Six on Saturday

You could be forgiven for thinking that Spring has Sprung, looking at the weather today.  Even this far north, we’re promised temperatures of around 15C.  So, let’s see what the gardening groups have come up with – I think it’s a lovely little haul of images.

1   AlnmouthGlynis's driftwood on Alnmouth beach A

This gardener had a brief break away – and look at this super piece of driftwood washed up on Alnmouth beach.

2  Ready for Spring

Glynis's Plastic labels from contact lens fluid bottle A

A bit of recycling here – these labels have been made from the bottles containing contact lens fluid.

3  It isn’t Spring without snowdrops

Glynis's Sam Arnott snowdrops 2 AGlynis's Sam Arnott snowdrops A

And while cutting up those bottles, here was something nice to look at – lovely snowdrops.  At the top, Sam Arnott bulking up nicely from  a few newly planted bulbs.

4  More signs of Spring

It’s so nice to see plants that are harbingers of Spring, and here are a few from another gardener, taken just this week.

Julie's double hellebore A

Julie's Hebe A

Julie's Helleborus niger AJulie's Primula AJulie's viola A

5   On holiday again!

One of our gardeners has just come back from a well-earned break in Madeira, and here are some images.

Rob's Bougainvillea in Madeira A

Bougainvillea outside the hotel

Rob's Cycad from Monte Place gardens Madeira A

A cycad in the Monte Palace Gardens, Madeira.

Rob's cymbidiums from Monte Place Madeira A

Cymbidiums in the Monte Palace Gardens, Madeira.

Rob's Pyrostegia venusta - probably A

We think this is Pyrostegia venusta, the orange trumpet vine.  It’s definitely singing its own praises!

6  Spring isn’t just for people

Julie's Miguel A 2Julie's Paco A

Bandits by name and bandits by nature, these two pretty kittens are at the stage where the favourite game is to see how fast they can get round the room without touching the floor.  Perhaps they can now work off their excess energy in the garden!

Thanks to the contributors for sharing!

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all!

Christmas basket

One of my lovely groups gave me this really pretty basket – thank you, guys, it was much appreciated.  And don’t worry – it doesn’t live outside! Photograph, flat surface, good light, no shadow, you know the thing…  It’s doing well.  And, at the back here, the Spathyphyllum wallisii ‘Bellini’ is putting up loads of new green-tipped white spathes.

Thanks again!

See you in the new term.


Six on Saturday

At least it isn’t raining!  Perhaps that’s why I have a wonderful crop of pictures from the gardening groups for this Six on Saturday.

1  Wreaths

Glynis's Hydrangea wreath 1.jpg

This is the first wreath of hydrangea heads made by our super-artistic gardener.  Brilliant!

Glynis's cemetery wreath A

And here, from the same gardener, a gorgeous home-made wreath to take to the cemetery.

2  Cakes!

Just to show that the gardening groups are multi-talented folk, just look at these Christmas cakes!  Yum

Glynis's cake 1a


Glynis's cake 2a

3  Hangers-on

I was checking out these late-hanging apples – they don’t usually stay on the tree as late as this – when I saw a different sort of hanger-on.  A cheeky blackbird!  Now, why did he want to wrestle with a fruit still on the tree, when there are still many, many on the ground around the other trees?

Cheeky blackbird

4  Bulbs

These are Dutch Iris ‘Blue Magic’, only planted at the end of September.  They’re certainly getting a move on.  The white label in the centre is held in place by a ground staple, my new go-to kit to stop cheeky blackbirds from tossing the labels around.

Dutch iris Blue Magic in December

5  Rose ‘Lichfield Angel’

The rabbits have started destroying my new David Austin roses again, so they’ve all been caged again (the roses, not the rabbits which would at least be good for rabbit stew).  Some of them, the unrabbited ones, are still full of buds.  This is pale peachy pink ‘Lichfield Angel’, still with a hint of fragrance.  In summer, it’s much paler than this – almost creamy white.

Rose Lichfield Angel

6  More from Chatsworth House

Here are a couple more images from Christmas at Chatsworth.  The theme this year is travel and faraway lands.

Glynis's Chatsworth 1b

This room is Spain.

Glynis's Chatsworth 2b

This room is Japan.

Thanks for sending in the images – keep them coming!

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Looking Forward

When I set up this blog, it was for a number of reasons.  I tutor two gardening groups, and most of us, it has to be said, aren’t as young as we used to be.  And some of us aren’t as au fait with technology as we might be.  That includes me, because most of the time I’m hanging on by my fingernails.  Still, most of us (except me), have these phone thingies that do everything except make your toast in the morning, and will certainly take photographs.

Taking photographs of gardens, and things in the garden, gives you a different perspective, and I hoped that was one thing that would happen, if group members started taking photos for the blog.  I also hoped that it would introduce people to the online communities of other gardeners, as well as helping members explore parts of their technology that they hadn’t so far reached.

Today’s entry is a celebration of that last part.

The member who has sent me today’s images loves photography, but has struggled to reduce the file size to make pictures more e-mailable.  We’ve cracked that (thanks to Windows Paint – the old version, not the 3D one, which seems to me to have no redeeming features), so here are some of his images.

They are a retrospective of a garden visit in the Spring of this year, and, as we come up to the Winter Solstice, a foretaste of what waits for us on the other side.

The pictures are from Caerhays, with wonderful, informal woodland gardens.  The gardens were begun by JC Williams, who sponsored Ernest Wilson and George Forrest on their plant hunting expeditions to China.  It has wonderful collections, including a National Collection of Magnolias.

Hugh's camelliaCamellia

Hugh's Magnolia 2Magnolia

Hugh's MagnoliaMagnolia

Hugh's rhododendronRhododendron

Hugh's tulip.jpgTulip

Hugh's narcissus BerlinNarcissus ‘Berlin’

At least I can identify the Narcissus with some confidence, since I’ve got it myself, and it’s very distinctive!

So, in the deepest, darkest depths of winter, we’ve got these spring beauties to look forward to.

A Retrospective

We need to be cheered up.  The weather has been appalling recently.  This part of the world has flooded.  There was a point when we thought that the only place with more water than us was Venice (and they’ve had a bad time, too.

For the 47-day period from 22 September to 7 November, we had half our average annual rainfall.  Eat your heart out, Noah.

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been on the wrong side of the jet stream again, and the temperature has plummeted to January averages.  And it’s still raining and foggy and dank.

So, we definitely need cheering up.  One of our gardeners has sent me some images from his holiday in September and October, which included garden visits.  Let’s have a look at those.

Rob's Hutton in the Forest Penrith Lobelia A.jpg

This is Hutton-in-the-Forest, Penrith, Cumbria.  Those lovely red lobelias give a whole new meaning to the idea of container growing.

Rob's Ballyrobert Garden Rudbeckia A.jpg

Next stop was Ballyrobert Gardens in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, with this colourful display of Rudbeckia.


Rob's Palm House Belfast Botanic Garden A.jpg

Then, the Belfast Botanic Garden.  This is the Palm House, with a lovely display of Aechmea fasciata – and it looks like more Rudbeckia outside.

Rob's Mount Stewart Giant Bolivian Salvia Salvia dombeyi A.jpg

This gorgeous Salvia is in the Mount Stewart Gardens, and it’s Salvia dombeyi, The Giant Bolivian Slavia.

Rob's Chelsea Physic Garden Euonymus alatus A.jpg

And it’s back across the Irish Sea and onto London for the Chelsea Physic Garden, putting on its autumn party frock.

Rob's gladioli A.jpg

This was home before the holiday, with gladioli and agapanthus.

Rob's seasonal dahlias A.jpg

And with those autumn stars, Dahlias.

Thanks to our group member who has really brought a bit of warmth and colour into this awful grey day.

Six on Saturday

It really hasn’t been the weather for taking photographs!  Still here are a few for this week.

1  Chatsworth House Christmas Tree

Glynis's Chatsworth House Christmas Tree

One of our group members visited Chatsworth, and took a picture of this lovely Christmas tree decorated with orchids.  Gorgeous.

2  Grow your own!

Glynis's Home mushroom kit

Grow your own mushroom kit!  This gardener is looking at some sumptuous mushroom recipes.  Yum.

3  Delayed autumn colour

Pauline's Greenwich Park.jpg

One of our gardeners  took a trip the Greenwich Park, and snapped this image.  I’ve had it for a couple of weeks (as well as the next one) because I only had 2 images to post, and had to wait for some more.  Sorry!

4  More delayed autumn colour

Pauline's Wathwood Drive Swinton A

What a colourful garden, snapped by one of our gardeners.

5  Leycesteria formosa ‘Gold Leaf’

Jo's Leycesteria formosa golden 2.jpg

This was taken in my garden a couple of hours ago, so the leaves are hanging on in there.

Jo's Leycesteria formosa golden.jpg

It has languished in a pot for several years, hardly growing and never flowering.  This year, it has put up some large, strong canes, with flowers and berries (uneaten as yet by any pheasants), so it’s either the constant rain that it likes or, more likely, the roots have pushed down into the concrete and I’ll need a sharp spade to get the pot up.  It’s supposed to come true from seed, so I’ll gather some berries for my groups of gardeners to have a go at.

6  Phormium ‘Platt’s Black’

Jo's Phormium Platt's Black.jpg

Another of mine.  This, too, languished in a pot for some time before going into one of the borders.  The experts say height and spread one metre.  It may not look like it there, but this plant, after three seasons in the border, is now almost as tall as me, and I’m definitely more than a metre!  Decisions, decisions…  Shall I leave it there, and risk having to get a JCB if it needs moving?  Shall I move it up to the orchard now, where it can’t get in anyone’s way?  I can feel myself dithering.




Six on Saturday

And what a miserable Saturday it is, too.  The rain is pounding down, I’ve had the lights on all day, and let’s not even mention the rugby.  Still, well done South Africa.

It’s half-term, so only a few photos from my gardeners this time.  I’ve made up the rest of the Six by going out, in the pounding rain…

Here we go.

1  Spoils from a stately home

Pauline's Wentworth Garden Centre A

South Yorkshire has one of the largest stately homes in Europe, Wentworth Woodhouse.  It has an illustrious past, but fell into terrible times in the latter half of the 20th century.  Now it’s on the up again.  But, during the bad times, Wentworth Garden Centre finished up with part of Wentworth Woodhouse’s garden, and when you go to the garden centre, you can also have a walk round this remnant garden.  One of our gardeners took this lovely autumnal picture there.

2   Fungus walk Part A

Glynis's Earpick fungus Auriscalpium vulgare

This strange and rare little beast is the Earpick fungus, Auriscalpium vulgare, snapped by one of our gardeners on a guided fungus walk. Rotting pine cones are about the only place it’s found, and it’s the only known auriscalpium species in Britain and Ireland.  Auris is the Latin noun for ear, and scalpium is the Latin verb for to scratch.  I got that from and the site observes drily ‘ The specific epithet vulgare means common (and can only be interpreted as the most common of the handful of species in this genus worldwide).

Quite a find.

3   Fungus walk Part B

Glynis's panther cap Amanita pantherina A

This isn’t quite so identifiable.  It’s an agaric, said the guide, clearly unwilling to be drawn.  Could be the Blusher (edible), the False Panther Cap (edible but not worth the trouble) or the Panther Cap (hospitalization required).  Better stick to the mushrooms in the supermarket.

4  Guelder rose – viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’

Jo's Viburnum opulus roseum

In real life, it’s a rather deeper shade of red than this, and I wish it would be planted more often, for the spring snowballs, and the autumn fire.  In my garden, it’s doing a sterling job of hiding the bins – the Council has now given us 4, so they do take up some space.

5   The teasel thicket

Jo's teasel thicket

Yesterday there were goldfinches here, but today it’s just too wet.  They’ll be back, as will young teasels next year.

6   The blackbird’s Acanthus

Jo's Acanthus

This acanthus is growing on south-facing pebbles over concrete.  Where it’s putting its roots, I won’t even speculate, because under the concrete the site for the house has a concrete raft over a bed of smashed up engineering bricks.  The plant was grown about a decade ago from a packet of ‘Acanthus mixed species and cultivars’.  I think it’s probably A. mollis, but one of the cultivars with very long flowering stems.  This year it carried 34 stems, most of them over 6 feet high, with pink and white flowers.  And it never, ever has powdery mildew.

Jo's Acanthus blackbird's nest

What it does have is a blackbird’s nest.  This was found when cutting back the flowering stems and old leaves a few days ago.  I thought the blackbirds had spent a lot of time under the foliage!

And that’s it for this week.

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