Six on Saturday: 24 November 2018

As I was awakened this morning by the alarm clock trampling all over me as he does to wake me up at 6.30am every morning (anyone know how to get a cat to realise the clocks went back weeks ago?), Alexa told me I was in for a dreary day. She was talking about the weather, of course. It’s that time of year when it’s dull and dreary more than it’s sunny. But still, there’s lots to do and an extra layer of clothing does the trick. And however dreary the weather I can still have a fun day. I’ll be off outside in a coffee.

But first, I have to scrape the proverbial barrel and conjure up six things to satisfy the unrelenting demands of The Propagator, a.k.a. The Composter. So without further ado, here is my not entirely dreary six for today.

1 Getting Naked

Last week I included a photo of my Prunus Kojo-no-mai respendent in it’s fiery autumnal foliage and predicted that the leaves would have dropped by today. In the event, they didn’t make it overnight into Sunday. We had wind on Saturday night. Strong wind. And on Sunday morning the bush (which is technically a small tree) was bare.


2 Some Sort of Laurel

I discovered this today whilst scraping the proverbial barrel for six things that weren’t endless repeats. It’s appeared at the back of the shrubbery, un-noticed until today. Presumably a bird or something has dropped a seed. What I don’t know is whether this is as it should look or whether the mottling is a result of insufficient moisture, given its very sheltered location. But I’ll leave it be and see what happens and maybe lift it and relocate somewhere else next year.


3 Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’

Supposedly herbaceous, this is showing no sign of defoliating for the winter yet. A nice bit of green in a sea of dead.


4 Daphne odorata ‘Perfume Princess’

This is supposed to flower early in the year. Well it’s getting a head start. And even as the buds just start to open, the scent is strong.


5 Unseasonal Heather

Another plant getting ahead of itself. This is supposed to be spring flowering, planted to provide an early nectar source for bees that don’t wait for the alarm clock to wake them up. But, as it has done for several years now, it’s decided to become a winter flowering variety. It’ll be well past it before the first bee appears.


6 Cardoon

The foliage of the cardoon is impressive when fresh. Though as next spring gives way to summer, it will rapidly become tatty and require regular removal of the dead and dying. It’ll look fine through the winter though until the lilac growing through it bursts into flower.

Bonus: Conundrum Answer

Last week I posed a conundrum. I gave two clues. Well I gave the same clue twice as I asked a question. The clue was “conundrum”. which the OED defines as “A confusing and difficult problem or question.” Below a photograph of half an avocado I asked whether an avocado was a fruit or a berry. And I demanded a single word answer. The question was confusing. “Is an avocado a fruit or a berry?” appears to be asking you to make one choice out of two options and answer “fruit” or “berry” as you can only use one word.

So how many of you dived off to Google and asked the question? And Google, being very informative, might have explained the difference between “fruit” and “berry”. And confused you with “taxonomy” and “botany” in the process. You might have got clever and answered “Yes” which is a single word and quite clever in a sense as you’d think you were covering all eventualities. Yes, an avocado is a fruit or a berry. But all of these answers are wrong. As is “no” or “neither” if you’re in the avocado-is-a-vegetable clique. Avocados may be used as vegetables but vegetables they are not. This is a gardening meme not a cooking one. Gardeners say tomatoes are fruits but did you know a court case in America decided that tomatoes are vegetables for tax purposes?

You see, as we lose the innocence of childhood and become adults, we tend to over-complicate. We become wary of a one answer and one alternative situation. So my question seemed to demand a careful answer. There must be a trick. And there was.

Photo by mali maeder on

All berries are fruits but not all fruits are berries. Botanically there are some 20+ different types of fruits of which berries are one. Did you know, for example, that a banana is a berry but a strawberry is not? In this case there is some debate which boils down to carps. No, not the fishy ones but something called the endocarp – the coating around the seed. Fruits with a soft endocarp, like the tomato, are called berries whilst those with a hard bony or leathery one are called drupes. But drupes seem to be recognised by some as a sub-division of berries which are themselves a sub-division of fruits. I’m trying to keep it simple! Well not really. What I’m showing is that as adults we can take the simplest question and over-complicate it.

For example the joke question “How do you get an elephant into a fridge?” has the simple answer “You open the door, put the elephant inside and close the door again.” The question didn’t mention the size of the fridge.

So what is the answer to the avocado question? You have some choices. “Maybe” and “possibly” (though not “probably”) would be correct as would any other word that means the same as “maybe” and “possibly”.

Why is this?

The name “avocado” applies to the fruit/berry/drupe but it also applies to the tree that bears the fruit. So an avocado may be a fruit and/or berry but it may also be a tree. Simples.

Now why not relax your brain and pop over to our glorious leader’s blog where, at the root end of his post of the day you will find lots of links to other, less confusing sixes to occupy yourself if it’s too dreary to venture outside.

Until next time, enjoy your garden.



24 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 24 November 2018

  1. I wish you’d get a scent button on your blog so we could enjoy the odoratas you tell us about. I’ve been thinking of cardooning next year & now that you tell me they go tatty, well, right up my bad fashion alley. Shall immediately look for several to buy.

    1. Cardoon foliage is a magnet for snails plus individual “leaves” don’t last well. They flop and break so it’s a case of regular removal of the tatty bits. Sometimes they pull away easily but I often have to use loppers to cut through the stalks. The flower heads are great, though, towering high (taller than me). So worth it in the end.

      1. Taller’n you isn’t that specific. Taller’n myself would only mean the male dog couldn’t wee in my face, but that’s not necessarily spectacularly tall. Once again, I’m driven to web search.

        1. OK, I’m about a centimetre short of six feet tall (note the canny mix of imperial and metric there).

  2. Really!? Tree. On reflection I feel I am no wiser for that. It is getting trickier, or requires greater creativity, to find six things at this time of year. How is E3 coming along?

    1. The tree wot bears the avocados is also called an avocado, see. I have plans for the winter. Which is why I haven’t run an Ed3 series as I did with Ed2. Ed3 is coming along slowly. Just happens that there’s a lot going on inside the house at the mo and there’s only one of me to do it all. And I have seed lists from HPS, CGS and AGS to contend with!

    1. I’ve left some pellies in the ground as there’s no frost forecast yet and they provide valuable cutting material (and insurance in case earlier cuttings don’t take). Meanwhile I’m researching hardy succulents. Damn. Just bought some!

  3. I just looked up Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’ because the name had been tugging at a loose thread in my brain all day. I think I read about it on the Tikorangi website a year or two back. Another Mark Jury plant; I didn’t realise it had made it to these shores, I must look out for it.

    1. I’ve featured it four times in my blog (including three SoSs). Abbie J told me it was a fluke that it got out into the world as Mark had found it one day, languishing forgotten “at the back” and decided to go with it. It has been listed in the past by T&M, Hayloft and Gardening Express amongst others. Crocus list it currently. I have sniffed a lot of Daphnes and, IMO, this is the strongest and best scent of them all. Which is perhaps why I still refer to it as “odorata” rather than the correct “odora” as there’s more scent to it! 😉

  4. Twas not me that strangled it! A rampant honeysuckle, that was there when I moved in, took over the whole garden! Lost count of the shrubs that had to be pulled up because they were so entwined. It is now dead and hopefully buried somewhere

  5. I don’t like Avocados, so, sorry, I don’t care!! I did like the rest of the post, particularly the Daphne. Our cat sleeps indoors all day but goes outside all night with access to the garage and his bed with a hot water bottle! I feel rather cruel and heartless compared to you and Jim but our sleep is not disturbed, unless we set the catflap to “IN not OUT” so are woken by an annoyed cat hurling himself at the flap which rattles rather noisily! Anyway, I digress, for a change, that cardoon is an unusual splash of winter greenery and most attractive.

    1. I don’t like Avocados either but they served a purpose in this case. Unless it’s raining, I leave a bedroom window open all night so that RC can nip in and out if he wants to (he has a rather precarious route via the roofs (or rooves?) of the car, garage, porch and then a leap up to a window sill). If the window is closed, he sits on the sill and screams until either I wake up and let him in or a neighbour phones to ask me to stop his noise so they can get some sleep!

  6. The spotty bush is Aucuba and having waded through your erudite perambulations about Avocados I feel entitled to say that if memory serves, the spots are an example of cytoplasmic inheritance.
    We shut our two cats in downstairs at night so they don’t wake us in the morning. This morning they were crashing up and down chasing, then consuming a mouse, from about 4am til 6am. I came down to a flayed mouse head and the vomited up remains of the rest of it. Why did we get them again?

    1. Thanks Jim. We know-it-alls don’t know everything and I wasn’t familiar with the name Aucuba though I was with “spotted laurel”. I will now research your inheritance and so will learn something new. Which is fun. As resident cat here is able to get into the bedroom most nights (through the window) he often brings in a dead rodent and, having woken me to see it, proceeds to eat it (apart from the gizzards which cause the vomiting) in front of me. Sometimes he brings in a live one as a present. Then takes no further interest in it. I’ve had to live with a mouse in the bedroom for several days until I managed to catch it, But field mice are much more cute than town mice, of course. For the record, I did not “get” resident cat, by the way. He moved in and took over.

  7. Your conclusion about the avocado is implacable. Fruit, vegetable, berry, tree,…in french I could add the person who defends you in court … yes yes.. the lawyer ! In french the name is the same (thanks to the English who differentiated the 2 …)
    PS: I smiled while reading “The Composter”, the name you gave Jonathan … well found

    1. Language is fun. It’s like the raised eyebrows when I mention to Americans that a rubber is a standard item in every young schoolchild’s pencil case. They use rubbers for an entirely different purpose! I’m waiting to see how Gill Heavens (aka Off the Edge Gardening) reacts to my avocado missive. She started it.

      1. I only knew the rubber used by schoolchildren, but I imagine perfectly the other side of the same name, what Americans use … but not in school …

  8. Is it not an aucuba japonica? I had one but it died from strangulation and sunstroke!

    1. Yup, as someone else has now said. How it got there remains a mystery, though. Are you into strangling plants? Sunstroke is one thing but strangulation????!!!!!!!!

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