Six on Saturday – 28/12/2019

Well here we are twixt Christmas and a new year, again. I should reflect on the year just gone. . . . . . . . ., there, that’s done. Perhaps some resolutions for next year? Nah, don’t like the sound of that, let’s go with good intentions rather than resolutions.

Move the tunnel. I was going to move my tunnel up to my allotment before the winter but the need for covered space meant it filled up when it should have been emptying so it didn’t happen. It really isn’t pretty and that won’t matter up there, whereas in the garden it’s in the background all the time causing visual offence. The linked good intention is to grow more veg over the winter months. We were all but self sufficient during the summer but winter and spring are more of a challenge. Hopefully the tunnel will add a few weeks to both ends of the growing season. I’m trying not to think about all the stuff I’ve got in it now and where it will all go next year. Sometimes you hoard things because you can and it’s easier than making a decision.

Talking of the allotment, I popped up there on Monday to dig some carrots and this beauty was in my fruit cage. It had evidently had breakfast (pile of feathers) but seemed unable to find its way out. I leave the door off this time of year so the birds can clear insects off the fruit bushes, not so they’re easy prey for sparrowhawks. It was sitting on a post when I left so I dashed home, grabbed the camera and went back to get some pictures. I’m still not wholly convinced it’s a sparrowhawk, a young one maybe. About 30cm head to tail.

Another good intention, this one’s at least two years old. Sue’s cactus house is getting very mossy. Cleaning the glass is easy enough, at least outside, but the moss eventually starts to lift the glass from the glazing bars and wicks water from the outside to the inside; it starts to drip. I need to take out the glass, clean both glass and bars, put it back again. I don’t like faffing about with glass.

Moss and lichens are a mixed blessing; on the glasshouse nothing but a nuisance, but on a pot, or covering up some unattractive brickwork, what’s not to like.

Camellia update. Camellia sasanqua ‘Navajo’ first appeared in a six on 26 October and it still has quite a bit of bloom on it. C. ‘Paradise Belinda’ is right beside it and has just opened a couple of blooms. C. ‘Quintessence’ is in the glasshouse and flowering well, perfuming the air. Out in the back garden C. ‘Minato no Akebono’ has just started to open; it’s loaded with buds so barring hard frost should be very good this season. There’s a C. ‘Sasanqua Variegata’ flowering in the tunnel too. All scented.


I’m determined to use more video clips on the blog, easy enough if I edit on the iPad, which I never do, more complicated on the PC. Like this Muehlenbeckia astonii, you get much more of a sense of it as a 3D object.

Another year draws to a close. The calendar year is about right for us northern hemisphere residents, in that it’s aligned with the natural cycle, the old year is gone and largely forgotten, the new one all just promise. It’s hard to imagine a new year starting in midsummer, but it does exactly that for many. The next few months can be frustrating because winter just won’t give in and nothing grows as quickly as you want, then summer goes in a flash…………………..
Perspective, that’s what this ability to see what the rest of the world is up to gives me. The links to it are where they always are, at el propagadora.

25 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 28/12/2019

  1. Good idea to have added a video, we are better aware of the organized mess of this plant
    Otherwise 2 superb shots of that sparrowhawk (I think like you that it’s a sparrowhawk): it had to be close !? … or you have a paparasi lens! …


  2. I like the video. Good of the sparrowhawk to wait for your camera! We looked in our birdbook and agree that it must be a sparrowhawk. As well as the distinctive chest feathers, the eye stripe gives it away. Lovely camellia again. Happy New Year.


  3. I think we gardeners are always full of good intentions, well I am anyway – right plant in right place every time, no impulse purchases, no plant cramming…… love the Muehlenbeckia, it’s like a piece of sculpture. I have M. gigas but it’s a very poor cousin.
    Thanks for all the inspiration this year from your beautiful garden.


  4. By a curious coincidence I just bought exactly the same canon EFS 250mm lens yesterday in the hope of being able to take better photos of bird life when I am out and about. I’m glad to see that it clearly works well for you. The video is great – like a 3D molecular structure.


  5. I echo QG in thanking you for inspiring ME with your beautiful garden. That sparrowhawk is a beauty. Nice of it to hang around whilst you fetched the camera 🙂


  6. Hope your sparrowhawk got away safely. Those Camellia sasanqua are beauties. How long does it take for a small plant to reach flowering size? I’ve looked up Trehane Nurseries and Camellia Sansaqua Variegata really appeals. Do you think this would work in a pot in Somerset?


    1. I went back to make sure the sparrowhawk hadn’t got tangled; he’d gone. It’s not easy to say how long camellias will take to flower, most are grown in tunnels and will be budded or flowering when you buy them. Some will go on flowering every year, some will do a year or two of growing before they flower, assuming they’re planted in the ground. I haven’t found Sasanqua Variegata to be terribly robust in the open. The one I had on my allotment nearly died before I dug and potted it; it’s recovered some in my tunnel. If it was the variegated leaf that appealed then you don’t have many options but there are lots of single whites and whites with pink blush. The main thing about camellias in pots is that you must not let the pot freeze. The tops are hardy but the roots very definitely are not. Other than that they are quite good subjects for pots.


  7. An image search of Muehlenbeckia astonii shows a very different visual when it’s in full foliage. Amazing, those branches. I encourage you, as I do all the SoSers to speak on your video. We’re such a diverse group, I’d love to hear all the accents. So far, no one’s been persuaded. Bummer. That was one cooperative hawk. Guess its full belly made it want to hang around a bit. Your tunnel is amazing, even if you’re tired of it’s appearance.


    1. I’ve put the Muehlenbeckia in before when it was in leaf. The leaves are absolutely minute. It also has the weirdest tiny, fleshy transparent flowers. I tried doing video on the ipad while talking and the microphone is on the wrong side of it. Be all right if the plant was doing the talking. I could add a soundtrack afterwards but that’s getting complicated. I’ll work on it. I’m happy to be the guinea pig. I don’t have a Poldark accent and I don’t think I should try faking one. Cultural appropriation. It didn’t look like the hawk had caught anything big, the pile of feathers was very small. Not like the last one, a pigeon, the fruit cage practically got a feather mulch.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My image search said it was related to maidenhair fern – true? As to accents, all the SoS blogs narrated in inside my head have an Appalachian accent, so the real deal would be exotic on all fronts. Can’t wait! Btw, I do love birds of prey, but if a sparrowhawk grabs anything in my garden, I’m out the door in a flash. A hawk’s gotta eat, but not in front of me, thank you very much. Yours is a beauty.


      2. Related to maidenhair fern, no. Maidenhair seems to be one of its common names but ferns are a different order, not remotely related. Muehlenbeckia is in Polygonaceae, what we know as the knotweeds and Americans know as the buckwheat family. I’m now practising my Appalachian accent, basing it on Charlie Pool and the North Carolina Ramblers.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. That Muehlenbeckia is fascinating and somewhat like a chemistry lesson! The seed heads of heuchera have that same 3D molecular effect. Your camellias are quite wonderful. Hopefully I’ll eventually move somewhere that I can grow them.


    1. I thought the video conveyed the nature of the Muehlenbeckia much better than a 2D photo. Now I’m on the lookout for similar video ops. I can’t imagine life without Camellias now; it wasn’t always the case, I started on alkaline Surrey soil.


  9. The brickwork is unattractive? Moss grows on the bridges in the Santa Cruz Mountains (which is odd so close to a chaparral climate). It occasionally gets removed by road crews. Apparently, there are some in the neighborhood who believe that it deteriorates the concrete . . . which shows very minimal weathering from the many decades it has beenn there. I sort of wonder bout the chemicals used to kill the moss, and how they affect the concrete!


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