Six on Saturday: Jail Break!

Our neighbour on the hedge side, who died two or three years ago, had a habit of using random items to fill gaps in the hedge in a bid to stop his dog getting out – he was particularly fond of using broken asbestos roofing sheets, but over the years we have subtly also removed a gate, fridge shelves and other assorted rubbish, replacing them where necessary with more attractive barriers. This bin, however, appeared when we thinned the hedge and created a second path through the woodland (‘the path less travelled’), and had clearly been there for a long time, probably longer than we had.

The base of the heavy duty wire mesh was buried in years of leaf litter and tangled holly and ivy, so there was no way of lifting it to access the bin, and I originally planned to disguise it by placing some as yet unidentified ‘art work’ in front of it. After walking past it every day over the few months since the path was created, on the spur of the moment I decided today to arrange a jail break instead; armed with wire cutters I cut through the minimum number of strands required and quickly guided the bin to freedom. I don’t think there will be a search party…

Also breaking free but this time from the confines of our fridge was the last of my bargain Aldi hippeastrum (amaryllis). I try to stagger the planting times of them, keeping the later ones in the fridge until planting time, but have managed not to record planting dates this time round. This one was more than ready to be planted, but hopefully it will soon realise that the only way is up; I will keep it inside till the flower stem appears and then move it to the Coop to prolong the flowering period.

Also breaking through but already in the Coop are pots of early narcissi, planted in mid October:

Also hyacinths and Iris reticulata:

The hyacinths spent more than a couple of months inside in the dark and sadly not all the spikes are showing flower buds yet, always a potential issue when forcing more than one hyacinth in a pot.

In the Coop corner it was finally time to trim the leaves from Hellebores ‘Double Aubergine’ and ‘Winter Moonbeam’; unlike all my other hellebores whose tatty leaves were cut off before Christmas, these both still sport copious amounts of healthy and unsullied foliage, covering close on a square metre each. No other hellebore has produced foliage like this and I have been reluctant to trim them because they make such attractive clumps, but to see the blooms it was a job that had to be done:

Underneath the shelter of their foliage, the blooms are probably more advanced than all the other hellebores, so it makes up for losing their leafy blankets. The reason for Winter Moonbeam’s impending floriferousness is largely due to the way the buds develop in profusion along the stem, a trait possibly unique to these H ericsmithii hybrids; I have read, however, that they can be shortlived, which would a shame, but time will tell.

Finally, for the sixth of my Six on Saturday contribution to Jon the Propagator’s weekly meme, some facts about my witch hazel Hamamelis ‘Jelena’, which has been absolutely glorious this year:

I have asked if it has been more floriferous than before and yes, here it was in January 2020:

And how long ago was it planted? More recently than I thought, and recent enough to be recorded in this blog – March 2013, planted as a replacement for an earlier one which was not happy in its allocated spot…not much more than a twig. Incidentally, H ‘Diane’, another stick in the bottom left corner, is perhaps now barely half the size of Jelena, although as a general rule most of my witch hazels which began their life as ‘nobbut a stick’ seem to put on a growth spurt after about 5 years, presumably having decided they are happy and going to stick around for a while. Whatever their size, they are joy to have in the garden and as well as winter blooms tend to offer a fiery autumn display too.

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11 Responses to Six on Saturday: Jail Break!

  1. Prue Batten says:

    I wish I could grow amaryllis. I’m a total failure at it – rather like my sortie with maths as a child.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh dear, that sounds as if early experiences have dampened your confidence… Moving mine to the Coop once the flower buds first appears is not necessarily a good thing as they do prefer more warmth and last year one of the bulbs rotted before it actually flowered. Generally they have done OK there, but I no longer try and keep them for another year as I have tried several times before without success – if that makes you feel any better about them!!

  2. tonytomeo says:

    One thing that really annoyed me at the old San Francisco Flower and Garden show was that so much of the ‘garden art’ looked like trash. It is cool if a designer does it, but just trashy if I do it. I keep my garden neat, but have gotten weird comments from neighbors about my old patio furniture.

  3. Pádraig says:

    Well done, Cathy. Such bravery! My hero.
    I’m thinking I do hellebores all wrong. They get destroyed by whitefly after flowering and I cut them back to ground level. Must do more homework.

    • Cathy says:

      Destroyed by whitefly? I have never come across that before… why on earth does that happen, I wonder? It is only in the last couple of years that I have begun trimming the leaves of mine, somethng I resisted for a long time, but I accept now that they look better for it, as the foliage is often discoloured or flopping about by the time they are in bud – the two I showed were unusual in retaining healthy and upright leaves throughout, but of course they will grow again later in the year. This year I cut the others in December, but it might be January other years

  4. Cathy removing your neighbor’s container from the fence has been a great idea. The amarillis that you have taken out of the fridge to plant now and stagger the flowering is a great idea. In the Coop it is wonderful that early daffodils, hyacinths and Iris reticulata start to emerge. The “haircut” to your hellebores has left them divine, I love them. Jelena is spectacular, wonderful, the best flowering of her: I love it. Cathy take good care of yourself and the golfer. Stay safe. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you, Margarita. I am hoping there is some change in your weather now, as predicted, although I expect the snow and ice willl take a long time to disappear

      • Thanks Cathy. On Monday, construction excavators came to clean all the ice off the asphalt and pile it on the sidewalks in giant piles, taller than a person and very wide. It rained yesterday Tuesday and today too, but there is still snow-ice on sections of the sidewalk and where the cars are parked, but the cars are no longer trapped, mine is already free. The ice piles are still just as big and today that I had to go to the Doctor by taxi (I don’t know if my car will start) all the way to the Doctor was the same, full of giant piles of ice and we even saw an excavator of work cleaning. But the temperatures have risen although today it was colder than yesterday. The trees have suffered greatly: it has been an ecological catastrophe. More than 6,000 trees have fallen or large branches have been broken in Madrid and especially in Casa de Campo, which is a forest attached to Madrid and part of Madrid of pines and oaks that was the hunting ground of the kings, because it is next to the Jardines del Moro del Palacio Real only separated by the Manzanares river and currently by a ring of beltway called M-30. In the Casa de Campo, century-old pine trees 20 m high have been fallen or cut open and the same thing has happened to smaller pines: seeing the images makes you want to cry. In my area, many branches and trees have been cut off. It’s a shame. Cathy sorry she told you about trees, but I really like them and the snow has crushed them and it’s a shame. Nobody talks about them in the news, but they are wonderful living beings and more for a city. Luckily the trees that I have next to my window and my terrace are intact: for me they are life here in Madrid. Take care. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

        • Cathy says:

          Oh that is truly awful about the trees, Margarita – for such an established forest to be destroyed in a day or two is tragic. I hope they will be replanted for future generations

          • I also hope that they will replant all the trees after cleaning up all the damage and evaluating which trees can go ahead even though heavily pruned and which are so damaged that they have to be uprooted. They will take at least a year to clean. But as long as they grow trees to plant. In the forests of the Madrid Mountains there have also been great destruction of trees. It has been an ecological catastrophe in the trees of the entire Autonomous Community of Madrid, the most affected area being Madrid capital. Also the famous Retreat Park equivalent to London’s Hyde Park, but with many more cental trees, trees have fallen and it is closed to the public because they are checking its more than 15,000 trees one by one to see how they are. But they do not give news of it. I hope that most of the trees have not suffered, because it is a wonderful place, with a lot of history. Thank you Cathy for sharing my concern for the trees. Take care. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita 🌲🌳😟

          • Cathy says:

            That really could be a serious catastrophe for Madrid’s trees, Margarita

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