Six On Saturday: Ever changing moods

Forgive the earworm, or not if it doesn’t happen for you. Ever changing moods has been my state of mind in January. One week wanting to take down the eleagnus but then realising that it provides great cover for the birds. The next being absolutely sure that I must find room for a hamamelis but then sensibly realising that I just don’t have the right long term space for this desirable winter shrub. I’ve moaned about constant rain and grey days, haven’t we all? Then thrilled to glorious blue skies and winter sun. The garden catalogues have arrived and I am being pulled this way and that by their temptations. I’ve settled down this week. Accepting that January in the garden is what it is. I managed to prune back a good number of the rose shrubs but there are more to do. The climbing roses weigh heavily on my conscience but there’s still time. Raspberries and blackcurrants need to be looked at but they too can wait a little longer. This week I happily left the garden alone. The paths were slippery with frost and the ground is frozen once again. There’s not much to show but it is January and that is how it should be.

One

The frozen ground and frost may seem inhospitable but the garden grabs each growing moment and gets on with it. These are day lily shoots and the first leaves of geranium phaeum. It will be some months before their time to flower comes.

Two

You can see why the climbing roses are on my mind. There is quite some sorting out to be done here. The ruthless gardener must be found and all these branches thinned out and the framework tied into the wires again.

Three

The hellebores will nod their heads downward so it was a little difficult to capture this ‘Pretty Ellen’ red against the sun. Here’s my best effort.

Four

Somewhere out in the garden are some foxgloves seedlings waiting to push through the mulch. Here, in the greenhouse, are two that didn’t get planted out. It looks like they will have a head start when the time comes to relocate them.

Five

At the end of October I planted some Japanese red onion sets. They seemed very slow to get started but week by week they are making progress. Could they be ‘Electric’? I really can’t remember.

Six

A month later at the end of November I planted out the winter bedding. I filled the pots with bellis daisies. They had a week to acclimatise before they were covered by six inches of snow and experienced minus 5 degrees Celsius for a week. They made it through that and have just experienced another week of minus degrees overnight. I am so impressed by their sturdiness and I know that they will just get more and more cheerful as the warmer weather creeps in.

It’s a weekend of cold weather here and I am not going to feel guilty about the garden. Far better to wait for a time when the fingers won’t freeze and the paths are safer. Happy guilt free waiting to you all. Happy gardening times are around the corner. Jim, our host for SOS, features the links to other blogs on his Garden Ruminations pages. He has some lovey photos this week. No wonder he is the leader of the pack!

Six On Saturday: Keeping my head down

It all feels a little grim out there so I’m focussing on the garden. Yes, pretty grim there too, at this time of year, but there’s always something to distract the attention from everyday life. The last of the tulip tree branches that landed in the garden a few weeks back have been shredded and the chippings were used to mulch the raspberries. Rain and foggy mornings have been the overwhelming features of the last week and those tulips bulbs are still waiting to be planted. The thin border seems to be missing some things and quickly the bare patches are being colonised by geranium ‘Gravetye Manor’. This will have to be taken in hand. I am thinking about planting some grasses along this border, something I didn’t think I would ever do here. But what is happening now? Here’s this week’s six.

One

These are the rain-soaked berries of sarcococca confusa, planted out to replace a box shrub. I’m very happy with this one and it’s doing well in the shadow, and dryness, of the front garden magnolia.

Two

I have dipped into planting grasses in a few spots in the garden. It was suggested to me that they combined best with plants with smaller flowers. But here I have planted them behind hydrangeas. This is calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’. It’s difficult to show its true effect as it is still a young clump but the winter colour is wonderful.

Three

Winter structure is what a garden needs now, and I don’t have much of it! I used to have four euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii but three gave up the struggle to survive in a heavy clay border. For some reason this one battles on and is looking quite strong at the moment. There is always a seedling or two going spare so I have planted out one in a sunnier spot and I have one in a pot ready to drop into a suitable place come Spring. With free plants available I am happy to try them again.

Four

Lining up against a sunny brick wall suits the sage and rosemary shrubs. The rosemary is in flower again, something for the bees to enjoy.

Five

The seeds pods of iris foetidissima are splitting open and giving splashes of colour here and there. These come up underneath the rhododendron and viburnum trees, happily colonising difficult spaces. They are very happy in these tough corners and every now and then need to be thinned.

Six

I am just wondering if I am going to have a second crop of potatoes this year. These are the ‘left behinds’. Could there be a crop for Christmas? I’ll leave them in for as long as the green manure stays and then we’ll see.

There are some fabulous colours on show on Jim’s Garden Ruminations, plus some thoughts for future sixes. With some ingenuity we will get through the winter and keep our posting going. It could become bizarre though! Take a look at the links that appear throughout the day and see what emerges. Happy Gardening.

Six On Saturday: Disaster

Let’s get straight to the point. Last Sunday a sudden and un-named storm hit the garden. The sky darkened, lightning flashed, thunder roared, rain stormed and winds swirled. It was impressive. We watched with amazement and then closed the curtains and settled down. The next morning disaster was revealed. Several large branches had been ripped from our neighbour’s tulip tree, some 20 metres away, and had been hurled into our garden. One was a direct hit on the greenhouse. Yes, the same greenhouse that only last week had been repaired. The newly rehung door stood smugly in place looking onto a scene of devastation. One branch of the tree was hanging on through the roof and back of the greenhouse. Large pieces of glass and tiny diamond like shards were scattered inside the greenhouse and outside throughout the gooseberry patch. Another large branch had just missed a young apple tree and the recently planted miscanthus. Miraculously it had only flattened some phlox which I am sure will survive. Clearing up the debris of the branches was relatively straight forward, although there are still four or five smaller limbs to deal with. The glass is another matter. What a pane it is! (Pun intended.) The frame has been distorted beyond repair. Project new greenhouse is back in play. Of course a slide show of the scene is number one of this week’s six.

One

The offending tulip tree is a rather striking tree. It is probably at full height and at this time of year is a glorious golden colour, a fabulous tree to be able to borrow. Locally the storm has been described as a mini tornado so I am hoping that this is a freak accident. For a brief moment I considered no greenhouse, then a polytunnel or a small tomato greenhouse but today I’m coming down on the side of a new greenhouse.

Two

In other news, the fig tree is delivering its second crop figs and this year it is quite a good second crop.

Three

I’ve tried a few times to grow nerines. You would think it would be simple. Buy bulbs, plant them and wait. Maybe the squirrels have them. Last year I planted a few in a pot so I could keep an eye on them. It sort of worked. I have one lovely flower.

Four

Honestly, I am not a dahlia fan but you could be deceived into thinking I was. I do like these. They are last year’s cacti dahlia, grown from seed and left in the ground to overwinter. They are looking pretty good now after a slow start in the dry summer.

Five

Six On Saturday is a great discipline for paying close attention to the garden. Without it I don’t think I would have really noticed the delicate white flowers of the ‘Hawkshead’ fuchsia. It’s a new addition and is currently nestling in amongst agapanthus leaves, almost hidden from view. There’s a few years to go before it achieves it’s final height of about a metre, then it should be a good focal point in the border.

Six

The roses are still blooming. I was thinking about their longevity and I put some of that down to the two feeds a year that I give them. One in March and the second sometime in July when the first flush is over. This one, which I may have featured already this autumn, is ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’. Forgive me, it was such a wonderful red colour I couldn’t not include it again.

Jim of Garden Ruminations is collecting the SOS gang together and sharing the first of his wonderful camellias this week. I will be back to picking up glass, gathering leaves and wondering where to store the scented leaf pellies until the new greenhouse is installed. The smaller potting greenhouse could be very crowded this year.

Six On Saturday: Beautiful times

It’s been a perfect week for sorting out the garden. Warm weather, some rain and more importantly some time available. My main objective was to sow green manure seeds on the veg plot. This year it is a mix of Westerwolds Ryegrass and Vetches (Winter Tares), courtesy of Sow Seeds and I thank fellow seasoned SOSer Garden Ruminations for this contact. This was much cheaper than buying packets of seeds from the local garden centre. Elsewhere I continued the fight against cinquefoil weeds, a thankless task, and I’ve started preparing the way for the renovation of two small corners of the garden. Here’s this week’s six.

One

I can’t believe I forgot to include this last week. The apples were juiced and the results have been collected. This year gave us 63 bottles which is double last year’s quantity. This is the output of six apple trees. Some of the apples were smaller than usual due no doubt to the low rainfall. Of the six trees, two are well established trees, the other four are more recently planted but are at least six years old.

Two

The roses are benefitting from the rain, this is ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’, which had a poor summer struggling with the drought. It’s good to see it putting on a late show. One of my renovation corners will feature a new David Austin rose, the sumptuous looking ‘Lady of Shalott’. I’m a creature of habit and can’t resist a new rose if a new space allows.

Three

The annuals also struggled to get going over July and August but they sat patiently waiting and are now filling up the spaces for an autumn finale. This is antirrhinum ‘Chantilly Velvet’.

Four

Drought has affected the height of the autumn stars. This sedum is about half the height it normally reaches but it did survive unwatered so I won’t complain.

Five

In a strange out of season quirk, also I suspect due to the summer weather conditions, I have a new flower spike on the evergreen agapanthus. It will be a late treat if it manages to open out.

Six

In more seasonal growth the cyclamen hederifolium have demonstrated their resilience. In a truly neglected corner of the front garden in dry shade they have produced these delicate flower heads. Small but perfectly formed. Lovely.

It looks like another blue-sky September day, I have one last courgette to pick before they are cleared. This will leave me with French beans, parsley, basil and the last of the cucumbers before the veg plot is wrapped up for winter. I’m not a grower of winter veg, just the parsnips to look forward to. Don’t forget to stop by Mr P’s plot/blog for his SOS and for all the links to other SOS posts. Happy Gardening.

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: 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: Heat!

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

One

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

Two

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

Three

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

Four

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

Five

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

Six

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

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

Six On Saturday: Green is a good feeling

The week here has ended with a string of cold nights but thankfully no frost. The carrot and parsnip sowings remained under cloches, the potatoes are just peeking through and the onions are looking good. I have finally, after five sowings, managed to germinate two more mange tout seeds. Hopefully the May sowings will be more successful. French beans and courgettes have just been sown. Here’s six things I noticed in the garden this week.

One

The view from the kitchen was a very verdant green this morning as the rising sun shone through the persimmon tree. Just behind the persimmon the fig tree is just breaking into leaf. Further back the trees that surround this garden are also greening up. It gave an uplifting zing of freshness to the start of the day.

Two

One of the ‘Cairo’ tulips had been niggling away at me and I finally got round to sending off a photo to the bulb supplier with the question ‘Is this a healthy tulip’. The response was immediate. A phone call advising me that the stripes were due to tulip mosaic virus and I should remove the bulb and as much of the surrounding soil as possible. There is much to admire in the flower colouration but it is sensible to act on the advice to prevent the spread of the virus. Those darling aphids are to blame. The tulip stem will decorate the kitchen. The bulb will be disposed of.

Three

I am sure that if it wasn’t for SOS I would miss out on a number of things happening in the garden. I have admired the wood anemones that others have shown over the last few weeks but only yesterday did I remember that I too have some in the garden. It’s a small group that are almost hidden by the hellebores and the relentless snowberry. Here they are peaking through.

Four

As the tulips go over, so Irises should be filling in the spaces. But my division of last year has not been very successful. Thanks to Fred and to the good folk on twitter I have been reminded that these are I. germanica. I love them for their height and colour. I have now found a source for a restock and next year’s borders will be jammed with them again.

Five

Down at the veg plot end of the garden, on the way to the compost bins, I pass by a group of tiarellas. They rarely die down over winter and usually end up with a sprawl of scruffy untidy old foliage. I gave them a tidy last week and entirely by coincidence this week they have produced a flurry of flowers.

Six

More green to end on. While the mange tout have been frustrating the lettuce are chugging along very well. I have some in the greenhouse growing away, and two trays of potted on seedlings waiting to go outside when the night temperatures settle down. I can pick leaves now from these trays which is what I must do this weekend.

This weekend I will pulling tree seedlings out, cutting back tulip stems and beginning to pull out the forget-me-nots before they drop too much seed. The bindweed has appeared at the very back of the garden, a sure sign that the soil, even in that shady place, is warming up. Goody! Mr P will host as usual, probably run, and perhaps sow seeds. Rain, however, does not seem to be on the cards!

Six On Saturday: Spring delights

It’s mid-way through Spring and I am jumping forward to the next bulb order. Gardening does that to you. Always looking for the next excitement, it’s exhausting! I’ve made my notes on the calendar and settled the mind again to concentrate on what’s good at this moment in time. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

I am sure it will be camassia week for many. These are my first to begin to flower against the trellis of an arch. I have these down as c. leichtlinii. But I am willing to be corrected!

Two

Last November I planted some ‘Cairo’ tulips to flower with the camassias. I think I planted about ten either side of the arch. They have come through just in time and once again I am thinking why didn’t I plant double the quantity?

Three

I’m coming up to completing six years in this garden and this combination of tulips was one the first planted here. Originally they ran the length of the long border but over the years they have become concentrated at the bottom, slightly shadier end. I have topped them up from time to time but now I am thinking it is time to replant the top end of the border with a new combination. This mix is ‘Queen of Night’, ‘Shirley’, ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Violet Beauty’. There are some ‘Purissima’ in the background

Four

Brought from the old garden these geranium phaeums have bulked up over the years and are now providing regular new stock for ground cover in shady corners. Solid, reliable and very lovely.

Five

The apple trees are all in blossom and as I was admiring the pretty mix of pink and white I espied the tell-tale fluff of woolly aphid. Just a few small patches so it was out with a spray of a dilute soap mix which I hope will do the trick before it gets a hold.

Six

Here’s a splash of sunshine to end on. Self-seeding welsh poppies are popping up everywhere. Entirely against my colour scheme but who could turn them out? I read that they can tolerate shade so I am thinking of re-locating a few to new spaces.

Vegetable seed sowing continues to be hit and miss, still no sign of later sown mange tout, but earlier sown cukes have delivered, and I have lettuces that have been hardened off for about a week so I may chance planting some of those out. I’ve seen the very first sign of carrot seedlings sown under cloches – I’m holding my breath and crossing my fingers. The soil seemed to be warming up so I’ve also direct sown some parsnip seed. Hope you are finding joys in your gardens. The Propagator will be sharing the news from fellow SOSers so do stop by for a read.