Six On Saturday: Frosty but the garden pushes on

The majority of mornings have been frosty and the days that followed were cold. Last week was not a week that led to gardening of any sort other than the wishful thinking sort. Wishful thinking can lead to trouble: new schemes imagined, grand plans take root and the siren voices of online shopping call. I resisted immediate action. Let’s just wait another month. Although it feels like a quiet time it is the lull before the storm. There is clear evidence of growth and the last of the cutting back will have to be completed throughout February. Here’s six for this week.

One

My skimmia ‘Kew Green’ is looking less than healthy and I think I know why. It is planted towards the edge of a walled border and I think some of the walling extends inwards into the border. I think the roots on the front side of the skimmia have reached the buried bricks and don’t have enough soil to grow out into. I am going to move it towards the back of the border and see if that solves the problem.

Two

Unfortunately the empty egg box makes another appearance. Due to problems with suppliers – and I think we know what that means by now – my order for ‘Anya’, my second choice seed potato cannot be fulfilled. I have now chosen ‘Jazzy’. It’s twice the price so it had better be twice as good.

Three

The greenhouse is home to the overwintering pelargoniums and the lemon tree. This week the lowest temperature was -2.1 degrees centigrade and I didn’t even think to fleece the pellies. The lemon tree has a double wrap of 17gsm fleece. A cursory glance indicates that lemons and pellies survived.

Four

Asplenium scolopendrium, or Hart’s tongue fern. I’ve added three of these to the inhospitable back border. They’ve been in place for about a year and seem to coping well. The very back corner of the border is given over to a small log pile. It’s in the rain shadow of a fence and I don’t think much will grow there, except perhaps euphorbia robbiae which is incredibly tolerant, and of course invasive. The mulch is Strulch.

Five

Hellebores and snowdrops continue to entertain. Pretty Ellen Red, the double version, has opened up.

Six

And the 300 or so snowdrops planted throughout the north facing border two years ago, which didn’t do too well the first year, are looking a little more promising this year.

As always, thanks to the Propagator for keeping this show on the road and enjoy your gardening week

Six On Saturday: Last of the year

Mildness abounds except a local bout of fuming that took place yesterday afternoon. The Christmas tree proved reluctant to take its proper place in the tree stand and it was only after some hard work with the loppers and a saw that we were able to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The tree is about a foot shorter now but it is standing upright. Mildness restored, although the week ahead looks chillier. This is the last six from me for two weeks as Christmas and the New Year roll in.

One

The tree is bought from a local nursery and I couldn’t leave without a quick look round at their stock. I have not been imaginative with the winter planting for the containers so these bellis found their way to the cash desk in some attempt to liven up the pots.

Two

Hellebore and snowdrop season approaches and I was also tempted by, thanks to a SOS from Hortus Bailey, a small pot of ‘Christmas Carol’. Little by little the collection grows.

Three

I have seen so many tweets of cotoneaster this year. It seems to have been a great year for the leaf colour and the berries have stayed around for longer. This is a horizontalis, and over the years I have come to appreciate its contribution to the winter front garden.

Four

Pruning the roses continues and sometimes includes the cutting back of flowering stems. This is a miniature version of ‘Darcey Bussell’.

Five

As I now have several branches of Christmas tree going spare, I will be foraging in the garden again. This time I will be putting together some kind of garland for the bannisters. I have some kitsch fir cone lights and a slightly tatty length of fake berries. I’m hoping wonders can be created with the addition of ivy from the fences. If in doubt add more!

Six

I hope this rather unappealing collection of leaves holds much promise. The last veg standing on the veg plot is always the parsnips. Next week I shall be digging them up in the hope that there is enough for our Christmas lunch. If I’m lucky there may even be some left for a curried parsnip soup.

Wishing you all Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays and above all a Healthy New Year. Thanks to The Propagator for creating this meme and thanks to everyone who takes part and shares their love of gardening. See you all again in 2022.

Six on Saturday: Christmas is coming

What a week that was! Rain, sun, plenty of wind and a frost. I nipped out into the garden once or twice: rose pruning has commenced and the Christmas wreath making was completed. Here’s six from the garden.

One

First a little garden foraging to gather materials for the wreath.

Two

Some hours later…this year’s Christmas wreath. Using Spruce, Bay, Ivy, Holly, Choisya, Elaeaganus and Hydrangea flowers.

Three

The sedums have turned a rather lovely shade of purple. I only spotted these after I had made the wreath otherwise I think I could have happily sneaked a bloom or two into the creation.

Four

The garden has been hosting some new visitors this week – two collared doves. I hope it doesn’t take you too long to find them!

Five

The white hellebores are just beginning to flower and the dark red ones are in bud. Just when you think it is all going quiet the garden springs a surprise.

Six

The pretty pinky white flowers of the viburnum tree are opening up. They would also have worked well in the wreath, as would the berries but I decided to leave them for another day.

I’m hoping that there are no more storms for the next few weeks. I’ve got off lightly with only a squelchy lawn to speak of. Others have had snow, loss of power and a miserable time of it. Six on Saturday continues unabated, just knock on the door of The Propagator’s site and all will be revealed. Wishing everyone good times!

Six on Saturday: A winter garden

This is another one of those ‘Not my garden posts’. Sorry to disappoint, the above photo is definitely not my garden. This week we were in Cambridge for a few days and spent a cold but sunny hour or two at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. It was a diversion on the way back to the station and I offer apologies to anyone out there who was disturbed by the trundling of our suitcase, a noise not compatible with the peaceful surroundings. Before departure the home garden was wrapped up for the cold spell, agapanthus under fleece for the winter and as there wasn’t time to transport the lemon tree to the greenhouse that too had a temporary double layer of fleece. This weekend I hope to get the lemon tree inside and it will be re-fleeced for extra protection when the cold weather settles in. Here’s four from the Winter Garden, Cambridge with its focus on ‘coloured stems, bark and foliage texture with winter flowers and fragrance until mid spring’. This garden begs to visited again in February when the snowdrops and winter aconites appear. The last two are from the Fountain planting.

One

The Mahonia, Oregon Grape ‘Winter Sun’ in the background draws the visitor down the path. The boundary hedges have been used to frame the colours and to trap the winter scents in the garden. The birch tree behind the bench is betula ermanii ‘Grayswood Hill’.

Two

The colour of the red holly berries and the variegated leaf exploded in the sunshine, botanical details: ilex aquifolium, ‘Argentea Marginata’. Or Silver Margined Holly, in translation. My only holly is the result of a donation form the birds and doesn’t look half as exuberant as this, but then it’s a freebie so I won’t complain.

Three

Scent was much in evidence from this Viburnum farreri, its leaves just turning a coppery red giving a double winter whammy. That’s not a very botanical description, but you get the picture.

Four

It wouldn’t be a winter garden without that trusted favourite, cornus. This one is Cornus alba ‘Siberica’, which seems to be regarded as too vigorous for most gardens, but there are many others to choose from. The bergenia provides a good foil at the base.

Five

Coming out of the Winter Garden now, I couldn’t resist including the planting around the fountains. Here the seed heads of Phlomis russeliana, Turkish Sage, provide strong winter interest. I’d love to take this idea for the garden here, but I don’t think I have the right conditions. But it is something I am contemplating.

Six

The phlomis around the fountain is mixed with a planting of Stipa gigantea, which glowed in the sunshine. There is no doubting why it is called ‘Golden Oats’.

There was much to take in at the Botanic Garden and the website is very helpful, providing planting lists and good descriptions of the garden highlights. It’s well worth a visit, either in person or virtually. Back in my garden I will be continuing to mulch and may even make a start on tulip bulb planting. The compost heap needs a turn and one bin is ready to spread on the veg plot. The dahlias, zinnias, cosmos and roses continue to defy the season and as the temperatures seem to be picking up again for next week I will leave them as they are for a little while longer. The Propagator hosts the SOS meme and all are welcome to take part or simply to read and enjoy.

Six on Saturday: I finally have that autumn feeling

Autumn jobs have been started. A free Friday meant that I could begin bringing a few things inside and a start was made on reigning in the wild brambles that we have lived with for five years. The increase in leaf fall from the trees pushed me to empty out last year’s leaf mould into old compost bags. These will be emptied out onto the soft fruit borders once the autumn fruiting raspberries are cut back. The weather has been so mild that the hydrangeas are still putting out flowering stems but as the last month of autumn approaches surely the temperatures will drop. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

The fig and the persimmon leaves are changing colour. The persimmon crop will ripen in December and is a winter donation to the birds. The figs often deliver a few fruit in November as a bonus crop but this year they look rather small and will probably not be worth harvesting. The fruit does still need to be picked, leaving on the tree only the smaller pea sized fruits for next year. This is one of my least favourite autumn jobs, so many fruit and some that are completely out of reach.

Two

Along with the odd rogue hydrangea flower there are one or two clematis flowers remaining but mostly it is the silky seed heads that add decoration to the trellis.

Three

The seed heads of the rudbeckia always look dramatic at this time of the year and will be left standing through winter.

Four

The last of the apples were picked a week ago. They are Braeburns and have given us crisp and juicy eaters. There were several small apples, a result of my less than ruthless thinning I’m sure, and generously I made up some apple feeders for the birds. They have been utterly spurned. Not pecked, not rumbled by the squirrels, left untouched. I suspect my neighbours of having higher quality bird food available.

Five

I have been cutting back the scented leaf pellies before bringing them into the greenhouse. This one was grown on from cuttings I took when they came out for the summer. It’s still flowering and so I keep pushing my luck and have left it out for this weekend. But next week the deed will be done and all the pellies will be inside again for the winter.

Six

I planted autumn crocuses last year, in amongst the hellebores. I can’t say that I have swathes of them but the one or two that have emerged look quite good. They are so fragile though and recent winds and rain have not served them well.

I have finally planted out the narcissus ‘Actaea’. Leaving only the tulips to do. It is uncanny how every spot I identified as needing a few bulbs turned out to be home to snowdrops. I can reveal that snowdrops have already begun their journey to the surface. I hope my disturbance of them won’t have caused too much of a shock to the system. Snowdrops and hellebores are my next seasonal marker. The Propagator is also planting bulbs and featuring a lovely Japanese anemone this week. Stop by, take a look and follow the links to the other SOS posts.

Six On Saturday: Time to stop dithering and do. Probably.

The trees that surround this garden have just started to change colour, there was a cold north wind for a day or two but in general the weather is still quite mild. I am dithering about whether to take things into the greenhouse this weekend or next. Dithering is one of my favoured gardening techniques, employed in every season. It’s just the way I garden. After some dithering this morning and several changes of plan, here’s this week’s six.

One

I’ve been dithering for some time about fumigating the greenhouse. I didn’t get on top of the whitefly this year. The encarsia wasps used a month or so ago made an impact but didn’t fully clear the infestation. As the temperatures were warm enough I finally deployed the ‘garlic bombs’ that had lurking around for some time. I don’t know what the whitefly made of it, but my stomach definitely heaved when I opened up the packaging. Of course I should have taken a photo of the smoke filled greenhouse, with the smoke gently seeping out of every opening. Far more dramatic. But I didn’t, so sadly this will have to do. Let’s hope the fumigation has had an effect and I promise to do better next year.

Two

I needed to get the greenhouse sorted out to make it available for some tender plants. The last of the peppers and chillies were picked before the fumigation and I had yet another go at removing the oxalis. There’s some mild weather forecast for next week but the lemon tree will have to go inside soon. It has had a good year outside and seems to have fully recovered from its near death a few years back. There are flowers, new fruits and some not quite ripe fruit. The greenhouse is not heated so when winter arrives the lemon tree will get a fleece wrap.

Three

This euphorbia mellifera has also done well this year. It arrived as a self-sown seedling about this time last year and Jim of Garden Ruminations identified it and warned me that it would grow and grow. How right, as ever, he was. It didn’t flower this spring, I’m hoping it will next spring and then I will do as Jim advised and cut it back.

Four

I have five pots of the large evergreen agapanthus that are tender here and need a fleece wrapping every winter. They are showing signs of needing it now. Last year I discovered that pegs are great for holding the fleece in place.

Five

The leaves of the trachelospermum jasminoides, star jasmine, have just begun to turn red. It’s making slow progress up the fence but year by year it is thickening up. I don’t have much in the garden that gives this darker autumn colouring, no Japanese maples, no cotinus and no dogwoods either. I just don’t seem to have the right spaces for them, so these red leaves will be especially enjoyed.

Six

Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’. I’ve probably shared these before, but anything that looks this good in the last week of October deserves another mention. I planted three 9cm pots two years ago and they have filled up the space well this year. Such a rich colour.

I still have narcissus bulbs to plant and a few tulip bulbs lined up to go in the ground in November. The foliage of day lilies and the deciduous agapanthus is in need of cutting back before it becomes a soggy mess but there are plenty of plants that I will leave standing over winter. We can’t be too choosy about which wildlife we support in this way and from today’s walk round I can see that the slugs are enjoying the garden all too well at the moment. Yes, jobs to be done. It’s not hibernation time yet. Don’t forget that The Propagator hosts this meme and shares all the links to other SOS posts. Happy gardening.

Six On Saturday: More or less?

I’m pretty sure all gardeners are constantly asking ‘What more can be added to the garden?’ and, especially at this time of year, ‘What do I need less of?’ I’ve just about finished thinning out the alchemillia mollis. I definitely needed less of them, lovely though they are. I’ve decided I need more salvias, in particular Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’. I should have thought of this earlier and taken some cuttings. Of course, ‘more bulbs’ is an annual cry and I have managed to plant a couple of hundred muscari bulbs this week. This six is a bunch of other things I could do with more of.

One

Nerines fall into the more of category. This is my only one and have bought bulbs over several years. I am envious of those who have swathes of these lining charming paths that wend their way through verdant borders. Here I have one in a pot. It’s a start and I am persuaded to buy bulbs again – or even pots of them in flower if I come across them.

Two

Cosmos ‘Dazzler’, I have the right amount of these I think, but then again they are popping out of the gloom so well at the moment that I could be persuaded to have more. I was lucky this year to have self seeders that I transplanted around the garden. Will I be so fortunate next year? I may have to sow a few seeds myself to be sure.

Three

Liriope ‘Big Blue’. I used to have more of these but they refused to flower so I moved them to a new spot. Unfortunately the new spot had been home to self seeded carex that I did not want and I think in my enthusiasm to rid myself of carex seedlings I may have pulled out a couple of Liriopes! This one has stayed strong and has flowered for the second year. Thoughts of division come to mind but I’m leaving well alone for the moment.

Four

Berries on the snowberry was the wish for last year and this year they have arrived. I have been hacking this shrub back for the last five years, which explains the lack of berries. I’ve been taking out a mass of dead wood, dealing with the subsequent regeneration and finally getting it into a more or less reasonable shape. Of course it grows relentlessly and I’d really like to have less of it but that’s not going to happen. The birds are enjoying the berries and it fills a difficult corner so I will learn to love it.

Five

Anemone ‘September Charm’, still going into October and I think it started sometime in August. I am a fan of anemones and I did have success taking root cuttings one year. SOS posts have recently introduced to me to some really zingy pink ones that are high on the wish list, more, more, more!

Six

An unknown variety of hydrangea, that generously offered a little more in the shape of this late flowering stem. I have several hydrangeas around the garden and thought I had enough but this year I added a little pot of ‘Limelight’. I am very impressed by how quickly it bulked up, more please.

Of course less weeds, less slugs, less fox poo and less tree seedlings would make life easier but then what would we gardeners have left to moan about! The Propagator blazes the trail ahead through the winter months, challenging us in the northern hemisphere to come up with the weekly six, while those in southern hemisphere get to show their blue skies and summer gardens. Plenty for all to enjoy.

Six On Saturday: A glorious garden

I am behind with my virtual visits to the SOS gardens around the world but I do have a good excuse. I have spent a few days wallowing in the Sussex countryside in celebration of a wedding anniversary. We visited Charleston House near Lewes and Nymans gardens near Haywards Heath in West Sussex but it was the hotel garden that was photographed the most. So this week’s six is from that glorious garden.

One

I loved this combination of persicaria with asters and kniphofia. My guess is that this is p. Foxtail, but it’s just a guess. The kniphofia in my garden finished flowering in August, which just isn’t good enough! I am will have to look into some later/longer flowering varieties, suggestions welcome, and I’m definitely adding in some persicaria – somewhere.

Two

Dahlias were of course holding court and this one is ‘Magenta Star’. I managed to catch the gardener for a quick chat. She said that the dahlias are lifted every year.

Three

She also said they lift all the salvia ‘Amistad’. These are the cuttings in the greenhouses that were taken five weeks ago. I know mine would look nothing like this after five weeks. We bemoaned our shady greenhouses at home and I felt the guilt of one who has not yet taken a salvia cutting. It could be too late, but I might try.

Four

The squashes have already been lifted and are stored in a conservatory, also home to a peach tree, chilies and agapanthus.

Five

The sheltered walled garden had it’s own micro climate and felt almost tropical. I was a just a tiny bit pleased to see that the birds feast on these glorious apples just as they do on mine at home.

Six

Hydrangeas featured throughout the garden, now in their softening autumn colours. It’s another guess but I’m saying this is ‘Limelight’.

It’s been a long time since we headed to the South East of the UK and a note has been made to visit again. Nymans, a National Trust garden, has wonderful views over the countryside and I did take advantage of their garden shop to buy a new pot. Half price, I couldn’t say no, could I?

This weekend I shall be on the hunt for some corners of the garden to revamp, I hope to be spreading another bag of Strulch and undoubtedly will be disposing of more slugs. I hope you can find time to enjoy your gardens or find a beautiful one to visit, it does lift the spirits.

The Propagator, as ever, hosts this meme and all the links will be found on his site. Visitors always welcome!

Six On Saturday: Mushrooms and falling leaves

It must be Autumn. The days have been shortening for a while now but a few weeks of sunshine belied the truth. It’s time to move on with the season. I’m still moving plants around, digging up the excess alchemillia mollis was a struggle as they are so established in the garden, and I’ve added some new plants. The bulbs have arrived. I’ve planted out the erythroniums and ipheon uniflorum but left the muscari, crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’ and narcissus actaea until the soil was more forgiving. There have been a few days of rain now so things should be easier. Now for this week’s six.

One

I was waylaid at the supermarket by this heuchera, ‘Grape Timeless’. The colour just sucked me in and so home it came. I moved some of the magenta phlox around and this has found a shady corner in the space they vacated. I’m now wondering if I should have bought a couple more for impact. On the other hand I still have space for something else.

Two

Just round the corner from the heuchera sits this hylotelephium (sedum/ice plant). It grows out of a cramped hole in a low wall and I am amazed it does so well. This year the colour is splendid. The rain has laid it low but now it overhangs the wall in a good way.

Three

Earlier this week the berries on the viburnum were glowing metallic blue in the sunshine and looked amazing. This tree was in poor health when we arrived five years ago but some remedial pruning and feeding seems to have helped it along.

Four

The sprawling geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ has flowered erratically this year. But I’m glad to see it is having another go. It hasn’t really established itself well but I am trying not to move it, again.

Five

It’s so difficult to photograph new grasses well. This one is Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’. There is only one flowering stem this year but it is the colour I was hoping for.

Six

Here’s another grass that I am hoping will settle in and become a regular in the garden. Its pennisetum villosum. It has a H3 rating (-5 to -1 degrees) and I thought I had lost it last year but it has just about pulled through and finally put out a flowering stem. So far it hasn’t self seeded but I live in hope.

I was feeling a little battle worn as autumn settled in. Several new plants added this year succumbed to slugs and snails and last winter pushed many plants to edge. Optimism will come to the surface when I plant out the rest of bulbs and add a few more perennials. Even as I bemoaned my losses I consoled myself with the thought of the free plants that come from cuttings, divisions and self-seeders. Onwards, ever onwards!

The Propagator has a sunny, colourful six for this week. But I don’t envy his bulb planting programme! Enjoy your autumn gardening or is it spring for you in the Southern hemisphere?

Six on Saturday: Aspects of gardening

A glorious week in late September set me off puzzling on the layout of the garden. There’s not much I can do about it now, unless the premium bond ticket comes up big time, but I was struck by how the sunniest spot in the garden is occupied by the garden shed. The border that leads away from the shed is the thin border, less than a metre in depth and the long borders at this time of year are shaded by the fig tree. The problem is the garden is south east facing and is laid out as if it were south facing. Maybe there is some tweaking that can be done but I mustn’t get distracted from the immediate task of thinning the garden of self seeders and digging out some poor performers. Here’s the six things that had my attention this week.

One

The fig tree has been winter pruned for the last two years. Only belatedly did I realise that summer pruning the new growth back after five leaves is also recommended. I haven’t summer pruned because I was wary of the sticky sap the leaks from the stems. As a consequence I now have an enormous tree that needs taking in hand. The non-gardener votes for taking the whole tree down. I am having one last go at containing the monster I have created but given the impact it has on the flower borders, balanced with the quantity of fruit we manage to harvest I think I am at the start of a slippery slope.

Two

This is the last apple tree still bearing fruit and I think I am growing the smallest Braeburns ever. They have just started to drop a few windfalls which are miniature sized but very tasty. We will start picking a few next week.

Three

Having spent a massive amount of time digging out and dividing a poorly flowering agapanthus, I planted a clematis. It is ‘Madame Julia Correvon’, one that has been on the wish list for some time and when I came across it at a local garden centre I could not resist. It looks a bit mildewy already!

Four

I am ruthlessly pulling out the self-seeding astrantias, in particular astrantia major. I am trying hard not to pull out ‘Roma’ but it’s pot luck really. Here’s a. major in flower and for the moment staying in place.

Five

The battle against the slugs continues and delving around in the borders revealed a multitude of them. Far too fat to squish and I’m too squeamish to resort to the secateurs. They go into the green bin where they can feast themselves silly before being transporting to a nice hot compost heap far away from here. This year I am trying out the Strulch mulch, mineralised wheat straw, which apparently lasts in the borders for two years and deters slugs and snails. I love that word: deters. I wonder if my slugs and snails will be deterred from munching through the garden?

Six

Call me a liar. I did swear that I would not grow dahlias anymore because I didn’t really like them and of course they are a magnet for the slugs. But here I am tying a bit of twine around this dahlia in the cutting patch because I like the burnt orange colour and it might just possibly do well in a newly strulched border. Time will tell.

The Propagator invites us all to post each week and hosts all the links. Happy to oblige and happy to share in all the gardening news from around the world.