Six on Saturday: Some things done but much still to do

There was not much opportunity for gardening this week, I had free time on Tuesday but the rain fell all day. I managed to plant out the actaeas late on Friday which gave a small sense of achievement. But I am frustrated in my early bulb planting as the long arm of Brexit has entangled itself in my order and I will have to be patient. Even as the garden falls away towards winter there is much to be done. Including finding six things from the garden each week. Here they are.

One

The rain brought down more of the persimmons and I doubt there will be many left to ripen but fortunately we had picked most of the apples over last weekend and they were taken off to the apple pressing farm on Monday. On Friday we collected the result which was 31 bottles. Slightly less than last year, possible due to us not picking from the Braeburn which looked as though it needed another month or so for the apples to get to a good size. We will taste the result today.

Two

Although I didn’t get the chance to garden much this week I did have the muscle in to deal with two variegated box shrubs that had lost the battle against box moth caterpillar. I can’t say I will miss them and I now have two planting spaces to fill. I am thinking hibiscus or perhaps an amelanchier. Suggestions welcome – something with white flowers would be ideal.

Three

Some plants are dogged survivors and although I dug out this aster last year I must have left a piece behind and it has duly fought its way through the echinacea to flower again. It looks quite good!

Four

This is an unknown hesperantha has made its usual re-appearance and reminded me how solidly reliable these are. I determined to invest in some more and have my eye on a pink variety called ‘Sunrise’.

Five

I really don’t grow dahlias in any great quantity but every now and then one makes an appearance in a SOS. This one grows in a pot and has done so for about four years. It’s ‘Blanca y Verde’ and is one of the few I have decided I like.

Six

Darcey Bussell rose has suffered very badly with blackspot this year and I worry for next year. But it has been in the garden for about four years so I’m hoping it is well enough established to cope with the attack. The flowers keep coming.

Jobs for weekend in this garden will be cutting back the agapanthus stems and calling time on the courgettes and cucumbers. The tomatoes have finally succumbed to blight so were culled last night. The empty spaces on the veg patch will give me a place for overwintering plants that are being dug up in the border rearrangement. I’ve decided that my grass border project will have to wait until next year as I fear I was being over optimistic about the amount of sunshine the chosen space received. I’m fine tuning my choices to ensure they are better suited to a shadier site. I doubt there will enough hours in the weekend for all I hope to get through and Sunday looks like being wet. My top priority is to sprinkle some bonemeal around the fruit trees and bushes so that it is watered in by Sunday’s showers. I hope you all have productive weekends whatever your tasks are. The Propagator shares his short but seminal thoughts as usual via his site and hosts all the links. Good on you!

Six On Saturday: September sunshine on its way

There’s a week of good weather forecast which will lift everyone’s spirits. It’s a positive start to Autumn and I’m happy to say goodbye to that wet, grey thing that was optimistically called Summer. I’m adjusting to a new season and starting to forward plan. I’ve found a new (to me) variety of onion (Centurion) and an early potato (Cherie) to try out, I have good intentions to invest in some solid plant supports and for adding one or two more upright perennials to the border. Bulbs have been ordered and seed catalogues will be picked over. Even though Summer has wound down, there are one or two treasures in the garden to enjoy. Here are my choices for this week.

One

I had plans to plant a ‘Hawkshead’ fuchsia down at the far end of the garden and put in an order for one early this year. The nursery told me that they had had a poor start to the season and their plants in the polytunnels were a write off. They offered me a free twig of the fuchsia in with the rest of my order and I accepted. Six months on from its arrival it has been repotted twice and is flowering quite beautifully. I only hope that I can get it through the winter and then through another year or two before it becomes a properly grown up shrub!

Two

This is echinacea ‘White Swan’, a favourite of mine. I also have a couple of plants grown from seed that I hope will catch up with these purchased plants soon. I’ve sown a few more seeds this year, but just as I liberally covered them with vermiculite I re-read the sowing instructions – ‘Do not cover, needs light to germinate’. Have you every tried looking for seeds in vermiculite? Not recommended!

Three

I planted out some salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’ last year to fill up a space at the base of a climbing rose. So far these beautiful salvias haven’t quite climbed high enough to clothe the gap but I do like them. Maybe next year they will get a bit taller.

Four

And speaking of salvias, how about this for a surprise? I lost my main collection of salvia ‘Amistad’ over the winter so the ‘Darcy Bussell’ roses have been without their usual companions. This one is from a cutting I took two years ago and which also didn’t look like it was going to come to anything this year. It has suddenly shot up and produced flowers. I’ll try to get a couple of cuttings again for insurance.

Five

Not a treasure to enjoy but something that must be dealt with. There is always a problem corner in the garden and this is my current one. The rodgersias at the back failed to flower this year, most of the zinnias planted here fell prey to the slugs and although the fleabane looks happy it is camouflaging one of my most hated weeds – the cinquefoil. It sends out runners at an amazing speed and now has a strong grip on this corner. I pull it out as best I can but the plan is to dig out everything and try to take out every last scrap of cinquefoil too. I’ll do my best.

Six

The roses keep going and this deep magenta one is lovely and has a great scent. It’s ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’, a repeat flowering Old Rose. It doesn’t put out flowers all summer but after its first flush it starts again around now. It has the potential to be a mighty shrub in a couple more years, which will hopefully mean more flowers and more scent.

The Propagator hosts this meme and has kindly produced a participant guide in attempt to keep us all in good order, Take a look at the rules, then take part, the rules can be bent gently if you need to. Posts come in from all around the world so there is always a steady supply of garden colour.

Six on Saturday: The year is moving on

The apples are filling out and the hollyhocks are going to seed. There is definitely a feel of autumn in the air. I lifted the last of the potatoes this week and finally accepted that the onions are not going to get any bigger. They are pretty small in spite of the rain that we have had. But then it doesn’t feel like there has been enough sunshine. I am just keeping up with eating the courgettes but the cucumbers are out running me. The first pickings of the outside tomatoes have come through this week just as I bought some seed for next year. I also bought green manure seed which has been sown in the bare ground left by the potatoes. And so it all begins again. Meanwhile there are a few more months of flowers to enjoy. Here’s this week’s six.

One

It has been day lily time for a few weeks and every week I aimed to show my favourite white one ‘Gentle Shepherd’ but the rain turned each transient flower to a soggy mess. These ones, ‘Golden Chimes ‘ seem more resilient and do manage to put on a show despite their more shady location.

Two

I don’t usually see a second flowering from the weigela but this year’s weather seems to have suited it and I’m not going to object.

Three

This is very much a tale of two pots. Last year’s bulbs of gladiolus murielae were left in their pots and overwintered in the greenhouse. Wow, I thought, what a lovely show I will get from all these green leaves and what a shame that the other pot hasn’t done so well. But the reverse is true, not one flower stem is hidden amongst those leaves while the other pot has at least managed to flower.

Four

Something started for next year’s flowering. These are eurybia divaricata, or wood aster, sown from seed supplied by The Propagator himself. I have planted about half a dozen out in the garden already and I am planning to donate these to a local Horticultural Society Plant Sale. Always a satisfying part of gardening when you can pass on the good turn. Thanks Prop.

Five

The roses work so hard in this garden and although some have really suffered from black spot this year, ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is holding strong.

Six

I am also enjoying the second, very generous, flush of ‘Blush Noisette’ growing along the wall. The gloomier days mean that the pink tinge stays a little longer. In bright sunshine they fade all too quickly to white. Every cloud has a silver lining!

My gardening jobs for this weekend will be to cut down the hollyhocks before they self seed too vigorously. And I’m planning out a new planting area for the very back border. It’s a difficult spot I think. Not enough sun to support my dream of an asparagus bed but, tantalising, it does seem to get a good amount of late afternoon sun. I want to grow tall grasses to hide the end of garden fence and so, throwing caution to the wind, that is what I am going to do. More to come on this one. More from other SOS gardens can be found at The Propagator’s site. Enjoy.

Six on Saturday: catching up, looking forward and enjoying the present

I had some time to do a catch up in the garden and rather later than usual I have cut back the last of the delphiniums. I was showered with seeds as the stems were cut back. I doubt they’ll come to anything but it would be fun if they did! Having completed the cut back I can see that there are way too many astrantias, which do self seed very well. There has been some pulling up but there is more to be done. The garden has a scruffy feel at this time of the year but the roses are coming through again which helps hold things together. Here’s this week’s six.

One

The cutting patch is just beginning to deliver the goods. I planted half with seed tray sown plants and half was direct sown in May. The May sown seeds unfortunately had to compete with the verbena bonariensis seeds that came through in the home made compost. The verbena won hands down and so that half was dug over and given to some lettuce plants and some very late sown cosmos. These are the China Asters which I really do like. Now I just have to cut them, which of course I won’t as they look so much better here.

Two

The other side of the asters is a patch of dahlias grown from seed. This was ‘cactus mix’ and there does seem to be a good variety of shapes and colours. The bees like this yellow one.

Three

I have several large pots of deciduous agapanthus, the ones that need to be fleeced over winter. They flower on much longer stems and look fabulous at this time of year. I have a record nine stems in one pot this year and I try to remember to feed them once a week with a seaweed feed.

Four

All the apple trees were summer pruned for the first time this year. About three years ago I took the decision to bring in a specialist to prune the trees back to a good shape and I planned to take over again once that had been achieved. How weak am I? He makes such a brilliant job of it that I have decided to use him every year. And this year he did the plum tree as well.

Five

I could fill the late summer borders with this rudbeckia, it spreads that quickly. But I reign it in every other year. It does cheer the eye on a cloudy day though. It’s ‘Goldsturm’. This I would cut for the house as it is so floriferous.

Six

Yes, the roses are back so I am featuring Jaqueline du Pre again. So very pretty.

I have many plans to move plants around this autumn and will have to add some things in to take the place of some of the astrantias. I’ve made a start by, late again, dividing some bearded irises and there has been much reviewing of the wish list and checking of prices on the internet. I’m really trying to resist the sprawlers and go for more vertical height. Much more research to be done.

If you are also seeking inspiration then there’s nothing better than reading a few of the #SixOnSaturday posts. The links are hosted by The Propagator, who has got a very fab gladioli this week. Enjoy the weekend.

Six on Saturday: Harvest thoughts

Is it too early to call time on the veg plot for this year? I dug some more potatoes and the result was not wonderful. This year’s rotation finds the potatoes in the space under one the apple trees and there is a bit of a rain shadow there. I would have thought that the torrential rain we have had would have found a way through. Damn, I wasn’t going to mention the weather this week. The onions are just about still growing and don’t look too bad. Shallots harvested, French beans are coming through so slowly and the courgettes are being well behaved, always ready to deliver a good sized courgette when needed. The best deliverers this year are the cucumbers and the sweet peppers. Tomatoes might just come good if the ripening continues. Since the cucumbers have done so well they get to be first in this week’s six.

One

I grew ‘Burpless Tasty Green’ this year. A variety I have grown before and previously they have produced long cucumbers. This year I have had a steady supply of short cucumbers. I don’t mind that, in fact it suits me better but why, I ask myself? I have one plant in the greenhouse and one plant outside. If I leave them a little longer before picking they grow fatter but not longer. Curious, but not a problem.

Two

My last hurrah with dahlias. I lifted two dahlia clumps last year and overwintered them wrapped in newspapers. I don’t usually lift dahlias but I wanted the space for tulips. I didn’t have a space for the dahlias when the time came to replant so, as is the way here, they went to veg plot end of the garden, underneath another apple tree. Amazingly this seems to be the space for them, untouched by slugs they are flowering quite happily. Now I have a quandary. To leave them, to lift them again, to throw them out?

Three

The erigeron karvinskianus that suffered so badly over last winter has bounced back and nature has decreed that it should be more forward growing than before and nature is absolutely right, giving me the opportunity to fill the middle ground with new plants.

Four

I have to show the flower of ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ rose growing on the new arch. I took a cutting from the one growing over the back fence and a year later planted it at the base of the new arch. I am, of course, completely mad to be growing such a vigorous rose over an arch but I am going to be ruthless with the pruning. Fingers crossed.

Five

This veronicastrum ‘alba’ was subject to some moving in spring. Half the group went off to a sunnier spot and this group was moved a little closer to the front of the border. This group have done the best, remaining upright in all the wind and rain. Still not the impact I was looking for but I’ll leave them and see if they get settled in.

Six

Lastly, hosta ‘Francee’, growing in a pot and for the moment moved from its usual place by the back fence. There are plans for the back fence area, more of which later. In the meantime ‘Francee’ adds beauty to the scruffy greenhouse entrance.

Thanks go as always to The Propagator who hosts #SixOnSaturday and to everyone who takes part, sharing, commenting and liking. I’m off to inspect the newly developing bog garden if there’s a dry spell!

Six On Saturday: Flowers in the rain

Returning to the garden after a week in Suffolk was not a pretty sight. The roses were brown or balled up, never going to open and the slugs had been feasting on the young dahlias and china asters. The ailing anemones looked so bad they were swiftly dug up and disposed of. I suspect some kind of wilt disease, the treatment suggested by one website was solarisation of the soil. If only there was some sun to reach into the shady spot were the anemones grew. It feels like that time when early summer moves into late summer. It’s only the first week of July. Whatever happened to mid summer? I think there’s still time for a few lazy sunny days. In the meantime here’s this weeks six.

One

On a happier note. Last year I bought an achillea ‘Terracotta’ which flowered yellow and was not to my liking. This year it has come true to its name and I like it much more.

Two

The astrantias are in full flow now. These are ‘Roma’ which are self seeding. There will be some ruthless thinning at the end of summer.

Three

The hydrangeas seemed late into flower this year but they have come good in the last week or so and of course are happy with the rain. I resisted cutting them back in March, probably not doing it until late April as the weather was so unpredictable. These are variety unknown, a happy inheritance from the previous owner.

Four

It’s definitely a sign that summer is moving on when the penstemons start to flower. These are ‘Sour Grapes’.

Five

The clematis has been colonised by black fly this year but is flowering well. I have spotted several ladybird larvae on the plants so I hope they have been feasting away. There are hundreds of black fly on offer.

Six

A rose to end with. ‘Scepter’d Isle’. After a serious round of dead heading I was very happy to see that some blooms remained to enjoy a few days sun before the rain arrived again.

It’s a gloomy day here so I will have draw on memories of a week by the sea with two gloriously sunny days, a couple of windswept walks and fish and chips – the perfect British holiday. Now it’s back to some gardening – so much more deadheading of roses to be done. One of the plum trees is for the chop – this week or by the end of the month and, fool that I am, I will sow some more carrots – so far only a paltry few have germinated. Enjoy your gardening this week, drop by The Propagator’s place to see the links to all the other SOS posts, and of course there is some sport to be watched.

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: Sun and rain

Definitely a week of two halves. Glorious sun, soaring temperatures followed by torrential rain and tumbling temperatures. The magic water was much needed though and I managed to give the apples trees a dressing of bonemeal which is now well watered in. The zinnias are all planted and the last of the tomatoes are out. My bête-noire, the fox, snapped a beautiful cucumber plant but luckily I had a spare. Here’s this week’s six, mostly taken when the sun was shining.

One

The garden was filled with the scent of roses on those sunny days. Here is Darcy Bussell. I usually have a row of salvia ‘Amistad’ running behind these which looks glorious late in the year. The salvias have not survived the winter so I set about a re-think. I was dissuaded from my first choice of verbascums after a conversation with The Quilting Gardener – who warned of mullein moth caterpillar attack and of course slugs. I’ve decided to leave the space free this year and give the roses room to roam.

Two

The euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii seed heads were popping on Monday so it was time to pull on the protective clothing and cut back the flowering stems. Here the sisyrinchium striatum works well against the background of the euphorbia. There’s a cheeky photo-bomb from geranium ‘Brookside’.

Three

The delphiniums are towering high this year, and only just about surviving the heavy rainfall. I collected seeds from these dark purple ones last year and now have new plants that will add more colour to the garden for next year.

Four

This tiny plant lives at the front of a banked up part of the garden so even though is small it is high enough to be enjoyed. It’s ‘Ballerina’, a dwarf geranium with beautiful veining.

Five

A combination of self-seeded knautia ‘Macedonica’ against a wall of climbing ‘Blush Noisette’ roses. A happy chance.

Six

Oh dear me. Not everything is glowing. The cutting patch which was topped up with home compost has just revealed what was in hiding: thousands of baby verbena bonariensis seedlings. I do not need more of these so they will be ruthlessly culled. I will use some more of the dahlias and asters grown from seed to fill the space.

Don’t forget to visit The Propagator’s site for all the SOS posts. More rain forecast here for the beginning of the week but then perhaps we will be into a settled patch again. I will just enjoy the thought that all that water must be good for the potatoes!

Six On Saturday: Spoilt for choice

The garden is in its stride. Roses unfurling in every corner and perennials jostling each other to claim their spaces. Aphids and ladybirds are fighting it out, the bees thrum busily in the borders and birdsong fills the air. It must be summer. Here is six from this week’s garden.

One

The foreground is taken up by persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’. It spreads, so far quite reasonably but it’s one to watch. Behind is Rosa ‘Jaqueline du Pré and behind that the thalictrum ‘Black Stocking’ from last week, all combining to fill a shadier area.

Two

On a sunnier fence the rambling rose ‘Wedding Day’ is opening up. The first buds are yellow turning briefly to apricot before settling into white. Only flowering once, it’s important to enjoy every moment.

Three

The final rose for this week is ‘Wisley’, chosen because it tolerates some shade. Here it is probably in the shade for about the half the day. It does well, the colour stays true and does not fade away as it might in areas of stronger sunshine.

Four

On to more prosaic elements of the garden. The potatoes in a container are romping away in terms of foliage. I hope this translates to a good crop. They look better than those in the ground, they are certainly receiving more watering.

Five

Aah, sad times now. Earlier in the year I thought the Japanese anemones had caught the frost. But now I think it may be more serious. Some searching suggests crown rot. The leaves are crinkling up at the edges and new shoots are wilting away. I have cut out all the damaged foliage but it seems to be spreading through the plant. Looks like I will have to say goodbye to this one and sadly to the one next to it. Any advice gratefully received.

Six

Apples are forming and falling as the June drop takes effect. All the apples from the garden are made into apple juice. This year our supply of juice has already run out and we are buying from the supermarket. Even though we are choosing English apple juice the taste is nowhere near as good. Roll on harvest time when we can go back to raising a glass of the home grown again.

We are heading for a heatwave on Sunday and Monday. The weekend will involve watering, especially the greenhouse tomatoes. The coriander looks ready to bolt, but mint and basil look sturdy. I still have annuals to plant out, but it feels like the garden is moving into a stable period when deadheading and watering are the most important jobs. But most important of all is taking some time to sit and enjoy it all. Keep cool and enjoy your weekend and perhaps take a moment to chat with other SOSers on The Propagator’s site.😎

Six On Saturday: Zoom, zoom, zoom

Five days of sunshine and a day of continuous rain does wonders for the garden. We are now in overdrive. Geraniums, astrantias, hollyhocks and roses are all jostling for space. There is a distinctly lush feel to the borders and the bees are humming. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

The Siberian irises are in their stride now, they are so comfortable in the wet border that I need to divide them every few years. I am going to try them out in some other locations when the time comes for next division.

Two

The alliums ‘Mount Everest’ that were battered by strong winds a few weeks ago are open now and the bees are feasting daily. I am going to forgive the occasional disappearance of newly planted bulbs and will add a few more in for next year.

Three

Thalictrum ‘Black Stocking’ is eternally rewarding, copes well with half sun/half shade and is thoroughly recommended.

Four

A new rose for this year. ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ has turned out to be just the red I wanted to climb over this arch. I may have found a new favourite rose.

Five

Cistus × purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’ bought as an established plant in 2017 has put on a huge amount of growth this year and is taking over this corner of a small border. I was clearly too soft on it during last year’s prune. Note to self: be tough this year.

Six

Rosa ‘Natasha Richardson’ fights back against the cistus. A regular flowerer all summer so everything necessary will be done to give this rose its full entitlement to a good space.

It has been a good start to June, but I am, of course, a little behind with the garden. Last week’s long weekend was happily spent with family so this weekend is catch up time. Pellies to pot up in their summer containers, zinnias to sort out and the last of the tomatoes to send on to good homes or squeeze into a space in the allotment. Courgettes and cucumbers are in the ground, French beans are climbing but carrots have gone awol, a second sowing has been made but that’s it. If it’s a no show then something else can have the space.

I hope to have more time for SOS reading this week. The Propagator has an ever growing bunch of gardening friends who join this weekly gathering and it’s a shame to miss out on their exploits.