Several on Sunday

I was going to do a Six on Saturday yesterday as I haven’t posted in a while, but then I realised I had more than six points to make so I’m doing several on Sunday instead!

I took the day off work on Friday to make a lovely long bank holiday weekend. it feels like ages since I had longer than a weekend off. I guess it was the jubilee weekend which wasn’t actually that long ago but I was ready for a break.

Hubby doesn’t work on Fridays so we had the day together, but we hadn’t made any plans in advance not knowing what the weather would be doing. It was gloriously sunny so we decided last minute to go to Twycross Zoo. Last time we went was just as lockdown restrictions were being eased and they were only allowed something like 30% capacity so there were no queues and we were free to spend as much time looking at the animals as we liked. Not this time though. It was absolutely heaving full of kids but I guess that’s what you get for going to a zoo in school holidays. I did get to test out the camera on my new phone though and got a few really good snaps.

As ever, I found myself in a quandary between being fascinated by the animals, and wishing they weren’t in captivity. I console myself with the knowledge of the conservation work that zoos are able to do because of the entry fees but really I know that if I wasn’t for mankind much of conservation wouldn’t even be necessary. However, we are where we are and that’s a whole other discussion.

Yesterday morning I went for a walk in Kingsbury Water Park with my sister-in-law and I’m really pleased with this photo of a duck. Hubby says the photos with this new camera are better than actually looking at the subject in real life!

On we go to some floral delights, and this time I’ve decided to show some zoomed in contrasts, largely due to the fact that the new camera is sooo good at close up shots.

First is my nigrescens in the hanging basket. I think I shared the flowers that it had for the first time a few weeks ago, and speculated that maybe that meant I’d get berries this year. As you can see, I have! Very exciting.

Next some violas that I planted ages ago. They were in flower when I planted them, then they were just a mass of leaves, and now they’re flowering again. Double whammy! Also, they’ve seeded in the gravel around them. I guess that makes it a triple whammy! I’ve never had that happen with bedding plants before.

My wheelbarrow has really done itself proud. I bemoaned the fact that my apricot mix pack of begonias was actually just red earlier in the year. The red was (and is) beautiful, but I’m really happy that I’ve now got some of the apricot tones that I wanted too.

My poor cordyline that got flattened by the snow at the beginning of the year is starting to recover. Hopefully by the end of the summer, the bent offerings at the bottom will have died off to be replaced by more upstanding fronds at the top.

I have a mix of feelings when the sedums start to turn pink. On the one hand, the pink is prettier than the green that they’ve sported all through the summer, but the pink tinge heralds the end of the lazy, hazy days of summer and the slow descent towards the cold and dark. Still, we’re not there yet so I’ll just try to enjoy what’s left of summer and the late summer blooms.

Here you can spy a closely shorn hubby hard at work being photobombed by the thing whose name I can never remember! Just googled – leycesteria formosa. I can’t remember if I planted this or if it just turned up, but it’s gone crazy!

Finally we have a pond! In typical quirky style, it has a heron and, perhaps even more bizarrely, a wildly out of scale triceratops! It’s not finished, there will be more plants added around it and, I’m sure, more random animals but for now it has a coprosma and I couldn’t resist showing you a close up of its beautiful leaves.

I think that’s all for now. We’re off to a garden centre once our Tesco delivery has arrived. No doubt we’ll come back with more garden paraphernalia that I’ll be able to share at a later date. Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend for UK folks, and the regular weekend for everyone else.

Six on Saturday 16th April

I’m writing this sitting outside drifting backwards and forwards on my new egg chair (thank you QVC) having spent the day getting stuck into some well needed gardening. I’ve decided to call it a day now, partly because I’m exhausted and partly because time’s getting on and I want to get a Six done today because this time next week we’ll be in Lanzarote (covid, security/check in delays and flight cancellation permitting!) so I won’t be writing a post then (although you could still pop to see the Propagator without me next Saturday and see what other treasures people are sharing).

Most of my points today relate to this photo taken yesterday as we left Dobbies with a fully laden boot.

My main purpose for going was to have lunch in their restaurant (check) and for compost (check) and bedding plants (check). However I also came out with several unforeseen purchases. Isn’t that always the way with garden centres?

So on with my first point (I’m counting the above as a preamble, not a point).

Most of the bedding plants have found a home, whether it be square, round or semi-circle. It was BOGOF on packs of twenty violas and pansies, so I got one of each. I’m so happy it’s finally warm enough to get on with the early summer planting. I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think we can be fairly confident that the final frost has been and gone. I had one cowslip in the wall basket from last year and I noticed another couple had self-seeded themselves halfway down the garden, so I dug them up and rehomed them, and added a couple of violas to make a pretty wall display.

I was intending to replace all my strawberry plants this year, but I decided to give the ones in our big planter one more year to see if they’ll perform so I just bought three new plants to replace the three original ones I had in a pot.

These are alpine strawberries and it says they’re perfect for pots so hopefully they’ll do well.

Somewhat dominating the space in my boot was a cotoneaster. I absolutely wasn’t intending coming home with a cotoneaster but, well, it happened!

I moved a couple of things around in the space behind my birthday planter and the cotoneaster fitted in perfectly there. It fills a space nicely. I also took the opportunity to deadhead last year’s flowers from the hydrangea that you can see in the background now the aforementioned frost has passed.

I sat down for a few minutes after planting the cotoneaster because it needed quite a big hole digging, and my back was complaining, and look who chirruped over to see if I’d turned up any worms.

Little beady-eyed robin red breast. He’s never far away when I’m out gardening.

I spent a bit of time in the greenhouse – 26.5° it was in there!

I sowed petit pois seeds in the green containers. I decided to try to start them off in the greenhouse this year because last year I sowed them direct and not a single one germinated. In the small terracotta pots are cosmos and in the bigger pot is nigella. I don’t know if either of these will grow because they’re old seeds that have been in the greenhouse since last year, but I thought I’d give it a go.

Finally, the first bluebells are opening their little heads to see the sun.

Aren’t they pretty? They seem to take so long to flower and then once the blooms have died you’re left with a load of unattractive leaves. Still, best to appreciate them while they last because there’s certainly no getting rid of the abundance of them in our garden.

I hope you’re all enjoying a relaxing Easter weekend with lots of relaxing, chocolate and maybe a bit of gardening. I’ll catch you all on the other side of our holiday.

Six on Saturday 2nd April

Here we are again, Saturday and time for Six on Saturday with our esteemed host, the Propagator. The weeks, and indeed months, are flying by! Maybe it’s because, unlike the past two years, something resembling normal life is possible again. Whilst I’m not grieving for the majority of 2020 and 2021, I would take the weather of two years ago over the Arctic excuse for spring that’s happening outside at the moment! It’s freezing!! Hardly any gardening has been done and I really need it to warm up so I can go and sow some seeds before it’s too late. Anyway, despite the polar bear climate, I braved the elements to take some photos.

My hydrangea is starting to fill out with leaves again. On the ‘Jobs to do this weekend’ section of Gardeners’ World last night, Monty suggested deadheading last year’s hydrangea flowers if the last frost has passed. According to BBC weather it’s going to be -4° tonight, so the dead heads can stay for another week or two.

Next up are my giant lilies – two weeks apart. I’m quite amazed by the spurt they’ve put on. I’m sure they were quite late last year, but, correct me if I’m wrong, I think that’s normal in their first year. These were from QVC last year and they look and smell delicious once they get going.

There are very few benefits of bad weather, in my humble opinion, but one of them is most definitely the appearance of diamonds in my sedums. Ok, I know it’s rain really, but don’t they look like little, sparkly gems nestling in between the leaves. Nature is beautiful.

Next I’m looking for advice. As you can see, my lovely cordyline suffered in the last bout of bad weather. We had a tiny amount of snow a couple of months ago and my cordyline literally bowed under the pressure! I was hoping it would spring back but it hasn’t. Do I just have to wait for new growth or is there some gardening magic that I can conjure? Next question, if I manage to restore it to its former glory, what do I do next year to prevent it happening again, short of running out there every time it snows and shaking it off?

I’m going to finish up with two colourful points. Firstly my two completely free cowslips that just appeared, the orange rimmed one last year and the yellow the year before. I’ve featured them both already since they woke up again this year, but they’re so lovely that I think it’s worth showing them off again.

Finally some daffs. They’re all coming to the end for another year now so I’m taking this opportunity to feature them for probably the last time, and I think these two are particularly gorgeous daffs to say farewell with (until next year, obviously!)

Right, now that’s done, I’m off to make myself a hot chocolate to warm me up and I’m going to binge the second half of Stay Close on Netflix whilst snuggled under a blanket!!