SixOnSaturday May 1st. Firsts

SixOnSaturday time again. Visit the host’s comment section for more merry Mayday Sixes from hither & yon.

  • All my tulips have been wonderful this year. This is the first tulip I ever planted in this garden, at least 25 years ago. This year with a record-setting 5 flowers. Evidence that tulips can and do come back year after year. I have no idea what the variety is. As you can see my garden fence is rotting, providing entry points for all kinds of critters.
  • He is the first angry bird of Spring. It must be time for mating…isn’t he gorgeous? Who could resist such a handsome fellow? I’m just relieved it wasn’t my truck he took offence to.
  • The first Robin is on the nest in the magnolia tree. She’s not pleased either. She’s already been raided by crows and squirrels. She is on her 3rd try, poor thing.
  • The first mow off the year is always a crap-shoot. Is the grass long enough or dry enough? Will the blade have been sharpened in time? Will I get it in before the heavy rains? Yes, yes & yes! As you can see, not a perfectly manicured lawn but healthy and full of weedy pollinators. At the moment it is mostly violets and ajuga, renegade snowdrops and other small bulbs.
  • The first Snowy Egret has arrived back from who knows where.
  • Its the first time ever that all of my apple trees have flower buds. So if I can pollinate them, if we don’t have a late frost, and if the birds don’t eat the baby apples, perhaps for the first time ever we’ll have fruit.

The first baby bunny has been spotted tearing around in a frenzy. So cute and so ravenous. Sighs and wonders whether enough rabbit exclusion measures have been taken.

First is one of those words that when repeated loses it’s meaning and looks like it is spelled wrong! Spell check was engaged… Happy first of May and have a great gardening week.

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 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.

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 August 29th. Food for thought.

According to my spread sheet we are 2 weeks away from autumn. There is a light chill in the morning air. Harvest every day is the name of the game. Between the rabbit and me, all will be gathered in, nourishment for the season ahead. (He had my cabbages last night….)

We’re also getting in a few outdoor social events while the temperature is reasonable. Dining with friends on my deck this evening. Food for thought…

Here are 6 things to celebrate in and from the garden. For more contributions that celebrate the season pop over to the host site;

1. Potato salad. Just a few pounds of Desire potatoes moved to make way for beetroot seedlings.20200828_152516

2. Caprese. Tomato harvest is slowing down but the peppers and chillies are coming in strong now.20200828_152540

3. Zucchini for the grill.20200828_152226~2

4. Happy herbs are used in all our salad dishes.20200828_151952

5. A mixed bouquet of late roses, zinnias and sunflowers. For the soul.20200828_152302~2

6. The seasonal gatherings have begun. Not just my gatherings, but also that of the soon to be migrating birds. Egrets, cormorants and yellow legs. At low tide they rush to catch whatever fish they can, building strength for the journey. They hang out here at high tide discussing trade winds, weather patterns, who’ll be first to leave and stopping off places en route. This will go on for a couple of weeks and one day they will be gone. Except for the great blue heron, who is always the last to leave.20200828_085252~2Enjoy your late summer garden. These are the days of wine and roses…..

SixOnSaturday July 11th. Summer

Six signs of summer from the garden on a Saturday. Hosted by the Propagator, in the comments section of whose blog more sixes from around the gardening globe may be found.

1. Elka breadseed Poppy. Although I usually have a hard time growing annual poppies these have done well as a crop row in the vegetable garden. The seed heads don’t open up as they dry like most poppies, so you get a very good harvest of seeds.


2. Lavender. Attracting all kinds of bees except honeybees. I hardly ever see honeybees here, although there is no shortage of bees, wasps, hoverflies and bumblers of all kinds. At the back of the photo you can see a nest box in the shape of a lobster trap marker. This is where the angry birds live and reproduce. House wrens,who dive at me if I come close, shrieking and chattering.20200708_163112

3. Germander. Such a useful ground cover at the base of roses. It’s flowering now. Afterwards it will be clipped into tidy little mounds.20200710_063907

4. Cucumbers are always first to glut. I grow an Israeli type, Zagross Beit, which is smaller and burpless. They can be eaten raw or pickled. Excellent both ways.20200708_115644

5. The Pumpkins are off! Racing across and through the hedge and onto the marsh. They seem to be setting well this year. This little one is nestled into a winterberry bush.20200710_063436

And this one, sporting a pretty dewdrop, has clambered through a hydrangea to encroach on a butterbush squash’s territory.20200710_063658

6. Sad story of the week. Behold before and after shots of Elf dwarf sunflowers. Yes, the rabbits have been diligent in wreaking havoc. Along with all the sunflowers and asters they have eaten every last bean, pea and fennel bulb.

There are 2 main culprits that have taken up residence since the recent demise of the beagle.  Baby Dagnabbit 20200710_131354~2moved in first and has lately been joined by Little B******.  Both are bold as brass and always hungry.

There was a hazelnut sighting this morning. On that note I’ll leave you to your own gardening challenges while I go figure out how to protect the ripening nuts from the marauding mob of squirrels. I wish you a happy week!

SixOnSaturday May 31st.

The days are growing longer, the world is opening up a bit and Six on Saturday continues to inspire. I’m pruning planting and sowing like never before. Here are 6 for the week.

1. First up is Ray’s Big Red Rhody. A gift from the dead plant department, it was a stick when planted. Now its taller and wider than me and just starting to flower.20200529_170006

20200529_1659482. Continuing with a red theme the Heuchera foliage is rather splendid. 20200529_1700473. So is the rhubarb. This is one of 3 plants each about 5 feet in every direction. This one is in the messy corner where you may also find a row of scallions, last year’s leftover turnips and a red kale that have all gone to seed. In hopes of attracting the bugs that would normally eat my harvest….20200528_1503194. We harvested the first baby spinach this week for a salad to bring to our first post covid outing. I didn’t think to take a picture but it was delicious and grown in a window box like these lettuce that we’ll have to eat soon.

5. Here’s a lovely Deutzia in full swing.20200528_1504446. Finally a song sparrow taking a bath.20200528_145629~220200528_145629That’s it from me. Its hard to choose only 6 things at this time of year. Roses and peonies are ready to pop but that will be for another day. Check out the comments on the host blog for more pretty things.

SixOnSaturday May 23rd. A-May-zing.

This week the garden came back to life. The sun shone, the trees greened up. Baby birds are fluttering everywhere, crash landing into evergreens that are soft with new growth. The air is heady with the scent of lilac and bluebells. It is easy to find six wonders this week.

1. Viburnum plicatum Mariesii. Everyone has a flower or plant in my garden. She is for my mother, always the centre of attention when she’s in full swing.20200522_134343

2. Azalea no name white. Getting ready to knock your socks off.20200522_134431

3. Unfurling hostas.20200522_13471820200522_140230

4. Strawberries to be.20200522_134643

5. The pheasants eye narcissus and forget me nots still going strong.20200522_134438

6. Garlic on parade. One row is from nice large cloves carefully selected from the largest bulbs. The other is from odds and ends and bulbs that I wasn’t sure were garlic. Can you tell which row was which? I can’t!20200522_134535

This week the weather has been cool and sunny. I’ve pulled out hundreds of Jerusalem artichokes and a massive pile of garlic mustard that is headed for the compost dump. Here’s the gang of tender veg and flowers waiting to be planted next week.20200522_135024

In other news my long awaitwd haircut is happening on Tuesday! Thank you once again to our host. More offerings can be found in the comments section of his post.


A Tree for Tuesday. Scots Pine

A tree for Tuesday. Scots pine.20200222_074403

This was a group of 3 lovely twisted pines, full of cones, birds and insects. 20200222_074440One of them was randomly chopped down by the Parks department. The remaining 2 are still beautiful.

Here’s a link to an article from the Irish Wildlife Trust.


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 July 20th – PrunePlantSow

Summer is suddenly here. Hot and humid.  Gardening must be done early to avoid the heat and mosquitoes.  Tasks need to be broken into small, manageable segments or there is overheating and tantrums.

Six things on this ‘dangerously hot’ Saturday that make me smile. IMG_20190715_1008571. Prune. Before the heatwave my big old rose Cuisse de Nymphe had a major renovation prune in order to keep it in check but also to remove a lot of fossilised old wood from the base.

IMG_20190715_100934Here’s the pile of clippings waiting to be chipped up on a cooler day. I hope to promote stronger young growth that won’t flop around so much. The thorns are evil,  especially when they get you in the scalp as you meander by with a cup of coffee at daybreak.

IMG_20190715_1009212. Plant. I have been trying to extend my flowering season into summer. These Shasta daisies and gaura should complement the hydrangeas in the hottest months.

3. Sow. I don’t direct sow many things as we have a very strong critter contingent,  but these Shirley and opium poppies are exceptions I would never be without.

IMG_20190719_1227464. Harvest. Surprisingly Winter Density lettuce continues despite the heat.  The first blueberries of the season. The birds start screaming at me the minute I open the netting to harvest the berries.

IMG_20190715_1006425. Grow.  An experimental Charentais melon in a big pot. Growing at a rapid rate up the bannister of my deck stairs. Lots of flowers but so far no melons.

IMG_20190715_1010196. Bloom. I try to get as much blue as possible in my gardens. I leave you with this lovely Endless Summer/Nigella damascena combination.

Visit the website of the founder for more garden stories of the week. Stay cool!

www. thepropogatorblog.wordpress