Six on Saturday – 13/4/19

A gorgeous day in the garden here in Malvern.  Whilst there has been a cool wind, when the sun shone it was almost t-shirt warm.  Especially when you are rapidly going up and down a sloping garden moving pots around. As I hope to do Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post on Monday I thought I would try and avoid flowering photos.  So my first photo is a Cornus backlit by the sun.  I’ve no idea what it is, I’ve had it for ever and it never seem to put much growth on.  I have removed the odd stem in the past to see if I can get those nice red winter stems but I have concluded today that this really isn’t that type of Cornus so I will let it shrub up.

Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis)
Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

Some of the ferns are starting to send up their new fronds.  My favourite at this time of year is the Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis). I love the colour of the fronds, a sort of grey burgandy and they are just opaque enough to glow when the sun shines.


Arisaema speciosum

Another plant that fascinates me at this time of year is the Arisaema speciosum.  Their mottled stems appear and then their three leaves slowly unfold before the weird spathe type flower appears – quite fascinated.  I grew these from seed probably about 10 years ago now and they flower every year without fail

The winds last month blew most of the flowers off the Camellia (variety unknown) so I was really surprised today to notice there seems to be a second flush of flower buds.  I’m sure they are new buds as opposed to original buds which were slow to open.

I mentioned, at the top of the post, that I have been going up and down the garden all day moving pots.  I decided my focus today was to sort the patio out and plant out everything I can.  I haven’t sown any seeds this year nor do I plan to. I have decided this year to abstain.  My reason for this is that I have been growing plants from seed for at least a decade and I have loved it.  I have all sorts of strange plants in the garden as a result of seed exchanges but at the moment my spare time is limited whilst I love the excitement when something germinates, I hate it when the seedling gets too leggy as I haven’t moved them on quickly enough. It will also give me the chance to get on top of things rather than spending all my spare time pricking out.  The little box above was a seedling I picked up from a walk way at a garden somewhere. It was little more than a matchstick and it has languished in various pots, growing slowly for around 10 years.  It has grown despite me!.  I thought I would treat it today and pot it up into a new pot with fresh compost and give it more of a starring role.  This is the very right hand side of my patio and if we have heavy rain this corner floods and can stay wet for days.  It has always been hard to manage but in recent years I have gone with the conditions and it is planted with a number of iris that like a bit of damp such as Ensata Iris, some Sensitive Ferns (Onoclea sensibilis) and a variegated grass/sedge which likes the damp.  There is also a tall grass which people grow in bog garden which has taken over this corner so I spent a difficult hour digging as much of it as I can out.  This should give the irises more of a chance to establish.

My last photo is the left of my patio.  I need to say here that I dislike my patio and plan to replace it at some point but its down the end of a long list of expense. This photo was taken when I had moved about half the pots of seedlings.  I have a significant number of peony and lily seedlings grown from HPS seed exchanges which I have been dutifully potting on.  Why I thought I needed to try to grow so many I have no idea – I think it was a case of having a go and not expecting much germination.  They are now all relocated up the garden by the top bench where it will be shady and they are out of the way.  In the muddle by the greenhouse are also the various snowdrops I bought back in February and these have all now been planted out with labels. I’m pleased to say that all the little pots to the right of the photo have gone and most of the plants have been planted out.  So next weekend, I will weed the patio ready for some summer patio pots.   I should confess that whilst all those pots have now gone, I have as many to the right of the patio which I am hoping to sort tomorrow.

Thanks to the Propagator for hosting this weekly meme which is really getting me back and engaged with my garden.  I love reading everyone else’s, which you can find in the comments, on the Propagators blog – I have to confess to hardly reading blogs for some years and it a real delight to find so many new and interesting gardeners and gardens.

Foliage Follow-Up – April 2017

Blechnum chilense

Sorry I’m a day late in joining in Pam’s Foliage Follow Up although to be honest it is months since I last joined in but I’m sure she will forgive me.  I thought I would take ferns as a theme this month especially as it is the month of the emerging ferny frond, with croziers and fiddleheads all over the place.

Onoclea sensibilis

Whilst Blechnum chilense (above) is an evergreen fern, many of my ferns are deciduous, going dormant over winter.  Onoclea sensibilis, better know as the Sensitive Fern, is one of the first to push up its fronds which initially emerge with a red hue to the stems but soon the frond and stem go a delicious soft green.  It needs moisture to do well, mine are in my old bog garden, and have a habit of dying back in the summer if it gets too hot.

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda regalis, the Royal Fern, is another one that benefits from some moisture.  These emerging fronds are my favourite ones each year.  I’m not sure if it is the elegance and fragility of their appearance of the grey/brown of the stems; whichever it might be I always know the season is progressing when they appear.

Athyrium niponicum

I have a number of Athyrium niponicum in the garden, this one may well be ‘Burgundy Lace’. I certainly have ‘Burgundy Lace’ somewhere and to be honest I struggle to tell the difference between the Athyrium niponicums at times. Anyway it is a very pretty small deciduous fern that bring a nice purple and grey highlight to the border.

My final fiddlehead and not only can I not remember the name of this fern, I can’t even remember where this plant is located.  I took the photographs on Friday ready for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day so who knows which it is .  However, as with all the ferns there is something prehistoric about the fronds unfurling which I enjoy.

Thanks to Pam for hosting this meme which I strive to join in with as I love foliage but generally I fail to remember!

Small Triumphs


I think one of the things I love about gardening are the small moments of delight and joy when something has germinated, a planting combination works well, or a gamble pays off.  They are all small triumphs which often only the gardener really appreciates but they come with such a good feel factor that they make a real difference to day to day life.

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Back last November I took a plunge and had the willow that dominated the end of the garden lopped back, I would say pruned but it just wouldn’t give credit to the drastic work that was undertaken.  For a while I wondered if I had done the right thing but gaining so much sky and extended views to the Malverns compensated for the starkness of the tree.  As Spring has progressed we have been peering at the willow to see if there was any sign of life.  I know that it is hard to keep a good willow down but the tree surgery had been so severe I was sceptical that it would re-shoot.  I had even got to the point of deciding that if the tree didn’t re-shoot then it would be fine as I could cut it back further and grow a climber over it and enjoy the view of the neighbour’s trees which had been revealed due to the tree surgery.  Of course as soon as the tree heard me talking to my son about maybe giving up on it it started to produce shoots and over the last couple of weeks there has been a distinct fringe of foliage appearing.


By cutting the willow back the surroundings border have found themselves open to the sky.  I have worried that the woodland shade lovers would suffer but so far they seem to be thriving.  Take for example the Osmunda reglais above.  I have never known it to grow so upright and so tall, I am sure that the warm weather we have had has contributed but I also believe that the plant is benefiting from a more open aspect. It will be interesting to see how they do over the summer.


My focus in the last year has been on gardening better, learning more and caring for my plants better.  The rhododendron at the top of the post is a case in point.  This was bought some years back as a dwarf rhododendron, it has lived in the woodland border for many years, rarely producing any flowers and generally looking sad and unloved. With the departure of the Acer and the clearing of the area around it I moved the rhododendron up to the slope by the base of the Prunus.  It managed to survive the big feet of the tree surgeons and thanks to a good dollop of ericaceous compost it has put on good growth and this year for the first time is covered in flowers. I am really pleased.


Whilst I get pleased when plants work well together or seeds germinate what thrills me most is when a plant reappears that has struggled or in the case of the Arisaema above has suffered from being relocated too many times.  I grew this from seed some years back and this is its third location – I have promised it and its 4 friends they will stay put.  They have suffered from the attention of the badger, or maybe a fox, and I have found the bulbs on the soil in the winter, carefully replanting them.  This year they are looking very strong and healthy and again I think they are benefiting from the removal of the heavy tree canopy. The only downside is that the flower spathe is at the back of the leaf stem so not very obvious but I have been told that you can rotate Arisaema bulbs to bring the flower to the front so I will try to remember to do that once it has finished flowering.


Finally the Eranthis are seeding and hopefully there will be seedlings next year and they will start to spread and I will have another small moment of triumph.