SixOnSaturday week 52

We are at the end of my garden calendar year. Week 52. Here are Six things on a Saturday to mark this auspicious moment. Take some time to check out the other participants’ sixes in the comments section of the host’s blog:

1. Tropical storm Isaiah ripped through last night toppling corn, pepper plants and sunflowers. Staking took place at sunrise.20200805_133438


2. The storm laid to rest a very large and unruly Viburnum opulus that I had been planning to cut back to the ground when the weather is cooler. Its 90 degrees today but I made a start.20200805_132838

3. Naturally it laid itself down on top of a baby apple tree that bears it’s first single fruit. The apple tree will recover. The apple itself looks a bit haggard.

4. Scrambling through said viburnum was a Blue Hubbard squash which may or may not survive the onslaught of my trusty little battery operated chain saw. The dangling fruit is now on the ground until it ripens (or is nibbled by varmints).20200805_132928

5. In other news week 52 is usually marked by the start of the tomato harvest. This year however we are already in full glut mode and clearing space in the freezer for the overflow.20200807_073115

6. And finally a fountain. A fun little solar powered toy for the birds. It needs a bigger pond as the water spills over the edges in the slightest breeze. That will be taken care of.20200805_130455

Then on to week 1 and all it brings in harvesting, planning, sowing, ordering bulbs, summer pruning, spreading compost and generally setting up for the season to come.

Enjoy your gardening week!


SixOnSaturday June 13th. Well behaved.

Six garden related things on a Saturday that make you smile. Simple. Hosted by the Propagator himself. More Sixes for your enjoyment can be found in the comments section of his blog:

This week I’m highlighting some of my favourite stalwarts. In my high maintenance world of crushing drought, finicky onion seedlings, crop rotation and thieving bunnies these are low maintenance standouts.

1. First is Abraham Darby. A David Austin rose with golden apricot petals and a tangerine scent. The shrub is compact and tidy with pretty foliage.20200608_133419

2. On a tangerine theme, my first ever seed grown California Poppy. The grey foliage offsets the mango colour nicely. The whole effect more subtle than expected. I’m growing it next to pale lemon Xanthos cosmos and blue cornflower in a dry sunbaked bed. Looking forward to seeing the whole  in action in a week or two. I’m hoping for an impressive show and much orderly self seeding.20200610_101916

3. Daylily. I’m not a fan of ‘lilies’ as they are known around here. The ubiquitous straggly wild orange ones are almost impossible to avoid. I do like this dainty golden one standing guard over my pumpkins. Don’t know its name. It requires nothing from me.20200610_092617

4. Foxgloves. All self seeded, on patrol under the very disappointing dwarf apple trees that don’t give fruit.20200610_092554

5. Anemone sylvestris. Lovely ground cover in a shady spot, lovely in a vase, perfectly trouble free.20200610_100834

6. Kousa Dogwood. A tree that doesn’t fail. Keeps in its corner, flowers when it’s supposed to. Makes fruit for the wildlife and has great winter foliage. And did I mention I’ve never had to spray it, rescue it or prune it?20200610_100959

As I prepare to head out to net blueberries, pull bindweed and hack back the redbud tree (again) all in a howling wind, I give thanks for my well behaved few. And remind myself to be on the lookout for more….


SixonSaturday February 29th. I’m Late!

Although we’ve had the 2nd warmest winter on record in Massachusetts I am very much behind in my gardening prep. I’ve had a lot of indoor work to do, along with winter house guests. House guests and seed trays on every warm sunny flat surface don’t really mix all that well, especially with an over-excited beagle thrown in.

This time last year I was celebrating the appearance of tiny seedlings. This year I’m resigned to an experiment in March sowing. And wishing for a greenhouse…..

5 things in the garden to celebrate and 1 to worry about:

  1. There are healthy buds on the fruit trees. A frost in March won’t be cold enough to kill them20200226_100533
  2. Self sown seedlings are strong enough to survive whatever March throws at them.20200226_100550~2
  3. Over wintered kale, arugula and mache will start growing again for a very early harvest.
  4. Perennials will be off to an early start without too much winter kill to be pruned out.
  5. Saplings that spent the winter in pots did not get frozen solid and are showing fresh buds. They’re alive!20200226_100438~2
  6. However, pests and diseases are also likely to have made it through. My worst pest is Winter Moth, whose caterpillars can decimate a fruit tree overnight. Which means I’ll probably have to spray with Neem oil. I only spray in an emergency, preferring to cultivate a healthy ecosystem as far as possible.20200226_100847 So for a few more days the debate will be on, until the opportune time has passed. If I do  decide to spray this year, at least my fingers won’t freeze…..

Take a look at the comments in the Propagator’s blog for more Sixes to enjoy. Have a great gardening week.



SixOnSaturday December 14th. Thank goodness for the porch!

Although I still have outside work to do, such as bagging the last of the leaves and harvesting leeks, it is more pleasant at this time of year to focus on indoor gardening.

1. Tomato jam. New for 2019 in our household, due to a major garden glut! Three simple ingredients and a drop of home-made apple pectin and the magic happens. The variety used in this batch is Goldie. The finished product tastes rather more like apricot jam than tomatoes. It’s delicious with cheese or on toast.20191213_134309

2. Here’s the rest of the glut, in case you are interested. There will be more jam. My favourite is made from Principe Borghese tomatoes of which there are many. There will be plenty of sauce for pasta. And tomato soup. And bread. And so on. Winter here is long and relentless.20191213_143512

3. Herbal tea. Here is Lemon Verbena, which spends the winter in the porch.  I cut the stems all the way back to the ‘trunk’. The leaves dry in a day or two hanging in a dark warm place. In winter add hot water and watch them rehydrate to perfection. Enjoy.

The plant will quickly grow new shoots.20191214_101515

4. Teucrium germander. I use this lovely little evergreen herb as an edging for my flower borders. I took a few cuttings, all of which rooted and are living in the porch until spring.20191214_101455

5. Bay Laurel. This plant is probably not winter hardy here, but if it gets much bigger it will be put to the test.20191214_101533(It’s in the porch). I like to make little bouquets of herbs tied with a ribbon on hostess gifts.

6. And finally, the porch! We added the porch many years ago and basically live, eat and garden here. We watch the birds and the boats and the fog on the river.20191214_104838Every home should have one!

Check out the host’s blog for more garden ramblings. Grow well!

SixOnSaturday on the last day of August. Plenty.

Since I moved to my Massachusetts garden I have lived with 3 seasons. Winter, Summer and my favourite season of all, Plenty. From September until Thanksgiving or sometimes even New Year we enjoy plenty of sunshine, rain, work, harvesting, and celebrations. Plenty has started early this year,  I’m not sure whether that’s a good sign or not. On to the first six of the season.

IMG_20190830_0810551. State Fair apple. My first apple from the latest work in progress at the long neglected back of the property. I’m hoping for a very low maintenance orchard/ food forest. Time will tell…

IMG_20190830_1408542. Cornelian Cherries. Gleaming jewels of the food forest. Mostly  enjoyed by the birds, I should add. It makes the few they overlook seem more precious.

IMG_20190829_1129513. Onion Harvest. Alisa Craig has done me proud this year. I’ll definitely be going the no-dig route again next year. Now comes the challenge of winter storage.

IMG_20190830_1409404. 4. Ramial chips. Free mulch from a heavily pruned recalcitrant crab-apple. Note the abandoned robin’s nest right at the top of what’s left of the tree.

IMG_20190830_1103105. Soft Lighting. I just love the way the sun, lower now on the horizon, peeks through this magnolia, highlights the lime green of new rose growth beyond the shade and scatters tiny sun puddles on the bricks below.


IMG_20190829_1106296. ‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangea, aging gracefully.  I’m fond of the mop-heads but have way too many.  I like to use the dried flowers in holiday bouquets and wreaths. My little demi-lune table is also aging, not so gracefully! That’s all for this week. Lots of pruning,  planting and sowing to do before the 4 letter word beginning with S arrives.

Visit the Propagator’s website for all things garden-y going on this week

SixOnSaturday June 22nd New for 2019

Here in Massachusetts Spring has been cool, damp and cloudy, much like the English Springs I recall. Plants are lush and floppy. As usual I didn’t get around to staking any of them: result, I have roses, poppies and peonies with muddy faces. Travelling overseas for the first half of June has exacerbated the problem. OK as cut flowers for the house, they are definitely not photo shoot material. On the other hand I tried a few new things this season. With mixed results.


  1. At last. The very first apples on my Cox’s Orange Pippin. I can’t wait to see whether I got the tree I ordered or an un-identified leftover that lost its tag at the nursery. As an example my so-called Arkansas Black Apple is decidedly lime green and suitable only for making pectin as it is sour and doesn’t store well.


IMG_20190619_1450302. Cosmos Xanthos. Those seed catalogs in January should be banned. A pale yellow Cosmos – how wonderful! Not really. Compared to “Purity’ or ‘Psyche white’ that I usually grow to fill odd patches in the sunny borders, Xanthos is underwhelming at best. Flowering early but only a foot or so high  it can’t compare to the 6 foot pure white classic beauties I wish for at this time of year. Although they would probably be face down in the mud like everything else…..



3. Disappointing double white Clematis flowering for the first time in its second spring. Looking sadly like a wet paper towel. I can’t even be bothered to look up it’s name for this post.


IMG_20190619_0934264. Scrumptious Honeoye strawberries. Newly planted, mulched with straw and properly hydrated (thanks to the weather) these are the best ever.



5. Exciting to find a few cherries on 2 year old Carmine Jewel. Bodes well for a hearty harvest next year. The plant is shrub-like in form, for easy netting, with normal sized cherries.





6. And what’s this? A few of these plants have volunteered in odd places around the garden. This one is in my herb garden. Looks a bit like a prostrate Rosemary but has no fragrance.  It’s really pretty but I’m stumped. Anyone out there have any ideas?

Those are my Six for this week. I’m hoping for a break in the clouds so i can get out and start pruning away some of the floppies. I know there are lilies and zinnias somewhere under there……

Thanks once again to the Propagator for hosting. Visit the comments section on his post to see all the other Sixes and have a great week!


SixOnSaturday May 4th. Surprise!

Sometimes the best laid plans go wrong. Despite one’s best efforts and intentions there are surprises,  and not always nice ones. Here are some of mine.

IMG_20190503_1449311. 15 year old Crabapple. Planted to encourage cross pollination and good fruit set on my apple trees.  Here is the first ever flower cluster. Just the one.. . . (The apples have been doing just fine for years).

IMG_20190503_1449032. The Peach tree that wasn’t. It appears that the rootstock Prunus Americanus has beaten the peach into submission. Back to the drawing board on the peach cobbler.

IMG_20190503_1453473. Two lonely tulips. These from a huge bag planted years ago that I’ve never been able to find again. They are so beautiful and the planned ‘drift’ would have been breathtaking.

IMG_20190503_1455074. The twice killed Lemon Verbena  – update. It is fully recovered as usual and ready to be planted in the herb garden.

155691289910613795666795. Too many Chillis and Peppers… And tomatoes. And so on. Why this counts as a surprise I’m not sure.  It happens every year.

IMG_20190503_1452326. A wet weekend. Yes, I have today off and no obligations. Great,  I’ll get more peas in, do some preventative weeding,  start a new compost pile,  mow….

But no,  pouring rain and cold weather forecast for the foreseeable future. Everything is growing at a mile a minute.  Looks like my weekend will be spent reading about everyone else’s gardening wins over on the propagator’s website . Take a look at what’s going on in gardens everywhere:

Have a great week!

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.