Six on Saturday – 50/50 Woes and Wows


May is off to a see-saw start for me, both in terms of weather and successes in the garden. Here’s a selection of wins and woes from our garden this week for Six-on-Saturday, which is hosted by Jonathon, aka The Propagator.

1) First a woe – A broken fork

I managed to break our nice little border fork, on a combination of roots and the clay soil in our front garden. This happened when I was preparing the route for a gas connection to the house at the beginning of the week. How I completely snapped off one tine and bent another is beyond me. Don’t know my own strength obviously!!! Even more annoyingly, it turns out that they (the contractors) were able to used a ‘mole’ for the whole length of the pipe, which meant they only needed to dig holes at the beginning and end of the run.


2) A first ‘Wow’ – Erysimum mutabile

I bought two little plants of erysimum mutabile in 2019 from the sadly now-closed Salutation Gardens in Kent. This year they are putting on a lovely, ever-changing show on either side of our patio fountain.

Erysimum mutabile

3) A second woe – Devoured cucurbits seeds

I sowed my cucumbers, squash and courgettes at the end of April and placed the module trays in the new mini plastic greenhouses. Two days ago when I checked them I found this rather heartbreaking display. Mice!!! All gone   😦


I’ve re-sown the ones I have extra seed for (luckily, all but one). There will be fewer plants, but at least there will be some on the plot. I have stacked them for protection temporarily as they are an odd size, but a colleague at Wimpole (who has suffered similar assaults on his veg) has suggested putting them in upturned transparent lids (the deep kind) and securing fleece over the top. This will keep them safe, warm and I will even be able to water them through the fleece.

4) Second ‘Wow’ – Tulip batalinii

I’ve have had these tulips forever and each summer, after the tulips fade, I plant bedding plants on top and enjoy a second show in the pretty, patterned terracotta urn. The tulips seems to thrive on this treatment as once again they are making a brilliant apricot and orange splash on the patio. Apparently they get more bronze the sunnier the conditions.


5) A final woe –  Ring-barking on the golden Choisya

There I was thinking that, even though the spotted aucuba is regularly eaten back to a wire protective cage by the local muntjacs, this shady corner is looking increasingly brighter because they never, ever touch the Choisya ‘Sundance’.

Well, that was wrong.

This middle branch is dying because the stem has been ring-barked lower down. Hopefully, you can make out the shredded bark in the inset photo. The branch will need to be removed, but is going to leave a big hole in the shrub.

😦 😦


6) A final ‘Wow’ – Erodium

I had never heard of Erodium, or alpine geranium, until a couple of years ago, when I picked up a plant in a sale at Fuller’s Mill gardens, Suffolk. Erodium looks like a low growing scented geranium, but it seems to be completely hardy and flowers very early. It has been flowering in our garden, alongside the driveway for the last month, at least. It is positively loaded with flowers and is loved by bees and hoverflies. It also seems to seed around fairly easily too. Not a bad problem to have!


So, those are my six. Many thanks to Jonathon for hosting this happy, inclusive meme.

Have a good weekend!

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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24 Responses to Six on Saturday – 50/50 Woes and Wows

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Wow, what a six this week, Allison– the good, the bad and the ugly! Love the Erysimum and the Tulip batalanii – I have T. b. ‘Honky Tonk’ and it is a great performer, returning and increasing every year (so long as the chipmunks/deer don’t find them). Deer damage is so ANNOYING! They eat our yew and hollies down to nubs. :/
    Too bad about your garden fork – that hurts! Maybe it can be repurposed as a plant support or garden art? 😉

    • Ha, rather like Pitchfork (yellow) by Michael Craig-Martin in the gardens at the Hepworth Wakefield! I might paint it at that. T. b. Honky Tonky looks to be an interesting combination of yellow with a blush of pink. Great to hear that it spreads for you! I might try mine in garden soil this autumn.

  2. Here is the states I have issues with squirrels digging in pots. I sprinkle cayenne pepper around the soil. It gets on their little hands and then face and mouth and puts an end to digging. You might try that for mice.

  3. fredgardener says:

    Wow! That’s the word … I also lost half of some squash and courgette plants. They started and rot… a second batch is in progress but you scare me with the mice….

    • Good luck, Fred. My re-sown clingfilm-wrapped squash and courgette are germinating now, hurray. I will have to have to take a chance removing the covers (once I’ve sprinkled with cayenne), before mine also rot! Good job seed packets have more seeds than we usually need! 😉

  4. Megan Hall says:

    Love your alpine geranium, but v sorry about the mice! Rotten beggars. Hopefully you’ve nixed them now.

  5. swesely says:

    Your tulips are so pretty, with all the different colors blending together.

  6. shoreacres says:

    I can’t believe this. When I saw you mention the common name of the Erodium, I wondered if it was akin to a wild geranium we have here: a tiny thing whose flowers are about 1/4″ to 3/8″ across. The answer to that is “no.” That native is Geranium carolinianum.

    However: in the process of looking around, I discovered we do have a different native: E. texanum. Even better, I have photos of it, and hadn’t yet identified it. Now, I have! Photos will follow, eventually.

  7. Chloris says:

    You obviously don’t know your own strength. I love Tulipa batalini, unfortunately it doesn’t last long in my garden. That’s a pretty lityle erodium.

    • I do seem to have a few forks with bent tines! Bending them back into place seems to be an art that I haven’t mastered. I haven’t tried the tulipa batalinii in the ground yet. I suspect that I will need to add a fair bit of gravel/sand as we are on thick clay.

  8. Heyjude says:

    This is a mixed six! The tulips are very pretty, such a nice soft colour without being wishy washy. I had to look up what had happened to the Salutations Garden as I have visited it myself (a while ago) such a shame. I really hope the gardens can open again as they are a delight. The erysimum is stunning. And I have just bought an erodium after seeing one on Jim’s blog I think. I hope it is happy here and spreads and self-seeds like yours.

    • Yes, I don’t know what the end of the story for the Salutation gardens will be, but fingers crossed. I understand that the ex-head gardener still does maintenance there to keep things ticking over, as well as now developing the gardens at Canterbury Cathedral. Good luck with your erodium. I wish you many babies!

  9. Cathy says:

    The Erysimum is gorgeous. Wish it would survive here. I am risking leaving veg seedlings out tonight for the first time… mice probably won’t nibble them but the hares might! I have barricaded them with watering cans and other bits and pieces! 😉

  10. susurrus says:

    I enjoyed your wows and sympathise with your woes. I have broken at least one border fork and a few trowels. Or as I’d rather put it, stones in my way broke them!

  11. Cathy says:

    I read this last weekend but am playing catch up with comments. I broke my stainless steel border fork soon after I bought it doing something quite ordinary, so you are in good (?) company – I should have taken mine back and I am sure there will have been some sort of guarantee on it. How annoying to have these nibblers around, wreaking havoc in parts of your garden. The wood pigeons, having reared a brood, seem to have moved on here, but if they have more than one brood in a year they may well be back… That is an interesting erysimum, not something I have come across. Let’s hope you have more wows than woes for the next SoS!

    • Our wood pigeons also seem to have moved on from the crab apple nest, but they still love to sit cooing on the wooden arches in the garden.
      We probably both should have returned the broken tools to let them know that there are issues with the materials/manufacturing process used, but I put it down to me doing something stupid with it, even though it was just digging!

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