Six on Saturday – 16th December 2017

Six on Saturday 16th December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme, primrose, evergreen, holly, tellima, hellebore, helleborus, helleborus foetidus, bamboo, grasses.

Joining in with this popular garden bloggers meme

After two weeks of cheating a little on this Six on Saturday meme, firstly showing images from a nearby woodland and then last week picking the best of someone else’s garden, this time around I’ve picked some highlights from my garden.

When the light levels are low, and most of the perennial plants have dived under the soil to wait out winter’s worst, evergreen plants carry interest through undeterred. We didn’t have any of the recent snow this far into the South West so the garden is unscathed.

The Six on Saturday meme was started by The Propagator and you can find links to other garden bloggers taking part in the comments on his weekly posts.

ONE

Six on Saturday 16th December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme, primrose, evergreen, holly, tellima, hellebore, helleborus, helleborus foetidus, bamboo, grasses.
Primrose

This little Primrose was rudely lifted some time ago and dumped into a terracotta pot to be sorted later. Later hasn’t arrived so it’s still in there but doesn’t seem to mind and has started to flower. One day I’ll divide it and find room for it somewhere in the garden. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the flowers.

TWO

Six on Saturday 16th December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme, primrose, evergreen, holly, tellima, hellebore, helleborus, helleborus foetidus, bamboo, grasses.
Holly

This is one of the poor Holly bushes that have been languishing in containers for over 5 years. Whilst they have always formed plenty of berries, they never grew well, putting on only minimal growth.

When we were in Australia mum fostered them and duly doted on them with water and feed with very little in return. Only when the metal containers had rusted through and they needed repotting did I realise my mistake – they were still in their 2L plastic pots!!

I must have been planting them after a night shift.

THREE

Six on Saturday 16th December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme, primrose, evergreen, holly, tellima, hellebore, helleborus, helleborus foetidus, bamboo, grasses.
Tellima grandiflora

This easy to overlook woodland perennial is one of my favourite plants. It’s evergreen, has soft leaves and sends up delicate spikes of bell-shaped flowers that are fringed with pink. It’s also easy to start from seed and that’s where all of my plants have come from.

I’ve put a mental note to gather some seed in 2018 and start some more.

FOUR

Six on Saturday 16th December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme, primrose, evergreen, holly, tellima, hellebore, helleborus, helleborus foetidus, bamboo, grasses.
Helleborus foetidus

A horrible name for a very good plant. I like the evergreen foliage mostly. The flowers which are starting to perform now are just an added extra. Again, this tolerates low light levels well and earns its space in a shady garden.

FIVE

Six on Saturday 16th December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme, primrose, evergreen, holly, tellima, hellebore, helleborus, helleborus foetidus, bamboo, grasses.
Variegated bamboo

I’m a bit indifferent to bamboos. I have Phyllostachys nigra in a large container which has never delivered on its promise. Mostly they can be thugs but this shorter variegate variety was in the cottage when we moved here and hasn’t really spread. It adds a brighter element to a dark dry corner

SIX

Six on Saturday 16th December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme, primrose, evergreen, holly, tellima, hellebore, helleborus, helleborus foetidus, bamboo, grasses.
Grass display at the front of the cottage

The cattle feed troughs at the front of the cottage have done really well after their revamp this year. Even into December, they are full of texture and interest. When the low light catches the inflorescences it looks great. They have required no attention since planting.

The planting is a mixture of Stipa tenuissima, Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, a small leaved Hebe plants grown from cuttings, Euphorbia myrsinites. There are tulips newly planted ready to put on some spring colour.

 

 

 

 

So that’s my first Six on Saturday. Please join in to mark the changes in your garden over the year.

Six on Saturday – 2nd December 2017

Six on Saturday 2nd December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme,

Joining in with this popular garden bloggers meme

One of my favourite activities at this time of year is to take the dog for a walk around some local woods. Not only does it give me some exercise, it’s the ultimate de-stressor.

There was so much to see today despite being in the thick of winter. I’ve been granted special permission to bend the rules of the Six on Saturday meme by The Propagator himself. This will give me some time to tidy my garden and find something, or six somethings, to post for another week.

ONE

Six on Saturday 2nd December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme,
Euonymus europaeus – The Spindle Tree

I love the Spindle Tree. The bright pink fruit casings are incongruous in the more subtle colours of a winter woodland.

TWO

Six on Saturday 2nd December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme,
Acer campestre – The Field Maple

I have Acer palmatum in pots in my garden but the bright yellow leaves of the native Field Maple hold for a long time and give a really bright glow.

THREE

Six on Saturday 2nd December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme,
Umbellifer – ? Hogweed ? Cow Parsnip

It’s easy to get confused by all the native umbellifers. This one has a lovely pink tinge to its oldest petals.

FOUR

Six on Saturday 2nd December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme,
Snowberry

There’s a hedge I pass on the way to the woods where the top growth always has big fat white berries. This makes it look like a heavy snowfall is sitting on top of the hedge and makes me smile every year.

FIVE

Six on Saturday 2nd December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme,
Harts Tongue Fern

This is my favourite fern. The mid-green sheeny leaves are awesome.

SIX

Six on Saturday 2nd December 2017. Plants, plant, garden, gardens, tree, trees, euonymus europaeus, spindle, spindle tree, maple, field maple, umbellifer, winter, woodland, woods, garden blog, garden blog meme,
Beech Tree Trunk

The moulds growing on the trunk of this Beech Tree match the colour of the turning Euonymus leaves.

 

So that’s my first Six on Saturday. Please join in to mark the changes in your garden over the year.

Blackberries

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The first nip in the air signals a change of season and the start of the blackberry harvest

The turning of the year as we travel through the seasons was a huge factor in pulling us back to the UK. The recent change in the weather, with its wonderful chilly bright mornings and nippy evenings, has warmed my heart. Whilst the other seasons have their appeal I can’t love them half as much as I love Autumn.

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Blackberries

Autumn is our season. The most potent memories of the last ten years with my wife belong to this time of year. It is the season of our wedding, of our first kiss, and of our first meeting. It also marks the onset of a series of celebrations and birthdays stretching all the way to Christmas.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Mollie our Golden Retriever enjoys a foray into the green lanes

I am not a summer child; the sight of me in shorts should be enough to banish any misunderstanding on that matter. Instead, I am happiest in warm jumpers, walking boots, and damp woodland. Days spent walking the dog under a tree canopy are my favourite. Also at this time of year comes the bounty of hedgerow harvests. Already this year I have Crabapple Vodka and Sloe Gin steeping in the larder, all collected from the hedgerows and trees around our village. The other important harvest of the season is blackberries.

This year I read Alys Fowler’s book on foraging and I’m making an effort to note the harvest when it presents itself. Already this year I have Crabapple Vodka and Sloe Gin steeping in the larder, all collected from the hedgerows and trees around our village. The other important harvest of the season is blackberries.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
A view over the Devon hills

Blackberries

I think the ritual of blackberry collecting, bound up as it is in the season, might be even better than the fresh berries themselves. I’m working my way through a jar of blackberry and apple jam made 3 years ago which I find infinitely more alluring than the fresh berries. September signals the start of hunting season for blackberries.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Not all the berries ripen at the same time

So, with my jumper on for the first time since moving home, we ascend a local hill to find the best berries. Jewel-like berries gleam from the yellowing hedgerow senescence. The bunches of berries carry both mature and immature fruits. The rule of foraging that states you only take a third of the crop you find (the other two-thirds being left for wild animals and someone else) reinforced by the plant itself.

The light prickling on skin reminds you that no harvest comes for free. This only intensifies the sensory experience. You feel like the proverbial child in the sweetshop picking only the choicest fruits between thumb and forefinger. The idea to bring surgical gloves comes to me as I notice the purple staining on my fingertips, as it does every year but is never remembered.

It’s not long before my cheeks are chilled and the light becomes thinner. It’s time to go home.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Blackberry harvest

Chinese Lanterns

www.mypottingbenchblog.com/chinese-lanterns

Chinese Lanterns

I’m really pleased with my Chinese Lanterns. This year I installed some new planters outside the front of the cottage. We decided on rustic animal feeders as they gave the most authentic look at a ridiculously cheap price. The standard planters for sale on the internet were all coming in at over £400 each! I managed to get my 2 feeding troughs for £70 at a local agricultural supply shop. I was looking for plants that could cope with hot and dry conditions at the southern-facing front of the house and saw an opportunity to grow these autumn classics.

 

Plant profile

Latin Name: Physalis alkekengi

Common Names: Chinese Lanterns, winter cherry 

Origin: South Eastern Europe and Asia 

Family: Solanaceae 

Grows: 40-60cm tall 

 

Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) in a large planter
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) in a large planter
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) seedheads. The berries become more obvious as the papery seedhead breaks down.
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) seedheads. The berries become more obvious as the papery seedhead breaks down.
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) seedhead close up. The fine lace webbing on show.
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) seedhead close up. The fine lace webbing on show.

I’ve heard they can be invasive in an open garden but I’ve got them contained so that shouldn’t be a problem. However, I couldn’t resist the fruits hanging in their gorgeous lacy sacks. My propagating fingers started twitching. With the help of the fantastic Real Seeds website I’ve collected, fermented, rinsed and dried the seeds ready for sowing in spring.

How to collect and prepare the seeds

Extract the pulp from the fruits
Extract the pulp from the fruits
Extract the pulp from the fruits
You can see the seeds in the pulp 
Mix with cool clean water
Mix with cool clean water
Sieve the pulp and seed mixture
Sieve the pulp and seed mixture
Place on a flat surface to dry - separate the seeds as much as possible
Place on a flat surface to dry – separate the seeds as much as possible
Leave the plate out to dry before packaging up in some dry seed envelopes
Leave the plate out to dry before packaging up in some dry seed envelopes

I’ll do an update next spring. Only 3 of the seeds floated when being rinsed which suggests there are a good few viable ones in there.