Six On Saturday: Comings and goings

There’s not much coming and going from the house at the moment but the garden is constantly busy and the extra time spent at home has meant that I have been taking longer looks at the view. I’ve accepted that the snowberry is going nowhere but I have manged to reel in its sideways expansion and have once again reduced the height. Last week The Nostalgic Gardener was discussing Forsythia with The Prop and whilst I sympatfise whole heartedly with their views I know that mine are here to stay. This week my eyes fell upon the cotoneaster horizontalis. It does give a beautiful display of red berries in the winter but at the moment it is in danger of losing its place to a sarcococca confusa I rashly purchased a month back. I’ve potted on the sarcococca whilst I contemplate the cotoneaster.

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The sarcococca has been potted on into the vacant pot left by the planting of this daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ in the border. Poor daphne had been in the pot for about two years and although the guidance is that it is suitable for container growing, once a space in the border became available a move was inevitable. One of the fig trees rotted away at the base of the trunk last year and had to come down. Last week I managed to dig out the last (I hope) of the large roots. Daphne now has a new home and so too does the sarcococca.

Two

The compost corner has been paved. I had forgotten just how much space those towers of two x two slabs took up. The paved area looks better suited to a performance space, a garden dance floor perhaps? But no, the bins have been reconstructed and now I have the job of refilling them. The extra space around the bins will come in useful, most immediately it has been dubbed ‘covid conversation corner’ as this is an ideal meeting place for a socially distanced chat with adjoining neighbours.

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Speaking of neighbours, there was some sad gardening news last weekend. The glorious willow tree in next door’s garden has to come down. The increasing lean and lack of leaf signalled a problem and the upshot of an inspection was that the tree is predominantly dead. It has been propped up until work to take the tree down can be started. Sad times, but that does mean new opportunities for the neighbours and perhaps for me. It might make a corner of this garden less shady.

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A new arrival to this garden came on Friday. The impulsively ordered arch has been delivered. Even in pieces it looks lovely. I hope to be able to put in place this weekend.

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The fritillaries have also arrived. These are on my list to look out for in the next autumn end of season bulb sales, but I may order a few in August to be sure I have more next year. The arrival of fritillaries is often swiftly followed by red lily beetles. Time to be vigilant and this year I am going to try Grazer’s Lily Beetle protection. It is to be used before the nasties are sighted so that is a job to do this weekend.

Six

Sunshine was another, albeit brief, arrival this week and the spring flowers shone. I couldn’t choose which one to include so here they all are. The first tulip – ‘World Friendship’, the first thalia, and the first cowslips. The cowslips are self-seeders relocated from elsewhere in the garden. Filling out the garden for free is one of gardening’s great joys.

As always there is more joy to be found at the aforementioned Prop’s site where all the links to other SOS posts can be found in the comments sections. Also a good place for gardening chat

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 of the winter jobs, moving into spring

A cold week with several foggy mornings ended with some welcome warmth.  The sunshine lifts the human spirit and that of the plants.  The last of the winter cut back needs to be done, excepting the penstemons which I will leave until April.  I did cut the grapevine back last week, just in time.  The tomato seeds did not get sown.  This first sowing is destined for the greenhouse and I must get them done this weekend.  Sowing for plants to be grown outside can be left for a little longer.  While reading the comments on Jim Steven’s SOS for last week I came across his link to a blog by The Laid Back Gardener and found my way to  Goldilocks and the three seedlings which is a great story about sowing tomato seeds.  I recommend it and hope that this year I’ve got my sowing just right.

Here’s my six for the week:

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The first sowing of sweet peas have germinated.  ‘Midnight Blue’ with a 56% success rate and ‘April in Paris’ achieving 94%.  There may be a few laggards to come through for ‘Midnight Blue’ but they’ll have to get a move on as this weekend they will go out into the cooler potting shed.

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Mr P who hosts this blog, and does us all a wonderful service, is a great grower of plants from seeds.  His latest success is lupins and I am much put to shame by his efforts.  By coincidence this week I received three small pots of lupins for planting out.  This is my first foray into lupins, previously not one of my favourites but  I was tempted by a twitter post of ‘The Pages’ and decided to order a few.  The colour is carmine red – let’s see what they look like in a few months time.  Of course, they will have to survive slug attacks first.

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IMG_3304Speaking of twitter, I have already shared my labours of last weekend there but I am happy to share the success with you all here.  The compost bins were finally built.  The bins are a slot-in build and took hardly anytime at all.  I will have to tidy up the front surface which will require nice words to delightful builder again!  In the meantime I have some compost heap turning to do.

Four

IMG_3325The deciduous shrubs are beginning to leaf up.  I love the fresh green colours.  This is my mystery shrub in the front garden.  It has black berries over the winter but unfortunately I can’t remember the flower type.  I’ll watch it carefully this year and see if I can identify it.

Five

img_3323.jpgThese hyacinths were going to be my forced hyacinths for Christmas but when they were brought into the warm they came with a plague of flies and were banished to the garden.  It’s good to see them in flower now.

 

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This is my long border.  The plants left standing over winter for their seed heads will be cut down now.  I’m going to post a photo each month taken from the same spot to record the wonderful transformation that takes place over the summer months.  It’s all very gloomy today as this was another foggy morning but there is much potential!

If you’d like to join the SOS band of gardeners that go immediately to the participant guide on Mr P’s site.  SOS is a mix of the pottering gardener like myself, the adventurous like Mr Propagator and many more lovely people all willing to share their experience and knowledge.  Take the plunge!

 

 

 

 

Six On Saturday: All will be well

It’s lovely how one phone call can lift the spirits.  Friday was the coldest day of the year for my garden and I was thinking about presenting a six shades of brown.  There were some truly great contenders but in the blink of phone screen my mind set changed and some colours came into focus.

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Shouting most loudly to be included this week is the lovely hellebore double ‘Pretty Ellen’.  Even with the downward aspect of the flowers the colour gives a warming glow to a shady corner of the garden.  I think I should have more of these and so I shall look into how to propagate them.  I imagine it will be a slow process.

Two

The viburnums in the back garden are fairing rather better than those in the front garden.  One is a large and oldish looking tree which has the pinker flower and the other is a smaller tree with more consistently white flowers. Both are much loved by viburnum beetle – which I’ve never seen, just the holey evidence of their presence.

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It may be cold out there but the rosemary bush has a gentle dusting of pretty purple flowers.

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The iberis sempervirens that covers the rocky wall of the north facing border is also beginning to flower.

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The leaves of Arum italicum looking beautifully glossy and untroubled by slugs.  I read that these combine well with snowdrops.  My snowdrops are being very shy this year.  It looks like I may have lost some which is very careless of me.  I think it will be another week before a snowdrop picture graces one of my posts.

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The last of my six gives the clue to my delightful phone call.   Last weekend I tackled a good part of the cutting that back that was needed.  Roses were pruned, geraniums and alchemilla mollis cut back and the builder’s bag that is serving as my temporary compost heap was overflowing.  I was longing for the day when the brick structure would be demolished.  I pushed over a few of the less stable bricks and poked and prodded the rest.  Hurrah, no more waiting.  My delightful builder has two free days and will arrive next week with an array of suitably destructive tools and a skip.  I will spend the weekend ferreting out all the debris that accumulates in the garden and down the side of the shed.  All will be well with the world.

For more stories from gardens around the world go to the links on The Propagator site.  Now there’s a man who loves his compost!

 

 

Six On Saturday: Farewell old friends

For me November has been a sunny month but the mists of autumn arrived on Friday.  The softened light wrapped itself around the garden and the muted colours blended together like a good Harris tweed.  I loved it.  Today the skies are blue again, a brief respite as next week promises a good blast of winter chill.  The gardening year is moving on.

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I had the opportunity to be out in the garden this week and my bulb planting success rate increased.  I started out with 258 to plant.  I put away the ‘Mount Everest’ Alliums and Leucojum ‘Gravetye Giant’ last week, leaving me with 240 bulbs.  This week the extra Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ went in along with most of the Thalia. Planting the yellow tulip ‘World Friendship’ in the narrow border led to a little swearing as I encountered one or two of last year’s friends.  I took a rain check on them for another day.  So I have 106 tulips to go, 10 Thalia and 50 of the tiny allium sphaerocephalon. I plan to get them in before the cold spell arrives.

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It was a week of tidying up and fond farewells were said to some old friends.  The last of zinnias and cosmos went to the compost heap. The verbena bonariensis were brought back in check with self seeders despatched to the heap or relocated.  I now have a clear patch in the south east facing border for 60 of those extra tulips and the remaining allium sphaerocephalon.  I’m feeling the need for an anchor plant in this corner, something that would work well with the trachelospermum jasminoides.  Suggestions welcome! It’s a sunny corner as it also picks up some afternoon sun from the west.

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Most of the leaves have fallen from my trees and the leaf pile is growing steadily.  There are still plenty to come as the leaves on the trees in neighbouring gardens are still hanging on.  Whilst I am not a regular gardening diyer I did turn my hand and trusty staple gun to producing this leaf bin.  Say no more!

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At this time of year my thoughts turn to plans for next year.  After two and half years in this new garden I am getting round to the north facing border.  This photo shows the section that is currently home to a stand of blackcurrant bushes.  I love blackcurrants but I do also have another stand in the veg plot so the ruthless gardener is going to make an appearance and these will go to be replaced by a planting of white shade lovers completely inspired by a Joe Swift article in the August edition of Gardeners’ world.  Watch this space.

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Also on the project list is a new compost area.  The current heaps are in crumbling brick bays.  I’ve emptied out two sections and installed a builder’s bag nearby to take the new pile.  Once the other two sections are empty I will be calling in some muscle to knock down and wheel away the bricks. Then Father Christmas will bring me some new wooden bins – I’ve had an early word!

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I’m looking forward to the bricks going as I will be getting a skip, which, perhaps sadly, I always find very exciting!  I am inspired by One man and his garden trowel, a fellow sixer to share with you ‘down the side of my shed’.  Hiding beneath those autumnal leaves is a great collection of old paving slabs and miscellaneous bits of metal excavated from the garden over the year.  Once the skip arrives it will indeed be farewell old friends!

Good luck with your garden plans.  Find out what everyone else is up to by checking in with Mr P.  All the links to SOS appear throughout the day.