Six On Saturday: Progress on the to do list

There is always a job to done in the garden and I admire those who systematically list them and then work through the list. But I suspect many gardeners set out to do one thing and get waylaid into doing something else. Fortunately, sometimes it is possible to do the original task and the silence the siren call of the new job. Last week I set out to pot on the tomato seedlings, the sun was shining and it was impossible to avoid noticing the shabby state of the potting shed. The five minute job I set out to do became a mornings’ worth of sweeping, sorting, reorganising and throwing out the debris of last season. But it was one job done from my mental list and the seedlings were potted on.

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Here are those tomato seedlings which will eventually go into the greenhouse. I shall be sowing some extra seeds for a few outdoor tomatoes in the next week or so. This first set have moved on from the sunny windowsill above the radiator and are now colonising a sunny spot on a bedroom floor. I was a day behind in my plan to pot them on and I swear they grew at least an inch taller in that day.

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I’m a little shamefaced to show you this one. It is remarkably similar to a photo that graced this blog a year or so ago. The slabs were from removed from another spot in the garden and were stacked in front of the compost bins waiting to be used to even off the site. The end of the wait is in sight. I now have someone lined up to do the work. I have spent the odd moment here and there this week turning out the contents of the bins into builders’ bags so that I can move the bins and leave the builder with a cleanish site to work with. I have one more bin to empty. Two jobs for the price of one. Compost gets a turn and the site is cleared.

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It may have been cold and windy this week but when the sun did shine there was some warmth to it. The anemone blanda are just opening up here and are filling in the gaps among the primroses.

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The warmth seems to have finally encouraged last autumn’s planting of camassias to make a showing. These are camassia leichtlinii caerulea. I heave a great sigh of relief here. Autumn was so wet and when I planted them they were pretty much sitting in water. Winter continued to be wet and I thought they may well have rotted away. Some camassias like it damp and I am hoping I chose the right ones for this patch of the garden. The camassias elsewhere in the garden are already several inches taller.

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In the now pristine potting shed there remain two trays of foxgloves. I use the potting shed as a cold frame over winter, this year home to delphiniums, aquilegia and several trays of foxgloves. Two trays have gone out into the garden already and these apricot ones will go out next week if all goes to plan. The delphiniums are staying inside for a little longer but they have enjoyed a few hours outside on the warmer days.

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Last November I bought up half a dozen packs of tête-à-tête daffodils as an end of season bargain. I planted them all in pots so that I could move them out into those empty spaces that become all too apparent in Spring. They are just coming into bud now, well behind my older plantings of tête-à-têtes. I have put a couple out into the land grab border and I’m pleased to say they came out of the pots very well. At least half of the remaining pots are destined for the front garden. The rest will probably go into the western end of the north facing border but I have to keep their cheerful yellowness well away from the apricot foxgloves that are destined for the more eastern end. This will be my conundrum for next week’s gardening.

I suppose the upside of these strange times is that there is a little more flexibility in my week which does allow me to fit in a few gardening jobs. I am not sure that today’s sunshine and showers will fall at the right time but I am waiting with trowel and spade to hand! Happy gardening to you all, and to The Prop who manages to garden and run with great abundance. Take a good look at his website this week as it also holds the link for his fund raising for Macmillan, the cancer charity. As usual the links to other SOS posts will appear on his website.

Six On Saturday: Seedlings

This is the sort of SOS that will separate the forward thinkers from the skin of the teeth types and I nailed my colours to the latter mast some time ago. The weather is atrocious here but there was a brief moment of less than torrential rain so I nipped out to the greenhouse and snapped this six.

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Ignore the label – these are not Lutea!

Foxglove seedlings. Somehow, and much to my delight, I had one white foxglove among the forest of purple ones this year. I collected seed and will patiently wait to see if a) I can get them through the winter and b) if they come through as white foxgloves. Oh, the jeopardy!

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Fighting the damp conditions and the slugs

More collected seeds. This time from purple delphiniums. I think I am already in danger of losing some of these as the greenhouse has been rather damp of late and I fear the worst.

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Aquilegia seedlings, sown some time ago and I am already down two of them.

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Thalictrum delavayi seedlings, in need of potting on. Such delicate little things that will, if all goes well, grow on to make plants of over a metre tall. Possibly in danger of being overtaken by moss and algae. Oh dear.

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The astrantia major in the garden is really making itself at home and needs to be taken in hand from time to time. Some are pulled out but I have potted some on for next year to fill gaps in a shady border.

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A second sowing of basil has come good

I have a forest of basil plants that I hope will keep going for a couple of months longer. These have been one of the most enjoyable crops this year!

Well, I seem to have ended in in the new block editor this week. I have always failed to edit the link. Let’s see what happens. https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/six-on-saturday-03-10-2020/ No I can’t give it a short and snappy name – any ideas folks? As they say, a rose by any other name … so just follow the link to Mr P’s page of delights and take a stroll through the comments section to find your way to the SOS collection of gardens. Keep dry!

Six On Saturday: Looking good on the surface but work to be done

I like to think that by June I’m on top of the garden. That I’ll just potter around dead heading and pulling a few weeds but essentially I will be sitting back and enjoying the balmy days and sweet perfumes. Not last week. The temperature dropped, the winds blew and there was some entirely unsubstantial wet stuff that pretended to be light showers. This all amounted to enough to keep me inside but enough to turbo charge Continue reading

Six On Saturday: Losing the plot

Aargh! It has happened. As is usual at this time of the year nature has got the better me.  Lilly beetles have been sneaking around doing their thing as evidenced by the grubs that are hatching. Black fly are colonising the clematis and little black beetles are feasting through the dahlias and sweet peas. The water butts would be empty again, if I had managed to keep on top of the watering. There is a serious amount of deadheading to be done. The only option is to sit back and enjoy the chaos that is the garden.

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Some might say that I have literally lost the veg plot to the self seeded calendulas and I might agree with them.  In amongst all that orange there are dwarf french beans, potatoes, onions and last time I looked carrots and parsnips.  I have persuaded myself that at least the black fly are being kept away.  The lettuce has bolted, the rocket went to seed long ago but on the upside the first of the beans are ready for picking, new potatoes have been dug and gooseberries picked.  I will have to take those calendulas in hand though.

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Over in the flower garden there is a mad abundance of plants all crying out for a good soak.  I will get round to them all eventually.  This is penstemon ‘Apple Blossom’ grown from a cutting taken a year or so ago.  It seems to me that penstemons are very generous in taking from cuttings, which is encouraging for a novice in this area.

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Some of the roses are in that post June lull but ‘Natasha Richardson’ seems to flower non-stop through the summer.  Of course I have dead heading to do and I think it is time to give all the roses a second feed.

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The clematis is now in full flow and as I mentioned some stems have been colonised by black fly.  There seems to  be an excess of aphids this year.  The ants are doing their best but the soapy water spray may have to be put into action soon.

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This is scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Cat’.  Grown as a hardy annual from seed.  It overwintered and is flowering with avengeance this year.  More deadheading but also more flowers for the house.  A winner.

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I also sowed seeds of foxglove lutea two years ago.  I had good germination and gave some away to friends.  Yesterday one of the beneficiaries of my benevolence came to visit and showed me this photo of these perennial foxgloves in their second year.  I was gutted!  I had pulled all mine up as the delicate flowers didn’t seem so wonderful last year.  I can see now that leaving them to establish would have been thing to do.  Live and learn, live and learn.  She is now going to share some back to me.

For more sharing of good things in the garden take a trip over to The Propagator’s blog.  Summer fecundity everywhere!

Six On Saturday: Busy, busy, busy

There is much going on at the moment.  Projects in the house and the garden are keeping me busy.  Last weekend was good gardening time.  The first and second earlies are now all in the ground.  The onions grown in modules were planted out and the hydrangea has been moved.  The choisya got a stay of execution!  It is in bud so how I could I chop it down?  It is definitely one plant with a split personality: one side healthy and one side poorly.  Here’s what else is happening:

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I failed to get all my new tulip purchases in the ground last winter.  My bulb planter was reduced to a mangled mess, my hands hurt and I kept hitting the spots where previous tulips were lying dormant.  The surplus went into pots which were lined up against a south facing wall.  The warm weather has encouraged them to flower.  The purple ones are ‘Ronaldo’ which I was expecting to be a deeper red.  In the other pots are ‘World Friendship’.

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I am making progress on my lawn extension project.  In preparation for the new turf – which arrives on Monday – I set about digging up the hydrangea.  It turned out to be two hydrangeas, one very nearly dead!  Deep in amongst the hydrangeas were tulips.  I lifted these and very quickly planted them up again in pots.  I hope they won’t notice the disruption.  So far so good. I can’t wait for the new lawn patch to be laid!

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The two hydrangeas may eventually be recycled somewhere but for the moment they have been planted in the north facing border along with my overwintered foxglove seedlings.  This will do for now as next  door to this section is the doomed choisya.  More thinking needs to done for what goes in here when that finally comes out.  Current front runners are choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’, a pinus mugo and possibly a camellia.  But I’d also like to fit in a sarcococca confusa.  Any other suggestions for interesting north facing shrubs gratefully  received.  Ideas for smaller plants for the front are also welcome.

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The north facing border is getting most of the attention this year.  June 2016 is a memorable time as that is when we moved in – and I’ll leave it at that!  After nearly three years in the house I have worked my way round to this side of the garden.  This patch here is reserved for the deep shade white planting scheme by Joe Swift as featured in Gardeners’ World magazine August 2018.  The first planting has been made.  A local nursery was offering a good discount on Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris – the climbing hydrangea.  Two 10l pots were purchased.  More planting to follow but the Melica altissima ‘Alba’ is proving difficult to locate.

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The mahonia in the front garden is looking particularly fine this year.  I hope this is due to the meticulous prune I gave it last year – dead, diseased, crossing etc all done by secateurs rather than a chop over with the shears!

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The long border in March.  My monthly photographic update.  The tulips here will be out in April/May.  The delphiniums are shooting away so fast they have outrun the slugs.  Also racing ahead are the hemerocallis ‘Golden Chimes’.  I have new plantings of sanguisorba tanna and some extra alliums – but I can’t remember which ones, nor can I track down the order.  Another garden mystery to unravel.

I’m hoping to find time for some gardening this weekend and will no doubt be inspired by the garden reports of fellow sixers.  If you are looking for inspiration check out the links at The Propagator’s blog.

Six On Saturday: The power of seeds

On the whole it was a gloomy, wet and windy week here but a little milder than of late. It was with some trepidation that I ventured out into the garden to collect this week’s six but gardens have a great way of taking care of themselves and providing a few surprises.

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One of the major projects of this year was the laying of the garden path.  It was laid on top of the old path which worked well in most places but as the path rounded the corner to meet up with the lawn the height differential came into play.  The weather was so hot and dry that plans to build up the lawn height were put on hold until about a month  ago.  Part of the lawn was stripped off and the soil level was built up.  My lawn is a patchwork quilt of grass, creeping buttercups, wild yarrow, clover, daisies and much more.  The stripped off turves did not hold together and when re-laid there were several scrappy patches which needed seeding.  I had given up hope of the new seed germinating but I really was very excited to see that the first new shoots have appeared.

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This new growth reminded me of one or two other things in the garden that had sorted themselves out.  Last winter I lost a French lavender plant given to me as a house warming present.  It had done so well over its first summer but winter was just too much for it.  Or so I thought.  A few weeks ago I noticed new shoots of lavender appearing alongside the English lavender I had planted in its place.  This is the strongest of the bunch and I’m hoping that sheltered by the English lavender it might make it through this winter.  There are a couple of smaller seedlings that I am going to lift and overwinter in the greenhouse.  I would love to report back to the giver that I do still have the French lavender.

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This young yew tree was given to me by the birds!  I can’t bring myself to pull it out and would love to find a corner of the garden where I can nurture it along into something significant.  Maybe I can start up my own wild hedgerow along the back fence.  I’ve got a few wild blackberries that need to be taken in hand.  Throw in a dog rose and some years of patient waiting and I could be onto something.

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The back fence is already home to Iris foetidissima and these have helpfully self seeded very successfully.  The orange berries glow brightly through the gloom and a good colony of these in the dark corner will provide a much welcomed lift to the spirits through winter.

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I collected some Hollyhock seeds to bring with me to the new garden and now the seeds from those plants are starting to colonise well.  I have had to take a few in hand as they managed to get themselves going some distance from the main site.  I never know what colours are going to appear which is part of the fun.

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Another great self seeder is the foxglove.  I did not have any in the garden so I bought a packet of seeds and did some sowing around the end of August.  There was a good success rate and I have moved some out into the garden and left some to overwinter in the unheated potting shed.  I’m hoping this belt and braces approach will give me a reward.

The fireside keeps calling me but the garden won’t let go just yet!  Have a look at what everyone else is up to by visiting The Propagator’s blog – there’s no way Mr P will be putting his feet up just yet!