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: 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: Apples, plums, flowers and bees

It’s been harvest time this week. So without further ado I give you this week’s six.

One

All the apples from all the trees are picked in one go and are taken to an juicing farm.  This year’s crop seemed to be less than last year and when the juice was collected is was proved to be so.  Thirty five bottles against fifty one last year.  There has been some significant pruning undertaken for one of the trees to get it back into shape and this was where we noticed less apples.  Perhaps next year it will be back to bearing a higher crop.

Two

As we had the apple picker out we decided to go for the plum tree too.  All the plums were gathered in and the fruit was halved and stoned before freezing.  I have never had much success with plum jam so the plan is make endless plum and frangipane tarts.

Three

Cutting back the perennials promptly does pay dividends, the delphiniums have rewarded me with a second flowering.

Four

Helenium ‘Short and Sassy’ is a good height for the front of the border and flowers well.  I have dead heading to catch up with which will keep it going.

Five

The rain and occasional sun seem to be powering the garden on.  Last week’s flattened cosmos were hauled up right and staked to within an inch of their lives.  This revealed them to be nearly five feet high.  Impressive going when I think back to those tiny seedlings that appeared in spring.

Six

Finally the bee, on a separate planting of cosmos.  The bees seem to be on a resurgence in the garden.  They float from these cosmos plants across the path to the agastache in great numbers.  Always fascinating to watch.

But I have much to do.  The hollyhocks are ready to be cut down and the roses need another round of deadheading.  I also have plans to move plants and the bulbs have started to arrive.  The ideas for next year are gently bubbling away.

Mr P sets a good example as always, managing to file a SOS post whilst on holiday.  He has spotted nerines which sadly reminds me of the bagful of bulbs that I bought last year which I fear will come to nothing.  I have a few leaves poking up from some I put in a container but those in the ground seem to have failed. Hey ho!

Six On Saturday: Exuberance begins

Ping! Pow! Pop! That is what the garden has done this week. Sunshine and showers (and a small amount of hail) have turbo-charged the growth of the perennials. All is looking good for the summer time splash. The rainy days were a welcome change from April’s drought and gave me time to plan a tulip buying extravaganza to rival that of the seventeenth century. Forgive me, I am getting over-excited. Here’s my six.

One

Geranium phaeum.  One of my favourites for this time of year.  It reminded me of the move to this house four years ago.  The borders were empty and I brought with me a small selection of self seeders and spreaders to give me some bare bones to build on.  The velvety phaeum was one and it has done its job, I divided them last year and have a decent sized number now.  A reliable doer.

 

Two

I couldn’t bring it with me, but I always enjoyed the weigela that came with the old garden.  I didn’t know the variety but I thought weigela ‘Florida Variegata’ looked a good match and it is.  

Three

The plum trees have been pruned, one by myself and one by the expert.  Here they are.  Ailing plum is doing okay at the moment, the second one looks much better for the prune.  The photo is taken from the other side to give a better view of the open structure of the middle.  I can confidently say the blackbirds can swoop through the middle any time they want.

Four 

The Prop’s tiarella from last week prompted me to search out mine.  They are in a dark corner on the way to compost heap, squeezed in between the gooseberries and the blackcurrants.  What a delight, they shone through the gloom.  This is ‘Emerald Gaiety’.

Five

When I say the borders here were empty when we arrived I should say there was plenty of weed clearing to be done.  Amongst the weeds was a self sown aquilegia vulgaris, the common columbine.  I left it there and over three years it has settled itself into a very happy clump about a metre high.  It’s now too dominant for my liking and  distracts the eye from the nearby irises.  It’s time to find it a new home. 

Six

The last of the tulips have opened.  These grow in a corner that heads towards the shady cold north border so they are always the last to show up.  There should be a good show of ‘Angelique’ combined with ‘Spring Green’ and ‘China Town’.  But the combination is thinning out and needs revitalising.  Hence the great tulip search.  For this year there are just enough coming through to make a good display.  

Like Mr P I shall be potting on some seedlings this weekend.  Also on the to-do list is planting out the dwarf french beans, some more lettuce and rocket and the February sown sweet peas.  I shall continue to urge the three remaining lupins on to their next stage and take a look at the no-show Californian poppy seed tray, again.  Happy gardening to you all, I hope you get some time to catch up with the links on Mr P’s site.  It’s going to be a busy weekend.  

 

Six on Saturday: The first tulip is out and it is ‘World Friendship’

Cheerfully bright and looking very yellow in the sunshine, my first tulip of the year has arrived.  It is the aptly named ‘World Friendship’. A virtual high five to that! I’ve spent the week being very virtual – virtual meetings,  virtual events, virtual exercise and virtual language classes but I have also spent more time in the garden.   Here are six things that caught my eye.

One

The aforementioned World Friendship.  New to the garden last year and standing strong again this year.  Long may it last

Two

Narcissus ‘Bridal Crown’.  A few years back, when I was new to this garden, I squeezed a few of these into the border.  No real idea why and no particular plan.  They deserve to have had more consideration, either more of them or some other plants to work with.  On the ‘to do’ list.

Three

The first of the plum blossom is opening out.  This tree was in a bad way three years ago.  Oozing from a large split in the trunk.  The split is gradually healing and the oozing has stopped but last year the leaves withered, you can just make them out in the background.  I’m giving it one  more season to see if it can pull through.  I’ve lovingly fed it with bonemeal once a quarter and my fingers are crossed.  While it flowers like this there is hope.

Four

The tomato plants have been potted on.  I keep meaning to sow a few more seeds – some cherry tomatoes and some yellow ones.  That’s a job for the weekend then.

Five

During my morning fast walk round the garden I spotted a drop of pink under the rose bush.  Closer inspection revealed the first flower of geranium sanguineum var. striatum.  This seems very early and it is a little darker than usual, but hey, who’s complaining. 

Six

The online gardening community is doing a great job of keeping us all going. Thanks to Mr P for hosting the links to all the SOS posts.  I’d also like to give a thumbs up to twitter gardener @GardeningGent who is organising a Sow a Sunflower event.  I was very pleased to finally locate some seeds so that I can take part.  Sow seeds on April 1st – no joke- and post a weekly photo of progress.  I’ll  be there. 

Here’s hoping your gardening activities are helping you to spread seeds of happiness.  Cold weather forecast but I think it may be time to take the plunge and prune the hydrangeas.