Six On Saturday: Time for a rethink

Finally rain arrived.  Great for the garden, less good for other plans.  I’m having family over for lunch on Sunday, and rain is forecast all day.  Outdoor entertaining will have to come inside and someone will be cooking in the rain!  This week has been very hot. The plants in the garden are scorched, the veg plot is desiccated but I managed to find six things in the garden:.



The lawn.  Quite an interesting view at the moment.  The crispy dry stripe is where, long ago, there was a path. The middle section is a mixture of green weeds and brown grass and the far corner is the part of the lawn that is always waterlogged through the winter.  There is local talk of underground streams but I think even these have dried up this summer.  The grass hasn’t been mown in months but a close look showed the creeping buttercup is, of course, creeping very nicely and the little acorns planted by squirrels are growing into mighty oaks.  The clover is mostly going to seed and providing food for the birds.  Such biodiversity.



The hydrangea in the front garden is usually uniformly pink but this year it is pink on the side that gets the sun and shades of pink, purple and blue on the less sunny side.  Curiously it is doing well in the heat.  The front garden is watered very sparingly – and this plant hasn’t been watered once.  I hope last night’s rain will keep it in good health.  It will probably die of shock.



The first ripened chilli in the greenhouse.  It’s a cayenne – looks pretty hot to me but apparently not a knock your socks off chilli.  Picked now and soon to be added to a tomato salsa.  The tomato crop is also ripening you can see a few ‘Golden Crown’ tomatoes in the background. Note for John K – I’m only up to four trusses.



The combination of tithonia and blackberries looks so autumnal to me.  There are lots of berries to pick and I haven’t watered these at all. Maybe they do have their roots down in an underground stream.  The tithonias have now made it to six feet and with the help of the magic water I think they may well make eight feet.



The shallots have been harvested. They were planted out in late November and again I didn’t water them so they are on the small side.  I have been so mean due to a  combination of lack of time and a short hose! Some of these are heading into a potato salad this weekend.



And finishing on a sort of ta-daa!  Work on the ‘ugly end of the garden’ project started. Temperatures were in the 30s and all was going well until the imminent thunderstorms meant the electrical equipment had to be packed away.  Now I  want the rain to stay away today so that the job can be finished.  Then I need to start planning again.  The beds get afternoon sun and I have asparagus on my wish list.  I’ve grown beans against the fence for two summers but I think it is too shady for a really successful crop.  More thinking to be done.

Who else is suffering and who is winning the rainfall lottery?  Those down under speak of cold winters.  Find out more by visiting The Propagator’s blog for this week’s links.

A small flickering of excitement in the N20 garden

Back in April I posted an update on the new paths and the plans for beautifying an ugly corner of the garden.  I was at the back of the queue to get the work done, rain (the wet stuff that used to fall from the sky) had caused a backlog and my project was really quite a small one.

Three months on and I have climbed to the top of list.  August approaches and London town is packing up for the summer so my small job might get done this week.

Here’s the before shot – I’m looking forward to posting the finished article soon.


Six On Saturday: Some seed sowing success

There is no doubt about it.  This has been a tough year.  But there are always some cheering sights among the wilting, stressed and sometimes dead plants.  The tithonias have reached five foot and the flowers are coming thick and fast.   All grown from tiny seeds.  Here are some others:



Scabiosa atropurpurea  ‘Black Cat’.  These have such lovely velvet petals.  The deep wine colour is fab too.


IMG_E2612 (2)

Antirrhinum majus ‘White Giant’.  Not quite so giant as I imagined but these were really teeny tiny seeds to start with so I am glad they have got this far.  I thought I would be planting them in the middle of the border to give some tall white spikes but when the time came it was obvious that they wouldn’t be able to fight their way through geranium ‘Brookside’ so they were planted along the edges of the path.



Echinops Globe Thistle.  An experiment in having something different in the border.  Much loved by blackfly but in truth, so far, not much loved by me.  I will see how they go, perhaps I’ll like them more when they turn bluer.  I think I got my plants mixed up and really meant to sow eryngium!



Sweet peas: Midnight Blue, by far and away the most successful of my sweet peas.  The very lovely Gwendoline, Black Knight and Anniversary are in a shadier spot and are not happy!  Only two of the Anniversary seeds germinated. I’ll try them again next year but I will have to find a better site for them.



Not from any seed that I sowed but doing a great job of extending the border colour are these echinacea purpurea.  They work well with the self seeded verbena behind and they might be good self seeders themselves.  Apparently they don’t like drought but so far so good.


Lastly a dahlia mystery.  I bought six dahlia tubers at the same from the same place.  All labelled Thomas Edison.  They are beginning to open up and I realise I have two varieties. Now I think about there was one pot that seemed less vigorous than the others.  The colour is much darker than comes across here.  How interesting!

Still not a drop of rain here, to see how other gardens are fairing take a trip to The Propagator for all the links to many, many lovely #SixOnSaturday posts.  Happy gardening.


Six on Saturday: There’s a new wave coming

Every now and then a song gets stuck in my head and this week it is Kids in America by Kim Wilde. Kim’s a bit of gardener too btw, so it seems very appropriate.   If you don’t know the song I recommend you look at Kim’s performance of it on the train!

So as Kim says ‘there’s a new wave coming, I warn you’ and this week I am feeling more positive about the garden.  It actually rained last night for about 30 minutes and although there may be a few pests and diseases around the garden is shaping up for mid and late summer.  And here are the highlights:



My first uplifting delight was spotting a flower on the Tithonias.  They were grown from seed and the packet indicates a final height of eight feet.  I’d say they are about four feet now and are full of promise. They should see me through into autumn.



Somewhere along the way last year I picked up a recommendation for the Penstemon Sour Grapes and I would love to say thank you to whoever it was that put this plant onto my wish list.  I do thank you but I can’t remember who it was!  I planted it in amongst the Agastache Black Adder featured last week and, if I may say so, I think it works very well.



I am also bowled over, as I am every year, by the evergreen agapanthus that I grow in containers.  They did look a sorry sight at the end of winter.  But those brown leaves were removed, a granular fertiliser added to the pots and now patience has been rewarded.  They are truly a wow in the garden for the second half of summer.

The second half of the summer is also the time when the veg patch starts producing.  Of course my lack of watering and the absence of rain has had an impact.  My courgettes are tiny – hard to believe I know. The new potatoes, first batch lifted this week, were also on the small side.  But they were truly delicious as was the first outdoor cucumber.  In the greenhouse the melons and tomatoes are rather like this Six – long and rambling!



Last year the melon I grew suffered from red spider mite, thank you to Fred, a French gardener  for diagnosing this for me, and only one flower made it into a fruit.  This year I have been overwhelmed.   I tried to follow the RHS advice: ‘When fruit are gooseberry size, select the best four on each stem and remove all other flowers, fruit and leaves.  Stop the side shoots two or three leaves beyond these fruits, pinch out the main growing tips and remove new growths as they appear.’ But a week away from the greenhouse and I cannot tell a side shoot from a main growing tip and who knows which is new growth!  I am just cutting back to points where fruit has formed.  The variety is Pepito F1.  So far no mites!



The whole greenhouse experience is new to me.  Last year I grew a few cherry tomatoes under the glass and they were quite well behaved.  This year the three varieties I chose, Alicante, Golden Crown and Marmande, have gone crazy.  Side shoots doubling in size by the day, leaf growth in abundance and finally a few tomatoes!  It doesn’t look like the marmande is producing well but we shall see.  These are alicante, they are not ready for picking yet but not long now.



I thoroughly recommend Thomas Stone’s blogs in general and especially anything he posts on roses such as this one on moss roses.   I must extend my rose collection but for the moment mine are all repeat flowering english roses.  They do keep coming.  I gave them all a rose feed a few weeks ago, watered it in and the flowers are coming through once more.  This is Natasha Richardson.  I’ve shown it before and I include it again because it I was pleased that it too is a part of the new wave.

I always recommend this meme and the host The Propagator  as a great way to see what is going on in gardens around the world.  The people who post under #SixOnSaturday are all great sharers of their the knowledge and experience and I want to thank everyone for helping me grow my own knowledge.  Last week I posted a picture of my under the weather apple tree.  I looks like it has fireblight and I thank Tony Tomeo for sharing his knowledge.  Loving you all!!



Six on Saturday: Short and sweet

Life is very busy at the moment and it has been hard to find the time to spend in the garden, watering is being neglected and the veg patch is suffering.  The courgettes are tiny and the borlotti beans are barely climbing up the bean pole.  The latest pest is mice who are taking tiny bites out of the leek stems.  So here’s a very short six:


IMG_2555Phlox. Evidence of my poor watering regime!  I am just about keeping the flowers going.


IMG_2546The flower stem of Acanthus mollis.  I took a small division from a large plant when we moved house two years ago.  It was tiny but it has taken hold and this year produced the first flower stem.  Fred has some of these!



IMG_2565Passion flower – Fred has some of these too.  His are p. edulis but  I wonder if this is Passiflora caerulea The link is to the RHS page.  Since this survived the cold winter I think it could be a caerulea.  It came with the new garden and grows rampantly over an arch.


IMG_2554The apples are growing but I have these brown leaves.  Same happened last year so I don’t think it is a watering problem – but then again I didn’t water the trees last year either.  Any ideas.  Dahlia lovers among you will have noticed the photo bomb from D.Thomas Edison.  My first foray into a non white dahlia!



IMG_2566 (2)Agastache Black Adder – it my very hot dry sunny border.  The perfect place for it but as a new plant it does require regular watering.  It’s one I am trying to keep and maybe this is where I introduce some grasses.


IMG_2557And of course I have to keep watering the containers.  I am managing to keep these going by collecting the cold water than comes through before the hot in the kitchen tap.  What a palaver! But I am enjoying these scented leaf pelargoniums.

That’s my six, for more links please visit The Propagator.  I have been so busy I haven’t read last weeks comments but I am hoping next week slows down and I can catch up soon.  And of course I should say – haway the lads – or something similar. Those who know will know!