Next Tuesday marks the Winter solstice for us northern hemisphere dwellers. No cattle will be slaughtered here to save on winter feeding (we’re veggie in any case 🤣). The Sun will nevertheless follow its lowest arc in the sky and, if there is any sunshine, our shadows will be at their longest. The ‘day’ will last a short 7 hours 49 minutes and 42 seconds in London apparently, but from then on there will be increasing daylight … all the way to summer. I’m sure all northern gardeners will be breathing a sigh of relief!
I’m joining Mr Propagator’s Six on Saturday meme today, along side many other tweeters and bloggers. Check out Jonathon’s blog and browse the links in the comment section to see more Six selections … and not just from the northern hemisphere of course!
Here are my Six:
1) A ‘free’ crop of Oca tubers
I seem to be as bad at removing all the ocas that I’ve grown from the ground as I am at clearing potatoes. This year I forgot to plant out my saved tubers until way too late. When I open the storage bag there were so many etiolated shoots that it looked like a bag of spaghetti. I threw those away, but the little pieces that I failed to collected from the ground last December stealthily pushed up their own new shoots and started the next cycle anyway. I dug up a couple of clumps today and it looks like there will be sufficient tubers for a couple of meals. Maybe more, if I end up being the only one eating them again!
2) Sunny Pot Marigolds
Calendula ‘Neon’ continues to flower in the borders. In spite of their overall tatty appearance, I can’t bring myself to clear them. They looks so darn cheerful.
3) Witch Hazel ‘Jelena’
Way back in July my parents ordered this shrub for me for my birthday. They finally received the plant at the very end of November. It was a small, bagged-up, bare-rooted specimen. (I don’t think they knew this when they ordered it for me.) Anyhow, it looked a healthy plant and, despite its overall size, it had some flower buds on. I potted it up immediately and plonked it in the shelter of the greenhouse. This week I noticed that some of the flowers were beginning to open and today, it looks like this:
4) Greenhouse Insulation
For the first time in a long while I’ve completely insulated my greenhouse with bubble-wrap. This time I used proper fixings (rather than paperclips) and I have to say it has made a huge difference in the effectiveness of the job. Being a cheapskate only gets you so far, clearly! I’ve made the task one of my six as I need advice on how to fix the stuff to the doors. I’ve got double doors and it would be a large area to leave unprotected, but there are no grooves on the doors to use the fixings on. I’ve resorted to sticking the wrap down with packing tape. The problem is that moisture gradually reduces it’s stickiness and I end up with loose, flapping wrap that catches in the doors and gets tangled up in the sliding space. What do others do to insulate their greenhouse doors?
5) Tulips and Garlic
In the end I didn’t manage to entirely hold out against buy a tulips in the sales, in spite of my avowal that with all our resident mice, squirrels and voles, it would be a pointless purchase. So I’ve been potting up some lovely Tulipa whittalii bulbs and covering the pots with chicken mesh, but in addition I’ve planted several actively growing cloves of garlic in each pot, which I am hoping will put the critters off completely. I can cut them down or pull them once the tulips are well through. We will see how successful the ploy is, but so far so good.
6) Melianthus major
Melianthus is a lovely plant, but gets knocked back badly here each winter. However this year, we’ve not been hit with enough cold to ruin it, so I am currently enjoying its unusually large, lush stature. Everything about the plant is attractive, isn’t it? Those fan leaves, the pronounced serration, its slightly frosty, mint-green colour. Plus, I adore the look of rain or drizzle on it’s leaves. Now, if only I could get it to flower!
Well, that’s our last Six of the year. See you on the other side, when the days will be getting longer and we’ll be already anticipating swathes of spring bulbs.