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.

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!

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 December 7th. All is White

1. First snow.

And so it came, on the first day of the last month of the decade. Not an inch or so as predicted, but 8 inches over 36 hours.


2. The beagle and I had gathered festive foliage for our winter window boxes. The woods we walked in were carpeted with leaves. Lots of white pine windfall branches to be had. Strangely,  no cones this year.  Plenty of time to find them on another walk,  another day. Or so I thought….IMG_20191201_114141

3. From my garden, we cut red twigs and holly,  cedar,  fir and juniper, seed heads of actea. IMG_20191201_115725

4. Thankfully I had already filled up the bird feeders. The antics of chickadees, titmouse and wren kept us entertained throughout the storm. The heron has left for a warmer climate and the goldfinches are wearing their khaki winter plumage. Dark-eyed Juncos and Buffleheads have arrived, with an occasional merganser or eider duck in the flotilla. Cardinals, Blue Jays and woodpeckers brighten up the scene.


5. The hawk awaits….IMG_6108

6. All is calm,  all is white!IMG_20190304_080822

Visit to see what’s going on in gardens everywhere. I’m sure that somewhere it is warm with flowers!

SixOnSaturday October 5th. Red.

Baby girl is 2 today and the first frost is on the pumpkin. I still have a lot to do in the vegetable garden but it won’t be happening this weekend. A road trip to Manhattan is planned. My Six this week highlight the colour red.

1. Knockout rose. A grocery store bargain that continues to flower reliably all season long.img_20191004_141655.jpg

2. Zinnia Queen Red Lime is finally starting to bulk up. They are too subtle and wispy for my taste. I’m going back to my old favourite ‘Benary’s Giants’ next year. IMG_20191004_141618

3. Ruby Chard. Pretty as any flower. Intermingled with beets.IMG_20191004_141232

4. Fruit of Cornus Kousa

5. Ilex Verticilata – Winterberry. Deciduous holly loaded with berries this year.IMG_20191004_1411456. Viburnum Trilobum luminous red against a backdrop of still-green maples.

Stop by the host’s site to visit gardens hither and yon…..have a good gardening week



SixOnSaturday August 10th: Harvest Happens.

I have been harvesting herbs today. Bay leaves, thyme, sage,  marjoram, lemon verbena. IMG_20190802_104714These are tied in bunches using lengths of raffia that in a former life I scrounged from a fish vendor in Hong Kong.IMG_20190809_104937 The bunches hang in my warm, dark basement until dry, before being crumbled for use in cooking, as teas and as gifts for work.IMG_20190809_104816

Soon there will be poppy seeds. These are bread seed poppies. The seedpods don’t open up like salt shakers, so you can either leave them to dry in place or hang them. IMG_20190719_122920

The garlic is in.IMG_20190807_104341A really good haul this year. I planted only 24 cloves to harvest a whole muck-bucket full. IMG_20190808_142600Unusual in that quite a few of the singly planted cloves have sprouted 3 or 4 very large heads of garlic. I couldn’t say what variety, as I haven’t bought seed garlic in years. I just plant the biggest and best cloves around October 15th.

I pulled the little brown onions. IMG_20190809_102914The Alisa Craigs are still putting on weight so I’ll leave them to grow  for now. IMG_20190727_091703

Blueberries have been fantastic this year. I’ve been picking every other day or so, and from only 2 bushes have enough to eat and stock the freezer. This is today’s haul.IMG_20190802_114852 It’s all about netting. I use plain net curtains from Ikea. The birds can’t get tangled in the very fine mesh. There’s nothing worse than trying to rescue a furious grackle!

Chillies, peppers and squash can be picked daily. The weather is perfect.IMG_20190809_133544And it is tomato time at last! They will have their own Six!

Check out all the other Sixes by following the Propagator Enjoy  the harvest!

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 25th. Going Native.

A disappointing start to Memorial Day Weekend with leaden grey skies, a broken lawnmower and an impossible to-do list. So I’ve thrown in the trowel for today in favour of some blogging and retail therapy. The marsh is coming into bloom,  with creeping buttercup,  honesty, Dame’s rocket and cornflower leading the spring weed pack. I always hope for poppies too. A bit of red would really add to the display. Anyway,  on to my Six for this week, inspired as usual by the Propagator and his gang.


IMG_20190524_1438171. Doublefile viburnum. This spectacular shrub usually flowers on Mother’s Day (which is in May here). It’s a bit late due to the cold and rainy Spring. It will be perfect for another week or 2 before setting the bird-beloved berries that if left to ripen would be blackish purple in the Autumn,  against wonderful burgundy foliage.



2. Snowball Viburnum. A very imposing large shrub with lime green pompoms which gradually fade to pure white. They are at the pale lime stage at the moment. Gorgeous in a vase. They don’t produce seed but are easily propagated from root suckers.


IMG_20190524_1439313. Cranberry Viburnum. The flowers on this one are a little more subtle,  but the garnet Jewel like fruit are fantastic.



4. Arrow wood viburnum. Not a showy specimen in any season but useful material for stakes and supports. It’s also well-behaved,  stays in its allotted space,  doesn’t encourage the nasties, and always looks pretty.


IMG_20190524_1441005. Moving on from viburnum to vaccinium. The blueberries are absolutely loaded with flowers.  I have my net curtains ready this year.


1558728709058-8497888066. Finally Fothergilla. Another good shrub with vanilla scented ‘fothery’ bottlebrush flowers. These are dotted around for their scent and their wonderful Autumn colours. They are so much prettier than the ubiquitous ‘burning bush’ euonymous that we see us much here. Even though it’s a native I never met a euonymous I liked.

So take a look at the propagators site for more gardening,  grumbling and growing from around the world.

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 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.