SixOnSaturday May 18th Blossom time

Despite cold and rainy weather, our native trees and shrubs are ‘getting on with it’ and this week are putting on a great show in the garden. Frothy blossoms, along with fresh new growth in vibrant shades of lime, emerald and bronze announce that spring is finally here in New England. It is amazing how much the garden changes from week to week. Thank you to the Propagator for SixOnSaturday, which helps us to enjoy and appreciate the subtle seasonal shifts.IMG_20190511_1417271. Chaenomeles completely laden with buds this year. I always need to prune away the new growth in order to see the flowers. I don’t mind as this approach also keeps the size of the shrub in check. It also gets a shaping in late summer.


IMG_20190511_1417492. Cercis canadiensis. This is a wonderful tree, and a sad case of don’t believe everything you read! Described as a small shapely tree, the one I have is a large bulky tree. The main trunk is at least 12″ in diameter at about 10 years old. It is inappropriately situated and requires pruning at least twice a year so we can see out of the windows. The new growth can be 8 feet long. I use the prunings as bean supports. I should probably have it cut down but it is a memorial tree and extremely healthy. The blossom is gorgeous. At this point I think of it as a large Bonsai.


img_20190511_141812-e1558109847727.jpg3. Prunus glandulosa. Fragrant Almond. A lovely little shrub with double pink flowers all down every stem, very fragrant, very well behaved. You don’t often see this one. It could be because it is pretty unremarkable for 11 months of the year. I have enough space to showcase it during its glory.


IMG_20190511_1418534. Prunus Carmine Jewel. This one is part of my experimental cherry group. Traditional sweet or sour cherry trees are not suited to this land. They turn up dead on a regular basis. The Nanking, Cornelian and Carmine Jewel cherries seem to fare much better, crop well. They are not as good to eat, being small and seedy, but are fine in pie filling or jam.


IMG_20190511_1419425.There are many native Viburnums in my garden. Burkwoodii is the first to bloom and extremely fragrant.


IMG_20190511_1420206. This Amelanchier is also a native. It lives on the weedy edge of the marsh, often has wet feet and yet rewards with a fine display each May.

That’s what is blooming in our yard this week. Visit the Propagator’s site for more garden news from all over.  Have a great week!


SixOnSaturday May 11th. Space Invaders.

More commonly known as weeds. My 6 today covers the annual Spring invasion. There’ll be episodes to cover the other seasons. In fact I could write a daily blog about them and just might!

img_20190508_130936.jpg1. Here’s a good one.  Galium odoratum. Sweet Woodruff,  a charming thug for which was named my most beloved late tabby. He was always on the prowl, a mighty hunter to the end. Note the lovely lace-cap hydrangea being suffocated in the upper right corner.



2. Feverfew.  A single plant in a 4 inch pot purchased in haste in 1992 is still producing offspring. Accompanied in this frame by 3 more of my proven winners,  common bugle (whose botanical name should never be spoken for fear it will break your spirit), more sweet woodruff and maple seedings.


IMG_20190508_1310223. Here is lunaria. She manages to spread across the marsh even although she’s never permitted to set seed.


IMG_20190508_1312014. The A team. Forget-me-not and foxglove , both of which are completely out of control in a very endearing way.  Maple seedlings. Not endearing. Rampant. See below.


IMG_20190508_1306515. Mature maple specimens. Ours are Norway maples,  not sugar maples. They are useless to man and beast and manage to support  all kinds of pests and diseases on their prolific, messy selves. They cover everything with a haze of green pollen and drop litter in all 4 seasons: spent flowers;  caterpillar-shredded young leaves; an excess of baby seedlings; ugly black-spotted brown leaves and finally tonnage of mature twirlies. Each one ready to sprout in the middle of a treasured tender specimen in order to restart the cycle of invasion! Then the parental rot sets in and dead branches fall on your car.



6. And here’s where they all end up! Each spring I start a special hot pile into which all the infernal invaders are pitched. It’s a losing battle. They all come back annually. 

Take a look at the Propagator’s site to see what’s going on in gardens around the globe. There must be some gardeners out there who have perfect, weed-free plots, if only in their photos! 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 – reasons to be cheerful.

Today is my first blogging anniversary. Thank you to The propagator and his Blog-followers for inspiration and guidance. Follow here:

It is the second night of Passover and Easter Saturday. All reasons to be cheerful.

It is also a full moon. I wish I knew or could retain more of the lore and legend surrounding the Spring holidays. My Six this week just celebrate the magic.


IMG_62251. From the Passover Seder.  Parsley, representing springtime and all it promises. It is in the ground this week and in 2 more weeks will be ready to be sampled!


IMG_62242. Horseradish, the bitter herb, a reminder of hardship. This one is still very small and might be a dock! I’m not sure, but if it is horseradish it will be harvested for Rosh Hashana in the Autumn.


IMG_20190419_1439303. For certain, Easter peas. Sown on St Patrick’s Day (indoors of course) and planted on Good Friday according to (my) tradition. One row each of Lincoln & Topps. To be supplemented by more sowings outdoors. When I get around to it. I love peas.


IMG_20190419_1040254. Bloodroot, which has blood red sap. Seems symbolic of all the needless bloodshed and sacrifice that Spring holidays stand for….


img_6226.jpg5. Simple Daffodils. For me, the best harbingers of Spring. These are probably Ice Follies, or Mount Hood. They look to be ready for dividing. add that to the endless to-do list!



6. The white birds were one of my reasons for starting this blog. They arrive like tourists from a cruise ship in spring and congregate for their departure at the first threat of frost. They are back for the season. The male on the left has his ‘glad-rags’ on and is all ready for date night. She doesn’t look too sure….

I am catching up to the rest of you. I do have tulips already. I wait so long for early spring that I don’t want to move on to the next phase too quickly. Tulips can wait until next time.

Enjoy your week!

SixOnSaturday April 13th. Prune Plant Sow.

Prune,  plant,  sow,  harvest,  mow,  bloom,  feed,  grow…

IMG_20190412_1518481. Prune.  Its what I do mostly. Here’s last week’s pile o’ pruning, mostly brambles and holly. Roses next.


IMG_20190412_1236012. Plant. All unidentified ‘misc’ bulbs I hoarded over the winter and carefully potted up to see what they were, turned out to be – garlic!! Duly planted next to my October planted garlic.


img_20190412_123629.jpg3. Sow. Self sown Pushkinia. In every corner and crevice. Smelling strongly of gumdrops. Buzzing with bees and other assorted pollinators. Reminds me I need to get on with sowing annual flowers for summer and fall.


IMG_20190408_0914174. Bloom. Cornus mas is the 🌟 this week. Along with many Squill, Narcissus, Hellebore and Mr Magnolia. Terrible photo, great tree…


IMG_20190412_1350215. Feed. Homemade holly and bramble ramial chip mulch for my raspberry section.


IMG_20190412_1350486. Oh no!  Here’s a charming little nest I found among the cut branches. I think it belonged to a pair of American robins. They have plenty of time to rebuild. This will be my last major pruning job for the spring so as not to disturb any more nests.

Spring is here at last. It is still cold,  but everything is growing. Each trip around the garden brings something new and wonderful at this time of year.

Go visit the host site and be amazed by garden stories from around the world.




SixOnSaturday April 27th – Feeding the beast.

Gardening on silty, free draining soil on the riverbank, I am concerned about the nutrient content of my plants and put a lot of effort into keeping everything well fed. I don’t use commercial products but try to make as much of my own compost as possible. I am lucky to be able to take as much city compost  and local ‘muck’ as I can jam into the Subaru. I re-compost all of it for a year or two before using. I add seaweed from the riverbank to it. It is a lot of work but the rewards are clear and hopefully healthy!


1. Potatoes. Left to right: Sangre [redskin white flesh, early] Strawberry Paw [red skin, mid], Desiree [pink skin yellow flesh, late], LaRatte [ yellow skin and flesh, all season fingerling]. Sometimes I also grow Yukon gold or gem, sometimes Rose Finn Apple fingerling but these 4 are my tried and true all round beauties that resist all weather and disease related issues, store well and taste GREAT!   They are all fairly old varieties that come true from the tubers I save. We are still eating all of these varieties from October harvest, although they won’t last much longer before chitting all by themselves….                I am thinking of trying a few no-dig rows this year. Most of the veg garden has been no-dig for many years but I haven’t tried it with potatoes. I’m not willing to risk the whole crop but I’m pretty sure LaRatte will respond well as they naturally grow in a clump near the surface of the soil. The beds are still too wet for traditional potato planting at the moment.



2. Onions and leeks were planted out this week into the bed where legumes lived last summer and which received a layer of good black compost earlier in the spring.



3. In this bed can be seen Garlic planted in October and some Winter Density Lettuce. This bed had a layer of compost in the fall before the garlic was planted, then a covering of salt marsh hay over the winter. We obviously don’t have the slug problems the True Brits have!



4. Here’s my favourite little woodland corner, with Hazels, Dogwood, Hellebore, Narcissus and Erythronium. Self sown Foxgloves are emerging and Snowdrops are going over. I’m sure you can spot a few weeds too. This area gets a rustic mix of ramial chips, shredded leaves and pine needles in the autumn most years but otherwise takes care of itself.  I get a lot of seedlings from this patch and it is the preferred song sparrow nesting area, so I don’t disturb it too much.



5. Here’s Muscari, another heavy breeder whose babies get relocated annually. This area is hot and very dry most of the year with all day sun. I try to get a good thick mulch on it at least every other year. The follow-on plants are peonies, roses, salvia, veronica and tall phlox. The tall clump on the right is Pheasant’s Eye Narcissus which I dig out every year and which returns unabashed. You may notice that my grass needs a cut.



5. So far it is a good year for Tulips. Even some of the ones that usually come up blind are putting on a great show. These Apricot Viridiflora are fantastic in a vase, not terribly graceful in the garden. They are very hardy and  have flowered faithfully for many years.



6. Last but not least my favourite tulips, the Darwins. These are Apeldoorn which are new to the garden this year. Also in the garden are Yellow Apeldoorn. They are tall, old fashioned and elegant, and about to be hammered by the hideous weekend weather that’s coming our way. The rainfall deficit has been replenished and we are definitely on the soggy side of normal. The Beagle is clearly bored by all this exhausting talk of gardening and flowers. She needs a long nap followed by lunch and treats. Got to feed the beast…..

Take a look at the host, The Propagator’s website to see what his gardening crew is doing this week. Thanks again to him for hosting and have a great week in the garden!





SixOnSaturday April 6th. Here and there, this and that.

Things are starting to move along in the garden. I even have some daffs, plenty of small bulbs and cornus mas in full bloom. I’ve started cleanup, but can’t be out long before my fingers are frozen. I’m finding plenty of things to do indoors;  sowing,  replanting,  watering, but anxious for long days of warmth and sunshine

Beginning last week with a trip to Pittsburgh and the Phipps Conservatory Spring Show. I should mention that it was snowing outside. IMG_20190331_122422

1. The show featured lots of tulips and hyacinths in formal layouts. Not really my thing but it was so nicely done you had to admire it. This Peacock made from magnolia leaves with formal bedding plants for its tail was the centrepiece and subject of many selfies.

IMG_20190331_1233442. This large copper butterfly’s body looked as if it should have been planted with succulents or mosses.

IMG_20190331_1236013. A beautiful Japanese Crabapple Bonsai. I wonder again why my crabapple has never flowered.

1554496063689-6926288844. Back home, Chilli and Sweet Peppers are looking strong and healthy after a long, reviving  drink. Against my better judgement I sowed some free mixed seeds. Good or bad,  I won’t be able to repeat any of them next year! They are big enough to go in the ground but it’s way too chilly!

15544961141232985675495. Sweet Basil, large enough to eat with Spanish toast and eggs. Nothing tastes more like sunshine. Of course the tomato was from last year’s harvest in the freezer.

155449618072519278633306. Finally Mr Magnolia, opening his starry flowers to greet the dreary, cold and dismal days that followed me home.

Those are my Six for the first week of April. I hope you check out the other posts on the propagator’s website.