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.

Six on Saturday 21st December

I missed doing a Six last Saturday because I was at my Granny’s in Surrey for my annual Christmas catch up and present swap with her and my Mum. It’s a couple of hours drive from home to Granny (without traffic) which means I don’t get to see her, and my Mum, who’s an even longer drive away, very often. My Grandad was a gardener and since he passed away Granny has taken up the task of keeping his garden looking good. Back in Birmingham, there’s not a lot going on in our garden that I haven’t already shown you, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to show you six from Granny’s garden this week.

1. Clematis Montana

Ok, so admittedly it doesn’t look like much at the moment, but when we visited in April this narled swirl of wood was covered in beautiful big pink flowers. I have a Montana but it’s never had a single flower so I’m very envious of this one. I may move mine this year and see if it does any better somewhere else. In fact, the perfect place has just occurred to me.

2. Hebe

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m partial to a Hebe, or ten! None of my Hebes are as impressive as this one though (yet! Let’s remain optimistic).

This one is even still clinging onto Summer with a single, solitary remaining flower. Granny did have two Hebes in her front border, both this big, but someone in an entirely unnecessary 4×4 reversed into her garden and knocked the other down.

3. Wild Pansies

Granny has several pots of Winter Pansies which are flowering nicely and brightening up her little garden. Here they are from the front door.

Quite a small garden, as you can see, but I’m impressed that, at eighty eight, Granny is still able to maintain this on her own

4. Hypericum

Lovely black berries. They look like blackcurrants, don’t they? Probably not a good idea to eat them though.

This is the same family as St. John’s Wort but looks completely different to my St. John’s Wort. I should’ve asked Granny what colour flowers this has (assuming it has flowers!)

5. Cordyline

I was reliably informed that is a Cordyline. I wasn’t sure because the two Cordylines that I have in my garden don’t have trunks like this one. This looks like some kind of Cordyline/palm tree cross! It’s nice. It stands quite regally, casting its shadow over the little plot. Nice two tone fronds to add some interest.

6. Nerine

I have to admit that I’ve never heard of a Nerine before. This caught my attention because of the pretty pink against the pebbledash behind.

Obviously it’s past its best but I bet it looks beautiful when it’s in full bloom.

There we are. Granny’s six. I’m off to the Propagator’s blog now to check out other Sixes which have been published.