Six on Saturday: 06 Feb 2021: Optimism

The weather is see-sawing between some truly optimistic, sunny, mild days and wintry, cold, misty days, confusing for all of us, but I think we get the sense that we’re heading in the right direction now, and gardening beckons! I’m going to ignore the forecast for temperature drops to -9 for next week (yikes, got to save my Salvias!). So here are six interesting things from the garden, my contribution to Six on Saturday, hosted by The Propagator and followed by many an avid gardener.

1 Sunbathing. I’ll stat this week’s Six on Saturday with a delightfully warm moment on Thursday, when I got a chair out onto the terrace between lessons and basked in the sun with a ladybird. That was the most lovely half hour of my week.

2 Crocus. I should have taken photos of these in the sun. I like the purple flush to white one, growing along the front path.

3 Rhododendron ‘Horizon monarch’ buds. There are three rhododendrons in the garden, and this is the only one I planted myself, along the shadier side of the front path. These buds hold so much promise, and I like the yellow tinge on the petioles and veins.

4 Rose hips. More from the front path. A few of these are still plump and ruddy, while many others have succumbed to the inevitable.

5 Green manure. Every year, I try a different technique to overwinter the sections of the raised veg bed that are not in use. Last year, I used cardboard. This year, it’s Phacelia tanacetifolia, a green manure. Such fresh, lovely lacey foliage that it seems a shame to have to dig it in. It’s a pretty plant in flower too, I grew it for its blue flowers along the front path last summer. Incredibly popular with the bees.

6 Narcissus ‘Paperwhite’. This has exploded into flower now, and what a pretty sight and an intoxicating perfume! I think I might have to grow the bulbs indoors every year, I have fallen in love…

So, regretfully that’s it for this week, there are many photos I haven’t included of new growth and sunny spells, but am going to be disciplined and stick to six. If an extra photo finds its way in, it’s clearly a glitch. Have a lovely weekend everyone!

A sunny spell, highlighting the hazel in full catkins down the hill.

Six on Saturday: 12 Dec 2020

Inertia is setting in, as I enter deeper hibernation mode. This happens to me every year at this time, and it comes as no surprise. Humans, in my view, are no different to other animals, and other animals slow down in winter, or just pack it in and go to sleep until it’s worth waking up again in the spring! I take my cue from the rodents and hedgehogs, and dig deeper into my burrow.

As a result, there hasn’t been much activity in the garden, apart from a swift sortie to plant 75 tulips into pots, my insurance policy against those that went a bit fungal in the shed but were planted out anyway. These newly bought tulips are Abu Hassan and Cassini, both Truimph tulips in invigorating shades of scarlet and orange. When I come out of my hibernation, they will gladden my heart.

This weeks Six on Saturday starts with…

1 Christmas wreath. It has taken me a while to get into the festive spirit this year, knowing that we are going to have a very quiet Christmas in Belgium a trois, but I’ve finally got the box of Christmas decorations out of the cellar, and made the wreath with my son’s creative assistance. Everything was very hastily collected from the garden in the cold and wet, plus a couple of decorations stuck on.

2 Narcissus paperwhite. I don’t think these will be out in time for Christmas. Perhaps they need warmer temperatures for a boost? Mine are in the cellar, radiator turned off, but with plenty of light from a south-facing window.

3 Lantana camara. I have tried for many years to get Lantana through winter, and have failed every time. So this year, instead of going into an unheated mini greenhouse outside, it has been brought into the cellar. It seems to be doing alright for now. I adore this plant because it reminds me of my childhood in Jordan, where it grew into great, big, colourful hedges outside our home, and because it looks fabulous with Dahlias like Bishop’s children. Behind the Lantana is lemongrass, still alive and flavouring the occasional Thai curry.

4 Tradescantia zebrina. After seeing Katharine’s fabulous display of house plants on last week’s SOS, also featuring this plant, I thought I would give mine a moment of limelight. This one has spent summer outside trying its best to hide my water but, and I have to say it seems to have benefited hugely from its holiday outdoors. What it lacks is a decent spot in the house to drape down from – it’s currently on an Amazon box in the hallway, poor thing!

5 Christmas cactus. This one just might make it in time. It’s a cutting given to me by my mother-in-law, whose plant in turn is a cutting from her mother’s plant, so this one’s got history. First blooms just appearing in party-time pink.

6 Seeds in French. I hesitate to mention to dreaded B-word on here, but the reality is that I will need to improve my horticultural French. I’ve traditionally ordered seeds from British companies – I particularly like Premier Seeds – but they sent me an email last week saying that without a trade deal, it will now cost them 125 GDP per order to ship seeds to Europe, due to the red tape, which is a bit hefty for a few sunflower seeds, so I’m looking at a Belgian catalogue here, and thinking, thank heavens for Latin names! I like the pretty drawings.

Well mes amis, that’s all for this week. It’s looking dull and misty outside, so I think we will get the Christmas tree in today and start decorating that.

Do check out The Propagator and friends for more Six on Saturdays.