then, you probably can have too much of a good thing. I’m not there yet though. I’m going to put something floral on the bird table on the left but I haven’t decided what yet. Probably something trailing would be good.

It was somewhat muddy out there, given all the rain we’ve had recently. I was very grateful for two things: first, my rubber gardening gloves that you can see in the corkscrew photo. They were much better for pulling up wet weeds and scrabbling in mud than the fabric ones that get all soggy and second, my new doormat to stop our kitchen getting mud trailed through.

Two family members were very pleased when we came back inside.

They’re really not used to being on their own anymore since we’re nearly always at home in this new covid lifestyle. Now, I think I’ll go and do some more crochet and play with these lovely little girls. Hope everyone has a good week.