Six on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 17.3.18.

No doubt The Propagator will have sown himself into a sweaty mess on the floor of his greenhouse this week. If you haven’t already (and let’s face it, you have, haven’t you?),check out his awe-inspiring blog at:

Meanwhile, here is my week in six photos:

  1. “A host of golden daffodils”, as Wordsworth had it, tramping round the Lake District. My host was in the more prosaic surrounds of Woodford Green, in the middle of a large roundabout. To be honest, a lot of daffs leave me cold: too big, too coarse, too common, dying loudly. However, in huge drifts, and in this case, in well-behaved short form, they can be stunning. I nearly got run over getting this shot, so they must have something to them. IMG_28672. Blossom time is just so uplifting. I love the constellations of flower in this Cherry up the street from my house. Gorgeous. neither my daff nor my cherry photo can do the real things any kind of justice. Lost in rapture.



3. Helleborus foetidus* Sometimes you see plants growing that are in the prime of health, at the peak of perfection and just loving life. Such a plant was this Hellebore, in a shady spot near the bins, in the front garden of a new client. Green is such a great colour. Simple and classy. *Correction, argutifolius, with thanks to Ali.


4. Same garden, a few metres away, was a group of Crocus (“King of the Striped”?). Now, regular readers will know that I am prejudiced against blowsy, bright and bold colours generally. I wouldn’t plant it in my garden, but it is certainly putting on a show.


5. I returned to one of my original little gardens this week. A tiny courtyard in Bethnal Green. Everything has to be in a pot and look after itself. It amazed and pleased me to see how much had come through the Winter snows looking good. Pelargonium sidoides was in rude good health in the middle top  there. Particularly handy given that I killed my two cuttings roasting them by the radiator. Amazing what a warm microclimate can do.


6. Anigozanthos flavidus. Which is a mouthful in anyone’s language. In Aussie terms, Roo Paw, because they look like them. Against my better judgement I bought this packet of seed in Australia at Christmas and sowed them because I just fell in love with the plant and simply had to try growing them. In a pot, if they reach maturity. Well, stage one of the process is underway, as there are tiny signs of life. Come on!

Six on Saturday 10.3.18

  1. Perhaps due to the cold weather and with very little photographic tweaking, I present to you this Ivy. What a colour! Just love the veining on the leaf.
  2. Surprises in a garden are really important, I think. Things popping up unexpectedly and in places you didn’t put them. I was weeding a hedge bottom the other day and was enchanted by this Primula vulgaris in the prime of health.
  3. What is that abstract black and white line? It’s a young Rhus typhina stem in the light. Such a great plant. Such out of focus photography.
  4. Shrubs do outgrow their alloted spaces sometimes. This Eleagnus has been on my hit list for about ten months. On Thursday, I took my loppers to it and brutalised it. It looks very drastic, but I am confident that it will be breaking out in new leaf shortly and looking good by this time next year. We’ll see. Dog not impressed with my efforts.
  5. New client, with fig tree. It will be dry and shady under there by Summer. So I planted Hakonochloa Aurea underneath. At the moment just dried up little tufts. You know when you imagine something really cool and nice? Then reality bites…
  6. Hamamelis Jelena, again. This time with lovely little rosettes of new growth. I am so glad I bought this shrub.

Double Your Dahlias

As many of us start to think about waking up Dahlia tubers from their slumbers, now is a good time to divide them and make more. You can just start them into growth and take cuttings, which I will be doing later. However, a bit of attention now, with the tubers should at least double your flower power this Summer.

This is what I did:

  1. Cut off the beardy roots at the bottom.
  2. Try to prise apart any very congested clumps by hand. Always obeying the golden rule that each tuber must have eyes at the top to be viable. In practice it can be very hard to identify eyes in a wrinkled tuber. If in doubt, just guess.
  3. Have a glass of wine.
  4. When you have done all you can by hand, get a very sharp knife. This is as close as I will ever come to being a brain surgeon. Cut big, fat, healthy tubers away from the clump, but ensure there is an eye or several eyes at the top. Guess if you cannot see any, but try to err on the side of being generous to the top bit.
  5. Cut out any shrivelled, rotted or tubers which have grown from other tubers. This last bit was new to me. If they have grown directly out of another tuber, they won’t have eyes and will never grow them. Out they must come.
  6. Look at all those potential new plants. You’re going to need more pots and more compost for them now. Tuck them up, put them somewhere reasonably warm and light. Keep moist, but not wet. Look for signs of growth and when it comes you can take cuttings from that, if you want more.

Six on Saturday 3.3.18

  1. Pulsatilla vulgaris seeds. I have been forced to sow this week, owing to having far too much time on my hands and being in receipt of my RHS members’ seed order. They say you should cut the tails off Pulsatilla seed, which partly made me want to leave them on. I compromised and sowed two trays, one with tails on, one with tails off. Call it an experiment. They also said that they need a cold spell to break dormancy. Now if only we had some really freezing weather, I could leave them outside and see how they go…
  2. Come and have a go if you think you’re hard(y) enough. My favourite patch of Cyclamen coum will be fine, hard as nails, but what else will sail through? There will be casualties, of that you can be sure.
  3. Obligatory photo of Walthamsnow/Walthamglow.
  4. Germination of my first sowing of the year has been variable so far. It’s so hard to get an even temperature on a windowsill. First up is Mattheola incana, which I have never grown before. Look at their little phototrophic sprouts, cute.They will want pricking out this week and then where am I going to put them?
  5. Talking of casualties, I took a really late cutting of Salvia Armistad as insurance against bad weather when the mother plant was pruned in November. Dug five others up, potted them and kept them in the cold greenhouse in Autumn. The cutting was trying to flower today so I pinched it out. It is right as rain and very healthy. Glad I bothered. The five in the greenhouse look to be gonnas. Although they may surprise me. I hope so.
  6. Time to get dahlia tubers out of storage, pot them up and start them into growth somewhere protected. That’s a job for later in the week when we are over the sub-zero nonsense.

Six on a Saturday 24.2.18

  1. 1. Fell in love all over again with Cyclamen hederifolium foliage.Such a generous plant: flower, foliage, seed. It will grow in very tough spots. Just lovely.

    2. Also, very much admired the glossy winter foliage of Acanthus mollis. Contrasted with Cyanara in the photo.

    3. Couldn’t help myself with this Hellibore from Lyn’s garden. It was just at its peak.

    4. Bought a plant labeller, after recommendations from other Sixers. Can’t spell.

    5. Bought a shed load of plants to go in clients’ gardens next week. Now it’s gonna snow and I will have to reschedule. Grrrr!

    6. Today the St Mary’s/ Village residents’ Burials in Bloom competition went live! Very excited. You just have to select a neglected grave, assess it, inform me which one, sign the rules and set about tending and planting it whenever you like. The graves will be judged on the 10th July. There will be prizes. Small ones. On the 31st March between 10-12 there will be an opening event for those who want advice. Let’s hope it warms up by then!