SixOnSaturday November 10th TREES

I’ve been giving some thought to Mr Propagator’s search for the perfect tree. I am fortunate to live among many beautiful trees. If I could only have one,  it would be a cherry. Either a sweet or a sour fruiting cherry. I’ve tried and failed with both. My location and climate just won’t do. I’ve had crops that were amazing, followed by sudden death.  No photos of the remaining discouraging stumps. I’m moving on.

For my Six this week I give you trees and thoughts of trees.

1.Skyrocket juniperIMG_20181109_081810The juniper above was planted a few months after I moved here, 25 years ago.  It was 15 feet high. Last year the snow and ice tipped it over at a 45 degree angle. After cutting 10 feet off the top of the central leader, tying it in and hoisting it back upright all is well. At only 2 feet wide it’s a great punctuation point in my wild Kingdom. I’d sorely miss it if it hadn’t recovered. Green all winter, a soft landing for fledgling sparrows in spring.

2. Baby Red OakIMG_20181102_162312I have no oak trees on the property. I was given this little red oak sapling which spent the summer looking unremarkable in its pot. The autumn colour is so amazing I’ll be planting it out this month. In a few years it will make a lovely red statement in my mostly orange and gold autumn landscape.

3. Hawthorne IMG_20181102_162318This hawthorn was also a gift. I’m not sure which hawthorn it is but it will make a fine addition to the ‘back 40’. Please excuse the black bin bag covering on my rain barrel!

4. Magnolia Stellata IMG_20181104_130649

Magnolia Stellata is supposed to be a lovely, graceful tree. Mine is a thug, 4 hefty trunks requiring 3 or 4 prunings a year. But it is a thing of beauty in every season and hard as nails. Pure gold at the moment.

5 Blueberry IMG_20181104_130418

Not really a tree, but high bush blueberries come close. Today the leaves are red patent leather.

6. Hazelnutimg_20181104_130337.jpg

Another good 4 season tree. There is the nut harvest of course, with its attendant wildlife, but also long straight canes  to be used as bean supports, fantastic gold and cerise autumn colour. In winter there are fragrant catkins (which can be seen already if you look closely). Easy to propagate, has no pests that I know of, winter and drought hardy.

These are my Six. I can’t wait to see which tree the Propagator chooses. I have a feeling there will be more than one. ‘Cos “more plants innit!!”

This weekly meme is hosted by the Propagator. Pop on over to his site to read musings from around the globe.


SixOnSaturday October 6th.

I had a few days to myself this week. Ladders were set up, tools sharpened, trees pruned, branches chipped, compost turned, potatoes dug. I’m happily exhausted! After a final tidy-up mow, I’m taking time to honour six pretty random things from the garden that made me smile.

IMG_20181005_1411191.Winterberry, Ilex Verticillata. This deciduous Holly brightens winter window boxes and bouquets. I have a bad feeling the male pollinator plant met the man with the chain saw earlier this summer and may need to be replaced next spring.

IMG_20181005_1412162. Winter vegetable garden,  scallions,  leeks,  kale,  chard,  beets and carrots. Comfort food.

IMG_20181005_1414333. Blueberry Bush with goldenrod. When did that get in there? I’ve weeded that area repeatedly and never noticed it until it flowered.

IMG_20181005_1410454. Viburnum Mariesii colouring up nicely. Always first to turn vibrant burgundy. One of my favourite shrubs.

IMG_20181005_141017.jpg5. Hydrangea fading to Victorian watercolor. Dusky washes of violet,  mauve and puce with shades of grey.

IMG_20181005_1409386. Montauk Daisy. This plant is a real bonus. Spring green succulent foliage with large clear white daisies. Hardy as can be. Easily roots from stem cuttings. Almost the last plant of the year to flower. Only hardy chrysanthemums are to follow before the ‘big cold’ sets in, along with my ‘big grumpy’. Hope to squeeze a few more Sixes in before that though… .

This weekly meme is hosted by the Propagator. Pop on over to his site to read musings from around the globe.

SixOnSaturday September 29th. Its all about the lighting.

These are the days.  Cool, damp mornings, brilliant sunshine, blue skies and starry nights. Plants to plant, trees to trim,  harvests to haul.IMG_-6tm0pf1. Pumpkins and squash. This big one had to be dragged screaming and kicking back in from the marsh,  where he was hiding among the phragmites . He must weigh at least 30lbs.

IMG_20180929_0927492. Sunlight through Ruby chard. It’s the only reason I grow chard.  We never eat it.

IMG_20180929_0929203. More sunshine,  this time through Cosmos Purity.

IMG_20180929_0924424. Sunshine on cucumbers growing through my deck railing .

IMG_20180929_0921485. Caryopteris busy with bees.

IMG_20180929_0922356. Finally, this year’s mystery weed. It’s popping up all over.  It’s pretty,  a lovely sunny lime green. I’m keeping it for now…ideas?

Pop over to the propogator’s website to see SixOnSaturday posts from around the world.

SixOnSaturday September 8th. Questions and Answers…


I hope everyone is making the most of the golden September weather. It is my favourite month of all, the month I regard as the start of my gardening year. Time to harvest and to plant; not too hot for cooking, not too cold to spend quality time outside. Time to consider, ask questions and find the answers to next year’s perfect garden. Although this year was pretty near perfect, if you ask me!

Thanks as always to Mr. Propagator for hosting weekly reflections from around the gardening world.

Question 1. Mystery apple.

This was purchased as Ark Black.  Clearly it’s not. The supposedly dwarf root-stock is extremely vigorous. The apples are crisp and tart, with a lemony tang and cook to a firm, white texture.

Any ideas? IMG_20180905_104742

Question 2. Hazelnuts at last!  To shell or not to shell before roasting? IMG_20180903_102208IMG_20180905_104538

Question 3 Why is it I can never succeed with growing onions? Answer: because I sow too many to properly take care of them! This year I only planted out 15 or so Ailsa Craig seedlings, in blocks of 3. I fed, weeded and watered them appropriately. (Because when there are only 15 you can fit them in to any schedule). Granted, not as huge as they should be. But big enough to eat. Yeah!!!


Question 4 (Rhetorical) Has there ever been a better season for tomatoes? Still picking this many every other day. My overflow freezer is almost full.IMG_20180907_153826.jpg

Question 5 Do Magnolia seeds ever successfully germinate? I can’t say I’ve ever noticed my Magnolia Stellata setting fruit before. It also has flowers and next year’s flower buds, all at the same time. Could be confused by the endless hot weather.  I hope it’s not an ‘end of life’ behaviour. Better take some cuttings…IMG_20180907_121440IMG_20180907_121517

Rhetorical question 6. Striped Bass. The bass are plentiful,  big and strong this year. They must be 29″ from nose to tail. Why is it that the Captain only catch keepers when he’s a guest on someone else’s boat?


Pop over to the propogator’s website to see SixOnSaturday posts from around the world.

SixOnSaturday September 1st. The wild things.

As the days get shorter and more golden, the cultivated  garden begins the process of shutting down for the season. Our borrowed landscape, marsh, shoreline and  woodlands come into their autumn glory. Here’s a little snapshot of the first signs of Fall.

Clockwise from top left, puffball mushroom, sumac, goldenrod, , Jerusalem artichoke, phragmites, wild grape.

Pop over to the propogator’s website to see SixOnSaturday posts from around the world.

Have a great week

SixOnSaturday August 25th

This week’s Six is all about food. Red, gold and green, the colours of my harvest,  which seems to be a few weeks early this year. Every day brings more,  with all the associated cooking,  freezing and drying. I tend to preserve ingredients, not recipes. (It’s too hot and humid for jam to set!)

IMG_20180822_1456541. Red. Cornelian Cherries are ripe now. The fruit set is so good this year that I’ve been able to harvest enough from the lower branches to make jam. They’re in the freezer.  This has never happened before. Usually they are eaten by birds before they are ripe.

IMG_20180822_145852.jpg2. Green. Cucumbers. I only grow Zagreb beit cukes,  which are small and sweet and supposedly burpless. I don’t really preserve them cause we eat them too fast!

IMG_20180822_145230.jpg3. Red autumn raspberries ‘Polana’ just beginning to crop. The first ones don’t even make it inside,  but there should be plenty more to freeze for later.

IMG_20180822_145523.jpg4. Green then gold. This is one of the pumpkins closest to the garden.  I think it is Howden. If so it will turn gold in the coming weeks,  before being frozen as puree for winter breads and soups.

IMG_20180822_1452015. Tomatoes. This is about the amount I’ve been picking every other day. IMG_20180822_154911Clockwise from Goldie on the left of the photo are Bellestar (frozen whole for amazing sauce or soup) Prudens Purple (probably best eaten raw and ripe. I give a lot of these giants away), (Paul Robeson (roasted, pureed and added to winter stews), Principe Borghese (for drying), Opalka Paste (for paste or sauce…) and in the centre Vilms, a new one for me which hasn’t cropped well. It’s really tasty and the plants are very clean.  I’ll probably dehydrate and see how it works.

IMG_20180825_1422166. Beets. These are just a few to taste. There are many more in the ground. They will end up pickled or in relish,  luckily they can stay in the ground until I get to them when the humidity finally breaks.

It’s been a good few years since I  had such an overall fine vegetable harvest. Perhaps all my compost,  cover crops and mulch is coming together. I hope so.

Pop over to Mr Propagator’s blog to read more posts from around the world. It’s a wonderful thing!

SixOnSaturday August 4th

August brings in more hot, humid days with brilliant sunshine. While the rest of the US is reeling from heat, fire and flood we are enjoying embarrassingly perfect weather. Enter the Bold and the Beautiful.

  1. Lilies. As anticipated the coral pink with orange accents clashes perfectly with the unexpectedly purple dahlia in the same pot. They are  good in a vase with the coral phlox below so they will be planted close by as soon as they’ve done floweringIMG_20180725_084444

2. Sunflower. There’s very little yellow allowed here. I make an exception for sunflowers in August and September. This one is “Elf”, a dwarf variety with full size flowers. I also grew “Italian White”  which is a paler lemon yellow. img_20180801_1033591.jpg

3. Hydrangea. This one came from a florist in a pot with shiny paper. 3 years later after the coldest winter on record, it flowers! The flowers are gorgeous, pure white and massive! I have a lot of blue mophead hydrangeas too. img_20180725_1012051.jpg

4 Zinnias. I just love these complicated showoffs! Benarys Giants. They have to live in the vegetable garden ‘cus they don’t play well with anything else!IMG_20180801_095607

5. Phlox are dominating the garden at the moment. I’ve lost the name of this short coral pink one, img_20180801_0956301.jpgand this one is David, much taller, approaching 6 feet.img_20180801_103518.jpg

6. Abraham Darby. One of the most spectacular roses I’ve ever grown, strongly scented. Now in the second flush of flowers. Rubbing noses with my little hedge of germander.img_20180801_1038351.jpg

These are my Six. Hope you all have a great weekend and take a minute to see what Mr Propagator is up to on holiday, at