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Saturday Splendours, SoS Oct 13.

Spring is galloping ahead here in Mudgee.  We’ve had some rain and the garden is flowering in quite an unrestrained fashion. Many trees have finished their Spring blossoming and are now decked out in leaves of soft tender green.  I’ve been away for almost a week and have returned to find that new blooms are out, weeds have been profligate, and myriads of aphids have attached themselves wantonly to new rose shoots and buds.  


There’s plenty to do outside but still time to enjoy the extraordinarily enjoyable sensual pleasures that this season brings. Without further ado, here are my six for this week:

One:  In a froth of pink and mauve, Alyssum and Leptospermum scoparium ‘Pink Cascade’ jostle for space in the front garden.


Two:  Bees are loving the heavily flowered Ceonothus ‘Blue Pacific’, stuffing their saddlebags to the brim before flying off to deposit the largess from this generous shrub into their hives.

Three:  As mentioned before, Ranunculas are a soft spot with me for their hardiness, their ability to spread around the garden and their apparent disdain for slugs and snails.

Four:  Dainty butter yellow flowers cluster  below the garnet-coloured leaves of the Berberis  thunbergii Atropupurea.  This shrub has terrible thorns, but it’s easy to forgive it this shortcoming when it has beautiful leaves, flowers and berries.

Five:  A beautiful Bearded Iris, given by a friend.  I have no idea of its name, but find it quite unusual. The colours of the petals are so delicate and the veins highlighted exquisitely in fine point.

Six:  This is an Australian native- Tetratheca thymifolia ‘Fairy Bells’. It has the common name of Black Eyed Susan but it isn’t like any Black Eyed Susan I know.   It’s had a struggle, first finding clay soil difficult to deal with (too much water being held in the soil), and then taking  a battering from the severe winter frosts.  It looks as though it has decided to pick up now and I hope it will continue to do well. It should be covered in flowers for months.

It’s a lot of fun looking at what other gardeners are doing in their gardens, and you can look too, by popping over to The Propagator’s blog as he’s the host of this very popular meme.  You can see the other Six on Saturdays here.

Weather today: 7-21 degrees C, mostly sunny.  Happy gardening everyone.

Bagworm

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Whatever is a bag worm, do I hear you enquire?  Indeed, I didn't know myself (despite having often seen them ) until quite recently when I discovered one of these interesting creatures dragging its home laboriously behind itself across our gravelly path.  Fascinated,  I watched its action as it ventured, half out of its cocoon,  to grab the next couple of stones with its strong front legs,  and then with the rest of its body pull its twig-decorated shelter behind it.

Saunders Case Moths (Metura elongatus) for that is their real name, spend most of their lives in these cleverly constructed cocoons.  Even mating takes place (with difficulty) inside the cocoon.

The caterpillars can 'extend' their homes as they grow bigger themselves, by adding twigs woven in with their own silk, an onerous task. They move around by using three pairs of legs to pull themselves and their cocoon along.  It's a very slow process. When they are ready to pupate, they attach themselves to a handy tree or post  by silk threads, as shown in my first photo.

The female,  who lives all her life in her cocoon ( no emancipation in this species) lays many eggs and dies within the case. She doesn’t develop wings.

The male moths, however, emerge from their cocoons in orange and black suits complete with wings, ready to search for a mate and begin the cycle all over again.

Until recently, a metal power pole on a roundabout in our town hosted scores of these case moths or bagworms.  It seems they were very appreciative of the plants growing below, which rapidly showed signs of ill-health thanks to the caterpillars’ ministrations. After the moths departed, the cases hung and swayed in the breezes, slowly disintegrating over time, their occupants long gone.

 

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Because I know so little about these creatures, I resorted to an information sheet from the Queensland Government to fill in some of the details.

Bounteous: SoS September 29

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It was like snow in my garden this morning!  White Pyrus petals were drifting, tossed here and there by the breeze, flurried across the garden and coming to rest, eventually, on the lawn.

Almost overnight, it seems, Spring has really arrived, and I am in an unusual quandary: that of having many plants to choose for this week's Six on Saturday.  Each week gardeners join to present six things from their garden to showcase.  The Propagator is the host of this popular meme, so do visit his site to see what gardeners from all over the world are doing.

Here are the finalists in my 'personal six competition'  for this week:

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One:  Crabapple, Malus floribunda.  This tree has been in the garden about three years and hasn't been in a hurry to grow.  It's a very odd shape, but then perhaps that is common to the species.  It's flinging its fat flowery arms  into the blue sky as if shouting, 'Hallelujah, Spring is here!'

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Two:  Only recently have I become aware of this plant, thanks to Northern Hemisphere blogging friends-you know who you are.  I've never been very fond of orange shades in the garden, but I am in thrall to this Geum 'Totally Tangerine' which I planted recently.  I find the colour mesmerising and the shape beauteous.  I've planted three, and though there have been whispers of slight thuggishness from some quarters, at this stage I am watching its development with delight and hoping it will fill up empty spaces in the garden.

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Three: Ranunculus No ID.  I planted some bulbs a few years ago and they have spread themselves around the garden in a very satisfying way.  I sometimes think they are somewhat looked down upon by gardeners for being a bit too ordinary, but I love them- trouble free and undemanding, they seem to be ignored by snails too. These white ones are delicately tinged by the last rays of the sun and  I'm mesmerised by their beauty every time I see them.

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Four: The aforementioned Pyrus, an inherited tree, one of five.  I don't know its name, but its columnar shape seems to suggest calleryna 'Capital' or 'Chanticleer'.

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Five: Continuing with a bit of a white theme here, this is Rodanthemum.  Is it hosmariense?  I'm not sure, but I particularly like the feathery grey foliage and the mass of flowers.  It grows very well from cuttings too- always an added bonus.

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Six: Was it because we had a very cold winter that my cabbages and broccoli were so slow to mature?  I don't know, but here they are, ready to be eaten just when we're beginning to think  about salads! Not only do they look very healthy, but they've been ignored by white butterflies and are almost free of caterpillar holes.  It's of some concern to me that I've seen so few white butterflies: I feel it's a portentous sign of the ills that are besetting our climate and the damage being caused to our insect populations.

Sorry to end on a low note.  That's my six for this week.  Do look at what others are doing in their gardens and happy gardening everyone.

Weather today: 10-18C and sunny.

Noble Narcissi: SoS, September 16

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For weeks I wondered where all the snails disappeared to.  During Winter, with the small amounts of rain we had, I sometimes  went out into the garden to find snails, and to my surprise, they mostly eluded me despite searches under and around their favourite hiding places. However, one night last week, with warmer temperatures and a good fall of rain, they swarmed across the garden like schoolchildren being let out of class and achieved large amounts of damage.

Some of my photos for this week's six, which is celebrating Narcissi, bear testament to the marauding of the snails. I apologise in advance for the lack of identification, and hope that some more knowledgeable plantspersons will be able to assist.

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One:  Narcissus 'Red Rocket', not nearly as red as the picture on the packet, but charming nevertheless, complete with small visitor.

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Two: Narcissus 'Ice King'.  This becomes surprisingly yellow as it ages, so much so that I have questioned my own identification.

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Three: I don't know the name of this one, but she could be called 'Weight of the World'.

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Four: Narcissus 'Butterfly Pickup'

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Five:  Narcissus No ID.  I love the whiteness and simplicity of this narcissus. I’ll make up a name: ‘Blanc et Blanc’!

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Six: Also Narcissus No ID, with a great deal of damage from the slimy molluscs.

 

That's my six for this week.  As always, the venerable host of this meme, the Propagator, has more sixes on his blog.  Click here to find out more.

 

Weather today: 3 to 28 degrees C and windy.

Furled

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I apprecite tulips. I enjoy seeing colourful massed displays, but I'm not overly enamoured of them in my garden, partly because they need to be lifted each year and replanted in Autumn or early Winter.

I admit I purchased my Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Heart's Delight' from Lambley Nursery because the accompanying information stated that they can be left to naturalise.  I read that these tulips originated in Turkistan where they grow in the wild and they were introduced in to Europe in 1877 by a Dutch company-of course!  I think they are not particularly well-known here in Australia.

I was completely unprepared for the pleasure these small tulips have provided in my early Spring garden.  They are only about 15 cm tall at the most but what they lack in size, they more than make up for in impact.

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Every evening the petals close up completely, furled protectively around the inner parts,  showing their cerise-coloured undersides.

As the sun rises, they begin to uncurl.  It's almost possible to see it happening.  I feel if I had the patience, and a comfortable seat, I could watch this greeting of the day, as it occurs.

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Finally they open fully and display the inside of their creamy petals, butter yellow anthers and scallops of pink.

 

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No wonder that this tulip is called 'Heart's Delight'.  It has captured my heart for fully a week.

Do you have a favourite tulip?

SoS: September 1: Still frosty.

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Today is considered to be the first day of Spring in Australia, although technically speaking, real Spring doesn't begin until the equinox on 23rd September.  It seems, however, that Winter hasn't quite finished with us yet here, in the Central Tablelands of NSW.

We've had some rain, a good amount for us, and a cold front swept up from the south, bringing with it cold temperatures and frosty mornings.   The evidence is featured in my six this week.

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One:  Frost crystals on a viola flower.  It never ceases to amaze me how these delicate little flowers can be bowed down by frost and yet after the sun rises, they lift their heads and carry on with their day as though it were the balmiest of weather.

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Two:  Frosty broccoli leaves.  I like the way dew drops have frozen into pearls along the edges of the leaves.  These plants have been in the ground for many weeks and I'm beginning to wonder if they'll ever have flowers.  It seems to me that by the time they do, it will be time for us to be eating salads!

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Three:  Erigeron glaucus 'Sea breeze', recently planted, so I'm glad it's holding its own during the cold weather.

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Four:  Iris reticulata, also planted earlier this year, and these are the first flowers.  First is 'Dijit' and second No ID, which means the packet just said Iris reticulala.   I think these petite irises are delightful and look forward to them proliferating over the next few years. Clumps would be good.

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Five:  The first two Narcissi to appear.  On the left, 'Replete' and on the right another No ID.   Many of my bulbs were planted last Autumn and are making their first appearance, so it's exciting to see their flowers. But there's no such thing as a host yet.  Thanks Mr Wordsworth for the burden of unrealistic expectations.

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Six: Someone else was finding the mornings cold this week, as he searched for seeds on our cream-coloured frost-bitten lawn.

That's my six for this week.  Was it cheating to add so many frosty photos?

As ever, our leader the Propagator, is hosting this very popular meme.  Don't forget to visit his blog to find out what other gardeners from all corners of the globe are doing in their gardens.

SoS: August 18

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It has been quite an miserable day here in the Central Tablelands of NSW.  There was a -3 degree frost to start with.  I have to admit that it was very pleasant early this morning sitting in the sun at the Growers' market sipping excellent coffee, eating a bacon and egg roll and chatting with friends. Soon after however, the day clouded over,  a cold wind got up and a sprinkling of raindrops was hurled across the dry brown lawn, and over the frost-bitten garden.  We are in for a wintry week with very low morning temperatures and winds being blown north straight off the Southern Alps.  I ventured out again this afternoon to find a six for today and it was a very short sortie indeed.

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TOne: I think this is Ipheion uniflorum which provides a nice spot of colour in late winter.  It will end up being a nuisance I'm sure,  as it multiplies very rapidly, but in the meantime I'm enjoying its blue blooms.

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Two:  No ID jonquil.  I think it's gorgeous: such a lovely creamy colour with that tinge of yellow in the centre.

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Three:  Prunus blireana is just coming into flower: flowers that could well be dislodged by tomorrow's gales.

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Four:  Last week's iris has produced more blooms.

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Five:  Tulipa 'Double Margarita'.  The stem of this tulip is very short and the buds appeared at ground level.  Is this normal, I wonder, or is it to do with a lack of rain?  I expected these blooms to be swaying voluptuously on svelte stalks, but instead they're vertically challenged blobs.

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Six:  Acacia baileyana or Cootamundra wattle.  I'm cheating a bit here as this isn't in the garden, but it's nearby!  In fact, it's everywhere, self-seeding very readily,  and because of that it's suggested by environmental groups that other wattles should be grown instead.  However, a sure sign that spring is on its way, is when Cootamundra wattle begins to flower.

 

And that's my six for this week.  Under the guidance of our illustrious leader the Propagator, other gardeners  are showing wonderful things going on in their gardens.  Do take a look.

Disaster and Delight: SoS July, 28

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After two weeks away, I was anxious to get back to the garden to see how everything had coped with the cold weather that has been occurring in Mudgee. I knew that there had been many frosty mornings, and in fact, two of those mornings had been around -7.5C, which is decidedly chilly. As far as the garden is concerned it was a somewhat dispiriting homecoming. A lot of it was looking much the worse for wear, with some plants leaving me to wonder if they will revive when the warmer weather arrives and quite a few seeming  to have disappeared altogether.

Here are my six for this week; not all disasters, though.

 

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ONE: My Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf' is looking very miserable indeed, even though it's under cover, and has managed in this postion in previous winters. It will recover, I'm sure, and I'll use the opportunity to trim it back into a better shape.

 

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Two: A sadder story belongs to  Coprosma repens 'Ignite' which was looking quite splendid, and is now but a shadow of its former self.  I fear there's no coming back from this sorry state.  Its leaves and stems have obviously been frozen and are squishy to touch.  Perhaps there will be some new shoots right down at ground level.  Who knows?  I thought this was a really hardy plant.

Unfortunately, the flowers of the beautiful Hakea that I posted about in SoS on July 7 are now completely dry, grey and brittle, but the plant is fine. My lovely Geranium 'Rozanne' is a small pile of soft brown leaves prompting me to worry that she won't reawaken,  and many of the other plants I thought would survive through the winter have been blitzed.

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Three:  No more sad stories now.  Some bulbs are making an appearance: tulips, narcissi, aliums and crocuses are pushing their first green spears above the mulch.   I know this as a jonquil and it's a lovely pop of colour in the winter sun; one of the first bulbs to flower.

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Four: I don't grow a lot of vegetables, but here there are cabbages, beetroot, broccoli and broad beans, and they're doing really well, even though they didn't get watered for two weeks.  Sweet peas (with weeds) are climbing up the frame.

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Five: This succulent of no particular ID has thumbed its nose at the frost and is pretty in pink, as opposed to its usual grey: an improvement, in my opinion.

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Six:  Red rumped parrots, slightly fluffed up against the cold, are sunning themselves  in the branches of the silver birches.  In the photo below, an Eastern Rosella is remonstrating with them: perhaps they invaded his territory.

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And that's my six for this week. To see what other gardeners from all over the world are doing in their plots, don't hesitate to pop over to The Propagator's site and join the fun.

Rain is forecast here today, and everyone has their fingers crossed.  It's so dry that kangaroos have moved into the showground to feed on the grass in the big oval.

Happy gardening, everyone.

SoS, July 7: Small Bright Spots.

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Although some bulbs are making an appearance, much of the garden is having its Winter rest, so this week's post is more about small spots of colour rather than any overall abundance of the kind that Spring will hopefully produce. Most  plants need to rest at some time of the year, so I'm grateful to those that  do their flowering in the coldest months of the year, bringing pleasure and brightness to cold dreary days.

Here are some of my spots of colour this week.

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One: Violas are good value plants that pop up in many places,  happily flowering in these cold temperatures.  I don't know the names of these as I planted them before I realised it was helpful to know more about plants than their common names.

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Two:  This is Grevillea 'Lady O' who flowers for most of the year.  The spidery flowers are quite small for a Grevillea, but they are a haven for  honeyeaters like the Eastern Spinebill which frequently visits our garden and enjoys the nectar and the closely packed leaves.

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Three:  Our dwarf Calamondin x citrofortunella microcarpa is having its first fruit and they are joyous spots of colour in a wintry garden.  Most people would find the compact fruit  impossible to eat straight off the tree but it makes the most delicious marmalade.

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Four: Banksia blechnifolia.  I've posted about this Western Australian banksia before, but now it really seems to be growing some flowers.  It's quite an odd plant with its moth-feeler stems,  and I'm waiting to see if the fuzzy protuberances turn into flowers.  More soon.

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Five: A small success story.  This is Hakea 'Burrendong Beauty' which is a native to this area, having been discovered in the Burrendong Arboretum in the 1980s.  It's believed to be a hybrid which occurred naturally there.  I picked a small cutting from a garden nearby a couple of years ago, managed  to strike it and it has been quietly growing since.  This winter, for the first time,  it has burst forth into flower along the length of its branches. At first the stamens are like elbows or hairpins, but they unbend to become feeler-like as the flower completes its bloom.

 

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Six: Finally, something with very little colour.  A photo of part of the garden which shows how hard you have to look for colour at this time of the year. I hope that bulbs will spring up under those silver birches before too long.  Flora, with her cornucopia of Echeveria, is keeping a close eye on things.

If you would like to see what is happening in other gardens on a Saturday, pop over to the Propagator's blog and take a look.

Weather today:  What a mixed bag.  -0.5 to 11 C, frost, then sunny and windy, then rain.  The top was 11, but only for about half an hour.  Most of the day it hovered around single digit numbers.  Brrrr!

SoS, June 30. Winter colour

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We're in the throes of Winter now and the cold mornings seemed to arrive earlier than they usually do. I think perhaps this was due to a long dry period and lack of moisture in the atmosphere. Last Sunday  we had a low of -4.5, a white lawn and a birdbath with a thick layer of ice. After the frost, the days are glorious: clear skies full of sunshine and warm enough to be out in the garden in shirt sleeves. Later in the week we had a Rain Event which was most welcome. I have been busy cutting back my perennials for their Winter rest, working my way around the back garden.

Each Saturday, keen gardeners select six things from their garden to share with others from around the world. The Six on Saturday crowd is growing under the leadership of Mr P, and if you're interested in seeing fascinating plants and interesting ideas from all corners, do pop over to his blog here.

Here are my Six:

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One: Just coming into bloom and bringing some brightness into the garden is Leptospermum scoparium ‘Nanum Rubrum’. I think of Twiggy or a kewpie doll -if you're old enough to remember either of those- when I look at these flowers. Big round eyes and spiky eyelashes. Leptospermums are amongst my favourite natives.  They flower prolifically  for ages and at a time when much of the garden is hibernating, and bees love them.

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Two:  Coprosma repens 'Ignite' whose foliage is colourful all year round but even more so in Winter, is also creating a bright spot in the garden.  This one doesn't spread as much as some of the other Coprosmas which can behave quite thuggishly.  I like a plant I can control.

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Three:  Osteospermum.  I thought there was too much pink and blue in the front garden, so I decided, Monet like,  to add a touch of yellow, a sparkling highlight, and chose this Osteospermum, whose name I have since lost.  Most plants are finished for now, but the light shines on,  shimmering steadfastly.

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Four:  Anigozanthos, or Kangaroo Paw.  I don't have much luck with these, and after a discussion with another Sixer, Nat from depressionfreegarden, over in Western Australia, I've decided that my soil isn't sandy enough.  This is the only Kangaroo Paw that has lasted more than one season for me. More than anything, these two flowers remind me of a couple of haughty cockerels giving each other the cold shoulder. The one on the right has a much more impressive comb and is behaving quite snootily.

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Five:  Gargantua has been out.  Snorting and roaring,  our resident monster has chomped up the cuttings and turned them into usable mulch which either goes straight on the garden or is composted.

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Six:  Thanks to Kris, from Late to the Garden Party, I have recently learnt about fasciation.  I have noticed that these echeverias have developed strange mutations, sending out shoots that divide into small florets and I wonder if this is an example of fasciation.  What do you think? I've a lot of these plants forming a border and this strange phenomenon is only present in one small section.

And that's my six for this week.  Happy gardening!

Weather today: -1 to 14 degrees C, fog then sunny.