Six on Saturday: 19 May 2018

Well here we are again. Another Saturday, And what do we have today? A royal wedding. Big bunfight as long as you bring your own food ( if you’re Gill Heavens, that’s rioja and cornflakes). A football match.  Ninety minutes. That’s ten minutes of chaps kicking a ball around and occasionally into a net, twenty minutes of chaps rolling around on the grass in apparent agony after being kicked on the shin by another chap who was half a pitch away at the time and the other hour of aforementioned chaps running around, doing silly dances, ballet moves, hugging each other and whatever, just because one of them managed to kick a ball into a net thingy. And the ball’s the wrong shape too.

Can’t be bothered with either of those.

Cos today’s my birthday. Once upon a time yesterday would have been a milestone, signifying the last day of employment before compulsory retirement. Today I would have drawn my old age pension. Now I have to wait, for some reason, until January 2020. Your birthday doesn’t matter any more when it comes to the state pension. But I can’t even retire tomorrow as I retired in 2007. Early. Because I could. And nowhere near my birthday. 31 March it had to be. On 1 April I got a work pension; a bit under half pay. And, would you believe, was £5 a month (net) better off!

So now I’m 65. And I suddenly notice how many online forms which ask for your age have a category “5?-64”. Well now I’ll have to check the “65-Methusela” category. Still, my wine merchant sent me a very nice voucher as a birthday present. I’ve already drunk half of it. And no, I’m not talking “a methusela” but Methusela. Can we be clear about that? Google the difference if you want.

On Tuesday I had a water meter fitted. No more freebie water here. On Wednesday I was greeted by a cheery tweet (on Twitter, where else) reminding me that, as we faced two weeks without rain, I must not forget to water all my new plantings. I am not going to admit to the fact that on Monday evening I checked all my water butts and, with the spurious addition of water treatment (tap water’s not the same as rainwater) filled them all with a hose.

Right then, I’d better get on with it before Granny admonishes me again for wordiness.

1 Erysimum and Narcissus

It’s the latter half of May and I still have miniature Narcissus in flower. The perennial wallflowers in the foreground are, I think, on their last legs. They’re a short-lived perennial and, after five years, I think it’s time for a new batch. I’ll wait for them to go over though.


2 Aquilegia

Now I have never bought a columbine, nor have I sown seeds, nor have I ever been given any as gifts. But a few years ago, something looking very much like Nora Barlow appeared. The following year she appeared all around the garden. Then something very much like Black Barlow appeared and, likewise, rampaged everywhere. Now I have this, which looks very much like a “Winky Series” Aquilegia. It appeared as a smallish plant last year; this year it’s much bigger, having stayed evergreen through the winter.  At least it hasn’t seeded everywhere. Yet.

No-one in the immediate vicinity grows any aquilegia. So where mine have come from is a mystery.

3 Rhododendron Germania

Until now I have never managed to keep a fully-fledged Rhododendron alive into its second year. I don’t know why I’ve failed but I’ve kept trying. I acquired this variety last year. It’s relatively small-growing. But it didn’t flower. Big juicy buds stayed as big juicy buds all through the winter. Now they have started to open. Maybe it’s just a slow developer but I’ve not heard of any Rhododendron that takes a year working up the energy to open a bud. Nice flower so worth waiting for anyway.

4 Acer Whateveryouwanttocallit

I hope no-one ever gets to try to rename this beautiful dwarf tree. Depending on where you look for it, you’ll find it listed as “Acer Garnet”, “Acer palmatum dissectum Garnet”, “Acer Garnet dissectum”, “Acer palmatum atropurpureum Garnet” and with various combinations of capitalisations and inverted commas. And a few other names.

A few weeks ago, I was worried that I’d lost it as there was not a single sign of a leaf opening. Then it suddenly decided to wake up and transformed itself from bare to glorious in no time. So I’m happy again.


5 Geranium phaeum and Geraniumum phaeum var Samobor

I amended the title and text of number 5 on 20 May to correct the titles of both plants from “Geum” to “Geranium”. People were too kind to point my error out to me!

Look carefully at the photo. In the middle is a Geranium phaeum var. Samobor. Bottom left is its neighbour, plain old Geranium phaeum. I’ve looked long and hard and can’t tell the difference. Does anyone know what I’m supposed to be looking for?

6 Nectaroscordum (Opening)

I actually think that this bulbous plant looks better as the buds open than when it’s in full droopy flower. It certainly seems to take longer to get open than it does in flower once it’s out of bed. It’s not an allium, of course. Not any more anyway.

It used to be a subspecies of the genus Allium but is now regarded as a cousin in its own genus. Or was. These days, no-one seems to be able to make up their mind. Certainly it doesn’t have the usual allium spherical flower characteristics. Interestingly, the RHS seems to be hedging its bets.

The hidden code stuff that is often hidden behind the web pages you see suggests that this is “Nectaroscordum siculum subsp. bulgaricum” which would make it Bulgarian Honey Garlic subspecies of Sicilian Honey Garlic. But you won’t find that name on the actual page.

Whatever, I’ll enjoy it whilst it works out its proper family tree and gets the right passport.


Well that’s it. I’m off to drown my sorrows in a few bottles of Prosecco. As usual I end with an exhortation to visit the blog of Granny’s Son-in-Law. The aforementioned SiL may well, for another week, have stolen his wife’s mother’s ideas for a six. If he has, we may be looking for a new host next week. But for now, The Propagator has the honour of hosting this meme, which he invented purely so that he could host it and get lots of hits on his own blog. Now if you have a WordPress account, you can install the WordPress Reader app and get notifications of all the SoS posts via that, so avoiding the need to boost Mr Prop’s crime ratings. Unless someone is blogging using Google, that is. Oh well ……..

Have a great week and enjoy your garden.

I ought to mention that since Tuesday I have not moderated my water use in the garden. 
Indeed, whenever I've gone to one of the butts I've asked myself whether I would have
done that before the meter was fitted and, if not certain, have used the tap. 
Gotta compare properly, see. After an unscientific part week, I estimate that my 
metered water charges will be less than half the cost of unmeasured charges. 
So even for mad gardeners, a meter may work out cheaper.
The rule is if bedrooms outnumber people, you're likely to save.
And here in Wales, if you don't you can revert to unmeasured charges.
It's a win-win for the Welsh, at least. Like it should be in rugby against England.

25 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 19 May 2018

  1. A very tardy happy birthday! I admit I was immersed in wedding, football, gardening and dredging the water butts. I too am on a water meter, choice of previous owner. I was aghast at no free water but our water bills are much lower. I’m not very good on water butt hygiene yet but I don’t think the plants are suffering. I emptied 7 of the 9 butts the previous owner kindly left me and the recent rains have not refilled them yet. As the garden fills out I have more to water so this year will be interesting.

  2. I’m new here, but just wanted to join with the others and wish you a (belated) happy birthday.

    Like you, ‘The Wedding’ was an also ran with us too – several family birthdays and a wedding anniversary saw to that!

    My geranium phaeum ‘Samobor’ is more of a reddy purple with big splodges on the leaves. But I think they readily cross. I also have a ‘Lily Lovell’ and a string of self-sown crosses of various shades.

  3. Happy birthday! I see I’m not the only one with several self-seeded aquilegias. We have a water meter and yesterday I turned the hose off but not the tap went out for the afternoon and came back to find the hose had fallen off the tap and we had a torrential waterfall out back. The OH is not happy with me.

    1. I have been wondering why commenters have been using “Geum” as I had no geums in my six this week. I’ve just realised that I used Geum where I should have used Geranium. Thanks for the birthday wishes but if you do go plant hunting, remember to use the right name, unlike me! 😉

    1. Thanks Brigid, and thanks for naming the narcissus variety. I’ve long lost the label or any notes of what it is. Now I can get some more.

  4. There’s a royal wedding? Today? The things I learn on your blig, John. Enjoy that prosecco. Cheers Birthday Boy, D

    1. Ha! I didn’t watch yesterday though today’s onslaught of news items, newspaper front pages and places selling commemorative flower arrangements is hard to avoid. Thanks and I did.

  5. The Geranium phaeum is a new one for me. I like it. Off to do some googling to see if it would survive this climate.

    Happy Birthday!

    1. Thanks and also thanks for the subtle correction – the only one! I’ve now changed “Geum” to “Geranium”. Can’t help you on your climate, sorry, though the experiment with Melittis in mine has started. Interestingly, the planting instructions with it suggest it does best in full sun. Oh well, it’s in dappled shade now.

      1. I put my Melittis in dappled shade, too, which might explain why it took several years to bloom. But if I’m pushing the edge of its heat tolerance, maybe shade wasn’t a bad idea.

        I think all the books and websites must have suggested it was a woodland plant. Can’t think why else I would have planted it in shade.

  6. Happy Birthday! Your plants are lovely. Geranium Phaeum Samabor has large very dark blotches on the leaves.

    1. Thanks and thanks for the help (and for correcting my misnaming).

    1. Thanks. Be careful not to spill the cornflakes or you’ll stain the carpet.

    1. Thanks Tim. I’m celebrating with a lot of planting!

    1. Thanks Charles. I’m not anti-royal but all the pomp and stuff bores me. Plus I have a lot of plants to plant. And no TV licence. 😉

  7. Fortunately, you’ve been waiting for your Acer Garnet .. It’s a beautiful shrub. About geums, I’m not a specialist to see the difference, but I love them both. Good afternoon,happy birthday and maybe I could see you on TV if you change your mind? (Not for the football match but for the Royal wedding which is broadcast all over the world for sure… for me, I will only watch the news summary tonight))

    1. Thanks Fred. You won’t see me on TV today (or any day soon, I hope). I’ll be out in the sun, planting. New plants are arriving faster than I can get the ones I already have in the ground. No rest for the wicked. I was really worried that the Acer had died but although a large chunk did, which has given it an odd shape, it has woken up and a bit of careful pruning over the next couple of years should get it back into shape nicely.

  8. Well many happy returns fella, all the greats have birthdays in May! Lol have you had the person come round and tell you how much money you will save and ways of saving water yet? He tried to be as positive as he could with us and failed badly, 2 minute shows lol anyway garden is looking great! Only difference between the Geraniums is sambor has large sponge painted patches on it leaves
    Anyway have a great birthday and enjoy the wine

    1. All I had was a letter suggesting I visit a web site to see the impact of metered water. It’s early days but I seem to be saving about 50% of the bill so far. Just been to have a look at the geranium. Some of the lower leaves have blotches though the upper leaves are plain green. Both phaeums are new plants (purchases last autumn from Beth Chatto), I guess samobor will become more blotched over time. Thanks. I will definitely enjoy the wine (after lunch of course).

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