Six On Saturday: Disaster

Let’s get straight to the point. Last Sunday a sudden and un-named storm hit the garden. The sky darkened, lightning flashed, thunder roared, rain stormed and winds swirled. It was impressive. We watched with amazement and then closed the curtains and settled down. The next morning disaster was revealed. Several large branches had been ripped from our neighbour’s tulip tree, some 20 metres away, and had been hurled into our garden. One was a direct hit on the greenhouse. Yes, the same greenhouse that only last week had been repaired. The newly rehung door stood smugly in place looking onto a scene of devastation. One branch of the tree was hanging on through the roof and back of the greenhouse. Large pieces of glass and tiny diamond like shards were scattered inside the greenhouse and outside throughout the gooseberry patch. Another large branch had just missed a young apple tree and the recently planted miscanthus. Miraculously it had only flattened some phlox which I am sure will survive. Clearing up the debris of the branches was relatively straight forward, although there are still four or five smaller limbs to deal with. The glass is another matter. What a pane it is! (Pun intended.) The frame has been distorted beyond repair. Project new greenhouse is back in play. Of course a slide show of the scene is number one of this week’s six.

One

The offending tulip tree is a rather striking tree. It is probably at full height and at this time of year is a glorious golden colour, a fabulous tree to be able to borrow. Locally the storm has been described as a mini tornado so I am hoping that this is a freak accident. For a brief moment I considered no greenhouse, then a polytunnel or a small tomato greenhouse but today I’m coming down on the side of a new greenhouse.

Two

In other news, the fig tree is delivering its second crop figs and this year it is quite a good second crop.

Three

I’ve tried a few times to grow nerines. You would think it would be simple. Buy bulbs, plant them and wait. Maybe the squirrels have them. Last year I planted a few in a pot so I could keep an eye on them. It sort of worked. I have one lovely flower.

Four

Honestly, I am not a dahlia fan but you could be deceived into thinking I was. I do like these. They are last year’s cacti dahlia, grown from seed and left in the ground to overwinter. They are looking pretty good now after a slow start in the dry summer.

Five

Six On Saturday is a great discipline for paying close attention to the garden. Without it I don’t think I would have really noticed the delicate white flowers of the ‘Hawkshead’ fuchsia. It’s a new addition and is currently nestling in amongst agapanthus leaves, almost hidden from view. There’s a few years to go before it achieves it’s final height of about a metre, then it should be a good focal point in the border.

Six

The roses are still blooming. I was thinking about their longevity and I put some of that down to the two feeds a year that I give them. One in March and the second sometime in July when the first flush is over. This one, which I may have featured already this autumn, is ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’. Forgive me, it was such a wonderful red colour I couldn’t not include it again.

Jim of Garden Ruminations is collecting the SOS gang together and sharing the first of his wonderful camellias this week. I will be back to picking up glass, gathering leaves and wondering where to store the scented leaf pellies until the new greenhouse is installed. The smaller potting greenhouse could be very crowded this year.

Six On Saturday: Called back to the garden

Back after a week away in the sunny climes of Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. That’s two weeks away from SOS posts and the season has truly moved into Autumn. Benignly so far, some rain, some sun and generally mild temperatures. This causes me somewhat of a dilemma. The annuals are soldiering on but are occupying spaces earmarked for development. I’ll be busy moving things around. I have already culled the sunflowers and this weekend the zinnias are under threat. The greenhouse cucumbers that have delivered so well over summer are also going to the compost heap – the lack of a door on the greenhouse is beginning to take effect. Here’s six things that caught my eye on returning to the garden.

One

Before I left there was a new flower stem on the evergreen agapanthus. It has opened. It’s shorter than a summer stem but the colour is just as strong. I also spotted a couple of new flowers on the rhododendron and the clematis ‘Etoile Violette’.

Two

Also delivering on a promise to flower are the dahlias ‘David Howard’. Seriously late in my opinion but nevertheless much appreciated. I like the colour, height and foliage very much. Could this be a contender for a regular dahlia in the garden? There is one paler flower on the stems. Will the orange come through or is this a one off? I’ll keep an eye on it and let you know.

Three

I’m also impressed by the staying power of this heuchera. Lovely dark foliage and strong pink flowers. I’m hoping I can divide it soon and increase the display.

Four

The rose for this week is ‘Jaquline du Pre’. Really quite delicate, gently suffused with peachy pinks. Quite wonderful.

Five

The zinnias under threat are making a strong case for a reprieve. I’ll see if I can work round them for another week.

Six

Every year I grow some nicotiana ‘Whisper’ seeds, intending to have a solid block of colour. This year the drought really gave them a tough time and they struggled to get going. Some didn’t make it but those that did add a welcome splash of colour in a shady border.

At this time of the year the garden becomes very shady. The trees that surround the garden are still in leaf and the low sun doesn’t get above them until mid to late morning. The garden is wet with dew and overnight rain so it will be a soggy place in which to work. But the soil is workable now so I need to get out there and prepare for next year. Compacting the soil is a worry but needs must.

In other news: Mr P, who is to be eternally thanked for his hosting of this meme, is stepping down. Very many thanks Mr P for all you have done in developing this amazing group. The baton passes to Jim of Garden Ruminations, an amazingly generous garden blogger whose warm personality is so evident in his posts and comments. Thank you, Jim, for keeping us all going.

Six On Saturday: Glass half full thinking

I’ve had a spell of not gardening: either it was too hot or I was busy elsewhere. The UK Bank Holiday weekend offered up cooler weather and some precious time. The garden was looking scruffy and I thought I’d give an honest six this week showing it’s disarray. But this morning’s walk round revealed a few positives and I have been persuaded to look on the bright side. Here they are, mixed in with a some reflections on the less successful aspects of the garden.

One

The roses continue to push out new growth and are the mainstay of colour in the garden at the moment. This is ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’. Nearby there should be a pop of helenium ‘Short and Sassy’. Not a sign of it, eaten by the slugs in it’s first year in the garden. That’s heleniums crossed off the grow list.

Two

Sorry to be repetitive but not being a fan of dahlias I don’t really grow them. However I do recognise their valuable contribution to late season colour and so I try one or two here and there. This year’s trial was the orange flowering ‘David Howard’. I was going to kill two birds with one stone here, beautiful chocolate leaves giving me a break from green and ochre orange flowers for contrast. The aforementioned slugs got in first and nibbled down the top growth. The dahlias fought back and the foliage is lush, but as yet not a sign of flowers. I wait patiently, maybe they will come.

Three

The back border was newly planted this year with a selection of grasses and three persicaria polymorpha. The white frothy flowers are exactly what I had in mind, but the stems do not seem to be able to support the flower heads and I regularly find snapped stems languishing in amongst the froth. This is most strange as the description suggests it is a ‘bulky feature plant making strong stems’. Next year perhaps?

Four

Before the back border was planted up I used it as a heeling in space for various self seeders from the main garden. In one of those serendipitous moments this astrantia ‘Roma’ combined well with periscaria, survived the drought and has won a permanent place in the back border where I hope it will self seed some more.

Five

I’m definitely focusing on the positives in this photo. The hydrangeas are a sad scorched affair this year but with the help of a few showers of rain they have shown their resilience. There’s new growth to be seen and one or two heads of new flowers have appeared.

Six

Apologies for sharing more tomato photographs. The San Marzano in the greenhouse have been amazing this year. I was extravagant and bought new seed, then planted the seedlings in a new bed on the other side of the greenhouse and focused my watering attention on them. We’ve been eating them for a few weeks and have also frozen a batch of cooked up passata.

Oh the joy of selective photographs, my scruffy gone-to-seed garden offers up some gems and I can put together a positive viewpoint. My mind is racing with plans to replant certain areas and I have been sowing seed of echinacea pallida and e. ‘White Swan’ in preparation. I have not ordered any spring bulbs and have no plans to. Those late offers may tempt me of course but for now I am reviewing what I have and looking at how to rework plants to better advantage. It all begins again, another year, another chance.

For more gardening thoughts take a look at The Propagator’s site, he’s not in this week as there is another mammoth run to be completed but as always the links to other SOS posts will appear over the weekend. Happy reflections on your gardening year. I will soon be collecting the juice from this year’s apple crop. That’s one for next week already in the bank.

Six On Saturday: Hope springs again

Dare I say it? It is the last weekend of August. September is in sight and a sense of the seasons changing is in the air. This weekend is set aside for apple picking and it seems that the plums are also ready to pick. There was a good long downpour last Thursday and all the water butts are full again. Here’s six from this week’s garden.

One

I’d left my ‘Jazzy’ new potatoes in the ground, digging them up as and when needed. After the heavy rain of Thursday morning I thought I’d better dig them all up for fear of leaving in them the soggy ground. A few forks in revealed that the surface was nicely damp but down below things were still pretty dry. I did dig them all up, collected a few windfalls and picked the outside San Maranzo tomatoes. These are so much smaller than those in the greenhouse, but appreciated nonetheless. The potato haul was 8kgs, which I am more than happy with.

Two

It’s a good crop of plums this year. Variety unknown. As is common, they are suspect to plum moth so the early ripening fruits often have those darling maggots. This means that each plum is cut in half and checked over before use or more usually before freezing. That’s another job for the weekend.

Three

One way or another I always seem to end up with a packet of sunflower seeds and for no reason at all I usually sow a handful. This year’s plants have grown to heady heights, loving the heat and somehow drawing on a secret supply of water. They are going to seed now and have been tracked down by the local parakeets who are managing to balance on the flower heads and are feeding excitedly on the seeds.

Four

I’m slightly more proud of sowing the seed of thalictrum delavyi. From my less than perfect notes it looks like the seed was sown in 2020. Two years on then and they look firmly established. It’s quite difficult to capture their delicate flowers with the trusty phone camera but this isn’t too bad.

Five

Dahlias. Not a fan, but somehow I always have a few in the garden. This one was grown from seed last year and the tuber left in the ground over winter. I prefer the simpler variety. It has perked up considerably after rainfall.

Six

This hart’s tongue fern was also a sad sight before the rain came. Now plumped up again and flourishing. The garden’s resilience is encouraging.

There’s more gardening celebrations to be found on The Propagator’s site. Yes, crispiness abounds but it’s always possible to find something to enjoy. Lift your spirits with a visit to the other SOS garden posts. Happy gardening.

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: Extra time needed

One moment everything is under control, the next there is a long list of jobs to be done. A long weekend for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations should help. Yesterday I planted out the outdoor tomatoes and the courgettes. A first tray of zinnias went into the cutting patch. The cutting patch has itself been cut as half of it has been given over to a second attempt to grow asparagus and it seems more successful than the first. All four crowns have taken and now the long wait for a harvest begins. Here’s six from the garden for the first week of June.

One

Well this will make you laugh! After a whole year spent saying ‘No, I will not grow dahlias again.’ I was tempted by David Howard, an orange, shorter growing dahlia with dark foliage. I bought tubers, potted them up in April, greenhoused them through May, bringing them out on sunny days and now they have been sitting outside for about two weeks, waiting patiently to be put in the ground. Fingers crossed, David, I plan to plant you out today.

Two

There are more beautiful roses in flower. It seems to be such a good year for them. This one is the rambler ‘Wedding Day’. Beautiful small yellow buds which open to a creamy white with a crown of yellow stamens. It rambles along the back end of the garden fence, intermingling with the blackberries, which are also bursting with buds.

Three

Last year I divided the ‘Johnson’s Blue’ geranium. Two of these came with me to this house almost six years ago. I think I had about seven divisions from the plants and this one is doing superbly well. I may now have to modify the planting around it to balance the border out a little more.

Four

The purple foxgloves are truly in their stride now, of course they have almost completely taken over the white foxgloves that I had last year. In their defence they do very well at the shady end of the garden so I will let nature take the lead.

Five

The astrantias are now joining the summer party, this is a.major which self seeds prolifically here. I spread them around the garden but I am just getting to the point of maximum astrantia levels so the ruthless gardener will have to take over.

Six

Another self seeder is sisyrinchium striatum. I love its common name of pale yellow-eyed grass. These also came with me on the move. They took a few years to settle but now I have enough of them to begin to mix them in with digitalis lutea and the euphorbias.

So what needs doing this weekend? Roses to dead head, tomato side shoots to pinch out, nicotiana seedlings to plant out and of course the dahlias to free from the pots. I am also going to combine a collection of small herb pots into one large pot. With rain forecast for Sunday I will be busy today. Celebrating, gardening or reading SOS posts chez The Propagator, I hope you all have a good weekend.

Six On Saturday: A new season rolls in

A new month and a new season, Winter is with us. There were some gloriously sunny days this week which was a great opportunity to plant the last of the tulips: fifty or so ‘Purissima’ bulbs. This is an early white variety which I managed to infiltrate among the white hellebores with not too much collateral damage. My next outing was Friday afternoon which provided a gloomy backdrop for this week’s six.

One

I think this is the cheeriest of the six! The annual reveal of the persimmons. I was surpised to have any this year after the number that dropped in September. But here they are again and the parakeets have been squawking around letting me know that they are almost ripe.

Two

The first real frost arrived last week and the last of the dahlias has duly blackened. This is the first year I have lifted all the dahlias. They may be planted out again, but there’s a strong chance that they won’t! For the moment they are loosely wrapped in newspaper in the garage.

Three

I had a cutting patch this year, China asters were my favourites but I couldn’t bring myself to cut very many of them. I used, for the fourth year, a wide spaced jute netting to help support the flowers. It looks like it’s time to admit I’ve had my money’s worth!

Four

The vast majority of the leaves are down now, thanks in part to Storm Arwen which blew through last week. The leaf cage is full and these leaves will sit here for a year. They will be just about ready to use as leaf mould by next Winter. It is used to mulch the blackcurrants and raspberries.

Five

Moody skies, moody mood! I still have hundreds of small figs left on the fig tree. The storm helped shake a few to the ground and I have been picking off the lower level ones for some time. More to do but some will be unreachable.

Six

This is the green manure that has been growing for about 3 months. It’s time to cut it down and dig it over into the ground. This mix contains crimson clover, broad leaf clover, white tilney mustard and westerwolds rye grass. The informative seed packet tells me that the clover will fix the nitrogen in the soil and the rye grass and mustard will improve soil structure. I cut down now so that the mix doesn’t sneakily set seed when I’m not looking.

There are a few jobs to be done before a tactical retreat from the garden is made. Rose pruning has been started and must be finished. The autumn fruiting raspberry canes need to be cut back and after the frost there are a few soggy plants in the border that need to be cleared away. Here’s hoping there are a few more crisp sunny days to come.

Six on Saturday is the creation of The Propagator who handily provides a helpful guide for participants. Thanks to Mr P for hosting the links every weekend.

Six On Saturday: A glorious garden

I am behind with my virtual visits to the SOS gardens around the world but I do have a good excuse. I have spent a few days wallowing in the Sussex countryside in celebration of a wedding anniversary. We visited Charleston House near Lewes and Nymans gardens near Haywards Heath in West Sussex but it was the hotel garden that was photographed the most. So this week’s six is from that glorious garden.

One

I loved this combination of persicaria with asters and kniphofia. My guess is that this is p. Foxtail, but it’s just a guess. The kniphofia in my garden finished flowering in August, which just isn’t good enough! I am will have to look into some later/longer flowering varieties, suggestions welcome, and I’m definitely adding in some persicaria – somewhere.

Two

Dahlias were of course holding court and this one is ‘Magenta Star’. I managed to catch the gardener for a quick chat. She said that the dahlias are lifted every year.

Three

She also said they lift all the salvia ‘Amistad’. These are the cuttings in the greenhouses that were taken five weeks ago. I know mine would look nothing like this after five weeks. We bemoaned our shady greenhouses at home and I felt the guilt of one who has not yet taken a salvia cutting. It could be too late, but I might try.

Four

The squashes have already been lifted and are stored in a conservatory, also home to a peach tree, chilies and agapanthus.

Five

The sheltered walled garden had it’s own micro climate and felt almost tropical. I was a just a tiny bit pleased to see that the birds feast on these glorious apples just as they do on mine at home.

Six

Hydrangeas featured throughout the garden, now in their softening autumn colours. It’s another guess but I’m saying this is ‘Limelight’.

It’s been a long time since we headed to the South East of the UK and a note has been made to visit again. Nymans, a National Trust garden, has wonderful views over the countryside and I did take advantage of their garden shop to buy a new pot. Half price, I couldn’t say no, could I?

This weekend I shall be on the hunt for some corners of the garden to revamp, I hope to be spreading another bag of Strulch and undoubtedly will be disposing of more slugs. I hope you can find time to enjoy your gardens or find a beautiful one to visit, it does lift the spirits.

The Propagator, as ever, hosts this meme and all the links will be found on his site. Visitors always welcome!

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: Some things done but much still to do

There was not much opportunity for gardening this week, I had free time on Tuesday but the rain fell all day. I managed to plant out the actaeas late on Friday which gave a small sense of achievement. But I am frustrated in my early bulb planting as the long arm of Brexit has entangled itself in my order and I will have to be patient. Even as the garden falls away towards winter there is much to be done. Including finding six things from the garden each week. Here they are.

One

The rain brought down more of the persimmons and I doubt there will be many left to ripen but fortunately we had picked most of the apples over last weekend and they were taken off to the apple pressing farm on Monday. On Friday we collected the result which was 31 bottles. Slightly less than last year, possible due to us not picking from the Braeburn which looked as though it needed another month or so for the apples to get to a good size. We will taste the result today.

Two

Although I didn’t get the chance to garden much this week I did have the muscle in to deal with two variegated box shrubs that had lost the battle against box moth caterpillar. I can’t say I will miss them and I now have two planting spaces to fill. I am thinking hibiscus or perhaps an amelanchier. Suggestions welcome – something with white flowers would be ideal.

Three

Some plants are dogged survivors and although I dug out this aster last year I must have left a piece behind and it has duly fought its way through the echinacea to flower again. It looks quite good!

Four

This is an unknown hesperantha has made its usual re-appearance and reminded me how solidly reliable these are. I determined to invest in some more and have my eye on a pink variety called ‘Sunrise’.

Five

I really don’t grow dahlias in any great quantity but every now and then one makes an appearance in a SOS. This one grows in a pot and has done so for about four years. It’s ‘Blanca y Verde’ and is one of the few I have decided I like.

Six

Darcey Bussell rose has suffered very badly with blackspot this year and I worry for next year. But it has been in the garden for about four years so I’m hoping it is well enough established to cope with the attack. The flowers keep coming.

Jobs for weekend in this garden will be cutting back the agapanthus stems and calling time on the courgettes and cucumbers. The tomatoes have finally succumbed to blight so were culled last night. The empty spaces on the veg patch will give me a place for overwintering plants that are being dug up in the border rearrangement. I’ve decided that my grass border project will have to wait until next year as I fear I was being over optimistic about the amount of sunshine the chosen space received. I’m fine tuning my choices to ensure they are better suited to a shadier site. I doubt there will enough hours in the weekend for all I hope to get through and Sunday looks like being wet. My top priority is to sprinkle some bonemeal around the fruit trees and bushes so that it is watered in by Sunday’s showers. I hope you all have productive weekends whatever your tasks are. The Propagator shares his short but seminal thoughts as usual via his site and hosts all the links. Good on you!