Six on Saturday – Promise

19/01/2019

It’s been a funny old week, with nothing playing out as normal. Of course it has turned distinctly chilly. So I’ve had to fleece the plants in the cold greenhouse twice so far and brought in one pot of rooted salvia cuttings as an insurance. Road closures and huge traffic delays meant I couldn’t get south to visit my parents before taking Sadie, the dog, in for an operation to remove a couple of lumps on her head. She’s come out of the experience with one of those dreadful (but useful) stiff plastic cones round her head. Two days down the line and she still doesn’t appreciated that her turning circle has increased dramatically, that she must centre her approach to doorways and that she can’t stuff her nose in things on the ground. Unhappily,  the surgery on her eye is proving a bit touchy, with a possible infection starting. We’ve been back to the vets and she is now on antibiotics. We’ve been asked to return on Monday and Friday. Fingers-crossed meantime.

Anyhow, this has meant that I’ve been wandering around the garden with her instead of going for long walks. So I’ve been able to notice some nice things showing a lot of spring promise.

One: Hazel catkins and flowers

Yes, the catkins have unfurled already (truthfully some trees have been shaking out their tails for at least a couple of weeks), but this week I’ve started to see the tiny little red female flowers emerge. I’ve not coppiced the trees at the back of the vegetable plot this winter yet and I hate doing it with the flowers out, so I might skip it this year. Luckily I had a good clear out of old stems last year in any case.

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Hazel catkins and flowers

Two: Dwarf Comfrey

We have a big patch of dwarf/creeping comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum) in front of our oil tank where it provides good ground coverage, but can’t spread any further. Since I’d been checking levels this week I noticed that this plant is already in coming into flower. This is a great plant for early emerging bees who make good use of its nectar. It’s where I usually see the first bumblebees of the year and it looks as if it will be ready for them very soon.

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Dwarf Comfrey is already budding up

Three: Mini Orchids

I was given a pair of tiny pots containing what I was told were mini orchids a couple of years ago. I’d never heard of mini orchids before and I just assumed that they were babies sold early as a gimmick next to cashier tills. I’ve watered them occasionally and they’ve put out larger new leaves, but otherwise I’ve ignored them. Well apparently they are a real thing and like to be less watered and fertilized than their standard-sized cousins. Great! Possibly that is why this week I noticed that they are rewarding me with flowers, so I will get to see what kind of orchid they actually are (from the leaves I suspect phalaenopsis). Any guesses?

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My mini Orchid is about to flower for the first time

Four: Primroses

I know that primroses can be in flower from December onwards, but this whole dome of pink is looking well advanced. Unfortunately it is growing in the gravel driveway, where an awful lot of my self-seedlings preferentially choose to grow. It will need to be moved. I usually move primroses to the wild meadow area, but since this one is pink, which I avoid there, it will have to be the front garden.

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Pretty in Pink primroses

Five: Tomatillos

Down in the vegetable plot there is quite a lot of clearance to be done still. Last week I noticed that each corner of the raised beds has accumulated a stash of skeletonized tomatillos husks. Each pod contains a rattling clump of seed. So I won’t need to buy any new seed, because these will germinate by themselves once the soil warms enough.

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Six: Acrobatic blackbirds

The crab apple tree on our driveway remains a popular destination with the thrushes, pigeons and blackbirds throughout winter. But it is the blackbirds that have entertained me most of late, because as the number of apples has dwindled and the access to what is left has become more difficult, they have been demonstrating amazing feats of balance and gymnastics to reach their prizes. In contrast the wood pigeons seem to manage just by plonking themselves down and gorging.

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So those are my Six for today, joining The Propagator who has an amazingly diverse selection of Gardening Things attached to his meme this Saturday. Take a look here.

Meanwhile, wrap up warm, get your tools for there is plenty to be done … Have fun.

P.S. If you get a chance on Sunday night (early Monday morning really) look out for the Super Blood Wolf Moon!! This will be the last total lunar eclipse viewable from Britain for the next ten years. It also coincides with a full moon with the moon on one of its closer orbits, so the moon face should look marginally bigger/clearer … and certainly red from passing through the earth’s shadow.

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About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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20 Responses to Six on Saturday – Promise

  1. shoreacres says:

    They’re quite different photos, but I enjoyed both the acrobatic bird and the skeletonized plant equally. It’s grown just too cold and windy to be out admiring whatever nature’s provided today. I can take cold, or I can take wind, but a strong, cold wind isn’t my cup of tea. Instead, I believe I’ll have a cup of real tea and continue admiring your photos!

  2. fredgardener says:

    Funny picture than that of the bird! … Your orchid looks like a dwarf Phalaenopsis, you’re right. Just wait for the color!
    About the Super Blood Wolf Moon, it will certainly be a great moment, but rather at the end of the night according to what I read (around 4am to 6am). My camera is ready (me less ….)

    • Ah yes … I hope the orchid turns out to be a dark pink/purple.
      Good luck with your lunar photography (and getting up in time). I am now not sure we will have clear skies by the time the transition is at its darkest, but I will still take a look.

  3. Fantastic photo of the blackbird hanging upside down! I am amazed to hear you have flowers on your comfrey already. We have lots of self sown plants in the garden, but no signs of flowers yet. I don’t think they usually come until around March.

    • Thanks. Dwarf comfrey always flowers early for me, usually appearing with the winter honeysuckle flowers. It is certainly ahead of itself this year … but then again so is the winter honeysuckle!

  4. Paddy says:

    I hope Sadie doesn’t have too much trouble with the ‘cone of shame’ & that the infection clears up quickly.

    I never knew mini orchids existed either! Maybe that’s something I need to look into, seeing as I can never keep full size orchids alive … mostly down to a lack of water I think (oops!)

    Thanks for the heads up on the Super Blood Moon – knowing my luck it’ll be cloudy, but I’ll try and keep an eye out for that 🌕

    • Thanks … unfortunately Sadie goes back in tomorrow for a redo of the stitches so that they stop irritating the eye 😦
      I can vouch that mini phalaenopsis orchids like it dry… maybe worth a go?
      Good luck with seeing the eclipse. The forecast is for cloud from 4am here sadly.

  5. Those catkins are lovely. Spring is on its way where you are!

  6. karen says:

    A lovely selection of photos. Very cheerful. And I love your blackbird. I can never catch mine on camera. All the best. Karen

  7. Mola says:

    Amazing to me that you still have crabapples on your trees for your birds! The squirrels here cleaned my trees off long ago! Do you have a favorite crabapple variety that produces the most, long-lasting apples?

    • Funny you should say that, because the squirrels have been strangely absent from the garden this winter, not even trying it on with the peanut feeders. My crab apple is a John Downie and keeps it fruit most years until roughly the end of January. My parents have a nice red-fruited ‘Profusion’ which lasts well too.

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    We’re about to get a big snowstorm, so seeing your ‘spring’ flowers is wonderful– thanks for sharing them!

  9. Chloris says:

    I always love your bird photographs, the blackbird is great. Thanks for the reminder about the Super Blood Wolf Moon. Fabulous name!

  10. cavershamjj says:

    The tomatilloe seed pod is cool. We like a seed pod.

  11. Christina says:

    The tomatillo husks are beautiful aren’t they? I’d left one without its husk on the top of a pot, something ate ALL the flesh but left the seeds which are now starting to germinate.

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