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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Six on Saturday: Happy Birthday garden

It was five years ago give or take a week that I took possession of this garden. I inherited some wonderful soft fruits, apple, plum and fig trees, hydrangeas, sage and rosemary but the borders had been used for vegetable growing and the weeds were getting hold of everything. It’s time to look back and enjoy the new look. One thing remains the same – a large rhododendron that was probably here when the house was build about 110 years ago.

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The rhodendron is probably a ponticum as suggested by Tony Tomeo and Jim of Garden Ruminations, both regular and longstanding SOSers. I have to give this a show, out of respect to its longevity. It was a good two weeks later in flowering this year, this was taken in the first week of June.

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The long border. This is the main border of the garden. It was a blank canvas to start with and I was able to grow some vegetables at the bottom end while I set to clearing the top end of weeds over the first summer. It was then planted up with euphorbia characias subsp wulfenii and bare root roses ‘Wisley’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ that winter. Much has been added over the last four years and now it is a riot of cottage garden exuberance.

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The thin border, to the left of the second slide, only about half a metre wide but backed by an old wall. It had to be clothed in climbing roses, ‘Blush Noisette’ was the choice with other shrub roses, including ‘Scepter’d Isle’ added along its length. Yellow and white tulips and ‘Thalia’ daffodils hold court in spring, followed by alliums. Delphiniums, astrantias, alchemilla mollis and this year I’ve added lychnis coronaria to the summer display. The path was a cracked and unsafe layer of concrete and in summer 2017 it was overlaid with some grey riven sandstone slabs,. How lovely it felt to have solid ground underfoot.

Four

The hedge border – so called because a hedge of eleagnus, bay and viburnum that separate the garden from the soft fruits. The first job was to increase the width so that plants could be added in front of the hedge. A border of two halves. There are roses, of course, Darcy Bussell at one end and Jaqueline du Pre at the other. Filled out with thalictrum, perscaria and geraniums – ‘Kashmir White’ and the ever-forgiving ‘Wargrave Pink’. A new arch has been added at one end and the planting around the base is being reconfigured.

Five

One of the last corners to be developed was the north facing area. Originally home to a second swathe of blackcurrant bushes on the garden side of the hedge boundary, after a summer of glut I decided I could clear this and plant up another border. All the bushes went to a good home and I followed a scheme suggested by Joe Swift in a Gardeners’ World magazine. It was planted out in 2018 and is gradually bulking up. My absolute favourite are the grasses along the back – melica altisssima ‘Alba’. There is evergreen structure in the form of pittosporum ‘tobira’ nanum, late summer brings in the japanese anemone ‘Honorine Joubert’ and I’ve added in snowdrops and astrantia.

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The top corner of the raised side of the garden. A work in progress even today. I spent many a day digging out ground elder, taking away several ferns, probably dryopteris filix-mas – thanks again Jim – and relocating the hydrangea. A stand of beautiful magenta phlox were allowed to stay. Tulips Ronaldo, Spring Green and Negrita take centre stage in spring. Totally Tangerine, geranium psilostum and kniphofia take over in summer. I think there is room for a good salvia here, perhaps ‘Mainacht’.

More to do, more to plant but good celebrate progress so far. This weekend those roses need deadheading and the tomatoes need tying in. Happy Gardening to all, and especially to The Propagator who leads us all down the merry SOS path!

Six On Saturday: Sun and rain

Definitely a week of two halves. Glorious sun, soaring temperatures followed by torrential rain and tumbling temperatures. The magic water was much needed though and I managed to give the apples trees a dressing of bonemeal which is now well watered in. The zinnias are all planted and the last of the tomatoes are out. My bête-noire, the fox, snapped a beautiful cucumber plant but luckily I had a spare. Here’s this week’s six, mostly taken when the sun was shining.

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The garden was filled with the scent of roses on those sunny days. Here is Darcy Bussell. I usually have a row of salvia ‘Amistad’ running behind these which looks glorious late in the year. The salvias have not survived the winter so I set about a re-think. I was dissuaded from my first choice of verbascums after a conversation with The Quilting Gardener – who warned of mullein moth caterpillar attack and of course slugs. I’ve decided to leave the space free this year and give the roses room to roam.

Two

The euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii seed heads were popping on Monday so it was time to pull on the protective clothing and cut back the flowering stems. Here the sisyrinchium striatum works well against the background of the euphorbia. There’s a cheeky photo-bomb from geranium ‘Brookside’.

Three

The delphiniums are towering high this year, and only just about surviving the heavy rainfall. I collected seeds from these dark purple ones last year and now have new plants that will add more colour to the garden for next year.

Four

This tiny plant lives at the front of a banked up part of the garden so even though is small it is high enough to be enjoyed. It’s ‘Ballerina’, a dwarf geranium with beautiful veining.

Five

A combination of self-seeded knautia ‘Macedonica’ against a wall of climbing ‘Blush Noisette’ roses. A happy chance.

Six

Oh dear me. Not everything is glowing. The cutting patch which was topped up with home compost has just revealed what was in hiding: thousands of baby verbena bonariensis seedlings. I do not need more of these so they will be ruthlessly culled. I will use some more of the dahlias and asters grown from seed to fill the space.

Don’t forget to visit The Propagator’s site for all the SOS posts. More rain forecast here for the beginning of the week but then perhaps we will be into a settled patch again. I will just enjoy the thought that all that water must be good for the potatoes!

Six On Saturday: Spoilt for choice

The garden is in its stride. Roses unfurling in every corner and perennials jostling each other to claim their spaces. Aphids and ladybirds are fighting it out, the bees thrum busily in the borders and birdsong fills the air. It must be summer. Here is six from this week’s garden.

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The foreground is taken up by persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’. It spreads, so far quite reasonably but it’s one to watch. Behind is Rosa ‘Jaqueline du Pré and behind that the thalictrum ‘Black Stocking’ from last week, all combining to fill a shadier area.

Two

On a sunnier fence the rambling rose ‘Wedding Day’ is opening up. The first buds are yellow turning briefly to apricot before settling into white. Only flowering once, it’s important to enjoy every moment.

Three

The final rose for this week is ‘Wisley’, chosen because it tolerates some shade. Here it is probably in the shade for about the half the day. It does well, the colour stays true and does not fade away as it might in areas of stronger sunshine.

Four

On to more prosaic elements of the garden. The potatoes in a container are romping away in terms of foliage. I hope this translates to a good crop. They look better than those in the ground, they are certainly receiving more watering.

Five

Aah, sad times now. Earlier in the year I thought the Japanese anemones had caught the frost. But now I think it may be more serious. Some searching suggests crown rot. The leaves are crinkling up at the edges and new shoots are wilting away. I have cut out all the damaged foliage but it seems to be spreading through the plant. Looks like I will have to say goodbye to this one and sadly to the one next to it. Any advice gratefully received.

Six

Apples are forming and falling as the June drop takes effect. All the apples from the garden are made into apple juice. This year our supply of juice has already run out and we are buying from the supermarket. Even though we are choosing English apple juice the taste is nowhere near as good. Roll on harvest time when we can go back to raising a glass of the home grown again.

We are heading for a heatwave on Sunday and Monday. The weekend will involve watering, especially the greenhouse tomatoes. The coriander looks ready to bolt, but mint and basil look sturdy. I still have annuals to plant out, but it feels like the garden is moving into a stable period when deadheading and watering are the most important jobs. But most important of all is taking some time to sit and enjoy it all. Keep cool and enjoy your weekend and perhaps take a moment to chat with other SOSers on The Propagator’s site.😎

Six On Saturday: Zoom, zoom, zoom

Five days of sunshine and a day of continuous rain does wonders for the garden. We are now in overdrive. Geraniums, astrantias, hollyhocks and roses are all jostling for space. There is a distinctly lush feel to the borders and the bees are humming. Here’s six from the garden this week.

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The Siberian irises are in their stride now, they are so comfortable in the wet border that I need to divide them every few years. I am going to try them out in some other locations when the time comes for next division.

Two

The alliums ‘Mount Everest’ that were battered by strong winds a few weeks ago are open now and the bees are feasting daily. I am going to forgive the occasional disappearance of newly planted bulbs and will add a few more in for next year.

Three

Thalictrum ‘Black Stocking’ is eternally rewarding, copes well with half sun/half shade and is thoroughly recommended.

Four

A new rose for this year. ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ has turned out to be just the red I wanted to climb over this arch. I may have found a new favourite rose.

Five

Cistus × purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’ bought as an established plant in 2017 has put on a huge amount of growth this year and is taking over this corner of a small border. I was clearly too soft on it during last year’s prune. Note to self: be tough this year.

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Rosa ‘Natasha Richardson’ fights back against the cistus. A regular flowerer all summer so everything necessary will be done to give this rose its full entitlement to a good space.

It has been a good start to June, but I am, of course, a little behind with the garden. Last week’s long weekend was happily spent with family so this weekend is catch up time. Pellies to pot up in their summer containers, zinnias to sort out and the last of the tomatoes to send on to good homes or squeeze into a space in the allotment. Courgettes and cucumbers are in the ground, French beans are climbing but carrots have gone awol, a second sowing has been made but that’s it. If it’s a no show then something else can have the space.

I hope to have more time for SOS reading this week. The Propagator has an ever growing bunch of gardening friends who join this weekly gathering and it’s a shame to miss out on their exploits.

Six On Saturday: Free gifts

Finally it is happening. The garden is creeping into colour. The weather has had an interesting effect. Some tall plants are not as tall as they might be, others are racing away. Some plants grown from seed are sulking in the cold and yet seedlings in the garden are popping up everywhere. I remember receiving a gentle warning via Twitter that astrantia major would run riot and this year it has. Seedlings in every corner. Yet parsnip seedlings that I swear I saw two weeks ago have disappeared. Eaten by slugs I wonder? Geranium phaeum has done very well this year and I will have plenty to relocate to other corners. But on to the free gifts and colourful arrivals.

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Warmed by a few days sunshine, the roses are beginning to unfold. This is r. ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ and was planted out in the winter of 2018. It is full of bud and I can’t wait to see it in its full glory in the coming weeks.

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Several weeks after many SOSers were showing the geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ mine have finally flowered. I acknowledge they are in cooler part of the garden, which unusually still has a few tulips just about in flower.

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Free gifts is the theme for today and this aquilegia ‘Lemon Sorbet’ came from a free packet of seeds. Being a double it’s not pollinator friendly but there are plenty of self seeded single aquilegias in the garden.

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A few weeks back I was asking the twitter community what my coarse geranium look-alike plant might be. It arrived from nowhere and quickly took hold. A wild geranium was the speedy reply. I left in it place and have been rewarded by a wonderful spread of flowers. One day it will be moved to a wilder part of the garden.

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Definitely pretty in pink is this bloody cranesbill, geranium sanguineum var. striatum. A low growing perennial for the front of the border with delicate darker veining.

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This is the area set aside for a cutting patch. I have planted out dahlia cacti mix and have some china asters – free gift seed packet – to go in this weekend. I have direct sown calendula ‘Indian Prince’ and malope trifida ‘Vulcan’, also a free seed packet. Unfortunately the seedlings hell bent on growing are those from a packet of radish seeds that I knocked over and the thousands of seedlings that didn’t get killed in the less than hot compost heap. I spread a good thick layer of said compost over this bed for the winter and this week the seeds have surged into growth. I doubt they will be anything to be welcomed.

I have a few trays of seedlings doing the in/out routine this week but the root develop has been quite slow. Hopefully this spell of warm weather will move things along. The sad looking tomatoes in the greenhouse have picked up and those set aside for the outside will go in this weekend. The kitchen grown cucumber is in the greenhouse, the courgettes might go out this week depending on root growth, the chilli peppers have finally moved from the kitchen to the greenhouse and the bell peppers are in a grow bag. Enjoy the long weekend in the UK and much kudos to The Propagator, host of SOS. He completed his 100K run last weekend, a fund raiser for Macmillan Cancer and now intends to garden all weekend! Happy gardening to everyone.

Six on Saturday: Some like it wet

But not me. I’ve tried to maintain a sense of optimism for May but it is failing. Only one week to go and the weather is still unseasonably cold, wet and windy. I have barely been in the garden lately, fortunately last weekend I staked the majority of plants that need support. This week was a week for watching the garden through the rain and wind and hoping I had done a good enough job.

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The hosta ‘Francee’ is unfurling beautifully. This one seems to survive slug attacks quite successfully. It’s in a pot on a raised bed away from any lush foliage that might be harbouring the little vandals.

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I am amazed that the heat loving aganpanthus has opened out a first flower, fully a month earlier than expected. It’s small but it’s a promise of things to come.

Three

Safely wrapped up in the warm the one cucumber that I kept on the kitchen windowsill is putting out tendrils. Night time temperatures in the greenhouse are still only around seven degrees but I think the time is coming for the cucumber to be moved.

Four

Last weekend the lemon tree came out of the greenhouse to make way for the tomatoes. Poor thing. What a shock it must have been. Cold winds, rain and then blustery gales. Amazingly there are three lemons that are nearly ripe. I wonder, if after a long time on the tree, they will be edible.

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The scented leaf pellies and the dahlias had a few days outside this week but went back inside as the high winds arrived. The pellies did not have a good winter but they have had a cut back and are sending out new growth and one or two flower buds were spotted. A trailing geranium looks quite good too. Strange to think that normally I would be thinking about moving these outside for the summer soon. Let’s hope they can have a few more days outside to become acclimatised.

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I was certain my allium ‘Mount Everest’ would succumb to the high winds but they held their ground and stood tall. Well done!

A quick note on the tomatoes. My first sown seeds for the greenhouse looked pretty feeble so only half the San Marzano went to the greenhouse. My second sowing of the free seed ‘Red Choice’, intended for outside planting, looked so much stronger so they have been promoted to the greenhouse. The second half of the ‘San Marzano’ and the ‘Tigerellas’ have been potted on again and will stay in the potting shed until things warm up a little more outside. I don’t know if these changes will make any difference to the plants but I felt better for doing it!

I’m not one of those who enjoyed this week’s weather but in general the garden is greening up well, spaces are being filled and flowers buds are waiting to burst open. Six on Saturday, as hosted by The Propagator, will be buzzing with excitement so if your garden is suffering from soggy patches drop by and be cheered up.

Six On Saturday: Wildlife, don’t you just love it?

I do love the pair of goldfinches that come regularly to the bird feeder now, and the nuthatches that remind me of Robin, the boy wonder. But don’t get me started on the squirrels who run along the top of the garden wall and perch there so cutely whilst eating the rosebuds. But worst of all is the fox. A regular visitor to the garden who feels so at home that when, last week, our paths crossed he merely looked briefly in my direction, seemed to nod politely and strolled on. Clearly he was soon back again for a night out in the garden, not managing to find the gents loos and so pooing randomly in several spots and then using the back newly planted flower bed as the dance floor. The hydrangea ‘Limelight’, so carefully nurtured from a dead looking stick in March to a lush and verdant shrub in May was decimated. Bah! Humbug! I say. Extra security has been put in place.

One

The poor ‘Limelight’ is now fenced in until it gets a little sturdier, perhaps the fox will find a new route home. I am on the verge of ordering a generous helping of Scoot which may or may not deter the fox. I fear the route through the garden is a favourite one as he is regularly spotted strolling through the veg patch and nimbly jumping the fence.

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Once I had recovered from that outrage I discovered a further disappointment. The ‘Mount Everest’ alliums are looking very shabby. This happens every year but this clump looks very sad and without any sign of a flower spike. Luckily others in the border have sent up stems otherwise it really would have been a bad week.

Three

On to happier sights, the geranium phaeum is romping away. Now happily seeding itself, perhaps to such an extent that I may need to do some thinning. But for now I’m enjoying the deep purple flowers.

Four

Even after four years in this house I am still a little neglectful of the front garden but glancing out of the window one morning I thought this sweet woodruff and bluebell combination looked particularly fine. These are on the dry shady side of the front garden where only the strong survive.

Five

Next door to the sweet woodruff I am trying out geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’. Planted out in 2020 and so far so good. Billed as spreading to half a metre – one metre I shall be very happy if it achieves that.

Six

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ is just opening out. The die back on these leaves is less noticeable as the foliage of other plants disguises it. Gradually the garden moves on towards summer.

In other news, the San Marzano tomato plants look as though they have caught cold, they may not survive. The courgettes and extra cucumbers have germinated, and the carrots are a no show so far but I think I have spotted one or two parsnip seedlings. I have spotted flower buds on the Totally Tangerine, whilst the Prop’s (our delightful host for SOS) continues to shine brightly. All other SOS posts can be found on the Prop’s site, stop by and enjoy the ever more colourful gardens on show.

Six On Saturday: I’ve got sunshine on a rainy day

Forgive the slight tweak of The Temptation’s lyric but it is definitely raining here. Fortunately I managed to get some gardening done yesterday, moving round one small corner border that had been niggling me for a while, sowing the second row of parsnips and radishes and direct sowing some seeds for the cut flower patch. I’m hoping to ride the wave of this weekend’s rain followed by warmth. The sunshine in this six comes from earlier in the week.

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Sunny, bright and bold. These were not my choice of tulip combination, they came free with a bulb order. I can’t say I even wanted to plant them but I used them to line a short path to the veg plot and they haven’t done too badly.

Two

Much more in line with my preferred tulip is ‘Angelique’ a double which can sometimes be a little OTT but hiding in amongst the thalictrum it is just right.

Three

Last of the tulips for this week is one of my favourites. ‘Spring Green’. I have it planted with ‘Angelique’, with ‘World Friendship’ and in a trio with ‘Ronaldo’ and ‘Negrita’ Here the petals are just catching the light as the sun moves round the garden.

Four

Back into the sunshine. The camassias that were planted into very wet ground last autumn have pulled through. These are camassia leichtlinii caerulea, they should reach a metre high. I’d say they are a little off that at the moment!

Five

My one container of potatoes has come into leaf and so it is time for the first top up of compost. These were planted a few weeks after those that went in the ground but they have come through at the same time. Those in the ground may have been planted deeper.

Six

The onion sets started in modules went into the ground this week and are I’m sure they will be enjoying the steady stream of magic water that is forecast for this morning.

The water butts are almost full, the earth looks well soaked and warmer weather is on its way. The slow start to the growing season seems to be ending and summer lushness is on its way. Yes, we finally have the month of May.

Don’t forget to tune in to The Propagator’s page for more SOS posts from around the world. Happy Gardening.