Saturday, 18 January 2020

Six on Saturday - 18 January 2020

 The Prog who leads us and several other keen gardeners has some interesting items this week, so whether today or some time in the week, it is well worth going over to have a look.  We all realise that we may have been thinking or even writing up about our six items at some stage during the week. I did my 'desk work' yesterday and in the evening read a little in the book mentioned at six about frosts....this morning breakfast in the conservatory was taken under beautifully frosted glass. Each panel had a variation of this one but the pattern overall on each was similar...

Frost pattern on Conservatory roof 18 January 2020


(1)Pelargoniums in the conservatory

Pelargonium ardens


Last spring I cut down the P. Ardens almost down to soil level when I repotted them.  It was well worth sacrificing the one year's flowering potential as I now have two plants with multiple roseettes.  Four leaf rosettes on one and seven on the second plant, Pelargonium ardens promises good flowering this year.  I think the slow release Osmocote may have a little too much nitrogen, as the leaf growth has taken off in the last couple of weeks.  I'm taking this one to the HPS for the show and tell table today.....

Multiple leaf rosettes on Pelargonium ardens



Pelargonium coriandrifolium and cuttings are doing nicely.  During down time from gardening the other possibility is on line research.  The internet can lead a 'humble' gardener with an interest to learned and well set out articles such as in the 'Species Pelargonium - wild and unsual' which with a click of a button can be translated from the original Russian to English.

(2) Plants brought back from the brink

If the brink is the third week languishing bare rooted in wind and rain in large tub waiting to be emptied into the Green Compost bin, then this Euphorbia x martinii Ascot Rainbow has indeed been brought back from the brink.  It had been dug up to make room for Pear Beth.  I just noticed it when I was clearing the side when plant pots and compost sacks were waiting to be cleared.


Euphorbia x martinii Ascot Rainbow


(3) Caterpillars in action

A week ago, I caught a caterpillar on the apple tree, and placed it on the bird table, but no birds visiting the feeders took it, so it was squashed a couple of hour later.  This one was despatched immediately, and so will all others until the birds become interested.

Caterpillar on Mount Aso




(4 ) Red Primula unknown variety but likely a heritage one as bought at The Vyne NT several years ago.  This has been flowering for at least a couple of weeks and is worth walking along the path to peep should the downpours stop.



(5) Weeds

Weeds are just plants growing in the wrong place?

Side border April 2019

One of the garden projects in the autumn was sorting out the small side border.  A very old  'thicket' of hebe which has suffered during the summer drought was removed, the Spanish bluebells removed etc...or so I thought


(6) Weather

Yes we have had a lot of weather this week: storms with strong gusts of wind, heavy rain, but the 'traditional' winter season has yet to arrive here.  In the meantime I am enjoying reading The Weather Detective by Peter Wohlleben.  Guiding the reader in 'Rediscovering Nature's Secret Signs' in the garden, Peter Wohlleben informs, explains and educates in a very readable form, appropriate for European and British gardeners. (Another book borrowed from my local Library)



"Wohlleben explains how to read many aspects of nature's signs, from being able to tell the time of day from birdcalls or flowers, to knowing the type of soil from the weeds or understanding the weather and how to predict it. He also looks at climate change and its effects, and ways, as a gardener, to adapt to a warming climate. He explains how to build resilience in the garden, both for food production as well as ornamental plants and developing habitat through interconnection and managing pests. Much of the way to read nature comes through information from all the senses, and he outlines a sensory approach to encountering nature, and if nothing else, as a way of becoming closer to it and more in touch with it, both for health reasons - physical and mental - and simply for enjoyment."   an extract from David Fonteyn's full review on Good Reads website. 


Friday, 17 January 2020

All good gardeners need warm socks

Extra long wool socks with wiggly path pattern are just the ticket for keeping me warm.  I've been knitting these over the Christmas Period, and are now ready for the sock drawer.  It is a lovely pattern and looks great in a solid colour.  Yellow for cheeriness even when it is cold and damp.

Garden Path Socks

Monday, 13 January 2020

In a Vase on Monday - January winds and rains

Just when I thought it could not get wetter, Storm Brendan is starting to do its thing, with gusts through the evergreen oak sounding like the surge of large waves breaking on tropical reefs.  Had I a rain gauge, I feel that this winter we would have broken records for rainfall.

I wasn't going to post today, but I had to go out and move potted plants into safe positions, and my eye was caught a few blooms.

A couple of small creamy veined leaves of  Arum Italicum  nicely sets off the rich fuchsia pink of the cyclamen coum.  With its kidney shaped deep glossy green foliage this cyclamen with its pretty patterns are a delight this time of the year. An added bonus is that slugs and snails avoid these.  A couple of sprigs of Erigeron karvinskianus finishes off this minute arrangement in an old ink bottle.



Cathy has three ink bottles with some rather lovely winter blooms, with the Hamamelis vernalis 'Amethyst' being rather fine.  Cathy is the creator and host of this weekly IAVOM get together.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Six on Saturday - 11 January 2020

Six on Saturday club with pack leader The Propagator helps us to keep track whatever the season of garden observations..click on this to get the link.  These are other links too within this and other posts which are as much to help me remember points of interest.


One - Early Snowdrops

"The merest change in temperature now, the slightest spark of light, would fire the green fuses.  The snowdrops were amazing, gorgeous white bells, fat as pearls in the moment of their perfection, hope incarnate.....Today the snowdrops have begun to open their petals, slowly lifting white arms from their sides like ballerinas. " 
The light in the Dark: A Winter Journal on 19 th February' by Horatio Clare

I have read that their leaves have specially hardened tips to help the snowdrops break through frozen soil and their sap contains a form of antifreeze to prevent ice crystals forming.  The soil here hasn't frozen once, but the snowdrops now in flower are early types.   They were newly planted last year.  The year before that I found out that Anna loved snowdrops and socks so I had sent her a special pair that I knitted in the softest yarn, and these were a present from Anna the following year.


Galanthus Lapwing


Galanthus Lady Beatrice Stanley

The special snowdrops are all planted in the 'Conservatory Border'.  I love to be able to sit in the conservatory and look at some of the little plants emerging in early spring.

The standard singles and doubles in clumps further away in the garden are just showing their tips.

Two - Herbaceous Plants cut back

Some of the herbaceous plants in the Conservatory bed have been cut back, such as this Lysimachia candela, so that the Spring beauties can have their moment. 





Three - Attempting control

In the middle of the bed is Salix gracilistyla Mount Aso,  It was newly planted last year and featured in my first SOS post.  I'll be removing the bamboo canes which I had used in an attempt to encourage more upright growth.  What I like is that within a few weeks it too will be cut right down and other plants around will have room to unfurl and do their thing.





Four - Control Required

Planted Autumn 2018 this Fuchsia Hawkshead is definitely  in need on control.  It needs a firm prune.  However in this mild weather these are precious blooms for any garden visitors.



A view of the conservatory border.I need to work on my technique and quality. Technique I can work and there is the question as to whether my little camera is up to it.    I have a target to spread all the mulches I have amassed along the 'hidden side of the house' and this has taken priory over reading the on line manual.  My camera is several years old now and fairly basic but I want to get the best out of it.



Five - Bumble Bee Garden Visitors in January

I really thought it was too late for bumble bees, which is why I cut a couple of the penstemom blooms for last week's IAVOM.  During the week, as I was attending to the border, and spreading 'muck', I began to wonder whether my tinnitus has reached ridiculous levels.  Looking up I saw this bumble bee on the Fuchsia and by the time I returned it was on the Rosemary.  Its pollen sacks were full.  Apologies for the quality of the picture, which was to record its presence rather than a fine close up...again more work on the manual required!





Six - Morrison Bargain





After having a less than satisfactory experience regarding buying a 'prized?' Blackberry by mail order on line, , I have opted for a cheap and cheerful solution.  Milk and butter were on the list.   I also came home with Blackberry Thornfree, which was planted on the same day on Wednesday  with a good mulch of compost to see it on its way.

Blackberry Thornfree : " A good cropping variety that is completely thornless. Blackberry Thornfree is very easy to train. Pick large fruits that ripen in late August to September. Leaves have good autumn colour. Ideal for planting against a wall or a fence or growing in a container."

They had some other fruit, so I may just find room for a loganberry.  

Monday, 6 January 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Mid Winter Really?

I was going to peel the outer papery covers from the Honesty that has been hanging up in the shed to use for a Vase just about now, when I had anticipated everything to have closed down for the Winter.  This afternoon on entering the shed I found the stems and surfaces were mildewed, so that is not now a possibility.

A few days ago I posted about the Penstemom that is still in bloom.  You would think that it would have given up it being Mid Winter.  I had left it, as up to Christmas, in the isolated dry periods there were bumblebees visiting the blooms.  Not having seen any bees for a few days, its time to use the two flowering stems.  The light is so poor that the picture is not great.


Making up this Mid Winter arrangement with everything cut straight from the garden after lunch today:

Two Penstemom probably Rich Ruby, Fuchsia Upright Delta's Sarah, Persicaria Red Dragon, Pittosporum garnetti, a leaf from Cyclamen hederiflolium Lysander, a fern leaf, and a stem of Solanum Laxum 'Album'.

Here the flash lights up the Penstemom.


Having had this book recommended, by Anna I think, it made for a quality read over the holiday period.  Do please correct me if needed! There are some grim bits such as the damage to sheep by dogs etc..  Horatio Clare captures the feel of Winter, and is a careful observer of weather, plant life and his own struggles with coping with his mood and energy swings.  Parts are so deliciously written that they require rereading in order to take in and enjoy the sheer poetry.  Many thanks for the recommendation, and again thanks to our Library West ordering service.


Hope Springs eternal over on Cathy's Post this week with more 'unseasonal flowers'.