Saturday, 13 January 2018

Week of the Wet

Cedar covered in droplets.

I don't know about the rest of you, but the wet is starting to get to me.  On the bright side, it's become obvious I could never be a mud wrestler, so there's one less thing on my bucket list.

As to the garden, everyone out there seems pretty happy about the weather.  Such as . . . 

1. . . . the mushrooms in the honeysuckle pot.

Happy little mushrooms.

2.  The bleeding heart seems to've woken up.  I don't remember the name of this dicentra, only that its leaves were supposed to have a silver cast to them, contrasting with flowers that were a deeper red than other bleeding hearts.  It failed on both counts, so will be left behind in this garden when I go.

Wakey, wakey sleepy head.

3.  There's also buds on these unknown little things.  They got rescued in my last garden from under a cordyline that'd sucked all the nutrients out of the soil.  They're quite prolific, whatever they are.  Any pot I stick them in, they fill in coupla seasons.  Last summer, there were only 3 plants in this lot & look at them now.  Wildfire, they are.

Poor nameless orphans, but dearly loved.

4.  Years ago when I lived in Galway, fuchsia was the go-to plant for covering up ugly spaces - then promptly neglected to turn ugly themselves.  I've inherited a few in my various gardens over the years, & those stepchillen taught me that, with proper care, they can be stunning.

Even so, after the Galway uglies, the sight of a stranger fuchsia still raises that urgh feeling in my stomach.  The only way these annual babies entered my garden last year was as a free gift with a plant order.  I stuck them in my tree pots & tried not to get too friendly with them.  

To be honest, though, how can anyone with a heart feel repulsed by that sassy thang? 

The last fuchsia blossoms & a fading snapdragon.

5.  Like many of you, I've been pruning, only I do it a little at a time lest I anger Demon CFS.  Wisteria, elder, apple, none have escaped me.  Even the yew's had a bit of the back & sides.

A certain SoSer whom I shall not name & shame, has given me tripod ladder envy, especially when battling our old & incredibly grumpy wisteria that's  currently throttling the apple tree.

All this photo needs is a tripod ladder.

6.  What I should prune but will not, is this lovely little cherry tree.  It'd either self seeded or more likely, been planted by a squirrel under an enormous hebe in my last garden.  

The now vertical trunk grew horizontally along the ground, then turned upward to get sun.  The landlord's 'gardeners' would trim it within the hebe shape.  Where the 2 o'clock trunk suddenly becomes small branches denotes the time I came into its life & stopped the annual decapitation.  

So now this large hebe globe had a cherry tree sticking out of it.  For 8 months, I wondered what to do about the situation.  Once we moved, it'd not have me to protect it.  The tree itself answered my question by blooming.  

Have you ever fallen in love with a tree?  Head over heels, I confess.  So I crawled my hag body into the small space under the hebe, dug like an archaeologist unearthing a rare find, then pulled out the cherry tree & hoped for the best.

Here it is, 2 years later, crooked & thriving.  Which I hope it'll do until I find my forever home where it'll get planted in a spot even ancient-crone-me can see from a window.

My cherry crush.

So there's my very damp Six.  I'm very glad you stopped by this week.  Do go over to The Propagator for his Six & links in his comment section for a dozen or so more Six on Saturday.

Snowberry shrub covered in rain.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

New Year, New Growth

Wildlife water bowl.

It's been another wet week.  All this rain gave me plenty of opportunity to see posts about what's growing in other gardens.  Between showers, I compared notes to my own space.

While the freesia are still asleep & the clematis has no noticeable new growth, there are a few things happening out there.

1.  I admit, I've been worried about my witch hazel.  When it dropped its leaves early last year, I told myself the move had changed its signals.  Then all these great photos of yellow & orange & red squigglies appeared in my Twitter feed, convincing me my tree had died.

But hello!

Witch hazel tutu blooms.

2.  The leucojum has had its first blossom.

Leucojum not yet fully open.

3.  I've been keeping an eye on the sweet peas, self seeded & . . .

Self seeded sweet pea next to the toadflax.

. . . 2017 survivor.

Old man pea.

4.  The greatest joy of week, proof positive the daffs have survived Brer Fox.  (You can read about our Neighbour From Hell saga here & here.)

The Brer Fox repellant worked!

5.  The kerria surprised me with a blossom in the middle of its many wands.  The smudged yellowgreen bits below the horizontal stem are leaf knobs getting ready to open.  This is the kerria overshadowed by the elder tree, which I've been pruning back, so hopefully there'll be more vertical & less horizontal this year.

Oh kerria, you yellow face delights us.

6.  Mlle DoodleFace pointed out a new hole under the fence, this one too small for Brer Fox.  I keep filling it in & it keeps getting opened again, sometimes by Mlle DoodleFace herself.

The new rat-sized hole.

Mizzy BunnyButt (who tends all things rodent) sent a memo about some big heavy stone to be lodged in there quite soon.  (As you can see in this photo, there were no blossoms on the witch hazel earlier this week, so WOW, eh?)

Mizzy BB inspects.

All these new things in our new year.

So once again, thanks for stopping to see my Six on Saturday.  Please be sure to visit The Propagator for his SoS plus links to many other garden peeks.

Tuckered Mlle DoodleFace.

Saturday, 30 December 2017


Drenched acer.

The week's been

then snow
then rain
more rain
& even more rain.

Hailing from the mountains myself, I'd rather it rain than snow.

I need to check the prisoners in the basement.

My gardening companion, Mizzy BunnyButt doesn't agree.  She cries at the door & once open, refuses to go out, then stomps off in disgust as if the rain's my fault.  A few minutes later, she's back, rinse & repeat.

Lately, she's taken to wailing at cellar door.  Next best thing to prowling a waterlogged garden, I guess.

Enough with feline woes.  With Mizzy BunnyButt safely dry in the cellar, out I go into the wet, doing my best not to slip slide across lawn as I bring you my Six on Saturday.

1.  Right by the back door, there's a single rose bud battered by the holly next to it.  This rose was here when I moved in, so name unknown, but it's scented, with a lovely strong pink colour.

As to the holly, I suspect it's a self seed number, considering its proximity to the rose & location in front of the window.  I haven't decided how best to prune this warring pair, but it's a decision whose time has come.

Rose & holly.

2.  For all the rain, fortunately only the leptinella pot needed some plumbing.

Leptinella brass buttons

3.  While doing my rounds, I stopped to check on the nigella babies . . .

Nigella nursery.

& discovered (pun alert) a lovely in that thar mist!

A surprise nigella bloom!

4.  You may remember Madame Owl perches outside our downstairs bathroom.  This week, I noticed she appeared to have an injured wing.

Mme Owl thinking about shortbread.

She's made of metal & sits protected from the wind & flying debris, so a bit of a mystery as to how it happened.  Since it's fairly certain the fox kits've been climbing the tree to steal morsels from the bird feeder.  I wonder if they're to blame for this bit of damage as well.  A quick zip up the fatsia & they'd have her.

5.  Back inside, there were new books to read, seed catalogues to scour, & plans to scribble in my garden journal.  I've been using this particular journal for 5 years now, thinking of it as a tool rather than a record.

This week, I flipped through it, revisited former gardens by reading about plants I'd forgotten bloomed early in 2012, who got transplanted where the next year, lists of plant spacings, labels pasted in with the intention of finally learning a few Latin names, diagrams of what colour tulips were expected to reveal themselves & in which pots.

My garden journal is a journal of myself as well.  Fancy that.

Much anticipated inside activity.

6.  I'll end with another Great Unknown.  A new garden tool set appeared under my tree & there's one implement who remains nameless.  My guess is it's a medieval surgical instrument, but figure it'll perform the same tasks as the butter knife I keep in my trug.  Anyone out there recognise this fella?

Or maybe used to remove brains during Egyptian mummifying procedures.

There's my slightly damp Six. 

Post-wet walk Big Nose dog.

Now get yourself over to our #SixonSaturday overlord, The Propagator for his Six & links to all his garden-rabid minions' postings.

See you in the New Year!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The Night Before the Night Before

Spirit of the season.
At last, the penultimate Saturday of the year.

This past week, the chard lovers among you sent in all sorts of tempting recipes, broadening my ideas about what I can do with the stuff. To you, I'm most grateful.

Thinking chard thoughts made me realise my antipathy towards it was laced with guilt over not eating my greens.  Or purples.  Or reds, as the case may be.  So while I'll indeed be trying your yummy ideas, next year I'll allow myself to simply enjoy seeing colourful chard jostle the other inhabitants of the flowerbed.

Now, my Six on Saturday.  This week, I'm including some chores that refuse to be put to the side simply because there's eggnog in the house.  Gardening magic does not come to those who do no chores.

1.  First chore, replanting bulbs uprooted by young Brer Fox for the 2nd time.  There are 3 or 4 regular fox who visit our street every night.  I suspect Brer Fox is the young kit who jumps from wall to wall until he gets our resident Doodle's attention.  Once Doodle sounds the alarm, Brer Fox alternates between grooming himself & making delicious eye contact with her.  A most aggressive act in the canine community.

This bedlam, I can endure.  Digging up my bulbs, I cannot.  Hopefully the new defence system'll slow Brer Fox down.

Battling Brer Fox.

2.  Pruning of the rapacious elder has begun.  My chronic fatigue means this has to be done in many, many stages.  Although there's currently a pile of branches in the middle of the lawn, both the kerria & the lilac will now be able to grow vertically, even if I were to overdose on eggnogg this very night.  The acer (discussed here), not so much improved.  I'm fairly sure it'll stay the hunched & wizened hag of my garden.

The great elder cull begins.

3.  This orchid waited a long time for some attention.  A castaway from my son's undergraduate days, it's been a prolific bloomer until this new house.  That's one drawback of frequent moves - houseplants get very attached to their particular windowsills & pout when they lose them.  Here's hoping in a week or two m'lady'll be back to her gorgeous self.

Sulking orchid pair, mother & daughter.

4.  Then there's a previous chore.  Two hollyhocks'd somehow seeded themselves in the lawn.  Not at the edge, but about 18" inside the grass, brazenly taunting mower & dogs.  All summer, I told myself that once they reached their mature height in a year or two, they'd be too obvious to get themselves murdered.  In late November, I lost my nerve & transplanted them near their parents, fairly certain my cowardice would result in their death.

Newly transplanted hollyhocks.

They not only survived that abuse, but met their first frost with courage . . .

First frost!

. . . braved the snow that followed, & scoffed at this week's hard frost.

And a hard frost.

Enough of chores.  Let's end with a pair of lovelies.

5.  Yonks ago, I lived in a 17th century rectory, the type of house that sucks all the moisture from the ground.  Our landlady (who knew ALL the Latin plant names, which impressed this rough holler dweller to no end) filled the surrounding flowerbeds with drought resistant plants.

And thus, I met curry plant.  Helichrysum italicum, to the rest of you.  It propagates easily, so I took a bit of it with me on every subsequent move, but the curry in my last house died for some reason.  So this is my very own, not stolen/not relocated/not cut-&-dragged-from-house-to-house curry plant.

This beauty sits near the back door, giving off its gorgeously savoury smell.  I love it to bits.

Helichrysum italicum - curry plant.

6.  I've admitted my rapture over creeping thyme before.  It smells great, covers a multitude of sins, looks wonderful 3 seasons out of the year.  Here it is in its Cinderella finery after the frost.

Frosted creeping thyme.

Winter largesse.

Once again, we're at the end of my Six on Saturday.  Be sure to visit The Propagator for not only his Six, but links to other gardeners rounding up a special half dozen for you.

Enjoy your holiday celebrations, whatever they may be!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Four Seasons in a Week?

They'd rather be outside.

Before emigrating to the UK, I lived with four discernible seasons.  In winter, the snow'd get mid-thigh, so I'd let the springer spaniel break a glee-inspired crooked path through the snow to the car. 

This week in my garden, the temps are decidedly winter, but visually, one could argue 4 seasons co-exist here.

1.  In the spring category, bulbs known & unknown are coming up.  Although called summer snowflakes by their friends, the leucojum aestivum took the best photo.  Here, you can see a winter jasmine checking them out.  The yellow leaves against the wall = grasping wisteria that escaped pruning.

Leucogjum aestivum, aka summer snowflake.

2.  For my faux summer, there's still a lot of bloom in the garden - snap dragon, lavender, bergenia, hesperantha, some purple thing I can never remember the name of because I don't really like it but the rest of my family does.  And of course, my good friend calendula.


3.  Clematis seeds represent late summer, early autumn.  It's self-seeded in various cracks & pots over the summer, so I should dead head it, but they're so lovely to look at, I'm being rather foolish about them.

Clematis seed heads.

This clematis was here before us, so identity unknown.  Comparing a bad photo of it in early autumn with Google Images gave me several options, all of which look alike to my untrained eye.  Maybe western white clematis - clematis ligusticifolia - which apparently is native to the west coast of North America.

Last of the clematis blooms.

4.  For something well into autumn, weigela.  I got this one by layering an old shrub in my previous garden.  That house was built in the 1970s, the garden still containing much of the original landscaping, so this guy could be from that era.  It's leaves are unveriegated, the blossoms pinky purple.  Not much to go on, in terms of identification, but that's what it is.  I rather like the old guy.

Weigela photobombed by the cotoneaster.

5.  For all this pretend-season foolduggery, one (me) must admit it's actually winter.  This week we got the dread snow, which I'd hoped would kill off the chard. 

Please let it die.

As written previously, this chard came under the guise of a Christmas present in seed form.  Despite our best efforts, none of us enjoyed eating it, though the colours were pretty stunning.

Post snow photo.

The snow did kill off the cosmos next to it, though.  When I removed the cosmos, I found this sneaky little chard growing to beat the band.  You can see it behind the grown-up chard in the post snow photo.

Really purple chard.

So my love-hate of chard continues.  Its colour may win a permanent place in the flowerbed.

6.  Tales of Brer Fox.  I've been watching his antics in the back garden via my wildlife cam.  One of his regular habits is to stand in pots to get a better look at things before exiting the garden.  The snow revealed that a certain Doodle (who shall remain nameless), tracks his every move.

Doodle tiptoeing through the garlic.

This is the first time since last spring that Brer Fox dug anything up, though.  Hopefully this was one raucous night that won't be repeated.

Very glad Brer Fox left the bulbs for replanting.

Mizzy BunnyButt scouring for next week's SoS.

Thus ends the four seasons pretence.  Please be sure to hop over to The Propagator for his Six, plus links in his comment section to other Six on Saturday garden blogs.  New blogs come up over the weekend, so be sure to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter as well.

See you next week!