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: 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!

Cornish moments

I missed a Six On Saturday post as I was travelling back from a week in Cornwall. I posted a five on Saturday via Twitter (somehow missed out on a photo) and now I’ve decided to share those photos here too. I’ve added a sixth one to complete the package.

One

One day was spent walking around Rock and of course visiting the beautiful church of St Enodoc. Homage was paid to the resting place of the poet John Betjeman. The church is famous for this and for its crooked spire. There had been a recent wedding and the entrance and inside had been decorated with flowers. In the cool interior the flowers still held the shape, pink roses, blue agapanthus mixed with lime greens and whites. What a wonderful wedding it must have been.

Two

Agapanthus are every where in Cornwall. These beautiful white ones combined perfectly with the verbena bonariensis.

Three

There were more agapanthus mixed with erigeron karvinskianus and lavender in this courtyard garden.

Four

The lavender was lush with vibrant green foliage, still in full flower whereas mine at home is already going over.

Five

And in one corner this crocosmia provided a vibrant contrast.

Six

We were staying on the Camel estuary which was at it’s most glorious so here’s a view of the river out to sea.

A diversion for this week, next week back to normal but as the drought here continues all is not normal in the garden. I managed to avoid the extraordinary high temperatures in London but the garden didn’t.

Six On Saturday: Bananas!

Or Bananarama to be precise. Cruel Summer to be even more exact. Perhaps I should be growing ensete. Too late now. The weather is going to be very cruel next week and we must all take care. I hope I don’t lose any plants and that the veg plot can subsist on the meagre amount of water I can give it. Here are six things from the flower garden this week.

One

The hydrangea in the front garden is a mass of blue, pink and purple flowers. It spends most of the day in the shade and I tend to take it for granted. Perhaps some water and a feed would give it a lift!

Two

The evergreen agapanthus that are wrapped up over winter should be at home in this heat but as they are in pots they do need regular watering. They are already on the turn. Every four years or so I take a saw to them and divide them up. This year a couple of the pots are only managing one flower stem so they will be divided next spring.

Three

The phlox are vibrant at the moment but I fear they will be drooping by next week.

Four

This is clematis viticella ‘Etoile Violette’. A favourite of mine and I do look after it with regular feeds of seaweed extract. It does get some shade throughout the day so I’m hoping it will not suffer.

Five

The day lilies are also basking in the sun. These ones, ‘Golden Chimes’, don’t have gall midge….so far!

Six

My recent purchase of ‘Lord Bute’ is back in flower again. Absolutely wonderful.

I hear Mr P is hanging up his running shoes for this weekend but is heading off to a festival. Even so he will be hosting the Six on Saturday meme as usual. Much respect! Don’t forget to stop by.

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: catching up, looking forward and enjoying the present

I had some time to do a catch up in the garden and rather later than usual I have cut back the last of the delphiniums. I was showered with seeds as the stems were cut back. I doubt they’ll come to anything but it would be fun if they did! Having completed the cut back I can see that there are way too many astrantias, which do self seed very well. There has been some pulling up but there is more to be done. The garden has a scruffy feel at this time of the year but the roses are coming through again which helps hold things together. Here’s this week’s six.

One

The cutting patch is just beginning to deliver the goods. I planted half with seed tray sown plants and half was direct sown in May. The May sown seeds unfortunately had to compete with the verbena bonariensis seeds that came through in the home made compost. The verbena won hands down and so that half was dug over and given to some lettuce plants and some very late sown cosmos. These are the China Asters which I really do like. Now I just have to cut them, which of course I won’t as they look so much better here.

Two

The other side of the asters is a patch of dahlias grown from seed. This was ‘cactus mix’ and there does seem to be a good variety of shapes and colours. The bees like this yellow one.

Three

I have several large pots of deciduous agapanthus, the ones that need to be fleeced over winter. They flower on much longer stems and look fabulous at this time of year. I have a record nine stems in one pot this year and I try to remember to feed them once a week with a seaweed feed.

Four

All the apple trees were summer pruned for the first time this year. About three years ago I took the decision to bring in a specialist to prune the trees back to a good shape and I planned to take over again once that had been achieved. How weak am I? He makes such a brilliant job of it that I have decided to use him every year. And this year he did the plum tree as well.

Five

I could fill the late summer borders with this rudbeckia, it spreads that quickly. But I reign it in every other year. It does cheer the eye on a cloudy day though. It’s ‘Goldsturm’. This I would cut for the house as it is so floriferous.

Six

Yes, the roses are back so I am featuring Jaqueline du Pre again. So very pretty.

I have many plans to move plants around this autumn and will have to add some things in to take the place of some of the astrantias. I’ve made a start by, late again, dividing some bearded irises and there has been much reviewing of the wish list and checking of prices on the internet. I’m really trying to resist the sprawlers and go for more vertical height. Much more research to be done.

If you are also seeking inspiration then there’s nothing better than reading a few of the #SixOnSaturday posts. The links are hosted by The Propagator, who has got a very fab gladioli this week. Enjoy the weekend.

Six On Saturday: Out of control

It’s never a good time to have a twinge-y knee but this mixture of plentiful rain and some sunshine has sent the garden and its weeds into overdrive. Storm Evert blew through yesterday and the hollyhocks were swaying about like seasick passengers on a cruise ship in roiling seas. I nipped out in between the downpours to take some photos. These give you a selective view of the garden. In truth the long border is mass of geraniums that are still waiting to be cut back along with knautia, alchemilla mollis and of course a good selection of weeds. Here’s the good side of the garden for this week.

One

A few weeks back I had a good moan about the zinnias having been eaten by the slugs. Fortunately a small group of them survived and are now in flower. It’s such a shame that they are a slug favourite, I think they do a brilliant job of giving late summer colour. These are ‘Purple Giant’ and ‘Orange King’. I really am giving up dahlias but I will probably sow zinnia seeds next year.

Two

I am always a little amazed at the price of some 9cm plants from online suppliers. But having nurtured these echinacea pallida from seeds sown at least four years ago I can understand why. I can’t remember how many seeds were sown but I only managed to get three though to plants. They spent probably two years in pots until they looked strong enough to cope with those rougher plants in the garden, they flowered last year and look so much better this year. But I hear that echinacea are short lived. Time to sow more seed.

Three

These standard echinacea I did buy in 9cm pots and they have been in the garden for four years. It sounds as though this is a good span. They look pretty settled to me and I can’t believe they are going to disappear any time soon. They are not too crowded out by other plants which may help. Live long please!

Four

Agapanthus is another plant that costs an arm and a leg at the garden centres. After seeing an impressive group of dark blue ‘Midnight Star’ at Hidcote some years ago I decided that I must have some here. I bought some 9cm pots at the aforementioned arm and a leg price and waited for the impact. Three years on I think we are nearly there. They are fronted by achillea ‘Antique White’, a pity bench purchase from a few years ago.

Five

Echinacea is a bit of theme this week. I love these ‘White Swan’. I grew some from seed which are coming along well but I think this group is from a 9cm pot. I will definitely sow more of these to keep a continual supply for the garden.

Six

As posted earlier in the week on Twitter, the potatoes grown in a container were upended and the ever-pleasing job of rummaging for the treasure began. I grew Belle de Fontenay this year, which are classed as second earlies/main crop. Four small seed potatoes were planted in a 17 litre container which was half filled with compost. This was topped up as the leaves came through. I was very happy with the haul of 3kgs, some smaller but a good proportion were of a generous size. The best advantage of growing like this is that there’s no danger of leaving the odd potato in the ground to grow on next year. I might be a convert. I have two rows growing in the ground which will be dug up as and when needed.

More rain is forecast, at least the water butts are full and are being put to good use for watering in the greenhouse. Something has been eating the peppers but I have picked the first one, french beans are cropping slowly, tomatoes just beginning to ripen, courgettes coming through at a good pace and the loganberries and blackberries also just ripening. Don’t mention carrots this year, virtually no germination, the onions might get a little larger and the rocket which has been a steady producer has succumbed to flea beetle. Storm Evert brought down a few apples which reminded me the trees are in need of a summer prune as does the grapevine which is truly out of control. While it rained I watched the RHS video on what I should have been doing. Here’s hoping things are good in your garden. The Propagator has posted sunny holiday snaps and will still manage to host the links to other SOS gardens. More sun needed here please so that I can make a start on gaining control again.

Six on Saturday: Some like it wet

But not me. I’ve tried to maintain a sense of optimism for May but it is failing. Only one week to go and the weather is still unseasonably cold, wet and windy. I have barely been in the garden lately, fortunately last weekend I staked the majority of plants that need support. This week was a week for watching the garden through the rain and wind and hoping I had done a good enough job.

One

The hosta ‘Francee’ is unfurling beautifully. This one seems to survive slug attacks quite successfully. It’s in a pot on a raised bed away from any lush foliage that might be harbouring the little vandals.

Two

I am amazed that the heat loving aganpanthus has opened out a first flower, fully a month earlier than expected. It’s small but it’s a promise of things to come.

Three

Safely wrapped up in the warm the one cucumber that I kept on the kitchen windowsill is putting out tendrils. Night time temperatures in the greenhouse are still only around seven degrees but I think the time is coming for the cucumber to be moved.

Four

Last weekend the lemon tree came out of the greenhouse to make way for the tomatoes. Poor thing. What a shock it must have been. Cold winds, rain and then blustery gales. Amazingly there are three lemons that are nearly ripe. I wonder, if after a long time on the tree, they will be edible.

Five

The scented leaf pellies and the dahlias had a few days outside this week but went back inside as the high winds arrived. The pellies did not have a good winter but they have had a cut back and are sending out new growth and one or two flower buds were spotted. A trailing geranium looks quite good too. Strange to think that normally I would be thinking about moving these outside for the summer soon. Let’s hope they can have a few more days outside to become acclimatised.

Six

I was certain my allium ‘Mount Everest’ would succumb to the high winds but they held their ground and stood tall. Well done!

A quick note on the tomatoes. My first sown seeds for the greenhouse looked pretty feeble so only half the San Marzano went to the greenhouse. My second sowing of the free seed ‘Red Choice’, intended for outside planting, looked so much stronger so they have been promoted to the greenhouse. The second half of the ‘San Marzano’ and the ‘Tigerellas’ have been potted on again and will stay in the potting shed until things warm up a little more outside. I don’t know if these changes will make any difference to the plants but I felt better for doing it!

I’m not one of those who enjoyed this week’s weather but in general the garden is greening up well, spaces are being filled and flowers buds are waiting to burst open. Six on Saturday, as hosted by The Propagator, will be buzzing with excitement so if your garden is suffering from soggy patches drop by and be cheered up.

Six on Saturday: sunny thoughts

It has been a week of blue skies here and although the winds are still cold I have finally braved putting some new purchases outside to toughen up. Joining them has been a tray of dahlia seedlings and some climbing beans. There have been plenty of jobs to do – soft fruit netted, penstemons cut back and a tray of zinnias sown. Going against habit, I have not sowed cosmos or sweet peas this year. But I am going back to having a cut flower bed prompted by some tempting seed that came free with a magazine. I have an ever growing collection of free seed that rarely get sown. This year I’m going to use a up few packets. Here is this week’s sunny spring six

One

Cherry blossom for the second year in the garden. Last year’s few blossoms came to naught but there is a much better display this year. I am training the tree against a fence and will have some important formative pruning to do this year. I’ll have to read up on that. The cherry is netted now, which might give a little protection from the inevitable late frost.

Two

The tulips in the long border are opening up. These were planted four years ago to create an avenue of tulips along the edge. This worked well for the first couple of years but then became patchy. Last November I topped up the planting but this year there are more empty spaces. Time for a new plan. The tulips in this combination are ‘Shirley’, ‘Barcelona’ – not quite showing in its true colour and ‘Violet Beauty’.

Three

These dainty tulips are ‘Doll’s Minuet’. I have planted all of the patio pots with these this year, putting five or six to a pot. Clearly I could have squeezed a few more in. Once they go over I should be moving them on to make way for the scented leaf pellies, which are looking a little worse for wear in the greenhouse. Hopefully some judicious cutting back and a feed will improve things.

Four

I was also brave enough to unfleece the evergreen agapanthus and was very surprised to find a flower bud. A little pale from lack of light and curled up into the fleece, but as above, a clear away of the dead leaves and some liquid seaweed feed will get things going again.

Five

The warmer weather brings out the nasties. The lilies were barely above the ground before I spotted a crowd of lily beetles on them. They were despatched and the lilies were drenched in a spray of Grazer C4, a spray I am trying out for the first time this year. It should reduce the damage caused.

Six

It wouldn’t be Spring with out bluebells would it? Despite my efforts to remove an extensive spread of them from a corner of the garden they are very resilient. Here they have found their way out from underneath an old garden roller. What can I say?

Mr P, host of this meme, has tulips and blossom too. Plus an interesting looking seedling – curious? Stop by and have a look. There’s plenty more to see if you go to the comments section. Happy reading and happy gardening.

Six On Saturday: A happy garden

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

One

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

Two

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

Three

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

Four

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

Five

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

Six

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

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