Six on Saturday 4th January 2020

Happy New Year folks! I hope everyone enjoyed the festivities. I certainly had a lovely, long and relaxing break. Two whole weeks off work and, given an upcoming change in circumstances, I could almost completely switch off because my challenges are now someone else’s and my new challenges haven’t commenced yet. More on that another time I’m sure.

So, here we are on the first Saturday of January and it’s time for the first Six of 2020. I have to admit I did precisely zero gardening over the break – I am absolutely a fair weather gardener. I hate the cold, and while I feel awful wishing for hot weather given the devastation it’s causing over in Australia (is Trump still denying climate change? Numpty!) I can’t help but dream of lazy, hazy, sunny days in the garden. Still, we’re now well past the shortest day so things are on the up!

Anyway, I forced myself out in the garden this morning to check the garden and find some Six inspiration and, now my hands have warmed up again, I can show you what I chose to talk about today.

1. Compost Bin

I discovered, thanks to a new colleague, late last year that certain county councils work with http://www.getcomposting.com to provide better value compost bins and luckily Birmingham City Council is one of those councils so I ordered one pronto, along with a kitchen caddy to save me trekking out there (in the cold – brrrrrrr …..) every time I peel a spud or crack an egg. I’m excited to get going, although I’m well aware, as with so many aspects of gardening, that I need to exercise what little patience I have, given that there’s not so much as a tea leaf in the bin yet, and the worms haven’t set up camp. As I’m typing this my mind is whirring and wondering if I’ve placed it in the optimal place. I’m not sure the sun spends much time here due to next door’s forest. I’ll ponder that point later.

2. Hellebores

I have a few, all from the sale table in Notcutts. If I see one on offer I tend to grab it knowing that it’ll have lovely leaves in the Summer and will then cheer my chilly heart with flowers in Winter.

This one is in my birthday planter and I’m pretty sure I shared a picture of it in flower around this time last year. It only had one flower then and it appears to only have one this year too, but I’m still grateful to it for showing up.

I have two others, these two photos are just one of them but the other looks exactly the same so I’m wondering if I snaffled them both from the sale table at the same time or if they’ll produce different blooms when these buds open. Time will tell. Looks like I’m going to get quite a few flowers from these two anyway. Whoop! I’ll keep an eye on them and make sure to snap the evidence. I’m excited to see what colour/s they are.

3. Christmas colour

Apart from the Hellebores there are still some plants fighting to bring joyous colour to the garden.

The Cyclamen is obviously no surprise but it’s such a lovely colour that I wanted to share.

More unexpected are these two ….

One of the Calendula that I grew from seed last year. They got really lanky but this one in particular, which is in a pot outside my She-shed, has bloomed almost continuously since mid Summer. I was really happy to see its cheery orange bloom waving at me as I made my way up the garden path.

This is the St. John’s Wort which we inherited with the garden. It’s beautiful in the Summer full of big, bright-yellow petals but I’m sure it doesn’t normally hang on to any flowers after Christmas.

For my final three points I’m going to share some of the garden related Christmas presents that I got.

4. Christmas plants

I bought these myself from hubby. I think he likes it when I buy my own presents! Means he can reimburse me for a gift that I definitely love without him having to battle the Christmas shopping crowds, and, in this case, I’ve had a nice time browsing a garden centre! Score on all counts!

Another beautiful Coprosma and a really big Cyclamen.

I just love Coprosma leaves. They seem to have so many colours in them and they change throughout the year. The one I had already seems quite slow growing, but they both should get to about fifty centimetres eventually. I’ll have to find a good spot to put this one. They seem to cope ok with shade, of which I have plenty, so I should find somewhere it’s happy.

I have several Cyclamen now, but none as big as this one. I have a place in mind for this one alongside our fence where I can see it from the kitchen when it’s flowering in the Winter.

5. Christmas seeds

I’m set for this year’s homegrown veg! Last year I tried petit pois, carrots, leeks and red onions. The red onions did nothing, the leeks eventually produced spring onion sized leeks, but the carrots and petit pois were really successful and they’re probably my favourite veg to eat too so I chose to go for those again, but different varieties this year. I thought I’d try runner beans too. I would never think to buy runner beans, but whenever I’ve had someone else’s homegrown ones I’ve enjoyed them. The packet says ‘vigorous’ but I figure it’s easy to prepare runner beans and freeze them for later in the year if I get a bumper crop.

I have six varieties of Sunflower too. I’ll have to decide whether to try a couple of each or whether to save some for next year. I need to think how much space I have that’s suitable to plant them out.

The final seeds are a pollinator beebom. I love this idea. When I can bear to take my hands outside again I’m going to prepare an area that I can explode this bomb in. I know just the place.

6. Froggy bird feeder

This is the kind of thing I love in the garden. Cute little characters to add interest. Of course, we’ll probably end up feeding more squirrels than birds but hey, they need to eat too! I’d rather they eat seed that we put out for ‘animals’ than my bulbs! I don’t know if this will be the final resting place for this feeder or if I can find somewhere else but for now this is where it is.

I won’t be around with another Six until February because I’m away from home for the next three weekends, but in the meantime why not check out the Propagator’s blog for other Sixes.

Six on Saturday 16th November 2019

Is it officially still Autumn? It doesn’t feel like it (especially not as I have a man in my porch fitting a smart meter meaning the gas is turned off hence no heating!) It’s soul destroyingly Wintery.

Anyway, I went wandering in the garden this morning to snap some pics for a Six and the sign in my greenhouse seemed very apt.

I think I’ll start in the greenhouse for number one. It’s chilly in there as is corroborated by both my posh and accurate thermometer …

… and my pretty but slightly less trustworthy thermometer.

The cuttings are having a very similar reaction to the cold as I am – a bit lacklustre and definitely not as happy as a couple of weeks ago!

A fellow blogger advised me a few weeks ago to keep them fairly dry but not bone dry, but, despite not having watered them for well over a month they’re just not drying out at all! I need a heated greenhouse, but that would send the new smart meter into spasms of panic I fear!

Conversely, the Gazania and the two Fuchsias (one hardy, one not but I can’t remember which is which) seem quite happy with their surroundings.

I’ll have to ask my Mum which is which when I see her as she took the cuttings. It’s not going to hurt having them both out of the cold given how small they are.

Meanwhile, back outside we have today’s number two, which is two Cordylines looking beautiful.

They’re both in planters, the green one stands proud at the back of my birthday planter and the pink one is nearer the house in my patio planter. They give some welcome interest and much needed colour to the sleeping garden!

There are still a few plants desperately soldiering on and producing colourful petals to cheer the gloom. For number three I’m going to share my Erysimum.

This was from the sale table in Notcutts in Summer 2018. I planted it out last Spring and it did well all through this Summer. I’m not keen on pink, but this pink is rich enough to delight the senses.

Number four was a recent purchase that was planted out towards the end of the Summer.

Fatsia Japonica, whose leaves have something of a look of a giant Marijuana plant! How do I know this, you may ask with a knowing smirk? Well, you try going to the Caribbean and not seeing Marijuana leaves depicted on every piece of tourist tat for sale! Anyway, there’s nothing illegal about this lovely specimen. It’s supposed to get pretty big and it’s grown quite a few new leaves already so here’s hoping.

For my penultimate point I’m using a photo that I took purely because I liked the way the rain looked on the leaf.

This is a cluster of leaves on my Scarlet Patio Rose. I love how the leaves are tinged with pink, picking up the pink of the emerging shoots below and the blurred Heather in the background, and the rain droplets that reflect the light and accentuate the leaves’ veins.

I’m going to end on a festive note which I think is acceptable given that the big day is only five and a bit weeks away.

Holly! We have an abundance of it in the garden which can be painful when it gets too big and requires pruning! None of the Holly bushes flower or get berries which I think must mean we only have one sex of Holly bush resulting in absolutely no copulation at all, and therefore no offspring.

Right, I’m off to do something that doesn’t require gas or electricity now I can see exactly what it’s costing us! While I’m freezing to death in the dark why don’t you pop over to check out more Sixes on the Propagator’s blog.

Six on Saturday 19th October

Here I am! I’ve been AWOL for a few weeks so I’ve made a special effort to take some pics to share. I find my enthusiasm for being outside wanes considerably at this time of year so I’ve spent next to no time in the garden recently. I wandered out this morning to check my cuttings (they’re fine) and had to avert my eyes from everything that needs doing.

Anyway, on to my Six. Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s blog for more Sixes.

1. Fuchsia

The hardy Fuchsias are still going strong.

The top one is Delta Sarah and was new this year from Gardeners’ World Live. I had one last year which didn’t make it through the Winter, but this one’s bigger so hopefully it’ll cope better.

I’m not sure what variety the bottom one is. This did make it through last Winter and flowered beautifully all Summer. It’s in a pot outside our kitchen window so I can see it every day.

2. Autumnal Blueberry bush

The Blueberry bush had a very successful season. I got loads of yummy blueberries, which surprised me because the year before it did nothing! Now the season’s over its leaves have turned the most beautiful red. This is also outside our kitchen window so I see it every day.

3. Rose Hot Chocolate

This Rose did amazingly well this year too with loads of repeat blooming. It’s in the shade but it doesn’t seem to mind. It’s still trying to give me one last flower now. Don’t know if this will come to fruition – guess that’s all down to the weather in the next couple of weeks. Maybe I should chop it and bring it inside. I’m planning to prune it quite hard once it’s definitely finished because it’s got quite leggy so I guess it might not be happy with me next year.

4. Wet Marigolds

I hate Winter weather, but I do appreciate how pretty the rain can make the garden. I think these wet Marigolds, which are in my wheelbarrow planter, look almost like leather after a recent downpour. They’re all still going strong at the moment adding some brightness as I gaze out of our back windows.

5. Berry watch

Three different colour berries.

The top shrub we inherited with the house so I’m not sure what it is, but it has these lovely orangey berries every Autumn/Winter. Maybe it’s a Pyracantha?

The second is my Callicarpa Bodinieri that I bought about this time last year. I couldn’t resist the glorious purple berries so I had to have it. It doesn’t seem to have grown very much yet, but it could potentially get pretty big in time. I hope it does so I get even more of those beautiful berries.

The last plant is also reasonably new. It’s an Ilex Verticillata. It had red berries when I bought it sometime at the beginning of the year, it had them all through the Summer, and it still has them now! I think it’s a bit confused because it’s only supposed to fruit between October and November!

6. Patio Planter

Last but not least, an update on my patio planter with which I’m so in love! I’m so glad I made this planter to cover the ridiculous gap in the patio. As you can see, everywhere’s wet and the falling leaves make it seem so Autumnal and gloomy, but there are my Stipa, my pink Cordyline and the four Hebes just stoically getting on with the job of looking divine and cheering my day. There’s even a couple of Begonias in there that were left over when I planted my hanging basket that are still going strong. This is definitely one of this year’s success stories.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend folks. I’m off out later to catch up with a special friend who I haven’t seen for far too long.