Six On Saturday: September sunshine on its way

There’s a week of good weather forecast which will lift everyone’s spirits. It’s a positive start to Autumn and I’m happy to say goodbye to that wet, grey thing that was optimistically called Summer. I’m adjusting to a new season and starting to forward plan. I’ve found a new (to me) variety of onion (Centurion) and an early potato (Cherie) to try out, I have good intentions to invest in some solid plant supports and for adding one or two more upright perennials to the border. Bulbs have been ordered and seed catalogues will be picked over. Even though Summer has wound down, there are one or two treasures in the garden to enjoy. Here are my choices for this week.

One

I had plans to plant a ‘Hawkshead’ fuchsia down at the far end of the garden and put in an order for one early this year. The nursery told me that they had had a poor start to the season and their plants in the polytunnels were a write off. They offered me a free twig of the fuchsia in with the rest of my order and I accepted. Six months on from its arrival it has been repotted twice and is flowering quite beautifully. I only hope that I can get it through the winter and then through another year or two before it becomes a properly grown up shrub!

Two

This is echinacea ‘White Swan’, a favourite of mine. I also have a couple of plants grown from seed that I hope will catch up with these purchased plants soon. I’ve sown a few more seeds this year, but just as I liberally covered them with vermiculite I re-read the sowing instructions – ‘Do not cover, needs light to germinate’. Have you every tried looking for seeds in vermiculite? Not recommended!

Three

I planted out some salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’ last year to fill up a space at the base of a climbing rose. So far these beautiful salvias haven’t quite climbed high enough to clothe the gap but I do like them. Maybe next year they will get a bit taller.

Four

And speaking of salvias, how about this for a surprise? I lost my main collection of salvia ‘Amistad’ over the winter so the ‘Darcy Bussell’ roses have been without their usual companions. This one is from a cutting I took two years ago and which also didn’t look like it was going to come to anything this year. It has suddenly shot up and produced flowers. I’ll try to get a couple of cuttings again for insurance.

Five

Not a treasure to enjoy but something that must be dealt with. There is always a problem corner in the garden and this is my current one. The rodgersias at the back failed to flower this year, most of the zinnias planted here fell prey to the slugs and although the fleabane looks happy it is camouflaging one of my most hated weeds – the cinquefoil. It sends out runners at an amazing speed and now has a strong grip on this corner. I pull it out as best I can but the plan is to dig out everything and try to take out every last scrap of cinquefoil too. I’ll do my best.

Six

The roses keep going and this deep magenta one is lovely and has a great scent. It’s ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’, a repeat flowering Old Rose. It doesn’t put out flowers all summer but after its first flush it starts again around now. It has the potential to be a mighty shrub in a couple more years, which will hopefully mean more flowers and more scent.

The Propagator hosts this meme and has kindly produced a participant guide in attempt to keep us all in good order, Take a look at the rules, then take part, the rules can be bent gently if you need to. Posts come in from all around the world so there is always a steady supply of garden colour.

Six On Saturday: Out of control

It’s never a good time to have a twinge-y knee but this mixture of plentiful rain and some sunshine has sent the garden and its weeds into overdrive. Storm Evert blew through yesterday and the hollyhocks were swaying about like seasick passengers on a cruise ship in roiling seas. I nipped out in between the downpours to take some photos. These give you a selective view of the garden. In truth the long border is mass of geraniums that are still waiting to be cut back along with knautia, alchemilla mollis and of course a good selection of weeds. Here’s the good side of the garden for this week.

One

A few weeks back I had a good moan about the zinnias having been eaten by the slugs. Fortunately a small group of them survived and are now in flower. It’s such a shame that they are a slug favourite, I think they do a brilliant job of giving late summer colour. These are ‘Purple Giant’ and ‘Orange King’. I really am giving up dahlias but I will probably sow zinnia seeds next year.

Two

I am always a little amazed at the price of some 9cm plants from online suppliers. But having nurtured these echinacea pallida from seeds sown at least four years ago I can understand why. I can’t remember how many seeds were sown but I only managed to get three though to plants. They spent probably two years in pots until they looked strong enough to cope with those rougher plants in the garden, they flowered last year and look so much better this year. But I hear that echinacea are short lived. Time to sow more seed.

Three

These standard echinacea I did buy in 9cm pots and they have been in the garden for four years. It sounds as though this is a good span. They look pretty settled to me and I can’t believe they are going to disappear any time soon. They are not too crowded out by other plants which may help. Live long please!

Four

Agapanthus is another plant that costs an arm and a leg at the garden centres. After seeing an impressive group of dark blue ‘Midnight Star’ at Hidcote some years ago I decided that I must have some here. I bought some 9cm pots at the aforementioned arm and a leg price and waited for the impact. Three years on I think we are nearly there. They are fronted by achillea ‘Antique White’, a pity bench purchase from a few years ago.

Five

Echinacea is a bit of theme this week. I love these ‘White Swan’. I grew some from seed which are coming along well but I think this group is from a 9cm pot. I will definitely sow more of these to keep a continual supply for the garden.

Six

As posted earlier in the week on Twitter, the potatoes grown in a container were upended and the ever-pleasing job of rummaging for the treasure began. I grew Belle de Fontenay this year, which are classed as second earlies/main crop. Four small seed potatoes were planted in a 17 litre container which was half filled with compost. This was topped up as the leaves came through. I was very happy with the haul of 3kgs, some smaller but a good proportion were of a generous size. The best advantage of growing like this is that there’s no danger of leaving the odd potato in the ground to grow on next year. I might be a convert. I have two rows growing in the ground which will be dug up as and when needed.

More rain is forecast, at least the water butts are full and are being put to good use for watering in the greenhouse. Something has been eating the peppers but I have picked the first one, french beans are cropping slowly, tomatoes just beginning to ripen, courgettes coming through at a good pace and the loganberries and blackberries also just ripening. Don’t mention carrots this year, virtually no germination, the onions might get a little larger and the rocket which has been a steady producer has succumbed to flea beetle. Storm Evert brought down a few apples which reminded me the trees are in need of a summer prune as does the grapevine which is truly out of control. While it rained I watched the RHS video on what I should have been doing. Here’s hoping things are good in your garden. The Propagator has posted sunny holiday snaps and will still manage to host the links to other SOS gardens. More sun needed here please so that I can make a start on gaining control again.

Six On Saturday: A happy garden

Contrary to the forlorn look of the garden this morning I am sure it is much happier. Some plants are weighed down by the rain that finally arrived. Verbena, cosmos and guara drop their heads but deep down their roots are sucking up some much needed moisture. Yes the rain came. Overnight thunderstorms on Thursday and then on and off showers since. My six for the week were snapped before the rain.

One

My favourite combination in the garden at the moment.  Echinacea ‘White Swan’ and pennisetum villosum.  The beautiful fluffy heads of the pennisetum are one of today’s droopers but I’m sure they’ll pick up.

Two

Day lilies.  These are in half sun, half shade so I may get another week of display from them.  They are ‘Golden Chimes’.  Planted in 2017 and I divided them last year, spreading their cheerfulness around the garden.

Three

I have a running-riot clump of Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ in the garden which was also divided last year.  I planted a few small pieces in some semi-shade hoping the growth would be slower.  They have taken to the new spot with as much enthusiasm as the original planting.  I can see I will have to be ruthless.

Four

One of my inherited plants is a group of white phlox.  I’d left my well established clumps behind when we moved house so I was very happy to see these come through in the first summer here.  These are in the shade of an apple tree and are one of the plants that I have faithfully watered, at the first sign of wilting, in the dry spell.

Five

These are my everyday agapanthus.  For unknown reasons this clump has flowered very well this year while about 4 feet away there languishes a clump of agapanthus foliage with not a sniff of a flower.  That clump will be dug up and divided, fed and given one more chance.

Six

There is one thing in the garden that does seem to have enjoyed the high temperatures.  The figs have ripened and the first to be picked were greedily eaten.  I just stopped  myself in time and took a photo of this one.  The best are high in the tree and as usual the birds get to those first.

The cooler temperatures will persuade me out into the garden again.  Even the early morning deadheading proved too onerous in the heat.  Now rain battered rose petals decorate the garden so there is extra snipping to be done.  Enjoy your gardening time  and for a break, stop by at The Prop’s place to see what goes on in the SOS world.

Six On Saturday: Returning to the fold

I have climbed back up the slippery slope to not posting and made it to the top. I’d like to say that I have spent the last few weeks dining out, drinking in pubs and jetting off to sunnier climes, but no. The best I have done to kick start the economy is have a hair cut and make two visits to the garden centre. Compost and twine now purchased, garden blogging can re-commence.  Here are six things from the garden for your delectation.

One

Growing from seed is definitely a case of winning some, losing some. Here is a slow winner.  This is echinacea pallida.  I sowed seeds three years ago, probably a half tray full and managed to get three to 9cms pot sized plants.  They were planted out last year and this year I have the first flowers.  Very dainty.   I like them and would like more.  It could be a slow process.

Two

Also grown from seed and happily in the garden for a few years now the ‘Black Cat’ scabious is back and looking velvety dark again.  I need a few more of these too, as a few a moved to a new location resented the intrusion and are no more.

Three

Hollyhocks, from collected seed and now liberally spreading themselves around.  These I have to keep an eye on as they do get everywhere.

Four

This year’s annual sowings have started to flower and first out of the blocks is cosmos ‘Dazzler’.  Always reliable but I am never happy with where I have planted them out.

Five

The magenta phlox have taken up the baton for the second half of summer.  I always have a sinking feeling after the peak of the garden in June but the phlox opening up signals that the next wave has arrived.

Six

More mid summer magenta from the penstemons, this is ‘Plum Jerkum’.

That’s the six. I have been busy cutting back the June extravaganza of ‘Brookside’ geraniums and the delphiniums.  The g. psilostomen is trying to convince me that it has another few days of flowers to give but really it is past its best and has to be cut back too.  Nice to be back with The Prop, who has some beauties in his six of the week, all very colourful.  Much to be enjoyed.

Six on Saturday: Shady facts

I was a little down on the garden a week or so ago. I’ve been planting up from scratch for about three years and the first plantings are filling out now. Some are doing well but I have to face up to reality. At this time of the year the main border is in the shade of a large fig tree. This seems to create the perfect environment for mildew. I’ve spent some time spreading things out a little more and I pulled up the sweet peas. The border is a bit patchy now but I feel happier.  Now I have to plan for a few more late summer shade lovers.

One

The long border minus the sweet peas.  It’s not too bad at the far end where the shade is less dense and there are a few sun spots but the top end under the fig needs a rethink.  The day lillies have finished flowering.  They can stay as they sneek into a little sun spot by mid afternoon and I have identified a branch of the fig tree that can go and the space will open up a little more.  Every challenge presents a new project so I am in excited mood.

Two

Down at the far end of the long border behind the rudbeckia lurk a few dahlias.  They are only just about to open.  I hoped they would be able to make use of the sun spot that the rudbeckia enjoy but it’s just not quite enough.  This year I will be lifting the dahlias and finding a sunnier spot for them.

Three

Further round the corner a small border that backs on to the veg plot is shady for the morning but catches the afternoon sun.  It seems just enough for the echnicea ‘White Swan’ to get by.  This is their second year in the garden and they have bulked up quite well.

Four

Moving further round, this year’s planting of  salvia ‘Amistad’ catches the same afternoon sun and has been magnificent this year.  Some of last year’s salvias did over winter,  I dug them out of their original position and moved them to  a nursery bed when I spotted the new shoots coming through.  Those ones have only just really got going and are about half the height.  Next to the salvias are three plants of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’.  Planted in 2017, they have just made it to a reasonable height this year but clearly they would benefit from less shade.  They are just far enough into this border to see a little less of the afternoon sun.  I am going to leave them where they are for one more year.

Five

Coming right round the garden, the north facing border begins to take on a western tilt and manages to catch some early morning sun and a good bit of late afternoon sun.  The fence line casts shade at the back edge.  I am optimistically growing r. Souvenir du Dr Jamain as a climber against the fence – slow going so far.  In front, I cleared away the unhealthy choysia and threw in some annuals to cover the ground while I did some thinking.  I had a trayful of nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ and n. alata ‘Grandiflora’ to use up so in they went.  At the time I did not know that the white variety likes a little shade so I struck lucky with the result.  What was a stop gap may now be part of the long term plan.  Anemone ‘September Charm’ and a white hardy geranium are also in this mix.

Six

Lastly coming round to the truly sunny all day long border, which is quite small, I have the lovely rose ‘Natasha Richardson’ planted up this year with salvia microphylla var, microphylla – the blackcurrant sage. I have tried every week to post a picture of this salvia but the vibrant magenta just floods the image.  I hope you can get a good sense of it against the rose.  It’s a stunner.

It’s going to be a stunning long weekend here, probably too hot to garden so I shall be thinking.  There will also be some SOS reading to be done.  Plenty of ideas to be gathered at the links that Mr P hosts each week.  Read them and if you are tempted join in!

 

Six On Saturday: Another inspiration

I am a great admirer of Dan Pearson’s garden writing and have an email subscription to his online magazine, Dig Delve.  Dan unfailing comes up with beautiful words to describe the progress of his garden and Huw Morgan supplies the stunning photographs.  Last week’s edition A New Year was no exception. The very first sentence caught my attention: ‘Winter is a time to look.’  And so I did.

One

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The seed head of Echinacea purpurea

Two

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Seed heads of Agastache ‘Black Adder’

Three

Seed heads of Rudbeckia fulgida  ‘Goldsturm’

Four

The flower of Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’

Five

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I also managed to do some gardening this week.  It was the coldest day of the week and I had some digging to do.  I had been smugly admiring the newly cleared plot on the north facing border.  It looked lovely but I know that soil can be deceptive and underneath lurk the roots of the very worst of weeds.  One end of the plot turned over quite nicely.  I only needed to remove the odd blackcurrant root that had been left behind.  I gave the dug over patch a mulch of leaf mould and as the toes were tingling I retreated inside for some warmth. The next day I set out to tackle the second half.  A different experience unfolded.  The weeds were lurking at this end of the plot and as I dug the roots out I remembered the enchanter’s nightshade that loves this corner and then the creeping cinquefoil  came to mind.  I really don’t like that one.   A couple of trugs full of roots were removed and I know I still haven’t got the upper hand.

Six

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The first rapid fluttering of a nearby robin’s wings always makes me jump out of my skin but we soon get used to each other and this robin seemed very happy to pose for the occasional photo.  In return I turned over a few worms for him.

It’s been cold but beautifully dry here so I’m hoping to finish off my digging this weekend.  I’ve then got roses to prune and some perennials to cut back.  I’ll be leaving those seed heads standing until the new growth starts to come through.  Wishing you all well with your garden jobs.  To take a look at what has been occupying fellow SOSs this week stop by at Mr P’s blog and links.

Six on Saturday: Shamed into action

I have been shamed by my fellow sixers!  The shorter days and colder temperatures have me reaching for the blanket, the gardening books and a cuppa.  I was even considering not posting a six!  But reading Mr P’s links to today’s sixes have encouraged me to get out in the garden.  I have not sown my sweet peas seeds, planted any bulbs and only just in time did I fleece my tender agapanthus plants.  But then none of us are perfect are we?  The very least I could do was to share six from my garden this week:

One

img_3032.jpgI garden in London and so get a little complacent about frosts.  But this week the lawn has had a light frosting and it was clearly a sign that cold weather gardening had to start.  Last year’s fleece was in shredded tatters in the shed and I hate all those white flaky bits.  I hot footed it to Homebase and found some delightful green bags of 35gsm fleece with very handy draw string pulls.  I usually fleece up the agapanthus armed with a stapler but these jackets were easy to pull over the plants and the fetching shade of green is slightly less obvious than white.  Job done.

Two

IMG_3034I was certainly lulled into complacency by the balmy days I experienced in Suffolk last week but the cold evenings are changing the colours of the garden.  The persimmon tree is looking beautiful even as the leaves are falling.

Three

IMG_3033The previously sun scorched hydrangeas are also taking on their winter hue.

 

Four

IMG_3031But elsewhere the summer container plants are still in good health and I will leave them out throughout the winter.  In mild years I have been able to carry the geraniums over into the next summer.

Five

IMG_3036The white antirrhinum sowed from seed is still in flower at this end of the garden but elsewhere I have collected seeds from another plant that has done its bit for summer.

Six 

img_3035.jpgI recently planted out some gaura and pennisetums  in a west border and alongside them I put in some Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, which still thinks there’s time to put on a display.  Thank you!

Thank you too, to everyone who shares their gardens on a Saturday.  You provide inspiration, support and encouragement and always make me laugh!  What more can you ask for?  Well, if anyone’s free to plant a few hundred bulbs….

 

 

Six On Saturday: Summer is hanging on but autumn is settling in

Even though temperatures here today are forecast to reach 24 degrees, the nights are cooling down and summer is really over.  Its the end of the third summer in the new garden and progress is being made.  More bulbs have arrived and some more bare root roses will be ordered.  This week the plants for my small west facing borders have arrived:

One

IMG_2950I’ve planted the same group of plants either side of a small path..  The Agastache ‘Alabaster’ were in the garden already and they have now been joined by Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’ and Pennisetum villosum.  Fingers crossed for next summer.

Two

IMG_2952On the diagonal opposite to this area is what was fondly known as ground elder corner.  After three summers of digging it out I think I have the upper hand and so I am beginning to put in some permanent plants.  First to go in is Trachelospermum jasminoides, a firm six on saturday favourite.  I’m hoping it will very quickly cover the great expanse of unattractive brown fence.

Three

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The nerines have just begun to open out.  They are a little depleted in number as I stepped on one and not all of them have flowered.   The variety is Nerine bowdenii ‘Ostara’.  This is their first year in the garden so I am hoping they will settle down and put on a good show next year.

Four

IMG_2947Also adding some late colour are these Lillies.  Yet more naming debates: are they now Schizostylis, or Hesperantha?  I know which one I prefer.  These came from the old garden and are bulking up nicely.

Five

IMG_2951And since repetition is allowed and because the late colour is so fabulous, I give you again the Salvia ‘Amistad’ and the Rose, Darcy Bussell.  The Salvias mooched along all summer but they have really established themselves in the last month.  Darcy Bussell just keeps on putting out new buds.

Six

The warmth of summer lingers on but autumn is settling in and mushrooms have started to appear in the garden.  I’m intrigued by the blue ones but  have no idea what they are.

Here’s hoping all is well in your garden.  Autumn brings the storms and while I am still finding the garden very dry I know others are suffering from high winds and heavy rain.  It’s a gardener’s lot! Find out more at The Propagator’s blog.  That’s where all the great Six On Saturday links are posted.

 

 

 

 

 

Six On Saturday: Some seed sowing success

There is no doubt about it.  This has been a tough year.  But there are always some cheering sights among the wilting, stressed and sometimes dead plants.  The tithonias have reached five foot and the flowers are coming thick and fast.   All grown from tiny seeds.  Here are some others:

One

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Scabiosa atropurpurea  ‘Black Cat’.  These have such lovely velvet petals.  The deep wine colour is fab too.

Two

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Antirrhinum majus ‘White Giant’.  Not quite so giant as I imagined but these were really teeny tiny seeds to start with so I am glad they have got this far.  I thought I would be planting them in the middle of the border to give some tall white spikes but when the time came it was obvious that they wouldn’t be able to fight their way through geranium ‘Brookside’ so they were planted along the edges of the path.

Three

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Echinops Globe Thistle.  An experiment in having something different in the border.  Much loved by blackfly but in truth, so far, not much loved by me.  I will see how they go, perhaps I’ll like them more when they turn bluer.  I think I got my plants mixed up and really meant to sow eryngium!

Four

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Sweet peas: Midnight Blue, by far and away the most successful of my sweet peas.  The very lovely Gwendoline, Black Knight and Anniversary are in a shadier spot and are not happy!  Only two of the Anniversary seeds germinated. I’ll try them again next year but I will have to find a better site for them.

Five

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Not from any seed that I sowed but doing a great job of extending the border colour are these echinacea purpurea.  They work well with the self seeded verbena behind and they might be good self seeders themselves.  Apparently they don’t like drought but so far so good.

Six

Lastly a dahlia mystery.  I bought six dahlia tubers at the same from the same place.  All labelled Thomas Edison.  They are beginning to open up and I realise I have two varieties. Now I think about there was one pot that seemed less vigorous than the others.  The colour is much darker than comes across here.  How interesting!

Still not a drop of rain here, to see how other gardens are fairing take a trip to The Propagator for all the links to many, many lovely #SixOnSaturday posts.  Happy gardening.