Six On Saturday: Green is a good feeling

The week here has ended with a string of cold nights but thankfully no frost. The carrot and parsnip sowings remained under cloches, the potatoes are just peeking through and the onions are looking good. I have finally, after five sowings, managed to germinate two more mange tout seeds. Hopefully the May sowings will be more successful. French beans and courgettes have just been sown. Here’s six things I noticed in the garden this week.

One

The view from the kitchen was a very verdant green this morning as the rising sun shone through the persimmon tree. Just behind the persimmon the fig tree is just breaking into leaf. Further back the trees that surround this garden are also greening up. It gave an uplifting zing of freshness to the start of the day.

Two

One of the ‘Cairo’ tulips had been niggling away at me and I finally got round to sending off a photo to the bulb supplier with the question ‘Is this a healthy tulip’. The response was immediate. A phone call advising me that the stripes were due to tulip mosaic virus and I should remove the bulb and as much of the surrounding soil as possible. There is much to admire in the flower colouration but it is sensible to act on the advice to prevent the spread of the virus. Those darling aphids are to blame. The tulip stem will decorate the kitchen. The bulb will be disposed of.

Three

I am sure that if it wasn’t for SOS I would miss out on a number of things happening in the garden. I have admired the wood anemones that others have shown over the last few weeks but only yesterday did I remember that I too have some in the garden. It’s a small group that are almost hidden by the hellebores and the relentless snowberry. Here they are peaking through.

Four

As the tulips go over, so Irises should be filling in the spaces. But my division of last year has not been very successful. Thanks to Fred and to the good folk on twitter I have been reminded that these are I. germanica. I love them for their height and colour. I have now found a source for a restock and next year’s borders will be jammed with them again.

Five

Down at the veg plot end of the garden, on the way to the compost bins, I pass by a group of tiarellas. They rarely die down over winter and usually end up with a sprawl of scruffy untidy old foliage. I gave them a tidy last week and entirely by coincidence this week they have produced a flurry of flowers.

Six

More green to end on. While the mange tout have been frustrating the lettuce are chugging along very well. I have some in the greenhouse growing away, and two trays of potted on seedlings waiting to go outside when the night temperatures settle down. I can pick leaves now from these trays which is what I must do this weekend.

This weekend I will pulling tree seedlings out, cutting back tulip stems and beginning to pull out the forget-me-nots before they drop too much seed. The bindweed has appeared at the very back of the garden, a sure sign that the soil, even in that shady place, is warming up. Goody! Mr P will host as usual, probably run, and perhaps sow seeds. Rain, however, does not seem to be on the cards!

Six on Saturday: Oh, the impatience of me!

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

One

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

Two

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

Three

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

Four

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

Five

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

Six

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

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

Six On Saturday: More or less?

I’m pretty sure all gardeners are constantly asking ‘What more can be added to the garden?’ and, especially at this time of year, ‘What do I need less of?’ I’ve just about finished thinning out the alchemillia mollis. I definitely needed less of them, lovely though they are. I’ve decided I need more salvias, in particular Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’. I should have thought of this earlier and taken some cuttings. Of course, ‘more bulbs’ is an annual cry and I have managed to plant a couple of hundred muscari bulbs this week. This six is a bunch of other things I could do with more of.

One

Nerines fall into the more of category. This is my only one and have bought bulbs over several years. I am envious of those who have swathes of these lining charming paths that wend their way through verdant borders. Here I have one in a pot. It’s a start and I am persuaded to buy bulbs again – or even pots of them in flower if I come across them.

Two

Cosmos ‘Dazzler’, I have the right amount of these I think, but then again they are popping out of the gloom so well at the moment that I could be persuaded to have more. I was lucky this year to have self seeders that I transplanted around the garden. Will I be so fortunate next year? I may have to sow a few seeds myself to be sure.

Three

Liriope ‘Big Blue’. I used to have more of these but they refused to flower so I moved them to a new spot. Unfortunately the new spot had been home to self seeded carex that I did not want and I think in my enthusiasm to rid myself of carex seedlings I may have pulled out a couple of Liriopes! This one has stayed strong and has flowered for the second year. Thoughts of division come to mind but I’m leaving well alone for the moment.

Four

Berries on the snowberry was the wish for last year and this year they have arrived. I have been hacking this shrub back for the last five years, which explains the lack of berries. I’ve been taking out a mass of dead wood, dealing with the subsequent regeneration and finally getting it into a more or less reasonable shape. Of course it grows relentlessly and I’d really like to have less of it but that’s not going to happen. The birds are enjoying the berries and it fills a difficult corner so I will learn to love it.

Five

Anemone ‘September Charm’, still going into October and I think it started sometime in August. I am a fan of anemones and I did have success taking root cuttings one year. SOS posts have recently introduced to me to some really zingy pink ones that are high on the wish list, more, more, more!

Six

An unknown variety of hydrangea, that generously offered a little more in the shape of this late flowering stem. I have several hydrangeas around the garden and thought I had enough but this year I added a little pot of ‘Limelight’. I am very impressed by how quickly it bulked up, more please.

Of course less weeds, less slugs, less fox poo and less tree seedlings would make life easier but then what would we gardeners have left to moan about! The Propagator blazes the trail ahead through the winter months, challenging us in the northern hemisphere to come up with the weekly six, while those in southern hemisphere get to show their blue skies and summer gardens. Plenty for all to enjoy.

Six On Saturday: buckets and spades

Having just returned from the perfect UK beach holiday: a week of beautiful weather with a sturdy on shore breeze off the North Sea to keep things comfortable, it was something of a shock to find the garden in total chaos. Despite a good round of dead heading before departure the roses were jaded and a heavy downpour of rain had brought down apples and persimmons. Picking the plums before we left was a job that didn’t get done and a week of sunshine seemed to have pushed them over the edge. There was not a plum left on the tree. On the veg patch there was of course the marker of the season – an overgrown courgette and the cucumbers had excelled themselves. I will need the garden bucket to collect all the windfalls and the spade will be put to use as I hope to make a start on a revamp of the borders. Here’s six this week from a challenging garden.

One

The most joyful sight was the Japanese anemones growing in the North facing border. They have performed superbly this year. They are, of course, ‘Honorine Jobert’. I was curious to see if I could establish who Honorine Jobert was but drew a blank. French no doubt as the flower was discovered in Verdun in 1858. Many thanks to whoever discovered her.

Two

Having finally understood that the lovely ‘Terracotta’ achillea doesn’t maintain its colour through the season but always fades to a mustardy yellow I invested in ‘Walther Funcke’. A variety with a hint of red among the orange, this one fades to a creamy yellow which I am hoping will look a little softer. And no, I couldn’t find out who Walther was either.

Three

Before I left for the week I sowed some green manure seeds on a empty veg patch. These clearly enjoyed the conditions and have come along well. I’ll leave them be for a couple of months and then dig them in as winter sets in. In the meantime they’ll keep the weeds down.

Four

On the return journey from the Suffolk coast a stop was made at the Beth Chatto Garden to buy one or two plants for the borders. I had decided to grow actaea ‘Brunette’ behind the roses for next year and so made my purchase. On returning to the garden I found the ‘Darcey Bussell’ roses virtually leafless due to blackspot. Previously I have grown this rose with salvia ‘Amistad’. The gardener Sarah Raven advocates rose and salvia combinations as protection against blackspot and I think she may have a point. Last winter the salvias failed and the roses have battled on without their support. It could be this year’s weather that has encouraged the disease or it could be the lack of salvias. I’ll give the actaea a go but I may be returning to the salvias soon.

Five

I didn’t sow the usual trays of cosmos this year but was lucky to have enough self seeders to sprinkle around the garden. They’ve done better than anything I’ve ever sown so I’m hoping they will self seed again. It saves all that potting on! This is ‘Dazzler’. Sadly the sage is in better focus!

Six

The final six for this week is a sneaky return to my daily view from last week, marram grass helping to stabilise the sand dunes, with sunshine.

This weekend I will be trying to re-establish some sense that this is a cared for garden and will stop by the links posted by other SOSers, hosted as always by the indomitable Propagator. He’s running again!

Six On Saturday: Spoilt for choice

The garden is in its stride. Roses unfurling in every corner and perennials jostling each other to claim their spaces. Aphids and ladybirds are fighting it out, the bees thrum busily in the borders and birdsong fills the air. It must be summer. Here is six from this week’s garden.

One

The foreground is taken up by persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’. It spreads, so far quite reasonably but it’s one to watch. Behind is Rosa ‘Jaqueline du Pré and behind that the thalictrum ‘Black Stocking’ from last week, all combining to fill a shadier area.

Two

On a sunnier fence the rambling rose ‘Wedding Day’ is opening up. The first buds are yellow turning briefly to apricot before settling into white. Only flowering once, it’s important to enjoy every moment.

Three

The final rose for this week is ‘Wisley’, chosen because it tolerates some shade. Here it is probably in the shade for about the half the day. It does well, the colour stays true and does not fade away as it might in areas of stronger sunshine.

Four

On to more prosaic elements of the garden. The potatoes in a container are romping away in terms of foliage. I hope this translates to a good crop. They look better than those in the ground, they are certainly receiving more watering.

Five

Aah, sad times now. Earlier in the year I thought the Japanese anemones had caught the frost. But now I think it may be more serious. Some searching suggests crown rot. The leaves are crinkling up at the edges and new shoots are wilting away. I have cut out all the damaged foliage but it seems to be spreading through the plant. Looks like I will have to say goodbye to this one and sadly to the one next to it. Any advice gratefully received.

Six

Apples are forming and falling as the June drop takes effect. All the apples from the garden are made into apple juice. This year our supply of juice has already run out and we are buying from the supermarket. Even though we are choosing English apple juice the taste is nowhere near as good. Roll on harvest time when we can go back to raising a glass of the home grown again.

We are heading for a heatwave on Sunday and Monday. The weekend will involve watering, especially the greenhouse tomatoes. The coriander looks ready to bolt, but mint and basil look sturdy. I still have annuals to plant out, but it feels like the garden is moving into a stable period when deadheading and watering are the most important jobs. But most important of all is taking some time to sit and enjoy it all. Keep cool and enjoy your weekend and perhaps take a moment to chat with other SOSers on The Propagator’s site.😎

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!