All posts by Julie

Six on Saturday 15-5-21

Despite starting to sound like a broken record, it’s still cold. Lots of cloud, lots of rain, a little wind. Spring plants have bloomed for longer than usual, yet the early summer crew are catching up. This week, I’ll feature edibles and flowers, so much to choose from now. We’ll start with edibles. Thank goodness the frost has gone because my tatties are starting to poke up. These Shetland Black have a deep purple vein at the centre of the leaf. The potatoes themselves will be dark purple, with delicate white flesh and a purple ring a few mm from the skin. Delicious roasted.

Second this week I have wild garlic. In the garden, and the woods nearby, these plants have now come into full flower. The leaves and flowers are both nice and spicy when added to a salad, and very pretty too.

Much excitement over the last couple of days as the broad beans have begun to flower. These were sown in the greenhouse a couple of months ago and have been sulking in the veg plot for about a month. Finally, here they go.

Now to blooms. Last week, my bluebells had started. This week they are positively singing. Somewhat thugish, but so exhuberant.

The first of the hardy geranium are doing their thing. These are a joy, almost chocolate brown/purple, the plants seems to have grown from nowhere with flowers topping their 30cm stems.

And at last, clematis montana, here it comes. This variety cover many walls of the house, and the garden, these are the very first few flowers. I love spring.

That’s my Six for the week. If you like Six on Saturday, do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 8-5-21

The cold snap continues in Fife. We’ve had marble-sized hail this week, pouring rain, and a wee bit of snow. Luckily, my tatties are not up yet…but the greenhouse is bursting with little plants that I dare not plant out. Despite the cold, the garden continues to bloom and grow. This week, I can’t help but feature mostly blooms, but also an edible that’s doing very well. I’ll start with that. “Walking onions” or “Welsh onions”, I think these are called, they are perennial, and form new little plants off the flowers at the top of the plant. These work well as a substitute for spring onions.

Second, perhaps the last blast for the grape hyacinth, though this clump seems to be going very strong still, I suspect they like the cold weather.

Another plant that is coming to the end of it’s spring season is narcissus. This is a pheasant-eye, always the last to flower, delicate and really beautiful. I always forget about them, they always appear with the hostas. Gorgeous.

At the other end of spring, my second tranche of rhododendron are beginning to do their thing. This one is understated, white with just a hint of pink, lovely in the morning light.

Having grown up in the middle of England, I’d always associated ‘apple blossom time’ with April. here’s it is certainly May, especially this year. My first blossom is just coming out, so I’m hoping the frosts ease off around now, and hope for a big crop.

Last, I can’t help but head back to blue. Bluebells. These are the dreaded Spanish type, but with a high-walled garden, I enjoy them, rather than trying to get rid of them. The wild version are saved for the local woods.

That’s my Six for the week. If you like Six on Saturday, do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 1-5-21

The first day of May, wow, how did we get here so quickly, after the apparently endless cold winter? Despite working from home, I’m behind on my veg growing. Managed to plant most of my tatties this week, but I still have one set that’s waiting for the purple-sprouting broccoli to finish, we’ll see how they do. Talking of purple, I found myself drawn this week to the vibrant colours of the middle of spring, so we’ll start there, and end with the cool of the garden pond. First, the last week of full-on camelia. This huge shrub (2x3m) lives in almost complete shade, has been heavily frosted, and yet is heaving with blooms, still, even in May.

Last week, and this week too, I’ve admired tulips, around the garden, and in pots. This one featured last week, but now the flowers are in full bloom. I think this purple-red combo might have been an accident, but it’s a happy one.

Perennial cornflower are seriously well established here, and seem to pop up all over, from dry sunny borders, to shady corners. This is the very first bloom of the year. I love the detail of the almost-torn petals. This is a very good value plant. Starts to flower in May, once the blooms are faded it will weather a really ferocious prune and come back smiling a couple of weeks later, and again….and so on.

Back to shocking pink for another blousy bloom. Rhododendron in full flower are hard to beat for colour and they do last a few weeks. Also loved by insects, and strikingly cheerful to sit next too (shame it’s only 6 deg C in the garden). At least the colour is warming.

I wouldn’t want to forget the seasonal beauty of our garden wildlife pond. One can spend hours studying the light-footed insects that skate across it’s surface, and the tadpoles and newts in the depths below. The pond hosts just a few glorious plants, the first a butter-yellow ranunculus. A native species, it doesn’t last for long, but right now is delivering a real whack of vibrancy.

Last, but by no means least is a broader view of the pond with the first of the hostas beginning to come to life in the foreground. These last a long time, as the garden hosts several blackbird and thrush families, that have both learned to harvest slugs and snails straight from the pond. These leaves will hopefully stay whole for months to come.

That’s my Six for the week. If you like Six on Saturday, do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 24-4-21

Spring marches on, we still have cold nights, but some warmer days this week, and the blossom is, well, blossoming. Mostly blooms therefore, for my #SixonSaturday this week. but let’s start with leafage. These are bright young shoot from a twisty hazel on the driveway, full of promise for the season ahead.

Above the hazel stands a tree that delivers one of the highlights of the year. A full-on fully blooming cherry tree, with blooms stark and stunning against the so-blue skies that we’ve experienced in another very cool, dry April.

Also near the drive are some small, sturdy azelea, doing their thing in the early spring, and being fairly innocuous for the rest of the year. Not sure I would have chosen this purple, but here it is, and I’d be reluctant to out this one.

Next up, a form of spirea, and insect-friendly ‘bridal veil’. This year I got the pruning right (really does need to be done in early summer, right after flowering), and have been rewarded with a gorgeous display.

For my fifth choice this week i’ve gone for amelanchier, what a wonderful plant, the combination of bronze foliage and white blossom starts the proper spring for me every year. I like it so much, I have another in a pot in the courtyard….this is a bloom from the larger, elderly shrub, in evening light.

Last this week, it has to be tulips, though I’m finding them tough to photograph. My favourites are always red, but they seem too saturated for a phone camera to cope. Here, instead, a variety whose name I’ve forgotten but which were promised to be ‘blue’ — more like mauve perhaps, but nice enough. I can’t get enough tulips, literally, as about half the bulbs I plant seem to disappear (probably providing mice with winter forage).

That’s my Six for the week. If you like Six on Saturday, do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 17-4-21

A welcome surprise this week: Scotland unlocked a little (10 days ahead of the Covid-19-roadmap), allowing us to leave our county for the first time since October. Wow….to have a walk in West Lothian, what a luxury! Weather has largely been glorious this week, but with a sting, some -3 degC nights. Planting out spring veg has gone on hold, with trips to and fro from the greenhouse each morning, with plants going out into the sunshine. I’ll start my #SixonSaturday with a few of the lucky little babies. Here are some lettuce, rocket and broad-beans, in their afternoon location.

Despite the really hard frosts, there’s plenty of flowering and blossoming to choose from this week. Let’s start with euphorbia, I’m never sure I like it, yet the striking lime leaves and flowers have a freshness and vigour that’s hard to ignore.

Berries are starting to flower, and bees come to polinate them. These perfect pretty little flowers are of jostaberry. The idea is superb, a cross between blackcurrant and gooseberry, but the berries are a little annoying, need top and tailing like a gooseberry, but small, so lots of work.

Who doesn’t love a good magnolia? This one has popped into full flower, despite the hard frosts, and so far seems resistant to the cold. This is a small tree, still less than 2m after a decade in the garden. Exquisite.

I think the pear blossom will make it too, just coming into flower, pollination in progress, apparently no frost damage….last year my 200 year old tree (we think it was planted against house wall when house built) heaved with fruit, looking good for this year too so far.

Last this week, a herald of mid-spring. My garden was planted many years ago, clearly by someone with horticultural knowledge, a with range of 7 different rhododendron, each flowering in succession. They are now huge shrubs, but give a fabulous display every spring. The first one is about to burst.

That’s my Six for the week. If you like Six on Saturday, do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 10-4-21

We went back to winter this week in Fife. -3 degC nights, 5 degC days and snow flurries for the last few days. I spent some time moving tomatoes back into the house from the greenhouse, and vulnerable new veg plants from the sunny corner, back into the greenhouse. Despite the weather, still the colours come. For my Six on Saturday this week, I’ll start and end with colour, and sandwich new growth and promise in between. This was the week (a wee bit later than usual) that the camelia got going. I have her in a shady corner, so far there are just a few flowers near the top of the 2x2m shrub. Each one is exquisite.

Second this week, one of the plants with the most obvious frost damage is gunnera. I took the blanket of old leaves off a couple of weeks ago. There’s certainly some evidence of frost burn as the leaves unfurl, but this is a HUGE plant most years: 3m across, up to 2m high, so being a bit rough with it should not be a problem in a couple of months. Rather beautiful, despite the brownish colour.

Sunny skies have featured highly this week. Despite the cold, magnolia flowers are beginning to pop out of their chubby buds and dance in the cold breeze.

I have a variety of current bushes against a sunny south-facing wall. The white currents are way ahead of the others this year, fully in flower, and being polinated by a variety of bees. There’s a tree bumble bee hiding to the right of the flowers here, it was rather resistant to being photographed, I just managed to get this one in focus.

Clematis montana features highly in my garden, adorning a range of walls, fences, and the sides of the house. This one is near the greenhouse, on a south-facing wall; the buds are plumping up nicely.

I started with colour, and I’ll end with it too. The very first tulips, here they come. I love red tulips above all other colours. I hope they cope with the frost, as there’s 4-5 more days of wintery weather to come.

That’s my Six for the week. I guess the good side of an April cold snap is that the early spring flowers last for longer. If you like Six on Saturday, do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 3-4-21

On Friday, Scotland moved it’s Covid-19 instruction from “stay at home” to “stay local”, so I celebrated by visiting someone else’s garden; ‘Backhouse of Rossie’ who host a national collection of daffodils. It was my first garden visit in 6 months, a bright spring day, and it inspired me to come home and look more closely at my own little collection. This week, therefore, I give you daffodils. As a preview, I’ve no idea what the varieties are called. Happy to be educated if anyone else knows?

First up, near the house are some fairly traditional flowers, with a solid yellow colour and firm snout.

Next, hiding on the driveway, are just one little cluster of delicate, pure white flowers. The long thin petals make them look slightly startled. I love the simplicity of the colour and form.

Third, wider outer petals and a robust, almost pink-orange centre, allow these flowers to bring instant joy. How could you not smile when you see these lovely blooms?

For my fourth, we’re back to a fairly standard yellow trumpet, this time with pale outer petals, each one slightly twisted so that this flower has a much more three-dimensional aspect.

Fifth this week, a combination of wide, white outer petals, and bright orange centres should be stunning, but these flowers have a habit of pointing downwards, so I’m a bit less keen on these. They look great, like this, from a blackbird’s eye view.

Last for my mini daffodil festival, these flowers offer a frilly trumpet of the palest yellow, set against broad white petals. A little fussy, but they smell sweetly and are holding up well against strong cold easterly winds.

That’s my Six for this week. Here’s a bonus though, these, and a few other varieties, look lovely in a vase. If you live in Fife, a local important collection of daffs can be seen at Backhouse of Rossie (backhouserossie.co.uk) and you’re allowed to visit under current restrictions.

If you like Six on Saturday, do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 27-3-21

It may be spring but it’s been 6 degC out there this week, and 25mph wind, hail, and even a few minutes of snow. A classic Scottish spring. The flowers and buds are ploughing on regardless. My #SixonSaturday this week feature the joys of their colour and resilience. First, one of the loveliest of spring bulbs, I’ve never liked the name snake’s head fritillary, but the flowers are so delicate, and the patterns so perfect.

There are still winter flowers on the go, the detail on the viburnum flowers is worth a close look. Each little flower demonstrates exquisite anatomical detail.

Daffodils, for me there’s nothing better. I’m going to show them every week that they manage to keep blooming (could be a good long season given current temperatures). These are a different variety from last week. I don’t know the name, slightly conical centre and pale outer petals.

Still not much blossom showing here. I own a very old pear tree (if it’s as old as the house, it’ll be more than 200 years). Looks like the first blossom will come very soon, the buds have burst.

Another winter beauty, seeds are starting to set in some of the flowers on the hellebore. Almost time to say goodbye for another year.

I’m going to end this week’s six with my new favourite (sorry fritillary), the drumstick primula. What colour, what form, what’s not to love?

That’s my Six for this week. Do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator his-self.

Six on Saturday 20-3-21

I am thrilled that we’re in a period of stable calm weather for the spring equinox. The weather forecast for the last fews days has been ‘calm but cloudy’, and frequently proven wrong with the sun showing itself and temperatures rising to mid teens. Reminds me of spring 2020….mmm, there’s another anniversary coming up this week: lockdown 1 . Wow, a year! This week’s #SixonSaturday will not dwell on anniversaries but look forward to the gardening season ahead. First, we found a local craftsman to refurbish our cast-iron-ended table, bench and chairs. Thanks ‘St. Andrews Handyman’, these are just lovely.

Next, amelanchier are often the first shrubs to blossom in my garden. They haven’t quite made it as the winners this year (see below), but are well on their way, just about to burst. I love the tinge of red from the leaves as the white blossom comes through.

What has made it as ‘first plant to blossom’ is my ancient prunus. This large tree flowers sparsely, yet the first flowers always come on tiny twigs really close to the main trunk. Almost there, the colour of the buds is pleasingly intense.

I love native primrose, but never remember to plant into the garden. Instead, I have a range from pale pink to dark red, pretty, I think…..

Just in time for the equinox, the daffs have come, and here they are. No doubt they will feature in my #sixonsaturdy each week, for the week weeks we have them. What’s not to love?

Finally this week, the spring bulbs are probably at their best now. Hellibore seems to have enjoyed the cold snap back in February, and are now at their best, swaddled in scilla. A lovely tableau to end on.

That’s my Six for this week. Do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator his-self.

Six on Saturday 13-3-21

Another week of early spring. Some good signs, with sweet peas and lettuce coming up in the greenhouse. Some less good, with a mouse nibbling on chitting tatties, and pea seedlings all rotting. I can’t believe that it was one year ago this week that was my last ‘normal’ week at work, but so the year turns. Just as well we didn’t know then what we’d be doing one year on. For my #sixonsaturday I have a mishmash of edible promise, beautiful flowers, and welcome wildlife. First up, this could be the last week for hellebores. This is one of my best photo’s yet, of my favourite plant. The flower is luscious, yet perfect.

The still bare borders are losing the snowdrops now, it’s almost time to transplant them. In their place scilla are popping up their cheerful blue heads.

I have nurtured a brown-leafed celandine in a rose pot for a few years. This year it’s leaves seem variegated, an interesting flourish or a nutrient deficiency? It’s hard to say. I do like the way the chocolate leaves set off the first bright yellow flowers of the year.

In the edible garden, the first genuine stirrings of spring are here. The first bud of rhubarb. Granted, it’ll be a while until this will make a crumble, but I’m hoping the plant will thrive in 2021 as a large shrub next to it has been pruned back very hard to open it up to more sunlight.

The first greenhouse nutured plantlets are almost ready to go out. Broad beans have been hardened off for a few hours a day. I can’t wait to eat their young beans in a pillau rice with dill and caramelised onion. I’d thought of planting them this weekend, but frost in due, maybe I’ll hold off for a few more days.

Last, on 11th March, a number of frogs appeared in the pond (at least 4). Within a couple of hours, and a fair bit of wriggling (the joys of working from home), there was a huge mound of frogspawn. There are now a couple of frogs to be seen most of the day, on babysitting duty. I do love a pond, so much wildlife (the newts are likely to appear any day, they do like a bit of fresh meat in jelly).

That’s my #sixonsaturday for this week. Do join in, there are lots of contributors on Twitter, and more via the regular blog from #SixonSaturday initiator, the great Propagator.