Six On Saturday: No more slug banquets

We had torrential rain on Monday evening which caused local flooding on some roads, nothing like that experienced in Europe this week for which I am grateful and this weekend we have a scorchio heatwave. It is feast or famine weather-wise and I had a nostalgic longing for the gentle summers of childhood. We did have them didn’t we? There is one aspect of the garden that is very much feast time and that is the dahlia banquet I have been serving up for the slugs. That’s it. I am done with dahlias, never much liked them anyway and as I don’t have that many they will not be missed. Also suffering this year are the lupins and zinnias. The new resolution is ‘if the slugs munch it, it is not staying in the garden’. In ruthless mode I also dug up an echinops ritro – globe thistle. Never much liked that either. It seemed to suffer from aphid attacks and then took on a bedraggled look until the next wave of growth came through. Not attractive and now gone for good. On the good news side, I have planted out all the salvias and some very slow to get going nicotiana ‘Whisper’ seedlings. Twenty tiny seeds sown, four germinated. They grew on so slowly that I had actually forgotten them. Yesterday, in some cobwebby corner of the greenhouse, I spotted the glowing green leaves and they were in the garden pdq. Here’s this week’s six.

One

Hebe, variety unknown. I inherited this in the front garden where it lurked under the magnolia tree doing not very much. Two years ago I dug up it and for the time being, as one does, put it in a corner of the veg plot. This year it has performed spectacularly. With fireworks of white spikes of flowers fizzing of in all directions. It is alongside the potatoes this year and I am very happy to let it stay there. Added bonus: no slug damage.

Two

Ever reliable, no slug damage, and so easily taken for granted, even moaned about occasionally, verbena bonariensis. Moaned about because here it self seeds readily. It seems to grow in every corner but does the best in the sunniest spot where it really does stand up well without falling over the path too much. I pull them up where they are flopping.

Three

Hollyhocks. Hmm, yes some occasional slime trails but the plants just push on upwards. Self seeding itself throughout the borders and I do nip out the seedlings when I spot them but of course some manage to elude me and then deliver a mid summer surprise as they soar above the other plants.

Four

The ever sunny leucanthemum superbum or shasta daisy. Now securely staked. I grew these beauties from seed when I first came to this garden and used them to front the wild blackberries, that I was going to dig out. Over the last few years the blackberries have been somewhat tamed and since they deliver a bountiful crop they get to stay. They are one of the few happy weeds that I inherited.

Five

I had to laugh as I saw glorious photos of lupins in SOS posts and then was told last week that one of the ‘jobs to do’ was to cut back lupins. Mine have barely got going. This one has just managed a flower spike, the others have been munched by slugs. I fully expect the blackfly to descend on the lupin this week. They are going and I think I’m going to use the space to plant another rose.

Six

Last of the slug free plants is euphorbia oblongata. Slightly past its flowering best but what a stand out colour in the garden right now. Grown from seed a few years back, and if I remember rightly I sowed a whole packet of 45 seeds and got three seedlings. But then what would I have done with 45 plants! Sometimes nature knows best.

We have been enjoying cucumbers from the greenhouse this week and I think the time has come to dig up some potatoes. My old allotment site issued a tomato blight alert this week – so far all looks okay here. The French beans are flowering and the courgettes will undoubtedly zoom away in this weekend’s heat. It’s also time to pick some currants and the last of the gooseberries. It’s not all bad, is it? Over at The Propagator’s garden all seems good too, with plenty of sunny flowers to enjoy. I hope, on balance, things are also good in your gardens.

Six On Saturday: Farewell to February

Thanks for the extra day. Thanks for more rain and wind. Thanks Jorge. It’s all a bit much and I’m not even flooded out. I am so sorry for those who are, the photos are terrible and the real thing must be so much worse. I am encouraged by the fact that this is the last day of meteorological winter and spring arrives tomorrow. In theory. Here’s six gardening related things.

One

March is the time to start a few seeds going.  First on my list and  a first for me, is trying to grow some dahlias from seed.  I collected the seed from ‘Orange Cushion’ that was new to the garden last year.  I liked it so I am having a go at growing from seed and if that fails I might have a go at taking some cuttings from the tubers later in the year.  If the tubers have survived.  I left them in the ground and although the weather has been mild the constant rain might have done for them,

Two

 

Lupin seeds collected from last year’s plants. I am starting these and the dahlia seeds off inside the house as the greenhouse has no heat or electricity supply.  Indeed the greenhouse is very leaky at the moment and I feel sure the pools of water on the floor can’t be the best environment for the overwintering plants.

Three

The sun is out so I’m off to the garden for more photos!  Some time later: The fig tree was pruned a few weeks ago but I was so excited by primroses, pulmonaria and such like that I didn’t show it.  Hey, Mr P I also have wood chip! This the large fig tree that shades much of the long border in the summer.  The height was reduced by a third and next year it will get another third taken off.  I’ll lose the fruit this year but it needed to taken in hand.

Four

The mild weather seems to have suited the salvia ‘Amistad’.  I took cuttings as a precaution against the garden plants dying off over winter but so far they have survived outside and are putting on new growth.  I think they will need a cut back to some strong growing points.

Five

The first cowslip is just about in flower.  These grow in the damp border. A small border that is guaranteed to be wetter than the rest of the garden and today there is standing water.  This should be perfect for the Siberian irises that grow there as well.

Six 

Oh dear. It looks like I’ve missed the moment to cut back the grasses.  When did they start sprouting? These are the melica altisssima ‘Alba’ that were planted in the north border last year.

I’m hoping for a dry day tomorrow as I have some free time.  Seeds to be sown, more FBB to be sprinkled around but it may be too soggy to tackle those weeds.  We shall see.  The Propagator will miraculously host this meme, comment on posts and have time to garden I am sure.  He may also throw in a long run.  All hail the Caesar!

Six On Saturday: Last of the winter jobs, moving into spring

A cold week with several foggy mornings ended with some welcome warmth.  The sunshine lifts the human spirit and that of the plants.  The last of the winter cut back needs to be done, excepting the penstemons which I will leave until April.  I did cut the grapevine back last week, just in time.  The tomato seeds did not get sown.  This first sowing is destined for the greenhouse and I must get them done this weekend.  Sowing for plants to be grown outside can be left for a little longer.  While reading the comments on Jim Steven’s SOS for last week I came across his link to a blog by The Laid Back Gardener and found my way to  Goldilocks and the three seedlings which is a great story about sowing tomato seeds.  I recommend it and hope that this year I’ve got my sowing just right.

Here’s my six for the week:

One

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The first sowing of sweet peas have germinated.  ‘Midnight Blue’ with a 56% success rate and ‘April in Paris’ achieving 94%.  There may be a few laggards to come through for ‘Midnight Blue’ but they’ll have to get a move on as this weekend they will go out into the cooler potting shed.

Two

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Mr P who hosts this blog, and does us all a wonderful service, is a great grower of plants from seeds.  His latest success is lupins and I am much put to shame by his efforts.  By coincidence this week I received three small pots of lupins for planting out.  This is my first foray into lupins, previously not one of my favourites but  I was tempted by a twitter post of ‘The Pages’ and decided to order a few.  The colour is carmine red – let’s see what they look like in a few months time.  Of course, they will have to survive slug attacks first.

Three

IMG_3304Speaking of twitter, I have already shared my labours of last weekend there but I am happy to share the success with you all here.  The compost bins were finally built.  The bins are a slot-in build and took hardly anytime at all.  I will have to tidy up the front surface which will require nice words to delightful builder again!  In the meantime I have some compost heap turning to do.

Four

IMG_3325The deciduous shrubs are beginning to leaf up.  I love the fresh green colours.  This is my mystery shrub in the front garden.  It has black berries over the winter but unfortunately I can’t remember the flower type.  I’ll watch it carefully this year and see if I can identify it.

Five

img_3323.jpgThese hyacinths were going to be my forced hyacinths for Christmas but when they were brought into the warm they came with a plague of flies and were banished to the garden.  It’s good to see them in flower now.

 

Six

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This is my long border.  The plants left standing over winter for their seed heads will be cut down now.  I’m going to post a photo each month taken from the same spot to record the wonderful transformation that takes place over the summer months.  It’s all very gloomy today as this was another foggy morning but there is much potential!

If you’d like to join the SOS band of gardeners that go immediately to the participant guide on Mr P’s site.  SOS is a mix of the pottering gardener like myself, the adventurous like Mr Propagator and many more lovely people all willing to share their experience and knowledge.  Take the plunge!