After a short break in the Ardennes last week for my birthday (snowy treks, a visit to a war museum, an unexpected detour to Luxembourg, but no parties, absolutely no parties, not even ‘work’ ones, not even the ones where you send someone out with a suitcase to get booze, not even one held during a national lockdown when nobody else is allowed a party! What’s wrong with me? And why hasn’t there been a revolution on that troubled little isle that is Britain?), I’m back for Six on Saturday. This week, the weather has been quite gentle for January, with foggy starts followed by some sunshine and blue skies – isn’t that lovely?
Starts off cold in the mornings, but by mid afternoon it’s been warm enough to go out and do some gardening without a coat. There’s noticeably more daylight, I can stay out until after 5pm, and in only a few weeks the first seeds will be sown indoors – tomatoes, chillis and peppers. So it’s a looking-forwards sort of Six on Saturday this week:
1 Slug patrol. This is the nicest method of slug control, with minimal fuss, mess or unpleasantness for the gardener. My elite team of three were sent out on a couple of sunny afternoons to sweep the lawn, borders and veg patch. It’s very satisfying to see them track down a slug and gobble it up.
2 New seeds. I haven’t gone mad this time, as I’ve still got plenty of seeds left over, but here’s what I picked up at the garden centre. A favourite variety of cherry tomatoes and a new variety to try. I’ll be growing them in pots with the French marigolds. Can’t grow any tomatoes in the ground after last year’s awful experience with blight. I couldn’t resist having another go at sweet peas; despite two bad years with them, there’s always hope.
3 Veg patch mulching. Maybe I’m a bit early doing this, but I felt motivated to mulch the veg patch with garden compost and give it a little tidy up. It’s evolving into more of a permanent potager, with some herbs, self-sown verbena and aquilegia, and a few biennials that will flower this coming season. There’s also a very-sorry-for-itself broccoli that’s been nibbled at – perhaps it will recover! I’m going to try a slightly different method this year, growing smaller quantities of veg but more variety, mixed in with other things – flexible square foot gardening.
4 Glade path. You know how it is, once you get started on one job, you suddenly feel inspired to do more! This is a project that’s been delayed by a year, mainly by sheer laziness. The path connects the raised decked terrace to the lawn, and isn’t finished yet – I ran out of chipped bark! Also, I need to move a plant is right in the way. The glade is a tricky, dry area I’m trying to improve on. I hope that the path will give more structure for the planting around it (after I’ve done some weeding!).
5 Buds! On the wall of the glade, two early flowering plants are showing promising signs. Big, fat buds on the Clematis armandii, and pink ones showing through on the Japanese quince, Chaenomeles japonica. These both get spring off to a good start.
6 Amaryllis (more accurately Hippeastrum). I have mixed feelings about this one, growing indoors of course. It’s striking, but are those flowers just a little too big? Is it trying too hard? I was thinking about this and did a quick search, to find out there’s a perfectly good reason for being this attention-seeking. According to Greek myth, Amaryllis was a nymph who fell very much in love with a shepherd, Alteo, but sadly he didn’t return her feelings. He was only interested in flowers! So Amaryllis visited him and pierced her heart every day with an arrow, spilling red drops of her blood on the ground. On the 30th day, beautiful red flowers appeared where her blood had fallen. This did the trick and Alteo promptly fell in love with her! A melodramatic tale for a dramatic bulb.
That’s all for this week, for more gardening posts from far and wide, check our host The Propagator’s site. Have a great weekend, and happy gardening if circumstances allow.