Six on Saturday: 14 April 2018

Here we are again on Saturday, exposing our six-packs to the world and and oggling others’ six-packs.
It’s been an interesting week, with a Twitter chat on which toilet roll cores make the best plant pots. I have a three grade approach to loo rolls. They are “ooh”, “ow” and “yurggggh”. But I find that the cores of the rolls kindest to my derrierre are useless as root trainers. They fall apart before planting-out time.
I also thumb-nailed my first lily beetle of the season, which was sufficient excuse to open a bottle of wine, as one does.
Our beloved and worshipful (as if) host, Mr Propagator, has been busy pricking out and potting on. He has thrown some bodging into his blog for good measure. It’s well worth following for news of his latest exploits. Today, his attention diverts to us, the SoS community. He’ll no doubt bodge something between commenting, monitoring and otherwise encouraging participants. As is his wont.
If you pop over to his blog you will find his post of the day. Below that you will find, as the day progresses, loads of comments, many of which will include links to other Six on Saturday blog posts. If you are lucky, you may find a link posted by Gill Heavens. Though for that you may need to come back late. And duck as she chucks lumps of dry stone walling around. As is her wont.
The international Six on Saturday gang is growing. Once upon a time I managed to read and comment on every contributing blog. That is now, thanks to sheer numbers, impossible. Though I do try. It may be Wednesday or Thursday before I get to you.
As well as my own blog, I also curate Garden Blogs Online – a web site listing hundreds of gardening blogs. Trouble is I haven’t curated it for a few months. I need to catch up so I’m going to prioritise that for a few weeks. Which may mean I’m absent here. Sorry if I don’t manage to keep up.
And so here’s my freshly-curated six for today.

1 Forsythia

This is one of those love it or hate it plants; it certainly divides opinions amongst SoSers. I’m in the “qualified love it” brigade. As long as it’s kept tightly pruned it will usually flower prolifically for some time in the spring before going to sleep as another green-coloured thing. But too many people let Forsythia get out of hand and it becomes an overwhelmingly leggy mass of often bare lower branches with seasonal random dollops of yellow on top. Mine is, of course, right outside a window, blocking the view. Which is precisely what it was intended to do.
And looking out ……

2 Eriostemon

To give it its full title Eriostemon Myoporoides ‘Soft Girl’. She is the first introduction into the area of lawn behind Edifice2. Neatly encirled with an Everedge plant ring, she is actually coming to the end of her flowering season at the moment but there are still plenty of deep pink buds waiting to open to reveal white, star-shaped flowers. Evergreen, hardy and flowering from autumn through to spring, she will grow to about 2 metres tall before I start pruning to keep her at that height. But she’s already going through an identity crisis having been renamed from Eriostemon to Philotheca. Just like that!

3 Chamaerops humilis

Next door (eventually next door but one) to the Philotheca formerly known as Eriostemon, this hardy palm will also provide winter interest in the front garden. Not quite as hardy as the Trachycarpus in the back garden, so I may need to pop a fleece jacket over it if a heavy frost is forecast but that won’t be a problem. It also won’t grow as big as the Trachycarpus though it has some vicious thorny spikes on its stems to make up for its diminutive stature.

4 Somehow I Don’t Think So

I will give you one last frustrating photograph of the 100 bluebells and 50 fritillarias which I planted last autumn. I have this strange feeling that this is all the emerging they’re going to do this year. There are a few older bluebells growing amongst the heathers behind the new bit of border which, I hope, will turn out to be the natives I didn’t dig up last spring as I strove to deport the Spaniards from my garden.
Bet you can’t see 150 emerging sets of leaves!

5 Not Tulips But Caltha

Just because everyone else is taking photos of tulips I thought I wouldn’t. Not this week anyway. Instead I give you Caltha palustris, growing and flowering its bathers off in my pond. I learnt from a fellow SoSer a couple of weeks ago that there is a white variety of this plant. I will be scouring the aquatic sections of every gardening place I visit until I find one. Not really worth the cost of an online order for a single plant from an aquatic specialist. And I have no room in the pond beyond one more plant, unless I dig an extension! Nah!

6 Pick-n-Mix

It’s hard to think that it’s nearly ten years since Woolworths closed its doors in the UK, just shy of its hundredth birthday. I have fond memories of nipping out on a Saturday with my pocket money to buy a couple of packs of seeds and a bag of their always warm freshly roasted salted peanuts. These days a five-year-old child wouldn’t be let out of the house on their own, let alone being allowed to walk out of sight, down to a busy road and thence to the local Woolies, about half a mile from home. This narrow bed which I made a few years ago out of half-round fencing rails and gravel boards is my tribute to the tighly-packed Pick-n-Mix counter.
It’s rather crammed with hyacinths, lilies, hemerocallis, geraniums, a couple of Trachleospermums, tricyrtis, and nassella which provide a measure of year round colour. The gaps around these permanent plants are stuffed with whatever is left over as I plant other bits of the garden with annuals. This is where Chesney was hospitalised last year as he recovered from an overnight slug onslaught. The only standard annual addition is a row of sweet peas, this year limited to a dozen in the back row at the far end.
Some will say it’s too densely planted but I don’t care. It brightens up the side of the house no end. And draws the eye away from the bags of grit and gravel and the irrigation piping that have yet to reach their final destinations.

Until the Next Time

Round these parts, today’s going to be a nice one. Tomorrow, the Heavens (not the Gill variety) will take care of the watering for me and top up my water butts before a week of dryness, warmth and, possibly, even sun. I have plans. I have stocked up with pain-killers (well, bottles of wine) in anticipation. My creaking bits won’t get in the way.

Until we meet again, enjoy your garden.

30 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 14 April 2018

  1. John I miss Woolworths as well. I have a pick and mix bed as well. I grow on small plants and transfer them into the garden when needed. Interesting blog as always.

    1. Thanks. My pick-n-mix bed is permanent planting though. The nursery bed is at the far end of the garden behind another of my raised bed creations. The problem is that I keep forgetting the nursery bed is there and when I have space to plant something out, I end up buying a new plant.

    1. You won’t have long to wait. I have added three or four over the years and they tend to flower a bit sparsely in their first year but take off in their second and go wahey from then on.

    1. Thanks Mr P. This is true. The problem is not too many plants but too little space. Space is, of course, the final frontier.

  2. That is funny (peculiar not hilarious) I bought an eriostemon the other week for Max. I haven’t been able to get a photo that does it justice. Yours is good. Looking forward to seeing how it gets on. Never heard of it before. Caltha lovely, jury is out on the forsythia. I will not be throwing anything at anyone, today anyway.

    1. Eriostemon (now Philotheca of course) should reach 3 metres each way at max (that’s max not Max) but is prunable. Of course, “prunable” means lots of things so I’ll have to wait and see what happens when I start pruning it. And I don’t necessarily assume that max will be reached in exactly ten years. It’s good to know that you are curbing your belligerence. I guess E’s not out gardening then. 😉

  3. Hi John
    Lovely 6. I couldn’t post last week either….at least I was in good company with Thomas. Love Forsythia, I know many don’t but I’m with you, it’s a cheery soul and looks great outside your window. Roll on summer. The sun today was most welcome. X

    1. I don’t know why that was though your comment this week appeared in my moderation queue despite you being “pre-approved”. What I did notice, though, was that the email address associated with the comment had an extra “1” before the @ symbol. As soon as I linked the comment to your approved “account”, WordPress changed the email address to the correct one. I wonder, have you had a cookie clearout recently? Hope you enjoyed your visit to Cardiff; must admit I’ve skipped that show for the last two years as it was getting boring.

  4. My bluebells are only just emerging now and the fritillaries have come up in the last week – and I think I’m quite a bit south of you so there may be time yet.
    Like your Woolies pick’n’mix tribute. Have fond memories of their teeth-glueing toffees.

    1. Well there’s a total of 150 bulbs in that little border but I can only count about 40 emergings. They’re going to have to put on a heck of a growth spurt and the other 110 need to wake up pronto.

  5. That Eriostemon is pretty! I wave war on Spanish bluebells every year and got a sinking feeling yesterday when I spotted not one but three healthy clumps. They seem unkillable.

    1. The only way to get rid of a clump is to dig right around and under it as if you’re moving a tree. A massive lump of earth twice the diameter of the clump and maybe a foot and a bit deep.

  6. I think remembering that it was me who started the topic of the toilet roll.. sorry but it was a good introduction for your Six! Otherwise first is that a pot into the ground or a barrier arround the Chamaerops H? and secondly it’s a nice narrow bed … I love it !

    1. I use a product called Everedge (there are other similar products) as lawn edging. They produce “plant rings” which I place around shrubs (and statues) in the lawns. They’re made of pouder-coated metal, rather than plastic, and create a nice neat edge. If you install at the right height – about 5mm above soil level – you just run the mower over the edge. Saves hours with the grass edging shears. Their web site is at

  7. Too dense? No such thing when it comes to planting! I love what you have done with the forsythia. What a cheerful thing to look out to in the late winter

    1. Thanks. And as the forsythia leafs up as the flowers fade, I have a nice green mound to look at through the window.

  8. Love the forsythia through the window. What are windows for, if not to fill w/plants?

    1. The downside of windows is that they are for cleaning! ;(

  9. A lovely cheerful start to my Saturday John. I love your pick n mix corner and have fond memories of visiting Woolies for the chocolate varieties…

    1. Thanks Brigid. I hope you’re refreshed after your Easter break. I used to scurry past the pic-n-mix counter as I didn’t have enough pocket money for seeds and peanuts plus other sweeties!

  10. Good morning sir, great six as ever! Not heard of the Eriostemon has it had a name change? Love the chamopys and Caltha though,
    Hope you don’t get too much water tomorrow though
    I wonder if you have unbanned me from commenting, wouldn’t let me do it last week

    1. It probably falls into the “rare or unusual” category (well Hayloft sell it). And it has had a name change since I first came across it and is now Philotheca. I can’t think why you couldn’t comment last week. I would only ban you if you started trying to flog me plants in your comments! 🙂

  11. There is also a double yellow which I like Caltha palustris plena.

    1. I can just about squeeze one plant in and you introduce me to this! Expanding borders is easy; you just lose more lawn. But expanding a pond is a bit more complicated.

      1. You could always bury an old bucket, even, a holed one, as they grow well in any damp situation, not needing a pond!

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