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.

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

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

One

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

Two

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

Three

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

Four

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

Five

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

Six

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

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

Six On Saturday: Here’s one I prepared earlier

I was half way through my six last week when I was derailed. Nothing dramatic just things to do and then Sunday was spent in the garden. In the shed to be precise. I was emptying it out in preparation for the delivery of a new shed. The weather was good and although the shed won’t arrive until November it was too good an opportunity to miss. I was tempted to share a photo of the now empty shed but on second thoughts I’ll save that for another day. Here’s last week’s three and three for this week.

One

I am going to upgrade my score for veg growing to a 6/10. I pulled the second sowing of carrots last week and was pleasantly surprised. A few nibbles from the slugs but no carrot fly damage. I am sure this is because they grew in a bed of calendular flowers. This may have made the competition for precious water a little greater but all in all it was not a bad haul.

Two

The salvia ‘Amistad’ really gets into its stride in October taking over from the ‘Darcy Bussell’ rose, but Darcy is still sending out a flower or two. I took cuttings of the salvia last year in case this crowd didn’t over winter. Of course they did and now I have an abundance of salvias – which is no bad thing.

Three

The appearance of mushrooms in the garden is sure sign that autumn has arrived. This atmospheric group are colonising an old tree stump. I think, from comparing them to those that Fred tweeted, that they are not edible. But I’m happy to enjoy them visually.

Four

On to this week’s contributions. The hydrangeas are looking fabulous in their new colours. At least something in the garden is enjoying the endless rain. So much so that some of the other hydrangeas have put out new flowers.

Five

The hesperantha is brightening up a corner by the rosemary. As I write, I am thinking that I should try to spread these around a little more. They offer a good splash of colour at this time of the year.

Six

A little late perhaps, but this is anemone ‘September Charm’. It’s neighbour did do the charm thing in September but this one was a little later into bloom. It’s sharing a space with salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ and the second flowering of skimmia ‘Lime Green’. This is one of the more recently planted borders and needs to fill out a little more or have some more plants added. It’s a shady north-ish facing border which is always an interesting place to plant up.

I am hoping for a dry spell so that the bulb planting can commence. I have forgotten what is hiding in the boxes, tulips for sure and some more camassias and possibly some other delights. It will be like Christmas! Oh, sorry, not sure we allowed to talk about that for fear of jinxing it. Wishing every one well and hoping that the garden exploits of SOSers revealed at The Prop’s will cheer us all up. OMG, thanks to Jim’s words of wisdom, I have sort of managed to edit the url link. I dare not try to tidy it up a bit, I’ll see if I can do better next week.

Six On Saturday: Hot stuff

All I can think about is the heat. I have been wondered what plants cope with this new British climate. Hot dry summers and wet winters. Answers on a postcard, please. This is the fifth summer in this garden and it is time for an edit. When is it not time for an edit? Recent carnage has included the decimation of the gooseberry bushes. Eleven taken out and now eight remain. Excuse me if the maths is wrong :). This makes room for some redcurrants and I shall sneak a bit off the end to extend one of the borders. That’s a trailer for a six to come. For the moment here’s this week’s six.

One

Zinnias.  Last year they seemed to come through late.  This year they are bang on time.  They are fast becoming my favourite annual to sow.  I lost a couple to the voracious slugs but those that made it through are putting on a good display.  These are the Sarah Raven ‘Deep Zinnia’ collection. 

Two

Kniphofia.  Or Red hot pokers if you prefer.  I never thought I would grow these but I have been won over.  I picked up a bag full of divisions at last year’s visit to Ulting Wick garden in Essex.  They cost £5, money well spent.  Sorry, I don’t know the variety.  They have just started flowering but I read that once settled in they can flower from March to November.  If they achieve that I will be very happy. 

Three

Agastache ‘Blackadder’.  Much loved by the bees.  I am trying these again.  The previous plants did not overwinter.  The RHS classes them as Fully Hardy (borderline) so I have my fingers crossed. 

Four

I am also giving achilleas a go this year.  This one is already a disappointment!  I bought it as ‘Terracotta’.  Descriptions variously suggested soft orange, browny orange and of course terracotta flowers.  But not yellow.  I have since tracked down one description which suggest flowers may age to yellow.  This plant seems to have skipped the soft orange stage.  Unless it changes its ways this is probably not a keeper.  

Five

I almost missed showing the large flower head of the evergreen agapanthus.  They are just beginning to go over here.  They are a marker of high summer in this garden.

Six

The front garden hydrangea is going through its annual identity crisis.  What colour will it be this year.  I prefer this bluish colour but other flowers are pink, purple and faded variations in between.  

Jobs to do include cutting some of the lavenders back.  One clump has definitely finished flowering.  There is watering to be done and the cosmos need dead heading.  The roses are in full flow again so more dead heading.  I think I can manage that in the heat but the best part is walking round the garden in the evening and taking in the scents.  Lovely.

I hope all is lovely in your garden.  To catch up with the news from other SOSers please stop by  The Prop’s garden update, where all the links are posted.  

 

Six On Saturday: Pinky, greeny, white flowers

Around time of year I’m usually on my way to Suffolk with a stop off at the Beth Chatto gardens. The gardens are open now but the trip to Suffolk is off. Which is a shame because a week on the Suffolk coast next week might be a blessed relief. Temperatures here are forecast to make 30 degrees. At least the garden has had a very good soak and the water butts are almost replenished. Here’s this week’s six.

One

I’m opening with this is mallow, or malva moschata.  I didn’t realise just how pretty it was until I took the close up.  Beautiful and it is a regular self seeder that fills a corner of the garden quite happily doing its thing with very little attention.

Two

The hydrangeas which were gasping for a drop of the good stuff are very happy now.  This one is hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blushing Bride’.  Being one of the Endless Summer ranges apparently it can flower on new and old wood. Something I did not know before today.  

Three

The lilies that are in a pot by one of the pergola legs opened up last weekend. Just in time to provide some scented evening distractions.

Four

From Cornwall to France the Yuccas have been flowering and here I offer a flowering cordyline.  Which by coincidence came all the way from Cornwall some twenty years ago.   It has lived in a pot for all those years, with a belated move to a larger pot about three years ago.  It has never flowered before and I don’t know if it will again but here it is for now. 

Five

This clear white geranium is sanguineum ‘Album’ used in the northern corner of the garden and is finally in flower.  

Six

And just around the corner is this inherited geranium.  White with beautiful pink veining. It was quite a large clump so I divided it up and dotted it around the garden on the shadier side and it has done well in all locations.  I wonder if it could be ‘Kashmiri White’.  

I’m going to be making the most of this cool weekend to get some gardening jobs done.  The last stragglers of the annuals to be planted out.  There are tomatoes to be looked over – those side shoots are sprouting fast and the second sowing of french beans to be put in the ground.  Enjoy your gardening jobs and look in at  The Prop’s Place for his six  (I have fallen for sidalcea ‘Rosaly’) and all the links to other good gardening blogs.

Six On Saturday: Cold nights and Crazy days

I can’t really avoid the c word this week. These past few days have gone by in a whirl and we are all coming terms with profound changes to our lives. The discipline of spending a little time to write about the garden is finding a new level of meaning and spring has arrived so it is all the more enjoyable. It it so good to focus on the new life that is appearing and the joy that comes with seeing the perennials push through again.  Here are my six delights for this week.

One

There have been some cold nights and cold windy days this week but the sun has some warmth and the garden is responding.  I’ve seen the tulips in bud and this week the Thalia opened up.  Must have more of them was my response.

Two

I know everyone has done daffs over the last few weeks but I’m going to tip my hat again to Tete a Tete.  When I planted this ring of them around the persimmon tree I thought there was a stronger danger of it looking a little twee.  Maybe it does but seeing this cheerful ring of them every morning makes my day.  I’ve gone for over-egging the pudding and have also planted an inner ring of snowdrops.  I can’t wait!

Three

It feels a little early to be cutting back the hydrangeas but the new growth is coming through strongly now.  I am going to resist for as long as I can.  April can be cruel.  The penstemons are also sending out new growth but they aren’t going to tempt into a cut back just yet. 

Four

The new growth on the roses has this lovely reddish colour.  In admiring this exuberance I also noticed that some tying in was needed, which was duly done.  It is at this time of year I realise that I could have been more ruthless with some of the climbing roses.  Some people never learn.

Five

More new growth coming from the weigela florida ‘Variegata’.  I bought it new for this garden so it is about three years old now.  I’m happy to let it have it’s natural height but I think I may need to contain the spread.  I’m looking forward to May when it’s pink flowers appear.

Six

I anticipate a sudden influx of bees as the rosemary comes into flower.  Yes, indeed gardening and all its side benefits will be keeping my soul healthy this year.  

Thanks to The Propagator for his admirable work in keeping Six on Saturday together.  I shall be sowing seeds this weekend, definitely some cosmos, perhaps some zinnias and probably some tellima grandiflora and the grass needs cutting.  Enjoy your gardening jobs, take time to appreciate what’s growing now and celebrate Springtime,  for it is officially here!

 

 

Six On Saturday: The walk of shame

What on earth will I find for this weekend? Finding six things to share brings home hard the reality that those gardening jobs are quietly building up – gooseberries to be pruned, raspberries to be cut down, the passion flower, long ago condemned, is still twining its way round the arch and the mild weather is doing the weeds the power of good. Everything is shooting away and gloomily I fear the worst. A prolonged cold spell must be on its way, I am postponing any cut backs in anticipation of a blast of icy weather but am I deluding myself? Shame over and done with, here’s the six good things I found this morning.

One

More hellebore love as the hybridised ones begin to open up.  Irresistible.

Two

The beautiful unfurling of the aquilegia leaves has begun, and diamond drops of rain add to its charm.

Three

The first flowers of the bergenia have appeared.  I’m one of those who underated these plants but I’m working around them, adding in some other leaf forms to create a textured area. It’s a work in progress and I’ll share more as the other plants grow on.  I found an interesting blog from the Beth Chatto garden which mounts a strong defence for the their use in the garden.

Four

The climbing hydrangeas, planted last year to cover the brown fence, are sending out buds right, left and centre.  I’m hoping for a good display of flowers this year but I think it will be a while before the fence is hidden.

Five

This brachyglottis also falls into the bergenia category for me.  Not much loved but once again I am beginning to appreciate it for being a good doer.  It had become very leggy but some serious cutting back last year has perked it up no end and it is looking very healthy.  It sits well under-planted between a mahonia and a viburnum.

Six

The iberis sempervirens is another flower making an early appearance.  Billed as a mid-spring reliable, its appearance in what is still mid-winter seems a little odd.  It is in a sunny corner in a sheltered spot so perhaps this is all normal.

I just need a few more weeks before spring really appears. I will make another promise to myself to get out into the garden and do some jobs.  Sounds like the shame is making a re-appearance.  But not to worry, I’ll ignore it until next week’s six.

Thanks to Mr P for instituting this regime – no, really I do mean that.  I am sure my garden is a better place for it.  If you’d like to be kept on your toes take a look at the blog and see what is going on in everyone else’s gardens.

Six On Saturday: ’tis the winter season

Not being one of the very early risers the gloomy mornings are only just starting to have an impact on me. Fortunately there are only two weeks to go until the shortest day and then we will be on the up again. Winter frosts have turned most of the herbaceous borders brown which is a reminder to me to get those soggy plants removed.  I was looking forlornly out of the kitchen window this morning wondering what my six would be when I realised that the garden was full of birds. The persimmon tree was hosting several species and one in particular caught my eye. Out came the book of birds and I was able to identify a redwing.  Once again Mr P’s Six On Saturday regime has come up trumps.  Armed with optimism I sallied forth to see what else was going on in the December garden.

One

One step outside the back door and the first reward was spotted,  The mint that had frazzled up and died in the summer is pushing through again.  This was grown from seed this year so I’m very pleased to see it’s resurgence.

Two

Two steps more and I was reminded of the annual moss cull that takes place at this time of year.  The birds descend and pull up the moss from the cracks in the paving.  They fling it around with gay abandon, they have no need for the moss now.  I imagine they are searching for insects.  What else could it be? I have some sweeping up to do.

Three

Down the steps, the hydrangeas are in their last throes of pinky-brown.  Some have advanced further into winter foliage and some have new buds forming.

Four

The leaves are down from the trees.  There seemed to be a never-ending supply of them but now they are piled up in the leaf cage it doesn’t look like much.

Five

 

Round the back in the nursery corner the salvia ‘Amistad’ that overwintered from last year is still in flower.  I am coming to view this plant as a late summer contributor.  I have six cuttings in the greenhouse that are doing well, so far.  There have been casualties though.  The salvia nemorosa caradonna cuttings have gone from three to one and the lavender looks a bit wobbly.

Six

It feels like a few years ago now but some time in the recent past I sowed a whole packet of euphorbia oblongata seeds.  Forty five I seem to remember.  I managed to get three plants which hovered between life and death for some months.  I tipped them out into the garden to do or die and one of them looks quite healthy now.  It will, of course, die over the winter.  But maybe not.  I’ll keep those fingers crossed.

Fingers crossed that your winter gardening throws up some joys.  I am thinking about the spring bulbs that are doing their thing below the surface at this very moment.  I have also thought about slugs that are lurking so tomorrow’s job will be to clear the sogginess.

Six On Saturday: Winding down

There’s no denying it. The leaves are falling and every now and then a cold night sneaks in. It’s time to move to those autumn/winter jobs. I left two tomato plants standing after the big greenhouse clear out but even those must be dealt with now. The mower blades will be set to high as the mower is used to collect leaves and tulip bulbs will be planted. This weekend I will take the scented leaf pelagoniums into the greenhouse but I needed a some more compost for their over-wintering pots, Of course that was fatal:

One

A trip to the garden centre, even at this time of year, is a dangerous thing.  Compost was purchased – peat free of course – but the route back to the exit went via the reduced bench and there were a few 3l pots of Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’.  Well they might as well sit in my garden as stand in the garden centre, don’t you think?  Especially at a bargain price of £4.50 a pot.  They’ve gone into my new orange and magenta border.  Dreams of next summer already!

Two

Speaking of borders here is the long border in its autumn clothing.  It’s definitely winding down here.  The asters at the far end keep going but the roses are putting out smaller and smaller flowers and the autumn crocuses were felled by the rain.

Three

The cuttings of salvia ‘Amistad’ were growing so strongly that I decided to pot them on.  I used a very gritty mix to start them off and the root system had developed well.  I’ve got six at the moment in the hope that I can get three through the winter.

Four

In the front garden the hydrangea that this year flowered blue has faded into the usual autumn colour.  I enjoy its muted tones at this time of the year.  I was not so fond of the blue, a result I think of the mulch it received last winter.

Five

Also looking autumnal in the front garden is my mystery plant.  It does flower but I never seem to catch a photo of it.  The single black berries are very attractive.  I think it is some form of cotoneaster.

Six

The greenhouse clear out meant bringing in the romano peppers.  A few had just about ripened and a week in the kitchen has moved them on a bit more.  Time to eat them!

A cold night is forecast  for Sunday and my evergreen agapanthus are already showing a few yellow leaves.  The time for fleece has arrived.  It’s also time to see who else is taking winter precautions.  A trip to Mr P’s site is called for.  Who’s still got colour and who is wrapping up for winter?

Six On Saturday: Potatoes. What do I know?

If there’s one thing I know about potatoes it is that King Edward is the best potato for roasting. IMHO. I have spent the last few years moaning about the size of those that come in the supermarket bags. Too small and what a pain they are to peel. So I took matters into my own hands and bought a few to grow. Here’s the result.

One

As you can see I did no better than the supermarket buyers.  But worse is to come.  I don’t grow many potatoes but I like to have a few varieties.  The mix this year was Arran Pilot, Belle de Fontenay, Ratte, King Edward and Pink Fir Apple.  I buy them loose, filling up a bag and separating each variety with a slip of paper.  I chitted them and planted out the first and second earlies in a raised bed.  The King Edward and Pink Fir Apple went into the ground in a separate bed.  Arran Pilot did well but was not very interesting.  Belle de Fontenay was a joy and is definitely on the list for next year.  Ratte was a strange one.  Good taste but surprisingly floury for a new potato.  It did very well as a crushed new potato.  But how would the King Edwards turn out.  After several weeks of rain I finally got round to lifting the main crop.  The King Edwards did not look like King Edwards at all.  In fact they looked suspiciously like a new potato with a nice looking shape.  It very slowly and painfully dawned on me that I had mixed up my potatoes and had been happily digging up the King Edwards throughout August and subjecting them to large amounts of mayonnaise or butter and chives.  The shame of it! Thankfully I had a few left in the fridge which will be getting a good roasting very soon. There is more to share.

Two

Now on to the results of the ‘main crop’.  The result is sadly very pathetic.  There were only a handful of Pink Fir Apple and barely more than that from the mislocated Ratte.  The size is tiny.  The upside is I don’t have to peel them and there is the chance for one more potato salad.  Barring the Arran Pilot I will grow these varieties again next year.  I will keep improving the soil and will try to water more often.  Maybe results will be better. Who knows?

Three

Happily other things in the garden are doing well and have benefited from the October rain.  The hydrangea has put out several new blooms, they are such generous flowerers when the conditions are right.

Four

I have a second flush of delphinium flowers.  This is my reward for cutting them back as soon as they had finished flowering.  Those that I didn’t get round too quite so quickly have not delivered and who can blame them.

Five

Sometime ago I whined about the zinnias being late but they arrived and have been amazing.  The bees still have something to come into the garden for and the colour is beautiful.  If I remember rightly these came from a free packet of seeds. A bargain and a definite for next year.

Six

Last week I said I would be optimistically looking at my sweet peas to see if they had germinated.  I sowed the left over seeds from this year and some I had from a few years ago.  Last week they had just broken the surface and this week they are an inch or two high.  Time for tough love, they have been removed from the sunny windowsill and placed in the greenhouse.  Overnight temperatures there dropped to five degrees one night this week.

Thanks to Mr P for starting this meme off.  It works for me and if you are tempted to join in then take a look at the participant guide on The Propagator’s site.  I’m hoping to plant some more bulbs this weekend.   Let’s hope I can tell my onions from my daffs!