Six on Saturday: 27 March 2021

It’s Six on Saturday time, the virtual garden tour hosted by The Propagator and his growing (hee, hee) band of followers. Isn’t his Prunus incisa ‘kojo no mai’, featured today, absolutely gorgeous? There’s lots going on at this time of year, and I’ve also got a spring newsletter to send out to my Gardening in Belgium group this morning, so let’s dive straight in:

1 Hyacinth ‘Woodstock’. I find this dusky shade of purple – the colour of my favourite childhood juice Ribena, made from blackcurrants – quite fetching, and it’s surprisingly un-hyacinth-like in form, as the blooms are usually much denser. The tips got frost damaged as you can see. I’ve never grown hyacinth before, I think it would look good with primroses and maybe some muscari in the hopefully trumpet-vine-free glade (more on that later).

Hyacinth ‘Woodstock’

2 Malus ‘Evereste’. A new tree! It was a tough decision, choosing between all the possibilities, but I finally opted for a lovely crab apple. They say it’s one of the best trees for wildlife in the garden, and it has a long season of interest, also important in a small garden. This variety was created by a French governmental institution dedicated to agricultural and horticultural research in the 1970’s, hence it’s Everste with an ‘e’ at the end. It was dug out of a beautiful tree nursery for me, bare root, and I planted it that very afternoon near the glade, to connect up with the neighbour’s larger trees just the other side of the wall. I’ve underplanted with my two hellebores and some transplanted primroses, more of which will be added when I have a moment.

Malus ‘Evereste’

3 Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ and ‘Amagi shigure’. After selecting my crab apple, I had a little wander round the tree nursery, which was huge and had all sorts of wonderful shrubs too. I couldn’t resist either of these for the glade. Katsura has interesting spring foliage, and Amagi shigure is a new Japanese cultivar that is bright pinky-red. I think that Japanese acers have such elegance. I can see them working well with some heucheras, ferns and carex, all of which I have, so it’s just a question now of rescuing the glade from its muddy upheavals, moving a buddleia and getting creative.

4 Potatoes. It was a comment by French blogger Fred on a post by Irish blogger Padraig that gave me the idea to try growing potatoes in a bin. Such is the ease of learning from other Six on Saturday participants: thank you. This bin has no bottom, so I added a layer of horse manure and a layer of compost, then four King Edward potatoes, then more compost. Earthing up will be easy, just add more compost. The remaining potatoes have been planted in re-purposed old compost bags, with holes added for drainage, aesthetically challenging, but I want to keep space in the main veg bed for other things.

5 Seeds. It’s around this time of year that I get a bit anxious about sowing seeds, after the initial euphorbia of those first peppers and tomatoes has worth off, and the realisation dawns of just how many seed packets I ordered during winter’s day-dreams of summer glory. It’s like the feeling you get after over-indulging in an all-you-can-eat-buffet. Now it’s an all-you-can-sow-race-against-time and something of a logistical challenge to get these seeds going. So far, I’ve managed some lettuces, carrots, broccoli, broad beans, calendulas, nasturtiums, cosmos, coreopsis, larkspur and now, miraculously, more cleome have germinated too.

Lettuces germinating in the mini green house outside

6 Osmanthus x burkwoodii. “An evergreen saved from ignominy by by pure heads of sweetly fragrant white flowers in mid spring – good at lighting up a semi-shady corner behind ferns or glimmering white narcissi” says Val Bourne, a garden writer. It’s true that this in not my most exciting shrub, but it smells divine right now, and it’s no trouble at all. Can’t complain!

I’m adding a PS. My ongoing battle with the trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) has been the most tiring and tiresome of garden jobs this week (actually there are two of them, one monster isn’t enough). The beast has insinuated itself into most of my glade, and after much tracing and digging up of roots, this was the result:

Make of that what you will: murder or manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, you decide. In my defence, these are testing times, and getting testier as Belgium tightens Covid-19 measures today (schools are shut, shops are shut, you can see fewer people). One trumpet vine remains, for now.

The remaining trumpet vine is next to the spade against the wall, but for how much longer?

That’s all this week, I suppose I’ll be sowing more seeds. If you’re in Europe, enjoy the extra hour of evening daylight as the clocks go forward this weekend – the icing on the cake is that in Belgium we’re promised warm weather next week too. The good times are coming!

40 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 27 March 2021

  1. Yikes, that camsis was a brute! Best gone from the garden if it was giving so much bother. The crabapple tree, Evereste, is an excellent choice and the maples are always good in the garden. I have been enjoying hyacinths this week as well but the thoughts of Ribena….yeugh! LOL

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  2. Wow, what a campsis, that must have been hard work getting that out! Love the osmanthus flowers, I can almost smell them. And your tree choices are just perfect. Sorry you are heading deeper into lockdown, hopefully the sun will at least keep your spirit a little higher. Take care.

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  3. I’m doing the opposite with my potatoes. I tried for several years to grow them in sacks. The grandchildren enjoyed emptying them and playing “Hunt the potato”, but there were only slightly more harvested than planted. However, if you followed my potato saga last year, you may remember a tremendous yield in the ground from a few potatoes I was going to throw out. Very impressive trunk and roots from your Trumpet vine……..hard work but satisfying result.

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    • I fear you may be right, it’s often the way that veg in the open ground do better, but they are big plants and take up the space for a good three to four months. So it’s the turn of other veg to shine for me this year, and hopefully I’ll get some potatoes too.

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  4. Yes sunny but still cool here by the sea yes crab is wonderful I have one and I do eat them off the tree with the birds Monty yesterday on TV devided snow drops ah so much to do but what else can one do till the charity shops open?

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  5. It seems you have had a busy week. I don’t envy you trying to get that trumpet vine out. The crab apple should be lovely soon with the blossom opening. I’m eagerly watching mine for signs of flowers.
    I love the deep dark hyacinth. I’ve seen some gorgeous dark blue ones too. Dark is definitely the way to go,

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  6. I strongly support your selection of a crabapple. The potato bins are indeed a creative solution – are 4 sufficient to fill the whole container? I ask as one totally ignorant of the art of potato-growing. Your plaintive cry concerning the overwhelm associates with unplanted seeds and shrinking opportunities is heard and felt by me. I have a large collection of unsown seeds that no doubt are diminishing in viability each year following the initial impulsive, exuberant buy, but I can’t convince myself to dispose of them as there may be some viable individuals remaining and hoping for a chance at life. Well, enough gnashing of teeth for the moment.

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    • It’s a bit of an experiment with the potato bin, so am not sure if 4 is the ‘right’ number, it may even be too many. If you’ve got space, I’d grow them in the ground. They are very easy. Will report back on how mine do at harvesting time.

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  7. Gosh, that trumpet vine has some BIG roots, I am glad now that the one I planted actually died! Although I do love the flowers. I too have Woodstock and think it is a gorgeous colour, looks fabulous with dwarf narcissi. Sorry to hear about the new covid restrictions, we are opening up a little from Monday, but no shops open yet other than grocery and garden centres. And I am desperate for a haircut!
    Still, plenty to keep us gardeners occupied at this time of the year.

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    • I didn’t know it was possible for them to die!! The flowers are lovely but here they are much appreciated by wasps – so lunch on the terrace becomes impossible. I didn’t even manage to get a haircut for myself before the new closures, hope you won’t have to wait long!

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      • Mine succumbed to unexpected snow! It did attempt to grow the following year, but then disappeared altogether. Probably too wet here. April 12 is when hairdressers open, but I imagine I’ll have a long wait for an appointment!

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  8. Lots of succes with the crab apple tree and the potatoes ! I see you created some free space in your garden 🙂 I like the colour of your Hyacinth ‘Woodstock’. It’s fun to follow the evolutions in your garden, certainly with all those seeds that start to grow.
    Enjoy the weekend Sel !

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  9. 0h, that Osmanthus is fetching. I can imagine the scent. As to the Campsis, an approach you may want to consider is to regularly cut everything to the ground. You have to keep on top of it for a year or more but eventually the roots are exhausted. Has worked for bamboo and other monster plants.

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    • I will try my best to keep on top of it! It’s good advice. The area around the vine used to be just lawn, so it got mowed regularly, helping to control the suckers. Since then, I’ve cultivated this area more and more, and that’s when the problems started. I’ve also heard that pouring boiling water on the roots can kill them, but I hate to do that to the worms etc.

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  10. Goodness, that’s one heck of a bundle of roots. But it looks like there’s going to be more than enough plant life to replace it! Good luck to all the new blooms and seedlings.
    What potato-based recipe are you most excited to try out with the bucket potatoes?

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    • Sorry for replying so late Scott, your comment somehow got eaten by the WordPress machine! I hope that the King Edward potatoes will grow large enough to bake in the oven whole – we love to eat them topped with cheese, salad and beans. Fingers crossed the experiment works.

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  11. Sel, It will be interesting to following your progress with potatoes. The foliage on mine shot to the top of the pot in the space of a few weeks and is still growing. and now going yellow. I grew them last year and the same thing happened.I’m curious to know what I’m doing wrong

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  12. Hi Erin – lovely to hear about all the ideas you have and all the things coming good for you. The crab apple is a perfect choice and like you I bought an Acer ‘Katsura’ this week. I can’t decide where it’s going but it’ll be somewhere near the new conifer area. By the way, I share your seed angst. I have far too many still to sow and the first lot all need pricking out. Every year things slide but at least I prioritise the things that I really want to grow.

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  13. Crab apple was an excellent choice Sel. Would love one myself some day but I have also seen cherry trees in flower on several blogs today and I think a cherry must come first! I will be sowing this week and then the circus of putting things in and out, shaded or frost free will begin! But we are also still in lockdown (seems like forever but I think it was since just before Christmas) so I have little else to do for now! Well done with those vine roots. The Osmanthus is really pretty too. 😃🐝

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    • Thanks Cathy. The cherries are looking truly lovely right now, aren’t they? I think crab apples make better dual season trees though – with cherry trees, the cherries never seem to be on the tree for long, the birds get to them so quickly! Am hoping the birds eat the crab apples too, but maybe I’ll get to make crab apple jelly too! Good luck with your sowing, I feel I am still very behind, but never mind, it tends to work out ok in the end!

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  14. I’m with you in the race against time to get seeds sown. It’s a challenge, indeed.
    Enjoy the warm weather. Due here also for a few days before some cold Northerlies before the weekend.
    PS. I’ll be watching out for your spuds. Is 4 too many? Are they not very close together?

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    • Four might well be too many, I did hesitate, perhaps I should stick one or two somewhere else. A friend stopped by to take one bag with 3 potatoes in, and gave me three of her potatoes, a salad variety, in return, so that didn’t really solve much!

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