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!

Six On Saturday: In the sweet shop

I seem to remember being a little excited over recent weeks, contrary to national sentiments at this time. This week I’m in the sweet shop anticipating a sugar overload whilst of course maintaining social distancing. The garden is throwing out new delights at every turn and some of the sulkier seeds have come through. I will definitely have enough courgettes – how could I have doubted that? The Eschscholzia have germinated and even though I am on the third hopeful sowing of parsnips I am optimistic. Here’s my six for the week.

One

I love it when the Siberian irises open up.  The combination of purple and green is just perfect. I divided these last year and spread the joy to friends.  They came to me from a division and it is only right that tradition continues.

Two

The first clematis flower arrived.  I have no idea which one it is, it came with the garden and this year I am very thankful for it.  I was a little tardy in cutting the clematis back so the bottom half is a bare but fortunately hidden by geraniums.  Must do better.

Three

Going back to reluctant seeds, two years ago I sowed an entire packet of euphorbia oblongata.  Four germinated, three survived and last year I squeezed them into small space in the border.  They looked pretty feeble and I did not expect them to survive a winter.  Well they did.  It was a lovely surprise to see them even though they are in the ‘wrong place’ in terms of the border layout. Perhaps they are in the right place for them.

Four

Dazzling away in partial shade is thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’, one of the Prop’s recommendations.  Good sir, I thank you for mentioning it.  This is its second year and it has definitely got its feet in the right place. 

Five

The just about to unfurl, perfectly curled, rose bud of r. Jacqueline du Pré.  When open the rose reveals beautiful golden stamens.

Six

Oh how I wish I could share the scent of this rose with you.  It is  ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’.  I also wish I could capture the rich shade of pink that this rose truly is but you will have to make a mental adjustment to compensate. I confess that I often walk down the garden just to inhale its fragrance.  Bliss. 

I hope you are finding bliss and a kaleidoscope of delights in your gardens this week.  It was a cold one with the early part of the week best forgotten.  Here’s hoping we are on the up from now on.  Mr P will have all the links to the SOSs of the week and of course his own inimitable gardening highlights.  If you have a moment stop by. 

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: The fourth week of February approaches

The fourth week of February is a significant week because this is the week I plan to sow some seeds.  Surely if I write this down I will do it?  The sap may be rising in the garden but my mojo is lagging behind.  I have had enough of howling winds and constant rain.  I have some gardening to be done as well as seeds to sow. There was some encouragement from the walk round today.  I can see the geraniums beginning to break through again, the camassias planted last year are coming along and I noticed the cowslips are in bud.   Last week’s primroses, pulmonarias and crocuses are still looking good and the hellebores continue to shine.  Here’s this week’s six.

One

Not one of my favourites but it a good indicator of the change of season.  That stalwart of front gardens, the forsythia has broken into flower.

Two

I’ve added a number of hellebore niger to the garden this year and they have just got their flower heads up off the ground.  I have some lovely soft pink hellebores but these white ones can be seen from the windows, shining beacons of light in the eternal rain.

Three

The annual splurge of euphorbia characias wulfenii is well under way.  Look carefully and you will see the ailing specimen of the four I have.  The regular downpours are not helping it in anyway and are completely destroying my artful symmetry.

Four

The clematis armandii continues to pump out the flower buds and soon there will be flowers.  I’m looking forward to those.

Five

I am training rosa Madame Alfred Carriere along the back fence and it was good to see these side shoots appearing this week.  More promise of things to come.

Six

I’ve been lucky not to have suffered any real damage from the winds.  No shed roof blown off, no broken windows in the greenhouse.  The fir tree in the front garden has stood firm, only shedding a great quantity of cones and one or two twiggy bits which has given the otherwise grey space a certain rustic woodland charm.

The Phillip Larkin poem ‘Coming’ has been on my mind this week, so I will leave you with these thoughts:

A thrush sings, Laurel-surrounded In the deep bare garden, Its fresh-peeled voice        Astonishing the brickwork. It will be spring soon, It will be spring soon –

Time to get the Fish, Bone and Blood sprinkled around and don’t forget to check in with Mr P for more signs of spring and if you get the chance, enjoy your gardening.

Six On Saturday: Signs of things to come

This is a fatal time of year for me. The Christmas break takes me away from the garden and usually cold weather keeps me away. But SOS calls and even the briefest of walks around the borders reveals that sitting with one’s feet up is not what is needed. Those weeds are looking smugly healthy whilst other more valued plants are in need of a trim or a primp. There are more leaves to be taken off the hellebores and I spotted one or two wayward rose branches that need to be taken out. I don’t have the excuse of cold weather, in truth it has been quite mild here but the ground is very wet so I will have tread carefully. Here’s what else I found.

One

 

The clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ is fattening up very nicely.  It is growing rampantly in one direction but is a little bald in the other.  One side receives much more sun and it is the sunnier side that is worse for wear.   Perhaps it will re-balance this summer.

Two

A favourite photo for this time of year, the new growth of the sedum is pushing through.  The old stems can stay on a little longer though.

Three

A visit to the greenhouse paid some dividends as the overwintering pelagonium had put out new flowers.  It was quite a timely visit as the pellie is clearly sitting below a leak point from the roof and some of its leaves were gently rotting away. On the downside all the salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ cuttings have rotted off.

Four

There was some more joy in the greenhouse. Fred, a long time SOSer had sent me seeds of anchusa capensis back in September and I sowed just a few then.  Three of them came good and are currently looking promising.  I’ll be sowing the rest in the coming months.  Thanks Fred.

Five

That great herald of spring euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii is once again having mixed fortunes in the border.  I have four of them planted centrally in the long border to give an early blast of lime green but one of them always plays up. These two plants are about a metre apart but something is having a dramatic impact on the growth of one of them.  I will soldier on but I think they are not very fond of my heavy soil and the wet winter is doing them no favours.

Six

Always reliable in providing a great mound of evergreen structure is this sage.  It came with the garden and every year I give it a thorough prune.  The compost heap smells wonderful for few days.

Happy New Year to everyone, the long month of January has arrived and we need to keep our minds focused on the impending arrival of beautiful things.  Seeds to be sown, spring bulbs to be enjoyed and where we would be without a good moan about weeds, slugs and snails.  I’m ready for it all and so is The Propagator, he’s already sown his chilli seeds!

 

Six On Saturday: Losing the plot

Aargh! It has happened. As is usual at this time of the year nature has got the better me.  Lilly beetles have been sneaking around doing their thing as evidenced by the grubs that are hatching. Black fly are colonising the clematis and little black beetles are feasting through the dahlias and sweet peas. The water butts would be empty again, if I had managed to keep on top of the watering. There is a serious amount of deadheading to be done. The only option is to sit back and enjoy the chaos that is the garden.

One

Some might say that I have literally lost the veg plot to the self seeded calendulas and I might agree with them.  In amongst all that orange there are dwarf french beans, potatoes, onions and last time I looked carrots and parsnips.  I have persuaded myself that at least the black fly are being kept away.  The lettuce has bolted, the rocket went to seed long ago but on the upside the first of the beans are ready for picking, new potatoes have been dug and gooseberries picked.  I will have to take those calendulas in hand though.

Two

Over in the flower garden there is a mad abundance of plants all crying out for a good soak.  I will get round to them all eventually.  This is penstemon ‘Apple Blossom’ grown from a cutting taken a year or so ago.  It seems to me that penstemons are very generous in taking from cuttings, which is encouraging for a novice in this area.

Three

Some of the roses are in that post June lull but ‘Natasha Richardson’ seems to flower non-stop through the summer.  Of course I have dead heading to do and I think it is time to give all the roses a second feed.

Four

The clematis is now in full flow and as I mentioned some stems have been colonised by black fly.  There seems to  be an excess of aphids this year.  The ants are doing their best but the soapy water spray may have to be put into action soon.

Five

This is scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Cat’.  Grown as a hardy annual from seed.  It overwintered and is flowering with avengeance this year.  More deadheading but also more flowers for the house.  A winner.

Six

I also sowed seeds of foxglove lutea two years ago.  I had good germination and gave some away to friends.  Yesterday one of the beneficiaries of my benevolence came to visit and showed me this photo of these perennial foxgloves in their second year.  I was gutted!  I had pulled all mine up as the delicate flowers didn’t seem so wonderful last year.  I can see now that leaving them to establish would have been thing to do.  Live and learn, live and learn.  She is now going to share some back to me.

For more sharing of good things in the garden take a trip over to The Propagator’s blog.  Summer fecundity everywhere!

Six On Saturday: One thing leads to another

It’s funny how things work out. You start one thing, and before you know it something else needs doing. It has been cold, wet and windy but gardening jobs have been done. Some by me and some by the professionals.

One

I planted a cherry tree. Some time ago a dead diseased apricot tree was taken out and I ruminated for a long while on what could go in the space. The old tree roots and the stump are still in the ground but I squeezed in a rose nearby. Hawthorn and rowan were high up on my list of trees to put in a little further along but then as some wild blackberries were taken out the increase in space seemed perfect for a fan trained cherry tree. The cherry tree arrived this week and I set to work planting it. This is the first tree I have ever planted so it was a momentous occasion. I wish trees came with recipe-like instructions. Tools for job: stake, tree tie, fork for forking out inevitable roots of previous inhabitants, loppers for cutting those larger roots, spade for digging hole, fish, bone and blood for fertiliser, trug to put said roots in, mallet for banging in stake, compost for improving texture of soil and last but not least the actual tree. As usual I underestimated the time it would take – an hour, which included me digging it up twice to make sure it was facing the right way!

Two

The bbq went last week and the spotted laurel went this week. My professional with the chain saw said ‘it isn’t a spotted laurel it’s an acuba. I looked up acuba and was informed that it’s common name is spotted laurel. Well it’s gone. On looking at the empty space I decided that the paving slabs were not very attractive and might be just the thing for putting down in front of the new compost bins. So rather radically for a SOSer I am going to add in some extra lawn! The paved area will be turfed. I hear howls of anguish from some quarters but that is the plan. The hydrangea may also be on the move as I think I have found a spot for it elsewhere in the garden

Three

This year I decided to have the fig and apple trees pruned by a specialist. Most are quite young trees but there is a larger older apple tree that needed a reshape. It wasn’t long before disease or insect damage was found in the fig trees. The upper end of the central branches had died back and in some cases was hollowed out leaving a bark case. There wasn’t anything to match it to on the internet so it is a mystery. A larger than expected amount had to be pruned out so the fruit crop is in doubt for this year. I hope this action will save the trees though.

Four

The clematis armandii chose this week to open out into flower. It is lovely but I can’t help thinking it is like a wearing your best flimsy frock to a Christmas night out – absolutely freezing! I am battling against the odds to train it in the direction I would like it to grow and I am quickly learning that the stems are only flexible for the first few inches. After that they break.

Five

Its probable against all the rules, but this week I moved the winter spinach. I need to get a space ready for the onions and the rotation plan meant the spinach needed to be evicted. It looks very settled in it’s new home, due in no small part to the outer slug eaten leaves having been pulled off.

Six

It was a cold wet and windy week but there was a moment of sunshine and the euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii was glowing brightly. An uplifting moment to end on.

For more uplifting moments take at peek at the links available on https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/09/six-on-saturday-09-03-2019/