Six on Saturday – 2/1/2021

It gets tricky finding six things happening in the garden when nothing is happening. Other than a few things collapsing after a couple of frosty nights that is. Even going round looking for things is a bit fraught, the decking outside the back door is like a skating rink. Six things happening that are visible from the house is my ideal at this time of year. I found four but still had to go outside for the other two.

One.
Fuchsia excorticata (allegedly). The New Zealand Fuchsias are of greater botanical interest than horticultural merit, if I’m being brutally honest. In the wild and in a handful of gardens in west Cornwall, I have seen them with substantial trunks which are very ornamental with exfoliating orange or light brown bark. I don’t think the form we have would ever make a tree, it is probably a hybrid with F. perscandens, so a form of F. x colensoi. This poor plant had been languishing in a narrow necked pot for years and I eventually chopped it out and planted it in the ground last year. It eventually recovered, at which point I dug it up and shoved it temporarily in another pot because it was in the way of my new wall. Unlike quite a few other fuchsias around the garden which are still hanging on to a late bloom or two, this is just starting to flower, right in the depths of winter. Stunning it isn’t and I sometimes wonder if it’s interesting enough to find room for.

Two.
Herman the head has made the odd appearance in these annals. Fascinated as I am by the passage of time, I started to take pictures centred on Herman, thinking I’d get a sequence of identical shots that would make clear the passage of the seasons. I kept it up to the tune of about one shot every two weeks, roughly, on average. Here are four.

Three.
Birds. They’re always happening in the garden. At least up until the moment when they are set to become global superstars off the back of six on saturday, when they vanish. Maybe I didn’t offer to pay them enough or perhaps they’re stuffing their faces on someone else’s Christmas leftovers. It was freezing, I thought there’d be flocks of them on our feeders. Here then, in the main, are some pictures I took earlier. You’re excused not recognising what they are only if you are non-native to British shores.

Four.
Another Hippeastrum, ‘Papilio’. I have nothing to say on its behalf, it is eloquent enough not to need my help.

Five.
Back outside for this one. I’ve been passing these for weeks without my glasses on, assuming they were weedy violas. Turns out that almost all are seedlings of the Cyclamen hederifolium under my Taxus ‘Standishii’. There are four or five viola leaves in the picture, towards the top left.

Six.
Back into the warm for the last picture. We have a Coprosma in a pot just outside the front window and with the morning sun shining through its leaves and sparkling off the overnight raindrops I felt moved to take its picture.

It looks like we’re going to get a cold but dry week which might mean I get a chance to tidy up my allotment which is an embarrassing mess. I need to get the foundations in for the greenhouse extension but it’s maybe a bit cold for that.
At least in theory, we’re now on an upward trajectory on both the gardening front and the pandemic front. In practice January and February are usually the lowest point of the winter for the garden and so it may prove with Covid. What a pleasure it’s going to be to go back to talking about the weather as Covid and Brexit and Trump get smaller in the rear view mirror.
You won’t need me to tell you, but the rest of the SoS links are at The Propagator.

35 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 2/1/2021

  1. Coprosma is as beautiful as light filtering through a Cathedral’s windows. You have me intrigued, but not doubt you will help by explaining “Taxus ‘Standishii’”. Happy New Year Jim.

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  2. I was thinking the same about the birds yesterday. Frosty and yet very few of them. We had a male blackcap in the garden the other day and the coal tit is always fun to watch. Never had a siskin visit and after years of having loads of goldfinches on the feeders we only appear to have one regular visitor this autumn and winter which is very strange. Rarely see a chaffinch nowadays either.

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  3. I also have an amaryllis ‘Papilio’ ( hippeastrum) but since the spring of 2020, I have bet to grow all these bulbs in the ground. To this day, they are under a mulch of ferns waiting for milder temperatures. So I should see them bloom much later than yours. Nice slideshow of bird photos. Happy New Year to you and your wife, Jim

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    1. I’ve seen “hardy” Hippeastrums offered and I’m tempted. I’ll be interested to see how yours do. And a happy new year to you and yours too, It should at least end better than it started, though a lot can go wrong in twelve months.

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  4. Oh the decisions about whether to keep plants or not. I dither for so long that they are usually too big to remove and then I can’t be bothered. A friend of mine used to take cuttings off plants like your Fuschia and offer them to friends and family. If no one offered to take them, the plant had to go. Likewise if gardening friends who didn’t know much about plants yet offered to take them. An interesting way to make a decision.
    Happy New Year to you.

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    1. I’m generally pretty ruthless, there’s usually a queue of plants waiting for space to open up for them. I haven’t been stopped by something being too big yet, though its taken tree fellers to rid me of a couple. Your friends approach has merit, I like their thinking.

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  5. Yes, those 3 “items” have done their best to wreck 2020, I hope we can soon forget about Trump and Covid and, sadly, learn to live with leaving Europe. Your Herman installments are interesting – it’s the bald effect just now is it? Red leaves are so pretty at this time of year. Happy New Year to you both.

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    1. The Herman instalments should have had dates but I’m never sure that what shows up on my computer screen appears on anyone elses. I wish I could see anything at all good coming out of leaving Europe.

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  6. Lovely Hippeastrum, one of my favorites. H. papilio is one of those species that are very rare in the wild but easy to propagate, so there are more plants surviving in people’s gardens and on windowsills than in nature.

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  7. I love the shot of the Robin trying to hide behind the branch. I had a huge thrill this week spotting a Bullfinch near the bird feeder. Papillio is a great amaryliis – one of my favourites. Happy New Year to you Jim.

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    1. Wildlife photographer was not one of the alternate careers I could have followed. I couldn’t sit in a cramped hide for a week to get five seconds of film. Happy New Year to you too.

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  8. That fuchsia has a “Your day has come” sentence hanging over its head. The day will come and you’ll decide that its interest isn’t quite enough to make it worth its space in the garden. It will then be a case of I’ve had that and had enough of it. I have had, and still have, many plants that fit into this category. Life would be very dull without such plants, passing interests in the garden.

    Re birds – I had the wonderful experience of about 70 twites in the garden yesterday.

    Let’s hope for good dry weather to continue gardening – and higher temperatures.

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    1. Once the thought enters my head that something has had its day, it’s very rare that it’s still there a year later. The Fuchsia wouldn’t be lost as there’s one coming through the fence from next door. I will find room for things that flower for just a day or two, Paeonia mlokosewitschii for example, or things that you need a mirror for like Codonopsis clematidea, and Sue has any number of cacti that flower for a day. It’s the first day something flowers that you wait a year for, not the second. Twite is a bird I have never knowingly seen. My bird book says there are 250-1000 pairs in Ireland, you may have had a quarter of them in your garden. Yet another species in steep decline it seems.

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  9. Cyclamen hederifolia is something that I would like to add to the garden. They are somewhat naturalized in a neighbor’s garden. However, I am told that they can be invasive. Although naturalized in the neighbor’s garden, they do not seem to be invasive. They have been there for many years, but stay confined to where they get water.

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    1. I see that it is shown as naturalised in Oregon, as it is here. It’s hard to imagine it being invasive, but who knows?, I didn’t expect to see Tropaeolum speciosum naturalised in New Zealand or Gloriosa along hundreds of miles of Austalian shorelines. In my garden it is in leaf in winter and will grow under conifers, so it mainly inhabits a temporal and spacial niche that nothing else can use.

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      1. Oregon is like another planet. I can imagine why Cyclamen hederifolia would naturalize there more easily than here. The climate here (in this immediate area) is similar to parts of the southern coast of Oregon, but this is just a small area. Chaparral climate dominates just a few miles farther inland. Even though Cyclamen persicum is dormant for the dry part of summer, and is probably a chaparral species anyway (from Persia), it seems to want a bit more water than it gets naturally from rainfall, so does not venture beyond landscaped areas. I suspect that Cyclamen hederifolia and Cyclamen coum would also be dissatisfied with the long and dry summers. I really do not know. I can see that Cyclamen hederifolia is doing well in the neighbor’s garden.

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      2. According to Grey-Wilson, C. hederifolium is the only species that will tolerate the colder inland areas of North America and it has survived well through some of the wettest and coldest winters here. It grows wild over a wide area around the Mediterranean, parts of which get very hot and dry. Mine just seem to stay dormant later if it’s very dry. I can send you seed around August if you want some and I don’t have to pay a fortune for a phytosanitory certificate.

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      3. Thank you so much; but I will be getting some plants from the neighbors. They want some removed, but left them where they are until I am ready to move them. Some are in pots, where they were left after the annuals that had been in the pots died out.

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  10. I liked the series of photos centered on the ceramic? head, as the growing season progresses. Interesting how the red garage door in the background brings out reds in the garden. The mixture of groundcovers was lovely: subtle contrasts in shades of green, shapes, and textures.

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    1. From ground level we can’t see that shed but it does rather jump out of every picture I take from the bedroom window. I had a go once at changing the colour using Photoshop but with a view to what the garden would look like minus the distraction. Perhaps if I found a colour that worked best from my viewpoint, I could buy the neighbour a can of paint? Re groundcover, I value good foliage highly and really aim to get lots of contrasting colours and textures. As much as I like colour, I would favour splashes of strong colour against lots of foliage over wall to wall wishy washy colour.

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  11. Lovely cyclamen foliage.
    I’m getting a much bigger number of birds in since Christmas. I put out a few extra feeders fir the worst of winter. The water bath has needed defrosting each day but it’s getting a lot of visitors. Not as many finches as you look to have. I seem to get a lot of goldfinches in autumn coming for fennel seeds but not so much the rest of the year.

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  12. Like you I was keen to show the birds that have kept me entertained over the last few months but my aged iPhone is not up to it. It was lovey to see your selection of visitors. The goldfinches come and go here too. I’m expecting them back soon to feed on the v.bonarensis seeds. The photo of the hippeastrum is a stunner – plant and photograph. Happy New Year.

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  13. The Coprosma is a striking colour! Love it. What a nice surprise discovering the Cyclamen seedlings. I was thrilled to discover some seedlings in the soil around my Cyclamen which is growing in a pot. Which reminds me that I need to transplant them out soon. The Fuschia is unusual, but does not appeal to me. I like the photo sequence of Herman! Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

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  14. Is that an Astelia by your beautiful obelisk? If it is, does it stay out all year round?
    Despite the cold weather, birds seem in quite short supply at the bird tables at the moment, although I did see half a dozen long-tailed tits passing through yesterday. I’m not able to see most of the garden from the house so I hope that the borders are full of birds feasting on the seed heads. Certainly the goldfinches fly off as soon as they hear me on the gravel path.

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