Six On Saturday: Drying times

The tough times continue. No rain and no sign of rain to come. I am watering the french beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. I’ve selected two courgette plants to water and the other three are being let go. The autumn fruiting raspberries look very sad and so I may relent and water them. In the flower garden only new additions are being favoured. There be tales in these parts of underground streams and one corner of the lawn is suspiciously lush, it is of course the corner where the snowberry grows and it too is verdant. In other places a well established choisya is close to death and the very large rhododendron is wilting and yellowing. There are plants that are coping perhaps aided by those secret underground water supplies. Here’s this week’s six.

One

Every year these rudbekia shout out ‘Look at me, look at me.’ ‘Yes.’ I say ‘Yes, but don’t be quite so pushy.’ This year I apologise profusely and say ‘Yes, please take centre stage.’

Two

I’m always happy to have agapanthus in August and these are ‘Midnight Star’. Purchased about three years ago as 9cm pots they are finally bulking up and putting on a show. They seem not quite as dark as I remember them but I’m grateful for anything in flower at the moment

Three

Echinacea ‘White Swan’ is another perennial favourite of mine and it too seems to be coping with the tough conditions which fits with its native prairie land origins. They have been in the garden for about two years and having had time to establish themselves they are toughing it out.

Four

The apples on one half of the duo tree are ripening and windfalls are being collected. This is presenting a small problem as the other apple trees are a little behind and we usually pick everything at the same time and take them off for pressing.

Five

A mix of salvia microphylla, blackcurrant sage, and perovskia ‘Little Spire’ in a sunny corner. The blackcurrant sage really does have a wonderful blackcurrant smell and reportedly can be used to give drinks an added dimension. I chose ‘Little Spire’ in an attempt to avoid the dreaded flop but inevitably the lean towards the sun cannot be denied.

Six

The tomatoes are cropping nicely now. These are ‘Principe Borghese’, an Italian variety, apparently good for sun drying and with this weather perhaps I should have a go. At the moment they are being eaten as fast as they are picked.

Nature is harsh, the weather is a challenge and this week we have witnessed a fox cub trotting down the garden path with a young squirrel in its mouth, a dead pigeon on the lawn may also be a victim of the fox, but two new cats have also been seen prowling around.

It’s holiday time for many, Mr P has returned to join the ranks of those with dry gardens and continues to host all the links. Happy gardening to those who have had rain, those of us who haven’t will have to look for the positives where we can!

Six On Saturday: Tough times

After a beautiful week in sunny Cornwall I returned home to face the music. Wilting, yellowing, crispy, scorched. Some things seem okay: the kniphofia and verbena bonariensis look good, the roses are flowering again and the sunflowers have reached dizzying heights. Apparently it’s not a drought. Yet. Just a prolonged dry spell. Here’s six sorry things from the garden.

One

The lawn. Over at Chatsworth the drought has revealed an intricate eighteenth century garden design. Here it’s an old garden path which strangely seems to start half way down the lawn. Lawn is a grand word for this motley sward of yarrow, clover, buttercups, daisies and dandelions. I hope it will recover.

Two

Actaea ‘Brunette’. A little crispy round the edges and very wilted when first spotted. It has revived and I’m optimistically hoping it will still flower later in the year.

Three

As predicted the hydrangeas scorched. They are in sun for half the day and rarely do I get away without some scorch over the summer.

Four

The leaves on the viburnum tree are yellowing and dropping off. It has to compete with a nearby apple tree and tough luck at the moment for anything trying to grow beneath them both.

Five

The rodgersia, planted in the ‘damp’ corner of the garden, next to hydrangeas and siberian irises. I think I might call this one dead, even though there is one small green leaf showing through. I have a sun-loving hebe that is sitting it out on a corner of the veg patch. This could be its moment.

Six

Japanese anemones, ‘September Charm’ amazingly in flower in mid July and now also rather crispy around the edges. A deluge from the watering can may have saved it.

The greenhouse temperatures hit 54.6 degrees. The tomato plants, however, didn’t look too bad and some immediate watering seems to have got them back on track. The cucumbers are also looking good and are delivering well. I don’t think the courgettes enjoyed conditions too much and the onions probably won’t get much bigger. The long range forecast is not showing any rainfall for at least the next two weeks. I am concentrating the watering on the tomatoes, cukes, those plants newly settled in this year and the plants in containers get a slosh from the washing up bowl used to catch waste water. This gardening lark is going to be a challenge over the next few months.

For similar tales of woe, please visit The Propagator who hosts the Six On Saturday clan. A crowd of kind gardening souls from around the world who post from their gardens every week.

Cornish moments

I missed a Six On Saturday post as I was travelling back from a week in Cornwall. I posted a five on Saturday via Twitter (somehow missed out on a photo) and now I’ve decided to share those photos here too. I’ve added a sixth one to complete the package.

One

One day was spent walking around Rock and of course visiting the beautiful church of St Enodoc. Homage was paid to the resting place of the poet John Betjeman. The church is famous for this and for its crooked spire. There had been a recent wedding and the entrance and inside had been decorated with flowers. In the cool interior the flowers still held the shape, pink roses, blue agapanthus mixed with lime greens and whites. What a wonderful wedding it must have been.

Two

Agapanthus are every where in Cornwall. These beautiful white ones combined perfectly with the verbena bonariensis.

Three

There were more agapanthus mixed with erigeron karvinskianus and lavender in this courtyard garden.

Four

The lavender was lush with vibrant green foliage, still in full flower whereas mine at home is already going over.

Five

And in one corner this crocosmia provided a vibrant contrast.

Six

We were staying on the Camel estuary which was at it’s most glorious so here’s a view of the river out to sea.

A diversion for this week, next week back to normal but as the drought here continues all is not normal in the garden. I managed to avoid the extraordinary high temperatures in London but the garden didn’t.

Six On Saturday: Bananas!

Or Bananarama to be precise. Cruel Summer to be even more exact. Perhaps I should be growing ensete. Too late now. The weather is going to be very cruel next week and we must all take care. I hope I don’t lose any plants and that the veg plot can subsist on the meagre amount of water I can give it. Here are six things from the flower garden this week.

One

The hydrangea in the front garden is a mass of blue, pink and purple flowers. It spends most of the day in the shade and I tend to take it for granted. Perhaps some water and a feed would give it a lift!

Two

The evergreen agapanthus that are wrapped up over winter should be at home in this heat but as they are in pots they do need regular watering. They are already on the turn. Every four years or so I take a saw to them and divide them up. This year a couple of the pots are only managing one flower stem so they will be divided next spring.

Three

The phlox are vibrant at the moment but I fear they will be drooping by next week.

Four

This is clematis viticella ‘Etoile Violette’. A favourite of mine and I do look after it with regular feeds of seaweed extract. It does get some shade throughout the day so I’m hoping it will not suffer.

Five

The day lilies are also basking in the sun. These ones, ‘Golden Chimes’, don’t have gall midge….so far!

Six

My recent purchase of ‘Lord Bute’ is back in flower again. Absolutely wonderful.

I hear Mr P is hanging up his running shoes for this weekend but is heading off to a festival. Even so he will be hosting the Six on Saturday meme as usual. Much respect! Don’t forget to stop by.

Six On Saturday: What a mess!

Back to the garden again after a busy few weeks and of course the garden has run riot. Three times recently my gardening style has been described as ‘messy’. But I’m not sensitive. Well, of course I am! What is a messy style? Plants overspilling the paths, geraniums climbing over other plants, self-seeders encouraged. Sounds just right to me. However July is a turning point in this garden and those geraniums do need to be cut back, I have a mass of rose deadheading to catch up with and worse still I have two trays of annuals not planted out yet. I’d better get on with six for the week and then get out there and garden.

One

Here is the garden path. Encapsulating self seeders and overspillers. The alchemillia mollis and geranium psilostemon and ‘Brookside’ are the main culprits. Last autumn I lifted a number of alchemillia mollis from the main border to tidy things up and promptly planted them in the thin border for the ‘time being’. They love it there. ‘Brookside’ self seeds very readily here and since it is an extensive roamer I am more ruthless and I do thin it out every year.

Two

There are one or two shasta daisies escaping from their restraining supports but on the whole I do keep these pretty tidy. These also self seed. Here they are working rather well with a dahlia that gained a reprieve from last year. They are planted in front of the blackberries, probably not acceptable to some.

Three

This week the verbena bonariensis have looked stunning. Of course these self seed here. This week I heard them called thuggish! I find them rather amazing. Here they are growing amongst the grass ‘Karl Foerster’.

Four

Surely these hydrangeas are tidy? A little blousy perhaps? Next week they will be frazzled to a messy shade of brown as the hot weather spoils them.

Five

Do meandering climbers also count as messy? If so, guilty as charged. Clematis cover walls, fences and arches. This is the first year in flower for ‘Madame Julia Correvon’. She has valiantly pushed through the undergrowth and made it the top of the wall where her beautiful flowers are much appreciated.

Six

Oh, I know what it is. I have allowed erigeron karvinskianus to self seed all over the terrace! Now that does look messy.

I was remiss at reading SOS posts last week. I hope to catch up this week, but of course there’s some tidying up to do first. The links for the SOS posts are hosted on The Propagator’s site. I’ll stop by there now. Happy gardening everyone.

Six On Saturday: New purchases

A later six than usual as I have just returned from a week in sunny Suffolk. And a trip to Suffolk always means a visit to Beth Chatto’s nursery in Essex. We use it as a stop for lunch and then walk round the plants on offer. The famous gravel garden is mostly on view before entrance to the main garden and this year I spotted the poppy ‘Cedric Morris’ sprinkled through the planting. Onto the six for the week which are the six plants I bought.

One

I went to buy polygonatums but as they are a spring highlight I went with a back-up in case they had all sold. Sold they were, so ferns were purchased instead. This is polystichum setiferum plumosodivislobum! Or more simply a soft shield fern. This was described as frilly and fluted, I couldn’t resist it.

Two

Fern number two is dryopteris sieboldii with its rather unusual fronds. The are quite crispy with a tendency to snap if crushed into the back of a car.

Three

These two ferns will start off in a planter and alongside them goes this epimedium versicolor sulphureum. My first ever epimedium, which is strange given that there are many shady corners here. I am looking forward next year to the promise of pale yellow flowers. I have one thalictrum delavayi unplanted from a few I grew from seed so that will be the final component. The container then will fill a shady corner at the back of the garden.

Four

This is a pelargonium that I have much admired over previous SOS posts and when I saw it on the benches it just had to go in the trolley. It’s ‘Lord Bute’, full of flowers when I bought it but now I have to wait for the next flush. I thank all those who ever posted about it. This will go in a long tom terracotta pot for the terrace.

Five

I couldn’t resist this pelargonium either. This is ‘Tip Top Duet’ and will also go in a long tom pot.

Six

Lastly, one for the garden. I have been looking for something to sit behind a group of persicaria bisorta ‘Superbum’ – the common pink one, I’m hoping this frilly white monarda will do the job nicely. It’s m.’Schneewittchen’, flowers to come soon. I’m slightly nervous of the description ‘less robust than other monardas’ but I’ll have a go anyway.

I’ve broken a promise I made a while back – no more plants in containers. It means more watering over the summer. Oh dear, how weak I am. I’m off to fill the watering cans one more time!

As always, many thanks to The Propagator who hosts the meme. Take a look over the weekend – he has been buying roses.

Six On Saturday: Heat!

I can’t avoid stating the obvious: it’s been hot this week. I have resorted to hanging sheets in the greenhouse to try to provide some shade but there have still been some wilting tomato plants. The water butts are empty and I don’t see any rain in the forecast. Too hot to garden, too hot to write and so here is a quick six from the garden this week.

One

At least this part of the garden looks cool. Ferns and the ‘Kashmir White’ geranium make a great combination in a slightly shadier spot.

Two

My first foray into a dark leaf heuchera. This is ‘Grape Timeless’ which I always think should be ‘Grape Time’!

Three

The over-wintered salvia ‘Amistad’ has just begun to open out. A long laster, this should be in flower until autumn.

Four

Every year the astrantias burst forth and remind me of what an absolute dream they are. This one is ‘Roma’.

Five

Last winter I moved a climbing rose ‘Souvenir du Dr Jamain’. It was growing against a shady fence but not really enjoying it. It’s not in the best of health but amazingly it has produced a beautiful flower. I am nurturing it and hoping that this isn’t its last effort before a demise.

Six

And ending on an amusing note: This is the greenhouse. No matter how many times I check there is always a side shoot missed on the tomatoes. In addition to the sheets, I have been liberally throwing watering cans of water over the path to keep the humidity up and hopefully the red spider mite down. The marigolds are there to keep the white fly down and oxalis is there because I can never be rid of it!

For more hot gardens tune into The Propagator who hosts this meme. Stay cool, water wisely and as always, take time to enjoy the garden.

Six On Saturday: Wilful nature

Plan as I might nature always has the final say. This week a fond farewell was said to two box shrubs as caterpillars triumphed. White foxgloves have turned out to be purple. Salvia mainacht did not survive the mild winter and slugs have reduced the number of delphiniums this year. The result is gaps in the border and new planting opportunities. There are careful choices to be made. But there are still six things to enjoy in the June borders.

One

I stay with delphiniums in spite of the risk of slug demolition. Their stately spires are a sight to behold. My most slug resistant clump is one that came from a division from the family garden – Dad’s delphiniums. These are a mix of those and some grown from seed.

Two

The white foxgloves may be almost absent this year but the seeds of the Apricot foxgloves sown last year have come through to flowering and what a soft gentle apricot they are. I hope they can resist becoming muddied by the abundant purple foxgloves.

Three

Wilful nature loves to grow geraniums here. Several varieties self-seed with great generosity. This one is g.psilostomen which has appeared under the roses. Nature often knows best.

Four

This beautiful pink geranium is easy to divide and so there are several corners were its veined flowers give soft edges to the borders. This is geranium sanguineum var. striatum

Five

Nature has also decreed that the lovely daylily ‘Good Shepherd’ is on its way out. Gall midge struck last year. This year it looked so much healthier with a good showing of buds but the midge was lurking and within days the buds shrivelled and turned black. Those that did open are a shadow of the former selves. The advice is to pick of all the infested buds which I fear will leave me with none. Something else will have to be found to fill the space.

Six

So far the penstemons continue to reward without problems. This is a division of ‘Garnet’ (I think, or could it be ‘Firebird’) that I planted in a sunny spot. It’s looking fabulous although I may be in danger of overdoing the hot pinks here.

Nature has been sending in the squirrels to attempt to deconstruct the bird feeder and then to eat the unripe figs. Parakeets descended to take up where the squirrels failed. Fledgling goldfinches and blue tits came to feed but magpies have cruelly been taking baby birds from nests and the fox has appeared several times as I deadhead the roses. It’s all getting a bit much. A garden that looks so peaceful and tranquil is just jumping with action! But I guess that is what is so wonderful. It all takes place on the doorstep and keeps us on our toes. The veg patch has begun to deliver: lettuce and cucumbers and the first of the potatoes will be dug any day now. A sunny weekend beckons so I will be out again sharing ‘my space’ with who ever else is around.

Mr P shares his garden and the links to other SOS posts so stop by and enjoy more stories from June gardens. Have a fun weekend.

Six On Saturday: Extra time needed

One moment everything is under control, the next there is a long list of jobs to be done. A long weekend for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations should help. Yesterday I planted out the outdoor tomatoes and the courgettes. A first tray of zinnias went into the cutting patch. The cutting patch has itself been cut as half of it has been given over to a second attempt to grow asparagus and it seems more successful than the first. All four crowns have taken and now the long wait for a harvest begins. Here’s six from the garden for the first week of June.

One

Well this will make you laugh! After a whole year spent saying ‘No, I will not grow dahlias again.’ I was tempted by David Howard, an orange, shorter growing dahlia with dark foliage. I bought tubers, potted them up in April, greenhoused them through May, bringing them out on sunny days and now they have been sitting outside for about two weeks, waiting patiently to be put in the ground. Fingers crossed, David, I plan to plant you out today.

Two

There are more beautiful roses in flower. It seems to be such a good year for them. This one is the rambler ‘Wedding Day’. Beautiful small yellow buds which open to a creamy white with a crown of yellow stamens. It rambles along the back end of the garden fence, intermingling with the blackberries, which are also bursting with buds.

Three

Last year I divided the ‘Johnson’s Blue’ geranium. Two of these came with me to this house almost six years ago. I think I had about seven divisions from the plants and this one is doing superbly well. I may now have to modify the planting around it to balance the border out a little more.

Four

The purple foxgloves are truly in their stride now, of course they have almost completely taken over the white foxgloves that I had last year. In their defence they do very well at the shady end of the garden so I will let nature take the lead.

Five

The astrantias are now joining the summer party, this is a.major which self seeds prolifically here. I spread them around the garden but I am just getting to the point of maximum astrantia levels so the ruthless gardener will have to take over.

Six

Another self seeder is sisyrinchium striatum. I love its common name of pale yellow-eyed grass. These also came with me on the move. They took a few years to settle but now I have enough of them to begin to mix them in with digitalis lutea and the euphorbias.

So what needs doing this weekend? Roses to dead head, tomato side shoots to pinch out, nicotiana seedlings to plant out and of course the dahlias to free from the pots. I am also going to combine a collection of small herb pots into one large pot. With rain forecast for Sunday I will be busy today. Celebrating, gardening or reading SOS posts chez The Propagator, I hope you all have a good weekend.

Six On Saturday: Rain helps play

Suddenly the garden has burst into colour, no doubt helped by heavy rain that fell in the week. The roses are having a fabulous year and I can’t resist showing three more this week. Not doing so well is the box. So without further ado, over to the garden.

One

This is one of my favourite corners of the garden. A combination of thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’ and the rose ‘Jaqueline du Pré’. They just sit so comfortably together.

Two

I planted out the very back border a few weeks ago now. It’s a shady place until late afternoon so it will be interesting to see how everything settles in. More of that another week, but so far the luzula nivea has been captivating. The grass is quite coarse but the tufts of white flowers are magical. It gets my vote!

Three

Another rose to share. This one is ‘Wisley’. It will happily take some shade and flowers very well throughout summer.

Four

Time for the poor box. Buxus sempervirens (always vigorous) it is not. Box moth caterpillars have truly taken hold of it and it is time to take it out. The first picture was taken a few weeks ago and the second is its current sorry state. Quite shocking! The box sits under the very vigorous rhododendron, so finding a replacement will be interesting but I am currently thinking of a fatsia japonica.

Five

Another rose: The climbing ‘Blush Noisette’. This is about five years old and has successfully covered the wall. Deadheading it is a challenge and I am never quite ruthless enough in pruning it. But it doesn’t seem to care too much.

Six

Lastly some very pretty white aquilegias. These are also growing at the back of the garden in the shade. The sun arrives here some time around 4pm at the moment. They are looking so good now. They should then be followed by a white thalictrum – watch this space!

That’s the six for another week. Mr P’s pages will show you how to take part yourself or you can just wander through the SOS gardens and enjoy. Have a great gardening weekend.