Six on Saturday 16th January 2021

Winter feels rather bleak this year. I know it’s not just about the weather, but the succession of slushy snow, then ice for days, is making it hard to get into the garden, and that’s getting me down a bit. Working at home has it’s bonuses though: this week my six will feature wildlife viewing from my home office and textures from the few times I have ventured out. First, this fellow is one of three male pheasants who are big buddies in the garden, wandering round near the bird feeders, even when I’ve been outside. He contrasts nicely with the icy garden.

I’m not sure whether this is a male or female squirrel, but it was fairly cross with me as I photoed it on one of the newly pruned apple trees.

Now for some textures. I’ve been taking 10 minutes walks in the garden to break up the working day, and really take a proper LOOK at even little things. Buddleja, what a robust plant. Despite the freezing temperatures, it is bursting to grow and still has some fresh looking leaves. Great colours against the brown of died back stuff and snow.

Violas don’t seem to enjoy the snow much, but their plucky little flowers are poking up from the ice.

I really looked at the stump of this very old apple tree, which still has a few branches, but whose hollow stem is now open to the elements. Wet wood with a scattering of snow presents an interesting view.

Last, but not at all least, ivy is flowering with full vigour now. Yellow flowers are feeding the few scant insects (they must be there as blue tits have been foraging), and the red berries are striking even when its gloomy.

That’s my six for this week. Don’t forget to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter, and take a look at other sixer’s contributions via the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 9th January 2021

We’re starting to have a proper winter in Fife. This week has been mostly frozen, with a little snow, and lots of smooth silky dangerous ice. not quite an ice-storm, but gentle snow followed by a hard freeze. -5 deg C lowest temperature so far, and -1 deg C the coldest daytime high. I must admit it’s a relief to be locked down at home. I’ve focused on winter for my #SixonSaturday this week. First, bright and cheerful (with just a hint of the festive season just past) is berberris darwinii, boasting both bright green and bright red leaves.

Nearby, dogwood puts on a similarly cheerful show with the late afternoon sun full on it.

The pond looks fairly lifeless, but is crucial for supporting local wildlife. Each day we make sure hot water is poured on to free up a spot for birds to bath and drink. There will be fish a newts, probably toads and frogs too, dormant deep below. Squirrels (both red and grey, anyone know how to discourage the greys?) pop by for a drink too.

New growth is on its way. Hazel catkins are beginning to fill out, but as yet no sign of those tiny flowers.

This is probably a bit early to post, but this is my second post of the year, so here are snowdrops (on their way at least).

Last, but very much not least, this plant is sarcococca. It grows in a cold shady passageway that gets no sun between November and March. yet now, it flowers, and on warmish days these flowers will be filled with fragrance. branches can be brought into the house for a scented floral arrangement which will replace the year-end holly and ivy.

Don’t forget to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter, and take a look at other sixer’s contributions via the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 2nd January 2021

A new year. Full of hope, yet still lots of uncertainty. I’ve been focusing on small changes in the garden to keep the spirits up. First this week, it’s out with the old. Now we’re into January, it feels like time to prune the apple trees. They look like they need a trim. I’ll get started once my dodgy shoulder settles a bit.

I featured the pond for the last post of 2020, but have to include it here again today. So pretty under a dusting of snow. And we’ve been focusing on clearing a bit of open water at the back to give us a good view from the kitchen of bathing birds.

New flowers are coming on this hardy pentaglottis sempervirens (yes I had to look this up). The plants grows a foot or more tall, all year round, giving small blue flowers that insects love. It’s even having a go at the very start of the year. Seems to be impervious to hard frost and even snow.

My favourite hellibore is a purple one. Looks like it might be another week or two before it flowers, but it’ll be worth the wait.

In the autumn, I massively over-ordered on bare-root wallflower. Despite giving plants away to everyone I know, I still have about 40. Not sure where to put them yet. They do well in pots, this is one of last year’s almost ready to burst into bloom, despite living in frost pocket in the courtyard.

It’s the start of the year, I could NOT resist starting the new season. These are chillies, just sown and sitting on a warm windowsill. My two favourite’s from last year: Alberto Lotocco and Lemondrop, both from the wonderful Real Seed Company. Hoping for germination in a couple of weeks.

Don’t forget to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter, and take a look at other sixer’s contributions via the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 26th December 2020

My Boxing Day blog. After a decidedly Zoomy Xmas, we’ve just moved into Covid Level 4 in mainland Scotland and Storm Bella seems to have arrived already. Hmmm. It’s going to be a good day to sit by the Xmas tree and browse the seed catalogues. The reason my blog is a bit late today, is that I’ve been transfixed all morning by garden wildlife. I have not managed to get any good shots of the 3 pheasants, 12 blackbirds or multiple fieldfares, but this little chap finally posed for me. We have at least 2 red squirrels in the garden (I witnessed a fight over the feeder this morning), possibly 3. They are endlessly cute.

With the storm coming in, it’s warmish and wild out there, but yesterday was a bit more ‘Christmassy’, at some point I added some boiling water to one corner of the pond, to allow birds to bathe and drink, which was frozen solid all day.

I’ve been fairly relaxed with clearing the garden this year, due to general grumpiness with grey wet weather, but also a sore shoulder. I did manage to get in and tidy up the gunnera for the winter. There are many new buds coming, this plant is a beautiful brute.

Just one veg triumph this week. I DID it…..provided some precious sprouts for Christmas dinner. Home grown do really taste so much better than the bought ones.

I will finish this week with some end of year colour. The first is very surprising. I grew ragged robin from seed for the first time in 2020. They took a while, eventually flowering well into December. But still flowering, and each little flower is like a little Christmas decoration in the sunshine.

Last, some seasonal cheer from skimmia japonica. 2020 has been the year we didn’t expect, I’m getting ready for a few surprises in the New Year, when it comes, hopefully some of them nice ones.

 Don’t forget to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter, and take a look at other sixer’s contributions via the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 19th-December-2020

Six things, can be anything, in the garden, on a Saturday.

Time for a festive six, as this time next week will be Boxing Day. We’re going for a quiet Xmas for two here in Fife, but hope to share garden joy online and with family and friends via Zoom. Let’s start the party with something festive, my home made seasonal wreath, full of berries (though a bit less full than when I started as the blackbirds have had some of them).

For the next few offerings, I’ve gone for things I didn’t expect to see in flower so close to the winter solstice. First, I’ve certainly never seen schizostylis thriving in Fife in mid December, but it’s 12 deg out there, so why not?

Next, roses don’t make it this far usually. I even transplanted this one in mid November, and she’s still flowering away.

And in the veg garden, the Swiss chard are still going strong. A great veg all year round. Hope we’ll have this well into the brave (!) new world of our New Year, when it comes…..whatever that brings, we’ll have vitamins and minerals from these chaps.

Here’s something that should be starting out in December. Hellibore are budding and soon to flower, I need to clear some more of the borders to see if any more of these are hiding underneath.

And last, to celebrate the impending winter solstice, a recent sunset from the garden, looking to the Fife Lomond’s beyond. On the shortest day the sun will set here at 3.36pm…..a change-point in the year….BRING ON THE LIGHT.

That’s my six for this week. Seasons Greetings all, and don’t forget to wasail your apple trees (more on that in the next couple of weeks). Also don’t forget to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter, and take a look at other sixer’s contributions via the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 12th December 2020

Six things, can be anything, in the garden, on a Saturday.

It’s beginning to be tricky to find new things to share. There is still colour in the garden, but a lot of it has been shared on this blog in recent weeks. So, instead of looking for new, I looked a little closer and found joy in tiny things. First up, I have just one little dianthus in flower, cheerful, but a little lonely.

For the rest, I moved around the garden armed with a macros lens…it is totally amazing what one can now do with just a phone and a little macro lens. Fruits of the season are scarce now that blackbird and fieldfare have been scoffing, here is one of the few remaining cotoneaster berries, hosting a raindrop.

Another flower that has featured on my six in recent weeks is worth a closer look. Individual flowers on each hebe spray are delicate and yet robust to the weather.

There’s a new season on its way, heralded by catkins on the hazel tree. Each is composed of many tiny exquisite scales.

One of the first to come to life in January (not that I’m wishing time away or anything….) will be magnolia. The fluffy buds are already coming to life.

Last, but not least. i did feature this sedum last week, but right up close the individual flowers on the flowerhead are gorgeously bursting with life. It’s December, but there’s so much to see when you look close.

That’s my six for this week. Don’t forget to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter, and take a look at other sixer’s contributions via the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 5th December 2020

Six things, can be anything, in the garden, on a Saturday.

Winter proper now, and quite a week for me. Our family have decided to make this is virtual Xmas, so I’m looking forward to making mince pies for me and the other half, and sleeping a lot. Meanwhile, the garden needs ‘closing down’ for winter, but non-work days have been wet and horrible…it’ll have to wait, maybe this weekend. The garden itself currently still boasts a mix of autumnal colour and winteriness. My first this week acknowledges that it is still National Tree Week in the UK. I celebrated by moving a suffering quince out of the half-barrel where it was way too dry, to a (hopefully) sheltered corner against a west-facing wall. It’s a low bar to cross for next year, I’ll consider this a success if I get more than ONE fruit next year.

Second this week, I don’t know the clematis variety, but near the quince the garden itself gets a bit dry, and this clematis looks dead for most of the year. yet in autumn, here she goes. Lovely rich red flowers.

Things got a we bit chilly on Thursday, when we woke up to the first snow of the winter, so I nipped out to get some shots. Still trying its best to keep going is feverfew, a few flowers and lovely lime green foliage, with a touch of snow.

Azalea is budding ready for spring, and does look lovely with some winter sparkle.

Sedum autumn glory might not be standing for much longer, she’s even prettier in the snow.

Friday I was woken at 5am by the now infamous ‘thunder snow’….by the time we got up the thaw was well on, and by evening we’d had 4.9cm of rain. In between, I spent a squally morning sitting watching the local native squirrels on the bird nuts (including a fight between 2, too fast to film). Here’s the winner.

That’s my six for this week. Don’t forget to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter, and take a look at other sixer’s contributions via the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 28th November 2020

Six things in the garden, on a Saturday. #SixonSaturday

It’s not quite advent, so still Autumn? The nights are very dark now, and the days have a liquidy watercolour light. Gloomy, but sometimes very beautiful. That light lit up a few late flowers for me this week, and also highlighted surprising colour as the garden starts to fold itself away for winter. First then, some of the colour. Welsh poppies just keep popping up and having another go.

Periwinkle creeps its way around the house walls, and has time to pop up the odd flower. I like the way this one cast a pretty shadow onto the wall behind.

I’m not a huge fan of winter heather. The garden hosts one diminutive little plant, small, but cheerful.

And now for some proper autumn shots. The gunnera is taking much longer than usual to wave goodbye to the growing year. Still not frosty, but the cool nights around 3 deg C are having an impact, resulting in an odd multi-coloured look. These leaves are close to going the journey to the compost heap…maybe this weekend!

The other day I spotted this lovely colour combination of the New Zealand holly juxtaposed against browned stems of the lysimachia, a very pleasing mix.

Last, but not least, shrub roses are having a go. Lots of buds on several of my plants, including this one. I hope the frost holds off a few more days so that this lot come into proper bloom.

That’s my six for this week. Don’t forget to follow #SixonSaturday on Twitter, and take a look at other sixer’s contributions via the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 21st November 2020

Still no frost. I’ve been here 15 years and never seen an autumn this mild. There are therefore a few stragglers still going in the now very gloomy garden. First up this week, I grew ragged robin from seed this year, somehow managed to mislabel and thought I’d lost all the plants. But this week, my mystery plant came into flower. She’s ragged enough, yet beautiful. I’ve put her near the pond and will plant on into the margins when the flowering is over.

In the pond itself is a surprise new flower on the water hawthorn. Very late, but adding a welcome splash of white to the pond surface. I’ll leave the leaf clearing until this one has finished.

Clematis have certainly stopped flowering now, but the seed heads on this one will last until a strong storm blows them off. I’ll leave on for a while, as I’ve seen small birds making cosy roost pockets from their soft glossiness.

In the courtyard, one of the half-barrels hosts summer herbs. A flat-leaved parsley is still growing strong, no sign of tiredness yet, it looks lush and tasty, especially when wearing a scattering of raindrops.

Newly coming into flower are my winter wonders. This viburnum looks good, and some of the stems come into the house for winter flower arrangements.

Last, but not least, I’m never sure whether sowing autumn sweetpeas is worth the bother this far north. I sewed 2 trays from the seeds collected from this year’s finished plants. One has been nibbled by mice, but the other has new shoots. I’m not sure how they will winter but some new growth now is just what’s needed to keep me motivated through the long dark days to come.

Stay safe, keep growing, and don’t forget to view all the other Six’s on Saturday, via The Propagator, or on twitter #sixonsaturday.

Six on Saturday 14th November 2020

Now we’re in mid-November, light levels are beginning to get very low, but when the sun does come out, colours can seem luminous. Brings a bit of cheer when we really need it. First up this week are twisty hazel branches, in a burst of afternoon sunshine. The leaves are holding on, now bright yellow.

Next, apple trees in the west-facing part of the garden have had almost all their leaves blown off now. They look striking against a stormy sky. This was one of those afternoons when the rain was about to come, but sun shining very low in the west below the cloud level.

Speaking of apples. I have 2 huge cooking apple trees, and one medium sized tree. We’re harvesting a full bucket of apples every 2 days. Freezers are already full — any suggestions folks?

I know hebe featured last week. With no frosts yet, they are still going strong, and I am determined to feature flowers as one of my six, for as long as possible. Here are some more hebe to fulfill that need, with autumn colours in the background.

On the no-frost theme, there seems little point in chopping back the gunnera yet. The leaves are looking a little tired, but the plant still provides a statuesque backdrop to the pond.

Last, and by no means least, cotoneaster are probably peak-red, though the berries are going fast. Every time I walk by I disturb a blackbird or two.

That’s my lot for this week. Except the stunning news that Scotland are through to the Euros….yehee, I’m not a footy fan, but I do feel I belong now, as an Anglo-Italian Scot. I was SO PLEASED with Thursday’s result.

Don’t forget to follow other Six on Saturday blogs, as seen via The Propagator, or on Twitter #SixonSaturday. Have a great week.