Six On Saturday: Heat!

I can’t avoid stating the obvious: it’s been hot this week. I have resorted to hanging sheets in the greenhouse to try to provide some shade but there have still been some wilting tomato plants. The water butts are empty and I don’t see any rain in the forecast. Too hot to garden, too hot to write and so here is a quick six from the garden this week.

One

At least this part of the garden looks cool. Ferns and the ‘Kashmir White’ geranium make a great combination in a slightly shadier spot.

Two

My first foray into a dark leaf heuchera. This is ‘Grape Timeless’ which I always think should be ‘Grape Time’!

Three

The over-wintered salvia ‘Amistad’ has just begun to open out. A long laster, this should be in flower until autumn.

Four

Every year the astrantias burst forth and remind me of what an absolute dream they are. This one is ‘Roma’.

Five

Last winter I moved a climbing rose ‘Souvenir du Dr Jamain’. It was growing against a shady fence but not really enjoying it. It’s not in the best of health but amazingly it has produced a beautiful flower. I am nurturing it and hoping that this isn’t its last effort before a demise.

Six

And ending on an amusing note: This is the greenhouse. No matter how many times I check there is always a side shoot missed on the tomatoes. In addition to the sheets, I have been liberally throwing watering cans of water over the path to keep the humidity up and hopefully the red spider mite down. The marigolds are there to keep the white fly down and oxalis is there because I can never be rid of it!

For more hot gardens tune into The Propagator who hosts this meme. Stay cool, water wisely and as always, take time to enjoy the garden.

Six On Saturday: Wilful nature

Plan as I might nature always has the final say. This week a fond farewell was said to two box shrubs as caterpillars triumphed. White foxgloves have turned out to be purple. Salvia mainacht did not survive the mild winter and slugs have reduced the number of delphiniums this year. The result is gaps in the border and new planting opportunities. There are careful choices to be made. But there are still six things to enjoy in the June borders.

One

I stay with delphiniums in spite of the risk of slug demolition. Their stately spires are a sight to behold. My most slug resistant clump is one that came from a division from the family garden – Dad’s delphiniums. These are a mix of those and some grown from seed.

Two

The white foxgloves may be almost absent this year but the seeds of the Apricot foxgloves sown last year have come through to flowering and what a soft gentle apricot they are. I hope they can resist becoming muddied by the abundant purple foxgloves.

Three

Wilful nature loves to grow geraniums here. Several varieties self-seed with great generosity. This one is g.psilostomen which has appeared under the roses. Nature often knows best.

Four

This beautiful pink geranium is easy to divide and so there are several corners were its veined flowers give soft edges to the borders. This is geranium sanguineum var. striatum

Five

Nature has also decreed that the lovely daylily ‘Good Shepherd’ is on its way out. Gall midge struck last year. This year it looked so much healthier with a good showing of buds but the midge was lurking and within days the buds shrivelled and turned black. Those that did open are a shadow of the former selves. The advice is to pick of all the infested buds which I fear will leave me with none. Something else will have to be found to fill the space.

Six

So far the penstemons continue to reward without problems. This is a division of ‘Garnet’ (I think, or could it be ‘Firebird’) that I planted in a sunny spot. It’s looking fabulous although I may be in danger of overdoing the hot pinks here.

Nature has been sending in the squirrels to attempt to deconstruct the bird feeder and then to eat the unripe figs. Parakeets descended to take up where the squirrels failed. Fledgling goldfinches and blue tits came to feed but magpies have cruelly been taking baby birds from nests and the fox has appeared several times as I deadhead the roses. It’s all getting a bit much. A garden that looks so peaceful and tranquil is just jumping with action! But I guess that is what is so wonderful. It all takes place on the doorstep and keeps us on our toes. The veg patch has begun to deliver: lettuce and cucumbers and the first of the potatoes will be dug any day now. A sunny weekend beckons so I will be out again sharing ‘my space’ with who ever else is around.

Mr P shares his garden and the links to other SOS posts so stop by and enjoy more stories from June gardens. Have a fun weekend.

Six On Saturday: Extra time needed

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

One

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

Two

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

Three

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

Four

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

Five

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

Six

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

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

Six on Saturday: On the cusp of good things

It really does feel like the garden is teetering on the edge of its summer explosion. A much needed shower of rain arrived on Wednesday. Brief, not enough, but gratefully received. There are rose buds everywhere, delphiniums have won past the slugs and the alliums have started to open. But it will be a few weeks before take off. Here’s six things from the garden now.

One

The front garden here really needs some attention. One side is almost permanently in shade and is very dry and I tend to leave this side to its own devices. This is the best time of year for it, the bluebells can cope with the conditions and over five years the sweet woodruff has also found its comfort zone.

Two

Also thriving in this difficult spot is Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’. Very tolerant of dry shade and a good deal of neglect!

Three

Last year I added a lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’ to a shady spot in the back garden. Within seconds the slugs had devoured it and later in the year I ploughed through the spot to plant a heuchera. Amazingly this year it has arisen phoenix-like from the ‘flames’ and has flowered. Perhaps it has now settled in enough to enjoy its challenging space.

Four

I am always looking for things to plants to plant in shady corners and sometimes the answer is right in front of me. The tellima grandiflora does well in this shady spot and now its been in a few years I am going to try dividing it after it finishes flowering. Tellima is billed as a prolific self-seeder but I can’t say I’ve seen any evidence of this so far. Maybe dividing it will shake the seeds into life.

Five

The allium ‘Purple Sensation’ has just appeared. This has self-seeded in the borders but it will be a few years before those get to flowering size. I need something to follow the tulips that will flower with the alliums, maybe its more alliums in different shades. Suggestions welcome.

Six

The forget-me-nots are going to seed and I have been gradually clearing the borders. Here’s one last corner where they do a good job of filling in the space before the geums and geraniums take over. The ubiquitous bluebell, iberis and osteospermum also oblige with gap-filling.

I seem to have sown far fewer annuals than last year and two trays of cosmos are showing very limited signs of life. I have had more success with zinnias and calendulas and they will do the job quite well. I’ll be sowing more carrots and parsnips today, and the daily ritual of taking seedlings in and out of the green house has begun. On the cusp, teetering on the edge, can’t wait, but I will have to!

Don’t forget to join The Propagator for his weekly blog and to see over the garden fence into many other SOS gardens. Have fun.

Six On Saturday: Spring delights

It’s mid-way through Spring and I am jumping forward to the next bulb order. Gardening does that to you. Always looking for the next excitement, it’s exhausting! I’ve made my notes on the calendar and settled the mind again to concentrate on what’s good at this moment in time. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

I am sure it will be camassia week for many. These are my first to begin to flower against the trellis of an arch. I have these down as c. leichtlinii. But I am willing to be corrected!

Two

Last November I planted some ‘Cairo’ tulips to flower with the camassias. I think I planted about ten either side of the arch. They have come through just in time and once again I am thinking why didn’t I plant double the quantity?

Three

I’m coming up to completing six years in this garden and this combination of tulips was one the first planted here. Originally they ran the length of the long border but over the years they have become concentrated at the bottom, slightly shadier end. I have topped them up from time to time but now I am thinking it is time to replant the top end of the border with a new combination. This mix is ‘Queen of Night’, ‘Shirley’, ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Violet Beauty’. There are some ‘Purissima’ in the background

Four

Brought from the old garden these geranium phaeums have bulked up over the years and are now providing regular new stock for ground cover in shady corners. Solid, reliable and very lovely.

Five

The apple trees are all in blossom and as I was admiring the pretty mix of pink and white I espied the tell-tale fluff of woolly aphid. Just a few small patches so it was out with a spray of a dilute soap mix which I hope will do the trick before it gets a hold.

Six

Here’s a splash of sunshine to end on. Self-seeding welsh poppies are popping up everywhere. Entirely against my colour scheme but who could turn them out? I read that they can tolerate shade so I am thinking of re-locating a few to new spaces.

Vegetable seed sowing continues to be hit and miss, still no sign of later sown mange tout, but earlier sown cukes have delivered, and I have lettuces that have been hardened off for about a week so I may chance planting some of those out. I’ve seen the very first sign of carrot seedlings sown under cloches – I’m holding my breath and crossing my fingers. The soil seemed to be warming up so I’ve also direct sown some parsnip seed. Hope you are finding joys in your gardens. The Propagator will be sharing the news from fellow SOSers so do stop by for a read.

Six On Saturday: Mushrooms and falling leaves

It must be Autumn. The days have been shortening for a while now but a few weeks of sunshine belied the truth. It’s time to move on with the season. I’m still moving plants around, digging up the excess alchemillia mollis was a struggle as they are so established in the garden, and I’ve added some new plants. The bulbs have arrived. I’ve planted out the erythroniums and ipheon uniflorum but left the muscari, crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’ and narcissus actaea until the soil was more forgiving. There have been a few days of rain now so things should be easier. Now for this week’s six.

One

I was waylaid at the supermarket by this heuchera, ‘Grape Timeless’. The colour just sucked me in and so home it came. I moved some of the magenta phlox around and this has found a shady corner in the space they vacated. I’m now wondering if I should have bought a couple more for impact. On the other hand I still have space for something else.

Two

Just round the corner from the heuchera sits this hylotelephium (sedum/ice plant). It grows out of a cramped hole in a low wall and I am amazed it does so well. This year the colour is splendid. The rain has laid it low but now it overhangs the wall in a good way.

Three

Earlier this week the berries on the viburnum were glowing metallic blue in the sunshine and looked amazing. This tree was in poor health when we arrived five years ago but some remedial pruning and feeding seems to have helped it along.

Four

The sprawling geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ has flowered erratically this year. But I’m glad to see it is having another go. It hasn’t really established itself well but I am trying not to move it, again.

Five

It’s so difficult to photograph new grasses well. This one is Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’. There is only one flowering stem this year but it is the colour I was hoping for.

Six

Here’s another grass that I am hoping will settle in and become a regular in the garden. Its pennisetum villosum. It has a H3 rating (-5 to -1 degrees) and I thought I had lost it last year but it has just about pulled through and finally put out a flowering stem. So far it hasn’t self seeded but I live in hope.

I was feeling a little battle worn as autumn settled in. Several new plants added this year succumbed to slugs and snails and last winter pushed many plants to edge. Optimism will come to the surface when I plant out the rest of bulbs and add a few more perennials. Even as I bemoaned my losses I consoled myself with the thought of the free plants that come from cuttings, divisions and self-seeders. Onwards, ever onwards!

The Propagator has a sunny, colourful six for this week. But I don’t envy his bulb planting programme! Enjoy your autumn gardening or is it spring for you in the Southern hemisphere?

Six on Saturday: Headless Chicken

There were so many possibilities for today’s theme: ‘forgive me for I have sinned’ and ‘midsummer madness’ being close contenders but headless chicken won out – running around in an illogical and disorganised way summed up my gardening this week. I couldn’t get to the garden for about four days and was being driven mad by the rain that fell whenever I had a free moment. Friday was the first opportunity to garden and there was so much to do. But of course as you set out to do one thing another catches your eye. The first distraction was to salvage some delphiniums that had been caught by the wind. Then at this time of the year the alchemilla mollis and geranium ‘Brookside’ take over the garden path and as the grass needed mowing they had to be cut back or they would have been crushed by the lawn mower. The roses were begging to be deadheaded and my prime task of cutting back the geranium phaeums was plummeting rapidly down the ‘to do’ list. The weather stayed fine and the jobs were done. My sins were forgetting to drench the martagon lilies in lily beetle spray – all the foliage stripped away and looking terrible, and not supporting the leucanthemum x superbum. They get to a height of one metre and every year I foolishly think they can support themselves but not of course in the wind and rain. The madness refers to the crazy amount of self seeding that has gone on the garden this year: the borders are crammed. In between times I did manage to take a few photos.

One

The three top culprits when it comes to self seeding are the astrantias, alchemilla mollis and geranium ‘Brookside’ but if you like an ‘informal’ look then it’s winner!

Two

The regal lilies are just about going over but their scent is still strong and these did get a regular drench with the lily beetle spray. It was about 95% effective, I have spotted three or four of the charming lily beetle grubs but the foliage is still intact.

Three

This is ‘Munstead’ lavender. In the past I have lost ‘Hidcote’ lavenders over the winter and although I much prefer the darker colour I chose the lighter ‘Munstead’ for this spot on the patio. So far so good. I cut it back to about an inch or so off the ground in September/October.

Four

Oh dear. Another sin. I bought these salvias two weeks ago and here they sit patiently waiting to be planted out. I keep changing my mind as to their final location and, second sin, I don’t have enough compost to pot them on. They are ‘Mainacht’ and ‘Shneehugel’. My first thought had them destined for separate borders but they look comfortable together.

Five

Sometimes the answer to a gardening dilemma is right under your nose. I was looking for something upright for a front of border gap and as I edged the grass I rediscovered these. Stachys officinalis or, as it also seems to be known as, betonica officinalis. I bought these about four years ago, planted them in a spot they did not seem to enjoy and so moved them round and promptly forgot them. This year they have come good and I think there is enough sun in the other spot for them to flourish there as well. Eventual height is said to be 60cms, so far these are about 30cms.

Six

The scented leaf pelargoniums have been slow to get into flower this year, but this one ‘Prince of Orange’ is leading the race. It’s in a pot on the steps beside the hydrangeas.

The Propagator has some lovely looking plants in his six and a real nasty! As has been the case here, the slugs and snails have been out in force and have destroyed a clump of lobelia. It’s looking as sorry a sight as my martagon lilies. But there are plenty of lovely flowers from around the world in the SOS thread. Check the links and enjoy!

Six on Saturday: Happy Birthday garden

It was five years ago give or take a week that I took possession of this garden. I inherited some wonderful soft fruits, apple, plum and fig trees, hydrangeas, sage and rosemary but the borders had been used for vegetable growing and the weeds were getting hold of everything. It’s time to look back and enjoy the new look. One thing remains the same – a large rhododendron that was probably here when the house was build about 110 years ago.

One

The rhodendron is probably a ponticum as suggested by Tony Tomeo and Jim of Garden Ruminations, both regular and longstanding SOSers. I have to give this a show, out of respect to its longevity. It was a good two weeks later in flowering this year, this was taken in the first week of June.

Two

The long border. This is the main border of the garden. It was a blank canvas to start with and I was able to grow some vegetables at the bottom end while I set to clearing the top end of weeds over the first summer. It was then planted up with euphorbia characias subsp wulfenii and bare root roses ‘Wisley’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ that winter. Much has been added over the last four years and now it is a riot of cottage garden exuberance.

Three

The thin border, to the left of the second slide, only about half a metre wide but backed by an old wall. It had to be clothed in climbing roses, ‘Blush Noisette’ was the choice with other shrub roses, including ‘Scepter’d Isle’ added along its length. Yellow and white tulips and ‘Thalia’ daffodils hold court in spring, followed by alliums. Delphiniums, astrantias, alchemilla mollis and this year I’ve added lychnis coronaria to the summer display. The path was a cracked and unsafe layer of concrete and in summer 2017 it was overlaid with some grey riven sandstone slabs,. How lovely it felt to have solid ground underfoot.

Four

The hedge border – so called because a hedge of eleagnus, bay and viburnum that separate the garden from the soft fruits. The first job was to increase the width so that plants could be added in front of the hedge. A border of two halves. There are roses, of course, Darcy Bussell at one end and Jaqueline du Pre at the other. Filled out with thalictrum, perscaria and geraniums – ‘Kashmir White’ and the ever-forgiving ‘Wargrave Pink’. A new arch has been added at one end and the planting around the base is being reconfigured.

Five

One of the last corners to be developed was the north facing area. Originally home to a second swathe of blackcurrant bushes on the garden side of the hedge boundary, after a summer of glut I decided I could clear this and plant up another border. All the bushes went to a good home and I followed a scheme suggested by Joe Swift in a Gardeners’ World magazine. It was planted out in 2018 and is gradually bulking up. My absolute favourite are the grasses along the back – melica altisssima ‘Alba’. There is evergreen structure in the form of pittosporum ‘tobira’ nanum, late summer brings in the japanese anemone ‘Honorine Joubert’ and I’ve added in snowdrops and astrantia.

Six

The top corner of the raised side of the garden. A work in progress even today. I spent many a day digging out ground elder, taking away several ferns, probably dryopteris filix-mas – thanks again Jim – and relocating the hydrangea. A stand of beautiful magenta phlox were allowed to stay. Tulips Ronaldo, Spring Green and Negrita take centre stage in spring. Totally Tangerine, geranium psilostum and kniphofia take over in summer. I think there is room for a good salvia here, perhaps ‘Mainacht’.

More to do, more to plant but good celebrate progress so far. This weekend those roses need deadheading and the tomatoes need tying in. Happy Gardening to all, and especially to The Propagator who leads us all down the merry SOS path!

Six On Saturday: Sun and rain

Definitely a week of two halves. Glorious sun, soaring temperatures followed by torrential rain and tumbling temperatures. The magic water was much needed though and I managed to give the apples trees a dressing of bonemeal which is now well watered in. The zinnias are all planted and the last of the tomatoes are out. My bête-noire, the fox, snapped a beautiful cucumber plant but luckily I had a spare. Here’s this week’s six, mostly taken when the sun was shining.

One

The garden was filled with the scent of roses on those sunny days. Here is Darcy Bussell. I usually have a row of salvia ‘Amistad’ running behind these which looks glorious late in the year. The salvias have not survived the winter so I set about a re-think. I was dissuaded from my first choice of verbascums after a conversation with The Quilting Gardener – who warned of mullein moth caterpillar attack and of course slugs. I’ve decided to leave the space free this year and give the roses room to roam.

Two

The euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii seed heads were popping on Monday so it was time to pull on the protective clothing and cut back the flowering stems. Here the sisyrinchium striatum works well against the background of the euphorbia. There’s a cheeky photo-bomb from geranium ‘Brookside’.

Three

The delphiniums are towering high this year, and only just about surviving the heavy rainfall. I collected seeds from these dark purple ones last year and now have new plants that will add more colour to the garden for next year.

Four

This tiny plant lives at the front of a banked up part of the garden so even though is small it is high enough to be enjoyed. It’s ‘Ballerina’, a dwarf geranium with beautiful veining.

Five

A combination of self-seeded knautia ‘Macedonica’ against a wall of climbing ‘Blush Noisette’ roses. A happy chance.

Six

Oh dear me. Not everything is glowing. The cutting patch which was topped up with home compost has just revealed what was in hiding: thousands of baby verbena bonariensis seedlings. I do not need more of these so they will be ruthlessly culled. I will use some more of the dahlias and asters grown from seed to fill the space.

Don’t forget to visit The Propagator’s site for all the SOS posts. More rain forecast here for the beginning of the week but then perhaps we will be into a settled patch again. I will just enjoy the thought that all that water must be good for the potatoes!

Six On Saturday: Free gifts

Finally it is happening. The garden is creeping into colour. The weather has had an interesting effect. Some tall plants are not as tall as they might be, others are racing away. Some plants grown from seed are sulking in the cold and yet seedlings in the garden are popping up everywhere. I remember receiving a gentle warning via Twitter that astrantia major would run riot and this year it has. Seedlings in every corner. Yet parsnip seedlings that I swear I saw two weeks ago have disappeared. Eaten by slugs I wonder? Geranium phaeum has done very well this year and I will have plenty to relocate to other corners. But on to the free gifts and colourful arrivals.

One

Warmed by a few days sunshine, the roses are beginning to unfold. This is r. ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ and was planted out in the winter of 2018. It is full of bud and I can’t wait to see it in its full glory in the coming weeks.

Two

Several weeks after many SOSers were showing the geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ mine have finally flowered. I acknowledge they are in cooler part of the garden, which unusually still has a few tulips just about in flower.

Three

Free gifts is the theme for today and this aquilegia ‘Lemon Sorbet’ came from a free packet of seeds. Being a double it’s not pollinator friendly but there are plenty of self seeded single aquilegias in the garden.

Four

A few weeks back I was asking the twitter community what my coarse geranium look-alike plant might be. It arrived from nowhere and quickly took hold. A wild geranium was the speedy reply. I left in it place and have been rewarded by a wonderful spread of flowers. One day it will be moved to a wilder part of the garden.

Five

Definitely pretty in pink is this bloody cranesbill, geranium sanguineum var. striatum. A low growing perennial for the front of the border with delicate darker veining.

Six

This is the area set aside for a cutting patch. I have planted out dahlia cacti mix and have some china asters – free gift seed packet – to go in this weekend. I have direct sown calendula ‘Indian Prince’ and malope trifida ‘Vulcan’, also a free seed packet. Unfortunately the seedlings hell bent on growing are those from a packet of radish seeds that I knocked over and the thousands of seedlings that didn’t get killed in the less than hot compost heap. I spread a good thick layer of said compost over this bed for the winter and this week the seeds have surged into growth. I doubt they will be anything to be welcomed.

I have a few trays of seedlings doing the in/out routine this week but the root develop has been quite slow. Hopefully this spell of warm weather will move things along. The sad looking tomatoes in the greenhouse have picked up and those set aside for the outside will go in this weekend. The kitchen grown cucumber is in the greenhouse, the courgettes might go out this week depending on root growth, the chilli peppers have finally moved from the kitchen to the greenhouse and the bell peppers are in a grow bag. Enjoy the long weekend in the UK and much kudos to The Propagator, host of SOS. He completed his 100K run last weekend, a fund raiser for Macmillan Cancer and now intends to garden all weekend! Happy gardening to everyone.