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: Hot stuff

All I can think about is the heat. I have been wondering 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: Movers and Shakers

I’ve been feeling the garden needs a bit of a shake up.  This week was a staycation and it provided the opportunity to visit a few places and take in some garden inspiration.  Dan Pearson Studio has planted up a public park at Handyside Gardens, Kings Cross. Plenty of grasses of course but I spotted some wild strawberries used as underplanting. I’ve made a note for the future. In Oxford I laid eyes on a beautiful blue plant that is proving hard to id. Your thoughts are most welcome. On a very hot bank holiday Monday we visited the Ulting Wick open day.  I went to view the dahlias.  I know they are the one of the best flowers for late summer but I’ve not mastered the art of placing them in my garden.  It just doesn’t seem to be dahlia friendly.  I was also in search of some orange inspiration to balance out all my magenta colours.  I struck lucky.

One

Dahlia ‘Orange Cushion’.  Only one available so I snapped it up and hope to be able to propagate it next year.  The dahlias at Ulting Wick are very impressive, I won’t be matching them for scale of planting but I’ve made a start.  I’ve come to accept dahlias and even those with bronze foliage. I can see how to  use it in the mix.  I have great plans for next year.

Two

Some kniphofias, divisions from the Ulting Wick stock and sold by the bag full.  This bag had some new spires so I should get a few weeks at least out them.

Three

All those oranges seemed to call out for a blue and there was a handy pot of salvia pratensis.  On the right is the mystery plant spotted in Oxford.  I thought it was also a salvia but does anyone have any ideas?

Four

With my head full of thoughts for next year I decided that things have to move round in the garden,  This anchusa azurea has been flowering away at the back of the border for a couple of years now and it is so often overlooked.  I need to find a space for it show off in.  I thought it was ‘Loddon Anna’ with a slightly less intense blue than ‘Loddon Royalist’ but I couldn’t find any images for ‘Loddon Anna’.  Did I make it up?

Five

Many of the gardens I saw this week had good shows of hylotelephium spectabile.  Which is simply known as the ice plant in this house.  I’ve inherited these and have let them do their own thing which often involves collapsing through lack of water.  Now I’ve seen them put together with other planting I am going to consolidate the groups I have into one display…somewhere in the garden, for next year!

Six

Staying put and doing both moving and shaking is pennisetum villosum.  The very first flower spike.  I need a few more to complete the picture but you get the idea.  Floaty pennistetum with floaty gaura.  I never thought I would have grasses in the garden either but I have been won over here too.

I soaked up ideas from gardens visited over the years but also from the many wonderful posts from fellow SOSers.  Too many to name check but as always I recommend you take a look at the links on Mr P’s  site.  Thank you to the sixers who have inspired me.  You have widened my horizons and added to my garden.  There, that’s enough sucking up, I have some planting to do.