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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!

SixOnSaturday February 13th. Pink, Snow and Poppies.

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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!

SixOnSaturday February 6th. New Growth.

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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!

SixOnSaturday January 30th – Sundogs and Snow Ribbons

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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!

SixOnSaturday January 16th Over the Slump

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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.

Prune Plant Sow January 2nd- Backwards and Forwards.

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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.

SixOnSaturday December 5th. Promises to keep.

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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).

SixOnSaturday November 21st. Hardy Individuals

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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!

SixOnSaturday November 14th Little Brown Treasures.

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  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.