Six on Saturday – All Change


So, this is the last Six-on-Saturday for 2019. Many thanks to Jonathon, The Propagator, for hosting such a fun and inclusive meme throughout the year.

Here are my six today:

1) Mahonia – Borrowed glory

OK, this is in my next door neighbour’s garden, but I (and the crazy bumblebees out now) am enjoying it immensely.

bumble 2

Mahonia japonica and a foraging bumblebee

2) A second year of no tulips … I give up

I am having trouble with tulips, both at home and at work. It doesn’t matter whether the bulbs are in the ground or in pots, protected or exposed. Something is eating them with conscientious regularity and I am almost 100% certain that it is voles. They get through  tiny holes (I’ve tried 1 or 2 layers of chicken wire or plastic netting as here). So I am going to shift my attention to other spring bulbs: narcissis and anything else that gets left alone (sadly not crocuses or scilla), although I am trying to confuse the blighters by crushing garlic and tossing it around the plantings. Any other recommendations will be gratefully received.


bye bye tulips 😦

3) Christmas roses – chewed but still a pure white

Perhaps not the most glamorous hellebore to have in the garden, as it nearly always bears damage from slimy gastropods, but the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) is a cheerful indicator of the year’s end and whisperings of new beginnings. As an added bonus they love my heavy, alkaline clay soil.


A slightly tatty Helleborus niger in the garden

4) Oca – An amazing recovery

These were a new kind of vegetable tuber I tried this year. Originally from South America, they are considered to be one of the ‘lost crops’ of the Incas. You can treat them pretty much like potatoes. I bought five tubers in a sale and they turned out to be very sorry, woe-begotten examples. Nevertheless after chucking one, I planted the rest in the veg. patch, after the frosts and watched their foliage emerge from the ground … and slowly expand across the bed. They are a frost tender crop and are typically lifted a week or two after frosts hit them, giving them enough time to suck back all the goodness into the tubers (which are growing rapidly in that time). Well, this is the return from a single root and, although I haven’t tasted them yet, they look lovely don’t they? Beautiful colours!


Oca tubers

5) Winter honeysuckle

Picked to scent the room for our Christmas meal. What a wonderful shrub!


Lonicera fragrantissima … yes it has a delightful scent

6) A new challenge – Growing ironwood from seed

At some point in the last few months I obviously picked the seed pods of an Persian ironwood tree at work and put them in my pocket. Recently, since I’ve been getting through a lot of tissues (!) I managed to pull these cases back out of the depths of those pockets and I discovered that shiny, tooth-like seeds had fallen out. Now I absolutely have to get them to grow! Wish me luck.


Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’ seeds

Also, over the last few days seed catalogues for next year have started to pop through the door. Are you ready?

Best Wishes for 2020!



About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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12 Responses to Six on Saturday – All Change

  1. This was an interesting post. I pop seeds pocket also. I found one in my purse this week. No recollection of its identity or source, but it will be planted and watched.

    • Good luck with that. Strange that I always manage to convince myself that I’ll know what the seeds are. Worst thing is when I collect them in tissues, carefully folded to enclose the tiny offspring … and then forget!

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    I had lots of vole damage, too, over the years, so frustrating! I gave up planting things they love, I’m left with Narcissi and Allium. At least there are lots of varieties to choose from. I’ve heard planting garlic along with the Tulips and Crocus helps, but I’ve not tried it. On pots in cold storage, I invert terra-cotta pots over the top and that seems to help. Good luck!

    • I am down to that decision too, although I am having some success in the borders with the strewn, crushed garlic. It needs to be re-applied though, especially after all the rain we have been having.

  3. Jim Stephens says:

    On germinating Parrotia, one book says warm stratification for 5 months then 3 months at 41F, another says sow fresh in autumn or soak then chill for 10 weeks before sowing. I’m surprised it even set seed; good luck. I love the scent of that Lonicera, shame it gets so big.

    • Yeah, breaking double dormancy is tedious. I’ll have to be super good about labelling!
      The winter honeysuckle certainly gets untidy, but is really a godsend for this season’s foraging insects. I’ve been watching huge Early bumblebees on it today. Smells like sherbet!

  4. Noelle says:

    Ah….seeds in the bottom of pockets, many of us will recognise that habit! Lovely honeysuckle.

  5. Lora Hughes says:

    Have you tried the oca yet? I’d be interested in what they taste like. I’m yet another seeds in the pocket. Children & gardeners w/their pockets full of treasure.

    • Lora, please forgive the delay. I hadn’t eaten any of the harvested oca when you asked your question, but I have now. OK, so raw they are a bit like a very mild radish (crispy and slightly tangy). Microwaved, they go a bit starchy and are more like salad potatoes, especially if you put a bit of butter on them. But the best way to eat them so far has been to cut them in half longways and roast them in a little olive oil. After 15-30 mins (size dependent, but when soft to a prod) take them out and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. They taste like a cross between jerusalem artichokes and potatoes … with a kick of lemon. Yum!

      • Lora Hughes says:

        Thanks for making the effort to get back to me – very much appreciated. The lemon kick might not be well received by some of my family & the individual tubers are a bit expensive, but apparently they produce quite a few/plant, so I might try them. Again, thanks for getting back to me on this. Now where to plant . . .

  6. Pingback: Wordless Wednesday – Ah, the forgotten, saved Oca from last year! | Frogend dweller's Blog

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