Six on Saturday: On the cusp of good things

It really does feel like the garden is teetering on the edge of its summer explosion. A much needed shower of rain arrived on Wednesday. Brief, not enough, but gratefully received. There are rose buds everywhere, delphiniums have won past the slugs and the alliums have started to open. But it will be a few weeks before take off. Here’s six things from the garden now.

One

The front garden here really needs some attention. One side is almost permanently in shade and is very dry and I tend to leave this side to its own devices. This is the best time of year for it, the bluebells can cope with the conditions and over five years the sweet woodruff has also found its comfort zone.

Two

Also thriving in this difficult spot is Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’. Very tolerant of dry shade and a good deal of neglect!

Three

Last year I added a lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’ to a shady spot in the back garden. Within seconds the slugs had devoured it and later in the year I ploughed through the spot to plant a heuchera. Amazingly this year it has arisen phoenix-like from the ‘flames’ and has flowered. Perhaps it has now settled in enough to enjoy its challenging space.

Four

I am always looking for things to plants to plant in shady corners and sometimes the answer is right in front of me. The tellima grandiflora does well in this shady spot and now its been in a few years I am going to try dividing it after it finishes flowering. Tellima is billed as a prolific self-seeder but I can’t say I’ve seen any evidence of this so far. Maybe dividing it will shake the seeds into life.

Five

The allium ‘Purple Sensation’ has just appeared. This has self-seeded in the borders but it will be a few years before those get to flowering size. I need something to follow the tulips that will flower with the alliums, maybe its more alliums in different shades. Suggestions welcome.

Six

The forget-me-nots are going to seed and I have been gradually clearing the borders. Here’s one last corner where they do a good job of filling in the space before the geums and geraniums take over. The ubiquitous bluebell, iberis and osteospermum also oblige with gap-filling.

I seem to have sown far fewer annuals than last year and two trays of cosmos are showing very limited signs of life. I have had more success with zinnias and calendulas and they will do the job quite well. I’ll be sowing more carrots and parsnips today, and the daily ritual of taking seedlings in and out of the green house has begun. On the cusp, teetering on the edge, can’t wait, but I will have to!

Don’t forget to join The Propagator for his weekly blog and to see over the garden fence into many other SOS gardens. Have fun.

Six On Saturday: Zoom, zoom, zoom

Five days of sunshine and a day of continuous rain does wonders for the garden. We are now in overdrive. Geraniums, astrantias, hollyhocks and roses are all jostling for space. There is a distinctly lush feel to the borders and the bees are humming. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

The Siberian irises are in their stride now, they are so comfortable in the wet border that I need to divide them every few years. I am going to try them out in some other locations when the time comes for next division.

Two

The alliums ‘Mount Everest’ that were battered by strong winds a few weeks ago are open now and the bees are feasting daily. I am going to forgive the occasional disappearance of newly planted bulbs and will add a few more in for next year.

Three

Thalictrum ‘Black Stocking’ is eternally rewarding, copes well with half sun/half shade and is thoroughly recommended.

Four

A new rose for this year. ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ has turned out to be just the red I wanted to climb over this arch. I may have found a new favourite rose.

Five

Cistus × purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’ bought as an established plant in 2017 has put on a huge amount of growth this year and is taking over this corner of a small border. I was clearly too soft on it during last year’s prune. Note to self: be tough this year.

Six

Rosa ‘Natasha Richardson’ fights back against the cistus. A regular flowerer all summer so everything necessary will be done to give this rose its full entitlement to a good space.

It has been a good start to June, but I am, of course, a little behind with the garden. Last week’s long weekend was happily spent with family so this weekend is catch up time. Pellies to pot up in their summer containers, zinnias to sort out and the last of the tomatoes to send on to good homes or squeeze into a space in the allotment. Courgettes and cucumbers are in the ground, French beans are climbing but carrots have gone awol, a second sowing has been made but that’s it. If it’s a no show then something else can have the space.

I hope to have more time for SOS reading this week. The Propagator has an ever growing bunch of gardening friends who join this weekly gathering and it’s a shame to miss out on their exploits.

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: Wildlife, don’t you just love it?

I do love the pair of goldfinches that come regularly to the bird feeder now, and the nuthatches that remind me of Robin, the boy wonder. But don’t get me started on the squirrels who run along the top of the garden wall and perch there so cutely whilst eating the rosebuds. But worst of all is the fox. A regular visitor to the garden who feels so at home that when, last week, our paths crossed he merely looked briefly in my direction, seemed to nod politely and strolled on. Clearly he was soon back again for a night out in the garden, not managing to find the gents loos and so pooing randomly in several spots and then using the back newly planted flower bed as the dance floor. The hydrangea ‘Limelight’, so carefully nurtured from a dead looking stick in March to a lush and verdant shrub in May was decimated. Bah! Humbug! I say. Extra security has been put in place.

One

The poor ‘Limelight’ is now fenced in until it gets a little sturdier, perhaps the fox will find a new route home. I am on the verge of ordering a generous helping of Scoot which may or may not deter the fox. I fear the route through the garden is a favourite one as he is regularly spotted strolling through the veg patch and nimbly jumping the fence.

Two

Once I had recovered from that outrage I discovered a further disappointment. The ‘Mount Everest’ alliums are looking very shabby. This happens every year but this clump looks very sad and without any sign of a flower spike. Luckily others in the border have sent up stems otherwise it really would have been a bad week.

Three

On to happier sights, the geranium phaeum is romping away. Now happily seeding itself, perhaps to such an extent that I may need to do some thinning. But for now I’m enjoying the deep purple flowers.

Four

Even after four years in this house I am still a little neglectful of the front garden but glancing out of the window one morning I thought this sweet woodruff and bluebell combination looked particularly fine. These are on the dry shady side of the front garden where only the strong survive.

Five

Next door to the sweet woodruff I am trying out geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’. Planted out in 2020 and so far so good. Billed as spreading to half a metre – one metre I shall be very happy if it achieves that.

Six

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ is just opening out. The die back on these leaves is less noticeable as the foliage of other plants disguises it. Gradually the garden moves on towards summer.

In other news, the San Marzano tomato plants look as though they have caught cold, they may not survive. The courgettes and extra cucumbers have germinated, and the carrots are a no show so far but I think I have spotted one or two parsnip seedlings. I have spotted flower buds on the Totally Tangerine, whilst the Prop’s (our delightful host for SOS) continues to shine brightly. All other SOS posts can be found on the Prop’s site, stop by and enjoy the ever more colourful gardens on show.

Six On Saturday: Time to be kind to ourselves

I’m giving myself a big fat gardening tick this weekend. Not the ones that bite and cause no end of problems but the ones that acknowledge a job done. Tick. Tulips planted. I really had been sinking under the weight of not having done this. The weather had been awful. I knew it was going to be a tough job. I definitely had other things to do, although truth be told, they too were strangely being put off in favour of, well, in favour of not much. Finally there was a dry moment between bouts of chilly damp fog and I ventured out.

The job was as difficult as I had imagined. Weeks of rain had taken its toll on the heavy clay soil. I gave up trying to plant out the pretty pink double ‘Angelique’ and ‘Spring Green’ in the clay border and found a home for them amongst the lavenders. I dug up a dahlia and threw in about 60 bulbs of ‘Queen of Night’, ‘Shirley’, and ‘Violet Beauty’ in the hole and then as the light faded and the fingers numbed I planted the remaining bulbs in a pot. Not even a special pot, just a plastic one that was to hand in the shed. But it was job done and I was euphoric. It wasn’t the carefully thought out scheme that I had in mind but those tulips are going to be very wonderful next year even if they are in all the wrong places.

So here are the photos for this week’s six:

One

The stunningly attractive tulip pot so full of promise of things to come. Tick. Bonus plant: rose still flowering.

Two

I have never lifted dahlias for the winter here so I quite amazed at the number of tubers that I discovered. Now stored away in a box in the garage I have no idea where this one is going come the end of Spring.

Three

I give myself another tick for getting round to spraying the allium heads I had dried over the summer. My first tip of the hat to Christmas. I shall artistically arrange them in a vase, soon.

Four

I’m on a roll now. Another tick for keeping the bird feeder topped up. This is the best I can do with an iphone (old version) through the kitchen window and sadly I cannot share a photo of the very charming one legged sparrow that comes every day to hoover up the spillage left by the other birds.

Five

And I did order new fleece. Last year’s purchases are flaking away with every new breeze. I am trying this rather posh version this year. Maybe it will last longer.

Six

A beautiful hellebore to end on. I’m pretty sure its ‘Pretty Ellen’ white. It is lovely to have white in the garden as December gloom settles in.

The shortest day is in sight. Not long to go before the early bulbs push through. We can do it! If you are in need of a tick, gardening or otherwise, please consider one duly despatched. Ticks for everyone! Well done. Much appreciation too for Mr P who little knew what he had started. He definitely gets a tick for his drawers!

Six On Saturday: Some shady specials and some for sun

I don’t know why it took me so long to discover the first plant in my six for today. I saw it an NGS garden visit and serendipitously spotted two small pots of it for sale at the Finchley Horticultural Plant sale last year. It has come on in leaps and bounds so without further ado here it is:

One

Tellima grandilfora aka fringe cups.  It is an absolute winner for the dry shade in my garden.  This version has pinkish flowers that fade to greeny white.  How clever is that?  There is another version, tellima grandiflora odorata, that is scented but I didn’t stumble across that one.  I could easily be tempted to track one down for another shady corner though. 

Two

I’m also enjoying geranium macrorrhizum in the very dry shade in the front garden.  The bluebells there are just going over but that blue and the magenta of the geranium has looked good over the last few weeks.  This is a space where only the strong survive, and this geranium just gets on with it.

Three

In the sunnier long border the ‘Mount Everest’ alliums have appeared.  These were much complained about for putting on a poor show and last year I decided to add in some allium nigrum.  It seems the threat of being usurped has spurred ‘Mount Everest’ on and they are making a go of it this year.  The nigrums are some weeks behind and are much shorter at the moment.

Four

 

I had to feature the sun loving osteospermums this week because I had never noticed their blue centres.  Shame on me and thanks to Off the Edge Gardening for pointing this out.  Apparently this is a sign of a hardier osteo.  

It’s May, the roses are popping out everywhere and filling the air with beautiful scent.  So the last two spaces go to them.

Five

An unknown red climber that I inherited.  It was a weak and straggly specimen that I cut completely to the ground three years ago.  It put on the growth again quite quickly but this is its most floriferous year so far.  It does battle with the alkanet – which I am going to try to dig out very soon.  Again, that is.  Last year’s half-hearted attempt just didn’t do it.

Six

Madame Alfred Carriere.  Another climbing rose that is making good progress over the back fence. It is in shade for the most of the day but catches the late afternoon/evening sun from the west.  This is it’s second year and it is beginning to live up to its nickname of ‘Mad Alf’.  I am very happy for it to go as mad as it likes.  There is plenty of fence to cover.

There is some wonderful weather for today and perhaps early tomorrow but cold air is coming.  There may be a need to fleece some things and it is definitely not time for the pellies to leave the greenhouse but I think another week might bring us into more consistent temperatures.  Wishing you all perfect gardening weekends. I am late posting today but I see I am in good company.  Mr P was distracted by having Friday off but he managed to get a post in on time and will be marshalling all the links to other SOSs.  

 

Six On Saturday: Things I have learnt this week

It would be perfect planning to have six photos about six things I have learnt this week but I don’t. I have a few general observations and then six unrelated photos. First observation is that no matter how many tree seedlings I pull up there will always be another thirty ready to come through. Second observation: there is no rhyme or reason to what germinates and when. The gardener can only have a go – well that’s the decision I’ve reached. I was up to four lupin seedlings, now down three. Two courgettes have germinated, four are still lounging around. I could go on. Last observation: I am an impatient gardener and having more time on my hands has made me worse. The roses have been in bud for days, possibly even weeks now. Why haven’t they opened? Because it’s not time – in this garden. Here’s my six for the week.

One

Most of the tulips are going over but the camassias have opened up.  I see now that I Continue reading

Six On Saturday: A tale of two skimmias

There is a tale of two skimmias to be told but first the tale of the headless chicken.

Finding myself with some spare time I set off to do some weeding. Yep, I was definitely going to tackle the patch by the gooseberries. But on the way I walked past the borders where I spotted some ground elder. No, stay focused. Oh dear, there’s some enchanter’s nightshade running along the wall behind the roses. I’d better do that first. And then there was the creeping cinquefoil, leading on to creeping buttercup, which was nudging up nicely to the hairy bittercress and then the oxalis came into view. Celandine was popping up everywhere and I wasn’t anywhere near the gooseberries. In headless chicken mode I ricocheted from one weed to another, feeling determined and feeble in equal measure. A small dent was made and the fight will go on. But for now here are six delights from the garden.

One

The first of the skimmias, ‘Kew Green’.  As far as I can understand this is a male skimmia, with no berries. Continue reading

Six On Saturday: Something old, something borrowed, something blue

The bulbs are popping up all over the place.  A ring of tete a tete around the persimmon tree, thalia in the front garden, and signs that the tulips planted a few years ago are still willing to have a go. Today the sun is shining and once again that promise of spring is in the air. Here’s my six for the first week of February.

One

Something borrowed and something blue in the same photo.  The blue is the wonderfully uplifting sky.  The borrowed is the winter flowering honeysuckle from my neighbour’s garden.  The scent from it wafted over last weekend as I relocated a blackcurrant bush.  Yes, I have finally done my first bit of real gardening for the year.  The heady perfume was an unexpected and very welcome treat.

Two

Something new are these alliums.  This year I am trying out allium nigrum.  After a few years of growing Mount Everest I decided to add these into the mix.  The Mount Everest have a habit of disappearing for me.  Possibly due to the heavy clay soil.  I’ll see if these fare any better.

Three

Something old.  The north border has a wall that runs along its length.  At the bottom end it is about 30cms high climbing upwards to the top end where it is about a metre high.  It’s a higgledy-piggledy mixture of  all sorts and not very attractive.  At the bottom end I am persuading the ivy to entwine around itself along the wall rather than out into the very tempting lawn.  Or back into the borders.  Ivy twining patrol is a regular task but I am gradually achieving my aim.

Four

Further along the wall the moss is doing a grand job of covering the stones.

Five

I’ve not starting sowing seeds this year but the autumn sowing of ammi visnaga is coming along nicely.  I have a plan to under-plant the wild black berries with these.  Isn’t it wonderful how brilliant these ideas look in the imagination.   We’ll see.

Six

For February I have to include snowdrops.  Many gardens will be holding snowdrop days this month.  The NGS offers a list of gardens open for snowdrops and I hope to find one near me that I can visit.

Yes, gradually the gardening sap is rising, a gentle limbering up is called for and new inspiration propels me onward.  More inspiration will be found at Mr P’s site.  Links, comments and general good gardening cheer for all.

Six On Saturday: Turn around time

Weekends and weeks have been busy and the garden has received only fleeting attention.  The forecast of heavy rain for Friday saw me up early to sprinkle rose feed around so that the rain would do the watering in job.  I managed one afternoon of ruthless cutting back and hardly made a dent in the job.  I need to clear the borders to allow the later performing flowers to have their space.  It’s easy to feel that there is a mountain to climb but even in that one afternoon there was so much loveliness to enjoy.

One

I planted an awful lot of allium sphaerocephalon last year but I don’t quite have the affect I wanted #neverhappy! But of course I am happy – they are full of bees and are keeping the colour in the garden going.  I have no idea how the name is pronounced so I may be using the common name of round headed garlic.  Much simpler.

Two

The geranium’ Brookside’ are the biggest culprit for taking up space, stunning when they climb over the early roses but once the flowers go they have to be cut back.  They are well established and cutting them back is a major job.  My compost heap is heaping up.  Each year I dither about getting a shredder but as the garden has been restocked and matured it is obvious to me that this is my next purchase.

Three

I had to get my priorities right today.  The deluge of rain has filled the water butts again but with the forecast of more to come I needed to pump the contents of one butt down to the end of the garden to fill the large water tank.  I think it holds about 800 litres and is my go to for keeping the veg plot watered.  While that was filling up I took the rest of my photos, serendipitiously benefited from the combination of sun and raindrops. This osteospermum is a workhorse in a sunny corner and deserves a mention.

Four

I have given up trying to protect the soft fruits from the birds.  I have had a few good pickings of gooseberries, blackcurrants and whitecurrants and I have taken off the netting to share the rest with nature. The whitecurrants look beautiful on the branch but remind me of fish eggs once in the colandar.

Five

I managed to get the last tray of annuals in the ground this morning.  I sowed cosmos late so there is not a flower to be seen but the nicotiana also sown late have come in to flower and the combination of heat and rain will no doubt do them both some good.

Six

The rose of the week is Jaqueline du Pre.  I really enjoy this one for its difference.  It was flattened by the overnight rain but by crawling around on the grass and propping it up on some other branches I managed to get a half decent photo.  I spotted an interesting salvia this week – Salvia × sylvestris ‘Schneehügel’ –  a white variety. I am going to add this in around the rose.  Just can’t stop myself.

I know someone else who can’t be stopped, yes Mr P.  Go visit and see what’s happening there and around the world.  Seems like the rain can’t be stopped either, its just started again.  My empty water butt will be filling up nicely.  Happy days.