Six On Saturday: New projects

Misty mornings, rain, gusty winds. It really does feel like Autumn now. I have resisted buying bulbs this year but those end of season discounts are beginning to look tempting. I had two projects on my gardening ‘to do’ list. One was the new greenhouse and the other, a revamp of a corner of the garden. The greenhouse situation was speedily resolved when I discovered that the local fox had started excavating a rather large hole inside the greenhouse. Another attempt to re-attach the door was made and, no doubt also spurred on by the cost of a new greenhouse, would you believe it, it was a successful attempt. Infact the door is now moving better than it ever has done since we moved in here and so project New Greenhouse has been abandoned. The second project has been started and finished within the week. The new rose ‘Lady of Shalott’ arrived this week which kick started the clearance of the border. Phloxes were divided and re-planted. Kniphofia moved, tulips bulbs unceremoniously turfed out and the rose and a new shrub sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ were added. The zinnias were dug up and optimistically re-planted on the veg plot. Two or three heavy downpours then followed which should give everything a good start. Onwards, now, to this week’s six.

One

The colours in the garden have begun to turn. The persimmon in front takes on reddish hues and behind it the large fig tree moves from green to yellow. Leaves are flying of the trees and sycamore seeds rain down from the skies. This stage just before winter arrives is truly a lovely time of the year. Next year as I once again deal with all those sycamore seedlings, I shall curse a little!

Two

The hydrangeas move into autumn colours at about this time. The effects of the summer drought are all too evident in the blackened flower heads but there are enough of the surviving flowers heads to present a generally appealing appearance – if I close one eye and squint slightly.

Three

The mexican daisy, erigeron karvinskianus, continues to froth its way through the year. This fronts up the border that I have just re-planted and one or two new seedling plants were moved further along to extend their exuberance a little further.

Four

I added in a new anemone to a shady corner at the back of the garden. It’s a smaller growing variety that just suits a front of border position, I wish I could share its name but where has the label gone?

Five

This week’s Six On Saturday links are being hosted by Jim at Garden Ruminations. Jim also posts on his allotment plot (amongst many other things). Recent discussions have included green manures and the benefits of keeping soil planted over the winter. I’m in the third year of sowing green manure seed. This year it’s a mixture of vetch and Westmorland rye grass. Here it is after three to four weeks growth. I have a row of parsnips left on this patch but unless I locate some veg plugs that will be me done for the winter.

Six

Lastly, as usual, a rose to finish on. This is Darcy Bussell, with some salvia ‘Amistad’ in the background. I love this combination.

I’ve a few phlox left over from the divisions, so I shall be trying to squeeze them into the borders somewhere. I’ve also moved some libertia to sunnier spots. At the beginning of the week the ground was easily workable, now it’s much wetter and moving plants will be harder work. It feels like this phase of the gardening year is coming to an end and the next few weeks will be about bringing in tender plants and gathering fallen leaves. I really recommend stopping by Jim’s garden in Cornwall, he’s a plantsman by any definition! Happy gardening everyone, it’s the best place to be!

Six On Saturday: Glass half full thinking

I’ve had a spell of not gardening: either it was too hot or I was busy elsewhere. The UK Bank Holiday weekend offered up cooler weather and some precious time. The garden was looking scruffy and I thought I’d give an honest six this week showing it’s disarray. But this morning’s walk round revealed a few positives and I have been persuaded to look on the bright side. Here they are, mixed in with a some reflections on the less successful aspects of the garden.

One

The roses continue to push out new growth and are the mainstay of colour in the garden at the moment. This is ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’. Nearby there should be a pop of helenium ‘Short and Sassy’. Not a sign of it, eaten by the slugs in it’s first year in the garden. That’s heleniums crossed off the grow list.

Two

Sorry to be repetitive but not being a fan of dahlias I don’t really grow them. However I do recognise their valuable contribution to late season colour and so I try one or two here and there. This year’s trial was the orange flowering ‘David Howard’. I was going to kill two birds with one stone here, beautiful chocolate leaves giving me a break from green and ochre orange flowers for contrast. The aforementioned slugs got in first and nibbled down the top growth. The dahlias fought back and the foliage is lush, but as yet not a sign of flowers. I wait patiently, maybe they will come.

Three

The back border was newly planted this year with a selection of grasses and three persicaria polymorpha. The white frothy flowers are exactly what I had in mind, but the stems do not seem to be able to support the flower heads and I regularly find snapped stems languishing in amongst the froth. This is most strange as the description suggests it is a ‘bulky feature plant making strong stems’. Next year perhaps?

Four

Before the back border was planted up I used it as a heeling in space for various self seeders from the main garden. In one of those serendipitous moments this astrantia ‘Roma’ combined well with periscaria, survived the drought and has won a permanent place in the back border where I hope it will self seed some more.

Five

I’m definitely focusing on the positives in this photo. The hydrangeas are a sad scorched affair this year but with the help of a few showers of rain they have shown their resilience. There’s new growth to be seen and one or two heads of new flowers have appeared.

Six

Apologies for sharing more tomato photographs. The San Marzano in the greenhouse have been amazing this year. I was extravagant and bought new seed, then planted the seedlings in a new bed on the other side of the greenhouse and focused my watering attention on them. We’ve been eating them for a few weeks and have also frozen a batch of cooked up passata.

Oh the joy of selective photographs, my scruffy gone-to-seed garden offers up some gems and I can put together a positive viewpoint. My mind is racing with plans to replant certain areas and I have been sowing seed of echinacea pallida and e. ‘White Swan’ in preparation. I have not ordered any spring bulbs and have no plans to. Those late offers may tempt me of course but for now I am reviewing what I have and looking at how to rework plants to better advantage. It all begins again, another year, another chance.

For more gardening thoughts take a look at The Propagator’s site, he’s not in this week as there is another mammoth run to be completed but as always the links to other SOS posts will appear over the weekend. Happy reflections on your gardening year. I will soon be collecting the juice from this year’s apple crop. That’s one for next week already in the bank.

Six On Saturday: There’s a hole in my water butt, dear Liza

Oh yes. There was rain and the water butts were full but the next day number one water butt was half empty. That’s about 75 litres of lost water. I was not a happy bunny. The remaining water was pumped down to the bottom of garden storage tank and a repair was made. Here’s hoping a bit of glue and some gorilla tape will seal the crack. It might be some time before I find out if it has worked. In the meantime, the garden has perked up a little. Here’s this week’s six.

One

The courgettes were absolutely loving the downpour and responded immediately with a bright sunny flower. I’ve been picking very regularly and so far have avoided the giant marrow stage.

Two

I had left the onions to dry off in the ground as it was so hot. Once the rain looked certain I harvested them and moved to the potting shed to finish drying. This great picture was taken by daughter on her phone. How did she do that? As usual some onions have barely doubled in size but on the whole I’m happy with this year’s haul.

Three

My old established hydrangeas have had a tough time of it and look very bedraggled. But a new purchase (Limelight) put in to replace the old box shrub was watered regularly and although it’s still a small plant it has put out some impressive flowers. I think this one will fill the space very well.

Four

This eurybia is at the shady end of the border and has survived this summer’s conditions well. Mr P, our host, will surely recognise a familiar likeness to those he has in his garden.

Five

The first of the Japanese anemones have opened up. This one is in the shady north facing border, the same corner where there is some mysterious source of underground water and so this too has also come through the summer unscathed. Further up this border the anemone leaves are crispy brown and in need of tidying up.

Six

The old greenhouse is officially on borrowed time. The decision to purchase a new one has been made. Gulp. Dismantling the greenhouse, removing old crumbling base, laying new base and then installing the new greenhouse are all tasks beyond my skill set. But I’m pulling together the threads of the project and hope to be on the way once the tomatoes have finished. In the meantime the French marigolds, planted to dissuade the white fly from taking up residence, are flowering their socks off.

The temperatures are back to normal, there’s still some rainfall to be made up but I am persuaded that it is worth tidying up the garden. There’s alchemilla mollis to cut back and those crispy leaves to remove. The plums are almost ripe and small though they are I think it won’t be long before the apples are picked. It’s time to return to the garden and prepare for the next season. Happy gardening to you all.

Six On Saturday: Bananas!

Or Bananarama to be precise. Cruel Summer to be even more exact. Perhaps I should be growing ensete. Too late now. The weather is going to be very cruel next week and we must all take care. I hope I don’t lose any plants and that the veg plot can subsist on the meagre amount of water I can give it. Here are six things from the flower garden this week.

One

The hydrangea in the front garden is a mass of blue, pink and purple flowers. It spends most of the day in the shade and I tend to take it for granted. Perhaps some water and a feed would give it a lift!

Two

The evergreen agapanthus that are wrapped up over winter should be at home in this heat but as they are in pots they do need regular watering. They are already on the turn. Every four years or so I take a saw to them and divide them up. This year a couple of the pots are only managing one flower stem so they will be divided next spring.

Three

The phlox are vibrant at the moment but I fear they will be drooping by next week.

Four

This is clematis viticella ‘Etoile Violette’. A favourite of mine and I do look after it with regular feeds of seaweed extract. It does get some shade throughout the day so I’m hoping it will not suffer.

Five

The day lilies are also basking in the sun. These ones, ‘Golden Chimes’, don’t have gall midge….so far!

Six

My recent purchase of ‘Lord Bute’ is back in flower again. Absolutely wonderful.

I hear Mr P is hanging up his running shoes for this weekend but is heading off to a festival. Even so he will be hosting the Six on Saturday meme as usual. Much respect! Don’t forget to stop by.

Six On Saturday: What a mess!

Back to the garden again after a busy few weeks and of course the garden has run riot. Three times recently my gardening style has been described as ‘messy’. But I’m not sensitive. Well, of course I am! What is a messy style? Plants overspilling the paths, geraniums climbing over other plants, self-seeders encouraged. Sounds just right to me. However July is a turning point in this garden and those geraniums do need to be cut back, I have a mass of rose deadheading to catch up with and worse still I have two trays of annuals not planted out yet. I’d better get on with six for the week and then get out there and garden.

One

Here is the garden path. Encapsulating self seeders and overspillers. The alchemillia mollis and geranium psilostemon and ‘Brookside’ are the main culprits. Last autumn I lifted a number of alchemillia mollis from the main border to tidy things up and promptly planted them in the thin border for the ‘time being’. They love it there. ‘Brookside’ self seeds very readily here and since it is an extensive roamer I am more ruthless and I do thin it out every year.

Two

There are one or two shasta daisies escaping from their restraining supports but on the whole I do keep these pretty tidy. These also self seed. Here they are working rather well with a dahlia that gained a reprieve from last year. They are planted in front of the blackberries, probably not acceptable to some.

Three

This week the verbena bonariensis have looked stunning. Of course these self seed here. This week I heard them called thuggish! I find them rather amazing. Here they are growing amongst the grass ‘Karl Foerster’.

Four

Surely these hydrangeas are tidy? A little blousy perhaps? Next week they will be frazzled to a messy shade of brown as the hot weather spoils them.

Five

Do meandering climbers also count as messy? If so, guilty as charged. Clematis cover walls, fences and arches. This is the first year in flower for ‘Madame Julia Correvon’. She has valiantly pushed through the undergrowth and made it the top of the wall where her beautiful flowers are much appreciated.

Six

Oh, I know what it is. I have allowed erigeron karvinskianus to self seed all over the terrace! Now that does look messy.

I was remiss at reading SOS posts last week. I hope to catch up this week, but of course there’s some tidying up to do first. The links for the SOS posts are hosted on The Propagator’s site. I’ll stop by there now. Happy gardening everyone.

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!