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.

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 “