Six on Saturday: 18 November

I should’ve kept my mouth shut! On Thursday night we had the earliest frost here in 25 years! Well the car roofs (seems it’s “roofs” now and not “rooves”) were looking very crystallised at 6.30 on Friday morning and the front lawns were rather white. The thermometer at the front of the house recorded a minimum temperature of 3C (front of house faces west). But it was very different at the back where the minimum temperature recorded was 6C and the lawn looked quite green a few minutes after 6.30. Such are the mysteries of the climate. But not to worry; tender stuff was already cossetted in the greenhouse in which a minimum temperature of 10C is maintained as the heater thermostat doesn’t seem to work properly below that temperature and anything can happen if I set it to 5C.

But the days are a bit on the chilly side so I’ve kept my clothes on this week and returned to a current horticultural theme for my six.

First things first, though, I’ll start with the requisite bit of grovelling to our great leader, The Propagator, he of wrestling fame and ridiculously ambitious to do lists. On his blog you will find his submission of the day and, in the comments appertaining thereto, links to other contributions (these appear through Saturday and sometimes into Sunday and even Monday so return visits are advised). There’s also a collection of links to most of the regular contributors over at my other web site, if you want to cheat and not wait for them to comment on the host blog. Right then …….


I know, Chesney’s appeared several times before in a six. But he was mentioned in dispatches this week and his fan club are eagerly enquiring about the possibility of seed.

Now Chesney’s recovered from an early slug onslaught that killed all of his siblings. But he’s put on a brave face and grown to a princely 26 cm tall (that’s less than a foot for those who haven’t metricated yet). His flowers have matched his height in their scale – much smaller than your average Cosmos blooms. And the seed heads have been tiny. The first three contained nothing of worth; the fourth is drying out as I write.

And there are four more little buds. Will they open or will the cold get them? If they open and I hand pollinate, will they bear seed? Who knows but, whatever happens, I’m really gonna miss this little fella when his time comes.

Trailing Fuchsia (Tender)

Did I mention we had a frost on Thursday night? These tender fuchsias are in wall planters high on the north side of the house – high enough to be on the receiving end of any cold blast that hit the front. They’re high up because, well, they’re trailing and really look at their best when you stand underneath them and look up. The leaves may be dying back but, in the face of whatever nature is throwing at them, the flowers are still flowering (and there are opening buds just out of shot). Another little bunch of fighters.


Alstroemeria (apparently “alstroemerias” is now out of fashion except in some parts of Australia and the majority of America that’s been going backward of late) are long-flowering plants. Here they start showing off in late March and carry on until early November. I noticed when I was yanking off the expired stems last week (you should yank them, making sure the neighbours aren’t watching you yanking in the garden, not cut them) that there were other stems carrying buds but I didn’t expect them to come to anything.

Lo and behold, I have more flowers. And, again, more buds waiting in the wings. Individual flowers can last for a month or more unless you pick them for the vase. Who knows, I may have Alstroemeria in flower on Christmas Day. Which will be interesting as that’s a Saturday this year. Maybe I’ll only have to offer five Brussels sprouts as part of my six that day.

Daphne Odorata “Perfume Princess”

This Daphne was bred by Mark Jury down in New Zealand. His wife Abbie told me it very nearly didn’t make it out of his greenhouse as he’d forgotten he’d bred it until he found it behind something else. Things went from there and it was introduced into the UK a few years ago. It’s arguably the most aromatic Dapne you can get your muddy paws on. Certainly when it’s in full bloom I can smell it from about 20 metres away. But it’s not supposed to be flowering yet. Will I get a smelly* Christmas I wonder? It’ll keep my spring-flowering heathers company if it flowers now. Fortunately I have two (of the Daphne); the other is proceeding at a more sedate pace so I hope to still have flowers at the right time.

* I’m referring to the aroma of the Daphne, not the aforementioned Brussels sprouts.


I’m not sure what variety this is. The birds may have stripped the berries as fast as they developed but I have the autumnal foliage to look at. Which is some consolation given that this bush is trained against a fence and extends to about 5 metres long and 2 high. That’s a lot of orangey-red. Nice.

And Finally …….

I have a mental block as to the name of this rose. I think I’ve featured it before in its normal flowering season. So I’ll end with it in its non-normal flowering season. This bloom has opened, there’s another starting to open and, even morely yet again, some promising buds. It’s also flowered a deeper shade of pink than normal and this flower is showing pale edges, again something that I don’t see in its normal season.

I noticed this morning that another rose has some opening blooms. Can I take all this unseasonality?

Of course.

Until next time…….

14 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 18 November

  1. The cotoneaster looks so good in the Autumn, you can almost excuse it for the times its thorny stems pierce your skin.

    1. You may be mixing up Cotoneaster and Pyracantha – both bear berries but it’s Pyracantha that has the vicious thorns. I’ve never come across a thorned Cotoneaster. Pyracantha berries are held in dense clusters rather than rows along the branches as with Cotoneasters.

  2. We had snow a few weeks back, but we still haven’t had frost. I have managed to dig up dahlias and Hymenocallis in anticipation of colder nights, but so far it hasn’t gone below 6 deg. C. (Well, it might have been 2 deg. C. during the snow, but it didn’t last long and nothing seems to have suffered.) I, too, have blooming roses whose names I can’t remember. Good to know that yanking Alstroemeria is the preferred method.

    1. I think snow is a pretty good insulator as long as it isn’t too heavy for what it’s insulating. Once all the flowers on an Alstro stem are dead (as opposed to just going over), it’s pretty easy to just give the stem a tug about a foot up from the bottom. This promotes the growth of more flowering stems. Just cutting the stem off doesn’t tell the plant to get going again. If the stem doesn’t tug away easily, leave it for a week or so as it won’t be quite dead yet. If you are tempted to cut stems for the vase, leave at least a foot attached to the plant for about a fortnight then tug the stump off.

  3. Possibly a good week to keep your clothes on John, or even put more on. Come on Chesney!!!! I love a battler. Also that daphne looks wonderful, you are a lucky chap. There are roses still coming around here, not sure for how much longer and when they do they look pretty ropey. Time for them to rest now I think.

    1. Around here, so many things are refusing to rest. Makes me feel guilty if I have an early night!

  4. Alstroemeria and Daphne are on my planting lists. I think I have the planting spot for a Daphne now. Have to get the roses in first then I will look again.

    1. Plant Daphne where you’ll be able to smell her (my Perfume Princesses are smellable from about 20 metres when in full bloom). Check my advice to Lora below re Alstroemeria.

  5. I’m used to seeing cotoneasters pruned into tight balls of various sizes. From the photo, yours looks more free flowing (not surprising from you considering last week’s post!) & open. The space lets more light in & gives a better glimpse of the individual leaves & branches. I do love a good branch. My own is still young, so’s never been pruned. Your photo has convinced me to let it have a more free spirited shape, more open & less contrived. Althroemeria & that stinky daphne have both been added to my list as well. Good Six!

    1. Thanks. The only attention the cotoneasters get is if they try to escape over the fence when I just give them a haircut. If you want to introduce Alstroemeria, avoid the packs of “bare roots” or “bulbs” that are regularly sold via mail order or magazine offers. They’re cheap but very unreliable. T&M often offer small collections of 5cm plugs which will do fine if you grow them on a bit. Or if you win the lottery, hunt down Viv Marsh. He flogs them for £12 or so each! But they’re well established plants and will flower in their first year if you buy them in spring. Mulch the crowns for their first couple of winters. After that they’re trouble-free.

      1. Thanks for that. Very helpful indeed. I checked out Viv Marsh (becuz I’m not on speaking terms w/T&M) & he’s a bit pricy indeed. Like most addicts, I do have my sources tho, so will follow your directions to the letter (or somewhere there about) next year. Thanks again.

        1. Glad to be of some help. Incidentally, I tried to comment on your blog but Google/Blogger/Blogspot is having one of its occasional funny turns. I’ve just got to remember how to administer the medication before I can make that comment reach you.

  6. I remember reading something about Mark Jury’s Daphne breeding; hadn’t realised they’d made it to our shores. On the list. Glad to be put straight on pluralising Alstroemerias, I hate to get these things wrong. Just who is it who invents the rules in gardening? Horticulture needs it’s own Debrett’s.

    1. I think plurals generally are becoming “just add s if you can be bothered”. Makes teaching so much easier I suppose. Here’s a link to Abbie’s blog announcing the “release”: I think plurals generally are becoming “just add s if you can be bothered”. Makes teaching so much easier I suppose. Here’s a link to Abbie’s blog announcing the “release”: IME, a fast grower but really does need feeding. I supplement the usual stuff with a cal-mag feed twice a year, without which I find it susceptible to chlorosis..

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