Six on Saturday: 30 Jan 2021: Citrus boost

This week I was reminded that January brings one of the best harvests, from the citrus groves of Sicily. We have an Italian neighbour who has a connection to a grower on that sun-soaked, fertile island, and brings in a lorry-load of crates laden with oranges, lemons, grapefruit and clementines, which he stores in his garage and sells to neighbours. We got a box of oranges and another of lemons, so should be able to make it through the rest of winter with enough Vitamin C!

Night time in the neighbour’s garage!

No visions of citrus from today’s rain sodden garden though, but let’s see it has to offer in this week’s Six on Saturday, hosted by the committed Propagator.

1 Narcissus ‘Paperwhite’. Indoors rather than outdoors, this has just started flowering. It has a very sweet, spicy scent, which would be cloying as a perfume but is fine for the occasional sniff.

2 Sarcococca confusa. Perfume outside now, in a pot on the patio the sweet box is coming into flower. It’s not overwhelming me with scent, to be honest, but it’s only just getting going, and it could do with a less damp atmosphere to play its part.

3 Helleborus argutifolius. I’ve featured this before but it deserves another turn. None of the coy downward facing flowers of the oriental hellebores, pretty as they may be, this is a vision of health and vibrancy. It shines from its corner in the glade, even more so in the rain, which given how much it’s raining this year is a definite plus.

4 Spanish bluebells. Next to the hellebore is a spreading clump of Spanish bluebells. Previous owner here was Spanish, so there might be a connection there. I am looking forward to these, even if they are not quite as delicate as the English bluebells.

5 Asiatic salad. In the little greenhouse I’ve got a tray of Asiatic salad which I sowed a tad late last autumn. The roots are coming through the holes in the tray, so I need to transfer to a larger container and hopefully get fresh salad leaves soon. In front is an experiment in autumn-sowing sweet pea Matucana, they’re ok but a bit floppy.

6 Chillis: Thai Red Dragon and Biquinho. Let’s loop back indoors now to show you my LED lights in action, giving my just-germinated chillis a helping hand. I’ve gone for two ends of the scale this year, a hot Red Dragon for our Thai curries, and a very mild yellow Biquinho for adding to salads, making salsas etc. There is a third row of yet to germinate sweet green peppers. By the way this is how dark it is at 9 a.m. on a rainy Saturday – urgh!

That’s all for this rather wet week. We are now trapped in Belgium with closed borders, and haven’t seen family in the UK since last August. This is a strange feeling, to have your freedom of movement restricted, and in a foreign country, though I totally understand the reasoning behind it. I feel a slight sense of creeping claustrophobia though, but then I realise I am not alone in that, and many are aching to get out and about again. I hope the garden and the lengthening days provide welcome distractions for all.

43 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 30 Jan 2021: Citrus boost

  1. How wonderful to have those oranges and lemons!

    Now, Spanish bluebells are only fit for the bin, not the compost bin, the rubbish bin. They spread and spread here and are a frightful nuisance.

      1. I’m with you on that hate though we have three in the garden, shading off a children’s play area, a playhouse. They have behaved well,to be fair to them.

  2. Fantastic citrus crop! It’s a shame that his garage is not yours because you would have a lot of them…😁
    you actually chose the right time to sow hot peppers. Here I have 60% success on my first seedlings. Artificial light helps it and the warm bed too.

    1. We got a full box of oranges and a full box of lemons, that’s plenty. First glass of freshly squeezed orange juice this morning, amazing! Re chillis, I was surprised how quickly they germinated, sown on 24 Jan! I think the heat and light help a lot. Do you heat yours at all?

  3. You are very blessed with your Sicilian neighbor, he keeps you healthy and well 🙂
    It looks like the plants are doing well, both outside and inside.
    Many people have the problem of being cut off from their family members, especially when they live abroad. Everyone is hoping for a speedy recovery from this troubling pandemic. Keep courage is the message.

  4. I’m just thinking about of all the lemon drizzle cake, lemon and ground almond cake, lemon or orange crunch pies and possets you could make. It’s dark and gloomy here too. A hellebore that looks you in the eye is a pleasant surprise. Lovely.

    1. Stop it! I made a lemon polenta cake before Christmas and it was soooo delicious that I tried the recipe using a grapefruit. Also delicious. But cake is very bad 😥

  5. Hi selwa it is always good to see your successful planting and any blue flowers are great to cheer us nowadays. I am pleased to get my vaccine on Tuesday hay hope all will get theirs soonish considering the supply keep planting.
    Chelsea flower show is now in the autumn so all astras are in demand.

  6. Oooh those oranges and lemons! I assume they will keep for several weeks because, much as I like both fruits, I wouldn’t use lemons very quickly. Does that helibore variety come in any different colours? Dare I admit that I quite like any bluebells? I’m with you, missing our daughter in Dubai who we haven’t seen for a year…….thank goodness for Zoom and Google meet.

    1. Thanks Granny. We have a cold cellar so the lemons should keep well. I use a lot in my cooking, which is Mediterranean style mostly. Unfortunately that Hellebore only comes in lime green (as far as I know), but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for actually seeing the flowers! Really hard, these family separations.

  7. I’m with Paddy on the Spanish bluebells. The bulbs grow very deep in my garden and I never seem to be able to dig them out. We also have allot of hybrids round here as across the road is a proper bluebell wood. I’ve read that there’s cause for concern about the native ones being cross pollinated with the spanish escapees.

    I love your picture of the hellebores – such a lovely colour that lime green.

    1. Certainly worth making efforts to protect the English Bluebell in specific settings like yours. But I feel that a lot of noise is made about the threat of hybridisation when, as for so many wild flowers, habitat loss is the major issue. Anyway as I live in Belgium I can enjoy my bluebells without guilt 😉

    1. Thanks Rogue, the citrus is the best thing that happened this week! I am quite delighted with the lights, it means I can get going sooner with a few things like chillis, without the poor seedlings stretching their little stems out desperately for more light.

  8. That’s quite a sight (the oranges and lemons)! Those sweet peas look raring to go. I have a tendency to leave mine quite late, you’ve reminded me to get a move on!

    I quite like bluebells of either sort in the right place, but I’m with Paddy on Muscari. I have a very well behaved white-flowered variety, but the usual blue one can really make a nuisance of itself.


  9. Oh look at the citrus bonus! Lovely. I had no luck this year with muscari…very poor showing. I had thought of getting bluebells myself, but if I put them round the side of the house they might well spread.

    1. Thanks Thistles, we are so happy with the citrus bonanza. I find the bluebells only spread quite slowly where I am, I suppose it depends on the conditions. That being said, they are probably at their most lovely en masse.

  10. Enjoy all that vitamin C Sel! I am intrigued by that Hellebore. It really does shine. I know exactly how you feel about being confined… I missed the ‘window’ in August where travel was possible but was worried I might get stuck in the UK as they started declaring countries ‘risk zones’. I had planned a trip last March, but the flight was of course cancelled. Thank goodness for Facetime! My parents are both in their 80s so it has been such a worrying time.

    1. So difficult, isn’t it. Have your parents been vaccinated yet? I just heard my Mum gets her jab on Tuesday, am relieved but still not sure when we’ll be able to go and visit. Now pinning my hopes on a trip at Easter time…

  11. Oh those trays of citrus fruits look amazing. I wish we could buy sacks of oranges like you can in the warmer climates, nothing better than a freshly squeezed glass of orange in the morning. We have a lemon diluted with water to wake up our taste buds, so we’d love a tray of lemons too! I must buy one of those Hellebores, they are so lovely and great foliage too.

    1. Thanks Jude, I’ve just had a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a fresh croissant, after an early morning bike ride, so I’m feeling good! We are lucky to have that Italian neighbour. Btw that Hellebore is fantastic year round, you could make some lovely planting combos with it, and it’s tough as old boots.

    1. Hi Hortus. The hellebore is a star, and it’s a long season plant – it’s been in flower for months, and the foliage looks great all year round. Highly recommended!

  12. Oh you are so lucky to have a local source of such wonderful citrus! What a bonus! I think the Hellebore is really pretty, and after reading all the comments in its favour I think I’m going to try and source one ‘down under’! Gosh! That is pretty dark for 9 in the morning! Good idea to use the growing lights!

  13. Oh the site of the trays of fruit was so cheering. I walked past some Sarcococca in a front garden the other day and the scent was amazing so I hope yours gets going soon. This was a well established clump. I wish I had bought S.Confusa, I went for hookeriana which has a pink tinge to the flowers. I might be more impressed when the flowers actually open. So far they are firmly closed and no scent at all. Patience is what we need.

  14. Your post is very international this week! Spain, Italy… When I see the neighbours garage, I can’t help visualising Breaking Bad!
    I hope you had a good week, Sel. And that the claustrophobia will be short-lived.

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