Six On Saturday: In my dreams

Temperatures are falling and the evenings have a chill about them.  My third summer in this garden is coming to an end.  The previous owner (PO) loved to grow fruit, figs in particular and this week I woke from a dream where I had collected armfuls of sweet soft figs.  I am sure this was inspired by a tweet from Fred, a French gardener  who had been doing exactly that.  In my garden I watch as the birds flutter in and out of the fig trees magically finding in their branches the ripe figs that I keep missing.  All the ones I can see are green.


IMG_2779Here’s the largest fig tree.  This was tentatively pruned back early this year but I can see it really needs to be brought down in size.  Ruthlessness is a gardening skill I am beginning to develop.  Cutting this tree back will give the summer borders more of a chance to keep going through into autumn.  I will be able to bear any loss of fruit as I don’t see much of it anyway!



IMG_2780Because the PO’s interest were in fruit and veg the flower borders had been left to their own devices and I have been reclaiming them from the weeds.  One corner was in the grip of ground elder and I spent the first two summers digging it out.  I think I am now at the stage where I can plant this corner up.  My dreams have recently focused in on a white hibiscus and a Trachelospermum jasminoides to cover up a fence.  That’s my dream for autumn or spring planting.  For the moment this is how the corner looks now. Each summer I plant a group of annuals to keep the ground covered.  This year it was Zinnias which are filling out now.



IMG_2768A close up of that corner showing the convolvulus cneorum bought at the Beth Chatto garden now in situ among the erigeron karvinskianus.  I’m happy with the front and I hope I will be happy with the back, now I need something mid border to bridge the gap.  I have persicaria on the wish list so maybe there is an opening for it here.


IMG_2770Three 9cm pots of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’ were planted out earlier in the summer.  I have to be patient but next year I am expecting these diminutive plants to transform into dreaming spires of late summer interest. They should reach 1.2m.  Some way to go then!


IMG_2773 (2)In my dreams, particularly in my day dreams, I see a luxuriously verdant garden seamlessly moving from one season to the next.  At this time of the year I find myself struggling.  The summer border becomes increasingly shady as the big fig tree branches out.  There is just enough sun to encourage the roses in a second flowering and this one is Gertrude Jekyll.


IMG_2771A long term dream has been to fit in a water feature.  My original expansive daydream of putting a rill down the middle of the lawn was strongly vetoed and probably rightly so.  Instead I have in mind a much smaller feature to replace this laurel bush.  It also shades the summer border and doesn’t add any great interest to the garden.  Taking it out will leave a large hole – the first step towards the pond.

Dreaming and planning for the garden is much on my mind at the moment.  I was feeling the pressure of exhortations to prepare and plant up for next year.  It was all too much and I left the catalogues on the table and went out into the garden.  Even after the recent rains it was still dry and difficult to work but I relocated a few seedlings, planted out some mid summer purchases, cut back the lavender and rosemary and felt much better for it!

Many thanks to  The Prop for gathering together a diverse crowd of fellow gardeners who share weekly their gardening delights and sometimes the nasties! You are welcome to take a look.







Six On Saturday: Fresh eyes give renewed determination

There is nothing like visiting the garden of a friend or relative for giving fresh impetus to your own garden.  After spending time last Sunday dispensing words of wisdom: ‘that  achemillia mollis can be cut back now’, ‘don’t let that lemon balm seed everywhere’ and  ‘that’s a weed and this is a tree seedling’, I came back to my garden and spotted a large clump of achemillia mollis seeding itself everywhere, nettles quietly gaining strength under the shade of the geraniums and grass creeping into the borders. It was time for a midsummer clear up.  A frantic spurt of dead heading and weeding ensued and there was that alchemilla mollis to deal with.



The offending alchemilla mollis.  I wasn’t in a ruthless enough mood to start with so I just cut back the flowering stems.  The fresh new growth began to emerge from the shadows and I realised that if I had done this earlier and by ruthlessly cutting back the old growth by the handful those new shoots would have been taking centre stage earlier.  I know this but I rarely do it early enough!



Down at the allotment end of the garden I noticed that the autumn raspberries were ripening.  The plants came as runners from my old allotment raspberries and this is their first fruiting year.  I’m so glad they survived the low rainfall which I’m sure owes much to their shady position.



My clematis have all gone to seed now but I spotted one last flower valiantly soldiering on, thereby earning the right to be included in this six.



Also on the clear up list was the rambling rose I chose to train up the back fence. It is ‘Wedding Day’.  A mad choice I confess but I planned to train it into my neighbour’s trees.  ‘Wedding Day’ is rampant and I didn’t keep it under control the first year.  This week I took it hand and tied it in as best I could, rose scratched arms is not a good look! Half way through the job I consulted my RHS book of pruning which tells me that ramblers come in three groups and the pruning is slightly different for each group.  Now I just have to find out which group ‘Wedding Day’ falls into.



Since I have mentioned my neighbour’s trees, it is only fair that I show one or two.  This majestic willow catches the evening sun and is spectacular.



I also benefit from another neighbour’s elder tree.  The berries are ripe now and some may find their way into fruit pie.  The colour combination of stem, leaf and fruit is just sumptuous.

Sharing gardening experiences is a great part of #SixOnSaturday and an important part of gardening.  I hope my ‘advice’ was well received but I will also share by potting up some of the seedlings I discovered in my clear up.  There are a good number of astrantia major, hollyhocks and verbena bonariensia for a start.  And I thank my neighbours for sharing their trees and giving me a fabulous frame for my garden.

For the links to other sixes pay a visit to The Propagator the hard working host of this meme.  Now time to get back to that clean up!


Six On Saturday: Oops I did it again

With temperatures again in the 30s I went away for the week.  Yes, I know.  No real gardener ever leaves the garden in summer, not ever!  I did the usual frantic watering, moving pots into the shade and putting everything on trays or saucers and off I went.  My garden is well past its best so I was really quite relaxed.  I went in search of inspiration from some of the great gardens of England and I found that they too had gone over plants, roses devoid of flowers and scorched lawns.  But some ideas for late summer colour were found and I returned determined to take more care of my phloxes.

But here is what is happening in my garden this week.



Rosa Natasha Richardson is in her second flowering and is looking gorgeous.  I’m very happy with the background of Agastache Black Adder but she needs something the other side of her.  I’m still looking for her ideal companion.



Sometime in May I optimistically sprinkled some zinnia seeds that came free with a well known gardening magazine and in the week I was away they opened up.  They were sown at the foot of the now towering tithonia and in amongst the Pentsemon Plum Jerkum.   They have given me an extra spot of late summer colour.



You would not expect me to visit three gardens and come away empty handed now would you? I nearly did as Hidcote had sold out of Agapanthus Navy Blue – a later flowering variety that’s now on my wish list.  Fortunately across the road at Kiftsgate I found a lovely pink Salvia microphylla Blush Pink.  It should flower into November and be frost hardy.  If it does I shall be very happy.



I left my tray of Ammi visnaga out in a shady/sunny spot hoping they might put on a spurt of growth.  I really don’t know if they are going to make it into flower but I am going to plant them out anyway and enjoy their feathery green foliage in amongst the white zinnias as planned.



My vegetable patch has struggled this year, falling foul of lack of rain and my feeble attempts to water it.  I harvested the onions before I left and put them in the potting shed to dry out – as if they needed that!  Small but delightfully formed I think.



The apples are also much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this is the earliest apples have ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready for picking and I’m hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that arrived on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I also need to decide what to do with this poor specimen.  Do I shorten the leader and keep the laterals in tight or will the leader strengthen over time?  So much learning to be done!

The bulb catalogues are arriving and even as I review how to improve the August and September garden my thoughts are turning to Spring.  I am well and truly on the gardening roller coaster and on the whole enjoying it.

Be dazzled by the diversity of gardens that get shown each week by checking the links given on The Propagator’s blog You will see that there is an occasional ‘cheat’ and this week The Prop has smuggled three extras into his six.  There must be a sub section somewhere that allows that then!

The apples are also so much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this was the earliest apples had ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready to pick and I am hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that came on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I need to think what I do with this poor specimen.  Should I cut the leader much shorter and keep all the laterals in tighter or will the leader strengthen over time? There is so much learning to be done!

Six On Saturday: Scorchio again

Once again it’s very hot here with temperatures around 30 degrees plus.  The rain of last Sunday – really, the one day I have the family over and it rains – was welcome and filled two of the large water butts and one small one.  Total 868 litres plus some odds and ends from the greenhouse butts and I’m nearly through it already.  I am looking again at the garden to see what I can add in to extend the colour but planting will have to wait until September.  Here’s what’s happening at the moment.



A melon update: My second year of growing melons and you would have thought it would be a bumper year.  There have been plenty of flowers but only one has come good as a melon.  Two or three other melons formed but then rotted off.  I’ve been hard at work cutting back the side shoots and stopping the main stem.  Now I have to decide when is the optimum time to pick this precious fruit.



The grapevine over the pergola regularly produces grapes but at this time of the year they split and never ripen.  The previous owner said it was a Black Hamburg, which, as many of you will know, is an indoor variety.  Today the wasps are having great fun and it makes sitting under the welcome shade a little nerve wracking.  I think in future I will cut off all the grapes and have beautiful shade and no wasps!



The Hollyhocks have been to be featured again. They just keep on growing.  There was a touch of rust on the lower leaves early on but the hot dry weather seems to have kept it at bay.  Reader, I measured this one. It is eleven foot six inches!  Does that sound like a challenge?  Bring on the hollyhocks.  This one is growing up into a dead fruit tree.  It never got to fruiting stage so I can’t identify it, other than to say that I suspect is was a stone fruit, maybe apricot, which succumbed to leaf curl and oozing this year.



Also doing rather well are the rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’.  I have my eye on these for dividing this year.  Spreading this wonderful colour around the garden will be a pleasure.



I was late sowing the cosmos this year but they have started to come into flower.  This one is Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Click Cranberries’.  I’ve planted them in a block but I think this one will look good dotted around the border next year.



Lastly a zinnnia.  This is taken as a close up because my planting scheme went awry.  I planned to mix the zinnias and some ammi visnaga together but the ammi germinated late and is only just looking good enough to plant out.  Without the ammi to add some froth the zinnias look like soldiers on parade.  Maybe it will look better in October.

From here it looks like crispy lawns and parched plants for a little longer.  See what else is going on at The Prop’s blog – there you can find links to all the other great SOSs.