Six on Saturday: 19 Dec 2020

The best thing about this week has been the weather. Lots of bright sunshine, very mild, with an almost spring-like softness in the air. This has been invigorating; I have done quite a bit of gardening. To be enjoyed as long as it lasts! Sorry for those bloggers in Ireland who seem to have had nothing but rain!

Here are this week’s Six on Saturday, six things in or about the garden, as hosted by The Propagator.

1 Great spotted woodpecker. He was my reward for clearing almost the last of the sodden Lime tree leaves from the terrace, and as I collected and swept, he tap-tap-tapped above my head.

2 Hot Pepper ‘Apache’. Still going strong, and still far too hot to add to anything! Must try a milder chilli next year. This one is great on a sunny windowsill though.

3 Rainbow Chard. It’s nice to have just a few veg still giving it their all in December, and Chard is one of my favourites at this time of year. Good for a small patch like mine, and perfect for a stir-fry with plenty of ginger, garlic and chilli (not Apache!).

4 Seed storage. I admit to being a bit jealous of Jon’s good-looking seed drawers, which he posted last week. Nonetheless, I can do some virtue-signalling through the re-use of old wine and champagne boxes (we lead a decadent life here in Brussels). They do the job nicely.

5 Dried flowers. These may be only a faint reminder of the glories of last summer’s flowers, but reminder they are. Are dried flowers frumpy and boring? I am in two minds.

6 Party-time Alliums. For a more snazzy look, I dressed up a couple of my Allium Christophii for a night out on the town. As I, like many, am missing out on both office Christmas party and nights out this Christmas, I clearly have far too much time on my hands to mess around with stuff like this!

It remains to wish you all a Merry Christmas, as merry as you can muster! This year, I have discovered blogging, Six on Saturday, and am learning about photography. I have been able to spend time getting to know my friend the Great Blue Heron. These are things I am grateful for, along with good health, and I hope you readers too have found simple pleasures and compensations among all the upheavals of this trying year.

Six on Saturday: 21 Nov 2020

This post is dedicated to the productive side of things, with a veg patch and mini greenhouse overview, plus a bulb planting fiasco. I have thrown in some violas and pansies for the prettiness factor. The unavoidable reality at this time of year is that a lot of the pretty stuff is found outside my garden, in the forest, where the beech is putting on quite a show, and along the lakes and ponds nearby. Favourite pic of the week is this Great Blue Heron, who lives in the grounds of a castle in ruins, and was leisurely grooming himself by a pond. Quite romantic!

So onto my Six on Saturday, joining other gardeners posting the goings-on in their gardens thanks to a theme hosted by The Propagator. Visit his page for some November inspiration.

1 Egyptian Beetroot. Sown in August, leaves somewhat nibbled now but I should pick some for salads while they are still young. They are extremely good for one’s health.

2 Rainbow Chard. One of my favourite winter veg, both for taste and for those colourful stems. I agree with veg gardener and plantswoman Joy Larkom: the veg patch can, should and sometimes does look good, with a bit of imagination. I love her book, Creative Vegetable Gardening.

Chard, and a few Borage seedlings

3 Spinach. The final trio of my outdoor winter leaves, along with the chard and beetroot, and looking healthier than my summer crop, though nibbled (there is more than one patch of spinach, but I admit this is small-scale veg growing!). To the left is my green manure, Phacelia, and at the back the garlic lurks underground. Mousty the cat photo-bombed this shot, but serves to prove that my cat-proofing installation works!

4 Greenhouse salads. We’ve got rocket, parsley and winter purslane, and the oriental salad leaves sown last month are coming along, slowly. There’s also some mustard that had self-sown outdoors, so I scooped that up and brought it in here, hoping for the best. It’s a tad reluctant to grow. The rocket here is has already been harvested several times.

5 Bulbs. Bit of a disaster here. I’d been storing my tulip bulbs from a Dutch supplier in the shed for about a month, and on opening the packs, realised many had gone a bit fungal and had to be binned. A pity. I took my chances with those that still looked OK, and planted in the ground or in pots (varieties: Aladdin, Dillenburg, Barcelona, Uncle Tom, and a botanical tulip, Tulipa clusiana ‘Peppermint Stick’). Luckily the Alliums, purchased elsewhere, were fine, along with some Dutch Iris and the botanical tulip.

6 Pansies and violas. I promised something pretty, here we are. I have loved pansies and violas ever since my mother grew them along the driveway of my childhood home in Kent, and so this seems like an appropriate one to end on for The Nostalgic Gardener.

PS Perhaps even prettier are the beech leaves in the forest which I admit is not in my garden but feels very much part of it (cheating I know, but I’ll call it a borrowed landscape).