First blog post

This is the post excerpt.


This is my first attempt at a Six on Saturday (also first attempt at a blog!). It’s all plants this week

My first plant is Schizostylis coccinea ‘Ice Maiden’ (I think we’re supposed to call it Hesperantha coccinea now). I have a three varieties of Schizostylis in my garden, all in various shades of pink. I found this one at a local garden centre a couple of weeks ago and have eagerly awaited the first flowers. It’s very nearly white! Just a touch of pink.

IMG_2016Number two is Begonia sutherlandii. I bought some as small plugs back in April and they have flowered non-stop ever since.

IMG_2020My third choice is Salvia patens. I haven’t grown this for many years and had forgotten what a beautiful colour it is. It’s taken a while to start flowering but is well worth the wait. IMG_2022Number four is another blue flower – Ipomoea tricolour ‘Heavenly Blue’. I sowed the seeds quite late as the plants don’t like the cold and have planted them to grow through many of my climbers. It’s a shame the leaves don’t last. The photo doesn’t do justice to the colour!

IMG_2035A couple of weeks ago I went to Picton Garden and nursery where they hold the National Collection of Michaelmas Daisies. It’s a beautiful garden and, needless to say, I came away with a couple (maybe slightly more) of plants. This is a photo of an unnamed variety of Michaelmas Daisy that I have had for a few years  it doesn’t seem to succumb to the slugs either


Plant six has to be Cyclamen hederifolium. It’s taken me years to get a decent show of these and now the seedlings are popping up all over the place. This particular one is a seedling from a large corm I bought in Amsterdam several years ago

IMG_2044That’s my six for this week. Happy gardening.

Six on Saturday 12/01/19

It’s a quiet time of year for me work wise so I’ve been spending a reasonable amount of time in the garden this last week or so. The pain and joy of self-employment. I persuaded the Non-Gardener to fire up the chainsaw and bring a couple of branches down on the Amelanchier and the Birch. I’ve also thinned out Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ a bit (with loppers and a hand saw. I’m not allowed to play with the more dangerous tools any more. To be fair, past efforts have been quite hairy!) and removed a very old and no longer very pretty Griselinia littoralis ‘Variegata’. By removing and then composting the leaves etc on the borders I hope to be removing a lot of the slugs sheltering in them. My theory is that they won’t then be around to munch on new shoots as they emerge. Good theory I reckon! We’ve had some quite hard frosts recently, for here, but the bulb and plant growth seems to be ahead of normal. All this positivity is very good for the soul. So on this positive note here is my Six for this week.

1. Several Sixers have asked for more information about my efforts to keep my cuttings and overwintering plants a bit warmer in the glasshouse. My experiments have involved horticultural fleece, Celotex insulating board, very useful advice from Jim at Garden Ruminations and, finally, electricity and an 80W tube heater. The original heater was an old one that the N-G had but this week I used a Christmas voucher to buy a new one with a thermostat. The glasshouse is 12 foot by 8 foot and the staging is wood covered with Butyl liner so no water gets through. As part of the evolving experiment a wooden upstand was made to go around the smaller plants and cuttings. This was some timber that the N-G had accumulated for ‘one day’ use.


Some of the cuttings were taken very late so I could try out my new propagator so they’re not as big as I’d like them to be.

The original Celotex box (made from half of the sheet) is now a lid that fits over this at night. I try to put it on when the temperature starts to fall and the daylight fades but I t’s later if I’ve been out.46f6bb2f-f7c7-46b5-9b11-6a8a6399b425

The tube heater is suspended a bit more than the minimum recommended distance of 50mm below the staging. The wooden staging absorbs the heat well. The plug that is dangling down is from the original tube heater that the N-G has moved behind the new one and could be used if things get really cold. I’ve covered the four lower louvre vents to cut down on droughts. There is still plenty of ventilation as there are four roof vents, another louvre at the far end and a split door.


The max/min thermometer takes two readings, one on the unit itself and the other via a plug in lead. I put this lead inside the wooden upstand. The results are in the photo below. The first two columns are self-explanatory, the third is the ‘box’ temperature when the lid goes on, the fourth (mis-labelled but I knew what I meant!) is the difference between the first two columns. I hope my maths is right! The asterisk is the day the thermostatic heater was fitted. I’m really pleased with the results so far. The Celotex was about £35 (only used half so far) and the heater was about £21. The running cost is the same as an 80W lightbulb on a thermostat. If anyone has any ideas for improving on this do let me know.


Sorry, that was a long first Six if you weren’t interested.

2. Mid January and it looks quite like spring


3. I cut all of the old leaves from the Hellebores this week. Some flower stems are barely showing and others are showing off.


4. One of the overwintering plants in the glasshouse is Fuchsia ‘Lechlade Gordan’. It’s new to me this year. There’s a couple of cuttings growing well as I didn’t know how hardy it was. The flowers are small but perfectly formed and most stems are flowering. I hope it does this earlier next year.

I don’t bubble wrap the glasshouse, this is a piece tucked behind the plants to give a little protection.

5. I succumbed to a ‘bargain deal’ on some Nerine bulbs ages ago. They arrived a bit earlier than I was expecting/hoped.


6. Most of my borders are small but I have one larger wrap-around one and I started sorting through the narrow end of it yesterday (Friday). It’s lovely to see some soil at this time of year (the rest of the year I don’t like to see any!). I don’t think I removed enough Forget-Me-Nots though.


It’s windy but mild and dry here today so the perfect excuse to get outside now that I’ve fulfilled my Six duty. I hope you are able to get outside as well but if not then at least we can see what everyone else is up to courtesy of our host at



Six on Saturday 05/01/19

Brrrrrr, it’s been a cold and rather gloomy week. A frosty night should be followed by a clear and sunny day but the weather here hasn’t read the book. Sub-zero nights have been followed by overcast gloomy days. Not very inspiring. I’m still tucking things into the glasshouse for some winter protection and still trying to keep it a bit warmer in there which leads me into the first of this Six on Saturday

1. I’ve posted about trying to insulate cuttings etc in the glasshouse over winter in a couple of recent Sixes. It’s been an eye-opener. The Non-Gardener has now installed some power (yippee, finally!) in there and suspended an 80w tube heater below the staging. The pots on the staging are surrounded by a wooden frame and I’ve been putting the original Celotex box up the other way and using it as a lid (supported by the wooden frame) on the frosty nights. On not so cold nights I’ll just put horticultural fleece over the top. The wooden staging is covered with butyl liner so no water will get through to the heater (apparently water plus electricity not good). Last night the temperature outside the box went down to  minus 2.8C but inside the box it was plus 3.9C! Nearly seven degrees difference! Toastie. The night before was minus 0.8C out and plus 4.8C in. The difference will depend on the temperature when I put the lid on but I’m really pleased. I have to remove the lid in the morning as it excludes all light. I’ve been propping it open slightly for a while to acclimatise the plants to the colder air before fully removing. It would seem to be a cheap way to heat my glasshouse (same as leaving an 80w bulb on). Another benefit seems to be that the overall temperature in the glasshouse is a degree or so higher than outside all of the time and there appears to be a lot less condensation. Hope it continues.

2.  I have roses and Clematis on ropes and posts at the front of the house and the year before last a seedling of Helleborus foetidus appeared. It flowered last spring but I thought I’d lost it in the summer drought. I’m not sure that this is the original plant as it seems to be further behind the rose but a flower stem is rising upwards.


3. A more refined Hellebore for number three. This was a present last spring and came with no name. The long dry summer probably didn’t do it any favours and it appears there won’t be many flowers but it survived thankfully.


4. A few Primroses foolishly flowered in the autumn but this one waited a bit longer. It looks a bit tatty but is still a welcome sight. The nearby Brodiaea ‘Queen Fabiola’ (is it Triteleia now?) have seeded prolifically. I have a love/hate relationship with this bulb.


5. Having very alkaline soil I grow a few acid loving plants in pots. At the moment they’re overwintering by the front wall of the house and looking full of promise for a floriferous spring.


6. My passion is for herbaceous plants but that leads to a lot of ‘empty’ looking ground through the winter. I use some evergreens in and on boundary hedges and fences and really appreciate them at this time of year. This un-named holly was a sale bench purchase many years ago. It’s a male, has quite small leaves and insists on growing at a ridiculously jaunty angle but it really brightens up a dull day so more than earns its keep.


The forecast is for frost again tonight but warming up a bit tomorrow so I’m hoping to get out in to the garden and do some tidying up. I just need to speak to the Non-Gardener about a couple of projects I’ve got planned that he might need to assist with……….

Have a great weekend whatever the weather does and enjoy reading all of the other Sixes at


Six on Saturday 29/12/18

We arrived back from Christmas with family in Belfast late last night so I had to wait until this morning to have a quick look around the garden and in the glasshouse to make sure that everything was alright. It was. It’s amazing how much things change in a week, even at this time of year, especially as it’s been so mild. I couldn’t let the last Saturday of 2018 go by without doing a Six so, as I did my patrol this morning I quickly took some pictures of plant activity. Some are a bit blurry as it’s quite breezy today.

1. Despite a cold snap a while ago the Clematis seem intent on putting out new growth. It’s a shame really as I grow mostly viticella types which have a hard chop in February /March so most of the growth will be removed

2. It’s taken years but I’ve got some good clumps of snowdrops around the garden, mostly near the house so that I can see them. They’ve come up through the mulch in my absence and some are showing white already.

3. Above these snowdrops is a Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’. The catkins are really elongating now. Sadly it blew off of the fence earlier in the year and hasn’t really gone back so I’m going to prune it quite hard in the spring to encourage new vertical growth


4. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I’d grown Eccremocarpus scaber from seed this year and that it hadn’t done much this summer but was having a late burst of growth. It’s now flowering! Okay, it’s just one flower but a great colour at this time of year.


5. I’ve four different Hesperantha coccinea varieties in the garden. Two are having a late flower.

6. The climbing roses grow on posts and ropes at the front of the house. I deadhead quite thoroughly to keep them flowering and then leave the late flowers to, hopefully, make hips. R. ‘White Swan’ still has the odd pure white (not cream as the picture suggests) flower on it alongside the slowly ripening hips of all of the roses.


BE5B076B-0BC0-4F60-9B1E-99910ED391F9So that’s my final Six for the year. Thank you for looking at them and thank you to our host (https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/) for this wonderful idea of his. I’ve learnt so much and had a lot of helpful comments and ideas over the 14+ months I’ve been participating. Wishing you all a very happy, successful and peaceful new year.




Six on Saturday 22/12/18

It’s been an incredibly wet week here along with some high winds. The garden is absolutely water-logged so all I’ve done this week is walk down to the glasshouse and back again each morning and evening. This means that it’s a bit of a rushed Six, quickly photographed between the downpours.

1. The continuing saga of trying to keep cuttings and over-wintering plants a little bit warmer in my unheated glasshouse. I’ve written about this in the last two Sixes. For years I’ve just thrown fleece over the pots when it was forecast to be cold and crossed my fingers. This year I treated myself to a digital max/min thermometer with two readings. Suddenly, I knew how cold it was getting! Ignorance is bliss sometimes. With the help of the Non-Gardener I’ve tried Celotex insulation sheet under the pots (didn’t work at all) and over the pots (slightly better, but not enough of a difference for the inconvenience of storing the bulky Celotex in the daytime). So time for Mark III. I now have a glasshouse with power!!!


2. After a hideous experience with a clump-forming bamboo that made a bid for freedom a few years ago I’m very wary of them. This dwarf one has been kept in a pot for several years and that is where it is going to stay ( I do repot it each spring!). It might feature again next year when it’s looking at its best as opposed to winding down for the winter.


3. I’m still moving the more tender plants into the glasshouse. Some of them are still flowering and it seemed a shame to cut them down to fit them in so I stood them in a sheltered corner. Salvia corrugata is still looking good


4. Lonicera fragrantissima has just started to flower. The fragrance of these tiny little flowers more than makes up for this shrubs understatedness (is that a word?) the rest of the year


5. Uncinia rubra ‘Everflame’. This is in a pot on the patio for the winter, it looked lovely the other day with frosted leaves. It’s underplanted withh Crocus. I’ll plant it in the garden in the spring. The robin is another cane topper, found at a Christmas market. It’s a shame I didn’t get round to painting the back door surround.


6. As I ran for the house because the rain had started again I spotted this Cyclamen having a final fling


That’s my pre-Christmas Six. I have to look a little harder but there’s still quite a lot going on in the garden at this time of year, even in a little one.

It’s an Irish Christmas for us this year so no gardening for me for a while. I will, however, be doing some virtual gardening by checking in on all of the Sixes over the festive period at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

. Best wishes to all Sixers



Six on Saturday 15/12/18

It’s a very wet, and very windy day here in North Somerset and I don’t think that there will be a lot of gardening done this weekend, sadly. That does, however give more time for reading Sixes and researching desirable plants courtesy of our host and the other Sixers at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

1. Continuation of one of my six’s from last week. In the effort to try to keep my cuttings etc ‘warm’ in my unheated glasshouse the Non – Gardener bought a sheet of Celotex and made some boxes to stand the pots in. At night I then covered these with horticultural fleece. Jim S sent a really helpful comment saying that, from experience, the insulation needed to be above the pots and not below. I kept a note of the thermometer readings inside and outside of the boxes over several days and the results were very disappointing. Jim was right! So – mark Two is a work in progress and last night I propped the Celotex boxes over the top of the pots. There was a bigger difference between the two readings so it’s looking hopeful. Just needs refining now.

2. The soil in my garden is very alkaline so acid loving plants have to be grown in pots. Many years ago I had the mad idea to bury a large bag of ericacious compost (with a few holes punched into the bottom) in the ground and plant a potted Pieris japonica that was looking very unhealthy into it. It had the “Live or Die” talk and wisely decided on the former. I top dress it with ericacious compost each spring and it looks great, although somewhat taller than I thought it might be. The new buds are colouring up well and I’m looking forward to the spring display.


3. Chasmanthium latifolium is one of those plants that demands very little but looks great for most of the year. The dried leaves and seedheads will stay all winter then just twist off as the new growth emerges in the spring. The photo really doesn’t do it justice.


4. I grew Eccremocarpus scaber seedlings from saved seed this year. I don’t think they minded the heat but they really didn’t like the drought. However, despite the frosts a couple of the plants have decided to reach for the sky (slight exaggeration). I doubt they’ll survive the winter sadly, but if they do then next years display could be magnificent.


5. Another plant that really suffered this summer was this small Hydrangea whose name escapes me at the moment. It’s planted near to the Birch tree so quite a dry spot this year. I regularly poured quite a lot of water onto it but it kept drooping. It would probably have been better if I’d removed the flowers but whose going to do that! Now, however, the dried flowerheads seem to be colouring up more and more.


6. A few frosted leaves to finish with.




Hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend, whatever the weather brings. Thanks for reading my Six.

Six on Saturday 08/12/18

It’s been a week of such contrasts weather-wise – sunshine, murky mists, hard frost, pouring rain and gale force winds plus quite a few rainbows. The ground is absolutely sodden at the moment with more rain forecast so there’s not a lot of gardening to be done outdoors at the moment. Still a few bulbs to find a home for! I didn’t think I’d bought that many this year. In the meantime here’s a quick six, photographed between the downpours this morning.

1. The glasshouse isn’t heated at all, I rely on horticultural fleece over the pots to keep the temperature up a couple of degrees. I made a casual remark about maybe standing the pots on a sheet of polystyrene when the Non-Gardener started talking about Celotex. I’m now the proud owner of two boxes made from this. It’ll be interesting to see if, when topped with fleece, the temperature stays up a bit more. No frost forecast for a while though.

2. I’ve been using the coldframe for summer storage of homemade compost as I’d run out of room to make more. I’ve two fairly large (for the size of garden) bins but really need a third as I seem to generate so much plant material to compost. It’s the time of year when the coldframe is needed for plants so I emptied it out and barrowed it around to the newly cleared and cut down front garden. I’m not normally so quick to cut down but the wind had done so much damage.019C4484-EE2B-4D39-BCF6-CA90151A2A5A

3. Once the coldframe was emptied I could start to fill it up with plants. I was going to replant the border under the Birch tree and have a collection of ferns for dry shade to join a few others already in the border. Unfortunately, the posts supporting an arch near the tree have rotted through and need to be replaced. I’ve decided not to replant until the spring  so that this can be done (I need to talk nicely to the Non-Gardener). The ferns are tucked into the coldframe for now.


4. While I was clearing the front garden I came across these – shoots of Dutch Iris I think. Somewhat early and somewhat weedy


5.  The wind blew over a pot of Echivera ‘Black Prince’ a while back breaking off some leaves. I put a couple in a small pot of gritty compost and they’ve had babies


6. A bit of colour to finish with. Fuchsia ‘Lechlade Gordon’ is new to me this summer. It’s now lost most of it’s leaves and has decided to flower. Better late than never.


I hope the weather allows some gardening time for you but if not then the seed catalogues need reading and of course there’s all of the Sixes to check out at our host’s site




Six on Saturday 01/12/18

I didn’t take part last week and it felt like not handing in my homework. Very guilty. I did enjoy reading all the Sixes though.

November seems to have come and gone in a flash and my garden is looking a little bit sad at the moment. I’ve still got a few (quite a few) tulips to plant (mostly to go in pots) and some half- hardies to move out of big pots into smaller ones so that they will go in the glasshouse. Then there’s all of the leaves that blow in from the oak trees across the road. In the meantime here is my offering for this week

  1.  I went to a local Christmas Crafts Market the other day and found these lovely cane caps/toppers. Much prettier than the green rubber ones that I have been using. I shall keep adding to them. They are beautifully displayed on my new fleece!IMG_4588
  2. I don’t have power to heat the glasshouse so rely on horticultural fleece to protect the plants and cuttings in the winter. I’ve used the same fleece for quite a few years and it has definitely seen better days. Taking the lazy option I bought some on line – 10 metres by 5 metres and have cut it into lengths to fit the staging. We had a few rather cool nights earlier this week with the temperature falling to around zero degrees. My max/min thermometer has two sensors which have shown that a double layer of fleece over the pots of cuttings keeps the temperature about two degrees higher than outside of the fleece. That could make all the difference. The temperature has warmed up a bit now but I’m going to try three layers next time to see if it makes any difference. Is there a limit to the benefit that can be gained?
  3.  With the warmer weather has come Storm Diana, torrential rain and a few gusts of wind over 70mph recorded locally. In the main part of the garden the last few summer flowers have definitely gone now. I’ve featured my triffid Ricinus communis plant before. It was still looking good on Wednesday but by Thursday looked rather bedraggled. It will be consigned to the compost heap over the weekend. It reached over seven feet tall!IMG_4597
  4.  Another plant featured back in the summer was a “climbing” Pelagonium that I had been given as a cutting. Identified by John K. as P. ‘Antik’ it, and the cutting I took, grew to over five feet tall. They’ve been living in the glasshouse for about a month because they kept blowing over outside and I’ve finally had to cut them back to make room for other incoming winter residents. I wasn’t mad keen on the colour of the flowers but had taken some cuttings a while back. After cutting them back I felt compelled to take more cuttings. I think it’s a bit of a disease!                         Before and after shown below.IMG_4586IMG_4596
  5.  I’ve tried to grow Geranium palmatum in the ground in the past but it doesn’t make it through the winter in my heavy soil. After a break I bought a new plant this year but kept it in a pot. When I mentioned this in an earlier Six I was very envious when  Jim S. said that he gets seedlings coming up in his garden. It hadn’t occurred to me to save seeds. I managed to collect some and decided to sow half and keep half for spring sowing. I was probably a bit late sowing but they germinated and, with advice from Jim (thank you) I potted them on individually. They’re doing really well. The original plant is in the cold frame. Not sure where all these Geraniums are going to go – usual problem IMG_4587
  6.  Each year I swear that I’m not going to have so many tender plants to try to over-winter in the glasshouse and each year I fail. The large pots up by the house have had quite a bit of protection from the low temperatures and so a lot of plants have still got too many leaves, and flowers in some cases, to move into the glasshouse yet. The folding table and chairs have taken their places on the border side and before the Dahlias (still haven’t quite made up my mind whether to leave them in the ground or not), Cannas, Fuchsias, Salvias etc all move in I’ve been sorting under the staging.  The pots aren’t spotless but they’ve had a good rinse and brush. I felt quite smug at the end of this task! This is the small pot section. There are four louvre windows at floor level and I cover them with thick cardboard in the winter to reduce the draughts.IMG_4589

There was a lot of rain last night with more forecast for later but I have cabin fever and need to be outside now. Luckily I have gravel paths to work from in some of the garden and have plenty to do clearing up after Diana. I hope you get time, and weather, to enjoy your garden this weekend. Then later you can check in with our host to see what is going on in other Sixers’ gardens at