Six On Saturday: The ruthless gardener stalled

For one brief moment the ruthless gardener was in full flow, cutting back hardy geraniums, pulling out surplus seedlings, felling a plum tree (well, not me doing that job) and condemning underperformers. Then some tennis was played and the left knee said ‘enough is enough’. On the upside the knee wrapped in ice felt wonderful when those temperatures were so high. Now the frustrated gardener is hanging around staring through the windows. At least the rain is taking one job off the ‘to do’ list and the garden is teeming with baby birds to offer distraction. Here’s six from the garden for this week.

One

The back garden white hydrangeas were well and truly scorched by the sun this week but in the front garden, with its all the more gentle aspect, the hydrangea was glowing vibrantly. I have no idea how this mix of colours has evolved, I am sure that on our arrival here five years ago this was universally pinkish.

Two

More vibrant colour coming through from magenta pink phlox, inherited and such a reliable steady performer at this time of year. I’ve started to move astrantia seedlings into this area along with some underperforming veronicastrums which were perhaps more in shade than partial shade. One to watch for next year.

Three

A plum tree has gone. A ruthless decision that took five years to make! When we arrived the tree had a nasty split in the trunk but it seemed be healing over the years. Sadly it then started to get die back from the new growth and despite beautiful blossom the fruit crop was minimal. It was just not worth the annual pruning so the tree surgeon was called in to do the deed. There is now a more open aspect to the border and the apple tree on the right hand side has room to breathe.

Four

This is a ‘Miss Wilmott’ scabious which is slowly bulking up and adding some airy height to this border. Miss Wilmott was a well known gardener in her day, contemporary with Gertrude Jekyll and is perhaps more famous today for the Eryngium ‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost’ also named after her.

Five

The hollyhocks have self seeded through the garden and in so many different colours. Here’s a small selection.

Six

Lastly the North facing border is bulking up well. The climbing hydrangeas on the fence are slowly climbing but they like to run up the fence panels rather sideways. I try to persuade them into the horizontal but I think nature will have its way.

Happy hols to The Propagator who presents a concise and colourful six this week. I had plans to visit an NGS garden but the weather does not look too kind. I am in search of inspiration for a small patch at the very back of the garden so it may be a case of wearing suitable clothing and going anyway. Enjoy your gardening time.

Six On Saturday: No more slug banquets

We had torrential rain on Monday evening which caused local flooding on some roads, nothing like that experienced in Europe this week for which I am grateful and this weekend we have a scorchio heatwave. It is feast or famine weather-wise and I had a nostalgic longing for the gentle summers of childhood. We did have them didn’t we? There is one aspect of the garden that is very much feast time and that is the dahlia banquet I have been serving up for the slugs. That’s it. I am done with dahlias, never much liked them anyway and as I don’t have that many they will not be missed. Also suffering this year are the lupins and zinnias. The new resolution is ‘if the slugs munch it, it is not staying in the garden’. In ruthless mode I also dug up an echinops ritro – globe thistle. Never much liked that either. It seemed to suffer from aphid attacks and then took on a bedraggled look until the next wave of growth came through. Not attractive and now gone for good. On the good news side, I have planted out all the salvias and some very slow to get going nicotiana ‘Whisper’ seedlings. Twenty tiny seeds sown, four germinated. They grew on so slowly that I had actually forgotten them. Yesterday, in some cobwebby corner of the greenhouse, I spotted the glowing green leaves and they were in the garden pdq. Here’s this week’s six.

One

Hebe, variety unknown. I inherited this in the front garden where it lurked under the magnolia tree doing not very much. Two years ago I dug up it and for the time being, as one does, put it in a corner of the veg plot. This year it has performed spectacularly. With fireworks of white spikes of flowers fizzing of in all directions. It is alongside the potatoes this year and I am very happy to let it stay there. Added bonus: no slug damage.

Two

Ever reliable, no slug damage, and so easily taken for granted, even moaned about occasionally, verbena bonariensis. Moaned about because here it self seeds readily. It seems to grow in every corner but does the best in the sunniest spot where it really does stand up well without falling over the path too much. I pull them up where they are flopping.

Three

Hollyhocks. Hmm, yes some occasional slime trails but the plants just push on upwards. Self seeding itself throughout the borders and I do nip out the seedlings when I spot them but of course some manage to elude me and then deliver a mid summer surprise as they soar above the other plants.

Four

The ever sunny leucanthemum superbum or shasta daisy. Now securely staked. I grew these beauties from seed when I first came to this garden and used them to front the wild blackberries, that I was going to dig out. Over the last few years the blackberries have been somewhat tamed and since they deliver a bountiful crop they get to stay. They are one of the few happy weeds that I inherited.

Five

I had to laugh as I saw glorious photos of lupins in SOS posts and then was told last week that one of the ‘jobs to do’ was to cut back lupins. Mine have barely got going. This one has just managed a flower spike, the others have been munched by slugs. I fully expect the blackfly to descend on the lupin this week. They are going and I think I’m going to use the space to plant another rose.

Six

Last of the slug free plants is euphorbia oblongata. Slightly past its flowering best but what a stand out colour in the garden right now. Grown from seed a few years back, and if I remember rightly I sowed a whole packet of 45 seeds and got three seedlings. But then what would I have done with 45 plants! Sometimes nature knows best.

We have been enjoying cucumbers from the greenhouse this week and I think the time has come to dig up some potatoes. My old allotment site issued a tomato blight alert this week – so far all looks okay here. The French beans are flowering and the courgettes will undoubtedly zoom away in this weekend’s heat. It’s also time to pick some currants and the last of the gooseberries. It’s not all bad, is it? Over at The Propagator’s garden all seems good too, with plenty of sunny flowers to enjoy. I hope, on balance, things are also good in your gardens.

Six on Saturday: Headless Chicken

There were so many possibilities for today’s theme: ‘forgive me for I have sinned’ and ‘midsummer madness’ being close contenders but headless chicken won out – running around in an illogical and disorganised way summed up my gardening this week. I couldn’t get to the garden for about four days and was being driven mad by the rain that fell whenever I had a free moment. Friday was the first opportunity to garden and there was so much to do. But of course as you set out to do one thing another catches your eye. The first distraction was to salvage some delphiniums that had been caught by the wind. Then at this time of the year the alchemilla mollis and geranium ‘Brookside’ take over the garden path and as the grass needed mowing they had to be cut back or they would have been crushed by the lawn mower. The roses were begging to be deadheaded and my prime task of cutting back the geranium phaeums was plummeting rapidly down the ‘to do’ list. The weather stayed fine and the jobs were done. My sins were forgetting to drench the martagon lilies in lily beetle spray – all the foliage stripped away and looking terrible, and not supporting the leucanthemum x superbum. They get to a height of one metre and every year I foolishly think they can support themselves but not of course in the wind and rain. The madness refers to the crazy amount of self seeding that has gone on the garden this year: the borders are crammed. In between times I did manage to take a few photos.

One

The three top culprits when it comes to self seeding are the astrantias, alchemilla mollis and geranium ‘Brookside’ but if you like an ‘informal’ look then it’s winner!

Two

The regal lilies are just about going over but their scent is still strong and these did get a regular drench with the lily beetle spray. It was about 95% effective, I have spotted three or four of the charming lily beetle grubs but the foliage is still intact.

Three

This is ‘Munstead’ lavender. In the past I have lost ‘Hidcote’ lavenders over the winter and although I much prefer the darker colour I chose the lighter ‘Munstead’ for this spot on the patio. So far so good. I cut it back to about an inch or so off the ground in September/October.

Four

Oh dear. Another sin. I bought these salvias two weeks ago and here they sit patiently waiting to be planted out. I keep changing my mind as to their final location and, second sin, I don’t have enough compost to pot them on. They are ‘Mainacht’ and ‘Shneehugel’. My first thought had them destined for separate borders but they look comfortable together.

Five

Sometimes the answer to a gardening dilemma is right under your nose. I was looking for something upright for a front of border gap and as I edged the grass I rediscovered these. Stachys officinalis or, as it also seems to be known as, betonica officinalis. I bought these about four years ago, planted them in a spot they did not seem to enjoy and so moved them round and promptly forgot them. This year they have come good and I think there is enough sun in the other spot for them to flourish there as well. Eventual height is said to be 60cms, so far these are about 30cms.

Six

The scented leaf pelargoniums have been slow to get into flower this year, but this one ‘Prince of Orange’ is leading the race. It’s in a pot on the steps beside the hydrangeas.

The Propagator has some lovely looking plants in his six and a real nasty! As has been the case here, the slugs and snails have been out in force and have destroyed a clump of lobelia. It’s looking as sorry a sight as my martagon lilies. But there are plenty of lovely flowers from around the world in the SOS thread. Check the links and enjoy!

Six On Saturday: Flowers in the rain

Returning to the garden after a week in Suffolk was not a pretty sight. The roses were brown or balled up, never going to open and the slugs had been feasting on the young dahlias and china asters. The ailing anemones looked so bad they were swiftly dug up and disposed of. I suspect some kind of wilt disease, the treatment suggested by one website was solarisation of the soil. If only there was some sun to reach into the shady spot were the anemones grew. It feels like that time when early summer moves into late summer. It’s only the first week of July. Whatever happened to mid summer? I think there’s still time for a few lazy sunny days. In the meantime here’s this weeks six.

One

On a happier note. Last year I bought an achillea ‘Terracotta’ which flowered yellow and was not to my liking. This year it has come true to its name and I like it much more.

Two

The astrantias are in full flow now. These are ‘Roma’ which are self seeding. There will be some ruthless thinning at the end of summer.

Three

The hydrangeas seemed late into flower this year but they have come good in the last week or so and of course are happy with the rain. I resisted cutting them back in March, probably not doing it until late April as the weather was so unpredictable. These are variety unknown, a happy inheritance from the previous owner.

Four

It’s definitely a sign that summer is moving on when the penstemons start to flower. These are ‘Sour Grapes’.

Five

The clematis has been colonised by black fly this year but is flowering well. I have spotted several ladybird larvae on the plants so I hope they have been feasting away. There are hundreds of black fly on offer.

Six

A rose to end with. ‘Scepter’d Isle’. After a serious round of dead heading I was very happy to see that some blooms remained to enjoy a few days sun before the rain arrived again.

It’s a gloomy day here so I will have draw on memories of a week by the sea with two gloriously sunny days, a couple of windswept walks and fish and chips – the perfect British holiday. Now it’s back to some gardening – so much more deadheading of roses to be done. One of the plum trees is for the chop – this week or by the end of the month and, fool that I am, I will sow some more carrots – so far only a paltry few have germinated. Enjoy your gardening this week, drop by The Propagator’s place to see the links to all the other SOS posts, and of course there is some sport to be watched.