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.

Six On Saturday: Hot stuff

All I can think about is the heat. I have been wondering what plants cope with this new British climate. Hot dry summers and wet winters. Answers on a postcard, please. This is the fifth summer in this garden and it is time for an edit. When is it not time for an edit? Recent carnage has included the decimation of the gooseberry bushes. Eleven taken out and now eight remain. Excuse me if the maths is wrong :). This makes room for some redcurrants and I shall sneak a bit off the end to extend one of the borders. That’s a trailer for a six to come. For the moment here’s this week’s six.

One

Zinnias.  Last year they seemed to come through late.  This year they are bang on time.  They are fast becoming my favourite annual to sow.  I lost a couple to the voracious slugs but those that made it through are putting on a good display.  These are the Sarah Raven ‘Deep Zinnia’ collection.

Two

Kniphofia.  Or Red hot pokers if you prefer.  I never thought I would grow these but I have been won over.  I picked up a bag full of divisions at last year’s visit to Ulting Wick garden in Essex.  They cost £5, money well spent.  Sorry, I don’t know the variety.  They have just started flowering but I read that once settled in they can flower from March to November.  If they achieve that I will be very happy.

Three

Agastache ‘Blackadder’.  Much loved by the bees.  I am trying these again.  The previous plants did not overwinter.  The RHS classes them as Fully Hardy (borderline) so I have my fingers crossed.

Four

I am also giving achilleas a go this year.  This one is already a disappointment!  I bought it as ‘Terracotta’.  Descriptions variously suggested soft orange, browny orange and of course terracotta flowers.  But not yellow.  I have since tracked down one description which suggest flowers may age to yellow.  This plant seems to have skipped the soft orange stage.  Unless it changes its ways this is probably not a keeper.

Five

I almost missed showing the large flower head of the evergreen agapanthus.  They are just beginning to go over here.  They are a marker of high summer in this garden.

Six

The front garden hydrangea is going through its annual identity crisis.  What colour will it be this year.  I prefer this bluish colour but other flowers are pink, purple and faded variations in between.

Jobs to do include cutting some of the lavenders back.  One clump has definitely finished flowering.  There is watering to be done and the cosmos need dead heading.  The roses are in full flow again so more dead heading.  I think I can manage that in the heat but the best part is walking round the garden in the evening and taking in the scents.  Lovely.

I hope all is lovely in your garden.  To catch up with the news from other SOSers please stop by  The Prop’s garden update, where all the links are posted.

Six on Saturday: Proper January cold

Blue skies and cold temperatures, the real January has arrived. On a walk round the suburban streets here I gently peeked into front gardens and spotted the first camellias opening up, beautiful sprays of red nandia berries and the delicate yellows of winter flowering honeysuckle. Blue Monday has passed and all is well. Inspired by what I had seen I looked more carefully at my garden and here’s what I found.

One

The first crocus is in bud, beautifully veined and full of the promise of butter cream flowers.

Two

The cyclamen bought on the cheap a year ago have decided to flower, the white is delicately flushed with pink, just perfect.

Three

The magnolia tree is in furry bud and some had even dared to open, perhaps a little too soon.  Temperatures for tonight are forecast to be lower and I’m hoping there won’t be too much damage done.

Four

In expectation of cold weather the evergreen agapanthus have been fleeced since November but the fleece, in its second year of use, is crumbling away.  If anyone can recommend some more reliable fleece I’d be pleased to hear from you.  I’ve gathered this together and tied the top up with string.

Five

In the greenhouse the temperature overnight on Friday just managed to stay above freezing.  I was thrilled to see the new growth on these rose cuttings that came all the way from  fellow SOSer, Fred in France.  I am very excited to think that I might have some beautiful white miniature roses soon.  Thanks Fred.

Six 

There are new buds on the cotoneaster villosus which, again, I have to hope won’t be crushed by frost.  So much excitement and so much jeopardy.  Is this why gardening is so thrilling?

Could this be the weekend the vine is pruned and the hellebores planted out.   Dry weather is forecast but will my fingers stay warm for long enough?   I’ll also have a look at the plans of other SOSers by visiting The Propagator, host of this meme and leader of the pack.  Happy gardening to all.

 

Six On Saturday: Clinging on to Summer

Last week had a very autumnal feel. Cooler temperatures, windy and wet but I did have the time to spend in the garden and it was not a pretty sight. The sweet peas have mildew, the knautia gone to seed and everything looks a little bedraggled. My first of the six for this week is a sorry sight but it gets better.

One

The apples are ripening but one tree in particular has a bad case of brown rot. I must have lost at least half the crop so far and apparently there is nothing to be done about it.  I pick up all the windfalls and remove any of the affected apples from the tree and throw them away.  So far the other apple trees do not seem to be affected and some of the younger trees are now producing a good crop which will compensate for the lower yields on this tree.

Two

I am still adding to the August garden to keep the colour going.  My local garden centre tempted me back in with a timely money off voucher which made the helenium ‘Short and Sassy’ more attractively priced.  After that I headed for a local nursery that offers plants at a much more reasonable price and paired the helenium with perovskia ‘Blue Steel’.  This is a smaller, more compact variety, chosen for my thin border.  I managed to get these planted out into  a very dry garden before the rain set in.

Three

The bees were flocking to the helenium and perovskia before they were even in the ground.  This echinops has a similar pulling power.  For this reason alone it has remained in the garden but it is in danger of going in the great rethink that is on the horizon.  Some things need moving around and some may have to go.  Such is gardening.

Four

I inherited a large collection of water butts from the previous owner and they have been invaluable in helping to keep the garden watered but there is the eternal problem of mosquitoes and after suffering a number of bites (also not a pretty sight) I decided I would try adding olive oil.  This is the most popular suggestion that comes up on an internet search, the second most popular is keeping goldfish in the water butt. It’s interesting how the same ideas come up in different places. I am trying it out in one water butt.  Will I be able to live with oily watering cans?  Has any one else tried it?

Five

The coneflowers took a bashing from the wind and the rain, more staking required if that is going to be the pattern for summer. They have been in the garden for two years now and are clumping up well.  They are a good bridge from the end of summer into autumn.

Six

I have some  new agapanthuses this year: ‘Navy Blue’.  In their first year in the garden they have managed to produce one stem per plant, more patience required before the full affect can be enjoyed.  I have to be good at remembering to feed them up before they flower. They are giving me a summer feeling for a little longer.

For more end of summer flowers call in at The Propagator’s garden.  Our host of the SOS meme shares the links to other SOSs in the comments section.

 

 

Six On Saturday: Too much of good thing?

I do like magenta pink. But truth be told I think I have too much of it in the garden. Lupins, geraniums, roses, phlox, salvias and more. A re-think is needed. The August garden is a bit patchy but the joy of Six On Saturday is that I get to show you the close up and can gleefully edit out the scruffy surroundings. Here are three magenta joys and a few others to break up the glare!

One

R. Gertrude Jekyll.  I hesitate to show the magenta pink flowers as the colour can look even more garish in a photo.  The colour doesn’t look too bad today, the rose is surrounded by astrantia major and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’.  The salvia is a looking a bit scruffy now but the astrantia soliders on.

Two

R. Madame Isaac Pereire.  An old rose new to the garden this year, and supplied by occasional sixer Thomas Stone.  It’s a repeat flowering old rose and is doing very well in its first year.  Thomas recommend it for its ability to soak up the sun in a south facing border.  I agree.

Three

This is one of my grown from seed annuals – Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’.  If only you could see the chaos surrounding it.  This is meant to be a combination of the orange calendula ‘Indian Prince’ and the cosmos ‘Double Click Cranberries’.  All sown a bit late, so only just getting going, all flopping and falling everywhere – really should sow earlier, should sort out some gentle staking, should water more, in fact, should do better! But with selective vision they all look wonderful.

Four

Also in the should do better camp are my nasturtiums in a sink.  These are not they.  The sink based nasturtiums have given up, gone to seed most likely for lack of water.  These are in raised bed, in partial shade and have managed to survive on the rain water that comes their way.  They also have more room to trail and all in all this is a much more successful planting space for them.

Five

My other dahlia grown in a pot.  I’ve paid these a little more attention, feeding them with seaweed extract more or less once a week.  This is dahlia ‘Furka’ one of the cactus group.  Which sounds as though I might know what I’m talking about, but no.  I am still trying to decide if there is a place for dahlias in this garden, having just spotted some rather lovely bright red ones at Ulting Wick garden in Essex.  I have a plan to visit for their next open day especially to see them.  But then again, is it more of the same colour palette?

Six

My agapanthus are in full flower now.  These are the evergreen variety that I have to fleece up every winter.  They are tall, with large flower heads and I grow them in pots.  There are currently five pots of them dotted over the patio and they look especially good in the early evening light when the colour seems to intensify.  They work very well with my verging on magenta pink pelagoniums.

More delightful colours can be found on Mr P’s site.  There you will also find the links to the other SOSers that post from around the world.  I’m off to do some thinking, weeding and watering.  Enjoy your garden this weekend.