Six on Saturday: 12 Dec 2020

Inertia is setting in, as I enter deeper hibernation mode. This happens to me every year at this time, and it comes as no surprise. Humans, in my view, are no different to other animals, and other animals slow down in winter, or just pack it in and go to sleep until it’s worth waking up again in the spring! I take my cue from the rodents and hedgehogs, and dig deeper into my burrow.

As a result, there hasn’t been much activity in the garden, apart from a swift sortie to plant 75 tulips into pots, my insurance policy against those that went a bit fungal in the shed but were planted out anyway. These newly bought tulips are Abu Hassan and Cassini, both Truimph tulips in invigorating shades of scarlet and orange. When I come out of my hibernation, they will gladden my heart.

This weeks Six on Saturday starts with…

1 Christmas wreath. It has taken me a while to get into the festive spirit this year, knowing that we are going to have a very quiet Christmas in Belgium a trois, but I’ve finally got the box of Christmas decorations out of the cellar, and made the wreath with my son’s creative assistance. Everything was very hastily collected from the garden in the cold and wet, plus a couple of decorations stuck on.

2 Narcissus paperwhite. I don’t think these will be out in time for Christmas. Perhaps they need warmer temperatures for a boost? Mine are in the cellar, radiator turned off, but with plenty of light from a south-facing window.

3 Lantana camara. I have tried for many years to get Lantana through winter, and have failed every time. So this year, instead of going into an unheated mini greenhouse outside, it has been brought into the cellar. It seems to be doing alright for now. I adore this plant because it reminds me of my childhood in Jordan, where it grew into great, big, colourful hedges outside our home, and because it looks fabulous with Dahlias like Bishop’s children. Behind the Lantana is lemongrass, still alive and flavouring the occasional Thai curry.

4 Tradescantia zebrina. After seeing Katharine’s fabulous display of house plants on last week’s SOS, also featuring this plant, I thought I would give mine a moment of limelight. This one has spent summer outside trying its best to hide my water but, and I have to say it seems to have benefited hugely from its holiday outdoors. What it lacks is a decent spot in the house to drape down from – it’s currently on an Amazon box in the hallway, poor thing!

5 Christmas cactus. This one just might make it in time. It’s a cutting given to me by my mother-in-law, whose plant in turn is a cutting from her mother’s plant, so this one’s got history. First blooms just appearing in party-time pink.

6 Seeds in French. I hesitate to mention to dreaded B-word on here, but the reality is that I will need to improve my horticultural French. I’ve traditionally ordered seeds from British companies – I particularly like Premier Seeds – but they sent me an email last week saying that without a trade deal, it will now cost them 125 GDP per order to ship seeds to Europe, due to the red tape, which is a bit hefty for a few sunflower seeds, so I’m looking at a Belgian catalogue here, and thinking, thank heavens for Latin names! I like the pretty drawings.

Well mes amis, that’s all for this week. It’s looking dull and misty outside, so I think we will get the Christmas tree in today and start decorating that.

Do check out The Propagator and friends for more Six on Saturdays.

32 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 12 Dec 2020

  1. Lovely wreath. They seem to be more popular that ever this year. I made mine from pinecones and red/gold ribbon. Being in Tier 3 few people approach my door, but it cheers me up.

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  2. I think most of us, along with nature, are going to hibernate a bit now. Short days and long nights do not immediately stimulate people to activity. Especially in the gardens it is now also quiet, only the birds come looking for something to eat.
    Christmas will look different for everyone this year. Even though our Christmas tree is up, it will be just for the two of us this time. (Our Christmas cactus is also blooming for the moment). Enjoy the weekend.

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  3. This catalog is ideal for me to improve my French! 😂
    Joking aside, it’s nicely written and detailed.
    I too tried to overwinter the Lantana for a long time and had succeeded last year by taking cuttings in my attic. I love these flowers;
    Have a good hibernation !

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  4. The wreath is a winner, just lovely. I’m hoping to get my lantana through the winter too. It outside on the step and if it gets really cold I will chuck a fleece over, but time will tell. Think yours is far safer. If you have trouble with your horti French, you’ve always got Fred!

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  5. And here was I thinking Amazon boxes are for helping balance the compost heap! You’re being extra creative.
    I love Paperwhite, particularly because of its smaller sixe its less prone to wind damage. Brexit is going to have an effect on us all, but my God, when it comes to gardening its very real. 😩

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  6. Love your Zebrina stand – I’d say that’s a great use for an old box! Good luck with the seed catalogue translation. It’s a shame it’s come to this but I’m sure you’ll source some good seeds locally. I overwintered lantanas in my greenhouse before but to be honest the overwintered plant got pretty woody and unattractive after a year or two so I have taken some cuttings. They got sooty mould on them but I’m hoping they overwinter OK. Like you I’m a big fan of lantana and is a good reminder of mediterranean holidays.

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  7. My lantana was still blooming enthusiastically in September and I couldn’t tolerate losing it without a fight, so I dug it out of the garden and planted it in a large pot that I have placed on the porch, right next to the front door. My hope is that the heat from the house will be sufficient to get it through the winter. I have watered it very little – it appears that the moisture in the air has been sufficient thus far. I love plants like your Christmas cactus, that have history. What I wonderful remembrance of people who may be far away.

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  8. I’ve been fighting the inertia lately too. Each year I find it a bit more intense as I age and care even less for the cold weather. But there is a lot to enjoy in the season and it is always worth the push to get out and make the best of it.
    Our gardens are all at rest now with only the tree peonies waiting for a good freeze so we can pack them against the heaves of winter as well as the desiccating winds. So our house plants are getting more attention. I have a small cactus collection the doesn’t need much tending and often gets forgotten. Fortunately they can handle the lack of water. Our Thanksgiving cactus had a nice flowering and now we wait for the Christmas bloom. Your Tradescantia looks lovely upon its stately stand. 🙂

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    • Thanks Steve, you are quite right that once one gets out there, there’s always something to see and it’s not so bad. I don’t mind as long as people don’t expect too much from me at this time of year! My houseplants do get more attention now, even a dusting and wipe down if they are lucky. Cactus are wonderfully undemanding. 🙂

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  9. We will all have great difficulty should there be no trade deal following Brexit. Certainly, the importation of plants could become very expensive. We regularly order from Farmer Gracy, based in Holland, but they use a warehouse in England and, so, getting bulbs from them to Ireland will mean they will travel via England and cost the earth! Perhaps, they will ship directly to Ireland.

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  10. The smuggling of bulbs is a well established thing! I am a member of several Facebook groups for snowdrops and am amazed that a newly described species of snowdrop (as recently as 2019!) with a very limited area of distribution in Turkey seems to already being grown worldwide. I know there has been illegal collection and sale of bulbs – though the snowdrop world would not like that to be known. There is, for example, a private Facebook group purely for this activity! So as not to paint everybody black, there have also been plants grown from seed collections which is acceptable, I believe. The hollowed out book in the post may become more common in the coming years!

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  11. Shame about the UK seed supplier but good to support the locals! My cardboard boxes also go to the compost heap where they are currently a damp and soggy mess. The paperwhites will be lovely once they get going, what a treat. Wishing you a great Christmas.

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