Saturday, 10 April 2021

Six on Saturday - 10 April

We may have had some great sunshine but there has also been hard frosts, with tender growth caught a little.  The ground absolutely sodden just a few weeks ago is now parched, so a little watering of newly planted bits and pieces and pots has taken place, and the water barrel is already nearly empty.  The propagator has been moving plants around and has some really bright blooms to share this week, I'll be tagging along there as usual.

1.  Andrew, a fellow SOSer posted about having a tortoise.last week, which reminded me of my husband's tortoise.  She is still around, and with a niece, and most probably a great niece or nephew.  We happen to have two concrete ones which are moved around the gravel garden.  Both found abandoned in previous gardens.  They are a reminder of Toby, who only after being named and after laying an egg, revelaedl her true identity: dear old Tobbie!

2.  Phlox bifida Ralph Haywood has come through the wet winter and is in flower. Buds were showing in March but it is now nicely covered in its pretty divided blue flowers. This picture shows it a little too blue, when in reality there is a touch of mauve very similar to the Foxtail Rosemary growing not far away in the same bed.

I wasn't sure when to prune it back, so it has been left alone, as I thought the growth would protect it from the weather.  The stems are thin and brittle, but I can also see tender green shoots emerging deep within the growth.  I may get two periods of flowering: early April on the old stems, continuing with a later flowering on the new stems. This plant came from Pottertons in 2019, and I have a little plant taken as a cutting last spring.  

I read In Portraits of Alpine plants: "Ralph Haywood was a tall, quiet gentleman and an expert plantsman and propagator, who once worked at Joe Elliott’s renowned nursery at Broadwell in the Cotswolds; and then later became foreman of the Alpine House and propagation departments at Wisley. Sadly, Ralph died at the early age of 42, but his name lives on in a number of outstanding plants." 

After a spending several minutes searching for more about Ralph Haywood I happen to notice that this year I had ordered another plant named for Ralph Haywood:  Silene schafta Ralph Haywood, which I need to look after well before it is featured on SOS.

3. All winter I had been looking at my wonky trellis which I had put up in haste last year.  When Mr S realised that I was planning on replacing it he said he rather liked it, so instead, I untied and realigned the bamboos, separated out the stems of clematis Sugar Sweet, tied in some stems and it is already forming flower buds.

4. The various tulips are coming up.  When I first planted them I thought the squirrels must have dug them up, or even the badgers, but having planted them deeply, it looks as if they gave up before coming across them.

Tulipa clusiana Lady Jane has long petals the outside of the outer three are tinted pink.

5. All is well with  Persicaria runcinata Needham's growth is emerging from beneath the mulch.   

6.  Impatience and disappoint are sometimes to be born.  I seem lacking in fortitude!

I am as disappointed so far in Scillia Litardierei which have yet to come in flower,  

as I am underwhelmed by the growth on the Chaenomeles speciosa Yukigoten.  However maybe it is patience that I am lacking.  The description gives time till full growth as 10-20 years, and it has only been in 2 years.  

When feeling like this ought I to turn to drink instead, but frankly I never do, plants often come to my aid:  Port and Lemon maybe?

Primula juliana Port and Lemon is a newly planted addition to the front of the Conservatory Border: intoxicatingly pretty and certainly helps to alleviate impatience and disappointment. Can't say I have ever had that combination but I do appreciate Old Port.  It is far too early in the day for Vintage Port but this Primula juliana Old Port will do nicely.

I certainly raised my glass to the dear old duke last night. He had a very good innings and what a rock! 

Friday, 9 April 2021

Echeveria Purple Pearl from leaf to flower in four years

 After setting a few leaves of my Echeveria Purple Pearl in some grit in 2017, by February 2018 these some small plants were ready to pot on.

Good light and frost free environment of the conservatorysuit this echeveria; in the summer when temperatures in there are too high, the plants get moved into the garden to form a grouped display with other succulents.  I may also place one of the plants as a houseplant on a window sill.

Now one of the two plants I kept is at its best with two flower spikes.

For the moment the plant is on our breakfast table where I can enjoy the detail of its form and flowers.

I'll be starting a few more leaves this year, ready for a new generation of this attractive house plant. 

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Six on Saturday - 3 April 2021

 In the week that has 1 April in it: April Fool's Day. the weather had a joke on us giving us the warmest March day for 53 years.  These few days of warm temperatures was most welcome, but we are ending the SOS week with cool night temperatures. Early butterflies were spotted flying around the garden: male Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell. 

Jon the founder of Six on Saturday has sufficient superb daffs to make his post this week solely about them.  I shall be enjoying them and other posts about plants this week in fellow bloggers gardens, and probably adding plants to my list.

Here are my six for this week: 

1. The unseasonably warm weather, and bright sunshine, and then cold nights,  has meant moving plants into the garden and then back into the conservatory at night. Do you remember the big pot of Alstromeria 'Indian Summer' which was frosted and which I had to pull up?  New shoots emerged shortly after that, and now forming flower buds.  

2. The Sun had got too hot for Primula auricula 'Nessun Dorma' and the diva had to go and rest in the shade along the alley.

Some of the early spring beauties such as the early flowering corydalis have had their moment, and now I am waiting for the species tulips in the front garden to flower for the first time.  Tulip turkestanica having almost done its thing...

3. Dicentra cucullaria in its fourth year is now spread across two pans.  Has anyone grown this successfully in the garden?  Ought I to try them in a shady patch or will they be devoured by the molluscs?

4. Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem' growing in a pot is one of the shrubs that always delights me in the spring.  I move the pot around either to light up a dark corner or to be grouped with other plants to form an interesting grouping. I just love the colour, form and leaf shape.

5. I set some leaves  of Echeveria purple pearl ,back in Autumn 2017 and showed the small plantlets in February 2018, here is one of the plants with flower spikes.

6. It has been the best year so far for the little pan of Primula marginata Napoleon: with its serrated leaves, little cluster of mauve flowers, and the dusting of farina overall.

A very happy Easter to gardeners everywhere.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Hot Cross Buns hot out of the oven- recipe from Bake with Jack

 If you knead a cheerful and knowledgeable chap to help you get your baking to the next level, then like me you will enjoy Bake with Jack's on line tutorial or talks.  Today he posted one on hotcross buns. I've been watching Jack's tutorials almost from the start, he is a real showman and shares tips and tricks most weeks, all well worth spending time watching whether you are a beginner or experienced home baker.

I followed his recipe to the letter, trying the very large bun size.  I shall probably make twelve next time as these are 'big hungry chap sized' buns.

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!  Happy Easter 2021.

Henton Gardening Club Zoom Meeting April 2021

 April's meeting will be broadcast via Zoom.  Details and codes will be emailed to all current members. 


Over the Sea to Skye

The Isle of Skye’s unique geology and topography have produced one of the most famously varied and well-studied floras of all Europe. Most visitors only see Skye during the dramatically long days of summer but to appreciate the true pulse of island life you have live through the wild wonder of stormy autumns and magically white winters. Owing to Skye’s proximity to the Atlantic Gulf Stream, it often experiences a climate similar to that of Cornwall. This talk will explore the extremes of environment that gardeners endure in order to grow bountiful produce, emulating the complete self-sufficiency of the ancestral islanders. This well-illustrated presentation offers a panorama of Skye’s landscape and contrasts Island gardens, public and domestic, with the beauty of it’s natural vegetation.

Henton Gardening Club website:


Our speaker is Henton Gardening Club's Chairman Dr Tim Hooker

Tim has always had a love of the mountains and wilderness and as a student it was his fascination with ferns, mosses and lichens in the Scottish Highlands that led him further afield to do his doctoral studies on an Antarctic island. Remarkably, some of those lichen species are bipolar in distribution and can be found growing on the Isle of Skye where Tim retired after a career in bio-sciences. He retains a passion for research into the natural world. He has authored many academic scientific papers and is currently writing a book with a fellow physicist on the unsettled questions in plasma and astro-physics. He co-organises international physics conferences and the Science and Medical lecture series at the Royal Institution in Bath and he is deeply privileged to be an active member of Henton Gardening Club”.


​Members may join our Facebook group and post questions there, where of course other members may be able to help.
 You are also encouraged to share something interesting in your garden, or if you have any spare plants you are willing to share.

Requirements to join the Zoom meeting
1. Be a full paid Club Member
2. Follow the details which will be sent out to individual members by email.
Anyone may join as a new member at any time.
​Please email Sue Thorne at