Six on Saturday: Aspects of gardening

A glorious week in late September set me off puzzling on the layout of the garden. There’s not much I can do about it now, unless the premium bond ticket comes up big time, but I was struck by how the sunniest spot in the garden is occupied by the garden shed. The border that leads away from the shed is the thin border, less than a metre in depth and the long borders at this time of year are shaded by the fig tree. The problem is the garden is south east facing and is laid out as if it were south facing. Maybe there is some tweaking that can be done but I mustn’t get distracted from the immediate task of thinning the garden of self seeders and digging out some poor performers. Here’s the six things that had my attention this week.

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The fig tree has been winter pruned for the last two years. Only belatedly did I realise that summer pruning the new growth back after five leaves is also recommended. I haven’t summer pruned because I was wary of the sticky sap the leaks from the stems. As a consequence I now have an enormous tree that needs taking in hand. The non-gardener votes for taking the whole tree down. I am having one last go at containing the monster I have created but given the impact it has on the flower borders, balanced with the quantity of fruit we manage to harvest I think I am at the start of a slippery slope.

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This is the last apple tree still bearing fruit and I think I am growing the smallest Braeburns ever. They have just started to drop a few windfalls which are miniature sized but very tasty. We will start picking a few next week.

Three

Having spent a massive amount of time digging out and dividing a poorly flowering agapanthus, I planted a clematis. It is ‘Madame Julia Correvon’, one that has been on the wish list for some time and when I came across it at a local garden centre I could not resist. It looks a bit mildewy already!

Four

I am ruthlessly pulling out the self-seeding astrantias, in particular astrantia major. I am trying hard not to pull out ‘Roma’ but it’s pot luck really. Here’s a. major in flower and for the moment staying in place.

Five

The battle against the slugs continues and delving around in the borders revealed a multitude of them. Far too fat to squish and I’m too squeamish to resort to the secateurs. They go into the green bin where they can feast themselves silly before being transporting to a nice hot compost heap far away from here. This year I am trying out the Strulch mulch, mineralised wheat straw, which apparently lasts in the borders for two years and deters slugs and snails. I love that word: deters. I wonder if my slugs and snails will be deterred from munching through the garden?

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Call me a liar. I did swear that I would not grow dahlias anymore because I didn’t really like them and of course they are a magnet for the slugs. But here I am tying a bit of twine around this dahlia in the cutting patch because I like the burnt orange colour and it might just possibly do well in a newly strulched border. Time will tell.

The Propagator invites us all to post each week and hosts all the links. Happy to oblige and happy to share in all the gardening news from around the world.

Six On Saturday: Flowers in the rain

Returning to the garden after a week in Suffolk was not a pretty sight. The roses were brown or balled up, never going to open and the slugs had been feasting on the young dahlias and china asters. The ailing anemones looked so bad they were swiftly dug up and disposed of. I suspect some kind of wilt disease, the treatment suggested by one website was solarisation of the soil. If only there was some sun to reach into the shady spot were the anemones grew. It feels like that time when early summer moves into late summer. It’s only the first week of July. Whatever happened to mid summer? I think there’s still time for a few lazy sunny days. In the meantime here’s this weeks six.

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On a happier note. Last year I bought an achillea ‘Terracotta’ which flowered yellow and was not to my liking. This year it has come true to its name and I like it much more.

Two

The astrantias are in full flow now. These are ‘Roma’ which are self seeding. There will be some ruthless thinning at the end of summer.

Three

The hydrangeas seemed late into flower this year but they have come good in the last week or so and of course are happy with the rain. I resisted cutting them back in March, probably not doing it until late April as the weather was so unpredictable. These are variety unknown, a happy inheritance from the previous owner.

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It’s definitely a sign that summer is moving on when the penstemons start to flower. These are ‘Sour Grapes’.

Five

The clematis has been colonised by black fly this year but is flowering well. I have spotted several ladybird larvae on the plants so I hope they have been feasting away. There are hundreds of black fly on offer.

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A rose to end with. ‘Scepter’d Isle’. After a serious round of dead heading I was very happy to see that some blooms remained to enjoy a few days sun before the rain arrived again.

It’s a gloomy day here so I will have draw on memories of a week by the sea with two gloriously sunny days, a couple of windswept walks and fish and chips – the perfect British holiday. Now it’s back to some gardening – so much more deadheading of roses to be done. One of the plum trees is for the chop – this week or by the end of the month and, fool that I am, I will sow some more carrots – so far only a paltry few have germinated. Enjoy your gardening this week, drop by The Propagator’s place to see the links to all the other SOS posts, and of course there is some sport to be watched.

Six On Saturday: Seedlings

This is the sort of SOS that will separate the forward thinkers from the skin of the teeth types and I nailed my colours to the latter mast some time ago. The weather is atrocious here but there was a brief moment of less than torrential rain so I nipped out to the greenhouse and snapped this six.

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Ignore the label – these are not Lutea!

Foxglove seedlings. Somehow, and much to my delight, I had one white foxglove among the forest of purple ones this year. I collected seed and will patiently wait to see if a) I can get them through the winter and b) if they come through as white foxgloves. Oh, the jeopardy!

Two

Fighting the damp conditions and the slugs

More collected seeds. This time from purple delphiniums. I think I am already in danger of losing some of these as the greenhouse has been rather damp of late and I fear the worst.

Three

Aquilegia seedlings, sown some time ago and I am already down two of them.

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Thalictrum delavayi seedlings, in need of potting on. Such delicate little things that will, if all goes well, grow on to make plants of over a metre tall. Possibly in danger of being overtaken by moss and algae. Oh dear.

Five

The astrantia major in the garden is really making itself at home and needs to be taken in hand from time to time. Some are pulled out but I have potted some on for next year to fill gaps in a shady border.

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A second sowing of basil has come good

I have a forest of basil plants that I hope will keep going for a couple of months longer. These have been one of the most enjoyable crops this year!

Well, I seem to have ended in in the new block editor this week. I have always failed to edit the link. Let’s see what happens. https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/six-on-saturday-03-10-2020/ No I can’t give it a short and snappy name – any ideas folks? As they say, a rose by any other name … so just follow the link to Mr P’s page of delights and take a stroll through the comments section to find your way to the SOS collection of gardens. Keep dry!

Six On Saturday: Looking good on the surface but work to be done

I like to think that by June I’m on top of the garden. That I’ll just potter around dead heading and pulling a few weeds but essentially I will be sitting back and enjoying the balmy days and sweet perfumes. Not last week. The temperature dropped, the winds blew and there was some entirely unsubstantial wet stuff that pretended to be light showers. This all amounted to enough to keep me inside but enough to turbo charge Continue reading

Six On Saturday: Beautiful blues (and pinks and whites and oranges)

Having had a few days off at Sofa-on-Sea, I am returning to the fold with six from a parched garden. So much promise of rain, so little delivered. The water butts, and I have several, have run dry, the lawn is cracking and yet the bindweed just doesn’t give up. The greenhouse has been emptied of seedlings and young plants and those not yet planted out are now finding cover under the pergola.

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First something lovely in blue. The anchusas were grown from seed Continue reading

Six on Saturday: December delights

I had two incentives to get out in the garden today. Finding six gardening delights and collecting the greenery for decorating the house. I had a window of dryness this morning in what has otherwise been a very wet few days so armed with secateurs and the trusty phone camera out I went. The lawn is squelching and the borders are sodden. I hope the tulips can cope.

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A wheelbarrow of wet ivy that has to dry out in a couple of hours so that I can start creating the annual stair banister decoration.  This is a combination of fake berries, ivy, lights and what ever else comes to hand.  Collecting the ivy involved pushing in around the blackcurrant canes which released their wonderful scent.  That made my morning!

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In a dark corner at the back of the garden I spotted that the ‘Pretty Ellen’ hellebores are in bud and looking full of promise.

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The background to these hellebores is a covering of euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’.  These are supposed to have pink tinged leaves in the winter but I’ve yet to spot them.  I’m not complaining though as the white tinged leaves were singing out from the gloom today.

Four 

More signs of things to come as the viburnums are coming into bud.  These are all very old shrubs, full of beetle holes but soldiering on nonetheless.  I’ve been snipping away at them for three years now, removing the dead branches and cutting back the shrubs around them, and I think I detect signs of stronger new growth and more flower buds.

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The first primrose has been out a few weeks now and really deserves a mention for reminding me that the cycle continues come rain or shine.

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Winning a place this week for its longevity is this astrantia major, with new buds that are making into flower.  Testament to the general mildness of the winter so far.

This will be my last SOS for a couple of weeks.  I wish everyone a very peaceful and happy Christmas and I look forward to catching up with all the news in the New Year.  Many thanks Mr P for hosting this meme, keeping all the links in order and generally being an all round good gardening friend! Did you have any idea of what you were creating?

Six On Saturday: First Frost

There is nothing like the first frost to wake up this semi hibernating gardener. It was a light one but it had me scurrying to get the last of the pellies into the greenhouse. Not that my unheated greenhouse offers much protection, the thermometer recorded 1.3 degrees.  Winter approaches and six things in the garden becomes an interesting challenge.  Here’s my motley collection for the week.

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The last vestige of summer – the second flowering of the delphiniums.  Hardly enough to make a show but such willingness to have a go must be admired.

Two 

Likewise for astrantia major.  This plant is happily self seeding in the garden.  There may come a day when I regard it as a thug but for now  I’m content to relocate the seedlings to other parts.

Three

The first of the hellebores has flowered.  This is a very early variety known as ‘Happy Day’.  I picked it up from a plant sale once upon a time and I’d like some more of them but I haven’t been able to locate them.  I never seem to be around when they are setting seed – note to self: must try harder.  It is time to have a look at the leaves of hellebores and remove last year’s foliage.  More advice on this can be found in this RHS article .

Four

All those good gardeners who have winter structure in their gardens will be smiling smugly now as I try to find the last three.  I don’t have much in the way of seasonal shrubs which I always mean to rectify but never quite get round to.  My long border winter structure comes from four euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii.  Every year they take it in turns to look unhappy.  Believe it or not, this is one of the healthier ones.  This year’s sad specimen is being closely watched but I now have two seedling understudies waiting in the wings.

Five

This is a part of the garden that’s waiting for some inspiration.  It is a narrow border and this half of it has been home to wild blackberries and a thornless cultivar since before we arrived.  This week’s job was to cut back last year’s fruiting canes and bring the whole thing under control again. The berries are welcome in the summer and no doubt some will be kept but each year I manage to get a little more this border turned over to flowers.  Maybe next year I’ll push on to the end of the path.

Six

Last week I borrowed a weeping willow tree from my neighbour and this week I am borrowing a gorgeous rose.  Who knows what it is, but it is leaning over into my garden and looks full of curiosity.  This weekend I will be browsing  rose catalogues from the comfort of an armchair in search for a new climber for this garden.  The passion flower is going and a new rose is coming.

Tulips and roses are in my thoughts for November.  The weather has been relatively gentle here so far.  That cannot be said for other parts of the UK.  I hope you are not suffering flooding or constant rain and that there is something still be found in your gardens.   All will be revealed in Mr P’s roundup and no doubt there will be blue skies from the other side of the world.

Six On Saturday: The height of summer

It looks like last week’s prediction of beautiful weather after the summer solstice is coming good.  Of course it will be extreme, that is only to be expected these days! Greenhouse windows wide open and pots regularly watered.  Here’s hoping the garden stands up to the next onslaught.  The pests are increasing their attacks – sawfly on the gooseberries, slightly less than last year, slugs and snails everywhere, box moth caterpillar munching the box and whitefly in the greenhouse.  I am using encarsia wasps to combat them. But there is much to enjoy at this time of year.

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This is a side view of the long border.  It is now approaching its mad, chaotic crescendo.  Geraniums, knautia, roses, penstemons, astrantia and salvias all pushing and shoving to make an appearance centre stage.  I love this disorderly behaviour but every now and then creep in to put in a little essential staking.

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The sun was shining the wrong way when I took this photo but I hope you can get the sense of the lovely combination of salvia nemorosa and astrantia major. They are are dream together.

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This is penstemon ‘Firebird’.  I like the penstemons for taking on the baton of flowering from the alliums.

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In the greenhouse the first tomatoes have appeared.  But pride of place goes to the lettuce. Growing lettuce outside has always been hit and miss for me so this year I tried a few in the greenhouse.  I now have an awful lot of lettuce to eat, I am hoping the hot temperatures are not going to ruin it.

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My salvia ‘Amistad’ did not survive the winter or so I thought. But just days after buying three new plants I spotted shoots on two of the old ones.  I dug those up and moved them to a nursery bed where they are making slow but steady progress.  I might have some flowers by August.  In the meantime the new ones romped away and are looking dramatically sultry.  As I planted the new ones I snapped a stem but encouraged by everyone’s advice that salvia ‘Amistad’ cuttings are easy peasy I planted it up.  It took almost immediately so now I feel awash with these wonderful salvias.

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This fuschia is another small success.  It came with the garden and I spent the first few years saving it from the clutches of bindweed and couch grass. Once freed I gave it a judicious prune and this year it is flowering well and in much better shape.  Its a var. unk. to me but maybe someone can identify it.  I love the strong colours.

If you’d like to see some more Six On Saturday posts from other sixers then go along to The Propagator’s blog.  There is much that will inform and amuse!

 

 

Six On Saturday: The joy of small things

It’s a late post today, the forecast is for showers this afternoon and there were some gardening jobs that had to be finished off.  I was very happy to have plenty of rain this week and the water butts are now full again.  Everything is looking very lush and about to burst forth into a froth of colour.  I am becoming slightly impatient as the roses have been promising to burst forth for a few weeks now.  But I have managed to put that impatience aside and enjoy what is moving along in the garden.

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I’m giving myself a little pat on the back for managing to overwinter the scented leaf pelagoniums in the greenhouse.  Probably not a difficult task in truth but when I tucked them away for the winter there was a great sense of trepidation.  Well they made it and the beautiful flowers are emerging.  This one is ‘Pink Capitatum’.

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Unfurling majestically in the garden is the geranium ‘Phaeum’ which I also noted is happy enough in its spot to start self seeding.  Self seeders are much appreciated when a new garden is being stocked.

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Also self seeding very happily is astrantia major.  I moved some of these over to the north facing border, amongst the geranium sanguineum ‘Album’ and had plenty left to share some with a friend.

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One of the first plants I put into the garden was zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Crowborough’. A beautiful arum lilly that I was hoping to enjoy for many a year.  It came to nothing for two years.  Today I noticed these tiny leaves and also the most likely reason for its coming to nothing – slugs.  I am thinking I might dig this up and treat it to the luxury of a well protected pot.

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Nearby I noticed the new leaves of rodgersia aesculifolia coming through.  It is being crowded out by a clump of siberian irises that need to be taken in hand once they have flowered.

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The nasturtium seedlings are ready to be transplanted.  I’m not going to pot these on.  They will go straight into their own designated space in two batches, just in case there is a late frost.

Looking at the small things in a garden keeps us going until the big adventure of summer arrives!  To see what else is opening up in gardens around the world go to The Propagator’s page for all the links to this weeks #SixOnSaturday posts.

 

 

Six On Saturday: Call yourself a gardener?

At this time of the year the garden here becomes shadier.  The sun slips lower in the sky and neighbouring trees cast their shadows.  Like the garden I am sliding towards my winter dormancy. But before I curl up there are a few more sixes to be posted.  Recently  I have muttered to myself, ‘Call yourself a gardener?’

The first was on the tragic occasion of admiring the emerging flower stem of a nerine and seconds later stepping on it.  The second on dead heading a rose still in flower, which was swiftly followed by chopping back branches on the tomato plants and finding a perfectly formed truss of green tomatoes among them.  But these things happen, don’t they?

My first six is also a disappointment

IMG_2908This week I dug up the last of my sarpo mira potatoes.  This is the total haul from two plants.  Barely enough to mash and I was certainly crushed.

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IMG_2909 (2)The tale of woe continued.  Into the greenhouse I went to pick some tomatoes.  I noticed that the romano peppers needed tying in again.  But as I brought the stems together to tie them in they snapped.  But these things happen, don’t they?  This photo was taken after a good many of the peppers had been used for the evening meal.

The sun was shining on these tragic events and the birds were singing so even as I chastised myself for not staking, not tying in, not watering, not being more careful, and not being out in the garden more I couldn’t avoid seeing some positives and here they are.

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IMG_2910This bright cheerful zinnia, grown from a tiny seed, continues to shine.

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IMG_2914The astrantia major are flowering again.

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IMG_2913Autumn is coming and softer colours take their place in the garden.  I call these ice plants but I’m going to venture to suggest the Latin name of Hylotelephium spectabile.  Yes or No?

Six

Miracles happen.  Last week I featured the bulbs of Colchicum speciosum ‘Album’, which had just arrived.  I planted them the very same day, idly thinking that I would have to wait a year before the flowered.  That would give me time to spread out the lamb’s ear plants that I wanted to surround them.  This week I found this amazing sight.

IMG_2916So I add to my crimes, ignorance.  I had no idea the bulbs would flower this year.  What a blissful ignorance it was.  Without it I would not have been half so thrilled and excited as I was when I saw this flower and I didn’t step on it!

Gardeners come with different skill levels and it is great fun to be part of The Propagator’s Six On Saturday crowd, where we are all sharing, learning and always enjoying gardening.  I really recommend you stop by and take a look.