Six on Saturday: 10 April 2021

Plans for a leisurely Easter break pottering about the garden were stymied by the fickle weather. Snow only looks pretty when there isn’t gardening to be done, and I was most disappointed to see the garden on Wednesday looking like this:

The delicate spring blossoms were all smothered in snow, although the viburnum did carry it off rather jauntily:

Thankfully, the snowy interlude was a brief one, and by Thursday afternoon all was green and abundant in leaf and bud again. The roses are filling out with their fresh new foliage, geraniums are appearing where I’d forgotten I had any, and forget-me-nots are asserting that spring really is in full swing. Let’s dip into Six on Saturday:

1 Gardening for Bumblebees. Afternoon tea in the garden with a good book, one day after the snowy interruption. This delightful book, ‘a practical guide to creating a paradise for pollinators’, is filled with beautiful photographs, useful identification charts and an interesting classification of the best plants for pollinators. Different flower shapes suit short-tongued or long-tongued bees, while as Charles Darwin discovered, some clever bees simply make a hole in the side of the flower to access nectar. I’ve already started chasing bumblebees around to try to identify if they are Buff-tailed or Early Bumblebees, and I’ve noticed Queens scanning the ground for suitable nest sites.

2 Forget-me-nots (Myosotis, which endearingly translates as mouse’s ear in Ancient Greek). Here they surround a much-prized Honesty, which was sowed as a seed back in August last year, planted out in the autumn and is now almost at the point of flowering. Quite thrilling. It’s a damp and cloudy morning, so the anemone blanda have not deigned to open their flowers.

3 Iris. It’s always surprising when a strappy leaf suddenly becomes a flower bud, and even more exciting when you’re not quite sure what colour it is or how it’s going to turn out. Irises are new to me, and were acquired as part of a local plant-swap last summer. They’re in a hot spot at the front gate, somewhat nibbled but the bud is perfection itself.

4 Narcissi in pots. There comes a point at which defeat has to be conceded. My narcissi in pots were all a total disaster this year. I think that the hard Siberian freeze in February did for them: as you can see, the growing tips were scorched, and the buds shrivelled up and died. Am not sure what to do with them now – plant them out and hope they restore themselves for next year, or tip them onto the compost heap? Has such a calamity befallen anyone else growing narcissi in pots?

5 Rosemary cuttings. Let’s quickly move on to something more positive. The rosemary cuttings have rooted well, despite earlier appearances to the contrary, and have now been potted up into fresh compost, so am hoping they put on some decent leaves now. Just as well I have these, as the predations of the rosemary beetles on my established plants continue, and I caught two of them in flagrante making the next generation earlier. I had to leave them to it, some things are sacred, but will return to place them onto the bird table later.

6 Violas. There are quite a few things coming into flower now: the Pieris, the first geraniums, pulmonarias, wallflowers, and the tulips are almost there. I’m going to give the sixth slot this week to these perky little violas, perched up in a pot on the back wall. They deserve the prize for both effort and achievement, as they’ve been performing superbly for weeks without flagging.

As I’m writing this, am listening to the radio (BBC), which is replete with tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh. What an interesting life, from his stateless beginnings to his role as support to the Queen and champion of many causes. I would like to salute his work promoting environmental causes and conservation long before it became fashionable.

“We depend on being part of the web of life, we depend on every other living thing on this planet, just as much as they depend on us”, he once said.

“If we as humans have got this power of life and death, not just life and death but extinction and survival, we ought to exercise it with some sort of moral sense. Why make something extinct if we don’t have to?”. As I read my book on bumblebees, sadly noting that three species in the UK have become extinct, these words resonate more than ever.

I wonder how many other Six-on-Saturday bloggers from different corners of the globe will mention the late Prince? There’s only one way to find out: have a look at the posts on the Propagator’s page. Have a lovely weekend and thanks for reading!

39 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 10 April 2021

  1. The bumblebee book sounds great. I like the cover too! Nectar thieving (if that is the appropriate expression) is reasonably common in Corydalis, although I haven’t managed to find any examples of it this year.

    It looks like you had quite bit of snow – we had some intense flurries, but it didn’t settle anywhere. Barmy weather!

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  2. I do like forget-me-not flowers, there are obviously plenty of them right now. If you have the opportunity to take a look on my Twitter, I posted some pictures last week.
    You must have had more cold and snow than here (-3.5°C minimum)
    The snow was not a problem but the frost yes and a lot of plants will have damage …( wisteria, hydrangeas, grape vine, peach trees…Strangely, the pear and plum blossoms that were open did not burn ?? )

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    1. I have an old twitter account – there’s only so much social media I can handle safely and sanely – but I might take a quick look later! It was cold here but only for a short time, 24-36 hours. I heard that French farmers are worried re the fruit blossoms. Hope it’ll be ok.

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  3. Yes, the viburnum does carry off the snow capped blooms well and I love those violas. I think I’d risk planting the narcissus in the ground and see what happens. Reading about your honesty has made me glance at mine and there are a few flowers out as I type. It was very sad about Prince Philip. The BBC went rather mad over over here though and cancelled all other programmes for the rest of the day, broadcasting the exact same coverage, almost on a continuous loop, on both BBC1 and BBC2.

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      1. I assure you that it was extremely annoying! The Beeb went totally overboard. Not everyone in this country is in favour of the Royals.

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      2. I understand, it’s probably less annoying for us because we’re abroad and can just switch it off without too much exposure. Same thing for carols playing in shops in the lead up to Christmas (starting in September). 😉 Some things you miss, some you don’t!

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  4. Don’t despair with your Narcissus bulbs, I’m sure that with a little nurturing they will revive and be brilliant for next year. A couple of doses of a well balanced fertiliser to encourage growth will feed the bulbs and when the leaves die down you can either repot them or put them in the garden. My bulbs in the garden regularly get trashed by the weather, but they are soon restored with a little tlc.

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  5. Duke of Edinburgh is an ideal man in so many ways and very realistic about everything he cared for children plants and animals and sports in particular our deepest sympathy to the royal family.
    On a dull day in hythe waiting for the sun to show up gardening is not there at the moment

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  6. The 3 really winter days were a total surprise after the summer days of the week before. Fortunately nature managed to recover well and the damage was limited. With your book you will undoubtedly make the bees very happy … from now on I will send them all in the direction of your garden 🙂
    The rosemary cuttings look well rooted.
    Let it quickly become beautiful and warm weather again, although the rain is still very welcome for nature … Have a nice weekend and many greetings, Rudi

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    1. You are right Rudi about the rain, the garden really needed it. I hope that sunny days will return once the plants are well watered. The blossom on the trees here is thankfully undamaged – but in France they have had problems, I hear.

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  7. I will definitely have to look for a copy of the gardening for bees book. I love your description of following them about and trying to identify them when they just want to be left alone to feed. The purple tint of your iris bud is quite lovely and its shape is, as you say, perfect. Did you use root growth hormone for the rosemary cuttings? Did you place in a greenhouse or cover with a bag? Hopefully your propagation will keep you one step ahead from the beetles.

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    1. No need for growth hormone, I just took the cuttings in late summer and popped them into little pots with well-draining compost, and they stayed in the unheated mini plastic greenhouse (a great purchase) all winter.

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    1. Oh, I’m glad I haven’t been alone in my suffering! I just took at look at your post, and I wonder if poor drainage somehow exacerbated the problem with the cold. Not sure. Like you, my tulips in pots seem absolutely fine. Did you try daffodils in pots again after the great disaster of 2017?

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  8. I am envious of your Violas, mine just aren’t happy at all this year, they seem to stop flowering as soon as I bring them home and something (I suspect snails) is happily eating the flowers. As for the Narcissi please plant the bulbs into the ground, they are usually very reliable in returning. I have just turfed out all my smaller ones and found gaps for them all over the garden. The taller ones I shall wait until the leaves shrivel up and then just plant the bulbs in September.

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    1. OK, the consensus seems to be to give them another go, and plonking them in the ground is easier than having them hanging round in pots for a year. My violas are well out of slug range, up on the wall, that could be the key to their success.

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  9. The snow makes a lovely picture even if we could have done without it. It’s exciting to see the Iris in bud, especially since they are such new plants. My guess is that they will be purple. I wonder if I ‘ll be right.

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  10. Loved your tribute to The Duke, he really did do his very best. I agree with the support bees bit, I just hope people stop using insecticides where is is quite unnecessary.

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  11. Mary Beth sent me off for some violas last week. Not pansies but violas. I did as instructed but my choices did not make her happy. Today she went out and picked some lovely yellow pansies and I admit they are prettier than the ones I bought. Now, had I come home with violas like yours I might have been a big hit. 🙂
    Prince Phillip had the right idea about our environment. If only the majority of us would follow his lead.

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    1. 😆 Yes as Piglet says it can be hard to please other halves! Prince Philip did a lot to raise the profile of conservation (though I wasn’t so keen on his trophy hunting of tigers etc. – he was a divisive figure but I think he did more good than harm).

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  12. Hi Sel. Same happened to some of my Narcissi in pots too. Never seen that before, but we had a very mild spell early February before that big freeze so they were probably out too early! Good luck with the rosemary cuttings. I have only got one left from my old plant that died, and am nursing it!

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    1. Yes I think you might have hit on the main problem, mine also grew a lot in the mild weather and then had the shock of much colder than usual temperatures. Not a lot to be done about that. Now I’m just waiting to my tulips to get going, they are a bit slow, again because it’s still very cold: come on spring!

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      1. Yes, Spring is really slow here too. So many things need doing, but it is so cold with an icy wind and I have been keeping myself busy indoors instead of gardening!

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  13. Loved this post! Especially the snow photo of the garden and the white capped viburnum and the image of chasing around bumblebees in the garden. 🙂 I got a bumblebee book too in order to start learning, but have made no progress so far. Will follow your future posts with interest. Thx for the lovely post!

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