Six on Saturday: 4.1.20-Six for a New Year

Welcome to a new year of six on Saturday. I made it through the last year and  I think I managed to post each week giving me an amazing record I can look back through. I thoroughly recommend taking part. There is a great community through the blogs and Twitter and I’ve learnt so much. I am still off work currently so I’ve had a productive week tidying the garden and getting a few bits planted. I’ve still got my front garden bin tidy to do, but I’ve made lots of progress in other areas. I’ve also had a tidy of a few of the blog pages and started adding a gardening contents page as I’ve noticed lots of traffic to particular blogs. It needs more work but nice to have quick access to particular blogs I refer back to quite often.

1. Bargain tulips

We popped out a few days ago to the garden centre for a family trip out. The bargain bulb trolley is out now with bulbs reduced to £1 each. So each picked a bag. I thought Amy was going to go for the pheasant’s eye daffodils but she opted for the sealing wax daffodils. I’m not a fan of daffodils as they don’t offer much benefit to wildlife and I’m not a great fan of the colours. Most of the ones we have are wilco’s specials so these will be some of the few I know the names of. Alice went with the Red Riding Hood tulips. I’ve grown these before. They have nice stripy foliage and bright red flowers. The alliums were my choice. Three very tall summer drummers. I had said last week I was done with bulb planting, but what I obviously meant was done until I see a bargain.

Alice helped plant her tulips, then lost interest as the other bulbs aren’t her taste. The crowbar came in use again for making nice targetted holes in the border.

2. Muddy puddle

Then Alice got on with the more important work of making a muddy puddle. She used the rainwater from her mud kitchen to soak a section of the lawn.

The lawn is in a pretty bad condition after builders last year but Alice had fun jumping up and down in her puddle.

3. Homebrew nematodes

This week I had found the book outwitting squirrels was free through Kindle to borrow. The book tackles different ways to tackle different “pests”. On the whole, I let nature take its course and allow the wildlife to find an equilibrium. But I have planted several hostas I would like to protect. In the book, it talks about making your own nematodes. Nematodes are a microscopic worm that preys on slugs and snails. It’s a natural way to keep slug and snails down. It costs about £16 and needs applying about every 6 weeks.  So it is quite a pricey way to combat them. By collecting up slugs and snails in a confined area you can create conditions for nematodes to build. The water at the bottom can then be added to a watering can to add the nematodes into your soil. It is unlikely to be that effective in the cold weather during winter but it’s free for me to try so can’t do any harm. If nothing else I’ve got the kit ready to try again when the seasons change.

A washbasin has been filled with a layer of water, then an island of plant material has been placed on top for the slugs to sit on.

Slug collecting has commenced.

Then the washtub is covered with a tile.

4. Kokedama

Earlier in the week, I’d made a kokedama. It is still sitting looking dumpy but I found a grey saucer which I think suits it better. While I imagine this doesn’t look that amazing to any of you I could see the process of making these being quite addictive. If I had enough materials I could easily encase many more plants in this way. I have one more fern and may dig out some of the ivy seedlings to try wrapping.

5. Fairy house

Yesterday I made Alice another addition to her growing fairy garden. The house has had a chance to dry overnight and I found it a space near the mushrooms put in last week. I think it’s looking quite nice if a bit rustic. Alice wants me to make more so I’m going to need to get the saw back out. Before long we’ll have a whole happy village going on.

6. Burgon & Ball photo competition

And for my final six some exciting news. I won the Burgon & Ball garden photo of the year competition. I will be receiving a lovely bundle of gardening bundles worth a few quid. I had a choice between a garden pack or an allotment pack. The garden pack had some nice secateurs and forks, but as I already own Niwaki secateurs I’ve gone for the allotment options.

Avid Allotmenteer:

So I can add an award-winning photographer to my egotistical over-exaggerated CV along with being a published poet. The photo I entered was one of my favourite dahlia pictures of the year combined with one of my favourite garden insects. I could happily watch the dragonflies for hours. When one landed on the dahlia, my favourite dahlia I grew last year, I went a bit snap happy. But I did get some stunners. So, I’ll be waiting on the postman to deliver me my Burgon & Ball goodies. Then I’ll be itching to get the dahlias started again, but that’s a good few months off despite what Gardener’s World magazine was advising this month.

It’s been a good holiday off and I’ve enjoyed plenty of time with family. Still shaking off my stupid cough, but gradually getting better. I’ve got a little time left to try and get a few more garden jobs done and we’re planning to get out for my dad’s birthday today and another walk on the beach. Enjoy your weekends. I hope the start of the year has been gentle to those who have returned to work.

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12 Days of Wild Christmas: Day 10

Today we said goodbye to Christmas. It’s all packed up and put up in the loft with the dahlia tubers. That took up more of the day than we expected, even though it always takes us longer than we expect each year. So it wasn’t until late afternoon I got outside. I’d decided I wanted to have a go at making a fairy house from an idea I’d seen on Pinterest. I needed to saw a log outside. So I picked a nice round one from the log store and got sawing. The birds have been unwilling to come in the garden much lately while I’m out. But once I’m busy the birds don’t mind me. Once I got sawing the blue tits were first in followed by the regular sparrows and blackbirds.

The magic must have been working on my fairy house preparation as I had a visitor I don’t remember seeing in my own garden for a good while. A greenfinch came in for the seed. Greenfinches were hit by disease a few years ago nationally. It’s heartening to know there are still some out there.

Alice didn’t help with much of this project. She did a couple of saw strokes cutting the wood. But the one part she was definite about was that the door should be red.

For a quick little project, I’m happy enough with the result. Alice wants me to make another, so may get better as I go on. I made mistakes with this one I know I can avoid next time. I’m not sure if I’ll varnish it or let it decay naturally. The glue can dry overnight and then we can look for a spot for it in the garden.

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Six on Saturday: 28.9.19

1. Aster-New England

These asters have been shooting up in height for a good while. They were a wedding gift last year. This variety grows very tall and has a mass of flowers the bees are enjoying for late-season food. They look a bit odd in the border currently as these are very tall surrounded by shorter plants so I need to look at something mid-height to break it up a bit. They are looking a bit droopy in the rain but will recover when we get some sun.


2. Hebe

This Hebe was a birthday present a few years ago. It is a short variety with wider dark leaves. It is possibly the wrong side of tender as the leaves have browned off badly through winter each year but it has recovered. The flowers come late in Summer or early Autumn adding some bright bursts late on in the year. The evergreen leaves keep a bit of structure through winter as the perennials around die down.


3. Crocus-White

I’ve made a start on some bulb planting with a few croci going in the two small planters that flank the front door. The hostas will die down soon. The crocus will grow up before the hostas return. As with the cyclamen I’m sticking to white flowers in the shaded front garden as they stand out nicely in the darker front garden.


4. Layered planter

I’ve got a number of irises, crocus and alliums on orders but not bought any tulips yet. So I made a start with a layered planter from Tescos. I’ve normally looked for these when discounted but thought I’d get one for more. The crocus tommasinianus will come up, followed by the armeniacum muscari and the triumph tulips “purple flag” later on. I’m trying to create more pots with successional planting so I don’t spend as much time shifting pots back and forth and replacing pots. When these have finished flowering the muscari and tulips can be moved to the borders. The crocus will go in the lawn.


5. Fairy door

My mum has had a fairy door built for Alice following on from her fairy garden and dinosaur garden. She has loved playing with it and it gave me a bit of time to get some ground cleared ready for bulbs and got two of the passionflower seedlings into the ground.


6. The view from above

I haven’t featured the view from above in a while. The garden is taking on more of an Autumnal feel. The dogwood leaves are changing to orange. But we still have lots of colour on offer. The dahlias and cosmos still going strong. The late-flowering clematis and passionflower are still putting on a good show. The builders are back so I have the pots and table back on the lawn while they work. But hopefully they’ll be done soon and then I can start putting the patio back together. I’ve got lots of evergreen heucheras, grasses and ferns to go back on to keep the interest over winter. The right-hand border is more filled with late-season colour while the left shone in early Summer with lupins and foxgloves and lychnis.

The front garden is filling out. The hostas have got fairly well established before they die down for winter. The hydrangea limelight is settling into its position. Many of the heuchera and ferns are evergreen so they will keep some foliage going over winter. Then alchemilla is filling up gaps with self-seeders. I’m hoping to edge the path next holiday and then get a layer of compost, then bark down to tidy the ground up a bit, suppress weeds and gradually improve the soil.

The rain has started for the day. I didn’t manage to get the irises in the pots I planned to do last week so I still have that to do. I was suckered in by another Thompson and Morgan deal on £2.50 clematis so I have four of those to plant. One evergreen for the fence. One I’m thinking for a obelisk in the border. The other two I’m thinking will go in pots. But I need some bigger pots for this so I may need a trip to the garden centre some point. Enjoy your weekends. Hope the yellow weather warnings don’t cause too much damage.

If you fancy taking part in six on Saturday check out the guide.

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