Six on Saturday – 24/11/2018

I’ve had a busy week tidying up my patio pots, throwing out the summer plants and potting up the Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ and Achillea ‘Terracotta’ from the large containers into smaller pots to overwinter. I’ve put a variety of spring bulbs – tulips, daffodils, Muscari and crocus into the empty pots. A bit like seeing a blank piece of paper that needs to be filled in I have an aversion to pots with nothing but a gravel topping.

I took a visit to our local garden centre and had a spend up! We have an issue with squirrels here, hence one of the pots with pea and bean netting on it. I ran out of plants hence it just being gravel (for the time being). The Christmas shop was so full of goodies, I couldn’t resist buying a few little robins! They might not deter the magpies and pigeons, but they are fun. Above are just a few of my winter pots, there are another six on the other side, but they are still full of flowering geraniums so not ready for winter just yet.

My Six on Saturday are the components of three of the pots, which are now also draped in lights, in case you wonder what the green wiring is, making them look very pretty in the evenings – in my humble opinion anyway.

Pot one

1. Variegated Osmanthus

2. Hellebore Nigra

When hunting for hellebores I found it frustrating that the larger garden centres such as Wyevale and Hilliers sell them in large pots between £11-£13. All I wanted was a couple of small ones, and was delighted to find them in Keydell nurseries, in Hordean at £3 a pot. There I also found osmanthus at £2.80 and a couple of ivies for under £2; that is the difference between a local independent nursery and chains.

Pot Two

3. Winter cherry – Solanum pseudocapsicum

4. Gaultheria

5. Mini Cyclamen

The Winter Cherries look like mini tomatoes but give height and brightness to the display with contrast to the dark red cyclamen and gaultheria berries. None of the plants will fill out as much as summer bedding but I am hoping they will grow a little bigger.

Pot Three

6. Skimmia Japonica ‘Rubella’ and more cyclamen

There is always a plethora of red, white and pink cyclamens in garden centres but I fell in love with the unusual very dark red variety and they particularly go well with the Skimmia.

Please pay a visit to The Propagator’s Blog who not only hosts the weekly Six on Saturday, has lots of other really interesting and informative blog posts.

UPDATE … winter pots all lit up

Adding colour to beds and borders by planting flowerbulbs

This is another assignment I completed online recently through Learning With Experts. My course tutor is the horticulturalist Andy McIndoe and after submitting each assignment he gives his experienced critique of my ideas and useful advice and suggestions.

This assignment consists of three parts, which really stretched the mind and made research interesting. I could have written lots but have tried to keep it concise.

PART 1 – I am lucky to have a good choice of situations so have chosen my patio (container), my allotment (space plus lots of light) and daughter and SiL’s garden variety of flower beds, where I am their unpaid gardener!

(A) Patio container: I am aware Lesson 3 is Beds and Borders but as my personal gardening space is a patio, I am including this. On looking through catalogues and websites I found a beautiful early flowering Tulip called ‘Slawa’. It has intense purple petals, which are also variously described by producers as deep crimson or deep maroon. It has a copper-orange edge to the petals which fade to a pinkish orange as it matures. I have chosen the deep plum coloured Hyacinth ‘Woodstock’ which will flower first from March to April. It grows to a height of 25cms and the Slawa should appear in April. I hope they will both be in flower at the same time for a short while before the hyacinth dies down.

(B) Allotment: After caretaking an overgrown and neglected plot since April, I am really excited to have my very own well loved plot in December. The present owner has kindly agreed I can start to plant spring bulbs. As an announcement of “I’m here!” I intend to plant lots of bright yellow traditional daffodils called ‘Dutch Master’ which will start to flower in March. The follow on will be an assortment of Alliums, ‘Purple Sensation’, ‘Gladiator’, and personally I don’t think you can have Alliums without ‘Christophii’. These will flower from May to June, again as with (A) I hope the alliums will start to flower before the daffodils die down. I think the combination of yellow and purple will look wonderful.

(C) Daughter’s Garden: This is quite a large garden with a variety of beds facing different directions, sunny/partial shade/shade. In one way this is great but in another it can be restricting. I have chosen to plant English Bluebells in the bottom corner, which is shady. They will flower in April, if the squirrels haven’t dug them up, I had better buy some more chilli flakes! I know that lesson 4 is about naturalisation so I will learn more when I read it. My second bulb I fell in love with a few years ago after seeing them grow in the meadow at Parham, West Sussex, is Camassia. I have chosen ‘Quamash’ a vivid blue and will plant them in the partially shaded part of the border just before the shady corner with the bluebells.

For my spring flowering shrub I would plant a Hamamellis. I particularly like ‘intermedia Diane’. Whilst it is quite expensive, I love the unusual bright red/orange flowers, which appear in February, I think for impact it’s well worth the money. To make a striking combination, I would add two Tulip varieties. ‘Request’ and ‘Arjuna’. I found these in the Sarah Raven catalogue called the Blood Orange Collection. The bronze/orange petals should look great against the red Hamamellis.

PART 3 – I’m back to patio planting with this and have chosen a small evergreen Photinia shrub called ‘Little Red Robin’ which is ideal for a container, growing to a height of 90cms. After choosing this shrub I then hit a problem knowing what to plant with it and even resorted to a colour wheel. The combination of the green leaves and new growth in spring of red leaves, meant I struggled with a complimentary colour so have gone for white. I’m not a great fan of Muscari, not sure why, probably because it gets messy, but I will make an exception and chose a white Muscari ‘Album’ followed by a pure white double flowered Daffodil ‘Obdam’ from J Parker. My only concern is that if it’s a new shrub the Photinia may be small and swamped by the 40cms daffodils.

I have not been asked to promote Learning with Experts, but have independently decided to post my assignment for my followers to read. Andy McIndoe suggested a number of other interesting varieties which I have made a note of. His final comment was: “Some great ideas and hope you’ve enjoyed researching this one. Best wishes Andy “