Six Hatchlings on Saturday

It is always exciting when something in the garden flowers for the first time, or after a long absence – an occasion for the red carpet to be rolled out and for a tootle on a trumpet or, at the very least a ‘whoohoo’ or two.

I thought I had grown Allium schubertii before and after having seen spent heads of them at RHS Wisley last year, HUGE spent heads that is, they were added to my bulb order and the first blooms have just begun opening, looking like a fleet of alien sputniks. This one must be around 12″ or 30cm in diameter and still growing and watching them develop I am now sure they have not been seen in the garden before.

It would be impossible to rank the six hatchlings in order of excitingness, and I was equally pleased to see my first outdoor sweet pea blooms this week, and extra specially pleased at how healthy they are, because up until this year my outdoor sweet peas have been RUBBISH! On this structure, there are two varieties, the pleasingly red (carmine?) variety King George VI and pale pink ‘Gwendoline’. In combining these two colours I was trying to emulate a posy Brian our dahlia friend had given us when we called in on a visit to my Mum’s last year. He himself was disappointed as one of them was meant to be what he considered one of the most fragrant sweet peas, ‘April in Paris’ but was apparently wrongly labelled. Whatever it was, I thought the combination was delightful and so tried to choose seed to produce similar blooms. Gwendoline looks a little paler than I would have liked, but they will still make a very pretty posy or three or four.

These sweet peas are in one of the new cutting beds which also hold most of my own dahlias, and these beds are right next to the fruit cage which was reconstructed last year to create additional height to reduce the possibility of raspberries and blackberries growing through the mesh. I took out the loganberries last year, which had been in the garden longer than we had and still fruited prodigiously, but were extremely thorny and bent on dominating the world. The prodigious crop, however, was not very sweet when it first ripened and although I did leave them on the canes till they were almost overripe before picking they were still a shock to my taste buds when mixed with other berries on my breakfast. They did make good jam though, but almost all the jam I make goes on cakes and I don’t make as much (jam, not cakes) as I used to, so I took the plunge and took them out, replacing them with more raspberries.

Most of the latter won’t fruit this year, and a few of the canes failed before they got started, but I can add some runners in the gaps. As for my existing raspberries, autumn fruiting varieties that get double cropped, they are covered in embryonic fruit, the first of which ripened this week, two or three weeks ahead of previous years:

Another hatchling this week is the first dahlia of the season, Bishop of Canterbury, helpfully flowering to remind me which Bishop it was, as he had lost his label:

A fairly commonplace peony bloom may not be very exciting for everyone, but this one has not bloomed for many years, and the plant itself has risen from the dead repeatedly, like a phoenix from the ashes. It must have been in the garden when we first came (although I can’t imagine where, as planting was minimal and haphazard), and survived various reimaginings of the bottom end of the plot until it seemed to expire and other things occupied its space.

When it unexpectedly re-emerged, it was relocated to the more appropriate shrub border, where it still failed to flower but nevertheless looked leafy and healthy. A couple of years of this and I decided it wasn’t earning its keep so dug it out – and of course it re-emerged! This might have happened a couple of times before it occurred to me that it must be determined to stay, and that as one of the components of my header picture and gravatar (along with Geranium magnificum which came, via a couple of previous homes, from my parent’s garden in around 1979) perhaps it should stay. And blow me down, it has a flower this year (just one mind you)!

We know we always have several birds nesting in the garden but often don’t know where the well-hidden nests are located – Wednesday’s blackbirds’ nest being a rare exception. This year we are also blessed with a hedgehog nesting in the shed, although we are not convinced she hasn’t taken umbrage and moved out and under our neighbour’s shed instead – it could be another hedgehog, of course, and at least one of them returns every night to eat our hedgehog food. We were totally unprepared, however, for this little hatchling, a greater spotted woodpecker. One of his parents or grandparents used to be a frequent visitor to the garden although less so in recent years; nevertheless, this little cutie’s home must be pretty local, most likely the nearby holly hedge*, as he decided he didn’t like the scrutiny he was receiving and flew off into its prickly depths.

Those are my six hatchlings this Saturday; the meme’s host, Jon the Propagator, will have six Saturday things of his own to share and there will be links to other sixes on his blog, so do pay him a visit.

* as Pauline has reminded me, these woodpeckers nest in a hole in the tree, so the huge beech tree in our neighbour’s garden, just the other side of the hedge, is likely to be where he was heading

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22 Responses to Six Hatchlings on Saturday

  1. jenanita01 says:

    Delightful hatchlings, and that young woodpecker was a bonus!

  2. There is nothing commonplace about that lovely peony!

  3. I am so envious of your raspberries. I do wish I could grow them!

  4. Lisa says:

    I had Meeker raspberries that took over and I was fortunate enough to get them all out. The boysenberries, even though they were in containers, are still popping up. I have a bed being prepared for new raspberries. Better behaved raspberries! Thornless and fall bearing, which I will prune down to the ground and get only one crop. I dealt with summer bearing, and it was a pain (literally thorny plus hard to do) to cut back just the old canes.

    • Cathy says:

      My raspberries are quite well behaved, unlike the loganberries, and I have found double cropping quite simple as I just cut back the older canes in summer that have just fruited, leaving the new canes to fruit later

  5. susurrus says:

    What a treat to see the baby woodpecker!

  6. Pauline says:

    Love the Allium, what a star! My baby woodpecker arrived at the same time as yours, the nest will be a hole in the trunk of a large tree, we have the parents drumming each spring on our ancient trees and know that soon we will have the babies eating all our bird food!

    • Cathy says:

      Good to hear you have a regular family. I wasn’t thinking when I talked of the nest probably being in the hedge, because I knew really that they nest in trees – will just amend my post, so thanks for that. We saw a pair of babies today!! (well I did, the Golfer missed them)

  7. Noelle M says:

    Lovely topic for the SOS..afraid the non plant one takes the top prize. How wonderful to have a young woodpecker so close.

  8. Anna says:

    New ‘hatchlings’ are always such a welcome event Cathy especially those that live up to or surpass expectations. Your allium is fabulous. I’ve grown it a couple of times in pots but the results were damp squibs and not the explosive fireworks I had hoped for. I will have to try again but plant in the ground. I’ve grown sweet pea ‘Gwendoline’ at the allotment for the last few years. I’m sure that mine have been a stronger pink but maybe the colour deepens as the flower matures. Mine are not in flower yet to compare. How thrilling to have a baby woodpecker honour you with a visit.

    • Cathy says:

      I have tried alliums in pots but without great success either – they perhaps need to be Monty Don size pots! I saw the baby woodpecker again yesterday, with a sibling, whch is doubly exciting!

  9. Heyjude says:

    How very delightful to see that young woodpecker!

  10. tonytomeo says:

    ‘April in Paris’ is one that my niece used to grow for the fragrance, in conjunction with the other more colorful but perhaps less fragrant sweet peas.

  11. The woodpecker’s head echoes the raspberries!

  12. Steve says:

    Be sure to dry some of the Allium seed heads. We have several in the conservatory and they make great arrangements

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