Six on Saturday: 20 March 2021

Strange to think that this time last year, we were in our first lockdown in Belgium. Strange too that I have pleasant memories of it: glorious spring weather, afternoon tea in the garden, our first chickens to fuss over and tut-tut indulgently as they sampled my plants in an all-you-can-eat buffet, commuting time freed up to do more gardening…all enjoyable, but the wider context less so. Now, it’s different: though not in lockdown, I am getting itchy feet, and will really miss our usual Easter visit to Blighty. Luckily, the garden distracts and beguiles, with unfurling of leaf and fullness of bud, and Six on Saturday gives the perfect excuse to indulge in some gardening mindfulness.

1 Daffodils. There’s no doubt now that spring is here.

2 Anemone blanda. I rather cruelly dismissed these a couple of weeks ago as under-performers, but since then more have popped up and are still appearing, looking happy with the daffodils alongside the front path. We finally had some glorious sunshine yesterday, so they were posing for the camera. Forget-me-nots all around them will be next in line.

3 Peas ‘Douce de Provence’ have germinated well and I think I’ll put them in the raised veg bed soon. I could have put them directly in the ground, but I like to keep an eye on them in the early stages, as this minimises losses from slugs, which have a particularly voracious appetite at this time of year. I’ll do a second sowing in a few weeks, we love peas.

4 Rosemary. Now a less edifying sight. Despite temperatures of -11 degrees C this winter, the rosemary beetles are clearly alive and well, and have been feasting on my rosemary. Why these southern European visitors are thriving after such cold temperatures is a bit of a mystery: all the southern Europeans I know struggle to get through a cold Belgian winter. I pick them off whenever I see their shiny metallic coats, which you can see on a post from December, but the grey grubs are harder to spot. I did take rosemary cuttings, but they don’t look so alive either. Has anyone else had trouble with these bugs?

5 Trees. I love the moment at which they are about to burst into new life. Soon, when it’s warm enough to do some morning exercises on the terrace, I’ll be looking up into their leafy canopy. Now, let me be honest, they do create an awful lot of mess for me – lime trees and hornbeam deposit much in the way of stuff and stickiness on the decking – but I wouldn’t be without them, and neither would the birds, squirrels and other creatures that enjoy them.

6 Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’. I promised to feature this climber again, and here it is being fully appreciated by the bees. This baby is my star performer right now, don’t be surprised if she makes an appearance again next week!

These sunny pictures belie the reality of what was quite a soggy week, which meant that I didn’t get out into that garden as much I should have. Instead, I potted on my tomatoes and wrote about why I enjoy growing them so much, and I avoided the dreaded trench digging task of Operation Control Trumpet Vine, mentioned last week. I will have to get to that, but first I’ve got a date in a muddy Flemish field this afternoon, to dig out horse-manure from what sounds like a very large pile of the stuff. I’m doing it for the roses! I had better get my wellies out. You’ll find other marvellous contributions to The Propagator’s Six on Saturday weekly gardening fest on his site, so do visit to see what everyone is up to. Have a lovely weekend one and all!

40 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 20 March 2021

  1. I meant to add – re the lockdown – that it is certainly becoming a strain here. We have kept ourselves very much to ourselves for the past year. I had trouble with my immune system following a hip-replacement operation – I simply ran from infection to infection on the gallop – and my GP strongly suggested I take a more than cautious approach to life under Covid. Thankfully, the weather is improving and we can spend more time in the garden but we both miss our daily long walks as the walkway beside us is so very busy that we don’t walk there any more. When travel restrictions are lifted we will be able to drive to quieter areas for our walks and get our old legs going again – and give our brains some relief!

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    • Yes I think we all need a change of scene every now and then, a bit of variety, a bit less same old routine. The good news is you have a lot to keep you occupied in the garden, it’s a lifesaver, I definitely appreciate mine more than ever.

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  2. Oh that Clematis is just spectacular! I have just ordered 2 C. Montana on the advice of a fried. If I can get them to grow for me then I will be happy to experiment with other varieties. I have not encountered the Rosemary beetles either. We have enough pest varieties as it is, so hope there are none of those here. Your photo of the trees and sunrise (?) is really very pretty. Your peas are healthy and growing quickly. Lovely to see your garden moving into spring.

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  3. It’s years since I grew peas so I decided to have a go this year. I only sowed the seeds in the greenhouse just over a week ago so they should be showing soon. Yours are well ahead. Do you get a good yield per plant?

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    • I haven’t tried this variety before, but I found yield was good previously (not a bad choice if you don’t have much space as they grow upwards) except for the year we got the chickens 🐓

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  4. I love peas too, the edible pod ones. Mine are slow coming up this year, but they recently emerged. I don’t get a second planting, it would be too hot before they matured. I don’t do well with fall plantings either.

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  5. Always pleasing when a plant exceeds expectations. I know what you mean about the inconvenience of certain trees being outweighed by their contributions to a garden, including shelter and food for wildlife. I feel good about having planted a large number of new trees along the stream. Horrible to hear about this rosemary beatle! I have always thought of rosemary as a relatively unproblematic plant from the point of view of pests and diseases, but it seems I have been living in ignorance.

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  6. I saw lots of rosemary beetles when I loved in London but fortunately none here in Buckinghamshire so far. I have lost some rosemary this winter though – prostrate varieties in pots which I think didn’t like the cold. I’m a bit sad as I had bought them in memory of my late step-mother who died a year ago. SHe’d have told me to go and buy some more – so that’s what I will do!

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  7. It’s hard to credit that it has been a year since the first lock down and here we are still trying our best to make the most of things. I’ve not come across rosemary beetles thankfully. The photo of trees silhouetted against the orange clouds and blue sky is very dramatic.

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  8. Your clematis is gorgeous! I don’t know of any specific bug that eats rosemary, but we do have similar green shiny bugs like that and the larvae are terrible, nibbling away at roots underground. My rosemary looks as if it is dying… the frost was a bit too much this year I think. And I didn’t think to take any cuttings! We had snow again today, and the temperature barely climbed above freezing. So it was lovely to see your spring garden coming to life. 😃

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    • Thanks Cathy, I hope spring isn’t too far behind for you, you’ll certainly enjoy it when it decides to show up 😉 It’s actually quite chilly here too, but at least we saw some sun. Really hope the rosemary pulls through, it’s one of my favourite herbs, and my favourite Granny was called Rosemary too 🙂

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  9. ‘Apple Blossom’ – swoon 😮 I did have one once and it was very expensive, but I planted it under a tree (cool roots) and it was supposed to clamber up a south facing fence, but it didn’t grow very much and the winter killed it off. I wish I had a sunny wall like you have. I haven’t and don’t want to see Rosemary beetles, but I did lose a Rosemary which was quite a large shrub, it just started dying off bit by bit until there was nothing left. When I dug it up there were hardly any roots. Very mysterious.

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    • The trouble is the C. armandii are not very hardy, but I think we’ve found the perfect spot for it as the wall is warm and sheltered. Makes me think I should be growing apricots, but I shouldn’t push my luck. I think I’ll have to buy some more Rosemary, not idea what might have happened to yours, the mysteries of what does on underground…

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  10. Hope your garden can provide some comfort – we miss not being able to cross the Channel in the other direction and it looks like it may be some time. Until we can all travel again enjoy your peas and your lovely Clematis ‘Apple Blossom’.

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  11. Hurray for spring! Sadly we do suffer from rosemary beetles here and, even worse, they seem to like nepetas and salvias too. I pick the shiny beetles off when I see them, but I’ve not noticed the grubs. Must look harder. Your clematis is quite glorious.

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  12. Peas…. My wife loves them, and she is thrilled that we are growi g them for the first time. I’m learning as I go. For sure, something gobbled all the ones I put in the ground. The batch in the glasshouse are at a few centimetres, so I guess they’ll et planted soon. More beer traps may be necessary.
    Enjoy the Flemish outdoors!

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  13. I have spotted rosemary beetle in the garden here but it doesn’t seem to have done any damage to the rosemary. Immediately touches wood! Cuttings usually root well so I hope yours do come good for you. I’m not a fan of peas at all 🙂 but yours do look wonderful. Happy eating when the time comes, podding them is the best bit for me!

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