Six on Saturday 16-02-2019

It’s been dangerous weather this week. Positively spring like during the day with temperatures reaching 12°C (54°F) and then plummeting to below zero at night. I went up to the allotment at 08:30 Friday morning to await a delivery of manure, and the beds I had uncovered and dug over during the week had a dusting of frost, looking like icing sugar.

Whilst we are experiencing this wide range of temperature, if you are like me you are desperately resisting the desire to plant out! However, I have started to sow seeds (indoors) – peppers, leeks and garlic in cells. My next job, although I know a tad early, is to pot up my Dahlia tubers and keep them in a cold frame until the weather is warm enough to plant out in May.

Ok, after that little update, now for my Six on Saturday. I performed my gardening duties in my daughter and SiL’s garden on Friday and my Six this week is from there.

1. Crocus, crocus and more crocus (what is the plural for lots of crocus?)

I expect there will be lots of crocus on show this Saturday but they are a harbinger of spring and I think we all get a little (if not a lot!) excited when we see them. What is the plural of crocus, croci, crocuses? Both sound a bit ungainly and not quite right.

2. Wallflowers – (Erysimum)

The motley, smelly, half priced bare root wallflowers planted mid-October last year are looking very healthy and a few are even beginning to flower. The daffodils, planted at the same time in the gaps between the wallflowers are also coming up and I’m looking forward to a colourful display.

3. Euphorbia (Ascot Rainbow)

I planted this Euphorbia last summer, it flowered and then went very raggedy, probably because I didn’t prune it. Although a tough plant, I was dubious as to how it was going to get through the winter. It is looking beautiful with the prettiest pink tips that appear in the winter.

4. Hellebores

As with crocus photos, there is a wonderful selection of hellebore pics on gardening blogs at this time of year. I bought a selection of hellebores before the winter and although still small, they are flowering and the ‘Oriental’ is a fabulous dark mauve. They will seed and spread and look better every year.

5. Sweet Williams (Dianthus)

Described as a herbaceous biennial or short lived perennial, I certainly didn’t expect it to be still flowering despite freezing nights. Like the Euphorbia, I should have given it a good haircut last summer but left it to its own devices and it obviously is happy!

6. Spring pots

The collection of pots by the shed at the bottom of the garden are packed with bulbs and looking full of promise. This is where the white crocus (Photo 1 above) live with the pink hyacinths which are flowering. The brown pot of crocus at the back are a bit late, only showing leaves at the moment. More photos to come in a few weeks!

You can find more Six on Saturday’s on The Propagator Blog, please pay him a visit and see what everyone else has to show at the end of the second week of February.

Six on Saturday – 02/02/2019 ‘Purchases’

I think we would all agree this time of year is quite frustrating! Apart from preparing beds and cleaning tools there is little more we can do and if you are like me you are itching to get out there and start sowing and planting. Buying is a bit of a panacea and helps scratch that itch for the time being.

Purchase 1 – Cloche

I’m a big Wilko fan and for years have bought garden equipment from them. I was more than happy to find a good sized PVC cloche greenhouse for £10. Many will say “you get what you pay for” and I agree one costing £40 will be more substantial, but I’m living on a budget and at the moment a cheap one will suffice.

Purchase 2 – Garden tool

Also from Wilko, I bought a long handled cultivator (£7.50). I have a treasured handheld multi-prong cultivator which I use constantly for weeding, however that is an on your knees job so when I saw this I thought it might be ideal and less back aching for getting the beds ready for planting – I’m going down the No Dig route. Until I can afford to replace the little, somewhat rickety, shed inherited on the allotment I’m loathe to buy expensive tools.

Purchase 3Bare root roses

My roses arrived this morning! Whilst I’m saving money on equipment I’m spending it on plants and bulbs from reputable growers. That is not to say cheaper suppliers are rubbish, I’ve bought some really good plants from Wilko and one year I bought raspberry canes from Poundland and they produced excellent crops every year. I wrote about my bare root roses order from David Austin Roses on an earlier post during the week My Criteria for Choosing Roses. We’ve had a couple of really cold nights and, unlike a lot of Hampshire, we only had a smattering of snow on Thursday night. As long as the soil is not frozen I can plant the roses in my cottage garden area.

Purchase 4 – Dahlia Tubers

I grew dahlias for the first time in 2016 in my last garden. Having never grown them before I bought tubers from Wilko at a £1 each, on the premise if they were rubbish I hadn’t lost much. They were, to my surprise, so successful I’ve fallen in love with growing dahlias. I learned that the secret to having exciting and different cultivars is to buy early from tuber growers, as the unusual ones are sold out very quickly. I ordered 5 varieties from Peter Nyssen which arrived yesterday. I’ve unpacked them and have stored them carefully until March when I will start them off in large pots.

Purchase 5 – Seed Balls

I’m going to grow a wildflower patch on the allotment and came across The Seed Ball Company. Always happy to try something new and I liked the idea, I ordered their Urban Meadow Mix. They’ve not arrived yet, although I had an email from them 7 days ago to say they’ve been dispatched. I’ll contact them on Monday if still no sign. If you have used them do you have any growing tips?

Purchase 6 – Sweet pea seeds

Higgledy Garden is an independent supplier of garden seeds. I’ve been buying from Benjamin Ranyard for many years. I ordered a lot of seeds for the cottage garden patch including 3 types of sweet pea, Beaujolais, Mammouth and Painted Lady. I sow sweet peas in January, without soaking first, into root trainers and started them off last week. This morning just 7 days later I found a tiny little shoot (Beaujolais) peeking through – it’s so exciting to see!

Just to clarify, although I’ve mentioned companies in this post they are my own choice and opinion, I have no commercial interest.

There you go, that’s my Six on Saturday for this week. Take a peek over the garden fence at other contributions, not only from the UK, on The Propagator Blog.