Six On Saturday: buckets and spades

Having just returned from the perfect UK beach holiday: a week of beautiful weather with a sturdy on shore breeze off the North Sea to keep things comfortable, it was something of a shock to find the garden in total chaos. Despite a good round of dead heading before departure the roses were jaded and a heavy downpour of rain had brought down apples and persimmons. Picking the plums before we left was a job that didn’t get done and a week of sunshine seemed to have pushed them over the edge. There was not a plum left on the tree. On the veg patch there was of course the marker of the season – an overgrown courgette and the cucumbers had excelled themselves. I will need the garden bucket to collect all the windfalls and the spade will be put to use as I hope to make a start on a revamp of the borders. Here’s six this week from a challenging garden.

One

The most joyful sight was the Japanese anemones growing in the North facing border. They have performed superbly this year. They are, of course, ‘Honorine Jobert’. I was curious to see if I could establish who Honorine Jobert was but drew a blank. French no doubt as the flower was discovered in Verdun in 1858. Many thanks to whoever discovered her.

Two

Having finally understood that the lovely ‘Terracotta’ achillea doesn’t maintain its colour through the season but always fades to a mustardy yellow I invested in ‘Walther Funcke’. A variety with a hint of red among the orange, this one fades to a creamy yellow which I am hoping will look a little softer. And no, I couldn’t find out who Walther was either.

Three

Before I left for the week I sowed some green manure seeds on a empty veg patch. These clearly enjoyed the conditions and have come along well. I’ll leave them be for a couple of months and then dig them in as winter sets in. In the meantime they’ll keep the weeds down.

Four

On the return journey from the Suffolk coast a stop was made at the Beth Chatto Garden to buy one or two plants for the borders. I had decided to grow actaea ‘Brunette’ behind the roses for next year and so made my purchase. On returning to the garden I found the ‘Darcey Bussell’ roses virtually leafless due to blackspot. Previously I have grown this rose with salvia ‘Amistad’. The gardener Sarah Raven advocates rose and salvia combinations as protection against blackspot and I think she may have a point. Last winter the salvias failed and the roses have battled on without their support. It could be this year’s weather that has encouraged the disease or it could be the lack of salvias. I’ll give the actaea a go but I may be returning to the salvias soon.

Five

I didn’t sow the usual trays of cosmos this year but was lucky to have enough self seeders to sprinkle around the garden. They’ve done better than anything I’ve ever sown so I’m hoping they will self seed again. It saves all that potting on! This is ‘Dazzler’. Sadly the sage is in better focus!

Six

The final six for this week is a sneaky return to my daily view from last week, marram grass helping to stabilise the sand dunes, with sunshine.

This weekend I will be trying to re-establish some sense that this is a cared for garden and will stop by the links posted by other SOSers, hosted as always by the indomitable Propagator. He’s running again!

Six On Saturday: Harvesting fruit and flowers

While it has not been a glorious year on my veg patch, we are enjoying some homegrown produce. Sadly the potatoes are all eaten and I need to consider growing more next year. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are ripening at a steady pace now, courgettes and cucumbers keep coming and the rather erratic strawberries seem to have finally found their fruiting time, clearly they are late risers. The figs are huge and too many for us to eat fresh, so I should be making jam, but I think the squirrels may get in first. I’ll gloss over the failures and enjoy the successes. This is the time of year for basil and tomato combinations: tarts, sauces and salads which are wonderful. But I should mention the excessive amount of whitefly in the greenhouse this year and give a nod to encarsia wasp cards as a bio control. I was late getting these going but they are in place and hopefully doing a grand job. Roses continue to do the heavy lifting for late summer here, ably supported by zinnias and a sprinkle of dahlias. Here’s my chosen six for this week.

One

Although I have sworn not to grow dahlias again, I confess that I am enjoying the cacti mix dahlias grown from seed for a cutting patch and so far, untouched by the slugs.

Two

I present this as a success but of course that’s only half the story, I should I say one twentieth of the story. Twenty tiny seeds of nicotiana ‘Whisper’ sown, three germinated and grown on, only one so far flowering in the garden. But it’s pretty!

Three

The autumn fruiting raspberries are just beginning to fruit. It doesn’t feel like as bountiful a crop as last year but they taste good.

Four

These are, I think, cox’s pippin apples. These don’t seem to have been affected by brown rot – long may that last. In a few weeks all the apples will be picked and taken off to be juiced. Last year’s juice ran out a little while ago and we are back buying supermarket juice which is so sweet in comparison.

Five

The scented leaf pellies were slow out of the blocks this year and this one ‘Pink Capitatum’ is only just putting on a good show. I grow them in pots, overwintered in the greenhouse. This year I took a few cuttings of this variety and they have really grown on well and are also in flower now. I use the pellies instead of buying in summer bedding for pots.

Six

My long struggle with the grapevine continues. I am always behind with the pruning and this year I discovered that I should be pruning back the long lengths from May onwards. I am usually thinking about doing this around July time, when they start to descend towards the ground. This year is the first year that some of the grapes look as though they might amount to something which given the amount of rain we have had this summer might suggest that I have underwatered in previous years. A crime I will readily confess to. The vine’s main duty is to provide some shade over the pergola so in truth I don’t worry about the grapes too much.

Forthcoming projects are bubbling away, some tweaking in the long border and the plan for the back border is coming together. There is always that moment when the grand scheme in the mind hits the reality of the limited space there actually is and everything gets scaled down. My plan is to buy the plants in the next couple of weeks so all will be revealed soon! More revelations will be found, as usual, on The Propagator’s site where he hosts the links to the SOS meme. I have plenty of reading to catch up with due to a spate of of dashing around with the family, which can’t be bad in the circumstances. For those in the UK, enjoy the long weekend!

Six On Saturday: A happy garden

Contrary to the forlorn look of the garden this morning I am sure it is much happier. Some plants are weighed down by the rain that finally arrived. Verbena, cosmos and guara drop their heads but deep down their roots are sucking up some much needed moisture. Yes the rain came. Overnight thunderstorms on Thursday and then on and off showers since. My six for the week were snapped before the rain.

One

My favourite combination in the garden at the moment.  Echinacea ‘White Swan’ and pennisetum villosum.  The beautiful fluffy heads of the pennisetum are one of today’s droopers but I’m sure they’ll pick up.

Two

Day lilies.  These are in half sun, half shade so I may get another week of display from them.  They are ‘Golden Chimes’.  Planted in 2017 and I divided them last year, spreading their cheerfulness around the garden.

Three

I have a running-riot clump of Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ in the garden which was also divided last year.  I planted a few small pieces in some semi-shade hoping the growth would be slower.  They have taken to the new spot with as much enthusiasm as the original planting.  I can see I will have to be ruthless.

Four

One of my inherited plants is a group of white phlox.  I’d left my well established clumps behind when we moved house so I was very happy to see these come through in the first summer here.  These are in the shade of an apple tree and are one of the plants that I have faithfully watered, at the first sign of wilting, in the dry spell.

Five

These are my everyday agapanthus.  For unknown reasons this clump has flowered very well this year while about 4 feet away there languishes a clump of agapanthus foliage with not a sniff of a flower.  That clump will be dug up and divided, fed and given one more chance.

Six

There is one thing in the garden that does seem to have enjoyed the high temperatures.  The figs have ripened and the first to be picked were greedily eaten.  I just stopped  myself in time and took a photo of this one.  The best are high in the tree and as usual the birds get to those first.

The cooler temperatures will persuade me out into the garden again.  Even the early morning deadheading proved too onerous in the heat.  Now rain battered rose petals decorate the garden so there is extra snipping to be done.  Enjoy your gardening time  and for a break, stop by at The Prop’s place to see what goes on in the SOS world.

Six On Saturday: Hot stuff

All I can think about is the heat. I have been wondering what plants cope with this new British climate. Hot dry summers and wet winters. Answers on a postcard, please. This is the fifth summer in this garden and it is time for an edit. When is it not time for an edit? Recent carnage has included the decimation of the gooseberry bushes. Eleven taken out and now eight remain. Excuse me if the maths is wrong :). This makes room for some redcurrants and I shall sneak a bit off the end to extend one of the borders. That’s a trailer for a six to come. For the moment here’s this week’s six.

One

Zinnias.  Last year they seemed to come through late.  This year they are bang on time.  They are fast becoming my favourite annual to sow.  I lost a couple to the voracious slugs but those that made it through are putting on a good display.  These are the Sarah Raven ‘Deep Zinnia’ collection.

Two

Kniphofia.  Or Red hot pokers if you prefer.  I never thought I would grow these but I have been won over.  I picked up a bag full of divisions at last year’s visit to Ulting Wick garden in Essex.  They cost £5, money well spent.  Sorry, I don’t know the variety.  They have just started flowering but I read that once settled in they can flower from March to November.  If they achieve that I will be very happy.

Three

Agastache ‘Blackadder’.  Much loved by the bees.  I am trying these again.  The previous plants did not overwinter.  The RHS classes them as Fully Hardy (borderline) so I have my fingers crossed.

Four

I am also giving achilleas a go this year.  This one is already a disappointment!  I bought it as ‘Terracotta’.  Descriptions variously suggested soft orange, browny orange and of course terracotta flowers.  But not yellow.  I have since tracked down one description which suggest flowers may age to yellow.  This plant seems to have skipped the soft orange stage.  Unless it changes its ways this is probably not a keeper.

Five

I almost missed showing the large flower head of the evergreen agapanthus.  They are just beginning to go over here.  They are a marker of high summer in this garden.

Six

The front garden hydrangea is going through its annual identity crisis.  What colour will it be this year.  I prefer this bluish colour but other flowers are pink, purple and faded variations in between.

Jobs to do include cutting some of the lavenders back.  One clump has definitely finished flowering.  There is watering to be done and the cosmos need dead heading.  The roses are in full flow again so more dead heading.  I think I can manage that in the heat but the best part is walking round the garden in the evening and taking in the scents.  Lovely.

I hope all is lovely in your garden.  To catch up with the news from other SOSers please stop by  The Prop’s garden update, where all the links are posted.

Six On Saturday: Pinky, greeny, white flowers

Around time of year I’m usually on my way to Suffolk with a stop off at the Beth Chatto gardens. The gardens are open now but the trip to Suffolk is off. Which is a shame because a week on the Suffolk coast next week might be a blessed relief. Temperatures here are forecast to make 30 degrees. At least the garden has had a very good soak and the water butts are almost replenished. Here’s this week’s six.

One

I’m opening with this is mallow, or malva moschata.  I didn’t realise just how pretty it was until I took the close up.  Beautiful and it is a regular self seeder that fills a corner of the garden quite happily doing its thing with very little attention.

Two

The hydrangeas which were gasping for a drop of the good stuff are very happy now.  This one is hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blushing Bride’.  Being one of the Endless Summer ranges apparently it can flower on new and old wood. Something I did not know before today.  

Three

The lilies that are in a pot by one of the pergola legs opened up last weekend. Just in time to provide some scented evening distractions.

Four

From Cornwall to France the Yuccas have been flowering and here I offer a flowering cordyline.  Which by coincidence came all the way from Cornwall some twenty years ago.   It has lived in a pot for all those years, with a belated move to a larger pot about three years ago.  It has never flowered before and I don’t know if it will again but here it is for now. 

Five

This clear white geranium is sanguineum ‘Album’ used in the northern corner of the garden and is finally in flower.  

Six

And just around the corner is this inherited geranium.  White with beautiful pink veining. It was quite a large clump so I divided it up and dotted it around the garden on the shadier side and it has done well in all locations.  I wonder if it could be ‘Kashmiri White’.  

I’m going to be making the most of this cool weekend to get some gardening jobs done.  The last stragglers of the annuals to be planted out.  There are tomatoes to be looked over – those side shoots are sprouting fast and the second sowing of french beans to be put in the ground.  Enjoy your gardening jobs and look in at  The Prop’s Place for his six  (I have fallen for sidalcea ‘Rosaly’) and all the links to other good gardening blogs.

Six On Saturday: Roses

The ‘moderate’ breezes of the last few days have scattered rose petals across the garden. There is dead heading to be done and a little extra support to be put in here and there but the fragrance of a good scented rose more than makes up for that. This week is all about the roses in my garden.

One

I am fortunate to have a walled boundary for about half the length of the narrow border and two ‘Blush Noisette’ climbing roses are beginning to cover a good part of it.  The flowers come in clusters and it is not my favourite to dead head.  The pink flowers fade away to a vintage white but there are always new clusters coming through.  

Two

The long border is in shade for parts of the day and so I chose ‘Wisley’ for it’s ability to survive on four to five hours of sun a day.  It is really in its stride this year.   When the growing notes say ‘elegantly arching stems’ be prepared to put supports in place.  It was one of the first roses to be planted about four years ago and is comfortable at its expected height of four to five foot. 

Three

The ‘Wisley’ roses flank either side of two ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ roses.  The middle of the long border has a sunnier aspect and the punchy pink of Gertie is a great centre point.  Gertie also smells divine.  It grows to a more compact shape than ‘Wisley’ coming in at a height of three foot.  I love it with the lime green of the euphorbias and the white alliums. 

Four

Down along the hedge border I planted three ‘Darcy Bussell’.  This is a truly sumpious red and also beautifully scented.  These roses are strong enough in colour to shine through the morning shade.  Later in the year salvia ‘Amistad’ will provide a dark purple backdrop.  

Five

Just a little along from Darcy grows ‘Jacqueline du Pré’.  I’m pushing my luck a bit here as the planting guidance recommends full sun and this end of the border is in shade until early afternoon.  Last year I was beginning to take pity on Jaqueline and was considering trying to move her but this year she has flowered well.

Six

 

Going back to the narrow border the centre space has been given to ‘Scepter’d Isle’. I do enjoy the shape of the flowers on this rose.  This is another rose that I use supports for, mainly to keep it from spilling out onto the path.  It does have good strong stems and is now at around four foot high.  

These roses were the among the first plants to be added to the garden in the winter of 2016. They’ve come along way and I’m so pleased to be enjoying them now.  Challenging times ahead for us gardeners though – drying winds, more sunshine and no rain forecast for my part of the country.  I’ve got to keep on my toes to keep the roses happy.  

Mr P has a colourful six this week and if that is not enough there will be plenty more gardens to take a tour round if you take a browse among the links.  Happy gardening. 

Six On Saturday: In the sweet shop

I seem to remember being a little excited over recent weeks, contrary to national sentiments at this time. This week I’m in the sweet shop anticipating a sugar overload whilst of course maintaining social distancing. The garden is throwing out new delights at every turn and some of the sulkier seeds have come through. I will definitely have enough courgettes – how could I have doubted that? The Eschscholzia have germinated and even though I am on the third hopeful sowing of parsnips I am optimistic. Here’s my six for the week.

One

I love it when the Siberian irises open up.  The combination of purple and green is just perfect. I divided these last year and spread the joy to friends.  They came to me from a division and it is only right that tradition continues.

Two

The first clematis flower arrived.  I have no idea which one it is, it came with the garden and this year I am very thankful for it.  I was a little tardy in cutting the clematis back so the bottom half is a bare but fortunately hidden by geraniums.  Must do better.

Three

Going back to reluctant seeds, two years ago I sowed an entire packet of euphorbia oblongata.  Four germinated, three survived and last year I squeezed them into small space in the border.  They looked pretty feeble and I did not expect them to survive a winter.  Well they did.  It was a lovely surprise to see them even though they are in the ‘wrong place’ in terms of the border layout. Perhaps they are in the right place for them.

Four

Dazzling away in partial shade is thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’, one of the Prop’s recommendations.  Good sir, I thank you for mentioning it.  This is its second year and it has definitely got its feet in the right place. 

Five

The just about to unfurl, perfectly curled, rose bud of r. Jacqueline du Pré.  When open the rose reveals beautiful golden stamens.

Six

Oh how I wish I could share the scent of this rose with you.  It is  ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’.  I also wish I could capture the rich shade of pink that this rose truly is but you will have to make a mental adjustment to compensate. I confess that I often walk down the garden just to inhale its fragrance.  Bliss. 

I hope you are finding bliss and a kaleidoscope of delights in your gardens this week.  It was a cold one with the early part of the week best forgotten.  Here’s hoping we are on the up from now on.  Mr P will have all the links to the SOSs of the week and of course his own inimitable gardening highlights.  If you have a moment stop by. 

Six On Saturday: Slow plants, rampant plants and the steady ones

This week was a game of two halves. A cold beginning and now a heatwave. I hope this will persuade a few more tomatoes to ripen. The courgettes keep springing surprises on me in the form of marrows and the french beans carry on being well behaved. The flower garden has seen a few rearrangements with more to come. The first of the six for this week is a welcome discovery.

One

A tiny spire of lirirope muscari ‘Big Blue’. Not quite living up to it’s name yet.  It has been three years in  development.  Billed as a perennial forming dense clumps it has just managed a clump of 10cms.  I think I have shocked it into doing something as a few weeks back I threw out two other sister plants on the grounds that they had done nothing at all.  Somehow I overlooked this one or perhaps it looked the stronger.  I’ll be watching it closely now.

 

Two

Also gaining a stay of execution is this unknown red rose.  It was here in the garden when we arrived and I have planted around it but always thinking that one day it would be moved or given up.  Every year it persuades me that it deserves to stay and it has twisted me round its little finger again.

Three

These were in the garden last weekend and have definitely gone now.  But they will be making a comeback as apple juice.  The apple trees all had a professional prune this year and look better for it.  The apples on the oldest tree were smaller but seemed to be just as plentiful.  I have 51 bottles of juice to collect.

Four

The passion flower (passiflora caerulea) has an incredible structure, fascinating to look at but it’s becoming too rampant.  I plan to completely remove it from the arch it grows over and see if it can be dug out completely.  I keep finding seedlings of it around the garden so I think I may be on the losing side.

Five

This blue scabious seems to have only just got into it’s stride, it was moved to a new location at the end of last summer so perhaps it took a while to really settle down.  Great things are expected next year though.

Six

Time for an experiment. I have sown some green manure seeds for the first time.  The onions came out and the seeds went in.  I have to remember to dig the growth over in 40 – 90 days.  I hope it does what it says on the packet.

That’s my six for the week.  To see more go to The Prop’s site.  His six and many more will  be revealed.

 

Six On Saturday: Movers and Shakers

I’ve been feeling the garden needs a bit of a shake up.  This week was a staycation and it provided the opportunity to visit a few places and take in some garden inspiration.  Dan Pearson Studio has planted up a public park at Handyside Gardens, Kings Cross. Plenty of grasses of course but I spotted some wild strawberries used as underplanting. I’ve made a note for the future. In Oxford I laid eyes on a beautiful blue plant that is proving hard to id. Your thoughts are most welcome. On a very hot bank holiday Monday we visited the Ulting Wick open day.  I went to view the dahlias.  I know they are the one of the best flowers for late summer but I’ve not mastered the art of placing them in my garden.  It just doesn’t seem to be dahlia friendly.  I was also in search of some orange inspiration to balance out all my magenta colours.  I struck lucky.

One

Dahlia ‘Orange Cushion’.  Only one available so I snapped it up and hope to be able to propagate it next year.  The dahlias at Ulting Wick are very impressive, I won’t be matching them for scale of planting but I’ve made a start.  I’ve come to accept dahlias and even those with bronze foliage. I can see how to  use it in the mix.  I have great plans for next year.

Two

Some kniphofias, divisions from the Ulting Wick stock and sold by the bag full.  This bag had some new spires so I should get a few weeks at least out them.

Three

All those oranges seemed to call out for a blue and there was a handy pot of salvia pratensis.  On the right is the mystery plant spotted in Oxford.  I thought it was also a salvia but does anyone have any ideas?

Four

With my head full of thoughts for next year I decided that things have to move round in the garden,  This anchusa azurea has been flowering away at the back of the border for a couple of years now and it is so often overlooked.  I need to find a space for it show off in.  I thought it was ‘Loddon Anna’ with a slightly less intense blue than ‘Loddon Royalist’ but I couldn’t find any images for ‘Loddon Anna’.  Did I make it up?

Five

Many of the gardens I saw this week had good shows of hylotelephium spectabile.  Which is simply known as the ice plant in this house.  I’ve inherited these and have let them do their own thing which often involves collapsing through lack of water.  Now I’ve seen them put together with other planting I am going to consolidate the groups I have into one display…somewhere in the garden, for next year!

Six

Staying put and doing both moving and shaking is pennisetum villosum.  The very first flower spike.  I need a few more to complete the picture but you get the idea.  Floaty pennistetum with floaty gaura.  I never thought I would have grasses in the garden either but I have been won over here too.

I soaked up ideas from gardens visited over the years but also from the many wonderful posts from fellow SOSers.  Too many to name check but as always I recommend you take a look at the links on Mr P’s  site.  Thank you to the sixers who have inspired me.  You have widened my horizons and added to my garden.  There, that’s enough sucking up, I have some planting to do.

Six on Saturday: Shady facts

I was a little down on the garden a week or so ago. I’ve been planting up from scratch for about three years and the first plantings are filling out now. Some are doing well but I have to face up to reality. At this time of the year the main border is in the shade of a large fig tree. This seems to create the perfect environment for mildew. I’ve spent some time spreading things out a little more and I pulled up the sweet peas. The border is a bit patchy now but I feel happier.  Now I have to plan for a few more late summer shade lovers.

One

The long border minus the sweet peas.  It’s not too bad at the far end where the shade is less dense and there are a few sun spots but the top end under the fig needs a rethink.  The day lillies have finished flowering.  They can stay as they sneek into a little sun spot by mid afternoon and I have identified a branch of the fig tree that can go and the space will open up a little more.  Every challenge presents a new project so I am in excited mood.

Two

Down at the far end of the long border behind the rudbeckia lurk a few dahlias.  They are only just about to open.  I hoped they would be able to make use of the sun spot that the rudbeckia enjoy but it’s just not quite enough.  This year I will be lifting the dahlias and finding a sunnier spot for them.

Three

Further round the corner a small border that backs on to the veg plot is shady for the morning but catches the afternoon sun.  It seems just enough for the echnicea ‘White Swan’ to get by.  This is their second year in the garden and they have bulked up quite well.

Four

Moving further round, this year’s planting of  salvia ‘Amistad’ catches the same afternoon sun and has been magnificent this year.  Some of last year’s salvias did over winter,  I dug them out of their original position and moved them to  a nursery bed when I spotted the new shoots coming through.  Those ones have only just really got going and are about half the height.  Next to the salvias are three plants of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’.  Planted in 2017, they have just made it to a reasonable height this year but clearly they would benefit from less shade.  They are just far enough into this border to see a little less of the afternoon sun.  I am going to leave them where they are for one more year.

Five

Coming right round the garden, the north facing border begins to take on a western tilt and manages to catch some early morning sun and a good bit of late afternoon sun.  The fence line casts shade at the back edge.  I am optimistically growing r. Souvenir du Dr Jamain as a climber against the fence – slow going so far.  In front, I cleared away the unhealthy choysia and threw in some annuals to cover the ground while I did some thinking.  I had a trayful of nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ and n. alata ‘Grandiflora’ to use up so in they went.  At the time I did not know that the white variety likes a little shade so I struck lucky with the result.  What was a stop gap may now be part of the long term plan.  Anemone ‘September Charm’ and a white hardy geranium are also in this mix.

Six

Lastly coming round to the truly sunny all day long border, which is quite small, I have the lovely rose ‘Natasha Richardson’ planted up this year with salvia microphylla var, microphylla – the blackcurrant sage. I have tried every week to post a picture of this salvia but the vibrant magenta just floods the image.  I hope you can get a good sense of it against the rose.  It’s a stunner.

It’s going to be a stunning long weekend here, probably too hot to garden so I shall be thinking.  There will also be some SOS reading to be done.  Plenty of ideas to be gathered at the links that Mr P hosts each week.  Read them and if you are tempted join in!