Six On Saturday: Bananas!

Or Bananarama to be precise. Cruel Summer to be even more exact. Perhaps I should be growing ensete. Too late now. The weather is going to be very cruel next week and we must all take care. I hope I don’t lose any plants and that the veg plot can subsist on the meagre amount of water I can give it. Here are six things from the flower garden this week.

One

The hydrangea in the front garden is a mass of blue, pink and purple flowers. It spends most of the day in the shade and I tend to take it for granted. Perhaps some water and a feed would give it a lift!

Two

The evergreen agapanthus that are wrapped up over winter should be at home in this heat but as they are in pots they do need regular watering. They are already on the turn. Every four years or so I take a saw to them and divide them up. This year a couple of the pots are only managing one flower stem so they will be divided next spring.

Three

The phlox are vibrant at the moment but I fear they will be drooping by next week.

Four

This is clematis viticella ‘Etoile Violette’. A favourite of mine and I do look after it with regular feeds of seaweed extract. It does get some shade throughout the day so I’m hoping it will not suffer.

Five

The day lilies are also basking in the sun. These ones, ‘Golden Chimes’, don’t have gall midge….so far!

Six

My recent purchase of ‘Lord Bute’ is back in flower again. Absolutely wonderful.

I hear Mr P is hanging up his running shoes for this weekend but is heading off to a festival. Even so he will be hosting the Six on Saturday meme as usual. Much respect! Don’t forget to stop by.

Six On Saturday: What a mess!

Back to the garden again after a busy few weeks and of course the garden has run riot. Three times recently my gardening style has been described as ‘messy’. But I’m not sensitive. Well, of course I am! What is a messy style? Plants overspilling the paths, geraniums climbing over other plants, self-seeders encouraged. Sounds just right to me. However July is a turning point in this garden and those geraniums do need to be cut back, I have a mass of rose deadheading to catch up with and worse still I have two trays of annuals not planted out yet. I’d better get on with six for the week and then get out there and garden.

One

Here is the garden path. Encapsulating self seeders and overspillers. The alchemillia mollis and geranium psilostemon and ‘Brookside’ are the main culprits. Last autumn I lifted a number of alchemillia mollis from the main border to tidy things up and promptly planted them in the thin border for the ‘time being’. They love it there. ‘Brookside’ self seeds very readily here and since it is an extensive roamer I am more ruthless and I do thin it out every year.

Two

There are one or two shasta daisies escaping from their restraining supports but on the whole I do keep these pretty tidy. These also self seed. Here they are working rather well with a dahlia that gained a reprieve from last year. They are planted in front of the blackberries, probably not acceptable to some.

Three

This week the verbena bonariensis have looked stunning. Of course these self seed here. This week I heard them called thuggish! I find them rather amazing. Here they are growing amongst the grass ‘Karl Foerster’.

Four

Surely these hydrangeas are tidy? A little blousy perhaps? Next week they will be frazzled to a messy shade of brown as the hot weather spoils them.

Five

Do meandering climbers also count as messy? If so, guilty as charged. Clematis cover walls, fences and arches. This is the first year in flower for ‘Madame Julia Correvon’. She has valiantly pushed through the undergrowth and made it the top of the wall where her beautiful flowers are much appreciated.

Six

Oh, I know what it is. I have allowed erigeron karvinskianus to self seed all over the terrace! Now that does look messy.

I was remiss at reading SOS posts last week. I hope to catch up this week, but of course there’s some tidying up to do first. The links for the SOS posts are hosted on The Propagator’s site. I’ll stop by there now. Happy gardening everyone.

Six On Saturday: Pesky blighters

It’s moan time. I have given up shrugging at the munching of the thalia and now I’m pretty cross. Number one pesky blighter is of course the slug. I collected seed from the delphiniums, sowed them, saw them through to germination, nurtured them over winter, watered them through dry April and set them off into the world last week. Within a night they had been grazed to the ground. This season’s sunflower sowings have had their leaves turned to filigree lace. The one hosta I have in the ground, surrounded by 5cms of Strulch but has suffered similar munching. But I was truly enraged when I saw a squirrel about to eat a rosebud. The lilies are up so I am also on vigilant watch for a second wave of lily beetle. I am going to making up a garlic solution today and will be spraying it liberally. I can only try to make a stand. Fortunately there are six good things in the garden to cheer the mood.

One

The roses are beginning to open, which is always a joy. This one is Gertrude Jekyll. Truth told this did not seem to have settled well into the garden but this year, four or five years on, it looks full of buds.

Two

These are the white flowers of Libertia grandiflora valiantly standing up against the euphorbia melifera. I planted four libertias just as the melifera seedling arrived in the garden. The melifera has dominated the spot and the libertias are fighting for the sunshine. Only one has made it to flowering so I am going to live dangerously and move at least two of the libertias to a sunnier spot. Now. This weekend. They have no flower spikes showing so I am going to risk the upheaval. Fingers crossed, as usual. The foliage is evergreen and the white flowers are a beautiful strong white.

Three

The clematis on the arch is in flower. It’s a montana wilsonii, which has made it to the top of the arch and is now gracefully twining its way down the other side. There it will meet the climbing rose Madame Alfred Carrière. Let the battle commence!

Four

The second batch of camassias are in flower. I think this variety is cusickii. A delicate paler blue than my other camassias which are now almost over.

Five

And next to the camassias, the siberian irises are just opening. I think these are my favourite irises, which is a good thing because they do clump up very vigorously for me.

Six

The very reliable geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ is in flower which gave me the excuse to leave this corner of forget-me-nots for another week.

It’s in and out time for the trays of seedlings in the greenhouse. I have two more pot grown mange tout germinations which means I can claim to have been successful with successional sowing! The first strawberry has been picked so summer must be very close. Enjoy your gardening this weekend and if you can tear yourself away stop by at The Prop’s garden gate for a chat with the other SOSers.

Six on Saturday: Storm Eunice

The garden was relatively unscathed by the ferocious winds that blew through yesterday. But elsewhere, sadly, there was loss of life as well as trees down and damage to property. This morning’s patrol revealed a few twiggy branches scattered across the lawn and the loss of some ancient fleece wrapped around the agapanthus but otherwise there was an eerie calm. I count myself lucky. Here’s six from the garden that withstood the storm.

One

The hellebores are in their stride so I start with three of the best. First ‘Pretty Ellen’ white. I think this is a mix of the single and the double version.

Two

Then the moodiness of ‘Pretty Ellen’ Red, the double version. It smoulders in a dark shady corner of the garden.

Three

Finally, Helleborus x hybridus. It’s a shame that hellebores don’t like being divided but this one does seem to be self seeding. There are one or two promising leaves emerging near the parent plant so I will lift a few to pot on and see if I can spread them that way.

Four

Suddenly the first Tête-à-tête daffodils have pushed through, there may be stormy weather now but spring is definitely on its way.

Five

Another spring front runner is the pulmonaria, happily hunkered down against the storm, it looked very comfortable in the shade of the rhododendron.

Six

I was just about able to reach up to take this photo of the first clematis armandii flower. The new growth that I felt sure would be blown off survived the onslaught of the winds but I know if I try to bend it down in the direction I want it grow there will be a sudden snap.

The Propagator suffered a lost fence panel and a felt roof torn off, and so has some non gardening jobs to do. I hope there’s not too much damage in other SOS gardens in the UK. It was a wild day. Wishing everyone well, and hoping that the weather settles down so that we can get out into our gardens safely.

Six on Saturday: Thinking aloud*

Having spent the last few months day dreaming of garden projects it is time to get real and decide what is going to be put in place and what’s not. I’d love to have a multi stem silver birch and have a space in mind for one, but it would mean displacing three Darcy Bussell roses and it would create a dry spot where the gooseberries grow. That’s not happening. Last year I talked myself out of planting up a grass corner on the grounds that it would be too shady. This year I am going to do it. I might lose a plant or two but that happens every year, usually due to slugs. I didn’t plant Jean D’Arc crocuses, deciding that, as they are Dutch varieties, they would be too large. This year I will go big and order them. February is a month of anticipation, pole position on the grid, foot hovering over the accelerator, but patience is required. There’s plenty of time yet. So ease back and enjoy what is happening now with this week’s six.

One

I noticed that flowers had started to appear on the rosemary bush. This and the sage were inherited and the sage was showing signs of age last year. I was ruthless in shaping it up and cutting out some very old stems. This year will show whether this results in rejuvenation or demise.

Two

The very first of the crocuses have shown up. These are in a dry spot underneath a magnolia so I am always impressed that they make it through every year.

Three

The annual showing of the fat buds of clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’. This plant helps the garden through February and into March. It’s scented and has pretty white/pink flowers.

Four

This is sarcococca hookeriana ‘Winter Gem’. A smaller growing (70cm) variety with a pinker flower. It has been a slow starter but in its second year it’s beginning to fill the space.

Five

The front garden hydrangea has a much more open texture than the back garden ones. It’s a lace cap variety and it looks pretty good in winter. The fat buds of this year’s growth are appearing.

Six

Aah, the egg box is no longer empty. The ‘Jazzy’ potatoes have arrived and chitting has begun. Vroom, vroom!

Blue skies are arriving and although it’s a cold morning the afternoon could see some gardening tidying being started. If that doesn’t happen there’s always the chance of an online garden mooch through the SOS links on The Propagator’s site. Take a look, join in, all welcome.

*with due acknowledgement to the radio programme of a similar name.

Six on Saturday: I finally have that autumn feeling

Autumn jobs have been started. A free Friday meant that I could begin bringing a few things inside and a start was made on reigning in the wild brambles that we have lived with for five years. The increase in leaf fall from the trees pushed me to empty out last year’s leaf mould into old compost bags. These will be emptied out onto the soft fruit borders once the autumn fruiting raspberries are cut back. The weather has been so mild that the hydrangeas are still putting out flowering stems but as the last month of autumn approaches surely the temperatures will drop. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

The fig and the persimmon leaves are changing colour. The persimmon crop will ripen in December and is a winter donation to the birds. The figs often deliver a few fruit in November as a bonus crop but this year they look rather small and will probably not be worth harvesting. The fruit does still need to be picked, leaving on the tree only the smaller pea sized fruits for next year. This is one of my least favourite autumn jobs, so many fruit and some that are completely out of reach.

Two

Along with the odd rogue hydrangea flower there are one or two clematis flowers remaining but mostly it is the silky seed heads that add decoration to the trellis.

Three

The seed heads of the rudbeckia always look dramatic at this time of the year and will be left standing through winter.

Four

The last of the apples were picked a week ago. They are Braeburns and have given us crisp and juicy eaters. There were several small apples, a result of my less than ruthless thinning I’m sure, and generously I made up some apple feeders for the birds. They have been utterly spurned. Not pecked, not rumbled by the squirrels, left untouched. I suspect my neighbours of having higher quality bird food available.

Five

I have been cutting back the scented leaf pellies before bringing them into the greenhouse. This one was grown on from cuttings I took when they came out for the summer. It’s still flowering and so I keep pushing my luck and have left it out for this weekend. But next week the deed will be done and all the pellies will be inside again for the winter.

Six

I planted autumn crocuses last year, in amongst the hellebores. I can’t say that I have swathes of them but the one or two that have emerged look quite good. They are so fragile though and recent winds and rain have not served them well.

I have finally planted out the narcissus ‘Actaea’. Leaving only the tulips to do. It is uncanny how every spot I identified as needing a few bulbs turned out to be home to snowdrops. I can reveal that snowdrops have already begun their journey to the surface. I hope my disturbance of them won’t have caused too much of a shock to the system. Snowdrops and hellebores are my next seasonal marker. The Propagator is also planting bulbs and featuring a lovely Japanese anemone this week. Stop by, take a look and follow the links to the other SOS posts.

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.

One

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.

Two

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?

Six

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.

One

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.

Four

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.

Six

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: The garden is on the move

I have spent every spare moment this week moving the compost and finally on Friday the bins themselves were dismantled. The space is ready and waiting for the landscaper. It is a little muddy underfoot, hopefully a few dry days will sort that out. I have two builders bags of compost, some of this will go to earthing up the potatoes later in the season and some needs a little more time decomposing. Two toads were carefully relocated in the process. All in all it was a good job done and I am giving myself a pat on the back. Meanwhile the garden is moving on a pace. Here’s what I spotted this week.

One

I was admiring via twitter the clumps of leucojum on display at St Timothees Garden and wondering when mine would put on a show. On Friday I saw the first flower. Not quite a clump yet but pleasing all the same. A note has been made to order more bulbs.

Two

The primroses that have been in flower for some time but they have really filled out this week. They are possibly my favourite spring flower, such a gentle yellow and yet still able to take centre stage.

Three

The clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ enjoyed the sun on Friday. It is full of bud now and the flowers are just opening. A few gardens down from me I can see my neighbour has something very similar and it is full flower. What a difference aspect makes.

Four

The border delphiniums are pushing on and of course the slugs are not far behind. This tasty shoot is so far untouched, Long may it last. I checked the roots of the delphiniums in the potting shed this week and they are coming along nicely but who was also snuggled up nicely in the pot? A tiny slug of course.

Five

Beautiful tulip buds. Such a welcome sight in the garden, good things are unfurling and soon the colour pops will be bursting out.

Six

Another welcome sight is this wonderful green growth in amongst the dead brown matter of the erigeron karvinskianus. There are just one or two new stems so far. I’ll keep a close eye on them and over the next week or so I will start cutting away the dead stuff. This and one or two other losses in this border will provide an opportunity for a re-think.

The epoxy resin for the pot repair has arrived and it looks like next week will be dry so I might get the chance to see if a miracle can be worked. If not, thanks to Paddy’s suggestion, I will be using the damaged pot as a feature somewhere else in the garden – which is rather a tempting idea. The Prop will be around as usual, hosting the meme and running, running running. Happy gardening to everyone.

Six On Saturday: Cheerfulness

Cheerfulness has been in short supply but I detect an upsurge coming our way. Last week I was desperate for six wonders from the garden. This week I feel more positive. Heavy snow is forecast for tomorrow but I am sure it will be rain. The garden is truly on the move and the signs of new growth are everywhere. I pruned another four rose bushes and only have three more to do. The goldfinches have reappeared, feasting on the verbena bonariensis seeds. I also spotted them enjoying some seed heads of lavender that had escaped a cut back. The hellebores are looking lovely and the 300 snowdrops I planted in the north facing border are shyly stepping out. Here’s this week’s six.

One

Helleborus hybridus, every so slightly ahead of their February flowering and looking just perfect from above.

Two

Hellebore ‘Happy Day’. The first hellebore to self seed in the garden, choosing a crack on the edge of some paving to establish itself. Looks inhospitable to me and I might intervene and move it to a more generous spot in spring.

Three

Hellebores again. I love the deep colour of ‘Pretty Ellen Red’ in its double form. I’d love these to self seed to, but not so far and I always miss the point when the seeds develop. More vigilance required.

Four

The melica is on the move, melica altissima ‘Alba’. This really cheered me up, memories of floaty seed heads swaying in summer breezes, I can’t wait.

Five

A little variegated variety from a cyclamen of some sort. Hastily purchased, label forgotten but its really striking leaves by the front door always catch my eye.

Six

The fat buds of clematis ‘Apple Blossom’. An evergreen clematis from the amandii group. It flowers in the leaf axils of the previous year’s growth and as it has been in the garden now for two years there are a good deal more of those axils to bear beautiful flowers in late February.

Yes, we can do this. There’s the chill of February to get through but the March surge is on its way. Mr P continues to channel humour and sartorial gardening elegance (past few weeks) and is hosting his way through another volume of the SOS posts with his usual panache. Don’t miss out!