Six on Saturday: January Blues

The forecast for tonight is for temperatures to fall to -5 Celsius here. This will be the lowest so far this winter and cold enough that I’ve moved some more plants into the protection of my two new mini plastic greenhouses. Since one of them blew over in last week’s storm, it is probably a good thing to put more stuff in them anyway, including a paving slab at the bottom. I’m watching sleet and hail fall as I type and so it seems like a brilliant time to do a ‘Six’ post. Jonathon, aka Mr Propagator, plays the Kingpin for this Saturday activity so do click through to his blog for colour on a dull day.

So starting with something blue …

1 Anemone ‘Mr Fokker’

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Anemone coronaria ‘Mr Fokker’

I had two or three trays of these that I planted late last spring. They only managed some foliage growth and then languished on the ground next to the greenhouse for the rest of the year. Well, the little darlings have decided to make up for their previous non-delivery and are already sticking their heads above the parapet, in January, in what has now turned into snow!

2 A beautiful hoop petticoat daffodil

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Narcissus bulbocodium ‘Arctic Bells’

These are becoming one of my favourite daffodils. They start into bloom early and flower for ages, gradually sending more and more flowers up … until they form attractive clumps of the palest yellow/cream bells, complete with stylish ruffs. They do come in a more daffodilly strident yellow as well, but spring doesn’t seem ready for that level of vibrant yet!

3 Wendy’s Gold Snowdrops are well on the way

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Galanthus plicatus ‘Wendy’s Gold’

I bought one bulb (yes, last of the big spenders!) a couple of year ago. I admired it, left it in its pot so that I didn’t misplace it and looked forward to a bunch of gold the following year. There were zero flowers. Fast forward to 2021 and happily it looks like it managed to divide and grow enough to throw up at least three blooms this spring. Hurray! Patience and all that.

4 Big garden bird watch and bird boxes

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Next Friday through to Sunday (29-31 Jan) is the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch, so I will be checking my stocks of nuts, seeds and fat balls this week, to keep the feeders full. It’s hard work with greedy squirrels getting creative with the protective cages. I swear that there’s one squirrel that seems to have perfected the technique of turning the feeder on its side, so that seeds fall out!

Meanwhile, in a parallel bird-related activity, I looked out the plans for building a bluetit box and had a go sawing and hammering the pieces together. This was the result. In my defense, the plank turned out to be thicker than I realised and hence the base plate was slightly too wide to build a square house. Also the timber had more cracks in than I’d noticed when I found the timber in the garage. So this is going to be my practice box. Once I get a better piece of wood, you’ll be impressed with the result!

5 Christmas parsnips

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Not sure how I forgot that I grew a row of parsnips for Christmas dinner, but I did and am only starting to crop them now. They are turning out to be remarkably sizeable, in spite of the raised beds only providing ~20-30cm of decent soil. They are not a vegetable I tend to use apart from Xmas lunch, so I was thinking that I would try a friend’s parsnip and apple soup recipe or possibly parsnip tatin.

6 Mac’s Mix update

I thought that it was time to experiment with the lucky dip selection of seeds in Chiltern Seeds’ Mac’s Mix (XIV), which I mentioned here. They were described as including a range of tropical and exotic plants that may take some time to germinate. The packet says you can start them anytime of year, so now seemed like a good idea. Oh dear ….

Well, if I do this again, I will sort out the seed I think I recognise, because three (!!) days after putting them in the airing cupboard I already have two pots of some kind of Ipomoea that I can’t deal with in January :(. Help!

Any ideas?

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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26 Responses to Six on Saturday: January Blues

  1. shoreacres says:

    That hoop petticoat daffodil is splendid. I’ve never seen such a thing. It reminded me of our 1950s affection for net petticoats to wear beneath our poodle skirts and such. Every Saturday, we’d wash and starch them, and them set them upright on the basement floor to dry for a few days.

  2. What a dainty little narcissus, Arctic Bells, you sell it well. I shall look out for it. Am so impressed by your parsnips. I love them cut into chip-sized lengths, roasted in the oven covered with chilli and garlic salt: they make v tasty winter snacks! But the soup also sounds delicious. I don’t like the sound of the lucky dip seeds though, that would worry me, not knowing what any of them are!

    • Chilli, garlic, olive oil. Yum! Sounds great, thx. I bought the lucky dip seeds mostly because they mentioned Moringa tree seeds on the inclusions and I really want to grow one (they sound fascinating and our local coffee shop is named after them). In retrospect the idea of not knowing how to provide the right conditions for any of them was sort of stupid. Also I see that they now sell moringa seeds separately!

  3. I love parsnips with roast chicken. What a shame you forgot about yours. It will be interesting to see which birds your bird box attracts. I have just started a Wild Wednesday meme if you want to join me. It’s to share pictures of wild flowers and wild critters.

  4. Scott Dee says:

    That’s an inspiring update! I love the look of those exotic seed mix seedlings. And I hope those parsnips are tasty.
    Have you been on the hunt for any other plants that you’ve forgotten you planted?

    • Thanks Scott. The exotic seeds are germinating well. Every day so far there’s been a different kind to deal with. I check the garden every day for new growth. That’s what is so great about springtime!

  5. fredgardener says:

    You too have a beautiful anemone and the flower is more open than mine! Very nice photo. Regarding exotic seeds, I may recognize palm seeds ( middle(1) and top left (2) ) and maybe even a banana seed on the top right : there are many different varieties and it can be very interesting to find out what each seed will give …

    • That’s helpful, Fred. I do hope you are right, as those would be fun to grow. I though that the biggest one on the left might be a Yucca and there’s one Moringa in the middle. Only one of the bigger hard seeds has emerged so far. No idea what it is yet. 🙂

  6. The anemone is a beautiful colour.

  7. Eliza Waters says:

    So nice to have spring blooms already, anemone and narcissus. I’ve started bringing in the forced bulbs I potted up in the fall… first up is snow crocus, nice to see as we go into a very cold spell this week (single digits F… -14C).
    I love parsnips sliced thin and fried in butter – yum! Frost hardening makes them sweeter so we often see them in the markets in March.
    Morning glories – yikes. Perhaps pot them in a large pot with a tomato cage to grow on and twist the vines around and around as they grow? Good luck!

    • That’s so cold. Lot’s of roaring fires required! Snow crocuses are a lovely start to the year. I’ve not seen any sign of my crocuses yet. I can see the attraction of sliced, slow-fried butter parsnips and since no-one else eats them, they would be a great side dish that way. The morning glories are getting pulled by too little light, so I think it is curtains for them 😦

  8. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I’m sure the birds won’t mind if the box is not quite square, and anyway, it adds to a rustic, well-loved look.
    I have the strident yellow hoop petticoat Narcissus, which managed only one flower in our spring, even though there were plenty of bulbs. Very disappointing. Your white one is gorgeous.

    • Thanks. I do like the bright yellow hoop petticoat narcs, but they fit better in our garden when there is generally more colour around. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your patch manages to be more floriferous next spring. I will probably still put up the rustic bird box, but maybe not in the prominent position planned.

  9. I love those hoop petticoat daffs, glad to see they’re doing well for you. If you ever look at Ian Young’s bulb log for the SRGC, he seems to grow a greenhouse full of them:

    Click to access 2021Jan201611140296BULB_LOG_0321.pdf


    Well worth a read if you’re in to bulbs and things!

    At this time of year we have many forms of parsnip – I’m quite partial to sticking them in mashed potato 🙂

    Great post!

  10. carolee says:

    I’m on the look for those adorable narcissi. I received a free packet of “annual wildflower” seeds with one of my orders. Since I have the time, I think as I watch the Packer’s game this afternoon, I’ll take a pair of tweezers and an mini-muffin tin and sort the seeds out to plant types separately. Hopefully I’ll recognize at least some of them!

  11. Cathy says:

    A really interesting post, Allison. I do wonder sometimes about keeping my new snowdrop acquisitions in pots out of the ground for the first couple of years, to keep a closer eye on them – although most of last year’s are fine, it was those from 2 years ago I seem to have lost. I have had and lost Wendy’s Gold more than once!! Your parsnips look brilliant – parsnip soup with a bit of curry powder is lovely, and I also have a lovely recipe for parsnip stuffing if you would like it. I missed the mixed seed offer from Chiltern and wondered if I might have been tempted – until I saw POISON in great big letters on the packet!! The hoop petticoated daffs are so lovely, and I plan to add some next year, although am still hoping some from last year will return…just leaves so far, Thanks for sharing all this

    • Oh, what a shame about Wendy! I adore those golden drops. I’ll give her one more year to bulk up, then I will try chipping it. Soup sounds like a very useful idea for the parsnips. Since I am veggie, I don’t tend to make stuffing much, but you have given me an idea for stuffing peppers, without rice, that would possibly fit into our zero carb eating restriction currently. Chiltern seeds have other mixes to explore. I don’t know how much of the mix is poisonous, but I could see some castor oil plant seeds, which certainly are.

      • Cathy says:

        I checked the recipe for the stuffing and it does contain sausagemeat, which I had forgotten. Also apple and onion. If you are interested I also have a recipe from a cooking for veggie children book for veggie Scotch eggs – the coating is mainly a mix of parsnip and carrot and the eggs are then baked not fried. Surprisingly successful and could easily be adapted for other uses

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