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: Last jobs to be done

It’s still quite mild but the days are shortening and colder weather is forecast. I have risked leaving the lemon tree out but this is the weekend it will go into the greenhouse. The scented leaf pelargoniums went inside during the week and the evergreen agapanthuses in pots have been wrapped up in fleece. There are too many of these to move into the greenhouse so they brave the winter outside. The garden is mulched, the old shed has gone and the new shed is on schedule to arrive next week. That leaves the leaves! And the last tidying up in the borders. Oh, and a few dozen tulips still to be planted. So nearly there, but not quite. The garden looks as though it is going quiet but underneath the soggy earth the spring bulbs are waking up. Hurrah! Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

Testament to the mild weather perhaps, is this flower on one of the anemones I grew from root cuttings. I took the cuttings last autumn and managed to get them through the winter. I moved them to 9 cm pots in the summer and perhaps around the end of August planted them out in the garden. It’s a small flower on a small plant but it’s all my own work so much treasured.

Two

The figs have been falling from the tree. Some were ripe enough to make jam with but most are not. This was the result of one morning’s work and the windy weather of this morning has brought down a few more.

Three

Lockdown life is pretty dull which is my excuse for buying these purple cyclamen. Madness, I usually only entertain the white ones. But here they are, looking more pink than purple but they are purple!

Four

As mentioned the pellies are in the greenhouse, even as they continue to flower. They will need to be cut back for their overwintering, a job for next week.

Five

The leaf cage is getting full and the neighbours on both sides are contributing. It’s quite a social event!

Six

Roses are still giving little pops of colour, a cheery sight through the gloom of a drizzly afternoon.

This season is turning, there will be less gardening and more eating of hot buttered crumpets. But SOS carries on. Mr P will inspire us all with his ingenious finds to make it into each week’s six. I urge you to take a look.

Six On Saturday: last hurrahs from the garden

Where does the time go, or is it that my energy levels are declining with the decreasing hours of sunshine? Wednesday was a complete wash out, a deluge of rain that lasted all day. But I was determined to get some bulbs in the ground this week and Thursday saw the camassias go in. I may be pushing the boundaries for their growing conditions, liking moist conditions is one thing but I think my chosen spot for this batch may be erring on the wetter side. Time will tell. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

I struggle to get nasturtium seeds to germinate – can you believe that? But one year I did get a couple going, they languished in their growing spot so much so that I uprooted them and put them at the back of the garden along the edge of my failing asparagus bed. Here, left completely to their own devices, they have begun to take hold and are flowers have been forthcoming. A rather nice treat for this time of year and for the mainly shady conditions that now represent home.

Two

There are still flowers in the garden, dahlias, cosmos and zinnias clinging on but this week I was very aware of the foliage beginning to change. The persimmon tree is going from green to reds and will eventually become golden yellow as the leaves fall, leaving the fruit behind to ripen.

Three

The fig tree leaves are already heading to yellow and the numerous fruits will not ripen. What a job that is, taking them all off. It is a large tree and those much above head height never get removed.

Four

There are one or two flowers on the bergenias but this striking red leaf against the green was the attention grabber.

Five

The pulmonaria are enjoying the wet conditions, looking fresh and zingy this week. Such a contrast to their withered summer look. I didn’t think they would survive but they really are tough plants.

Six

Saving some flowers for last, helenium ‘Short and Sassy’ is still giving. What a trooper.

I have the borders to selectively clear, mulching to be organised, tulips and alliums to plant. A few more dry days would be helpful. And a little sunshine would be a bonus. Just hoping. The Prop will be a source of inspiration – so join me in taking a look at this week’s SOS from his garden. There will be much to enjoy from other gardens too.

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: Farewell to February

Thanks for the extra day. Thanks for more rain and wind. Thanks Jorge. It’s all a bit much and I’m not even flooded out. I am so sorry for those who are, the photos are terrible and the real thing must be so much worse. I am encouraged by the fact that this is the last day of meteorological winter and spring arrives tomorrow. In theory. Here’s six gardening related things.

One

March is the time to start a few seeds going.  First on my list and  a first for me, is trying to grow some dahlias from seed.  I collected the seed from ‘Orange Cushion’ that was new to the garden last year.  I liked it so I am having a go at growing from seed and if that fails I might have a go at taking some cuttings from the tubers later in the year.  If the tubers have survived.  I left them in the ground and although the weather has been mild the constant rain might have done for them,

Two

 

Lupin seeds collected from last year’s plants. I am starting these and the dahlia seeds off inside the house as the greenhouse has no heat or electricity supply.  Indeed the greenhouse is very leaky at the moment and I feel sure the pools of water on the floor can’t be the best environment for the overwintering plants.

Three

The sun is out so I’m off to the garden for more photos!  Some time later: The fig tree was pruned a few weeks ago but I was so excited by primroses, pulmonaria and such like that I didn’t show it.  Hey, Mr P I also have wood chip! This the large fig tree that shades much of the long border in the summer.  The height was reduced by a third and next year it will get another third taken off.  I’ll lose the fruit this year but it needed to taken in hand.

Four

The mild weather seems to have suited the salvia ‘Amistad’.  I took cuttings as a precaution against the garden plants dying off over winter but so far they have survived outside and are putting on new growth.  I think they will need a cut back to some strong growing points.

Five

The first cowslip is just about in flower.  These grow in the damp border. A small border that is guaranteed to be wetter than the rest of the garden and today there is standing water.  This should be perfect for the Siberian irises that grow there as well.

Six 

Oh dear. It looks like I’ve missed the moment to cut back the grasses.  When did they start sprouting? These are the melica altisssima ‘Alba’ that were planted in the north border last year.

I’m hoping for a dry day tomorrow as I have some free time.  Seeds to be sown, more FBB to be sprinkled around but it may be too soggy to tackle those weeds.  We shall see.  The Propagator will miraculously host this meme, comment on posts and have time to garden I am sure.  He may also throw in a long run.  All hail the Caesar!

Six On Saturday: Delightful dahlias cheer up the garden

I have not ventured out in the garden too much lately but one day this week there was a gap in the downpours and I managed to do some work. I have a very sodden garden and I was squelching around in the borders. I managed to divide some day lillies and a knautia. I relocated some sanguisorba ‘Tanna’ that had not performed at all well and planted ten of the hundred or so bulbs that I have left to plant. The borders are slipping into winter dormancy and I thought there would not be much to show for this week’s six. But it is surprising what can be found. Here they are.

One

By today this dahlia had finally opened up.   Do I have the slowest dahlias in the UK?  I’m hoping the first frosts are a few weeks off.  To be fair, this dahlia was dug up and replanted in a pot after a slug attack had left it in tatters so I should be proud of its resilience.

Two

The Orange Cushion dahlias that I am hoping to propagate from seed have put out a new flush of flowers and I do much prefer this size of dahlia flowers.  Collecting seed has not been possible so far as the seed heads are a soggy mess.  Dahlia lovers – should I be cutting the heads off and bringing them inside to dry?  I have done this with my agapanthus and they did deliver some lovely black seed.

Three

These beautifully coloured mushrooms are now an annual feature of the garden.  I have quite a colony of them this year.  I think they come with the mulch that I buy each year and I am very happy to have them.

Four

This is my one flowering nerine for the year. It is  bowdenii ‘Ostara’. I planted about ten in April 2018.  I am having another go and as a result of special offer – end of season, we have so many we are giving them away – I now have 30 more.  Total cost £5.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’ve some in a pot now, hoping that they will be my insurance.

Five

The fig leaves have yellowed so much more over the week.  Sadly it is unlikely that the fruit that remains will ripen and I will have to pick them all off soon.  On of my least favourite garden jobs.

Six

The hylotelephium spectabile that I mentioned a few weeks ago have darkened to a good deep red.  I did move a few round in the front garden and have some spare plants to over-winter in pots.  As the garden matures my collection of plants in pots increases.  The self seeding geraniums and alchemillia mollis are growing in number but there are always gaps to be filled and they will be put to good use next year.

I take my hat off to Mr P who manages this herd of SOSers.  I had a busy week last week and didn’t get to read many of my usual SOS favourites.  I will do better this weekend – after I finish planting the allium and daffodil bulbs!

Six On Saturday: Harvest time

The high points of my gardening year are the June riot of colour and the September harvests. In truth we have been enjoying raspberries, figs and blackberries for a few weeks now. The erratic early summer weather did for one of my cucumber plants but the survivor put out enough cukes to keep the salad bowl well supplied.  There is colour in the garden thanks to the roses and phlox but this week is mainly a veg and fruit focus.

One

Dwarf French beans.  These are Safari.  This is the first time I have grown a dwarf variety and so far so good.   They have cropped well enough for me and taste good.  They don’t seem as squeaky as other French beans.  I’m freezing those that are surplus to requirements.  They are perhaps slightly fiddlier to pick than climbers from a wig-wam but I won’t have to untangle all that twine at the end of the season.  I sowed a second round a few weeks ago which I hope will give me a crop in October.

Two

Tomatoes in the greenhouse.  My greenhouse is in partial shade and the windows need a clean but temperatures still climb.  They have only just started to ripen in the last week or two.  There are  plenty of tomatoes but will they all ripen? These are San Marzano 2 and Tigerella.  I also grew Green Zebra, Golden Sunrise and Alicante.

Three

Onions, small but good enough.  The onions did better this year due to the higher rainfall.  I don’t plant many because  I never have much luck with stored onions.  I am sure these will be used up before they start sprouting.  The variety is Sturon and I will grow these again next year.  The red onions were even more diminutive and were used up very quickly.  They were growing in the rain shadow of one of the apple trees.  I will try to do better with the red onions – time to start the winter Japanese varieties now.

Four

The large fig tree has cropped well this year and for some reason I didn’t see the squirrels stealing the fruits.  Perhaps the wasps put them off.  Picking the figs had to be carried out with great care.  This tree is going to get the big trim over winter and it is much needed.  On Friday I watched the wind blow through the leaves with some trepidation.  I’m hoping we don’t get a big winter storm this year.

Five

It is apple picking weekend here.  This is because the next few weekends are taken up with other plans so it is now or never.  All the apples will be picked and taken off for juicing.  In a week or so I will collect the results.  I finally got round to buying a telescopic apple picker which I hope will mean less teetering on the ladder.

Six

There is one flower for the week.  This stray sunflower has  been brightening up a corner of the garden.  It is like a lighthouse shining through the dark, calling to the butterflies and bees.  I didn’t plant it and can only think that it came from the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder.  For which I am very grateful!

Apart from the great apple harvesting that has to be done this weekend I am hoping to make a start on some bulb planting.  I’ve not placed a big order yet but I have some crocuses and Tete a Tete daffodils to ease me in.  Planning for Spring has started.

Mr P  hosts the Six On Saturday meme and all the links to other posts can be found in the comments section.  September on show from gardens around the world.  Lovely.

Six On Saturday: One thing leads to another

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

One

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

Two

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

Three

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

Four

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

Five

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

Six

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

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

Six On Saturday: Back to being a gardener

The comments on last week’s post were very reassuring.  We all have those moments of stepping on, cutting off or killing one plant or another.  I was most struck by the thoughts that this all about learning to forgive ourselves and that enjoying what the garden gives are the most important things.  So this week, as the days shorten and the leaves begin to turn, there are a few growing successes to share.

One

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A few weeks ago it seemed that the figs would remain green and would all have to picked off.  Suddenly they started to ripen and each day brings more and more.  Most importantly I think I am getting to them before the squirrels!

Two

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More by the power of nature than my gardening skills I have managed to grow a strong crop of parsley from seed.  They were started of in a pot, transplanted into the greenhouse and a few more seeds were direct sown.  Having a steady supply of parsley is a first for me.

Three

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Also from the greenhouse is a photo of those peppers I was muttering about last week.  These are continuing to grow strongly and early problems with end rot seem to have disappeared.  The variety is supposedly Long Red Marconi, described as a mild sweet pepper.  But these have a bit of kick!

Four

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The basil growing in the greenhouse keeps on going.  I’ve made some brilliant pesto and it is regularly used for cooking.

Five

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My eye popping aster is in full bloom.  It grows at the shadier end of the border and even there I am beginning to find it a little too bright!  I namby-pambied about giving this the chelsea chop this year.  In the end I gave it a layered chop which has produced great flowers at about 50cms.  Those stems that were left unchopped must be at 150cms now and needed staking.  I had a nose around to see if I could identify the variety and came up against the great re-naming debate.  I name this one Aster ‘Tall and Bright Pink’!

Six

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Back to those squirrels again.  The recently completed wood facade to a breeze block structure at the end of the garden is a great place to perch and enjoy a different view.  Seems that the wildlife are also appreciating a new lunch venue and bring in their own food!  All our apples were picked and juiced a few weeks back.  Perhaps we missed one at the top of a tree.  The result of this year’s apple crop was 33 bottles of juice.  Last year we had 73 bottles.  I’m not complaining!

Mr P host of this meme, is having a busy weekend away from the garden and politely asks if someone could mow the lawn for him.  Sorry Mr P, I can’t help out as I will be too busy reading everyone else’s posts!

Six On Saturday: In my dreams

Temperatures are falling and the evenings have a chill about them.  My third summer in this garden is coming to an end.  The previous owner (PO) loved to grow fruit, figs in particular and this week I woke from a dream where I had collected armfuls of sweet soft figs.  I am sure this was inspired by a tweet from Fred, a French gardener  who had been doing exactly that.  In my garden I watch as the birds flutter in and out of the fig trees magically finding in their branches the ripe figs that I keep missing.  All the ones I can see are green.

One

IMG_2779Here’s the largest fig tree.  This was tentatively pruned back early this year but I can see it really needs to be brought down in size.  Ruthlessness is a gardening skill I am beginning to develop.  Cutting this tree back will give the summer borders more of a chance to keep going through into autumn.  I will be able to bear any loss of fruit as I don’t see much of it anyway!

 

Two

IMG_2780Because the PO’s interest were in fruit and veg the flower borders had been left to their own devices and I have been reclaiming them from the weeds.  One corner was in the grip of ground elder and I spent the first two summers digging it out.  I think I am now at the stage where I can plant this corner up.  My dreams have recently focused in on a white hibiscus and a Trachelospermum jasminoides to cover up a fence.  That’s my dream for autumn or spring planting.  For the moment this is how the corner looks now. Each summer I plant a group of annuals to keep the ground covered.  This year it was Zinnias which are filling out now.

 

Three

IMG_2768A close up of that corner showing the convolvulus cneorum bought at the Beth Chatto garden now in situ among the erigeron karvinskianus.  I’m happy with the front and I hope I will be happy with the back, now I need something mid border to bridge the gap.  I have persicaria on the wish list so maybe there is an opening for it here.

Four

IMG_2770Three 9cm pots of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’ were planted out earlier in the summer.  I have to be patient but next year I am expecting these diminutive plants to transform into dreaming spires of late summer interest. They should reach 1.2m.  Some way to go then!

Five

IMG_2773 (2)In my dreams, particularly in my day dreams, I see a luxuriously verdant garden seamlessly moving from one season to the next.  At this time of the year I find myself struggling.  The summer border becomes increasingly shady as the big fig tree branches out.  There is just enough sun to encourage the roses in a second flowering and this one is Gertrude Jekyll.

Six

IMG_2771A long term dream has been to fit in a water feature.  My original expansive daydream of putting a rill down the middle of the lawn was strongly vetoed and probably rightly so.  Instead I have in mind a much smaller feature to replace this laurel bush.  It also shades the summer border and doesn’t add any great interest to the garden.  Taking it out will leave a large hole – the first step towards the pond.

Dreaming and planning for the garden is much on my mind at the moment.  I was feeling the pressure of exhortations to prepare and plant up for next year.  It was all too much and I left the catalogues on the table and went out into the garden.  Even after the recent rains it was still dry and difficult to work but I relocated a few seedlings, planted out some mid summer purchases, cut back the lavender and rosemary and felt much better for it!

Many thanks to  The Prop for gathering together a diverse crowd of fellow gardeners who share weekly their gardening delights and sometimes the nasties! You are welcome to take a look.