Six on Saturday: All Systems Go?

It’s probably another 6 months until the garden is looking anything like it does in the lovely picture painted for me by lovely Elder Daughter, but now that I have had it framed I can hang it on the wall as a constant reminder of joys to come (and of the painter too, of course).

In the meantime, now that the Golfer is recovering from a very nasty chest infection, we have agreed not to cancel our planned garden opening in February after all, something that had been looking increasingly likely. With an opening date just three weeks away on February 13th we now need to ‘get a wiggle on’ (what an odd expression that is!) to be ready for any visitors. We first trialled opening in February two years ago, the weekend of Storm Dennis, weather which will have deterred all but the most intrepid visitor, and last year’s opening was cancelled because of Covid, so this year is an unknown quantity.

Although there is technically plenty of winter interest in the garden, the seasons play havoc with what might be flowering at any particular time – at the moment the named snowdrops are still mostly just emerging with the natives further behind, hellebores are budding up but weeks away from full flower and the witch hazels are mostly at their peak, so any visitors will have to take pot luck on what they might see. There is, however, at least one stray early crocus:

There are usually blooms on Clematis armandii in February, but I am not sure if ours is on the way out as half of it has dropped its leaves completely, and there are apparently dead stems amongst the other half too. I have a feeling that they can be susceptible to cold winds – is that right? As yet I am unsure whether or not to cut out all the dried stems…

I can’t do much to hurry along what’s growing in the garden, but there are a million and one jobs I can do, so I’m pleased to have finished sorting out the planting stakes and supports which are stored in the bothy when not in use. The supports hanging on the fence need some sort of protective cover and if I can rig up covers for the two tall obelisks they don’t need to remain in the bothy where they are currently reclining against other supports in a distinctly louche fashion:

Not necessary for our garden opening but very much part of my January routine is the start of seed sowing proper, first out of the blocks being cornflower, emerging two days after sowing and now on its way from the house to the greenhouse. This year I am trying out a shorter variety, Centaurea ‘Polka Dot’:

Seasonal stalwarts which will not let us down are the cornus, and despite even more severe pruning than usual the three varieties are strutting their stuff in their usual inimitable way – go cornus!

Joining with Jon the Propagator in his popular Six on Saturday meme

This entry was posted in Gardening, Gardens, open gardens, Six on Saturday, winter interest. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Six on Saturday: All Systems Go?

  1. bcparkison says:

    I guess gardener want-a-bes need to see your garden in all of its stages. Learning experience.

    • Cathy says:

      Indeed, and it really opened the eyes of those who visited 2 years ago as most had no idea that there could be so many things of winter interest around

  2. Oh, good luck with the garden opening. Nice to see the seedlings and the Clematis. The painting is beautiful!

  3. tonytomeo says:

    Oh gee, this reminds me that I must soon pollard (or coppice) the native red twig dogwood. It is not as colorful as yours, and does not last in color for long before foliating late in winter.

    • Cathy says:

      Not a difficult job though, and so worth doing πŸ‘

      • tonytomeo says:

        Well, there are many acres of landscapes here, and more red twig dogwoods than I can count. We do not coppice them to the ground, but leave stubs about two or three feet tall so that they do not get trampled. They look ridiculous. I like to leave their colorful twigs as late as possible, but they foliate so early.

        • Cathy says:

          So, not difficult task, but hundreds (thousands?) to pollard? Do you/they use a hedge trimmer or is it even more mechanical than that?

          • tonytomeo says:

            Oh no! i have no tolerance for improper pollarding. It is such a stigmatized technique here that I insist on doing it properly and neatly with my old shears. (I just wrote about it for next week.) Hedge shears are used only on formal hedges, and there are only about two within our vast landscapes.

          • Cathy says:

            How long would that take for all of them, Tony?

          • tonytomeo says:

            If I were to do it all at once, it could be done mostly within a single day. However, every year, a few get removed instead of pollarded, after the rest are finished. So, I could finish pollarding within a single day, and then return to remove a few that do not get pollarded. The landscape was initially composed of native species, with the red twig dogwoods along a stream. They got too overgrown without pollarding though. I like to retain quite a few on the far side of the stream, but replace those on the close side, even if exotis plants must be added.

          • Cathy says:

            Thanks for explaining all this Tony – really interesting πŸ‘

  4. Very impressive plant support storage.
    What a fabulous painting – such a thoughtful gift.
    So glad to here that the Golfer is feeling much better.
    Good luck with the opening. The atmosphere of your garden is enough to delight, no matter what plants decide to shine.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Sandra – I had a flash of inspiration anout the hooks, as the stakes on the left are normally dumped into an empty tub where they fall against each other and make it difficult to get them out. Now they are separated and grouped in their different lengths! I am of course thrilled with the painting, and more so because of the challenge it posed ED. Hopefully you are right about the visitors – one told me two years ago that they were trying to explain to a friend afterwards how it was almost better than June because she noticed the detail more. And the cake will always be an attraction anyway!

  5. Chloris says:

    What a talented daughter, I love the painting.
    I don’t think Clematis arnandii is very hardy. I have lost several in cold winters.
    I’m sure everyone will enjoy your lovely winter garden on your Open Day.
    I hope the Golfer is quite recovered.

    • Cathy says:

      I am thrilled with the painting Chloris., even more so vecause it was a very tentative challenge I posed for ED but she bravely agreed to take it on (and struggled towards the end, but kept going because it was for me… 😊) Thanks for confirming my suspicions about the clematis – I shall whip it out after our opening and replace it with a more reliable variety…shame, because it was lovely while it lasted

  6. pbmgarden says:

    Elder Daughter’s painting is a delight–a wonderful gift. I have a handful of stakes and I can see how nice it would be to have many more as you have in your collection. Good health to you and your husband.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I feel privileged to have this picture, Susie. I had some purpose made stakes produced by a local metal fabricator, bare metal with a ring at the top that I could tie plants onto or thread a lightweight rope through to encircle a plant with. Sadly the company doesn’t seem to exist any more although I may well have enough of the stakes albeit not of the length I might need! Thanks for your good wishes – the Golfer is very much recovered although his medication finishes today so he is still a little cautious

  7. What a wonderful picture! Your daughter is quite the artist. I spotted the iconic pots of geraniums across your patio.
    Sad to see so much die-back on your extensive clematis. I hope you manage to rescue it. Also hope your husband is better and in fine form for your opening. Good luck!

    • Cathy says:

      Needless to say ED wasn’t satisfied with the picture herself, but I love it! Chloris has confirmed that C armandii isn’t always hardy, which I suspected, and wonder why it has had 2 or 3 years of thriving (because the leaves are so big and glossy it had looked gloriously healthy), especially when it hasn’t been particularly cold this winter. And thanks for your good wishes – the Golfer seems to be almost back to himself now and has been on his knees today weeding the paths…!

  8. Heyjude says:

    You have a lot of plant supports! I wish mine were a) as many and b) as well organised.

    • Cathy says:

      I had a lot of the supports made for me, so just ordered random numbers of different lengths, most of which do get used during the year – and they certainly were not organised before this last week or two!

  9. What a fabulous painting by your daughter! Lucky you. I hope your garden opening goes well in February. It’ll be interesting to see what will be flowering. Your plant support collection sure is impressive (and how organized they are)!

    • Cathy says:

      She did ask me what I would like for my birthday/Christmas (they are close) so I tentatively posed the challenge and I am thrilled with the result 😊 For our previous Feb opening I made a list of what could be flowering or of winter interest and it amounted to about 40 different types of plant!

  10. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I think a visit to a beautiful garden in early spring is a great boost to morale and yours looks to have great ‘bone structure’.

    • Cathy says:

      That’s certainly how those who came two years ago felt, coming to an open garden despite the inclement weather on the day

  11. Noelle says:

    That store of plant supports is a thing of beauty, artfully arranged for sure.

  12. Pauline says:

    What a massive collection of stakes, the only plants I prop up are my peonies! Good luck with your open day, I’m sure you will be ready on time.

    • Cathy says:

      I didn’t realsise I had so many till I collected them all together – a local metalworker made the ones that are hanging on the left for me, and I just ordered them in 10s, in different lengths. I think you will have more shrubby than herbaceous plants in your garden, Pauline, so less need for stakes

  13. You definitely have a lot of interest in your garden! I love the colour of the Cornus stems! All the best for your open garden event!

Comments are closed.