The Tea Break Gardener

My Gardening Week – Six On Saturday 24.11.18

My Gardening Week – Six On Saturday 24.11.18

2018-11-24T09:42:38+00:00November 24th, 2018|My Gardening Week - Six pictures on a Saturday|12 Comments

Photos in print

Floral greeting cards

This week the charity I volunteer for showed me some cards which they have had printed, using two of my photographs.  Rennie Grove Hospice Care operates in parts of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire and cared for my father, providing the nursing he needed to live at home until he died.

The team at Rennie Grove are amazing and when I heard they were looking for images to use for ‘thank-you’ and ‘in sympathy’ cards, I said they were welcome to take a look at ones I’d taken in my garden to see if they liked any.

They chose an image of some deep pink Camellias and a second of some beautiful pink Colchicums.

I’ve recently become a bit disillusioned with my photography – possibly because I haven’t been putting enough time into practising.  Seeing my photos in print has given me a real boost and I’m so pleased that the charity has been able to use them.

New vine

Vitis 'Madresfield Court'

Regular readers of this blog may recall that the temperature in my greenhouse topped 41 degrees centigrade during the height of this summer’s heatwave.  The external shades do a great job at reflecting sunshine but this summer I craved some additional greenery overhead to soften the glare.

I decided to buy a vine – one that can be trained over a few years to provide dabbled green shade as well as providing fruit.

Having consulted Bob Flowerdew’s excellent book ‘The Complete Fruit Book’ I chose a variety that he recommends above all others called ‘Muscat Hamburg’.  I tracked one down to Sunnybank Vine Nursery in Herefordshire and contacted them in the summer.  I discovered that they stock an incredible 450 varieties of vine.

Having spoken to the nursery and described my greenhouse and growing conditions, I ordered a variety called ‘Madresfield Court’, which was lifted, washed and posted to me this week.

vitis madresfield court

It’s an early, seeded, black variety which is said to have a Muscat flavoured grape.  The plant looks fabulously healthy with an amazing root structure.  Soon I’ll have to tackle the tricky issue of its training structure, as it’s tucked in the corner and boxed in a bit by my tap housing.  But that can wait for another day.

Now’s the time to act if you want a vine as they are supplied bare rooted between November and March each year.

Passion Flower

Passiflora Amethyst Lady

Also in the greenhouse is this Passiflora ‘Amethyst Lady’ which I planted in July and which is has already spread across the back wall, covering about 6 square metres, albeit sparsely for now.  It has been flowering very well and still continues to do so despite the lower temperatures in the unheated section.

I was attracted to this passion flower because of its lovely shape and pretty purple faced flowers.  As the leaves fall outside and the frosts begin to bite, a touch of the tropics is most welcome, even though this plant is tougher than it looks.


Amaryllis in bloom

Every year I grow Amaryllis (otherwise known as Hippeastrum).  My husband travels often to the Netherlands, where he finds me large bulbs which send up 3 or 4 flower spikes in succession.

This plant, a gift from the Netherlands, is flowering in its second year now, having spent the summer basking in the sunshine outdoors.  I’m pleased I’ve managed to get this and at least one other to re-flower as in the past I’ve always composted them when they go over.  I now feel very guilty for all those discarded bulbs.  I’ve written about how I grow Amaryllis here, including how I’ve got them to re-flower.

The Snowdrop Man

Snowdrop gallanthus 'hollis'

A friend of mine recently introduced me to her 87 year old neighbour.  She thought we’d get on as he is an amateur snowdrop expert.

Last year I wrote about planting snowdrops and mused on who buys the expensive bulbs you can find on ebay and on the sites of specialist suppliers.  The answer is this marvellous man and people like him. When he talks about his interest in snowdrops and what he calls “Snowdroppery” it all makes sense.

Each year he ‘twin scales’ rarer bulbs, cutting each one into 24 segments, which he grows on until they are ready to flower four years later.

One of his discoveries is an autumn flowering variety.  I was deeply touched that he gave me a pot of these as a gift.

He’s promised to show me how he goes about the twin-scaling and I in turn have invited him to have a mooch about my garden.  I could talk to him all day.

Frosty alpines

Alpine trough in frost

Taken earlier this week, the morning after the temperature here fell to -4, my alpine trough looked lovely edged in ice.  The colours of the plants I chose here were all purple, white or silvery greys so the frosted edges worked very well.

The plant on the left is a Lewisia, which has flowered non stop all summer until now.  The flowers of this one are pure white, although Lewisias also come in a range of warmer tones.  I’m told they don’t like damp, so I’m watching this one carefully to see how it fares over the winter.


Alpines continue to interest me and I have started a beginner’s diary on the Alpine Garden Society website.  My first entry can be found here.  Like my Snowdrop man, many of the members of the Alpine Garden Society are incredibly skilled and knowledgeable growers so it’s worth reading other diaries too.


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.


  1. Fred November 24, 2018 at 11:01 am - Reply

    I was impressed by the roots of your vine! … Muscat Hamburg is an excellent choice. I was thinking of planting another one these last days and you made me want to look for one (November is a good month to plant them)
    As for the other topics, I really like the frosty picture of your alpine garden and your amaryllis of course … Mine will open its flower in a few days I think … (normally, a red striped flower)

    • Katharine November 25, 2018 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      Just saw your amaryllis on twitter. Nice tall stem.

      I’m very excited about the vine – I can already taste those grapes. Good luck choosing a new one if you decide to go for it.

  2. Shannon November 24, 2018 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Hands down – nothing beats that Passion flower. Wow! Gorgeous!

    • Katharine November 25, 2018 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Shannon – yes it really is a lovely one and just seeing it gives me a little hit of dopamine every time I go in the greenhouse.

  3. Prue Batten November 24, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Lewisia now goes on my list! I am a lover of all things white!

    • Katharine November 25, 2018 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Prue – it really is a pure white that one too. Just lovely.

  4. Carole November 24, 2018 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to try growing Amaryllis and after seeing yours, maybe I should give it a try.

    • Katharine November 25, 2018 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      Oh Carole, I hope you do. They are so very easy and just so cheerful in the winter home.

  5. @cavershamjj November 25, 2018 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    4 years! Can’t help thinking 4 years is a long time to wait for snowdrops. I’ve never understood the fuss over them. I did buy some basic snowdrop bulbs this year so well see if i am wooed by their charms.

    • Katharine November 25, 2018 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      I know – 4 years is a long time but I do sort of get it now. From a distance most snowdrops look the same and there’s nothing to beat a swathe of the common nivalis snowdrop en masse. But then close-up you start to notice subtle differences in them. I’ve promised to go to a snowdrop show so who knows – I could get hooked?!

  6. Lora Hughes November 26, 2018 at 10:46 am - Reply

    That’s a bruiser of an amaryllis! Envy, envy, envy, to be sure. You surprised me by saying you left yours outside over summer, & now it’s in bloom. Do you let yours go dormant at all? And if not, do they continue to send up flower stems? If so, why have I been flapping around by stuffing mine in the shed for a few months, then waking them up again? Sometimes I wonder where I get my garden knowledge from. Your new snowdrop friend sounds wonderful. And I’d love to see another photo of that passion from a distance to see how it spread over the wall. Oh, and those alpines are great, too!

    • Katharine November 26, 2018 at 11:12 am - Reply

      Hi Lora. It’s the first time I’ve done this with the amaryliis. A friend told me she has a plant that she’s never re- potted, has had it for years, is watered sporadically and yet sends up a flower every 2-3 years. It got me thinking that received wisdom on these things might not always be the way to go! So I gave them all a holiday outside on a table and one sent up a flower spike in September whilst still outside. I suspect your shed faff may not be necessary but if it works for you…

      I’ll post a picture of the passion flower on twitter.

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