Six on Saturday 8.12.18

Well as it’s December my Six on Saturday will start with some festive holly berries. I’m a bit ‘Bah Humbug!’ when it comes to tinsel and flashing lights, but shiny red berries are always lovely. The trouble is that the birds have usually eaten  all the holly berries by Christmas. Also, it is a fact that because of global warming holly berries ripen at least 17 days earlier than they used to. There were loads last week but most of them seem to have gone now. And of course that old chestnut about lots of holly berries foretelling a cold winter is nonsense, it is a result of a mild spring and enough moisture at the right time. I have Ilex aquifolium coming up everywhere, they are a pest in my garden; as fast as I get rid of them they come back like Hydra’s heads.   But I was taken with this really unusual Ilex verticillata when I saw it recently at our local farm shop. Of course it had to come home along with the potatoes and sprouts. It actually doesn’t look anything like a holly and it is very jolly with all these bright red berries on bare branches. The trouble is that hollies are dioecious,  (you need a female and a male plant to get berries,) so I will have to find a male if I want a display like this next year.

Ilex verticillata

Holly berries are poisonous but I still have some luscious raspberries to pick, I can’t remember picking raspberries in December before. The variety is ‘Autumn Bliss’ but perhaps they should be renamed ‘Winter Bliss’. I have a few yellow ones still ripening too. They will go very well with tomorrow’s porridge.

Jerusalem Artichokes are of course not artichokes at all but a kind of Sunflower. They are incredibly invasive and have run wild amongst my raspberry canes. If you plant them it is a good idea to plant them where they can romp away without being a nuisance. As everyone knows they are very anti-social because our gut can’t digest the starch inulin and the resulting flatulence can be impressive. But the flavour is divine so we roast just a few at a time along with other root vegetables. They make a lovely soup and I once made it when friends came round for dinner. I thought as the soup was liquidised there would be no problems digesting it. I was clearly wrong as by the end of dinner people were squirming in their chairs and looking very preoccupied; conversation didn’t flow and the party came to an end rather early.  So the soup is probably best eaten alone when you have no appointments. Still, it is delicious.

Jerusalem artichokes

Another winter treat, but one with no unpleasant side effects is the glorious butternut squash. The plants roam around rather and mine only produced one or two fruits each, but they are delicious, either in a soup or cut into halves and roasted with thyme and butter. I like them with blue cheese in a bake too. If you resist the urge to pick them too soon and leave them on the plant until the end of September they will develop a nice thick skin and you can store them for 6 months so they are a very useful winter vegetable.

Butternut Squash

Whilst we are enjoying the berries and fruit of the past year’s bounty, I already have new seeds sprouting in the propagator. Lilium regale produces plenty of seeds which germinate readily and it is really fast growing, it can bloom in as little as two years. Here are the seedlings  after only 3 or 4 weeks.

Lilium regale

Lilium regale is gorgeous with incredibly fragrant white trumpets opening from pink buds. It was discovered in the mountains of Sichuan, China in 1903 by E.H. Wilson. He was  badly injured in an avalanche when he later tried to collect it. He set his broken leg with his camera tripod and from then on he walked with what he called his ‘lily limp‘. These plant collectors were made of strong stuff. As you can see this gorgeous lily is perfect for growing amongst roses; this is something to dream of on a cold December day.

Lilium regale

The glorious technicolour pageant of Autumn leaves is over now as we are certainly in the grip of winter. And yet we still do have some leaves to enjoy so I will finish with some lovely December leaves. Here is where I bend the rules of the meme, Six on Saturday, a bit because one leaf would be silly, so with a little sleight of hand I have several leaves coming in at number six. The acer with the best autumn leaf colour of all is Acer osakazuki and amazingly it still has a few leaves clinging on.

Acer osakazuki

My next acer is in the winter garden. It has nearly lost all its leaves but the remaining ones set off the pink stems beautifully. I think it is ‘Pink Flamingo’. Behind it I have Cryptomeria  japonica ‘Elegans’ which turns a gorgeous bronze in winter.

Acer ‘Pink Flamingo’

Nandina ‘Blush Pink’ is still looking as good as ever.

Nandina domestica ‘Blush Pink’

A friend of mine really hates this next plant because she thinks it looks diseased. In fact I wouldn’t give it a second glance in summer, but in winter I appreciate a range of colours and a plant delicately traced as if with ice suits the season, it is Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’.

Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’

As I started with a holly I will finish with one. I don’t know what sort of berries this one has but I grow it because it has such pretty, delicate foliage in pink and white so is a perfect candidate for my winter garden.  As it has purple stems I think it looks lovely with Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’. And on that festive note I will end my Six on Saturday.

Ilex aquifolium ‘Ingramii’

Ok, it seems to be more like Ten on Saturday but I am hoping the Propagator who hosts this meme won’t notice. Everybody who participates in this meme seems to be in such awe of him, one feels one can’t be too careful. So think of my last item as just December Leaf with a few little sub-leaflets. Anyway, do check out the Propagator and all the Six on Saturdayers.

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54 Responses to Six on Saturday 8.12.18

  1. Flighty says:

    Lovely post and pictures. xx

  2. Raspberries in December! Wow.
    We make tons of butternut squash and apple soup at this time of year; it freezes very well for later lunches.
    But your Jerusalem artichoke story made me laugh out loud! I didn’t know that about them. Why must we get so squeamish about something so natural? But we do. It sounds like a dish to serve to people who are pompous!

    • Chloris says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever had raspberries so late before. I love butternut squash soup it is a good idea to make it in bulk and freeze it.
      Ah, you have been warned about Jerusalem artichokes, they do lower the tone and you are right, you cannot be pompous or pedantic when in the grip of violent flatulence.

  3. Cathy says:

    You have had some fascinating buys from your farm shop, Chloris! Does your new holly have to have a male of the same species, just not any old male holly? I am intrigued by how easily you can propagate those lilies and how quickly they might flower; here, I am tentatively trying some of my lilies in the ground again next year rather than in pots – any tips?

    • Chloris says:

      I am going to have to do some research but Ilex verticillata is so unlike other hollies that I think it will need one of its own kind to fertilise it.
      I always start my lilies off in pots because the bulbs are so vulnerable. If you look at them they are just a collection of scales with no protective outer covering. They are very vulnerable to slugs or even being trodden on. If the new shoot is damaged it will not regrow. And then there is lily beetle which starts in the spring. I find that by starting them off in pots I can molycoddle them and give them a good start. Even then many liliies are inclined to get viruses and decline.

      • Cathy says:

        Hmm, that’s interesting about the lilies, but logical when you consider the scales – do you then sink the pots into the borders? I have a few Asian lilies I grow in pots and then stand them in the borders once they are in bud, and it has been far easier to pick off the beetles when they are started off somewhere else. Some people have lilies in their borders for years though – I shall try both next year, I think

  4. Our raspberries have been the same this year, though they have shrivelled and gone black this week. Yours are especially beautiful!

  5. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I enjoyed your post, and laughed out loud about the Jerusalem artichokes! I haven’t ever cooked them. I agree with your friend about the Fatsia japonica. It definitely looks as though there is something wrong with it, but your other leaves are pretty, especially the Acer with the almost unpronounceable name.

    • Chloris says:

      Well, now you have been warned about the perils of Jerusalem artichokes, they are delicious though. I expect you ard right about the Fatsia, I fell for the name ‘Spider’s Web’

  6. Kris P says:

    The Jerusalem artichoke soup story is hilarious. As always, I’m impressed with your propagation skills. Holly (Ilex) isn’t all that common here but we have our own “Christmas berry” (aka Toyon and officially classified at Heteromeles arbutifolia). It’s the City of Los Angeles’s official native plant – I’ve no clue why the city needed to designate an official plant but I guess that’s immaterial. It’s a tree-sized behemoth that decorates itself in red this time of year and therefore valued but it does spread everywhere if you’re not watchful.

  7. Love the Ilex verticillata – there are named male varieties here. The J. Artichoke soup sounds intriguing with a appetizer of Beano, perhaps.? Fiber bars are sold here filled with Inulin, I bought some for my husband not realizing the disastrous results. Amazed with your raspberries, breakfast will be divine tomorrow.

    • Chloris says:

      The Ilex verticillata was new to me. It has been stripped of berries by birds now and looks a sorry sight. You can buy bars of Inulin? But why would you? Did you buy it as a joke?

  8. I love the Lilium regale. It’s amazed me to see how easily it grows from seed. I’ll have to see if I can get some here.

  9. tonytomeo says:

    English holly was my favorite back when It was not so easy to grow in the Santa Clara Valley. Now that I must pull them like weeds, they are not so much fun. I am only a few miles away from the Santa Clara Valley, but the different climate is much more conducive to the proliferation of the holly.

    • Chloris says:

      There are some beautiful varieties of holly but it is not much use growing them for berries here as the birds quickly strip them.

      • tonytomeo says:

        I grew mine for the foliage. I thought that berries were something that only happened in cooler climates. Because mine were pruned so regularly, they would not make many berries anyway. If I still lived in that house, I would probably allow two of the English holly trees in the back to grow more naturally (with less pruning), and get them a pollinator so that they could make berries.

  10. Love the last, variegated, holly, and loved your Jerusalem artichoke soup story! I can just picture it!!!

  11. Lora Hughes says:

    Good luck w/finding a mate for your winterberry. My very brief search ended at a nursery that doesn’t sex them, so do we have to keep buying until we have both? Not sure. And the spider fatsia is my fav fatsia! A good thing we all love different plants in our gardens. Hope your friend has some delightful favs of their own. Great 6 . . . uh, 10.

    • Chloris says:

      I still don’t know if you need a male as well but I imagine you do. I wish I had thought of that before I bought it. I also wish I had realised that the birds would quickly strip off the berries and I would be left with bare twigs.

  12. Heyjude says:

    I have never eaten Jerusalem artichoke and I think perhaps I should definitely avoid them! Funny story though. And I quite agree that one leaf would look daft. 🙂

  13. cavershamjj says:

    10 eh, I see. A rule breaker. Tsk tsk. I will be watching closely! 😀

    I have a seedling of osakazuki, hopefully it will come fairly true from seed. It is still tiny, just a couple of inches tall.

    • Chloris says:

      So sorry, yes, I’m afraid I am a bit of a rule breaker. I just can’t seem to cut a long story short. Good luck with your seedling, it might turn out to be even prettier than its mother.

  14. I’m with your friend about the Spiders Web. Love the ‘plain’ green version though. Beautiful leaves

  15. Eliza Waters says:

    I didn’t know that about J.chokes, what a funny story about your serving soup to your dinner guests!

  16. Thank you for the warning about Jerusalem Artichoke! I shall think twice before planting this sunflower species.

  17. Christina says:

    As always you share some very special plants. I can attest to plants needing water to produce berries. I’ve never seen so many shiny berries in my garden, all thanks to our wet summer I’m sure.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Christina. Yes, a mild spring and enough rain in summer definitely give you more berries. They don’t last long here though, the birds love them.

  18. Your artichoke paragraph made me smile with your description of impressive flatulence.
    Beautiful six Chloris

  19. pbmgarden says:

    The Ilex and Heuchera colorings are good together. Your Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’ is interesting. The foliage would be useful for vase material as well as looking nice in the garden.

  20. I’m not usually enamoured with hollies but the last one is lovely. Blue cheese and butternut squash sounds interesting – more info please!

    • Chloris says:

      I make the recipe up as I go along, or I used to in the days before I was banished from ‘his’ kitchen. But I fry squash, carrots, celery, onions, garlic until they are nearly done then I put them in the oven with a bit of vegetable stock and put blue cheese, parmesan and bread crumbs on top to bake. Sometimes I add walnuts or pecans and sage or thyme.

  21. Francesca says:

    Gorgeous pictures of your winter berries! Butternut squash with blue cheese sounds delicious, a brilliant idea! Your Nandina domestica ‘Blush Pink’ is looking very festive too.

  22. snowbird says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA….just loved that story of how you poisoned your dinner guests! Utterly priceless, I’ll be laughing for weeks. I’ll pass on your soup recipe is that’s OK with you. Oh my!!!!!! Hahahahaha…..finding it hard to say anything else, laughing too hard….hahahahahaha…xxxx

    • Chloris says:

      Hey, hang on a minute Dina, ‘poison my guests’ is a bit strong, nobody died. I might have embarrassed them though. I might just as well have sat them all on whoopee cushions as given them that soup.

  23. snowbird says:

    P.s….just had another look at the Jerusalem Artichokes, they look like mutant decaying toads with far too many eyes….oh my….still laughing!xxx

    • Chloris says:

      ‘Mutant decaying toads’ now you’ve really put me off them. Mutant decaying toads that make you fart – not a recipe for a successful dinner party, unless you are entertaining a coven of witches. They may not mind.

  24. Your acer and Nandina have such vibrant color and raspberries in December are such a nice surprise! I’ve always loved the berries on Holly this time of year and yours are beautiful!

  25. Brian Skeys says:

    Artichoke soup sounds I deal to serve to guests you don’t wish to stay to long. I bought Spiders Web this year, it lightens up a dark corner. I do like the last Holly.

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