Six on Saturday – 17/11/2018

At this time of year the “six things happening in the garden now” gets trickier. The things that are happening here are less obvious, less interesting and less attractive. It becomes the silk purse from sow’s ear challenge. Right, excuses made, what have we got.

Fuchsia ‘Cornish Pixie’. Well, allegedly that’s what it is. It’s one of the encliandra group of Fuchsias, with tiny flowers, but to my jaded eye, is identical to F. x bacillaris and F. microphylla which we also grow. We planted a row of them in the front garden as a low informal hedge between us and next door. Unlike the ones in the back garden, they were undamaged by the frost a couple of weeks back and are looking great.

Violas. We’ve found the winter flowering violas to be as good as anything for winter bedding so I picked up a few the other day and planted up a couple of pots. This one had begonias in it, which I have lifted and will keep as corms until spring. There were a few vine weevil grubs so I replaced the top few inches of compost in the pots with the stuff the tomatoes had been in.

Hak. mac. of the week. Well two in fact. The first Hakonechloa macra form I grew was one I bought from a little nursery in Devon. If it ever had a name I soon lost it. Somehow or other I settled on H. macra ‘Mediovariegata’ as being what it should be called. Many years later I obtained H. macra ‘Albostriata’ and have now been growing both in the same bed for several years. They are very, very, very similar, but I don’t think they are the same. The sort of differences that are visible when you grow them side by side but would really struggle to describe or quantify in words. Does it really matter? Well, one of the main reasons I grow them is for the colour they provide mid winter and ‘Mediovariegata’ has always been outstanding. I was away last year and missed them, the year before ‘Albostriata’ was still quite small. If there was a real difference you’d want to know which was the best one.

Skimmia japonica ‘Bowles Dwarf Female’. Skimmia’s seem rather dull and old fashioned to me but are still valuable for providing winter colour and scent. They merge into the background in the summer and come to the fore in autumn. This one, like most of the females, is not self fertile. We grow S. japonica ‘Rubella’, a male, but while it is a good flowerer, it is not a great pollinator. It (He?) seems to have done the biz this year to a degree. This is a painfully slow grower, it’s about a foot high and wide after probably at least ten years.

Amaryllis belladonna. I was really looking forward to these surpassing themselves this year. In a summer like we had, there were bound to be winners and losers; it seemed a dead cert this would be a winner. Wrong. Not a single bloom. My other clump, which flowers earlier, had just two. Too dry presumably, especially with the competition from Hedychium, Hypericum and assorted weeds that you can see in the photo.

Neighbours, families and health issues are an inescapable part of the fabric of life and you want them to tick away in the background, not take centre stage. Not this week. One of my neighbours, whose garden backs onto ours, wants to replace the boundary hedge with a fence. It’s an old field boundary. In Cornwall they build soil banks, sometimes stone faced, with a hedge of whatever turns up on top, and call the whole thing a hedge. This one has very little stone and a hedge of beech, hazel, sycamore, blackthorn, hawthorn, ivy and brambles. The neighbour has been nibbling away at their side so the plants are getting thin and the whole thing will eventually collapse. I’d rather not have to cut it and the time will come when I’m unable to, so I’m OK about it going. I am prepared to go halves on the cost, even though they are the ones who have turned it into a problem. I think she may have other ideas. I see trouble ahead.

The saddest thing about the last picture is that the orange pot contains a plant (Dacrydium cupressinum) that died last winter and is still hanging around. I’m hanging my head in shame. Leaf mould in the bags, to go over my dahlias in the ground.

Right, lets get this posted and think about lunch. There’ll be links to many more sixers from The Propagator’s post. Talking of whom, one of my six was to have been about composting… next week perhaps.

23 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 17/11/2018

  1. I thought all your neighbours had moved out, leaving you in a sea of wonderful secluded bliss. Good luck w/the negotiations.


  2. What a shame that your neighbour has waged war on the hedge! Did she even ask whether you wanted to keep it?

    The fuschia is gorgeous though. The winter posts are proving to be interesting reads.


    1. We were unaware that they were digging away at the other side of the bank. Time and gravity have played a part too. The boundary was along the centre of the bank as it was before they started digging. I agree about the winter posts, they are a challenge to ingenuity and imagination.


      1. My sister was down earlier this week. Their neighbours have just put a fence up, three feet inside my sisters garden, a flagrant land grab. And that after they thought they’d agreed where the boundary was. They’ve been advised that legal action would cost more than the land is worth. I have no intention of letting anything similar happen here.


  3. Oh, it is sad to see that hedgerow go, there must be so much wildlife in there. I much prefer a hedge to a fence, but appreciate the work it takes to keep it in check. And now I think I must rescue my begonias from their pot! Your Violas look rather nice so I might just copy you 🙂


    1. The wildlife value of the hedge is much reduced by it being an isolated fragment and there are too many cats around for birds to nest. As things are we look through a sparse hedge into the back of their house, which makes everyone feel uncomfortable.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting that according to the RHS, ‘Cornish Pixie’ is a F. microphylla variety. My ring of haks (Aureola) has been, well, hacked. I tried leaving it alone last year but by mid-December it looked decidedly unattractive. I may try some different varieties next year as I’m looking to expand my range of grasses. Trying to work out what “other ideas” your neighbour may have. At least a sturdy fence can be covered with climbers. Good luck.


    1. What I’ve found with hak ‘Mediovariegata’ is that the leaves initially go brown and roll in, looking unattractive, but after a couple of weeks they unroll and go straw coloured, then last for a couple of months. I think Cornish Pixie is supposed to be a small version of microphylla but several generations of propagating from the strongest growing bits has taken it back where it started seemingly.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love violas. We have a few that have self seeded from last winter’s batch but I really need to get some more. Never had any luck with skimmia. They look great when we first buy them and then they go down hill fast. Yours looks very well.


    1. A lot of garden centre Skimmias come in from specialist Dutch growers who produce unbelievably good plants because absolutely everything has been carefully optimised to their precise needs. Plant them in an average garden and it’s almost inevitable they will deteriorate to some degree. We have slightly acid soil which I keep mulched and grow them in partial shade.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Violas are such good doers, and I like that they seed everywhere. Mine are just finishing now! It’s a pity about that hedgerow – neighbour negotiation is often difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the red berries on your skimmia. I dug up mine up as it was struggling in a dry shady place. Now it’s sitting in a pot, I really should put in the ground somewhere for the winter. Don’t we all have a dead thing still lurking in a pot? I hope it won’t be my skimmia! As you say we will all be busy sowing silk purses from now on!


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