SixOnSaturday September 25th. Seasons’ Change.

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The weather is strangely warm and humid as we close out September. The asparagus I planted in Spring is putting out a load of new shoots. The Red Kuri squash plants are suddenly starting to set fruit – too late for them to mature I think? Have they all forgotten that winter is coming? Well anyway its SixOnSaturday time again so here we go.

1&2 This combination is very pleasing to both me and the bees. Cosmos Chocamocha intermingling with Caryopteris Dark Knight. Underplanting is golden thyme,

3. After a very poor showing in Spring, Clematis Niobe is back in action. The photo does not reflect her red velvet petals.

4&5 On safari across the marsh I captured 2 more ‘hefties’. A massive Hubbard squash and a very nice sized Rouge vit D’Etamps pumpkin.

6. And look who I found hiding at the back under a lilac tree, nestled between an old rose and a hydrangea. This one is Howden. It is very large and will be our Halloween pumpkin for carving. I love the way the pumpkins hide themselves until they are ready to ripen I didn’t have a clue it was back there, in spite of my daily prowls around the garden.

Howden pumpkin discovered September 19th

That’s all for this week. Serious amounts of potting up, weeding, chipping, mowing and clearing will be taking place in the short time remaining before first frost. There may not be much that’s photo-worthy, but do follow along http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com and have a wonderful gardening week.

SixOnSaturday September 4th. Chain saws are humming and the pumps are running!

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The remnants of Hurricane Ida passed through this week dropping 4″ of rain in a single night. I am now lucky to have a babbling brook running through my backyard. Unlike some people nearby who have a raging river in their homes. Municipal workers are pumping out drains and removing fallen trees around the city.

I’m going to name this sunflower ‘Survivor’. The only one (of many) that wasn’t eaten by rabbits in her infancy, she also narrowly escaped being flattened by the huge branch that fell from a neighboring giant maple tree. My compost bin was not so fortunate.

2. The pepper harvest continues despite the weird weather. Lots of cherry peppers. I’ve been stuffing them with cheese and prosciutto.

3. These are cornels. From the cornelian cherry tree, Cornus Mas. They are very high in pectin and give a wonderful colour to jelly or jam or chutney. I gathered these before the storm. I’m sure the rest blew down and floated away.

4. Bronze fennel seed drying. I love to snack on these but will try to save some for sowing next year.

5. The tomato harvest is a little light this year. I’ve had to pick them before they ripen as someone has been eating them as soon as they start to turn. Probably squirrels. They ripen nicely indoors and have a pretty good texture. These are Walker’s Black, Prudens Purple, Goldie and Opalka Paste, although at the moment they’re more like Assorted Green.

6. The goldenrod, Jerusalem artichokes and Japanese anemone are in full bloom and the pumpkins are on the turn. Its time to start battening down the hatches.

Be safe out there and visit the comments section of the host for more garden sixes.

http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

SixOnSaturday August 28th. One and done.

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It’s been a strange summer. Last weekend Hurricane Henri, this week another heatwave. It’s been very hard to carve out gardening time between extreme weather events. For a peek into gardens across the globe visit the comments section of the host http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

First a Hens and Chicks Poppy. I scatter thousands of poppy seeds annually. Here is my 2021 poppy. It’s interesting and a nice colour. But not worth the many dollars it cost. And just one day later, the poppy party is over.

Second is an apple. Again, just the one. I believe this to be a State Fair apple as that’s what I ordered. But you never know. There were 2 of them on the tree. One vanished so here’s the other. Perhaps the first of many in years to come?

3. In this case I only planted one. This is a collard. I’ve not tried these before and usually think they are southern vegetables. I’ll definitely grow more next year. There’s almost no insect or rabbit damage. Now I wish I had planted a 2nd to see what it does with our winter weather.

4. Sunflower James Hood. Apparently my rabbits didn’t read the description properly. “A tall multi headed variety effectively grown in a long row against a barn or fence”. The rest of the row never made it above knee height.

5. A great blue heron in the morning mist. Mostly I love and encourage wildlife and feel very blessed to live in this place of city wildness.

6. Of all the seed sown dahlias I planted out, only this one is a Collerette form. I plan to keep it over winter and label it “dog days of summer” or “not another heatwave”

That’s all I have this week. Garden on!

SixOnSaturday August 21st – Random Thoughts on the summer garden.

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Last summer I was unhappy with my summer garden. It was overgrown and very green but lacked flowers. This summer we’ve had endless rain and steamy heat. The garden has been chopped and pruned relentlessly, plants have been removed or divided and it is still very lush but this year I’ve made a real push on summer flowers. My favourite new plant has been Salvia Amistad. This plant was a little 2″ sprout on planting and now towers over me, attracting goldfinches, hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. It won’t make it through the winter but I’ll take cuttings. It was a really worthy investment and added such value to the garden that it will be replaced next year one way or the other.

Salvia Amistad with Rose Abraham Derby and Knockout Red Rose

2 & 3 This lovely Red salvia is also new this year. She has already made lots of babies from a stem that snapped off during planting. It was laid horizontally in a shallow trench and produced a new plant at every leaf node. I’ll keep a few over winter indoors.

(3 is what happens when you sow ‘mixed’ seeds. The dwarf snapdragons all end up in shades of red that are so close to the new salvia that they clash….)

4. Bishop’s children from seed are the absolute favourite of the little ruby throated hummingbirds. In all my years in this garden I’ve never had hummingbirds. This year they are my morning coffee companions.

The dahlias are all pretty and really hitting their stride now with lots of flowers. I will save my favourites for next year. Since they all look more or less the same in photos I’m going to have to resort to labelling. Or perhaps just start a new batch next year.

5. The James Hood sunflowers are flowering. These are container grown so not huge but pretty in a vase.

6. The pruning continues. This bucket of hydrangea and echinops clippings was so pretty but a stark reminder that summer won’t last much longer.

Nikko Blue hydrangea and Echinops Ritro

Hurricane Henri is due to make landfall here on Sunday. Next week’s six might be a bit different.

Head over to http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com to see the rules and more sixes from everywhere.

SixOnSaturday August 14th. Flowers Fruit and Ferns

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Six things from or about the garden, on a Saturday. Anyone can play. Post your link in the comments section of the host’s blog http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com where you can also read the rules and reply to all the other contributors.

First Platycodon, or Balloon Flower. I started loads of these from seed back in the spring. Sowed, pricked out, transplanted, carefully tended. There must have been thirty or forty. Only this one remains. The others disappeared, roots and all. Evaporated. Not a sign of rabbitty vandalism or slime trails. Just gone.

Next roses. ‘Heritage’ and ‘Graham Thomas’ from David Austin. To have loads of roses in August is very unusual here. This year we’ve had LOTS of rain and only occasional blistering heat. Usually by now we are suffering with black spot and leaves dropping all around.

Heritage
Graham Thomas

3. Dahlia Rosella was the first of my dahlia to flower back in May. Started indoors in March, Rosella has been resting in one of my pumpkin patches where she now clashes gloriously with the great day-glo orange flowers. Sunglasses are recommended.

4. Inspired by many English Sixers, I found a Salvia Amistad plant online. What a joy this plant has been, attracting hummingbirds and hawk moths among many other insects. I’m a fan of salvia anyway but this one is a keeper. Can it be grown true from saved seed?

5. Promising pumpkins. Every apple tree and rhododendron should have one! The plants are enormous this year, draped over everything in their path. All that rain is paying dividends.

6. Ferns love damp weather and this summer they can be found beneath pumpkin leaves, under the water barrel, in the vegetable garden and between bricks in the patio. As indicated by all the spores they plan on world domination. Or at least garden domination. I didn’t plant any of these. They’re probably all native ferns and sensitive ferns that hitched a ride in the compost. Not a bad problem to have. I can only imagine what else came in with the 3 yards I bought this spring…

Native wild fern

That’s all from a hot and steamy Massachusetts for this week. All garden jobs involving actual outdoor physical activity have been put on hold until the weather breaks! Have a good week.

SixOnSaturday August 7th. Is that a hint?

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Six things from or about the garden on a Saturday. Simple as that. Anyone can play or watch and learn. Comments and contributions on the host’s blog http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

A new experience this year has been having occasional paid help in the garden. This month we did some supervised pruning. The most gratifying result has been the raising of the fat ladies’ skirts, allowing easier access for mowing and weeding. Bonus1, all the branches were carted away as if by magic. Bonus 2 I can now see what the rabbits are up to!

2. The varmints have left the squash and pumpkins alone so far. I thought you’d like to meet mama and baby duck.

3. A very satisfactory onion harvest. These are Globo, a sweetish Spanish style onion that doesn’t store for too long.

4. For whatever reason I have a glut of cherry peppers this year. They are delicious stuffed with prosciutto and provolone in an Italian type dressing. Today for a change I’m pickling a batch. These are just a few of many….

5. The cayenne peppers are also abundant. They will be dried and ground for later use.

6. There is just a hint of autumn in the air. Fruit is ripening, the squirrels are leaving empty nutshells around the lawn. In a couple of weeks I’ll be picking elderberry and apples. The verbena bonariensis is in her glory and the Japanese anemone will be with us too soon.

Enjoy your gardening week.

SixOnSaturday July 31st. Time flies.

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Following the hottest ever June, July has been the coldest & wettest ever recorded in Massachusetts. The plants are getting a little too big for their boots! I haven’t watered at all this year! It’s likely that we’ll also have extreme winter weather so I’m making the most ofthe garden and all it’s glory. To read about other gardeners trials and joys visit the comments section of the host http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

First is my new little fuchsia ‘Annabel’ which is just starting to flower. It will have to spend the winter indoors but it’s so pretty I think its worth the small space.

2nd is dwarf sunflower ‘Elf’ which has managed to escape the rampaging rabbits, unlike its full size counterparts which have been efficiently snipped at the base and eaten.

Shasta daisy ‘Becky’ never gets a mention in my six but she’s such a good white and requires not special care or support.

A promise of pumpkins at number 4. The first photo shows a strange conjoined pair of flowers, while the others show the vines on their way into the marsh reeds.

Red Russian kale is planted here and there among the flowers because it is so pretty.

And finally after years of intending to make one I have acquired a compost sieve. What a breakthrough! No more hauling home heavy expensive sacks of potting soil for me. It’s a wonderful thing.

It’s the daily downpour as I write this. My rabbit friend is sitting in the middle of the lawn in the pouring rain eating an apple. I’m pretty sure it is one of mine. He must have an accomplice. Teamwork…have a wonderful week!

SixOnSaturday July 17th. So sow.

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July has finally hit it’s stride after a couple of cold and soggy weeks. At last it feels like summer, but it’s also time to plan ahead. Here’s what I’ve been doing to while away the wet and foggy week that was. Other Sixes can be viewed on the website of the host http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

1. Succession sowing cucumbers as the plants wear out after a few weeks. I only grow one plant at a time, Israeli beit cucumbers that are small and smooth skinned. Good for eating raw and quick pickles. There are only so many cucumbers we can eat.

2. Sowing for now and later. Our first crop has served us through spring. A second and third crop of Basil will see us through tomato season and make pesto for the freezer. We eat a lot of pesto.

3. Sowing to bamboozle the bunnies. The only bush beans we can have are securely hidden under cold frames. Therefore I sow few and often, letting them have the tired plants when I need to move the frame to a different spot for a new batch.

4. Sowing for winter. Our experimental autumn sown onions from last year have been a great success. I have multi sowed them in modules this year hoping for an even better crop. We’ll see if the weather cooperates. Here they come…

5. Sowing for next year. In an attempt to fill the flower gap I have sown echinacea and rudbeckia and primula veris and have some nice sturdy little plants which will most likely be eaten by rabbits as soon as they are planted out. We can but try….

6. Sowing catch crops to fill spaces left by harvesting. Beets, carrots, cabbage and pac choi will be fitted in spaces left by garlic, main crop onions and early potatoes.

It’s a bit hot and humid to sow lettuce, spinach and radishes. Perhaps next month!

SixOnSaturday July10th. Prune, Plant, Sow, Harvest, Grow, Bloom.

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A quick Six late on Saturday. Better late than never!

A full ten days of cold rainy weather in July is pretty much unheard of around these parts! The garden is loving it. The grass is long and soggy, the weeds high.

  1. All the apple trees have been Pruned. Water spouts removed and fruit thinned. Usually doesn’t happen as it’s ‘too hot’. Not this year. I’m hoping for a reasonable crop.

2. I actually went out in the rain and came home with a couple of new Plants! This lovely white Veronica and a little Platycodon, as well as a flat of petunias to refresh my poor rain sodden window boxes.

3. Last year’s overwintered onions were a huge success. We just finished the last of them. Consequently I’ve sown some more this week.

4. The renegade garlic Harvest is in. These are just the ones that are in the way of other crops, left over from last year or self sown. The main crop won’t be ready for a few weeks.

5. The tall plants are really starting to Grow. Nicotiana Sylvestris….

Echinops Ritro and Phlox David strutting their stuff.

6. And finally Blooms with bees. The lacecap hydrangea, oregano and coreopsis are heavy with rain and loaded with bees.

To visit gardens everywhere visit comments section of the host’s site where you can also find the rules of the day. http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

SixOnSaturday June 5th

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June is all about flowers. Up first my little dwarf Kalmia which is making up for having no flowers last year.

The peonies are appearing. Here is ‘Moonstone’

The roses are packed with bloom and bud. Here are Abraham Derby, Leander and Zephirine Drouhin.

Clematis ‘Ramona’, which is much more blue in person

Self-sown Chamomile, Cerinthe and Foxglove are flourishing here and there around the borders. I gather chamomile flowers to make tea.

Mystery Flowers. This first one has had buds for ages, showing no signs of actually flowering. I don’t know what it is or where is came from. The plant next to the California Poppy looks a bit like tarragon but has no smell. Another mystery.

And here is a bonus picture of my rabbit proofed salad bed just before I discovered the little varmint inside the unbroken fence about to start on his morning buffet. Yesterday I found potato beetles munching, squash beetles, cabbage whites and a lily beetle. Everything is thriving! Especially the pests….

But you’ll appreciate my hostas – not a slug or snail hole to be found!

For more gardening Sixes, head to the host’s blog http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com and have a wonderful week. I’m off to check on that d***** rabbit!

SixOnSaturday May 29th. The last days of spring.

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It’s the last weekend in May, Memorial Day is Monday here in the US. Officially the day of planting tender crops here in the northeast. Although this year the weather has been so pleasant that mine are already quite established in the ground. SixOnSaturday time is here. Rules and more contributions in the comments section of the host’s blog http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

  • It has been the most perfect spring. An early gentle transition from a moderate winter. No late killing frosts. Sunny, warm, with enough rain to keep everything healthy and happy. As a result all the fruit trees and shrubs are loaded. This grape vine has never looked better.
white seedless grape
  • Baptisia, complete with buzzy bee. The whole plant is mobbed by bees including honey bees which are rarely seen here.
  • Big Red Rhodie is earning her keep. Once a straggly rescue stick, she is spectacular and due for a trim. I like to keep her around 8 x 8 feet.
  • Poppies are popping! A few of last year’s California poppies have come back, but not too many. They are pretty accents. In the long border the oriental poppy volcano is about to erupt.
  • First rose of this year is Abraham Derby. I love everything about this rose. The foliage is gorgeous and the fragrance is divine. Pest and disease free and flowers all summer long.
  • Saving the best for last, my kitchen is undergoing a tortuous renovation. It will be lovely when it’s finished but for the moment I’m most excited about my other projects. Some of the old oak cabinets have been upcycled into seed trays, cold frames and a very exciting very large planter for the deck. Shall it be flowers or pumpkins? Or both? It’s big enough!
This cold frame will protect bush beans from the rabbits. In summer it has a screen window cover and in winter it will be a glass window. The windows are also up-cycled from another project.

SixOnSaturday May 22nd. Mostly white.

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SixOnSaturday time again. The weeks are flying by with daily new discoveries in the garden. Its hard to choose only six. In keeping with my theory that colour groups flower at the same time this week’s about white. For more contributions pop over to the host’s site http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

  1. Star of Bethlehem. This small bulb sends up grass-like foliage which dies off and/or is eaten by rabbits before the flower stalks appear.

2. Blue Camassia is having a very good year, and has sown very pretty white seedlings here and there.

3. Deutzia is playing her usual fanfare to summer. It’s very easy to make new plants by layering stems.

4. Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’, slightly off kilter and needing a bit of a tidy up, flanked by a fluffy white azalea.

5. This yarrow foliage shines silvery white.

6. Not white at all! In contrast with my white shed, my flower baskets this year are petunias, red geraniums and lobelia. Not quite my usual froth of chamomile and cascading ivy but so pleasing!

There you have it! Have a wonderful week.

SixOnSaturday May 15th Firsts and Lasts

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SixOnSaturday is hosted by Jon at http://www.thepropagator.wordpress.com. The rules and sixes from around the globe may be found in the comments section. Join in.

  • It might be the last summer for my little carved buddha ball. He lives under this creeping spruce. Something has eaten his nether regions to a point where he has difficulty sitting upright. To the woodpile soon he will go.
  • This lovely dusky pink tulip is always the last to appear, signaling the close of spring bulb season. It appears as the cornus is leafing out, accentuating the fading-to-green stems.
  • Narcissus Sinopel is in it’s first season here at Riverview. Opening even later than Actea, it is the last narcissus of the season. It is very graceful, with pretty recurved petals and lime green accents. I hope it will go forth and multiply. Just not as much as Actea which is trying to take over.
  • The first dahlia. This one was overwintered in my basement and potted up in March as it was showing signs of growth.
  • Oh Petunia! I’ve been growing petunia from seed for a few years, never realising they were so easy. They are really early and hardier than you’d think. They are merrily flowering outside even though nights are still cool here.
  • Last but not least, one of my favorite shrubs. Honey vanilla scented fluffballs on a tidy 3 season shrub. No pests, diseases or problems with this native fothergilla.

So there it is. Another week has gone by as we hurtle towards the longest day. Enjoy the garden!

SixOnSaturday May 8th. Lilac time.

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Here we are again, mother’s day and lilac time. More about six on Saturday, the rules and comments on the host’s website http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

  • I find that plants tend to flower in colour groups. At the moment I have more mauve (usually on the forbidden list) than I care to think about. My first dahlia, naturally, is mauve. More about that another day. The true lilac and the redbud flowering next to each other, a symphony of mauve.
  • As I look out on the water, my view is blocked by a showy hedge of lunaria interspersed with mauve tulips.
  • The chive blossom is just about ready to join in.
  • On a happier note, there’s also a lot of white. I love these little white tulips which might be Maureen. That’s what I call them anyway.
  • The Carmine Jewel cherry has outdone itself.
  • Sweet Woodruff, always welcome is beginning to flower. A wonderful ground cover, adapting to all locations but easily pulled out when it gets over enthusiastic.

These are my six. My ‘test chillies’ have been in the ground for a couple of weeks and seem pretty happy. Dare I say my average last frost date is May 8th and winter may finally be over?

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SixOnSaturday April 24th. Red carpet ready.

At the end of a week where blustery winds, torrential rain, snow sprinkles and sunshine competed for centre stage, it’s once more time for SixOnSaturday. Rules, regulations and participant disregard for them may be found on the website of the host – http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

  • I think I mentioned Tulip Angelique last week, but here she is again. So pretty, the petals blushing deeper pink as she ages ever so gracefully. A true diva.
  • The ingenue; Narcissus tazetta Minnow. Tiny but perfectly formed in sherbet lemon yellow. For scale, the species tulips in the picture are only a few inches tall, 20cm at most.
  • Also in lemon and lime, making an early debut this year, the erythronium are nodding modestly at the audience.
  • One of the Bishop’s children seedlings is settling in to her spot, an indicator plant for the rest of the siblings reaction to the spotlight.
  • New to the red carpet, replacing a faded old plant of advanced age is Azalea. A trip to the nursery after many months of abstinence resulted in this and one more award winner.
  • Pieris japonica Mountain Flame. A versatile beauty to play a tricky role. 4 season curb appeal without departing too far from the script! I hope she will be well behaved and not get too big for her boots in her front and centre location!

These are my Six. I’m rooting for Viola, not least because most of my garden attire comes complete with a black bottom. Have a great week. Enjoy the show!

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SixOnSaturday April 24th. After the storm.

Friday dawned wild and windy. Over an inch of rain is expected. It’s hovering just above freezing here by the ocean, but snow is falling just a few miles away. I’m anxiously watching the gnarly old Norway maples as they groan and sway, planted too close by a thoughtless neighbour many years before I lived in this house. Oh, and it is SixOnSaturday time again. Rules and wisdom from participants around the globe may be found on the host’s website

http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

In other news the formerly lovely mild weather had brought about an early season flush of flowers. Most of which will have been mangled by tomorrow

  • Parrot Tulip Violetta. This funny little parrot tulip is short and stocky with frilly flowers turning from purple to hot pink as they age. Not really tall enough for cutting, they add a shot of bright colour.
  • I’ve had Tulip Angelique on my list for a long time and finally planted a few last autumn. They haven’t flowered yet but here is a decapitated bud left in a redbud tree by squirrels.
  • Tulip Fusilier von Praestans reliably on parade every spring for the last 3 decades. It’s a very particular shade of red. A good thing it flowers so early when there isn’t much to clash with.
  • Thalia was the first Narcissus planted here in 1991. Over the years they have been swamped by other plants and lost in translation…last year I put some more in. I had missed their elegance.
  • Nanking cherry is a wonderful shrub with very early flowers and lots of small tart summer cherries. If I had an available hillside vista I would fill it with Nanking cherries and Thalia narcissus.
  • Last but not least, wearing a tiara of raindrops, is a little native spurge. It’s a weed but pretty enough to stay for a while.

These are my soggy six. The rain was sorely needed. I’ll have to get out with mower and clippers as soon as it dries up. Spring has definitely sprung!

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SixOnSaturday April 10th. Getting started.

SixOnSaturday time again. Long sunny days and nights above freezing have jolted me into action. The forsythia is flowering, a good local sign that prompts the planting of early things.

First to go into the vegetable garden are Alliums. Onions, leeks and bunching onions. I’m trying to be neater and more careful to leave paths for myself this year

The paths are made from damp cardboard with composted woodchips on top.

4 rows of potatoes have been planted. It looks as though that’s where the bodies are buried!

Next to go in will be parsley. At this point rabbit exclusion measures will be necessary.

If the fence proves successful there will be sweet peas.

Lettuce will go into containers on my 2nd storey deck. Thankfully my rabbits haven’t learned to climb or fly. Yet…..

See other contributions in the comments section of our host’s blog. Have a wonderful week.

Www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

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SixOnSaturday March 20th – Vernal Equinox

It is Spring! I missed posting the last few weeks of winter due to general apathy and lack of interest in the uneventful happenings in the garden. Seedlings are taking over my universe…I’m already running out of space and have yet to start sowing tomatoes. The rest of the SixOnSaturday contributors are much more reliable and manage to keep up with their weekly quota. You may find them in the comments section of the Host’s blog.

http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Here are my Six:-

  • The Cream Beauty crocus that were planted last fall are clearly Yellow and Orange Beauty
  • The Hellebores are flowering away
  • I’ve almost completed the pruning of the apple trees
  • I’ve put in some asparagus crowns. They’re hiding under the compost.
  • Snowdrops and pussy willow in full flush
  • First harvest of the year. The chives are ready.

So there it is. Spring has Sprung and it’s time to get a rabbit fence in place as the little hoppity bobbity rascals are out and about and hungry as can be. Have a wonderful week!

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SixOnSaturday February 20th White and Waiting

It is that time of the year when finding six things is really difficult. Spring is waiting in the wings but yet it is snowing. It is still well below freezing at night. Texas and the US southern states are suffering from freaky unexplained winter weather. But nature is stirring, showing small signs. Go to the comments section of the Host for more signs of spring, from subtle to spectacular! http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

  • It is snowing again but the Witch hazel Pallida flowers are opening.
  • The Pussy Willow catkins shine silver in the occasional sunshine. It has been a long and cloudy winter.
  • Snowdrops begin to show white tips.
  • Little white root systems appeared on the Dahlia tubers in storage. They are now potted up and ready to go!
  • The Onion Grass is perking up and may be a useful salad garnish soon
  • Seedlings are sprouting on every available surface. It is almost time to Garden!

Have a wonderful week!

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SixOnSaturday February 13th. Pink, Snow and Poppies.

Time for another SixOnSaturday. Credit to the Propagator for hosting. Comments on his blog http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

  • Snow has fallen several times over the last week, at times heavily.
  • While many of you are discovering early hellebores and narcissus, I’m enduring winter’s bone, with freezing snowy days and clear frigid nights. Red skies every morning. You know what that means!
  • Icy branches turn blush pink in the rising sun. Its too cold for melting.
  • I’m dreaming of poppies. Cleaning seed, soon to be sown into the snowdrift as it recedes. These are breadseed poppies.
  • New for me this year are Hens and Chickens
  • And ladybird poppies.

The photos of poppies new to me are from the Baker Creek seed catalogue. A favourite due to their beautiful presentation and great selection.

Have a great gardening week!

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SixOnSaturday February 6th. New Growth.

The Cold Moon is on the wane and Imbolc has passed by. It is cold and damp and raw, but there is new life appearing as we hurtle toward Spring! Here are Six new growths on a Saturday. And some Free Plants! See more Sixes in the comments section of the Host http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

  • The appropriately named Cornus sericea ‘Midwinter Fire’ twigs that I added to my holiday greens have all rooted. One of them even has a flower bud! I will gradually add potting compost to their water until they are sturdy enough to plant out. I’m undecided whether to pot them individually or as a clump. Less Space vs. More Free Plants!?!
  • Sticking with the Free Plants theme, Crystal Palace lobelia seeded itself into every plant potted up for the winter. I’ve been pricking the seedlings out into modules where they are doing famously. A much more efficient propagation method than starting from scratch – although they may not turn out to be true CPs….
  • Alliums are appearing. The leeks were from older seed so I was anxious. The onions are a new variety to me so again, anxious… however all seems to be well, so far. But Alliums clearly make me anxious.
  • Lettuce seedlings that were saved from rabbits at the end of last year have sulked all winter, but are suddenly in full speed ahead mode. These are Really Red Deer Tongue and are usually quite burgundy. Low light levels perhaps. Or more likely getting ready to make seed. There are some pelargonium cuttings in the same pot.
  • These Cherry Bomb Chillies were sown mid January. I probably will only grow on a few of them. But for now they don’t take up too much space.
  • My dear old Lemon Verbena is back, after a very hard prune and the passing of mid winter. This is a very old plant, probably 25-30 years old. Every year that it comes back to life is a bonus.

It will be another 6 weeks or so before I see any actual outside flowers. I must admit I am a little envious of all your snowdrops and crocus. Didn’t think I could drum up a post this week but there you have it! Six things, new life and re-awakened optimism. Have a happy week and be safe!

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SixOnSaturday January 30th – Sundogs and Snow Ribbons

Time again for SixOnSaturday. Self explanatory really. Six garden related things on a Saturday. Visit the host’s blog for more contributions and comments:

http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

  • Winter has arrived here in New England. We no longer need to obsess over the political situation and have moved on to our usual January pastime – obsessing over the weather. Here are a couple of unusual phenomena. First up, a vertical rainbow and it’s reflection. Known around here as a Sundog.

“Sundogs are colored spots of light that develop due to the refraction of light through ice crystals. They are located approximately 22 degrees either left, right, or both, from the sun, depending on where the ice crystals are present. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun, out to blue on the outside of the sundog. Sundogs are also known as mock suns or parhelia, which means “with the sun”

  • Ice crystals are definitely present…we expect snow and ice every day for the next week. I was lucky to see these exquisite Snow Ribbons before they melted and fell to earth.
  • Today’s high temp is expected to be 19 degrees. The low is 7 F. That is around minus 14C. Indoor gardening is definitely on the agenda. This week I sowed chillies, onions and leeks. I’ve had trouble finding the seed varieties I want this year. Some seed companies have had to close their websites due to the increased demand. So I won’t be growing Ailsa Craig onions, but trying a new one ‘Globo’. It looks exactly like Ailsa Craig…..
  • I germinate my seedlings on top of my big old fashioned cast iron radiators. that’s one good reason to appreciate the cold weather – the pipes are always hot!
  • It is a good time to stay at home and cook. Pickled beets are on the menu. These are Chioggia and Touchstone Gold with a few dark Detroit beets. From last year’s garden, they were starting to sprout a bit in their chilly basement. They will be boiled and pickled in Balsamic vinegar.
  • I will also need to address my garlic. The stored bulbs are starting to sprout. Usually I roast them after removing the bitter sprouts but it does stink up the house. I’m thinking of shoving them in the freezer until I can roast them outside – not sure how garlic freezes but nothing ventured…..

Hope everyone has a wonderful week of gardening. Stay safe and warm!

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SixOnSaturday January 16th Over the Slump

Having got beyond the cold January full moon things are looking up. The Sun is rising earlier and setting later than 4pm. Bird activity is more energetic and fun to watch. Squirrels are cleaning out their middens in anticipation of mating season. Politically, reason is taking over from insanity. A week ago I was unable to find 6 things to enthuse about. Today, as I sit in my sunroom illuminated by the low winter sunshine, i give you Six things of the garden, on a Saturday. For more global offerings go to the website of the host. http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

  • Prune. I’m very fond of red pelargoniums with variegated leaves. I bring in about 4 healthy plants for the winter. This week I pruned them back and took a dozen or so cuttings which will feature in my summer window boxes.
  • Plant. We donate to the Arbor Day foundation. In return they send us saplings. Since it has been too warm for a deep ground freeze I may be able to get these planted in the next few days.
  • Sow….starting with chillis: cherry bomb, Amish pimento, mixed cayenne/jalapeno. The seed is from last year so I’ve sown them thickly. I’m having trouble getting the varieties of seed I want this year. Probably a combination of last year’s drought and the pandemic. Note to self- save more seed and take more cuttings!
  • Harvest. I have loads of self sown Lobelia Crystal Palace seedlings in the plants I brought in for the winter. These are being harvested to be grown on. These are in a lemon verbena pot.
  • Grow. Vernal Witch hazel. I use a lot of herbs in cooking. I’m starting to forage medicinal ingredients. This will be a double extraction. First water then vodka, to be used topically. Always learning….Wish me luck!
  • Bloom. The Stop & Shop orchid is right on cue. Thriving on total neglect. It’s in its 8th year now and doesn’t get any bigger. It grows a replacement leaf every couple of years and throws up a few new aerial roots and a flower stalk every January.

So there they are, my Six. I hope your week goes well and that there is peace on earth.

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Prune Plant Sow January 2nd- Backwards and Forwards.

Six garden related things on a Saturday. Simple, there are few if any rules. Post your link on the comments section of the host’s blog http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com where you can also see participants from around the globe.

A new calendar year has begun in which I will reminisce and plan. Looking back, 2020 was all about the rabbits. The crops they don’t approve of (leeks, tomatoes, chilies, beetroot) have never been bigger, tastier and healthier. The others (lettuce, spinach, beans and peas) however, have been more or less non-existent. Too much energy was spent trying to outwit them and wailing over the chaos they brought down on us. Which leads me to the first of my Six this week:

  • A fence. I am starting my 2021 with a rabbit proof fence around my vegetable beds. Said fence will be strong 1/2″ netting attached to 7′ hazel poles. There will be weights at the bottom. More on coppicing the hazel in a future post.
  • To facilitate the fence there will be a new updated garden plan. Currently laid out in rectangular no-dig beds about 6′ by 12′ I will be changing to 4′ x 40′ beds with actual chipped paths between. This should help avoid too many tiptoes and pirouettes as I try to negotiate inside the fence. It might also come close to looking tidier than my usual jungle with crops climbing all over each other. Perhaps…
  • In 2021 the veg garden will include only the crops we love to eat or that I love to grow. I will grow only 1 pumpkin plant for Halloween. There will be no weird squashes that end up in the compost pile because we don’t like squash. There will be loads of carrots and potatoes and fewer beets, kale and chard.
  • Looking back, my flower gardens have become very unruly. It’s time to take stock and think about more low maintenance options as I get older. I may even want, one day, to sell this property and move on to a smaller garden. Realising that not every potential buyer will appreciate a giant witchy herb garden full of rampant obscure edibles, my goal for this year is to install curb appeal in the front of the house.
  • Flowers. My property is very lush and green and hosts many food and wildlife friendly plants. But at some times of the year it lacks the drama of flowers. I do have a lot of spring bulbs, poppies, roses and peonies, but need to learn to incorporate more late summer and fall flowers such as helenium, gaillardia and echinacea. The above photo serves to illustrate both points! In this section the most outstanding flower was the squash! The roses and peonies are over and the Japanese anemones have not yet started flowering. The hydrangeas were wishy washy this year and just didn’t help the overall effect.
  • As many people have realised there is wildlife all around us. We have only to stop and notice what is out there. To that end I’ll leave number six to some of my garden birds from the end of 2020: a charm of goldfinches finishing up my lilac seed; a murder of crows harassing my resident red-tail hawk; 3 swans a-swimming and a downy woodpecker in the redbud tree!

Happy 2021 and may it please be a good one with the right amount of rain (during the nights) and sunny pleasant days filled with good food and flowers.

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SixOnSaturday December 5th. Promises to keep.

December is here, with bright blue skies and mild temperatures. I know it won’t last. I still have mulching to do and pruning to catch up on before the end of the year. There is snow in the weekend forecast. Time to take a few minutes to look at the promise of Spring to come. Catch up with other Sixes at the website of the host

http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

  1. Winter greens. Following a windstorm I foraged branches for my winter window boxes. Most years my fingers are numb by the time I finish them. This year’s task was sun-soaked. The containers will freeze solid in a week or two. No live plants in pots here!

2. Rhododendron buds are fat and happy. A promise of blooms to come.

3. Dwarf Kalmia “Elf” didn’t flower this year for the first time since I planted it 25 years ago but looks all set to flourish in 2021. Such a lovely little shrub.

4. Cornus Mas is covered in fat round flower buds against a cobalt sky.

5.” Carmine Jewel” dwarf cherry tree looks ready, set to go….

6. This could be the year we get a decent Hazelnut harvest, if I can protect them from the squirrels. there are loads of catkins on all the trees. If they aren’t prolific I may coppice the largest one in the spring.

In a couple of weeks we will reach the darkest day. Time will turn, days becoming imperceptibly longer and brighter. We will once again look forward to days spent with those close to us. Perhaps to live without anxiety. All things are possible, so I decorate with boughs and lights and hope for an easy passage into the promise of Spring to come. Stay safe!

SixOnSaturday. Running late!

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Rather late to the party this week! It was Thanksgiving day on Thursday. Here’s my Thanksgiving cactus, right on cue!

And here’s part of the squash and dried gourd harvest as table decoration.

Tradition dictates decorating for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving. So you don’t freeze your fingers off. Today is warm and sunny so I picked spruce, juniper, holly, and red twigs from my own garden. And some pretty ivy that has started colonizing my fence. Tomorrow I’ll forage white pine boughs and cones to complete the assortment of cut branches for winter window boxes.

The rabbits have once again eaten all my parsley. It was so pretty yesterday. Too bad I didn’t take a photo…..too late!

But here’s a bunch of sage I picked this morning. Drying nicely.

And a wreath I made a few years ago from grape vine. I will add fresh greenery to it for the front door.

Its late in the day for some of you and still early for others. That’s the beauty of SixOnSaturday. Anyone can join, whenever they choose. See more sixes from everywhere at the host’s blog.

http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

where the rules may also be found. (Really there are few rules).

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SixOnSaturday November 21st. Hardy Individuals

SixOnSaturday is brought to us every week by the propagator. Six things in or of the garden. Visit the comments section of his blog to enjoy sixes from around the globe. http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

As winter approaches and hibernation sets in (for me) I try to draw inspiration from the natural world. Here are six examples.

  1. Galanthus Nivalis. These hardy little bulbs are poking their heads through at least 2 months earlier than usual

2. Excuse the fuzzy photo. This is a wonderful double feverfew. It appears to be perennial. It is flowering profusely even though we’ve already had snow and heavy frosts.

3. My first attempt at growing California Poppy. I’m not sure if they are truly winter hardy here but the foliage is very lush and beautiful.

4. Primula Veris forging ahead toward spring. 

5. The hearty hardy winter harvest. A wheelbarrow full of carrots, beets and turnips to warm us through the cold days ahead.

6. Morus Nigra. Two hundred years ago, dreams of riches from silk thread sparked mulberry mania throughout the Northeast US. Tens of thousands of mulberry trees were planted during the 1830s as prices for the saplings soared to outlandish heights.

This sapling wins the Hardy Prize for 2020. It is the offspring of a very old large Black Mulberry tree (aka the bird buffet) that lay down quietly in my vegetable on a still, moonlit night about 10 years ago. The wood is extremely wet, heavy and long lasting. Logs from that tree  still edge my vegetable garden. I still find saplings every summer. I like to think they are the great grandchildren of those silk producing trees in the 1800’s.

Loved by birds, the fruit is produced over most of the summer. As the season grew hot and humid the berries ferment, resulting in inebriated blue jays and doves waddling drunkenly about and crashing into things.

There are my Six. I hope your week is a good one. Stay safe!

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SixOnSaturday November 14th Little Brown Treasures.

  1. The first treasure, this perfect little song sparrow nest was abandoned early in Spring and has since been curated by a family of house wrens. It is one of several nests they have used all summer. Tucked into the angled branches of a skyrocket juniper, it is only 3 feet from the ground and in perfect condition. The wrens also had 2 nests in birdhouses and one under my shed, that I know of. As far as I can tell, eggs were laid and hatched in only one nest.

2. Another abandoned nest, this time from a pair of cardinals. This nest was little more than a scruffy wuzzle of grass balanced precariously in a star magnolia tree. Three chicks were raised, followed by at least one mockingbird baby, before the whole apparatus fell to earth. Both cardinals and mockingbirds are much larger than the tiny wrens with the perfectly groomed, spacious nest.

3. This is half of a shagbark hickory nut I think. The squirrels plant these all over. The saplings are fast growing and usually turn up in the middle of a precious specimen that I don’t want to disturb.

4. Fungus is something I don’t know much about but enjoy and admire. This is on a rotting willow log.

5. A fishing creel / foraging basket found today by the river. No sign of the owner. I of course imagined a night fisherman creeping around my back yard in the dark.

6. Not at the bottom of my garden but here’s a fairy ring. This is one of the outdoor classrooms at our local elementary school. No school today. I’m planning to make my own fairy ring next time I have a fallen tree. I’m sure the night fisherman will appreciate having a place to sit.

These are my six for this week. In the comments section of the host’s blog http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com may be found many other sixes from near and far, as well as the rules if you’d like to participate.

Following snow at Halloween we had ten beautiful warm sunny days, but now its definitely drizzly, unmistakably autumn. There’s still plenty to do outside though so that’s where I’ll be.

SixOnSaturday November 7th. Change is gonna come.

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SixOnSaturday is a weekly event ably hosted by the Propagator himself. Check out all the other sixes in the comments section of his blog. http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

The weather. Last weekend was below freezing with snow, this weekend in the 70s. Record breaking November heat. Very helpful in that all the outdoor jobs got done. Bulbs were planted, outdoor furniture put away, leaves raked.

There is something joyful and settled about the newly laquered stems of cornus sanguina against a clear blue sky.

Fallen leaves removed to reveal the hope of emerging flower buds on Helleborus niger.

Comfort foods are still growing. Chioggia beets are sweet and delicious after last week’s frost.

Resilient rose buds are opening. This one is Abraham Darby which starts out orange and fades to blush.

A pot of Really Red Deer Tongue lettuce is beautiful and hardy.

The greedy rabbit has moved on from my parsley. I will have a crop to harvest for the winter.

Things change. They always do and with change comes renewal and optimism. So here’s a bonus photo. A future forest of Norway maples with all their faith in a future of growth and increase. I wish them luck and wish you all a good week of gardening.

SixOnSaturday October 31st. A Spooky Surprise!

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  1. Dawn, the day before. Very calm. Sumac, witch hazel and red-twig dogwood at full colour. Norway maples still wearing their green.

2. 24 hours later. Cercis canadiensis, still with full lemon and lime foliage, bowed under heavy wet snow. “There’ll be no snow at the coast”, they said….

3. It is very pretty. Not really what you’d call a storm, not windy or too frigid. It will probably be gone by tomorrow. The car will have to be cleared off. The tin man is shivering and the pumpkin wears a white beret.

4. Thankfully the Winter herb garden was moved inside the porch earlier in the week as night temps dropped. Bay, Lemon Verbena and Yerba Buena for hot tea and some pelargoniums for flowers.

5. I had gathered a spooky purple bouquet of Dahlia, Hydrangea and Beautyberry. That will be the end of the Dahlias. I’m not digging them up this year as they are not my favourite flower. This purple one is impressive in size and vigour and knowing my luck it will survive the winter.

6. In preparation for Spring I had received a shipment….narcissus, tulips, fritillaries, crocus and alliums.

Finally, apologies to those of you waiting for Fothergilla sprouts! We expect a nice sunny 1st week of November in which I should be able to get all these bulbs planted and also fill your order!

Happy Halloween and enjoy the October Blue Moon!

SixOnSaturday September 11th. Remember.

20 years ago, 3 days into my honeymoon, I turned on the hotel TV for the first time in days to see the first plane crash into the World Trade Centre in Manhattan.

How does the world recover? In my case it’s the joy of small things that keep me somewhat grounded in the face of past and future horror.

Here are six joyous things for the week.

Clockwise: A Cox’s Orange Pippin apple, red Winterberries, my basket of baby spinach, the last few tomatoes of the season, successfully rooted Star Magnolia cuttings and two of my ‘Howden’ carving pumpkins.

Visit the comments section of the host’s website for more gardening sixes. http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Never forget.

SixOnSaturday July 24th -Harvest, Grow, Bloom, Make, Go.

Goodness, the weeks are flying by. High summer is making up for lost weeks of cold rainy weather. Everything is really growing. It’s hard to choose just Six. Rules and more contributions can be found in the comments section of the host’s blog. Have a good read and enjoy your garden! http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Harvest. Stuffed cherry peppers, chocolate zucchini bread and piri piri chicken are on the menu this week. And possibly parmesan chips made from slices of those crookneck squash.

2. Grow. When you take a tiny nepeta plant that’s being swamped by the oregano and give it a better place. 6 feet tall and still going!

3 & 4. Bloom. Or perhaps boom! A moment of very fragrant vibrant pink from phlox and Stargazer oriental lily

5. Make. A pond from a discarded fake stone ‘feature’ and a cheap solar fountain. The birds are so happy with their personal water park. The nepeta explosion may be seen in the background.

6. Go! Just one more day until the tomato glut begins! Space has been made in the freezer. Even though they are a little slow off the mark this year there are always enough to freeze for later.

The weekend to do list is long and involves heavy lifting. More on that next week.