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.

Six On Saturday: Free gifts

Finally it is happening. The garden is creeping into colour. The weather has had an interesting effect. Some tall plants are not as tall as they might be, others are racing away. Some plants grown from seed are sulking in the cold and yet seedlings in the garden are popping up everywhere. I remember receiving a gentle warning via Twitter that astrantia major would run riot and this year it has. Seedlings in every corner. Yet parsnip seedlings that I swear I saw two weeks ago have disappeared. Eaten by slugs I wonder? Geranium phaeum has done very well this year and I will have plenty to relocate to other corners. But on to the free gifts and colourful arrivals.

One

Warmed by a few days sunshine, the roses are beginning to unfold. This is r. ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ and was planted out in the winter of 2018. It is full of bud and I can’t wait to see it in its full glory in the coming weeks.

Two

Several weeks after many SOSers were showing the geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ mine have finally flowered. I acknowledge they are in cooler part of the garden, which unusually still has a few tulips just about in flower.

Three

Free gifts is the theme for today and this aquilegia ‘Lemon Sorbet’ came from a free packet of seeds. Being a double it’s not pollinator friendly but there are plenty of self seeded single aquilegias in the garden.

Four

A few weeks back I was asking the twitter community what my coarse geranium look-alike plant might be. It arrived from nowhere and quickly took hold. A wild geranium was the speedy reply. I left in it place and have been rewarded by a wonderful spread of flowers. One day it will be moved to a wilder part of the garden.

Five

Definitely pretty in pink is this bloody cranesbill, geranium sanguineum var. striatum. A low growing perennial for the front of the border with delicate darker veining.

Six

This is the area set aside for a cutting patch. I have planted out dahlia cacti mix and have some china asters – free gift seed packet – to go in this weekend. I have direct sown calendula ‘Indian Prince’ and malope trifida ‘Vulcan’, also a free seed packet. Unfortunately the seedlings hell bent on growing are those from a packet of radish seeds that I knocked over and the thousands of seedlings that didn’t get killed in the less than hot compost heap. I spread a good thick layer of said compost over this bed for the winter and this week the seeds have surged into growth. I doubt they will be anything to be welcomed.

I have a few trays of seedlings doing the in/out routine this week but the root develop has been quite slow. Hopefully this spell of warm weather will move things along. The sad looking tomatoes in the greenhouse have picked up and those set aside for the outside will go in this weekend. The kitchen grown cucumber is in the greenhouse, the courgettes might go out this week depending on root growth, the chilli peppers have finally moved from the kitchen to the greenhouse and the bell peppers are in a grow bag. Enjoy the long weekend in the UK and much kudos to The Propagator, host of SOS. He completed his 100K run last weekend, a fund raiser for Macmillan Cancer and now intends to garden all weekend! Happy gardening to everyone.

Six On Saturday: Mid January

I have three definites for today. I am hoping that by the end I will have been inspired and will have discovered three more. I know this is not how the professionals go about it. Planning for weeks ahead, caption writers fully briefed, photos crisply in focus and revealing bountiful seasonal colour, and by professional I am referring to my fellow SOSers as hosted by The Propagator. I can only admire and aspire. Here are my offerings.

One

The so called warm weather forecast for last week came heavily laden with rain and those days that were dry were cold. But I did have urgent pruning to be done and so I climbed the ladder and pruned the vine. I peered enviously into my neighbours garden, full of greenery from their fabulous selection of shrubs. There was a feeble resolution to plant more shrubs on this side but in reality I prefer the big bang of summer perennials. Back to the vine. It was a joy to prune as I had the right equipment – more later – but there is still plenty of dead wood in there. Another year has passed without the grapes amounting to anything edible but the summers stems provide a shady corner.

Two

How wonderful it was to receive a smart new pair of secateurs for Christmas. I’ve struggled on with several old pairs for some time, never managing to achieve a truly sharp edge despite many attempts with the whetstone. With these I was able to slice through the vines with absolute ease and probably cut them back more rigorously then I would have done with the old faithfuls.

Three

Whilst I was up the ladder a flash of reddish brown caught my eye not more than two metres away. It was a fox jumping the fence. I had noticed the same fox earlier in the morning roaming around the garden paths. I cleared up the cut branches and returned inside to warm up. At this point the shouting started, a vixen in the middle of lawn calling for a mate. The original fox turned up pretty sharpish and for I was treated to a full on display of foxiness. In the middle of the day, so much for foxes being nocturnal animals.

Four

Ah, I have remembered one more thing. Just before the latest of the lockdowns I met up with a friend who returned an earlier favour, I had shared some hollyhock plants and when they grew on in her garden they flowered in a wonderful shade of burgundy. I was bemused as I had collected the original seeds from plants that I thought were burgundy but mine had flowered as pale pinks and yellows. Somewhere in the seeds I had collected were the burgundy ones and now I have them back again. I’m hoping they come true.

Five

Ooh, getting difficult now. We had our first snowfall of the year overnight and I was planning on finishing up with some snowy scenes but rain followed and the snow has now been washed away. The snowdrops are just beginning to appear but are not quite worthy of a photo but here’s a rain soaked crocus!

Six

Finally, please accept this as proof that I am getting round all the roses. I still have many more to do. I was encouraged by the latest Dig Delve newsletter to be more ruthless with the pruning, and aided and abetted by the new secateurs I went to town, so of course the pruning took a little longer. I had actually set out to cut down the autumn fruiting raspberry canes but I had to pass the roses on the way. This distraction meant that only one section of raspberries were cut back and only two blackcurrant bushes lifted. At least I have some gardening jobs to get me through the second half of January.

Six On Saturday: Last jobs to be done

It’s still quite mild but the days are shortening and colder weather is forecast. I have risked leaving the lemon tree out but this is the weekend it will go into the greenhouse. The scented leaf pelargoniums went inside during the week and the evergreen agapanthuses in pots have been wrapped up in fleece. There are too many of these to move into the greenhouse so they brave the winter outside. The garden is mulched, the old shed has gone and the new shed is on schedule to arrive next week. That leaves the leaves! And the last tidying up in the borders. Oh, and a few dozen tulips still to be planted. So nearly there, but not quite. The garden looks as though it is going quiet but underneath the soggy earth the spring bulbs are waking up. Hurrah! Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

Testament to the mild weather perhaps, is this flower on one of the anemones I grew from root cuttings. I took the cuttings last autumn and managed to get them through the winter. I moved them to 9 cm pots in the summer and perhaps around the end of August planted them out in the garden. It’s a small flower on a small plant but it’s all my own work so much treasured.

Two

The figs have been falling from the tree. Some were ripe enough to make jam with but most are not. This was the result of one morning’s work and the windy weather of this morning has brought down a few more.

Three

Lockdown life is pretty dull which is my excuse for buying these purple cyclamen. Madness, I usually only entertain the white ones. But here they are, looking more pink than purple but they are purple!

Four

As mentioned the pellies are in the greenhouse, even as they continue to flower. They will need to be cut back for their overwintering, a job for next week.

Five

The leaf cage is getting full and the neighbours on both sides are contributing. It’s quite a social event!

Six

Roses are still giving little pops of colour, a cheery sight through the gloom of a drizzly afternoon.

This season is turning, there will be less gardening and more eating of hot buttered crumpets. But SOS carries on. Mr P will inspire us all with his ingenious finds to make it into each week’s six. I urge you to take a look.

Six On Saturday: November shines its way in

November is my favourite winter month and so far it is looking good. The first light frosts arrived this week followed by blue skies. The perfect weather for shovelling the large amounts of mulch I have sitting in dumpy bags. Progress is slow but it’s a wonderful outdoor work out. I am not a tidy gardener but I am always very happy with the sharpness of the border after a mulch has gone down. So all is well in the garden at least. Here’s six things that caught my eye this week.

One

Last week’s halloween fungus was identified as Coral fungus, probably ramaria stricta. This week I have another mystery to be solved. The front garden once again supplies the object requiring an id. Sorry, no prizes!

Two

I have been busy cutting back soggy leaves, in this border it was the siberian irises getting the chop and nearly losing a leg was this little fellah. I usually have a robin as company in the garden but this year the amphibians have been muscling in. I am hopeless at telling the difference between frogs and toads but previous creatures have been identified as toads so I’m going toad for this one.

Three

November is the season for bare root roses and there are always some discounts available which is very tempting. I still have one or two roses putting out small flowers. This one is ‘Jaqueline du Pre’.

Four

And this one is ‘Natasha Richardson’. This one is very floriferous through the year. If I am tempted to try to fit in one more rose it might be ‘Munster Wood’. But at the moment I’m just looking….

Five

A few weeks back I showed the leaves on the persimmon tree as they turned colour. The leaves have all fallen now, leaving the fruit to take centre stage. It’s a good crop this year, destined for the birds as I am not a great fan of the fruit.

Six

I have one fuchsia in the garden, an inherited one so I have no idea of the variety and I am sad to say that it looks like it has fuchsia gall mite. The ends of the shoots are distorted. Here’s the flower rather than the damage. Cutting back the affected growth seems to be the main option. A job for the weekend.

The week ahead promises mild weather here, I’ll be mulching and collecting leaves. The old shed will be taken down and I hope the new one is still on schedule for delivery end of the month. Meanwhile I’ll keep in touch with other SOS gardeners through the links on Mr Ps site. This is the time of year when sunny photos from Australia cheer us up.

Six On Saturday: Looking good on the surface but work to be done

I like to think that by June I’m on top of the garden. That I’ll just potter around dead heading and pulling a few weeds but essentially I will be sitting back and enjoying the balmy days and sweet perfumes. Not last week. The temperature dropped, the winds blew and there was some entirely unsubstantial wet stuff that pretended to be light showers. This all amounted to enough to keep me inside but enough to turbo charge Continue reading