Almost Over: Six on Saturday (27 Nov 21)

Fagus sylvatica

I’m back for a Six on Saturday after a break last week when my cousin was over for a visit. Brrrrr, it’s getting chilly out there now. We’ve had a series of dull, drab, cold days, with just one lovely exception when the sun came out on Monday, and the forest beech trees were resplendent in copper and gold against a bright blue sky (above). By contrast, the garden vibe is one of decay, senescence and death. I feel like I’m in a doomed relationship, keeping going with a spot of halfhearted gardening, but knowing that it’s almost over. Here are six things, good, bad and ugly, to show you this week:

1 Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) harvest. This one comes from the allotment. They’re going to get a really good wash, and then I’ll make them into little rostis, like fried potato cakes, with almond flakes, rosemary and chilli. Known as topinambour in French, they are quite popular in Belgium and often seen growing in allotments. We left some tubers in the ground to grow next year – such a low-maintenance crop.

Since writing this on Friday afternoon, I did actually make the rostis. Et voilà:

2 Ferns in urns. These Italian pots have featured here a few times, with various contents. Their pot-bellied shape means it’s best to use plastic pots within them otherwise whatever is planted inside would never come out. For this season, I’ve gone with a couple of evergreen ferns.

3 Ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris). These are deciduous, and look terrible at this time of year. Not much to be done about it, but I did remove a few from under the arch to make way for some creamy-coloured tulips, ‘Cream Cocktail’. I have visions of the soft green newly-emerging ferny foliage contrasting nicely with the tulips, so come back here in spring and I’ll show you a prettier picture!

4 Viburnum carlesii. This can be seen photobombing to the right of the ferns above. Attention-seeking: a great quality in plants, an irritating one in humans. It’s getting one more look-in before the last of its leaves tumble to the ground.

5 Corsican hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius). I was dismayed to see that this handsome plant, that had made an impressive clump and was the late-winter star of my garden, suddenly appeared to collapse in a heap, with blacked foliage. This happened a couple of weeks ago, when the plant was developing lots of promising flower buds. I cut back the worst of the damaged-looking stems, and am encouraged to see new leaves emerging. I can’t imagine what is wrong with it, except that here in the glade conditions are pretty tough (dry; big overhanging trees directly overhead). Any theories? A virus maybe?

6 Crab apple (Malus ‘Evereste’). It remains to be seen whether this one can cope in the glade. Perhaps it would have been better off in the centre of the lawn, but that is still contested territory, where horticultural incursions are strongly resisted by other members of my family. So before a strategic land invasion can be contemplated, it has got to toughen it out here. Planted this spring, it has produced a little crop of these Lilliputian apples.

The birds haven’t gone for the crab apples yet, but I was happy to see a blackbird nibbling at the Pyracantha berries – one of the reasons I chose a couple of these thorny berry-laden shrubs was to provide some natural food for birds in the garden. A less welcome wildlife incursion was the digging up of Narcissi and Muscari bulbs in a large planter, the only one without chicken-wire protection. I’d planted some violas and ajuga on top, and thought this would be enough of a deterrent, but the squirrels were not fooled. I suppose at least it got me out into the garden on a rainy morning. I doubt I’ll be doing much gardening this weekend – too cold – it’s time to light the fire and eat rostis instead.

That’s all for this week, more gardens from all over the world can be seen as always on The Progagator’s site. Happy gardening to those so inclined!

42 thoughts on “Almost Over: Six on Saturday (27 Nov 21)

    1. Ooh no that does sound drastic, I’d better dig them up. But thanks for the link, very useful. Ferns are indeed trouble free, or I might try more euphorbias, they seem to like it there.

  1. Fabulous photo of beech and sky! Your rostis look delicious, I managed to buy some artichokes the other day, we rarely see them here and I love them. Might give these a go. Beautiful viburnum foliage, it deserves to show off!

    1. Thanks, I just wish we had more days like the one in the beech photo! J artichokes are so easy and also don’t mind a bit of shade, definitely worth a try if you like them.

      1. The ones in the allotment are tall but don’t take up much horizontal space. Related to sunflowers, so you also get the nice yellow flowers in summer. You could stick them at the back somewhere, or maybe get an allotment? I guess they’re probably hard to come by.

  2. Great effort with challenging weather but marvellous photo of the beech tree. Love the recipe mouth watering yam

  3. I had trouble finding your Six because it was posted 3 days ago in my timeline ??
    Despite everything I found some interesting things with this pretty fern in that pot, the Jerusalem artichoke rosties (and I see that you have the same recipe as me), the amazing red colours of the viburnum leaves and so on…👍🏻

    1. Really? How strange as I only published it this morning (though it’s true I uploaded the photos earlier in the week, still it should appear on the publication date, weird). Anyway thanks for finding it!

  4. Fabulous photo of the beech tree. The squirrels like to go for the crocus bulbs in the pots on the terrace, although I did dust them with chilli so they can’t have been very nice. I wonder if they will just rebury them somewhere else and we might both be treated to flowers in unexpected places?

  5. Your crab apples are so pretty. That’s another tree I would love to have in my garden one day. The rostis look delicious too. I often have hellebores go black and mouldy at the end of the summer as I don’t remove the leaves after flowering, but after removing all above ground parts they have bounced back, so I either reacted in time or they would recover anyway. Maybe a fungus or a virus, both of which I have heard attack hellbores. I always get rid of the leaves in my normal rubbish if it happens, to be on the safe side.

    1. Mine came from the Able and Cole cookbook, Cooking Outside the Box but am sure you will find plenty of ideas online. My advice is spice it up with whatever is in your cupboard and add almond flakes, the flavour works so well.

  6. Those rostis look delicious! And I love the tree photo. I imagine there won’t be many leaves left on the trees here after Storm Arwen, though my twisted hazel seems to be hanging on to them still.

    1. I had another rosti with a fried egg this morning, was really good, and I have frozen the rest – they make good veggie burger substitutes. We didn’t really get Storm Arwen here though it was windy and the leaf mould pile is now huge! Hope you didn’t get any damage to home or garden.

  7. Mouth-watering looking röstis ! We grew some a few years ago but too hard to digest. I’ve been thinking about adding a malus Everest to the garden but will have to do some serious plant-shifting in order to fit it in ! And the viburnum carlesi is also on my list but viburnums tend to dilike my dry chalky soil apart from the lantana.

    1. Ah yes they can be hard to digest! Last year made the mistake of eating too many in one go with dire consequences but this year have been careful to only eat one rosti at a time 😉
      I hope you find space for a Malus, they are lovely. I had a chalky garden in London and it really is a different ball game but I remember Nigella grew so well there!

  8. I never have enough Jerusalem artichokes to make anything interesting with. Your Rostis look yummy! I must try growing them again (I lost them after I removed them from pots and planted them into the garden. Those are lovely crab apples! I miss not having a tree in the garden, but they are no good in this climate. The light on the beech tree is lovely- a great photo!

    1. Thank you! Remember you have plenty of fabulous trees though to make up for the lack of a crabapple, but nonetheless they are really charming, I just hope mine does well in my slightly tricky garden with the overhanging trees.

      1. I don’t have enough to make jelly this year but maybe next year…though I also want to leave some apples for the birds and yes the jelly is loaded with sugar!

    1. Thanks for the link – now I think it’s not the Black Death as the new growth looks ok and there aren’t any black streaks, but the general collapse is still a bit strange. Perhaps it did just get leaf spot, brought in by those very pricey hybrids I feel for last winter maybe?!

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