Six On Saturday: Glass half full thinking

I’ve had a spell of not gardening: either it was too hot or I was busy elsewhere. The UK Bank Holiday weekend offered up cooler weather and some precious time. The garden was looking scruffy and I thought I’d give an honest six this week showing it’s disarray. But this morning’s walk round revealed a few positives and I have been persuaded to look on the bright side. Here they are, mixed in with a some reflections on the less successful aspects of the garden.

One

The roses continue to push out new growth and are the mainstay of colour in the garden at the moment. This is ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’. Nearby there should be a pop of helenium ‘Short and Sassy’. Not a sign of it, eaten by the slugs in it’s first year in the garden. That’s heleniums crossed off the grow list.

Two

Sorry to be repetitive but not being a fan of dahlias I don’t really grow them. However I do recognise their valuable contribution to late season colour and so I try one or two here and there. This year’s trial was the orange flowering ‘David Howard’. I was going to kill two birds with one stone here, beautiful chocolate leaves giving me a break from green and ochre orange flowers for contrast. The aforementioned slugs got in first and nibbled down the top growth. The dahlias fought back and the foliage is lush, but as yet not a sign of flowers. I wait patiently, maybe they will come.

Three

The back border was newly planted this year with a selection of grasses and three persicaria polymorpha. The white frothy flowers are exactly what I had in mind, but the stems do not seem to be able to support the flower heads and I regularly find snapped stems languishing in amongst the froth. This is most strange as the description suggests it is a ‘bulky feature plant making strong stems’. Next year perhaps?

Four

Before the back border was planted up I used it as a heeling in space for various self seeders from the main garden. In one of those serendipitous moments this astrantia ‘Roma’ combined well with periscaria, survived the drought and has won a permanent place in the back border where I hope it will self seed some more.

Five

I’m definitely focusing on the positives in this photo. The hydrangeas are a sad scorched affair this year but with the help of a few showers of rain they have shown their resilience. There’s new growth to be seen and one or two heads of new flowers have appeared.

Six

Apologies for sharing more tomato photographs. The San Marzano in the greenhouse have been amazing this year. I was extravagant and bought new seed, then planted the seedlings in a new bed on the other side of the greenhouse and focused my watering attention on them. We’ve been eating them for a few weeks and have also frozen a batch of cooked up passata.

Oh the joy of selective photographs, my scruffy gone-to-seed garden offers up some gems and I can put together a positive viewpoint. My mind is racing with plans to replant certain areas and I have been sowing seed of echinacea pallida and e. ‘White Swan’ in preparation. I have not ordered any spring bulbs and have no plans to. Those late offers may tempt me of course but for now I am reviewing what I have and looking at how to rework plants to better advantage. It all begins again, another year, another chance.

For more gardening thoughts take a look at The Propagator’s site, he’s not in this week as there is another mammoth run to be completed but as always the links to other SOS posts will appear over the weekend. Happy reflections on your gardening year. I will soon be collecting the juice from this year’s apple crop. That’s one for next week already in the bank.

Six On Saturday: Hope springs again

Dare I say it? It is the last weekend of August. September is in sight and a sense of the seasons changing is in the air. This weekend is set aside for apple picking and it seems that the plums are also ready to pick. There was a good long downpour last Thursday and all the water butts are full again. Here’s six from this week’s garden.

One

I’d left my ‘Jazzy’ new potatoes in the ground, digging them up as and when needed. After the heavy rain of Thursday morning I thought I’d better dig them all up for fear of leaving in them the soggy ground. A few forks in revealed that the surface was nicely damp but down below things were still pretty dry. I did dig them all up, collected a few windfalls and picked the outside San Maranzo tomatoes. These are so much smaller than those in the greenhouse, but appreciated nonetheless. The potato haul was 8kgs, which I am more than happy with.

Two

It’s a good crop of plums this year. Variety unknown. As is common, they are suspect to plum moth so the early ripening fruits often have those darling maggots. This means that each plum is cut in half and checked over before use or more usually before freezing. That’s another job for the weekend.

Three

One way or another I always seem to end up with a packet of sunflower seeds and for no reason at all I usually sow a handful. This year’s plants have grown to heady heights, loving the heat and somehow drawing on a secret supply of water. They are going to seed now and have been tracked down by the local parakeets who are managing to balance on the flower heads and are feeding excitedly on the seeds.

Four

I’m slightly more proud of sowing the seed of thalictrum delavyi. From my less than perfect notes it looks like the seed was sown in 2020. Two years on then and they look firmly established. It’s quite difficult to capture their delicate flowers with the trusty phone camera but this isn’t too bad.

Five

Dahlias. Not a fan, but somehow I always have a few in the garden. This one was grown from seed last year and the tuber left in the ground over winter. I prefer the simpler variety. It has perked up considerably after rainfall.

Six

This hart’s tongue fern was also a sad sight before the rain came. Now plumped up again and flourishing. The garden’s resilience is encouraging.

There’s more gardening celebrations to be found on The Propagator’s site. Yes, crispiness abounds but it’s always possible to find something to enjoy. Lift your spirits with a visit to the other SOS garden posts. Happy gardening.

Six On Saturday: There’s a hole in my water butt, dear Liza

Oh yes. There was rain and the water butts were full but the next day number one water butt was half empty. That’s about 75 litres of lost water. I was not a happy bunny. The remaining water was pumped down to the bottom of garden storage tank and a repair was made. Here’s hoping a bit of glue and some gorilla tape will seal the crack. It might be some time before I find out if it has worked. In the meantime, the garden has perked up a little. Here’s this week’s six.

One

The courgettes were absolutely loving the downpour and responded immediately with a bright sunny flower. I’ve been picking very regularly and so far have avoided the giant marrow stage.

Two

I had left the onions to dry off in the ground as it was so hot. Once the rain looked certain I harvested them and moved to the potting shed to finish drying. This great picture was taken by daughter on her phone. How did she do that? As usual some onions have barely doubled in size but on the whole I’m happy with this year’s haul.

Three

My old established hydrangeas have had a tough time of it and look very bedraggled. But a new purchase (Limelight) put in to replace the old box shrub was watered regularly and although it’s still a small plant it has put out some impressive flowers. I think this one will fill the space very well.

Four

This eurybia is at the shady end of the border and has survived this summer’s conditions well. Mr P, our host, will surely recognise a familiar likeness to those he has in his garden.

Five

The first of the Japanese anemones have opened up. This one is in the shady north facing border, the same corner where there is some mysterious source of underground water and so this too has also come through the summer unscathed. Further up this border the anemone leaves are crispy brown and in need of tidying up.

Six

The old greenhouse is officially on borrowed time. The decision to purchase a new one has been made. Gulp. Dismantling the greenhouse, removing old crumbling base, laying new base and then installing the new greenhouse are all tasks beyond my skill set. But I’m pulling together the threads of the project and hope to be on the way once the tomatoes have finished. In the meantime the French marigolds, planted to dissuade the white fly from taking up residence, are flowering their socks off.

The temperatures are back to normal, there’s still some rainfall to be made up but I am persuaded that it is worth tidying up the garden. There’s alchemilla mollis to cut back and those crispy leaves to remove. The plums are almost ripe and small though they are I think it won’t be long before the apples are picked. It’s time to return to the garden and prepare for the next season. Happy gardening to you all.

Six On Saturday: Keeping it going

I sat this morning enjoying a coffee, a breeze coming through the open windows and the sound of wood pigeons in the air. The garden was in shade. All the makings of a perfect August day. A few minutes later the sun had climbed over the trees and the heat began to build. It will be thirty five degrees at least here today, no rain yet but there are rumours of thunderstorms to come. Yes please. Here’s six for the week.

One

Although the birds and squirrels get to the ripe figs first, if I’m quick I can harvest a few of the smaller ones just before they ripen and in this way I’ve managed to secure a reasonable supply for us. They ripen quite quickly on a sunny window sill but I do look wistfully at those fat brown figs at the top of the tree.

Two

There’s work to be done in the garden. First, the clematis arch is keeling over, the clematis have already gone to seed which makes it look even more sad. I hope it can stay upright a little longer as I don’t have any plans to do work in the garden until the cooler temperatures arrive.

Three

Second, the greenhouse door came off its makeshift wire hinge a few weeks ago. Even with the no door and all the windows open and my collection of old sheets for shading it’s still around 39 degrees inside. It’s a very old greenhouse and I haven’t been able to locate the right new hinges so I’m thinking it may be time for a new one. Which might encourage me to spruce up this whole area. Watch this space.

Four

My collection of hollyhocks are a third of their usual height this year. This is good news: no staking is required. They also seem to be rust free. There’s a couple of positives to enjoy.

Five

The roses are valiantly putting out new flowers, smaller than the first flush but much appreciated. This is ‘Scepter’d Isle’

Six

I am really being tough with the watering. That’s what being on a water meter does! So it’s watering cans only and only those plants that are wilting are watered. The annuals have been left to their own devices but these nicotiana are in the vicinity of a newly planted hydrangea which is being looked after. They are reaping the rewards and so am I.

Mr P has all the links to the SOS meme as usual. Since it is too hot for active gardening some gentle reading may be the order of the day. Enjoy the blue skies.

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.