Six on Saturday: Oh, the impatience of me!

It’s coming up to mid March and I am pacing the garden in fervent anticipation of the explosion of colour to come in three months time. There are signs of the summer garden. I spotted the very first growth from the delphiniums and so now I am hoping the slugs are not sniffing around. The magpies are having fun in the borders, throwing leaves around and generally sticking their beaks into things, which hopefully includes a few slugs. Of course in anticipating July I am skipping over tulips and forget-me-nots and alliums and irises. So many treats to look forward but for now it is still a bit quiet. Here’s six finds from this week’s garden.

One

One of my favourite spring combinations, the primrose patch sprinkled with a few blue anemones.

Two

The supermarkets are full of trays of nodding fritillaries, here mine are just about to open. Very delicate and I should have more. Impatient I may be but I am going to resist buying pots in flower and will make a large note to self to buy more bulbs later in the year.

Three

In a fit of purity, last year I dug out the hotch potch of daffodils that dotted the garden and determined to have only dwarf tête-à-tête. Of course there is always one that escapes and this is it. Not looking too bad really.

Four

Last year’s bulb planting included a quantity of muscari bulbs and I could not squeeze them all into the gaps in the border. So I planted up the remainder in pots ready to drop into the gaps that suddenly become very apparent in Spring. These in the pots are more advanced then those in border. They have had the benefit of a sunnier corner and drier conditions. Somehow I also seem to have some love-in-mist seedlings. Works for me!

Five

About a month ago I showed the first flowers on the clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’. It really does seem to have been a slow month, even now much of the climber is still in bud with the flowers only gradually opening. Why am I impatient with this? Surely this means a longer display? I will develop some mindfulness and enjoy them more.

Six

Here I have kept my impatience in check. The new growth on the hydrangea is surging forward but I haven’t cut back the old flower heads yet. Sneaky nature will surely send a mean frost soon. I’ll wait a little while.

The first seeds have been sown, some tomatoes for the greenhouse, an early sowing of mange tout sown in root trainers in the greenhouse, and a small sowing of rocket and lettuce also in the greenhouse. I’ll find some patience and wait awhile before anything else is sown. The forsythia is out in the front garden so it really is Spring and the growing season is beginning . Mr P hosts #SixOnSaturday with his usual panache. All invited to stop by!

Six on Saturday: Thinking aloud*

Having spent the last few months day dreaming of garden projects it is time to get real and decide what is going to be put in place and what’s not. I’d love to have a multi stem silver birch and have a space in mind for one, but it would mean displacing three Darcy Bussell roses and it would create a dry spot where the gooseberries grow. That’s not happening. Last year I talked myself out of planting up a grass corner on the grounds that it would be too shady. This year I am going to do it. I might lose a plant or two but that happens every year, usually due to slugs. I didn’t plant Jean D’Arc crocuses, deciding that, as they are Dutch varieties, they would be too large. This year I will go big and order them. February is a month of anticipation, pole position on the grid, foot hovering over the accelerator, but patience is required. There’s plenty of time yet. So ease back and enjoy what is happening now with this week’s six.

One

I noticed that flowers had started to appear on the rosemary bush. This and the sage were inherited and the sage was showing signs of age last year. I was ruthless in shaping it up and cutting out some very old stems. This year will show whether this results in rejuvenation or demise.

Two

The very first of the crocuses have shown up. These are in a dry spot underneath a magnolia so I am always impressed that they make it through every year.

Three

The annual showing of the fat buds of clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’. This plant helps the garden through February and into March. It’s scented and has pretty white/pink flowers.

Four

This is sarcococca hookeriana ‘Winter Gem’. A smaller growing (70cm) variety with a pinker flower. It has been a slow starter but in its second year it’s beginning to fill the space.

Five

The front garden hydrangea has a much more open texture than the back garden ones. It’s a lace cap variety and it looks pretty good in winter. The fat buds of this year’s growth are appearing.

Six

Aah, the egg box is no longer empty. The ‘Jazzy’ potatoes have arrived and chitting has begun. Vroom, vroom!

Blue skies are arriving and although it’s a cold morning the afternoon could see some gardening tidying being started. If that doesn’t happen there’s always the chance of an online garden mooch through the SOS links on The Propagator’s site. Take a look, join in, all welcome.

*with due acknowledgement to the radio programme of a similar name.

Six On Saturday: Enjoying November

Another mild week passes by and the last few scented leaf pelagoniums have been cut back and despatched to the greenhouse for the winter. It looks like there may be some colder weather ahead and in anticipation I have made a start on lifting dahlias that are in pots. It’s not something I usually do but a revamp is taking place. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

Over the last year I have radically thinned out the gooseberries and blackcurrants. Last weekend I tackled the wild blackberries that loiter around the side of the shed. They’ve gone now, hopefully never to return but they can be very insistent. In celebration I bought a new blackcurrant bush. It’s a Ben Sarek. I’ve happily grown Ben Connann in the past and I inherited Ben Lomond which seem to be past their best. We’ll see if Sarek crops well next year. It had a dusting of bone meal and then a layer of leaf mould to get see on its way.

Two

The mild weather is persuading many of the summer flowers to keep on going, just a little at a time but enough to raise a happy smile. These are Knautia, Clematis, Coreopsis, Geranium, Nicotiana and Antirrhinum.

Three

The trees that surround this garden have been glowing in the sunshine. This time of year seems to me, to be the best time to appreciate their stately glory. I even enjoy collecting the leaves that fall.

Four

The hydrangeas are also looking particularly fine at the moment. The white flowers of summer have faded (and that doesn’t seem to be quite the right word) to a beautiful pink. Isn’t that a wonderful transformation?

Five

The snowberry is losing its leaves and revealing the underplanting of brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. The silvered leaves are just perfect for the winter garden.

Six

There’s been a start made on tidying up for winter and the shed needed a sweep out. Venturing into the dark corners is not something I do willingly, but I did and found a colony of mushrooms. Clearly they are enjoying the damp dark conditions! I left them there.

I was derailed from my six last week but happily normal service has been resumed. Jobs for the weekend involve leaf collecting, tulip bulb planting and more cutting back of those herbaceous perennials that will soon go soggy over the winter. Any slugs lurking around better watch out. Thanks once again to the host of this meme – The Propagator. His blog shares all the links to other SOS posts, I have some catch up reading to do!

Six On Saturday: More or less?

I’m pretty sure all gardeners are constantly asking ‘What more can be added to the garden?’ and, especially at this time of year, ‘What do I need less of?’ I’ve just about finished thinning out the alchemillia mollis. I definitely needed less of them, lovely though they are. I’ve decided I need more salvias, in particular Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’. I should have thought of this earlier and taken some cuttings. Of course, ‘more bulbs’ is an annual cry and I have managed to plant a couple of hundred muscari bulbs this week. This six is a bunch of other things I could do with more of.

One

Nerines fall into the more of category. This is my only one and have bought bulbs over several years. I am envious of those who have swathes of these lining charming paths that wend their way through verdant borders. Here I have one in a pot. It’s a start and I am persuaded to buy bulbs again – or even pots of them in flower if I come across them.

Two

Cosmos ‘Dazzler’, I have the right amount of these I think, but then again they are popping out of the gloom so well at the moment that I could be persuaded to have more. I was lucky this year to have self seeders that I transplanted around the garden. Will I be so fortunate next year? I may have to sow a few seeds myself to be sure.

Three

Liriope ‘Big Blue’. I used to have more of these but they refused to flower so I moved them to a new spot. Unfortunately the new spot had been home to self seeded carex that I did not want and I think in my enthusiasm to rid myself of carex seedlings I may have pulled out a couple of Liriopes! This one has stayed strong and has flowered for the second year. Thoughts of division come to mind but I’m leaving well alone for the moment.

Four

Berries on the snowberry was the wish for last year and this year they have arrived. I have been hacking this shrub back for the last five years, which explains the lack of berries. I’ve been taking out a mass of dead wood, dealing with the subsequent regeneration and finally getting it into a more or less reasonable shape. Of course it grows relentlessly and I’d really like to have less of it but that’s not going to happen. The birds are enjoying the berries and it fills a difficult corner so I will learn to love it.

Five

Anemone ‘September Charm’, still going into October and I think it started sometime in August. I am a fan of anemones and I did have success taking root cuttings one year. SOS posts have recently introduced to me to some really zingy pink ones that are high on the wish list, more, more, more!

Six

An unknown variety of hydrangea, that generously offered a little more in the shape of this late flowering stem. I have several hydrangeas around the garden and thought I had enough but this year I added a little pot of ‘Limelight’. I am very impressed by how quickly it bulked up, more please.

Of course less weeds, less slugs, less fox poo and less tree seedlings would make life easier but then what would we gardeners have left to moan about! The Propagator blazes the trail ahead through the winter months, challenging us in the northern hemisphere to come up with the weekly six, while those in southern hemisphere get to show their blue skies and summer gardens. Plenty for all to enjoy.

Six On Saturday: A glorious garden

I am behind with my virtual visits to the SOS gardens around the world but I do have a good excuse. I have spent a few days wallowing in the Sussex countryside in celebration of a wedding anniversary. We visited Charleston House near Lewes and Nymans gardens near Haywards Heath in West Sussex but it was the hotel garden that was photographed the most. So this week’s six is from that glorious garden.

One

I loved this combination of persicaria with asters and kniphofia. My guess is that this is p. Foxtail, but it’s just a guess. The kniphofia in my garden finished flowering in August, which just isn’t good enough! I am will have to look into some later/longer flowering varieties, suggestions welcome, and I’m definitely adding in some persicaria – somewhere.

Two

Dahlias were of course holding court and this one is ‘Magenta Star’. I managed to catch the gardener for a quick chat. She said that the dahlias are lifted every year.

Three

She also said they lift all the salvia ‘Amistad’. These are the cuttings in the greenhouses that were taken five weeks ago. I know mine would look nothing like this after five weeks. We bemoaned our shady greenhouses at home and I felt the guilt of one who has not yet taken a salvia cutting. It could be too late, but I might try.

Four

The squashes have already been lifted and are stored in a conservatory, also home to a peach tree, chilies and agapanthus.

Five

The sheltered walled garden had it’s own micro climate and felt almost tropical. I was a just a tiny bit pleased to see that the birds feast on these glorious apples just as they do on mine at home.

Six

Hydrangeas featured throughout the garden, now in their softening autumn colours. It’s another guess but I’m saying this is ‘Limelight’.

It’s been a long time since we headed to the South East of the UK and a note has been made to visit again. Nymans, a National Trust garden, has wonderful views over the countryside and I did take advantage of their garden shop to buy a new pot. Half price, I couldn’t say no, could I?

This weekend I shall be on the hunt for some corners of the garden to revamp, I hope to be spreading another bag of Strulch and undoubtedly will be disposing of more slugs. I hope you can find time to enjoy your gardens or find a beautiful one to visit, it does lift the spirits.

The Propagator, as ever, hosts this meme and all the links will be found on his site. Visitors always welcome!

Six On Saturday: The ruthless gardener stalled

For one brief moment the ruthless gardener was in full flow, cutting back hardy geraniums, pulling out surplus seedlings, felling a plum tree (well, not me doing that job) and condemning underperformers. Then some tennis was played and the left knee said ‘enough is enough’. On the upside the knee wrapped in ice felt wonderful when those temperatures were so high. Now the frustrated gardener is hanging around staring through the windows. At least the rain is taking one job off the ‘to do’ list and the garden is teeming with baby birds to offer distraction. Here’s six from the garden for this week.

One

The back garden white hydrangeas were well and truly scorched by the sun this week but in the front garden, with its all the more gentle aspect, the hydrangea was glowing vibrantly. I have no idea how this mix of colours has evolved, I am sure that on our arrival here five years ago this was universally pinkish.

Two

More vibrant colour coming through from magenta pink phlox, inherited and such a reliable steady performer at this time of year. I’ve started to move astrantia seedlings into this area along with some underperforming veronicastrums which were perhaps more in shade than partial shade. One to watch for next year.

Three

A plum tree has gone. A ruthless decision that took five years to make! When we arrived the tree had a nasty split in the trunk but it seemed be healing over the years. Sadly it then started to get die back from the new growth and despite beautiful blossom the fruit crop was minimal. It was just not worth the annual pruning so the tree surgeon was called in to do the deed. There is now a more open aspect to the border and the apple tree on the right hand side has room to breathe.

Four

This is a ‘Miss Wilmott’ scabious which is slowly bulking up and adding some airy height to this border. Miss Wilmott was a well known gardener in her day, contemporary with Gertrude Jekyll and is perhaps more famous today for the Eryngium ‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost’ also named after her.

Five

The hollyhocks have self seeded through the garden and in so many different colours. Here’s a small selection.

Six

Lastly the North facing border is bulking up well. The climbing hydrangeas on the fence are slowly climbing but they like to run up the fence panels rather sideways. I try to persuade them into the horizontal but I think nature will have its way.

Happy hols to The Propagator who presents a concise and colourful six this week. I had plans to visit an NGS garden but the weather does not look too kind. I am in search of inspiration for a small patch at the very back of the garden so it may be a case of wearing suitable clothing and going anyway. Enjoy your gardening time.

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: Flowers in the rain

Returning to the garden after a week in Suffolk was not a pretty sight. The roses were brown or balled up, never going to open and the slugs had been feasting on the young dahlias and china asters. The ailing anemones looked so bad they were swiftly dug up and disposed of. I suspect some kind of wilt disease, the treatment suggested by one website was solarisation of the soil. If only there was some sun to reach into the shady spot were the anemones grew. It feels like that time when early summer moves into late summer. It’s only the first week of July. Whatever happened to mid summer? I think there’s still time for a few lazy sunny days. In the meantime here’s this weeks six.

One

On a happier note. Last year I bought an achillea ‘Terracotta’ which flowered yellow and was not to my liking. This year it has come true to its name and I like it much more.

Two

The astrantias are in full flow now. These are ‘Roma’ which are self seeding. There will be some ruthless thinning at the end of summer.

Three

The hydrangeas seemed late into flower this year but they have come good in the last week or so and of course are happy with the rain. I resisted cutting them back in March, probably not doing it until late April as the weather was so unpredictable. These are variety unknown, a happy inheritance from the previous owner.

Four

It’s definitely a sign that summer is moving on when the penstemons start to flower. These are ‘Sour Grapes’.

Five

The clematis has been colonised by black fly this year but is flowering well. I have spotted several ladybird larvae on the plants so I hope they have been feasting away. There are hundreds of black fly on offer.

Six

A rose to end with. ‘Scepter’d Isle’. After a serious round of dead heading I was very happy to see that some blooms remained to enjoy a few days sun before the rain arrived again.

It’s a gloomy day here so I will have draw on memories of a week by the sea with two gloriously sunny days, a couple of windswept walks and fish and chips – the perfect British holiday. Now it’s back to some gardening – so much more deadheading of roses to be done. One of the plum trees is for the chop – this week or by the end of the month and, fool that I am, I will sow some more carrots – so far only a paltry few have germinated. Enjoy your gardening this week, drop by The Propagator’s place to see the links to all the other SOS posts, and of course there is some sport to be watched.

Six On Saturday: Wildlife, don’t you just love it?

I do love the pair of goldfinches that come regularly to the bird feeder now, and the nuthatches that remind me of Robin, the boy wonder. But don’t get me started on the squirrels who run along the top of the garden wall and perch there so cutely whilst eating the rosebuds. But worst of all is the fox. A regular visitor to the garden who feels so at home that when, last week, our paths crossed he merely looked briefly in my direction, seemed to nod politely and strolled on. Clearly he was soon back again for a night out in the garden, not managing to find the gents loos and so pooing randomly in several spots and then using the back newly planted flower bed as the dance floor. The hydrangea ‘Limelight’, so carefully nurtured from a dead looking stick in March to a lush and verdant shrub in May was decimated. Bah! Humbug! I say. Extra security has been put in place.

One

The poor ‘Limelight’ is now fenced in until it gets a little sturdier, perhaps the fox will find a new route home. I am on the verge of ordering a generous helping of Scoot which may or may not deter the fox. I fear the route through the garden is a favourite one as he is regularly spotted strolling through the veg patch and nimbly jumping the fence.

Two

Once I had recovered from that outrage I discovered a further disappointment. The ‘Mount Everest’ alliums are looking very shabby. This happens every year but this clump looks very sad and without any sign of a flower spike. Luckily others in the border have sent up stems otherwise it really would have been a bad week.

Three

On to happier sights, the geranium phaeum is romping away. Now happily seeding itself, perhaps to such an extent that I may need to do some thinning. But for now I’m enjoying the deep purple flowers.

Four

Even after four years in this house I am still a little neglectful of the front garden but glancing out of the window one morning I thought this sweet woodruff and bluebell combination looked particularly fine. These are on the dry shady side of the front garden where only the strong survive.

Five

Next door to the sweet woodruff I am trying out geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’. Planted out in 2020 and so far so good. Billed as spreading to half a metre – one metre I shall be very happy if it achieves that.

Six

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ is just opening out. The die back on these leaves is less noticeable as the foliage of other plants disguises it. Gradually the garden moves on towards summer.

In other news, the San Marzano tomato plants look as though they have caught cold, they may not survive. The courgettes and extra cucumbers have germinated, and the carrots are a no show so far but I think I have spotted one or two parsnip seedlings. I have spotted flower buds on the Totally Tangerine, whilst the Prop’s (our delightful host for SOS) continues to shine brightly. All other SOS posts can be found on the Prop’s site, stop by and enjoy the ever more colourful gardens on show.

Six On Saturday: Celebrity opening

The new arch was installed last weekend after a little to-ing and fro-ing over how to put it up without having to prune the apple tree. One of the three cuttings of the rose ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ was planted at the base and all was well. I was then incredibly lucky to be able to have a celebrity cut the ribbon and officially declare the arch open and ready for use.

One

Yes, it is Perry the mascot of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games! #PoseWithPerry. What a treat, our first post lockdown visitor – outside only. I may be as mad as ‘mad Alf’ can be in putting this rose at the bottom of an arch but the cutting was sitting in the garden waiting for a home, so it was swiftly put to good use. Now for the other side. Has anyone grown clematis ‘Freckles’? I am very tempted by the flowering period of November to February but I’m not sure about the flower’s eponymous freckles.

Two

The warm weather brought out the blossom on the first of the plum trees. After four years of ‘let’s give it another year’ this tree had finally been condemned. When we took over the garden the tree was suffering from a split in the trunk that looked terminal but each year the tree healed itself a little more, as the trunk improved so the leaves seemed to dry up and die and the fruit crop diminished. This year the tree is covered in blossom, so inevitably it will get another year’s grace. Sadly temperatures of -2 degrees are forecast next week which may cause some damage to the blossom,

Three

The front garden magnolia buds fully opened up and for while there will be a pink cloud outside the bedroom windows. This is the view on a dismal grey day, so much lovelier in the sunshine but I missed the opportunity!

Four

I have been buying some plants for the shadier areas of the garden and my plan was to plant this hydrangea ‘Limelight’ in a particularly dark corner. Of course it will do better if it has a little more light and with the discovery that one of the blackcurrants has died overwinter I now have a better place for it. I feel quite relieved, but I am would be interested to know if anyone grows hydrangeas in deep shade?

Five

Having promoted the hydrangea to a better place I was serendipitously handed the perfect plant for shade. This is helleborus foetidus. I collected some helleborus hybridus from the Finchley Horticultural Society and there was one lonely foetidus among them so it came home as well.

Six

The thalia are out in all their glory now. They are such beautiful spring flowers and with three flowers to a stem they are very rewarding.

I have sown only one tray of flower seeds so far, some dahlia cacti mix which have germinated. The half hardy seeds I have decided to sow a little later than usual. Next week’s weather is colder and as the greenhouse is unheated I don’t think new sowings will do much. Half of my second early/main crop potatoes are in but I discovered a trench full of rubble where my second planting was due to go. More digging to be done. Spring onions, second tomatoes, and cucumbers are making progress. I have just about enough room on the windowsill for some climbing french beans to be started off this week but everything else is on hold until the cold winds change and the weather warms up again. The Propagator as always hosts SOS with humour – and is not really planning to concrete over his years of dedicated work. This week he features glorious daffodils shining in the sun. Happy gardening to all.