It’s been a while since I participated … Happy New Year to all the other ‘Sixers’ (may I call you that?)! Go on and read everyone else’s Six by following the links at The Propagator’s site.
Fairly cold at night here, but not below about -4 degrees centigrade. A fine, sunny week, with heavy frost every morning. At the moment the sun is rising at about 8.30 in the morning, and setting about 17.30 at night. Lovely to feel that lengthening once again.
Here’s my six for the week …
1. Scrumptious Echeverias
I am completely entranced by Aldi’s regularly offered echeverias – they’ve become my little sweeties – I just can’t pass them by. Each time they get them in, there’s usually one that’s a bit different and I stand for ages, drinking their colours and shapes in, before I choose.
But I wish Aldi would name them properly. They seem to be going through a gardening ‘dumbing down’ phase. Even their clematis are now sold as ‘pink-flowered’ or ‘blue-flowered’. At most, I can look forward to a cultivar that someone decided to call ‘Lots of Lovely Blue Flowers’. Ha!
However, as those of you who have read my blog before will know, in deepest, darkest France Aldi is the closest I get to the joy of buying plants without being in a car for well over an hour.
The one in the picture below has been with me for over a year now, and is growing a trunk. It needs repotting and I’ll take some leaf cuttings to make more at the same time. How I wish they (and agaves) would grow outside here. My garden would be a different place …
This is my newest sweetie, below – I now have four. Adorable … although the woman at the till in Aldi seemed more enchanted by the pot than the plant.
2. Mouth-watering lemons
Yes – purchased from Aldi in 2019. I bought it just coming up to Easter and we sat on our little supper terrace enjoying the perfume of the flowers over the holidays. Then, at Christmas, we used the first (of four) in our gin & tonics. Three to go … I’m quite proud, but I can see the little tree now needs potting on and treating with something for the chlorosis (yellowing leaves) its showing signs of.
3. Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’
I purchased this cultivar simply because it was the only one available from the online nursery I bought from back in 2014 to 2016 when I was adding a lot of shrubs to this new garden. Like many other woody plants here, it’s not really big enough to show you a (distinctly unimpressive) long shot. But I have high hopes …
4. Chimonanthus praecox ‘Grandiflorus’
Again, a long shot would be underwhelming, but since my little plant has only been in the ground 2 years and I’m enjoying blooms already (around 15 this year?), I’m not complaining. But really looking forward to the day when it spreads its little waxy lanterns over the wall behind it. I notice that even here, on the wall, it has a slight blackening of the petal edges. Frost damage?
5. The raised bed project
This is the spot where all the action is at the moment … looked at from above, up in the Mirror Garden.
The dream is to grow veg close to the greenhouse, where I have the hosepipe every day in summer. I’ve had a fair bit of success with lettuces, spinach, spring cabbage, rocket and spring onions as long as they are planted where they can be watered daily. The main veg garden is too dry and hot for them in summer. This area includes a lot of concrete (the base of an old greenhouse?), so raised beds are the only solution.
It’s a lot of work, but I’m taking it slowly … there were heaps of soil and stones (including a stone-filled wheelbarrow – now gone!) left after building the greenhouse in 2017, but I’m gradually wearing it all away.
I’ve already bought two little metre square black plastic raised beds – but I’ll need more containers, eventually, to fill the whole area. The wall behind is the 14th-16th century rampart wall for the village, which we are lucky enough to have in the garden. The heat from the wall keeps it warmer here in winter (so a good place for autumn-sown, over-wintered greens). In summer I’ve found that draping shading over anything I grow up here (coupled with daily watering) really does make it possible for me to carry on with a little success.
I even think I might try shading draped over some of the plots on my main veg garden (divided into 12 beds), since the temperatures are SCORCHING in June/July/August. Still, pumpkins, onions and peppers do well, and the broccoli (which I try to get in really early) always comes back in the cooler weather.
The raised bed project also involves taking down my old tomato compost from the pots in the greenhouse (they are heavy – only three left to shift!). I have to grow my tomatoes under glass because the blight is horrendous in this garden.
Then I use the spent compost to cover the beds in the veg garden with it. Bet you’re glad you don’t garden here!
6. Roses from ‘home’
My husband (known on this blog as the Bon Viveur) likes to think up extra work for me. He was over in Ireland last summer and visited the (now derelict) family home of his childhood. An old Victorian pile that nobody wants or can afford to renovate these days. He collected four different types of hips from some of the old roses and brought them back for me to sow. I soaked the seeds in bleach for a time to kill any nasties. Then I used little (clean) L’Oréal moisturiser jars to keep each of the four separate. We put a little damp moss in the jars and then they went out into a plastic-covered mini-greenhouse I have on the supper terrace (where they will be lightly frosted). I checked today and the seed looks in quite sprightly condition – effectively I’ve been stratifying it. Time to sow! I don’t expect the plants (if they germinate) to be ‘all that’, but we have a bank down below that I’m populating with cheap ‘extra’ shrubs, just to control weed growth and give some pleasure. It will be a nice memory of home for him, if I’m successful.
In Ireland they always say that spring starts on 2 February, coincidentally the Bon Viveur‘s birthday, so not long to go now.
Correction on 27 January from the BV: 1st February, St. Briget’s day, is the start of spring in Ireland – even better! Only three days to go!