You can tell I I’ve been putting off household admin as the title of this blog is the first time I’ve written 2019 this year.  Shall I pay the bills or shall I write my first Six on Saturday of the year? No contest.

My six are a mix of new beginnings, resurrections and rescues – an apt combination for January.

Amaryllisamaryllis papillo

This amaryllis is called Papillo and is a stunner.  I’ve grown it before and it is highly recommended for its lime green flowers streaked with burgundy. The flowers are slightly smaller then many of the blowsier amaryllis but what they lack in size, they make up for in impact.  The bulbs are usually slightly more expensive than some of the commoner varieties but I think worth it.

This year I’ve had some success getting my amaryllis to re-flower by giving them a summer holiday in the garden.  If this one re-flowers next year I’ll be very happy.

Alpine Seeds

Alpine Garden Society Seed Exchange

I’ve mentioned before that I have become a diarist for the Alpine Garden Society, sharing my experiences as a beginner alpine grower.  Before Christmas I wrote on the Alpine Garden Society website about how I made my selections from the AGS Seed Exchange – thought to be the largest exchange of its kind worldwide.  If you’re interested to learn more about the seed exchange and how I navigated my first one, follow the link here.

Even more exciting than selecting my seeds was receiving them in the post.  Twenty three tiny packets of promise.

As I plumped for the beginners ‘Easy Packs’ I had no idea what I would receive but  I have been sent varieties with some very lovely names including Erinus alpinus ‘ Fairy Foxglove’  and Primula frondosa ‘Leafy Bird’s Eye Primrose’.

Most can be sown any time from now until April but I intend to do so soon as they can mostly be left outside in the cold, just as they would in the mountains.


spring bulbs in teracotta pans

The bulbs I planted in teracotta plans are almost all showing signs of growth.  They are a mixture of crocus, miniature daffodils and Iris.  One pan was broken by my son’s new remote control car – a fun Christmas present but one that is now not welcome near my pots.

I’m thinking I will put some of the pots up on my two outdoor tables so that they are beyond collision and so that the flowers can be better admired when they appear.


early flowering snowdrop Mrs Macnamara

Just before Christmas I invited my new friend the Snowdrop Man round for a mince pie and a garden tour.  I have previously written about him – he is in his eighties and a self-confessed addict of what he calls “snowdroppery”.

After we polished off the mince pies we headed up to his garden nearby as it was a good day for photography.  I took some great shots of three early flowering snowdrops – ‘Three Ships’, ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Mrs Macnamara’.  He was very kind and gave me a couple of pots to take away and I feel very fortunate to be able to learn more about snowdrops from someone who really knows his stuff.

Snowdrops Three Ships, Robin Hood and Mrs Macnamara

Erythrinum latissima – Broad Leafed Coral Tree

Erythrinum latissima

Decimated by red spider mite whilst I was on my summer holiday, I wrote back in September how I had this plant indoors in my houseplant ER.  It is still touch and go as whilst the plant has produced new growth it is a bit spindly for what grows as a branching tree in its native Africa.

I don’t know much about this plant or what it needs in the UK so I feel like I’m flying blindfolded with regards to its care, despite searching online for advice.  As it’s a deciduous tree in its native Africa, the fact that it lost its leaves may not be entirely unexpected.  I’m hoping once days are longer and temperatures warmer, its growth will become stronger.


Mealybug on houseplant

I recently discovered a few mealybugs in the heated section of my greenhouse.  I used to panic at the sight of any pests, but I have learned over time to respond calmly and organically.  The exception is Red Spider Mite, which appear to take little more than a few days to damage a plant irreperably so swift organic action is required when red spider mites are in town.

My experience with mealybugs is that whilst gross-looking, they are fairly benign and don’t seem to do much damage in small numbers.  This week I calmly dabbed away at those I could find with some surgical spirit and a cotton wool bud.

cryptolaemus larvae

Cryptolaemus larvae

Come spring, as the temperatures warm up I will be looking into buying more biological controls for my greenhouse, including some Cryptolaemus larvae which happily march around the leaves of a plant in search of the mealybugs.

I have used these fairly successfully in the house before and I quite enjoyed watching the tiny bugs grow from unpromising little things, barely bigger than a pin-head, to voracious mealeybug munching machines.  They are the larvae of a brown and red ladybird but I never found the adults once the larvae had disappeared…


Six on Saturday is a weekly meme – take a look at the comments at the base of host The Propagator to see more ‘sixes’ from other keen gardeners from all over the world.