Monthly Archives: December 2021

Six on Saturday 25-12-21

A Xmas #SixonSaturday, and the last one of the year, there has to be a bright and baubly theme this week. All shots were taken on a not-so-recent sunny day, it has been a dark and dreich period around the solstice this year.

I’ve gone for the best first this. My home made, garden foraged front door wreath. I’m pretty pleased with the finished item this year.

And for the rest, I’ve chosen bright and cheerful, colourful baubly things, all from the garden in the last week or so. What’s more to say at Xmas?

Except this last one…..from the windowsill….unusually we HAVE got Xmas cactus doing the right thing at the right time.

That’s it for me this week. Happy Xmas. Don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 18-12-21

With our Scottish Govt now giving it’s soon-to-be-traditional Xmas message, ‘stay at home if you can’, when I’m not fixed to my home-office screen, there’s always the garden. In this weekend that sits closest to the shortest day, it can be hard to find the motivation to get into the garden, with long shadows even at midday. I managed, and for my #SixonSaturday this week I’m embracing mostly the greens that fight on through the dark.

First, a recent cold morning made me notice a few beads of frost clinging to an intriguing moss-and-lichen combination. The more you look the more intricate the scene nestling in the top of the garden wall.

Having battled on for about 9 solid months, nasturtium flowers have finally been chilled out of existence, but the seeds remain, gleaming green in the sunshine, soon to be harvested for sowing in, I hope, a few short weeks.

Except for the very harshest winters, rosemary grows (and sometimes flowers), right through the year. I think it benefits from being in a shallow, dry, bed, there’s not too much sogginess. Some fresh tips of this one will be used to season next weekend’s big roast (goose, if the mail-order fresh-from-farm delivery works out….fingers crossed).

Sometimes, plants show extraordinary resilience. This is campanula, growing a good 2m, tucked into a niche in a vertical wall, and still delivering a few flowers despite the damp and the dark.

A few years ago I received a tree-heather as a gift. At the time it looked like a rather boring little shrub. In the depths of the dark days, I do now find the bright lime stems give a cheery glow.

At 56.3 deg north, I do find my environment SO DARK at this time of year. The upside is that you can have a long lie-in, then still get up in time for sunrise over the garden. This was about 9am, Friday 17th December: this is what we mean by the ‘dark midwinter’.

That’s it for me this week. This time next week is you-know-what….Stay safe, keep yourself and others safe by wearing a mask, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 11-12-21

It’s turning into another difficult winter, so for my #SixonSaturday this week I’ve had a good mooch around the garden for things that give me hope, joy, and that feeling of ‘hang in there’. First up, at this time of year a large climbing hydrangea loses it’s leaves and reveals just how much it’s been a haven for wildlife. This year it seems to have become a bird-nest village, with 6 nests showing up, Here’s the lowest one. I’m not sure what it is, perhaps a robin, with a finger-length diameter and a beautiful mossy cover. A wonderful piece of natural engineering.

Some colour next. I let a number of large chilli plants sit in the greenhouse. there have been enough sunny days, somehow, to ripen up the fruit on this beautiful Alberto Rocoto (also called Locoto). These fruit are BIG, about the length of my thumb, with black seeds. If you’re in the Uk, you can try them from A great plant, that CAN (though it’s tricky) overwinter in a cool room in the house. Delicious, reliably hot without blowing your head off, and very pretty indeed.

There has been quite a winter of weather in the last couple of weeks: 2 huge storms, some ice, some snow, yet calendula are still showing me the joy of their orange flowers. These are tough little plants. I did once see a huge patch, in November, on a farm about 2 days walk from Annapurna Basecamp (Nepal), so I guess Fife should be not much of a challenge for them.

This next plant has a story attached. I love a good evergreen. I know this one as ‘New Zealand Holly’. It IS a native of NZ. I picked up a few little seedlings some years ago an a bike ride on a remote peninsula in the far northwest of Scotland (just northwest of the Summer Isles, for those keen on detail). We passed a number of tiny hamlets and single homes, all with huge shrubs with bright white flowers. A very old lady at a little cafe explained that a visitor had come, in the 1970’s, from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, to talk about plants and give a few away. Hence this remote spot, sheltered by the Gulf Stream, hosts many of these ‘semi-hardy’ plants. She gave me 5 little seedlings and today I have a couple in the garden, and one that winters in the greenhouse. I love the history.

Despite the fact that we’re now less than 2 weeks from the solstice (BRING IT ON), I have a few hardy veg slugging it out. Chard is still delivering, though some of the stems are now cold- and wind-battered, they are still good for a stir-fry or just steamed.

Last this week, my absolutely wonderful hope and joy find……a lemon tree has been doing it’s best in my greenhouse for a couple of years. It often flowers, but they always fall. Until NOW….I have a lemon…YAYYYY. Perhaps this one will feature in our festive gin-n-tonic.

That’s it for me this week. Fortunately, my garden is big enough that there are many weeks of clearing to do before thinking about spring (not to mention a few more bulbs that really do need planting this weekend). That’ll keep me busy through whatever winter we have to face this year. Stay safe, keep yourself and others safe by wearing a mask, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 4-12-21

The first #SixonSaturday of winter, so some wintery scenes for my Six this week. Thankfully, we’re based on the south slope of a hill, nicely protected from the big storm last weekend, just lost a few tree branches. But I was a little surprised to see November snow a couple of days later. Made for some nice pics of the garden though, so here goes. Clematis seed heads have featured before on my blog, but perhaps not so cute as this, each one wearing a little wooly snow hat.

There are many perennials still on show in the big border, too, echinops standing tall despite the storm and also sporting fluffy snow caps.

There have been a number of days in this last week when the pond has taken on it’s winter jacket…a fair covering of ice, with green leaves of the water lily still hanging on underneath.

Next to the pond is my December gunnera. I think this must be the first year in the 16 I’ve been here that some of the leaves have managed to stay standing into December…they are just about hanging on. The horticultural advice for this plant is to cover with a number of the leaves to protect from frost. Most years I have to hack half a dozen new buds of this specimen in spring to stop it romping further down the garden, so it gets treated fairly harshly to keep it in check.

I’ll finish this week with a couple of winter highlights. Blackbirds are slowly finishing off the cotoneaster berries: there are still a fe left to bring colour and cheer.

Perhaps a little early, pieris is beginning to bud. This one almost never produces fresh red leaves, it’s looking like it wont this year either, but the flowers will come in just a few more weeks.

That’s my #SixonSaturday this week, have a great weekend in the garden, if you can get out into the weather. Stay safe, keep yourself and others safe by following the science and wearing a mask, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.