Six on Saturday: 9 December

Christmas draws nearer. After a month of hearing Slade everywhere, I wish it was drawing away. But there we are. It’ll soon be time for the latest DFS sale. And I’ll soon be servicing the shredder ready for its annual tree disposal exercise. The aroma as the tree goes through the chopping process is one of the joys of Christmas, as it the smell from the compost bin for the first month or so of its decomposition. It gets a bin to itself and, in time, will provide some mulch for an acid-lover or two. Meanwhile the sheep on the farm continue to go “Baa” and I suck humbugs.

I begrudge paying twice as much for the postage stamp as for the card I’m sending. Fortunately, the card list has reduced dramatically as more people join me in making a charity donation rather than forking out for something that will be thrown away (recycled I hope) after a few weeks.

But hey! It’s Saturday and time for another cheery Six. Last week was a rather bedraggled look at the few remaining flowers here in Pillster’s Garden at Rivendell. Today I’m changing the mood and looking forward with hope to the promise of next year.

Some say that Camellias quickly grow to become monsters. Well this one hasn’t. It’s about 25 years old, 2 metres tall and about 70 cm across. Who knows what the variety is but it’s covered in buds which give the promise of bright red flowers in the spring.


Pieris keep their flower buds through the winter. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that there are, in fact, two Pieris here. Way back whenever I planted these, I deliberately paired a normal height one and a ground-hugger. As the larger plant has gradually become a bit leggy around the base, the lower one has covered the evidence.


This is a something. Label lost in the mists of time. Maybe someone knows what it is. It’s striking winter feature is the red stem tips which, in the spring, will play host to little clusters of even littler flowers which either open white and turn red or open red and turn white. I can’t remember but the effect either way is those little clusters are a mix of red and white flowers.

Two for the price of one – look right and look left. The greenhouse is full of spring promise. Some plants are getting too big, the alstroemeria in the foreground of the lower photo being a case in point. But they won’t survive the winter if I move them to somewhere colder. The black pots in the green trays on the upper shelf of the lower photo are cuttings courtesy of the absent Gill Heavens (who’s on holiday in a deserted badger sett until Christmas). You may notice at the back of that photo the still-blooming pelargoniums. Despite being cut back and cut back again, they regrow like triffids and start flowering again.

I have two Sarcococcas growing in containers. They spend the summer beside the pond, this one behind the branches of a Prunus Kojo-no-mai which promises a covering of whitish-pink spring flowers. I’ll soon be shifting the Sarcococca containers near to doors ready for the heady scent of their flowers. A single sprig cut from one of them and popped in a vase in the hallway will scent the house out.

Daphne’s back. More flowers are opening and her twin sister is now beginning to drop hints. The scent is astounding but it’s too damned cold to spend much time sitting on the bench strategically placed between them. But as well as the buds that are open or about to open, a careful check reveals that both sisters are likely to flower again when they ought to early in the new year. So that counts as promise too.

Now I’ve discovered that I was looking at the wrong month when I thought Christmas Day was on a Saturday and so my cunning plan for a 25 December six will have to wait for another year. The thinking cap’s getting lots of wear at the moment.

Meanwhile, why not pop over to our democratically unelected glorious leader who, when not considering which of the kids should be evicted to that their bedroom can become another propagating house, hosts this weekly get-together. You’ll find links to all the contributors appearing as and when they get out of bed and contribute over at The Propagator’s blog. I’m off to the local HPS Group’s Christmas party now. I’ll be catching up on the other sixes tomorrow.

My current plan for next Saturday is to share with you all six photos of interesting blades of grass. But I may come up with something more boring. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

So till next time, enjoy whatever it is you enjoy doing.

13 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 9 December

  1. Hi John, it could have been worse it could have been ‘Wizard’! An economic way to send cards is e-cards to those who are connected. One I would recommend is: I have used them for some time, they only charge a small annual fee.
    Christmas box by the front door is essential this time of year.

  2. Nice selection. Daphne is such a wonderful scent. I think your mystery plant is Drimys lanceolata. I have one it seems to match the photo and your description.

    1. Thanks Paul. Jim identified it as Tasmannia lanceolata. But it seems it’s one plant with two names. So I think we have a definite ID now. And a mystery has been solved. When I was checking out Tasmannia, there were only references to white flowers but I was certain that my plant flowered red changing to white or the other way around. The photos I see when I search for Drimys show red opening to white. So one plant can be different to itself. Sounds logical. I think!

  3. I am now sold on a Sarcococca. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. For the moment it will be on the wish list while I plan/think about how to work into the garden and have the benefit of its perfume.

    1. Apart from it’s flowering season it’s a relatively nondescript green shrub though there are a few black berries which persist and don’t seem palatable to the birds. This is why I grow it in containers. I can move it where its scent will do the trick and then move it more out of the way the rest of the time.

  4. What a great idea with the Pieris. I planted one in the garden years ago. The soil here is very limey and so I dug a very large hole, emptied the entire contents of a bag of ericaceous compost in to it and planted into that. I know the lime leeches in but the Pieris is now about eight feet tall. It flowers really well but is very leggy. I’m going to borrow your idea in the spring. Might need a crowbar

  5. There’s a path on University of Newcastle campus lined w/huge sarcococca so that walking to class in the winter is spectacularly olfactory. I can’t believe I never thought to bring a sprig of my own little creature inside. Much better than sitting on what looks to be a very cold bench.

  6. Your camellia is amazing! So many flowers to come …! I can’t wait to see it bloom … mine definitely promises less flowers than yours. On the other hand, your next Six on blades of grass makes you want to read it … another week to wait …

    1. I think the secret is to keep the plant well watered through the summer; when I’ve been a lazy waterer the number of buds has been decidedly smaller.

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