Six On Saturday: On the up

I have high hopes for the next few weeks. Temperatures look likely to be above freezing over night and although it all seems a little dry #neverhappy it does feel as though the growing season is underway. The self sown calendula seeds on the veg patch are germinating and so I have sown some outdoor carrot seeds. I’ve had a cloche tunnel on the ground for a couple of weeks now and will leave the cloche over them until they germinate. I am going to wait another week before I sow parsnip seeds outside. I’ve also taken up the suggestion from The Nostalgic Gardener to join in with Piglet in Portugal and Fred to grow the remainder of my potatoes in a container. They were the smallest of the lot so I have pushed my luck and planted four into a large pot. Here’s this week’s six:

One

Tree seedlings are also popping up everywhere and here’s any arty photo of the three main culprits.

Two

My favourite skimmia – Lime Green – is flourishing. This is a really good space filler on the north facing side of the garden, It is at the western end so it does enjoy some afternoon sun.

Three

In the front garden the mahonia is in flower. This one jostles for space with an hypericum and was in danger of being crowded out. With some gentle pruning I’ve managed to get it to stand a little stronger against the bolder hypericum. Who would have a thought a mahonia could be muscled out?

Four

I’m trying not to moan about the cold but really! The new growth on the Japanese anemone has taken a bashing. These are just behind the skimmia but clearly not benefitting from any shelter. This side of the garden is raised about a foot above the lawn and I wonder if that means it catches a little more wind.

Five

On the opposite side in the sunshine and at a lower level, this sanguisorba ‘Tanna’ has formed a good sized clump – after three years. I was on the verge of giving up on it and its nearby colleagues but perhaps this year there will be a strong display of flowers.

Six

I have to visit the cheery tulip/thalia border again. This week the white tulips have begun to open up. I really do enjoy this calming yet cheerful border. The white variety is ‘White Triumphator’.

Six on Saturday is a wonderful gardening meme hosted by The Propagator – I hope you can find a moment to stop by his site and see what’s on offer this week. Enjoy!

Six On Saturday: Progress on the to do list

There is always a job to done in the garden and I admire those who systematically list them and then work through the list. But I suspect many gardeners set out to do one thing and get waylaid into doing something else. Fortunately, sometimes it is possible to do the original task and the silence the siren call of the new job. Last week I set out to pot on the tomato seedlings, the sun was shining and it was impossible to avoid noticing the shabby state of the potting shed. The five minute job I set out to do became a mornings’ worth of sweeping, sorting, reorganising and throwing out the debris of last season. But it was one job done from my mental list and the seedlings were potted on.

One

Here are those tomato seedlings which will eventually go into the greenhouse. I shall be sowing some extra seeds for a few outdoor tomatoes in the next week or so. This first set have moved on from the sunny windowsill above the radiator and are now colonising a sunny spot on a bedroom floor. I was a day behind in my plan to pot them on and I swear they grew at least an inch taller in that day.

Two

I’m a little shamefaced to show you this one. It is remarkably similar to a photo that graced this blog a year or so ago. The slabs were from removed from another spot in the garden and were stacked in front of the compost bins waiting to be used to even off the site. The end of the wait is in sight. I now have someone lined up to do the work. I have spent the odd moment here and there this week turning out the contents of the bins into builders’ bags so that I can move the bins and leave the builder with a cleanish site to work with. I have one more bin to empty. Two jobs for the price of one. Compost gets a turn and the site is cleared.

Three

It may have been cold and windy this week but when the sun did shine there was some warmth to it. The anemone blanda are just opening up here and are filling in the gaps among the primroses.

Four

The warmth seems to have finally encouraged last autumn’s planting of camassias to make a showing. These are camassia leichtlinii caerulea. I heave a great sigh of relief here. Autumn was so wet and when I planted them they were pretty much sitting in water. Winter continued to be wet and I thought they may well have rotted away. Some camassias like it damp and I am hoping I chose the right ones for this patch of the garden. The camassias elsewhere in the garden are already several inches taller.

Five

In the now pristine potting shed there remain two trays of foxgloves. I use the potting shed as a cold frame over winter, this year home to delphiniums, aquilegia and several trays of foxgloves. Two trays have gone out into the garden already and these apricot ones will go out next week if all goes to plan. The delphiniums are staying inside for a little longer but they have enjoyed a few hours outside on the warmer days.

Six

Last November I bought up half a dozen packs of tête-à-tête daffodils as an end of season bargain. I planted them all in pots so that I could move them out into those empty spaces that become all too apparent in Spring. They are just coming into bud now, well behind my older plantings of tête-à-têtes. I have put a couple out into the land grab border and I’m pleased to say they came out of the pots very well. At least half of the remaining pots are destined for the front garden. The rest will probably go into the western end of the north facing border but I have to keep their cheerful yellowness well away from the apricot foxgloves that are destined for the more eastern end. This will be my conundrum for next week’s gardening.

I suppose the upside of these strange times is that there is a little more flexibility in my week which does allow me to fit in a few gardening jobs. I am not sure that today’s sunshine and showers will fall at the right time but I am waiting with trowel and spade to hand! Happy gardening to you all, and to The Prop who manages to garden and run with great abundance. Take a good look at his website this week as it also holds the link for his fund raising for Macmillan, the cancer charity. As usual the links to other SOS posts will appear on his website.

Six On Saturday: Last jobs to be done

It’s still quite mild but the days are shortening and colder weather is forecast. I have risked leaving the lemon tree out but this is the weekend it will go into the greenhouse. The scented leaf pelargoniums went inside during the week and the evergreen agapanthuses in pots have been wrapped up in fleece. There are too many of these to move into the greenhouse so they brave the winter outside. The garden is mulched, the old shed has gone and the new shed is on schedule to arrive next week. That leaves the leaves! And the last tidying up in the borders. Oh, and a few dozen tulips still to be planted. So nearly there, but not quite. The garden looks as though it is going quiet but underneath the soggy earth the spring bulbs are waking up. Hurrah! Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

Testament to the mild weather perhaps, is this flower on one of the anemones I grew from root cuttings. I took the cuttings last autumn and managed to get them through the winter. I moved them to 9 cm pots in the summer and perhaps around the end of August planted them out in the garden. It’s a small flower on a small plant but it’s all my own work so much treasured.

Two

The figs have been falling from the tree. Some were ripe enough to make jam with but most are not. This was the result of one morning’s work and the windy weather of this morning has brought down a few more.

Three

Lockdown life is pretty dull which is my excuse for buying these purple cyclamen. Madness, I usually only entertain the white ones. But here they are, looking more pink than purple but they are purple!

Four

As mentioned the pellies are in the greenhouse, even as they continue to flower. They will need to be cut back for their overwintering, a job for next week.

Five

The leaf cage is getting full and the neighbours on both sides are contributing. It’s quite a social event!

Six

Roses are still giving little pops of colour, a cheery sight through the gloom of a drizzly afternoon.

This season is turning, there will be less gardening and more eating of hot buttered crumpets. But SOS carries on. Mr P will inspire us all with his ingenious finds to make it into each week’s six. I urge you to take a look.

Six On Saturday: Last days of Summer

If the garden was happy last week, it should be ecstatic this week. It has been sunshine and showers all the way, rounded off by gusting winds. It felt like Autumn.   My minimal staking of the cosmos was revealed for what is was but pinching the dahlias out after three leaves has given me sturdier plants. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

That Autumnal feel is enhanced by the sight of ripening apples.  The windfalls have been coming thick and fast and I think picking those that remain will be on the to do list in the next week.  All the apples go off to be juiced and I am pleased to hear that the juicing farm is open for business as usual.  

Two 

I am pleased to have fruit on the lemon tree again.  It was in near-death mode after the cold spell of February 2018 – the famous ‘Beast from the East’ episode.  However I doubt this fruit is going to fill out and ripen before it is consigned to the unheated greenhouse for overwintering.  So sad.  On the upside the lemon flowers are so fragrant. 

Three

I am growing the wonderful Japanese Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ in a shady border.  They are glowing at the moment.  Long may they last and I give them permission to spread as much as they like. 

Four

This is salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ which overwintered.  Unfortunately the other two didn’t make it so it is not such a full planting scheme.  I did supplement this one with some plug plants of ‘Mystic Spires’ but they have not performed as well.   My research tells me that ‘Indigo Spires’ can reach four to five feet while ‘Mystic Spires’ peaks at three feet.  Here ‘Mystic’ has managed about eight inches.  Disappointing, but it’s not in the sunniest spot. I’ll be searching out ‘Indigo Spires’ for next year. 

Five

Achillea ‘Summer Wine’.  Poor thing, I’ve moved it around the garden, had it a pot overwinter and eventually planted it out.  It’s a bit thin on the ground this year but I’m optimistic that this will settle in this sunny corner. 

Six

Lastly, a hardworking pelagonium.  Overwintered in the greenhouse, and dragged out for another year of flowers.  I am very fond of this one.  It never fails – touch wood. 

I was making the most of the odd dry hour to get a few things done.  The fruited canes of the loganberries have been cut down and the new canes tied together.  Such tidiness is very satisfying.  The blackberries will have to be tackled soon.  The last of the new potatoes were dug up, revealing just how dry the ground was.  It was a wet week but this garden really needed a good soaking.  To take a look at how everyone else has been managing stop by at The Propagator.  I see I have an ally in feeling that Autumn is sneaking in.  

Six On Saturday: The tulips are marching on

Yes I have more tulips and great news: the elusive Ronaldo has appeared and not by zoom from Italy – or maybe he’s in Portugal now. I digress. Here’s what’s lifting the spirits this week

One

The holy trinity of tulips: Ronaldo, Negrita and Flaming Spring Green as they were intended to display.  I still only have two Ronaldo on show, but I have time, I can wait. 

Two

Speaking of waiting, I plan to have the poshest potato patch in N20. Following a tip from Tea Break Gardener I dug a trench along the edge of this year’s potato patch and planted it with a tulip collection.  The first of four to appear is this lovely red one, ‘Sarah Raven’.  They will be joined by ‘Mariette’, a brilliant pink lily shape, ‘Lasting Love’, triumph group, a pinky red and ‘Ballerina’ lilly flowered, orange of course. 

Three

Elsewhere the tulips have been joined by irises.  These came from a friend when we moved here so have been in the ground for four years and I have an urge to divide them.  That’s going on the jobs to do list.

Four

Yes, more tulips.  Those along the inner edge of the long border have come into flower this week.  This is a mix of ‘Shirley’, ‘Queen of Night’, ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Violet Beauty’.  They’ve also been in the ground for four years and are beginning to show their age.  They flowers are not so large and one or two clumps are thinning out.  I have a dilemma: to lift them all and start again with another combination or to add in new bulbs.  Just don’t expect me to make a decision any time soon.  

Five

The beautiful apple blossom has stolen the show in the sunshine.  Even the apple tree that was moved about a year or two ago is laden with blossom.  The result of some expert pruning by a man I know.  This week the ailing  plum tree was pruned by me. It took hours! I decided that the other plum could have the benefit of an expert’s touch.  When it’s done I’ll share the photos of both trees and you can see if you can tell the difference. 

Six

This is so out of season, but in the north facing, deep, dark corner of my garden the hellebores and anemones have just come into flower.  These brave plants deserve to be featured for overcoming the hostile conditions.  I’d love to hear any recommendations for cold, dark, and I should say dry corners.  I’m looking for ground cover suggestions.  

I’ve been sowing more seed, planting the main crop potatoes and celebrating the appearance of three lupin seedlings that were sown on the 29 February.  I’ve noticed a few dead bodies in the borders and I am pondering on a plan to re-plant a small border that’s a bit of a mish-mash at the moment.  This lockdown is giving me time to daydream and rather dangerously there are opportunities to buy plants on line.  For more news on our lockdown gardens take a look at The Propagator’s site.  He corrals all the links for the SOS meme.  Great job!

 

 

Six On Saturday: No gloom here

I’ll reference the c word in order to wish everyone well in their life and work and as a nod to the historical record but there are encouraging things afoot in the garden to distract me. Here they are:

One

The magnolia is in bloom.  On time and ready to give a couple of weeks of joy.  A blue sky would add to the euphoria but it’s not available today!

Suddenly out of nowhere the delphiniums have shot up.  This is one of my most enjoyable moments of the gardening year.  They are up and so far are outpacing the slugs and snails.  I am jumping ahead of myself as I day dream about summer.  

Three

I inherited a patch of white hyacinths at the foot of the smaller fig tree.  Here they jostle for space with the green alkanet and in combination the two manage to look pretty good.  I think I am going to learn to live with the alkanet as my attempts to eradicate it have failed once again.  In its favour it does have a pretty blue flower.  

Four

I also inherited various daffodils dotted in random locations around the garden.  I dug them up and planted them all in a corner pending a decision on their fate and of course they get forgotten every year until they flower again.  I rather like this white one.  One day I will sort out the ones I like and find them a proper home.

Five

The blue anemones are peeking through the forget-me-nots this week.  And there is a tiny yew seedling, donated by the birds that sit in the branches of the viburnum tree above. 

Six

More excitement as the tomato seeds sown last week have germinated.  These are above a radiator, on a sunny windowsill in the kitchen.  Time to move them to a cooler spot before they get too leggy.

The garden is still soaked and it’s best not to spend too much time standing on the soil so I still have jobs to be done.  Meanwhile nature pushes on and how lovely it is. I hope you can find some positive distractions in your garden or those nearby.  My snowflakes are not in flower yet but I spotted a stunning clump of them just round the corner from me.  For more opportunities to admire other gardens just check in with Mr P who hosts all the SOS links which are guaranteed to dispel any gloom. 

Six on Saturday: Reasons to be cheerful

Ignoring the awfulness of Thursday when, here, it rained all day with a real insistence there are reasons to be cheerful. I feel there is a sense of spring in the air. The garden is giving me strong signs that it is time to emerge from hibernation, open up the seed packets and get growing. This week I’ve sowed lupins, dahlias, a first batch of tomato seeds and three pots of basil seeds. I even gave the autumn sown ammi a brief outing in the sunshine.  There isn’t much new on the flowering front but progress is being made.

One

The clematis amandii ‘Apple Blossom’ has broken into flower.  This is it’s best side, further along there are one or two bald patches.  I hope these will fill out over the year.

Two

A small group of anemone blanda have deigned to push through again.  No sign yet of a new batch I planted in the north border.  I’m hoping a little more warmth will persuade them to show up.

Three

The fritillaries are dangling their lanterns again and reminding me that I must invest in a few more of these to make the impact stronger.

Four

The tulips leaves are marching on.  I particularly like these striped ones from ‘China Town’ 

Five

There is a rose to be seen! Battered by wind and rain but managing to look pretty even so.

Six

I was very happy to see some new growth on the alpine alchemilla.  I thought I’d lost this after the squirrels made short shrift of it when they planted a few acorns in the same spot.  Shame on me for being so despondent. 

The ground is still very wet, the weeds, particularly the bittercress, are enjoying the damp conditions and I’ll have to get to them soon before they find the energy to flower.  That means I’ll be in the garden which can’t be a bad thing.  And would you believe it, I’ve just had a delivery of 300 in-the-green snowdrops!  They are so late coming due to the poor conditions for lifting them from the fields.  That sorts out my morning.  Mr P has all the updates from other SOSers.  Plenty to admire and inspire! Cheerfulness all round I think.

Six on Saturday: Mid Autumn

I noticed that the leaves on the fig tree have just begun to turn yellow and so I am accepting that autumn is here. I’d love to be poetic about the gently falling rain but it’s seriously disrupting my gardening. I managed to plant out the Red Electric onion sets and some Jermor shallots last weekend but I don’t think much will get done this weekend. Time to focus on the positives.

One

I’m starting with some lovely greenhouse surprises.  The Six On Saturday meme has gently persuaded me to do more propagation.  These are my first ever root cuttings.  I dug around the sides of the anemone ‘Honorine Joubert’ and found some thicker roots.  I snipped off six  cuttings and planted them up in September.  The first signs of life have just appeared and it is all very exciting.  Of course I now have to get them through the winter.  I will resort to my usual tactic of crossing fingers.

Two

As the outside garden dies back so plans take shape for next year.  I sowed some ammi visnaga in September and a good number of these have germinated.  This is my first successful autumn sowing of ammi.  I’m already looking forward to the froth they will add to next summer’s garden.

Three 

The hesperantha was struggling to open up this  gloomy morning but even its closed form adds a welcome burst of colour to this corner of the garden.

Four

Some weeks ago I was tempted by some pots of salvia ‘Mystic Spires’.  I was advised to treat them as annuals and I did feel it was slightly mad to be buying a plant that was only going to last a few weeks, but I did and I think it was worth it.  There is  a slim chance that it might overwinter and I could have a go at taking some cuttings.  I’ve got nothing to lose.

Five

Forgive me if I’ve said this before but I’ve been gardening here for three and bit years now.  This colony of  erigeron karvinskianus started out as three small pots bought from a plant sale in the early days.  They have done their thing and spread out well.  They have just begun to mask the stone wall that props up this part of the garden.  I even spotted a few self seeders in the cracks which is just what I wanted.  For me it’s a doer, flowering all summer.  I know others find it thuggish but for the moment it can run wild here.

Six

The skimmia ‘Lime Green’ that I added this summer has settled down very well and has just begun to flower again.  This is in the north facing border in the space previously occupied by an ailing choysia.  I have space for a few more plants here but I need something with height to cover the fence.  I think one candidate is a camellia.  Watch this space.

It’s time to bring the last of the tomatoes in, take the lemon tree to the greenhouse and, if it is ever dry enough, to prune the climbing rose, Mdme Alfred Carriere,  on the back fence.  Let’s hope there’s a small window of dryer weather soon.  And if not, then there’s more time to read the links hosted by Mr P.

Six on Saturday: Shady facts

I was a little down on the garden a week or so ago. I’ve been planting up from scratch for about three years and the first plantings are filling out now. Some are doing well but I have to face up to reality. At this time of the year the main border is in the shade of a large fig tree. This seems to create the perfect environment for mildew. I’ve spent some time spreading things out a little more and I pulled up the sweet peas. The border is a bit patchy now but I feel happier.  Now I have to plan for a few more late summer shade lovers.

One

The long border minus the sweet peas.  It’s not too bad at the far end where the shade is less dense and there are a few sun spots but the top end under the fig needs a rethink.  The day lillies have finished flowering.  They can stay as they sneek into a little sun spot by mid afternoon and I have identified a branch of the fig tree that can go and the space will open up a little more.  Every challenge presents a new project so I am in excited mood.

Two

Down at the far end of the long border behind the rudbeckia lurk a few dahlias.  They are only just about to open.  I hoped they would be able to make use of the sun spot that the rudbeckia enjoy but it’s just not quite enough.  This year I will be lifting the dahlias and finding a sunnier spot for them.

Three

Further round the corner a small border that backs on to the veg plot is shady for the morning but catches the afternoon sun.  It seems just enough for the echnicea ‘White Swan’ to get by.  This is their second year in the garden and they have bulked up quite well.

Four

Moving further round, this year’s planting of  salvia ‘Amistad’ catches the same afternoon sun and has been magnificent this year.  Some of last year’s salvias did over winter,  I dug them out of their original position and moved them to  a nursery bed when I spotted the new shoots coming through.  Those ones have only just really got going and are about half the height.  Next to the salvias are three plants of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’.  Planted in 2017, they have just made it to a reasonable height this year but clearly they would benefit from less shade.  They are just far enough into this border to see a little less of the afternoon sun.  I am going to leave them where they are for one more year.

Five

Coming right round the garden, the north facing border begins to take on a western tilt and manages to catch some early morning sun and a good bit of late afternoon sun.  The fence line casts shade at the back edge.  I am optimistically growing r. Souvenir du Dr Jamain as a climber against the fence – slow going so far.  In front, I cleared away the unhealthy choysia and threw in some annuals to cover the ground while I did some thinking.  I had a trayful of nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ and n. alata ‘Grandiflora’ to use up so in they went.  At the time I did not know that the white variety likes a little shade so I struck lucky with the result.  What was a stop gap may now be part of the long term plan.  Anemone ‘September Charm’ and a white hardy geranium are also in this mix.

Six

Lastly coming round to the truly sunny all day long border, which is quite small, I have the lovely rose ‘Natasha Richardson’ planted up this year with salvia microphylla var, microphylla – the blackcurrant sage. I have tried every week to post a picture of this salvia but the vibrant magenta just floods the image.  I hope you can get a good sense of it against the rose.  It’s a stunner.

It’s going to be a stunning long weekend here, probably too hot to garden so I shall be thinking.  There will also be some SOS reading to be done.  Plenty of ideas to be gathered at the links that Mr P hosts each week.  Read them and if you are tempted join in!

 

Six On Saturday: A supermarket rescue and other joys

August is the month for destruction at the supermarket flower section. Rows of sad, wilting plants reduced in price, past their best but holding out the glimmer of hope for a rescue. For a pound I was tempted and brought one home. It was submerged in water and left in a shady place to rehydrate. Thankfully it did and here it is.

One

Leucanthemum ‘Broadway Lights’. I would have taken more but the others really did look past all hope.

Two

August brings the arrival of the late summer flowers.  This year this includes some late sown plants, the first of which is this cleome.  I have about a dozen of these dotted round in the gaps that also seem to appear at this time of year.  Some I pinched out to achieve a bushier plant with more flower heads, this one was left to grow straight up.

Three

My zinnias, that have been promising to deliver for weeks, have finally made it into flower.  More much appreciated magenta pink, although it looks more red here.

Four

This year I dug up several bits of the rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ to give to friends and to plant elsewhere in the garden.  The main plant has responded with even more vigour and makes a striking focal point for the late summer border.

Five

I have been waiting for sometime for the supposedly thuggish anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ to live up to its reputation and spread itself widely over the shady end of the garden.  It’s in year three and finally looks as though it is about to make an effort.  Perhaps this year the weather has been a little kinder.

Six

Rose of the week is ‘Scepter’d Isle, every time it flowered this year the rains fell and its lovely flowers were ruined.  Finally it can show off its elegant form, but briefly I fear as the wind and rain of today is giving it a good thrashing.

The winds are picking up here, all the pots that stand on a wall have been moved down to the ground and the fig tree is swaying wildly in the winds.  I wonder what will be left standing for next week’s six.  Seems like the perfect day to catch with some SOS reading.  All the links can be found on The Propagator’s blog and reading his contribution is a good place to start.  Wishing you and all your gardens a safe weekend.