Six on Saturday 6th March

First Six in March and the world is feeling more hopeful and Spring-like. The kids are going back to school on Monday, not that I have any, but it feels like a step in the right direction and two weeks after that we’re allowed to gather up to six of us outside, including in our gardens.

I’ve not been well all week and have struggled through work and then pretty much collapsed in bed so today is the first time I’ve ventured in the garden since last weekend. If I’m honest, I was expecting to see more signs of life and changes since then, but I guess I need to be patient! Not my forte!

There was one plant showing signs of life though which always makes me happy.

I realise this doesn’t look like much, but if you look closely, and perhaps squint a bit, you can see top right and bottom left, the first little purple shoots of my eupatorium starting to regrow after its long Winter snooze. It didn’t grow as big last year as it did the previous two years but I’m keeping everything crossed that it does well this year. I may take a couple of cuttings once it gets properly going.

Also showing signs of return are my Welsh poppies which just appeared last year for the first time.

These have a beautifully cheery bright yellow flower in the Summer and they have sprouted up behind the chairs on our bistro so we can sit and enjoy them whilst we’re soaking up the sun (hopefully) in a few weeks.

My bergenia ‘elephant’s ears’ has produced some flowers since last weekend.

This is generally as good as they get! They were given to me by the cleaner at work from her garden a couple of years ago. She brought them in without any soil on their roots and I plonked them in the garden when I got home. They’re completely in the shade and probably water deprived by next door’s trees but they are demonstrably still alive so that’s good enough for me for a completely free plant.

Also starting to look like it’s waking up is my honeysuckle.

This flowered for the first time last year, in its second year, so I’m hoping for good things from it this year.

Moving on to a plant which is coming to the end of its flowering season.

This is a hellebore which lives in my birthday planter. It was from a sale table a couple of years ago and this year has been its best performing year so far. Its flowers start off pure white but they’ve morphed into lime green now. I only noticed today how gorgeous the middle of the flower is. It looks like loads of babies feeding on their mother. I’m sure there’s probably some green science to this but I’ll just admire the prettiness.

For my final point I’m going to share my latest plant delivery.

I ordered this from QVC so long ago I’d completely forgotten about it! It’s a Prunus Kojo-No-Ma which means butterfly dance. It’ll have gorgeous pinky white flowers in a few weeks with any luck and I’ll be able to show you why it’s called butterfly dance. Just got to decide whether to keep it in a pot or not, and where to put it.

As ever, I’ll be sharing my post in the Propagator’s comments – why not check some other Sixes out.

Six on Saturday 27th February

It looks so nice outside, the sun’s shining bright and people walking past our house aren’t all togged up in hats and scarves. Unfortunately we’re still in self isolation until midnight tonight so we can’t go for a walk to soak up the sun, but, we can go in the garden. It’s still a bit chilly and damp for me to be tempted to do any actual gardening but I am gearing up for it. I can feel the enthusiasm creeping back in!

I suspect my first point will feature in many Sixes this week. Daffodils! Finally the first of them have opened out so we can see their beautiful faces.

Isn’t that just a photo of pure joy? I just love love LOVE daffodils and everything they stand for! As far as I’m concerned, the only downside to daffodils is that they’re poisonous to cats so I can’t fill our house with vases and vases of their beautiful yellowness! Even the water that they’re kept in becomes poisonous to cats as I found out to my dismay when our pussy cat Willow drank it some years ago. Willow’s not with us anymore (not because of the daff incident) but I still feel guilty that drinking the water made her poorly. Daffs must be really poisonous because the water literally made a reappearance within a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

Speaking of our feline friends …..

….. this one doesn’t belong to us (our girls are house cats) but he (we think) visits our garden every day and he’s learnt to trust us and happily strolls up for head rubs and fuss. He does have an owner (he wears a collar) and is obviously well cared for because his fur is always well groomed but he seems to enjoy our garden. We’re animal lovers so we do encourage wildlife to visit our garden whenever we can.

According to Monty Don, you should be able to organise your garden and its eco-system so that it all supports itself and you should have minimal issues with pests because the birds will eat the lily beetle larvae and the ladybirds will eat the aphids etc. etc. However, despite the aforementioned black cat’s best efforts, squirrels are far too quick and clever to be caught, which means they just carry on carrying on with their daily business largely unfettered.

This is evidenced in the above photo. All week, from my home office, I’ve been watching a squirrel diligently gathering grass and carrying it off to next door’s jungle presumably to build a drey. I was hoping it was doing me a favour by clearing all the dead fronds to save me a job, but, no! It’s been busily decimating my festuca intense grasses. Cheeky squirrel! It’s a good job he’s cute. Hopefully the grasses will recover and we’ll see baby squirrels soon.

Last weekend I did do a little bit of actual gardening until it started raining.

I repotted my blueberry bush. Luckily I had some ericaceous compost leftover from last year in the shed. It’s showing signs of regrowth this week so I’m hopeful that I might get lots of antioxidant rich blueberries in a few months.

I took delivery of three raspberry canes last week and I planted them in our raised bed and now I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I tried to grow raspberries a couple of years ago and they just died on me. Someone told me they don’t like to be planted too deep so I’ve planted these ones just enough to cover their roots. Someone else told me that cutting the canes to fifteen centimetres after they’re planted can encourage off shoots so I’ve hedged my bets and cut two of them but left one as it was when it arrived. I really hope I get some raspberries this year.

Finally for this week, is a little bit of cuteness! This Harry Potter meerkat has been keeping watch over my sempervivum pot for a couple of years. You can see in the second photo what the pot looked like when I bought it. More than half of the plants didn’t make it through last winter and the survivors looked a bit sad in the original big pot, so I decided to repot it in my wicker sheep.

That’s that for this week. I’m off to check out other Sixes now at the Propagator’s blog and after that I may go and wander round the garden dreaming of tomorrow’s freedom!

Six on Saturday 20th February

I have felt like a different person this week and it’s all because the days are getting longer and warmer! We’re self isolating at the moment pending the results of a Covid test so a wander around the garden this morning was a pleasant change from being indoors! The garden appears to be pleased with the change in weather as well and things are finally starting to show signs of Spring. So happy!!

First up is this pussy willow. I bought this last year, pre-lockdown when I was still in the office and, therefore, in Notcutts most lunchtimes. I’d definitely started my new job because I remember showing my new boss so it was sometime between 3rd February (new job day) and 18th March (last day in the office). It was covered in its little furry catkins when I bought it, so I have high hopes for the next couple of weeks. It’s currently trying to grow its first catkin for this year. I couldn’t get the camera to focus on it unless I put my hand behind it!

My next picture made me very happy. When I went out into the garden this time last week there was absolutely no sign of my crocuses so I assumed that one of our many squirrels had feasted on them, but I went out today, and what do you know? There they are!

Behind the newly discovered crocuses is a row of daffodils that have bravely faced the snow and come out the other side. According to Timehop, in the last two years we’ve had fully open daffs by now, but I guess the snow has slowed them this year because this is the stage we’re at right now. Not far off though, eh? Hopefully by next week’s Six I’ll be able to proudly show off a fully blooming daff.

Next up, another one that made me smile. Lupin regrowth! This was new last year and it looks like it’s going to grace us with its presence again this year. If I’m honest, I didn’t expect it to. I had a lupin before which died as soon as I planted it. I must’ve done something right with this one. I’m sure I bought two last year, but I didn’t see any sign of the other.

Last week I shared a photo of a skeleton pink damask flower, and this week I’m able to share a snap of the regrowth coming through. This will be tall and willowy in no time, but the flowers won’t appear for a few months yet.

Final point for today is another little surprise. I was worried that this hydrangea wouldn’t survive because all of last year’s dead blooms got knocked off somehow and I was concerned that the frost would get in it, but there are definite signs of new growth here.

All in all today’s wander around the garden was the most encouraging I’ve seen it for some time. I think I have lost some plants to the cold and snow, but not as many as I feared when I went out last week. There is a LOT of tidying up that needs doing, the weeds are starting to come through and there’s lots of winter detritus that needs sweeping and raking up. I was hoping to be able to do some of that today, but it’s been quite wet and wet gardening is miserable, so I’m going to leave it till things have dried out a bit. I feel like, now I’ve learnt a bit more about gardening, what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve learnt how our garden reacts to things, I need to sit down and plan it out a little bit rather than saving random plants from sale tables and plonking them in wherever they’ll fit. I shall head off to the Propagator’s blog now to check out some other Sixes for inspiration.