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: Green, green grass

I’m a little late to the grasses party. I’ve some melica and a couple of Karl Foersters but this year I’m planting up the difficult area against the back fence with a grass combination. Having taken the plunge and chosen the mix I added a few more essentials to the shopping basket and the pricey ‘little’ package arrived this week. Here they are.

One

This is a selection of the back fence mix. I will be planting three miscanthus giganteus, three persicaria polymorpha, five luzula nivea and six stachys hummelo. I’m very much hoping the miscanthus will grow to their advertised three meter height asap and cover up the fence panels. The panels give a rain shadow to the border and the trees that surround our garden give plenty of summer shade. The miscanthus should be able to cope with this. Likewise the luzula should also enjoy the shade. For everything else, I have my fingers crossed. There is some late afternoon sun to help things along.

Two

Having made the main selection, I added in hakonechloa macra. This can also take a some shade and I am using it to underplant the ‘Darcy Bussell’ roses. The roses suffered with black spot last year so I really should be using salvias as per Sarah Raven’s advice. I think that does work. But no, I’m going with grasses. I do have a couple of salvia ‘Amistad’ cuttings that I plan to sneak in at the back so perhaps they will deal with the black spot.

Three

Finally I added a euphorbia palustris. My e. ‘Wulfenii’ have suffered over the last two years. The magnificent four have dwindled to one and a half. The soil has been too wet and heavy for them. A shout out on twitter gave the suggestion of this euphorbia which enjoys damp conditions. Sadly not evergreen but it has lime green flowers and good autumn foliage so I’m giving it a go.

Four

Speaking of euphorbias. the e.mellifera seedling that blew in from a neighbour’s garden has flowered this year. It is just over a metre high and is doing a great job of filling the border.

Five

Oh my, the tulips took bashing in the gusty winds on Thursday but miraculously there were no losses. These are ‘Purissima’ among the hellebores. I had forgotten that these open creamy yellow and then fade to white. I was expecting pure white but the creamy yellow works well.

Six

The diminutive ‘Doll’s Minuet’ which I plant in pots have just opened. These are last years bulbs that I lifted and stored. Good to see them in flower again.

While I will be out in the veg patch this weekend The Propagator will be on his 50k run and then taking a well earned rest. Miraculously he will also be hosting the Six On Saturday meme. Good on yer! It looks like the overnight temperatures will be a little warmer so I will be planting out the potatoes and onion sets. Wishing you well with your weekend gardening.

Six On Saturday: April chills

What a week! From balmy spring warmth to icy snow showers and freezing winds. There was a slight frost this morning. This was also the week the pergola was installed and the foxes had a fight in the rosemary bush, I think the rosemary came off worse. There were some brave tulips on show and the plum blossom appeared. Here’s six from the garden.

One

The first tulips to appear in this garden are ‘World Friendship’. They’ve last well over about three years but I think this is the year to top them up. They have a softer yellow colour, not too bright and I think they work well with the thalia.

Two

The plum blossom opened up at the beginning of the week, only to be thrashed about by a vicious north wind. Here’s hoping some of the blossom makes it through to fruit.

Three

The glorious sunshine of last weekend saw me tackle two gardening jobs on the same day! A good clear out of the potting shed followed by a clear out of this end of the thin border. Previously home to rampant blackberries, generously giving too much fruit to use, a first thinning out was achieved. I know I said I wouldn’t, but I do have a few white dahlias that used to live in pots. They have overwintered and I think for this year at least they will go in here along with some summer annuals while I mull over a permanent plan.

Four

I am a purist for the simple yellow primroses, but somehow I have inherited this dark red one. It has made a successful appeal to stay in the garden.

Five

The new green growth of the grass melica altissima ‘Alba’ caught my eye this week. Fresh and vibrant, it adds a good band of colour to the back of a north facing border. In the summer lovely dancing stems of white flowers sway in the breeze. I can’t wait.

Six

The pergola was installed amid howling winds and snow showers. The guys very cleverly built the new one whilst using the old one to support the vine. I kept the warming cups of coffee going and marvelled at the progress from inside in the warm.

It’s a beautiful blue sky morning here, cold but bright. Let’s hope we have done with the cruel weather, no more frosts please, it’s time to will those seeds into germination. The Propagator hosts this weekly gathering, stop by and see if you can catch him in the garden.

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: The sun and the moon

I have fallen under the spell of a full moon! The March full moon has just filled the night sky and it has been impressive. Apparently it is known as the worm moon because around this time in the northern hemisphere the soil is warming up and the earthworms are more active. It is the last full moon of the winter. So there’s no more dithering. It is spring. By coincidence I planted out asparagus crowns, an auspicious time to do so! More regular sighting of the sun also encourages us gardeners to get outside and enjoy our gardens. Here’s six from a sunny end to the week.

One

The front garden magnolia has just burst into flower. Such a lovely sight against the blue sky

Two

The first of the cowslips are up, these have generously self seeded over the last few years and now I have enough to divide and dot them around the garden.

Three

On a walk yesterday I spotted white anemones under the trees looking so fresh in the sunshine. In the afternoon I was dazzled by a small group under the apple tree in the garden here.

Four

The lockdown purchased rose arch is supporting a clematis montana Wilsonii which has just leapt into life; new tendrils and green leaf in abundance with eagerly anticipated flowers to follow soon. It is destined to go crazy but for the moment the coverage is within acceptable limits!

Five

I still have a little of last week’s impatience left! The leucojums have produced one single flower stem. Now come on you guys, more effort please!

Six

A few years back I couldn’t resist planting a ring of tête-à-tête around the persimmon tree. One half of the gardening brain said ‘no, that will be too twee!’ The other half said ‘go for it.’ Over a couple of years they seem to have multiplied incredibly well and twee or not, they do cheer me up!

The seed packets are being rustled, seed trays dusted down and the greenhouse glass is due a clean up. Yes, it is time to think about sowing some annuals and onions sets have been started off in modules in the greenhouse. No need to rush, as the soil here is still quite cold. Mr P invites everyone to join in with SOS so stop by and take a look. Happy gardening.

t is the last full moon of the winter.

Six on Saturday: Oh, the impatience of me!

It’s coming up to mid March and I am pacing the garden in fervent anticipation of the explosion of colour to come in three months time. There are signs of the summer garden. I spotted the very first growth from the delphiniums and so now I am hoping the slugs are not sniffing around. The magpies are having fun in the borders, throwing leaves around and generally sticking their beaks into things, which hopefully includes a few slugs. Of course in anticipating July I am skipping over tulips and forget-me-nots and alliums and irises. So many treats to look forward but for now it is still a bit quiet. Here’s six finds from this week’s garden.

One

One of my favourite spring combinations, the primrose patch sprinkled with a few blue anemones.

Two

The supermarkets are full of trays of nodding fritillaries, here mine are just about to open. Very delicate and I should have more. Impatient I may be but I am going to resist buying pots in flower and will make a large note to self to buy more bulbs later in the year.

Three

In a fit of purity, last year I dug out the hotch potch of daffodils that dotted the garden and determined to have only dwarf tête-à-tête. Of course there is always one that escapes and this is it. Not looking too bad really.

Four

Last year’s bulb planting included a quantity of muscari bulbs and I could not squeeze them all into the gaps in the border. So I planted up the remainder in pots ready to drop into the gaps that suddenly become very apparent in Spring. These in the pots are more advanced then those in border. They have had the benefit of a sunnier corner and drier conditions. Somehow I also seem to have some love-in-mist seedlings. Works for me!

Five

About a month ago I showed the first flowers on the clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’. It really does seem to have been a slow month, even now much of the climber is still in bud with the flowers only gradually opening. Why am I impatient with this? Surely this means a longer display? I will develop some mindfulness and enjoy them more.

Six

Here I have kept my impatience in check. The new growth on the hydrangea is surging forward but I haven’t cut back the old flower heads yet. Sneaky nature will surely send a mean frost soon. I’ll wait a little while.

The first seeds have been sown, some tomatoes for the greenhouse, an early sowing of mange tout sown in root trainers in the greenhouse, and a small sowing of rocket and lettuce also in the greenhouse. I’ll find some patience and wait awhile before anything else is sown. The forsythia is out in the front garden so it really is Spring and the growing season is beginning . Mr P hosts #SixOnSaturday with his usual panache. All invited to stop by!

Six on Saturday: Time to get going

As the garden gets going it is time for the gardener to step up the pace. The beginning of March has been cold and wet here but growth continues. It is time to give the fruit trees their quarterly feed of bonemeal and the roses will receive a handful of fertiliser to propel them into abundant flowering. Having spent a week away from the garden I came back to find a very soggy lawn and wet borders. I have snowdrops to divide and the last of the herbaceous perennials to cut back. Not a seed has been sown yet but this weekend I will start the tomatoes off. Here’s six from the garden.

One

I plant the David Austin rose ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ in 2020, in its climbing form. It has now made up to the top of the arch and the new growth is lining up nicely. I’m hoping for more of its lovely red flowers this year.

Two

I have been taking stock of what has survived the winter and I’m pleased to say that this salvia ‘Amistad’ planted against a south facing wall is just beginning to show signs of new growth. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get caught by a late frost. I have insurance in the shape of a cutting in the greenhouse which looks good too.

Three

The euphorbia oblongata has also come through unscathed. It’s described as a short lived perennial, so I should be prepared for it to fade away soon. It’s been with me for about three years, it will be interesting to see how short lived it is.

Four

No seeds sown this year but these are lychnis coronaria that I sowed last autumn. Lychnis are self seeders so these were a bit belt and braces. I will plant them out away from the parent plant, spreading a little more hot pink around the garden.

Five

I took some sage cuttings last year when the very old sage bush had a good cut back. The parent plant seems to be none the worse and the cuttings have taken.

Six

In June I will have been gardening here for six years. I inherited a large pot of strawberries that I transferred to the greenhouse in the hope of an early crop of fruit. But there they languished producing very little at all. I am finally about to dig them up and use the space for something else. The soil will need some improvement. In the meantime I have six new strawberry plants, three of ‘Cambridge Favourite’ and three of ‘Elsanta’, chosen from the limited selection available at the garden centre. Roll on Summer, I am ready!

More garden reports can be found on The Propagator’s site, where he hosts all the SOS links. Join in or simply read for pleasure. It’s a merry band.

Six on Saturday: An interesting end to February

The last full week of February has been eventful but here the focus remains on the garden. Storm Franklin lashed a few more fence panels. Thankfully none of them are mine but there are some interesting gaps in neighbouring gardens. It has been a difficult week to find time to garden but a moment here and there was grabbed and the cut down of the herbaceous perennials continues. There is growth under the brown and the March surge is approaching. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

The fig tree had a prune. Three or four of the larger branches were shortened and the overall height was taken down a little. Come the summer the longer thinner branches will be shortened. It is amazing that despite the high winds there is still a number of last seasons figs clinging on.

Two

Last summer saw us say goodbye to two box shrubs which had succumbed to blight and caterpillars. It has opened up this corner of the garden to a little more sunshine. It will be brief lightening of a shady corner that will be back in shade once the trees are in leaf. This is also a big tick for cutting back the old stems on the phlox.

Three

I do have some crocuses in the garden that have withstood the wind and rain. If I remember rightly these are ‘Ruby Giant’ – not so ruby in colour.

Four

New buds on the climbing hydrangea are encouraging. This is year three for this shrub and gradually it is making its way over the fence.

Five

I used to have four of these euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii which made a dramatic impact in early spring. I’m down to two now and they are looking a little thin. I think the soil here is just too wet for them. Evidence of climate change perhaps. I have a couple of seedlings in other parts of the garden so we’ll if they do any better.

Six

I feel sure the viburnum usually has more flowers than this by now. They are only just beginning to open, perhaps March will push them on to a better display.

I think the garden is the place to be this weekend. Things are looking a whole lot more positive there! Mr P will no doubt be out and about one way or another and yet always finds time to cheerfully host the SOS meme.

Six on Saturday: Storm Eunice

The garden was relatively unscathed by the ferocious winds that blew through yesterday. But elsewhere, sadly, there was loss of life as well as trees down and damage to property. This morning’s patrol revealed a few twiggy branches scattered across the lawn and the loss of some ancient fleece wrapped around the agapanthus but otherwise there was an eerie calm. I count myself lucky. Here’s six from the garden that withstood the storm.

One

The hellebores are in their stride so I start with three of the best. First ‘Pretty Ellen’ white. I think this is a mix of the single and the double version.

Two

Then the moodiness of ‘Pretty Ellen’ Red, the double version. It smoulders in a dark shady corner of the garden.

Three

Finally, Helleborus x hybridus. It’s a shame that hellebores don’t like being divided but this one does seem to be self seeding. There are one or two promising leaves emerging near the parent plant so I will lift a few to pot on and see if I can spread them that way.

Four

Suddenly the first Tête-à-tête daffodils have pushed through, there may be stormy weather now but spring is definitely on its way.

Five

Another spring front runner is the pulmonaria, happily hunkered down against the storm, it looked very comfortable in the shade of the rhododendron.

Six

I was just about able to reach up to take this photo of the first clematis armandii flower. The new growth that I felt sure would be blown off survived the onslaught of the winds but I know if I try to bend it down in the direction I want it grow there will be a sudden snap.

The Propagator suffered a lost fence panel and a felt roof torn off, and so has some non gardening jobs to do. I hope there’s not too much damage in other SOS gardens in the UK. It was a wild day. Wishing everyone well, and hoping that the weather settles down so that we can get out into our gardens safely.

Six On Saturday: Out and about

It’s mid February so it really is snowdrop time. Those in my garden are galanthus nivalis. I inherited one two clumps and since arriving here five years ago have planted about 400. They are beginning to settle in. But this week I visited Bennington Lordship, a private garden in Hertfordshire that opens in February to show its collection. So here are six photos from that garden.

One

This combination of hellebore and snowdrops was snapped at the entrance to the garden. This is a combination I have replicated in the garden here. My hellebore and snowdrop combination is in a north facing border and the hellebore is just beginning to open.

Two

The combination of winter aconites and snowdrops is used in the grass that edges the drive. I have resisted aconites so far but they do look cheerful in this mix.

Three

Paddy Tobin, galanthophile, often shows snowdrops with cyclamen. This is another combination I’d like to try out. At Bennington Lordship this pairing of snowdrops with tiny cyclamens caught my eye.

Four

I always enjoy seeing this yellow variety. There was no label by this clump but I wonder if they are ‘Wendy’s Gold’.

Five

And without fail, I am drawn to ‘Comet’. It looks so plump!

Six

This one is ‘James Backhouse’, another large form, this one has longer petals.

I couldn’t resist adding a bonus photo this week: Nobody is going to wrest the crown from this mossy chap!

Back to my garden next week. The Propagator has the links to all the SOSs from around the world so drop by and take a look. He might be out in the garden, or on a long run but somehow he still keeps us in order, for which many thanks.