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.

Six on Saturday: Nature’s bounty begins

Suddenly the garden is truly alive. Humming with bees, birdsong bouncing off the trees and butterflies flitting, as they do. Of course the nasties are out too. Slugs munching, things biting me and crowds of lily beetles arriving for the warm weather. Vigilance is required but beauty abounds too and last year’s new purchases are delivering.

One

I decided the hedge border was not much to look at in Spring so I invested in narcissus ‘Actaea’ to lighten the space. Yes I like them but of course so do the slugs. This year I am adopting the philosophical ‘what can you do approach’. I tried nematodes and last winter the border was mulched with Strulch. Possibly there are fewer slugs but their unerring sense for finding new delights is very strong.

Two

After many years of wondering what to plant in the shadier corners at the back of the garden I finally added in some erythronium ‘White Beauty’. Can’t think why I didn’t do this sooner or why I didn’t order at least double the quantity.

Three

The last of the trio of new bulbs was ipheion uniflorum. I can’t quite remember what sent me in their direction but here they are, also beloved by slugs but managing to fill the front edge gaps before the perennials come through.

Four

In 2019 I planted a ‘Stella’ cherry tree to grow against a wall in an espalier fashion. There is an abundance of blossom this year. Let’s hope the frost stays away and the fruits don’t get eaten by the birds!

Five

Of course there are more and more tulips. These are ‘Negrita’ which will be joined by ‘Ronaldo’ and ‘Spring Green’. I’ve decided this corner needs a revamp so it is on the list for a complete clearance as the end of the summer.

Six

Tulip ‘White Triumphator’, has been in the thin border since 2016. There are fewer of them this year and the size is diminishing. I like to mix them with ‘World Friendship’ and I’m still happy with this combination so I will be topping them up this autumn.

The weather has been glorious and I have been planting out the onion sets started off in modules. I have sown carrots under cloches and yesterday I sowed parsnip seeds. My veg patch is in part shade so it is always a little tricky to get the timings right. I have been sowing mange tout indoors every couple of weeks with very poor results. So far only four germinations. Let’s hope the current sunshine gives everything a boost. Mr P has also been busy so stop by and take a look over his fence and those of all the other SOSs. All welcome!

Six On Saturday: It’s getting better

The garden has been surging forward in this last week of sunshine. But hold on, there is cold weather to come. April can be a cruel month. Even so, gardeners are getting busy and anticipation is high. Here’s six from this week’s garden.

One

The thalia have arrived, my favourites. But no sooner do they open out then the slugs slither up the stems and nibble the flowers. Sad, but I have learnt to shrug my shoulders, sigh and move on.

Two

I am showing the muscari again! I had some left overs in pots, awaiting an opening in the garden. I have now put them into a shadier border and the colour looked so strong in the shadows. I’ll get away with it this year because they benefited from the warmth of a sunny corner before I planted them out. Next year I might find that this spot is just too shady for them.

Three

The perennials are really bulking up and the lovely leaves of thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’ look great. The dark stems are already quite striking. These are in a shady spot too and do very well.

Four

The seed potatoes are chitting away but back in February I planted up three or four in an old compost bag and left them in the greenhouse. The top shoots have just come through so another layer of compost will be added. I might have some early new potatoes in April.

Five

The tomato seeds sown in early March have been potted on. These are destined for the greenhouse. For the moment they are in the spare bedroom.

Six

The pergola project is moving forward with very little sucking in of breath! There is a possibility it will be done next week. In anticipation of a smart new pergola, a smart new garden table was purchased. The old pergola is doing a good impersonation of being a solid structure, but the truth is hidden. All four support legs are rotting away. Now I am anticipating the sunny months to come. In my dreams I also see a trachycapus fortunei swaying in the breeze. Does anyone have experience of growing those in pots?

I am, as always, delighted to compliment The Propagator on his dedication to SOS. All the links to this joyful meme will be found there. Wishing everyone a great gardening weekend.

Six On Saturday: Back in the garden

As I didn’t turn up last week let me start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year with much good gardening to enjoy and less and less of that covid stuff.

I used New Year’s Day to spend some time in the garden cutting back the autumn fruiting raspberries, sprinkling a light dusting of bonemeal around and then mulching with a layer of leaf mould. The fruit trees have had their quarterly dusting of bonemeal and soon the winter prune of the fig tree will be tackled. It felt like Spring already but a frost was to come with temperatures of -3 degrees centigrade recorded in the greenhouse. Now it seems we are back to a spell of warm and wet weather. In general the garden takes it in its stride. Here’s Six for the New Year.

One

I tweeted this frosted rose bub last week. This is the last rose I have to prune but it keeps on putting out new flowers. I think it is going to need a healthy dose of fertiliser come Spring to give it an energy lift. New buds or not it must be pruned soon.

Two

Also on the pruning list are the gooseberries, can’t imagine why I am putting this job off! But I have a new weapon in my armoury against those thorns. A much appreciated Christmas present of Gold Leaf gardening gloves which will offer some protection when I finally get round to tackling this task.

Three

I did grab a quick moment between showers to move a rose. ‘Souvenir du Dr Jamain’ had been lingering in an unhospitable corner trying to valiantly to put on a show for about three years. Not much progress had been made so I decided there was nothing to lose by digging it up and offering a slightly more hospitable spot. I confess to losing part of one root in the process which is a shame as there wasn’t much to start with. Clearly it was not happy where it was. I used mycorrhizal fungi and a helping of Fish, Bone and Blood to help the good Dr on his way.

Four

Some new seeds have been purchased. After the poor crop of ‘San Marzano’ this year I thought it was time to invest in new seeds. I also chose ‘Principe Borghese’ – sucked in by the shiny tomatoes on the packet! I haven’t grown Mangetout for some time but they deserve another go so a packet of ‘Snow Wind’ was thrown in for good measure.

Five

Seed potatoes have also been chosen but are yet to arrive – hence the vacant egg box! I was going to grow a French variety ‘Cherie’ this year but would you believe it, due to Brexit difficulties in sourcing and the high tariffs on things that can be sourced the supplier cannot provide them. Of course you can believe it! So it’s back to ‘Anya’ for me.

Six

The hellebores must get a look in. I’ve been cutting back old leaves here and there and enjoying the slowly developing show. These are ‘Pretty Ellen Red’ in the rain. They share a shady corner with some euonymus.

I have itchy fingers desperate to order new plants for the garden, a few more evergreens for structure and some herbaceous perennials for the border. In another month I hope it will be full steam ahead with more of the garden plans for the New Year.

I’ll be dropping in on The Prop host of SOS and other SOSers over the next few days. It will good to see everyone again. Happy gardening year to you all.