Alternative Six on Saturday!

I was a really busy bee yesterday. I spent about five hours cleaning, tidying and generally organising ready for some friends to come over in the evening so our house is now sparkling, then I went over to Coventry to get my nails done.

… I went for green with glitter this time and I’m a little bit in love with them!

By the time I got home I just had time to have some tea before everyone arrived so I didn’t have chance to write a Six on Saturday post, even though I had managed to squeeze a photo mission to the garden in. Not to worry, it just means I’m not limited to six things to tell you about today.

First of all I’m going to wish our Welsh friends a very happy Saint David’s Day.

More and more daffs are popping up in the garden now and they do make my Winter-battered heart sing with hope. These ones are in the corner of my birthday planter.

There are definitely signs that Spring is in the air I the garden, apart from the daffs. My friend gave me a Crocus bowl for my birthday back in September. I planted the bulbs and then left the bowl in the dark garage as instructed. I have to admit, I had completely forgotten it was in there until hubby saw the bulbs sprouting and mentioned it to me. I took it out to the light and it’s gone from strength to strength.

There’s lots of new growth appearing around the garden.

My Hydrangea is growing little cabbages at the end of its arms.

My Dogwood is looking beautifully red and is growing lovely limey leaves.

And my Pink Damask in my birthday planter has got pretty big already. This dies down completely in the Winter and then shoots up in the Spring ready for its big blousy pink flowers in the Summer.

There’s actually some pink already doing its pretty thing out there. In the front my Camellia’s gearing up to flower already and I’m going to start appreciating it from now on because once those beautiful flowers bloom, they don’t stick around for long.

In the back the Pieris is already starting to develop its pink tips ready for the full on sunset that it will impress with soon.

And my sale table Erysimum which must surely be the most stoic plant in the garden, determined to shine even through Storms Ciara and Dennis, is waving a couple of flowers above its foliage.

Gorgeous!

The lawn is a little unruly because we weren’t able to give it one last mow at the end of the Summer because, would you believe it, it kept raining, and I noticed yesterday that the fox run is visible.

This reminded me to check the garden camera to see what the wildlife’s been up to recently. This was a mission! I hadn’t checked it since before Christmas so there were more than four thousand photos on the memory card. It took me hours to go through them all and get rid of the blurry ones, the hundreds of pigeons and the ones that were apparently triggered by the invisible man! Do you know how many actual decent photos I was left with? Twenty! I’ll just show you the best ones.

Bit blurry this one, but look at the date! Looks like it was the pigeon Christmas party!

Just Mr Fox enjoying some chips …

… and a squirrel chowing down on a prawn cracker.

We got another hedgehog too! So pleased with this one.

Finally, how do I know it’s Mr Fox and not Mrs? I’ll just leave this here!

Six on Saturday 15th February

This is only my second Six of 2020! I’ve been absent since the very first Saturday of the new decade so I steeled myself and headed out into Storm Dennis to see what was occurring in the garden. As Winnie the Pooh would say, it is a rather blustery day!

I’m itching to get out there and do some tidying and general maintenance, but I’m a fair weather, well everything really, but especially gardener, so I’m spending most of my free time cowering inside away from the cold, wind and rain!

I am, however, cheered when I look out of the window, by the sight of Spring bulbs starting to push through so I’m going to start my Six with two of these.

Daffodils! This is one of the ones that my Dad bought me for my birthday from wonderful Webbs a couple of years ago. They are beautiful, but I planted them in a row in front of my birthday planter (designed and built by my other Dad) and I now realise that they’d have looked much better in clumps, but hey, a daffodil’s still a daffodil in any order, and it still means the end of Winter is nigh!

Bluebells! We have THOUSANDS of bluebells in our garden, probably literally, and we didn’t plant a single one of them! They’re starting to push up all around the edge of our gravel bistro already. They always seem to take forever to go from this stage to actual flowers, and then all too soon they fade and I’m left with the less attractive foliage.

Here’s something else that I didn’t plant. I found this at the far end of our garden last year, presumably a gift from the birds, and included it in a Six back then. I was reliably informed by Jim of Jim’s Camelias that it’s a Cowslip. I relocated it from the end of the garden to the aforementioned planter where it thrived and flowered beautifully. I assumed it would be an annual but luckily didn’t resign it to the compost bin at the end of the Summer because I noticed today that it’s coming back.

Bergenia! I have regular chats with our cleaner at work, Debbie, about gardening and over the last couple of years she’s been kind enough to bring me several plants from her garden that have self seeded and multiplied too much for her to keep on top of. One of them was this Bergenia which has started flowering again. This didn’t look too happy towards the end of last year so I wasn’t confident that it would survive, but I’m delighted that it has. You can see more bluebells sprouting up underneath it too – told you we have thousands!

Hellebores! These are two separate plants, both from the sale table at Notcutts last year. They’ve come into their own now and are looking beautiful. I have another sale table Hellebore which is white, and lovely as that one is, it isn’t a patch on the pretty purple of these two. I had no idea these would be purple so it was a really lovely surprise.

Finally I wanted to share my joy that my Fuschia Delta Sarah has survived the Winter! It was really hard to take a decent photo of this because it’s a little bit bare, but it is most definitely still alive, unlike its predecessor which, despite promises of being hardy down to something silly like minus twenty, succumbed to the cold last year. I got this one from Gardeners’ World in June and I got the biggest one they had in the hopes that it would be better able to withstand the Winter weather. I can’t wait for it to fill out and start producing those beautiful purple flowers in the Summer. It is, after all, named for yours truly!

If you’re interested in reading other Sixes from around the country and the world, do check out the Propagator’s page.

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.