Six On Saturday: Keeping my head down

It all feels a little grim out there so I’m focussing on the garden. Yes, pretty grim there too, at this time of year, but there’s always something to distract the attention from everyday life. The last of the tulip tree branches that landed in the garden a few weeks back have been shredded and the chippings were used to mulch the raspberries. Rain and foggy mornings have been the overwhelming features of the last week and those tulips bulbs are still waiting to be planted. The thin border seems to be missing some things and quickly the bare patches are being colonised by geranium ‘Gravetye Manor’. This will have to be taken in hand. I am thinking about planting some grasses along this border, something I didn’t think I would ever do here. But what is happening now? Here’s this week’s six.

One

These are the rain-soaked berries of sarcococca confusa, planted out to replace a box shrub. I’m very happy with this one and it’s doing well in the shadow, and dryness, of the front garden magnolia.

Two

I have dipped into planting grasses in a few spots in the garden. It was suggested to me that they combined best with plants with smaller flowers. But here I have planted them behind hydrangeas. This is calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’. It’s difficult to show its true effect as it is still a young clump but the winter colour is wonderful.

Three

Winter structure is what a garden needs now, and I don’t have much of it! I used to have four euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii but three gave up the struggle to survive in a heavy clay border. For some reason this one battles on and is looking quite strong at the moment. There is always a seedling or two going spare so I have planted out one in a sunnier spot and I have one in a pot ready to drop into a suitable place come Spring. With free plants available I am happy to try them again.

Four

Lining up against a sunny brick wall suits the sage and rosemary shrubs. The rosemary is in flower again, something for the bees to enjoy.

Five

The seeds pods of iris foetidissima are splitting open and giving splashes of colour here and there. These come up underneath the rhododendron and viburnum trees, happily colonising difficult spaces. They are very happy in these tough corners and every now and then need to be thinned.

Six

I am just wondering if I am going to have a second crop of potatoes this year. These are the ‘left behinds’. Could there be a crop for Christmas? I’ll leave them in for as long as the green manure stays and then we’ll see.

There are some fabulous colours on show on Jim’s Garden Ruminations, plus some thoughts for future sixes. With some ingenuity we will get through the winter and keep our posting going. It could become bizarre though! Take a look at the links that appear throughout the day and see what emerges. Happy Gardening.

Six On Saturday: Mid November with a touch of Spring

How strange to be saying what a beautiful few days we have been having. Temperatures in the high teens, hardy geraniums still pushing out the odd flower here and there, no sign of frost and mercifully, some dry weather. The garden is moving towards Winter but slowly. The evergreen agapanthus leaves are just turning yellow so it’s time to wrap them in fleece. I have some tulip bulbs to plant and a few weeks back I did manage to plant out some ‘Electric’ red onion sets. The figs are still cropping but the size is diminishing. As the days shorten the garden will settle into its Winter phase. In the meantime, here’s this week’s six.

One

My go to autumn shot is the persimmon tree. Usually laden with fruit at this time of year. But what a strange year it has been, so much sun yet only two fruits. Was it the dry summer, or simply that last year was a bumper crop so this year is the famine year. The parakeets will have to find something else to feed on.

Two

The bergenia thinks it is early spring and is putting out fresh flowers, offering some late nectar for the bees that are still around.

Three

In a more seasonal vein, hesperantha are adding some autumnal colour. These are earmarked for lift and divide session in spring. This is partly to reinvigorate them and also another attempt to control the marauding cinquefoil weed that spreads through this corner.

Four

There’s a useful splash of lime green coming from the euphorbia oblongata, going great guns this year. I’ve talked previously about this being described as a short-lived perennial which continues to defy this description. Long may it continue.

Five

Liriope muscari. It should be a clump of three, but only one survives. It does get overlooked but grows in a shady place so I’m grateful for any display.

Six

Yes, another rose. This is rosa ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’, from the Bourbon rose group. One of my favourites for fragrance.

I need to spend some time in the garden this weekend. The ‘to do’ list includes tidying up soggy agapanthus leaves, there are hellebore leaves to be cut back, some planting out of tulips and yet more picking up glass from the old greenhouse. The site has been cleared now and I am surveying the foundations and wondering if they will do for the new greenhouse. They are, of course, not in brilliant condition. The foundations are not level and there are frost shattered bricks to be cleared out. But maybe a new course will sort things out. Over at Jim’s there is a beautiful rhodochiton plus all the links to other SOS posts for the weekend. Enjoy your gardening weekend!

Six On Saturday: Green, green grass

I’m a little late to the grasses party. I’ve some melica and a couple of Karl Foersters but this year I’m planting up the difficult area against the back fence with a grass combination. Having taken the plunge and chosen the mix I added a few more essentials to the shopping basket and the pricey ‘little’ package arrived this week. Here they are.

One

This is a selection of the back fence mix. I will be planting three miscanthus giganteus, three persicaria polymorpha, five luzula nivea and six stachys hummelo. I’m very much hoping the miscanthus will grow to their advertised three meter height asap and cover up the fence panels. The panels give a rain shadow to the border and the trees that surround our garden give plenty of summer shade. The miscanthus should be able to cope with this. Likewise the luzula should also enjoy the shade. For everything else, I have my fingers crossed. There is some late afternoon sun to help things along.

Two

Having made the main selection, I added in hakonechloa macra. This can also take a some shade and I am using it to underplant the ‘Darcy Bussell’ roses. The roses suffered with black spot last year so I really should be using salvias as per Sarah Raven’s advice. I think that does work. But no, I’m going with grasses. I do have a couple of salvia ‘Amistad’ cuttings that I plan to sneak in at the back so perhaps they will deal with the black spot.

Three

Finally I added a euphorbia palustris. My e. ‘Wulfenii’ have suffered over the last two years. The magnificent four have dwindled to one and a half. The soil has been too wet and heavy for them. A shout out on twitter gave the suggestion of this euphorbia which enjoys damp conditions. Sadly not evergreen but it has lime green flowers and good autumn foliage so I’m giving it a go.

Four

Speaking of euphorbias. the e.mellifera seedling that blew in from a neighbour’s garden has flowered this year. It is just over a metre high and is doing a great job of filling the border.

Five

Oh my, the tulips took bashing in the gusty winds on Thursday but miraculously there were no losses. These are ‘Purissima’ among the hellebores. I had forgotten that these open creamy yellow and then fade to white. I was expecting pure white but the creamy yellow works well.

Six

The diminutive ‘Doll’s Minuet’ which I plant in pots have just opened. These are last years bulbs that I lifted and stored. Good to see them in flower again.

While I will be out in the veg patch this weekend The Propagator will be on his 50k run and then taking a well earned rest. Miraculously he will also be hosting the Six On Saturday meme. Good on yer! It looks like the overnight temperatures will be a little warmer so I will be planting out the potatoes and onion sets. Wishing you well with your weekend gardening.

Six on Saturday: Time to get going

As the garden gets going it is time for the gardener to step up the pace. The beginning of March has been cold and wet here but growth continues. It is time to give the fruit trees their quarterly feed of bonemeal and the roses will receive a handful of fertiliser to propel them into abundant flowering. Having spent a week away from the garden I came back to find a very soggy lawn and wet borders. I have snowdrops to divide and the last of the herbaceous perennials to cut back. Not a seed has been sown yet but this weekend I will start the tomatoes off. Here’s six from the garden.

One

I plant the David Austin rose ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ in 2020, in its climbing form. It has now made up to the top of the arch and the new growth is lining up nicely. I’m hoping for more of its lovely red flowers this year.

Two

I have been taking stock of what has survived the winter and I’m pleased to say that this salvia ‘Amistad’ planted against a south facing wall is just beginning to show signs of new growth. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get caught by a late frost. I have insurance in the shape of a cutting in the greenhouse which looks good too.

Three

The euphorbia oblongata has also come through unscathed. It’s described as a short lived perennial, so I should be prepared for it to fade away soon. It’s been with me for about three years, it will be interesting to see how short lived it is.

Four

No seeds sown this year but these are lychnis coronaria that I sowed last autumn. Lychnis are self seeders so these were a bit belt and braces. I will plant them out away from the parent plant, spreading a little more hot pink around the garden.

Five

I took some sage cuttings last year when the very old sage bush had a good cut back. The parent plant seems to be none the worse and the cuttings have taken.

Six

In June I will have been gardening here for six years. I inherited a large pot of strawberries that I transferred to the greenhouse in the hope of an early crop of fruit. But there they languished producing very little at all. I am finally about to dig them up and use the space for something else. The soil will need some improvement. In the meantime I have six new strawberry plants, three of ‘Cambridge Favourite’ and three of ‘Elsanta’, chosen from the limited selection available at the garden centre. Roll on Summer, I am ready!

More garden reports can be found on The Propagator’s site, where he hosts all the SOS links. Join in or simply read for pleasure. It’s a merry band.

Six on Saturday: An interesting end to February

The last full week of February has been eventful but here the focus remains on the garden. Storm Franklin lashed a few more fence panels. Thankfully none of them are mine but there are some interesting gaps in neighbouring gardens. It has been a difficult week to find time to garden but a moment here and there was grabbed and the cut down of the herbaceous perennials continues. There is growth under the brown and the March surge is approaching. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

The fig tree had a prune. Three or four of the larger branches were shortened and the overall height was taken down a little. Come the summer the longer thinner branches will be shortened. It is amazing that despite the high winds there is still a number of last seasons figs clinging on.

Two

Last summer saw us say goodbye to two box shrubs which had succumbed to blight and caterpillars. It has opened up this corner of the garden to a little more sunshine. It will be brief lightening of a shady corner that will be back in shade once the trees are in leaf. This is also a big tick for cutting back the old stems on the phlox.

Three

I do have some crocuses in the garden that have withstood the wind and rain. If I remember rightly these are ‘Ruby Giant’ – not so ruby in colour.

Four

New buds on the climbing hydrangea are encouraging. This is year three for this shrub and gradually it is making its way over the fence.

Five

I used to have four of these euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii which made a dramatic impact in early spring. I’m down to two now and they are looking a little thin. I think the soil here is just too wet for them. Evidence of climate change perhaps. I have a couple of seedlings in other parts of the garden so we’ll if they do any better.

Six

I feel sure the viburnum usually has more flowers than this by now. They are only just beginning to open, perhaps March will push them on to a better display.

I think the garden is the place to be this weekend. Things are looking a whole lot more positive there! Mr P will no doubt be out and about one way or another and yet always finds time to cheerfully host the SOS meme.

Six On Saturday: From a foggy London town

Yes, after some beautiful frosty starts followed by sunny days this morning came with fog. It’s still lingering as I write so the six is a damp and fuzzy six. Here they are.

One

My itchy, twitchy fingers last week resulted in a purchase, of course. This is cornus alba ‘Sibirica’. I’ve ignored the warning that it is mildly suckering and gone for the crimson red stems. I need to get it in the ground but I have been a fair weather gardener of late and the cold afternoons have not tempted me into the garden.

Two

The snowdrops are just beginning to come through. There are no rare, expensive or exquisite varieties to show here, just the basic galanthus but always a delight to see, even though this one turned out to be a fuzzy photo!

Three

Strange to find the snowdrops flowering in the company of a rudbeckia but that is what is in my garden this weekend!

Four

The Euphorbia mellifera that came as a self seeder from some neighbouring garden is going great guns, and provides some evergreen structure. I was warned that this might outgrow its welcome and it is certainly demonstrating a fondness for its growing spot. We shall see.

Five

The hellebores continue to come through. This one is ‘Pretty Ellen’ white, looking rather subtle in its flower bud form.

Six

The last spot goes to sarcococca confusa. I have it in a pot at the moment but there may be a space opening up for it in the front garden where I might benefit more from its scent. The berries, flowers and leaves combine beautifully.

Here’s hoping Sunday sees me in the garden, I have a sense that there are a few jobs to be done. Sitting with the plant and seed catalogues will not do. The Prop may be out on another of his runs but still finds time to host this meme, for which many thanks are sent.

Six On Saturday: Time to stop dithering and do. Probably.

The trees that surround this garden have just started to change colour, there was a cold north wind for a day or two but in general the weather is still quite mild. I am dithering about whether to take things into the greenhouse this weekend or next. Dithering is one of my favoured gardening techniques, employed in every season. It’s just the way I garden. After some dithering this morning and several changes of plan, here’s this week’s six.

One

I’ve been dithering for some time about fumigating the greenhouse. I didn’t get on top of the whitefly this year. The encarsia wasps used a month or so ago made an impact but didn’t fully clear the infestation. As the temperatures were warm enough I finally deployed the ‘garlic bombs’ that had lurking around for some time. I don’t know what the whitefly made of it, but my stomach definitely heaved when I opened up the packaging. Of course I should have taken a photo of the smoke filled greenhouse, with the smoke gently seeping out of every opening. Far more dramatic. But I didn’t, so sadly this will have to do. Let’s hope the fumigation has had an effect and I promise to do better next year.

Two

I needed to get the greenhouse sorted out to make it available for some tender plants. The last of the peppers and chillies were picked before the fumigation and I had yet another go at removing the oxalis. There’s some mild weather forecast for next week but the lemon tree will have to go inside soon. It has had a good year outside and seems to have fully recovered from its near death a few years back. There are flowers, new fruits and some not quite ripe fruit. The greenhouse is not heated so when winter arrives the lemon tree will get a fleece wrap.

Three

This euphorbia mellifera has also done well this year. It arrived as a self-sown seedling about this time last year and Jim of Garden Ruminations identified it and warned me that it would grow and grow. How right, as ever, he was. It didn’t flower this spring, I’m hoping it will next spring and then I will do as Jim advised and cut it back.

Four

I have five pots of the large evergreen agapanthus that are tender here and need a fleece wrapping every winter. They are showing signs of needing it now. Last year I discovered that pegs are great for holding the fleece in place.

Five

The leaves of the trachelospermum jasminoides, star jasmine, have just begun to turn red. It’s making slow progress up the fence but year by year it is thickening up. I don’t have much in the garden that gives this darker autumn colouring, no Japanese maples, no cotinus and no dogwoods either. I just don’t seem to have the right spaces for them, so these red leaves will be especially enjoyed.

Six

Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’. I’ve probably shared these before, but anything that looks this good in the last week of October deserves another mention. I planted three 9cm pots two years ago and they have filled up the space well this year. Such a rich colour.

I still have narcissus bulbs to plant and a few tulip bulbs lined up to go in the ground in November. The foliage of day lilies and the deciduous agapanthus is in need of cutting back before it becomes a soggy mess but there are plenty of plants that I will leave standing over winter. We can’t be too choosy about which wildlife we support in this way and from today’s walk round I can see that the slugs are enjoying the garden all too well at the moment. Yes, jobs to be done. It’s not hibernation time yet. Don’t forget that The Propagator hosts this meme and shares all the links to other SOS posts. Happy gardening.

Six On Saturday: No more slug banquets

We had torrential rain on Monday evening which caused local flooding on some roads, nothing like that experienced in Europe this week for which I am grateful and this weekend we have a scorchio heatwave. It is feast or famine weather-wise and I had a nostalgic longing for the gentle summers of childhood. We did have them didn’t we? There is one aspect of the garden that is very much feast time and that is the dahlia banquet I have been serving up for the slugs. That’s it. I am done with dahlias, never much liked them anyway and as I don’t have that many they will not be missed. Also suffering this year are the lupins and zinnias. The new resolution is ‘if the slugs munch it, it is not staying in the garden’. In ruthless mode I also dug up an echinops ritro – globe thistle. Never much liked that either. It seemed to suffer from aphid attacks and then took on a bedraggled look until the next wave of growth came through. Not attractive and now gone for good. On the good news side, I have planted out all the salvias and some very slow to get going nicotiana ‘Whisper’ seedlings. Twenty tiny seeds sown, four germinated. They grew on so slowly that I had actually forgotten them. Yesterday, in some cobwebby corner of the greenhouse, I spotted the glowing green leaves and they were in the garden pdq. Here’s this week’s six.

One

Hebe, variety unknown. I inherited this in the front garden where it lurked under the magnolia tree doing not very much. Two years ago I dug up it and for the time being, as one does, put it in a corner of the veg plot. This year it has performed spectacularly. With fireworks of white spikes of flowers fizzing of in all directions. It is alongside the potatoes this year and I am very happy to let it stay there. Added bonus: no slug damage.

Two

Ever reliable, no slug damage, and so easily taken for granted, even moaned about occasionally, verbena bonariensis. Moaned about because here it self seeds readily. It seems to grow in every corner but does the best in the sunniest spot where it really does stand up well without falling over the path too much. I pull them up where they are flopping.

Three

Hollyhocks. Hmm, yes some occasional slime trails but the plants just push on upwards. Self seeding itself throughout the borders and I do nip out the seedlings when I spot them but of course some manage to elude me and then deliver a mid summer surprise as they soar above the other plants.

Four

The ever sunny leucanthemum superbum or shasta daisy. Now securely staked. I grew these beauties from seed when I first came to this garden and used them to front the wild blackberries, that I was going to dig out. Over the last few years the blackberries have been somewhat tamed and since they deliver a bountiful crop they get to stay. They are one of the few happy weeds that I inherited.

Five

I had to laugh as I saw glorious photos of lupins in SOS posts and then was told last week that one of the ‘jobs to do’ was to cut back lupins. Mine have barely got going. This one has just managed a flower spike, the others have been munched by slugs. I fully expect the blackfly to descend on the lupin this week. They are going and I think I’m going to use the space to plant another rose.

Six

Last of the slug free plants is euphorbia oblongata. Slightly past its flowering best but what a stand out colour in the garden right now. Grown from seed a few years back, and if I remember rightly I sowed a whole packet of 45 seeds and got three seedlings. But then what would I have done with 45 plants! Sometimes nature knows best.

We have been enjoying cucumbers from the greenhouse this week and I think the time has come to dig up some potatoes. My old allotment site issued a tomato blight alert this week – so far all looks okay here. The French beans are flowering and the courgettes will undoubtedly zoom away in this weekend’s heat. It’s also time to pick some currants and the last of the gooseberries. It’s not all bad, is it? Over at The Propagator’s garden all seems good too, with plenty of sunny flowers to enjoy. I hope, on balance, things are also good in your gardens.

Six On Saturday: I’m not enjoying this cold weather

I thought I would get straight to the point. It has been misty, foggy, and damp week with cold winds. March is not inspiring me to get out into the garden. And when I do step outside I am greeted by more signs of frost damage. A scene to awful to share is the brown curled up mass that used be a well established clump of erigeron karvinskianus. The RHS give it H5 for hardiness. This means hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters (-15 to -10). I can only hope that somewhere underneath the browness there are some fresh shoots emerging. This is the fifth winter in the new garden and this is the first time there has been so much damage from the cold weather. I am thinking it is a combination of the very cold weather followed by some early morning sun. Here’s what I am sharing this week.

One

Cold or not, there are jobs to done and last week I carried out a very modest land grab from the lawn. The motivation for this audacious activity was borne out of an idle moment. On looking out of the window I realised that the transition between flower garden and veg patch was not a pretty one. I decided on impulse that an arch was needed to break up the view. With more impulsivity I immediately ordered a rusted steel ornamental arch. Of course the arch needed a certain width of garden space and the border was not quite wide enough. Manic digging took place, pavers re-positioned and an empty trench needing top soil was the result. This tiny corner border now has a little more substance to it. At the end of last week I did get round to dividing the snowdrops and I have filled one corner of the trench with some of the divisions. My local nursery has just opened again so I am planning a daring and thrilling visit to purchase some top soil. I am also consulting my SOS wish list to see what plants I need.

Two

I also tackled another border this week, which is probably why I am so moany about cold weather! I decided that the very back of the garden is too shady to grow vegetables and so a shade-happy selection of plants was ordered. I am not very good at fitting in that all important evergreen structural layer but this time I have included some hart’s tongue ferns. These were planted out last autumn and with a H6 for hardiness they are unscathed. They have been joined this week by tiarella cordifolia, hosta undulata var. albomarginata aka Thomas Hogg and Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Alba’. When (if) they break through, I will also add in some thalictrum delavayi ‘Album’. I am currently also using this border to store a small hydrangea and a blackcurrant bush – as you do when you move something and don’t quite know what to do with it.

Three

The north border of the garden was planted up about a year ago with three sturdy specimens of pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’. Hardiness rating H3, since you ask. This means ‘ -5 to 1 degrees centigrade, half-hardy – unheated glasshouse / mild winter’ in the UK. Which may explain why they look like this now. Oh well, perhaps they will respond to a good trim when the time comes.

Four

I hope I am not tempting fate, but the delphinium seedlings which overwintered in an unheated greenhouse have started to put out their new shoots. I sowed seeds saved from the purple ones in the garden. It’s a balance between turning a plant soft and losing it but I have decided they can stay inside for a little longer.

Five

Sorry, it’s another oh dear! Gardening can be very trying at times. Fifth winter here, as I might have mentioned, and in the first summer I planted four euphorbia characias subspwulfenii to form the centre piece to the long border. One of them is doing stupendously – the background filler. Two of them are ticking over quite well and one just suffers – the foreground. So much suffering in fact, that I have had to replace it twice. Fortunately there is always a seedling to hand and so on we go. One day I will give up, my symmetry will be abandoned, and I will plant something that likes this particular spot. I just wish I knew what is so bad about this particular spot.

Six

While I am finding it all rather cold, the hydrangeas are pushing on and are begging to be cut back. Surely not you fools, there will be a frost and your fresh green buds will drop off. Please do not tempt me. I am going to ignore you for another week. There are dahlias to pot up first.

I had a little fun with word press this week – living dangerously again – and used a large drop cap! I do need to get out more. I am sure the Prop has been out and about as will have other SOSers. To take a peek at all the garden news on offer just stop by The Propagator’s site. All the links are there.

Six On Saturday: Reasons to be cheerful

After a deluge of rain this morning there is a patch of blue sky to be seen. I’ll enjoy it while I can. This week’s six comes from Thursday’s garden when the sun shone for most of the day and the clear sky of the evening revealed a waxing silver sliver of a three day old moon. It was a good day and there was much to appreciate.

Although the sun shone, the garden was very wet and an hour of pruning the roses and tidying up the alchemilla mollis led to cold wet hands. I chose my six for the week and headed inside again. Here’s what I found to cheer me.

One

Raindrops on the euphorbia characias. I hope this Mediterranean plant copes with all the rain. I have lost two over the years but there always seems to be a self seeder to move into the gap.

Two

I inherited quite a few these and have dug most of them out as they were very large and dominated one particular corner of the garden. I kept a few and this one is just going over into winter browness but for the moment the yellowing leaves look rather good. What is it? I have no idea, could it be a dryopteris?

Three

The low sun was shining through the hedge at the back of the garden and the silvery seed heads of the thalictrum took on a seasonal sparkle.

Four

Oh so wet, but it was a joy to see the new buds of hellebore ‘Pretty Ellen’ red. Moments later the leaves had been trimmed back ready for the flowers to have free rein.

Five

A glistening mix of ivy and arum italicum that colonise the inhospitable ground under the snowberry.

Six

An anonymous free gift. Was it from the birds or the wind? Another form of euphorbia but not one that I have planted in the garden. Neighbouring gardens both have substantial euphorbias so maybe it’s one of theirs. I am letting it stay so time will tell.

It was also cheering to see, as reported by other SOSers, the emerging shoots of spring bulbs. There are a few months to go but things are on the move, spring is being prepared.

For more gardening cheer pop along to Mr P’s, the whole jolly band of SOSers gather there over the weekend to exchange bon mots, support, encouragement and no doubt seasonal good wishes. Wishing all of you peace, health and happiness and see you in the New Year.