Six On Saturday: Drying times

The tough times continue. No rain and no sign of rain to come. I am watering the french beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. I’ve selected two courgette plants to water and the other three are being let go. The autumn fruiting raspberries look very sad and so I may relent and water them. In the flower garden only new additions are being favoured. There be tales in these parts of underground streams and one corner of the lawn is suspiciously lush, it is of course the corner where the snowberry grows and it too is verdant. In other places a well established choisya is close to death and the very large rhododendron is wilting and yellowing. There are plants that are coping perhaps aided by those secret underground water supplies. Here’s this week’s six.

One

Every year these rudbekia shout out ‘Look at me, look at me.’ ‘Yes.’ I say ‘Yes, but don’t be quite so pushy.’ This year I apologise profusely and say ‘Yes, please take centre stage.’

Two

I’m always happy to have agapanthus in August and these are ‘Midnight Star’. Purchased about three years ago as 9cm pots they are finally bulking up and putting on a show. They seem not quite as dark as I remember them but I’m grateful for anything in flower at the moment

Three

Echinacea ‘White Swan’ is another perennial favourite of mine and it too seems to be coping with the tough conditions which fits with its native prairie land origins. They have been in the garden for about two years and having had time to establish themselves they are toughing it out.

Four

The apples on one half of the duo tree are ripening and windfalls are being collected. This is presenting a small problem as the other apple trees are a little behind and we usually pick everything at the same time and take them off for pressing.

Five

A mix of salvia microphylla, blackcurrant sage, and perovskia ‘Little Spire’ in a sunny corner. The blackcurrant sage really does have a wonderful blackcurrant smell and reportedly can be used to give drinks an added dimension. I chose ‘Little Spire’ in an attempt to avoid the dreaded flop but inevitably the lean towards the sun cannot be denied.

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The tomatoes are cropping nicely now. These are ‘Principe Borghese’, an Italian variety, apparently good for sun drying and with this weather perhaps I should have a go. At the moment they are being eaten as fast as they are picked.

Nature is harsh, the weather is a challenge and this week we have witnessed a fox cub trotting down the garden path with a young squirrel in its mouth, a dead pigeon on the lawn may also be a victim of the fox, but two new cats have also been seen prowling around.

It’s holiday time for many, Mr P has returned to join the ranks of those with dry gardens and continues to host all the links. Happy gardening to those who have had rain, those of us who haven’t will have to look for the positives where we can!

Six On Saturday: From a foggy London town

Yes, after some beautiful frosty starts followed by sunny days this morning came with fog. It’s still lingering as I write so the six is a damp and fuzzy six. Here they are.

One

My itchy, twitchy fingers last week resulted in a purchase, of course. This is cornus alba ‘Sibirica’. I’ve ignored the warning that it is mildly suckering and gone for the crimson red stems. I need to get it in the ground but I have been a fair weather gardener of late and the cold afternoons have not tempted me into the garden.

Two

The snowdrops are just beginning to come through. There are no rare, expensive or exquisite varieties to show here, just the basic galanthus but always a delight to see, even though this one turned out to be a fuzzy photo!

Three

Strange to find the snowdrops flowering in the company of a rudbeckia but that is what is in my garden this weekend!

Four

The Euphorbia mellifera that came as a self seeder from some neighbouring garden is going great guns, and provides some evergreen structure. I was warned that this might outgrow its welcome and it is certainly demonstrating a fondness for its growing spot. We shall see.

Five

The hellebores continue to come through. This one is ‘Pretty Ellen’ white, looking rather subtle in its flower bud form.

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The last spot goes to sarcococca confusa. I have it in a pot at the moment but there may be a space opening up for it in the front garden where I might benefit more from its scent. The berries, flowers and leaves combine beautifully.

Here’s hoping Sunday sees me in the garden, I have a sense that there are a few jobs to be done. Sitting with the plant and seed catalogues will not do. The Prop may be out on another of his runs but still finds time to host this meme, for which many thanks are sent.

Six on Saturday: I finally have that autumn feeling

Autumn jobs have been started. A free Friday meant that I could begin bringing a few things inside and a start was made on reigning in the wild brambles that we have lived with for five years. The increase in leaf fall from the trees pushed me to empty out last year’s leaf mould into old compost bags. These will be emptied out onto the soft fruit borders once the autumn fruiting raspberries are cut back. The weather has been so mild that the hydrangeas are still putting out flowering stems but as the last month of autumn approaches surely the temperatures will drop. Here’s six from the garden this week.

One

The fig and the persimmon leaves are changing colour. The persimmon crop will ripen in December and is a winter donation to the birds. The figs often deliver a few fruit in November as a bonus crop but this year they look rather small and will probably not be worth harvesting. The fruit does still need to be picked, leaving on the tree only the smaller pea sized fruits for next year. This is one of my least favourite autumn jobs, so many fruit and some that are completely out of reach.

Two

Along with the odd rogue hydrangea flower there are one or two clematis flowers remaining but mostly it is the silky seed heads that add decoration to the trellis.

Three

The seed heads of the rudbeckia always look dramatic at this time of the year and will be left standing through winter.

Four

The last of the apples were picked a week ago. They are Braeburns and have given us crisp and juicy eaters. There were several small apples, a result of my less than ruthless thinning I’m sure, and generously I made up some apple feeders for the birds. They have been utterly spurned. Not pecked, not rumbled by the squirrels, left untouched. I suspect my neighbours of having higher quality bird food available.

Five

I have been cutting back the scented leaf pellies before bringing them into the greenhouse. This one was grown on from cuttings I took when they came out for the summer. It’s still flowering and so I keep pushing my luck and have left it out for this weekend. But next week the deed will be done and all the pellies will be inside again for the winter.

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I planted autumn crocuses last year, in amongst the hellebores. I can’t say that I have swathes of them but the one or two that have emerged look quite good. They are so fragile though and recent winds and rain have not served them well.

I have finally planted out the narcissus ‘Actaea’. Leaving only the tulips to do. It is uncanny how every spot I identified as needing a few bulbs turned out to be home to snowdrops. I can reveal that snowdrops have already begun their journey to the surface. I hope my disturbance of them won’t have caused too much of a shock to the system. Snowdrops and hellebores are my next seasonal marker. The Propagator is also planting bulbs and featuring a lovely Japanese anemone this week. Stop by, take a look and follow the links to the other SOS posts.

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.

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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: A happy garden

Contrary to the forlorn look of the garden this morning I am sure it is much happier. Some plants are weighed down by the rain that finally arrived. Verbena, cosmos and guara drop their heads but deep down their roots are sucking up some much needed moisture. Yes the rain came. Overnight thunderstorms on Thursday and then on and off showers since. My six for the week were snapped before the rain.

One

My favourite combination in the garden at the moment.  Echinacea ‘White Swan’ and pennisetum villosum.  The beautiful fluffy heads of the pennisetum are one of today’s droopers but I’m sure they’ll pick up.

Two

Day lilies.  These are in half sun, half shade so I may get another week of display from them.  They are ‘Golden Chimes’.  Planted in 2017 and I divided them last year, spreading their cheerfulness around the garden.

Three

I have a running-riot clump of Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ in the garden which was also divided last year.  I planted a few small pieces in some semi-shade hoping the growth would be slower.  They have taken to the new spot with as much enthusiasm as the original planting.  I can see I will have to be ruthless.

Four

One of my inherited plants is a group of white phlox.  I’d left my well established clumps behind when we moved house so I was very happy to see these come through in the first summer here.  These are in the shade of an apple tree and are one of the plants that I have faithfully watered, at the first sign of wilting, in the dry spell.

Five

These are my everyday agapanthus.  For unknown reasons this clump has flowered very well this year while about 4 feet away there languishes a clump of agapanthus foliage with not a sniff of a flower.  That clump will be dug up and divided, fed and given one more chance.

Six

There is one thing in the garden that does seem to have enjoyed the high temperatures.  The figs have ripened and the first to be picked were greedily eaten.  I just stopped  myself in time and took a photo of this one.  The best are high in the tree and as usual the birds get to those first.

The cooler temperatures will persuade me out into the garden again.  Even the early morning deadheading proved too onerous in the heat.  Now rain battered rose petals decorate the garden so there is extra snipping to be done.  Enjoy your gardening time  and for a break, stop by at The Prop’s place to see what goes on in the SOS world.

Six On Saturday: A supermarket rescue and other joys

August is the month for destruction at the supermarket flower section. Rows of sad, wilting plants reduced in price, past their best but holding out the glimmer of hope for a rescue. For a pound I was tempted and brought one home. It was submerged in water and left in a shady place to rehydrate. Thankfully it did and here it is.

One

Leucanthemum ‘Broadway Lights’. I would have taken more but the others really did look past all hope.

Two

August brings the arrival of the late summer flowers.  This year this includes some late sown plants, the first of which is this cleome.  I have about a dozen of these dotted round in the gaps that also seem to appear at this time of year.  Some I pinched out to achieve a bushier plant with more flower heads, this one was left to grow straight up.

Three

My zinnias, that have been promising to deliver for weeks, have finally made it into flower.  More much appreciated magenta pink, although it looks more red here.

Four

This year I dug up several bits of the rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ to give to friends and to plant elsewhere in the garden.  The main plant has responded with even more vigour and makes a striking focal point for the late summer border.

Five

I have been waiting for sometime for the supposedly thuggish anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ to live up to its reputation and spread itself widely over the shady end of the garden.  It’s in year three and finally looks as though it is about to make an effort.  Perhaps this year the weather has been a little kinder.

Six

Rose of the week is ‘Scepter’d Isle, every time it flowered this year the rains fell and its lovely flowers were ruined.  Finally it can show off its elegant form, but briefly I fear as the wind and rain of today is giving it a good thrashing.

The winds are picking up here, all the pots that stand on a wall have been moved down to the ground and the fig tree is swaying wildly in the winds.  I wonder what will be left standing for next week’s six.  Seems like the perfect day to catch with some SOS reading.  All the links can be found on The Propagator’s blog and reading his contribution is a good place to start.  Wishing you and all your gardens a safe weekend.

 

 

Six On Saturday: Another inspiration

I am a great admirer of Dan Pearson’s garden writing and have an email subscription to his online magazine, Dig Delve.  Dan unfailing comes up with beautiful words to describe the progress of his garden and Huw Morgan supplies the stunning photographs.  Last week’s edition A New Year was no exception. The very first sentence caught my attention: ‘Winter is a time to look.’  And so I did.

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The seed head of Echinacea purpurea

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Seed heads of Agastache ‘Black Adder’

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Seed heads of Rudbeckia fulgida  ‘Goldsturm’

Four

The flower of Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’

Five

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I also managed to do some gardening this week.  It was the coldest day of the week and I had some digging to do.  I had been smugly admiring the newly cleared plot on the north facing border.  It looked lovely but I know that soil can be deceptive and underneath lurk the roots of the very worst of weeds.  One end of the plot turned over quite nicely.  I only needed to remove the odd blackcurrant root that had been left behind.  I gave the dug over patch a mulch of leaf mould and as the toes were tingling I retreated inside for some warmth. The next day I set out to tackle the second half.  A different experience unfolded.  The weeds were lurking at this end of the plot and as I dug the roots out I remembered the enchanter’s nightshade that loves this corner and then the creeping cinquefoil  came to mind.  I really don’t like that one.   A couple of trugs full of roots were removed and I know I still haven’t got the upper hand.

Six

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The first rapid fluttering of a nearby robin’s wings always makes me jump out of my skin but we soon get used to each other and this robin seemed very happy to pose for the occasional photo.  In return I turned over a few worms for him.

It’s been cold but beautifully dry here so I’m hoping to finish off my digging this weekend.  I’ve then got roses to prune and some perennials to cut back.  I’ll be leaving those seed heads standing until the new growth starts to come through.  Wishing you all well with your garden jobs.  To take a look at what has been occupying fellow SOSs this week stop by at Mr P’s blog and links.

Six On Saturday: Is it summer, winter or spring?

The season is clearly changing but the garden seems to be in a state of confusion.  Here are six things from my garden this week.

One

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Natasha Richardson rose, one of the English roses that just keep on flowering.  Lovely pink flowers and new buds still appearing.  It could be summer!

Two

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Penstemon ‘Plum Jerkum’.  This suffered in the scorching sun of summer but it is happily putting out new flowers now.  It was a great companion to the Tithonia, which truly does know summer is over and is slowly curling up at the edges.

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There are one or two last flowers on the rudbeckia but most have gone to seed.  I will leave them standing through the winter to give some shape to the border.

Four

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The agastache ‘Black Adder’ is also in its winter clothing.  This was an absolute winner this year.  Great colour and always thrumming with the sound of bees.

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Elsewhere in the garden there are signs of Spring.  The primroses are out and offering a reminder that the slugs and snails are still active.

Six

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At the very back of the garden in a shady sheltered corner the hellebores are putting out new flowers.  I am sure these didn’t appear last year until January.  This one is Pretty Ellen.

I’ve got bulb planting to do this weekend.  The start I made last weekend resulted in only 18 bulbs being planted.  As usual I was distracted.  The dahlias needed cutting back, zinnias were pulled up and some of the foxglove seedlings were planted out.  This weekend I will be trying to put a few tulips in the border without crashing in on those that are already there.  Could be interesting.  Wishing you all well with your gardening pleasures. If you want to see what everyone else is up to visit The Propagator for all the latest links to other Six On Saturday posts.

Six On Saturday: Scorchio again

Once again it’s very hot here with temperatures around 30 degrees plus.  The rain of last Sunday – really, the one day I have the family over and it rains – was welcome and filled two of the large water butts and one small one.  Total 868 litres plus some odds and ends from the greenhouse butts and I’m nearly through it already.  I am looking again at the garden to see what I can add in to extend the colour but planting will have to wait until September.  Here’s what’s happening at the moment.

One

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A melon update: My second year of growing melons and you would have thought it would be a bumper year.  There have been plenty of flowers but only one has come good as a melon.  Two or three other melons formed but then rotted off.  I’ve been hard at work cutting back the side shoots and stopping the main stem.  Now I have to decide when is the optimum time to pick this precious fruit.

Two

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The grapevine over the pergola regularly produces grapes but at this time of the year they split and never ripen.  The previous owner said it was a Black Hamburg, which, as many of you will know, is an indoor variety.  Today the wasps are having great fun and it makes sitting under the welcome shade a little nerve wracking.  I think in future I will cut off all the grapes and have beautiful shade and no wasps!

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The Hollyhocks have been to be featured again. They just keep on growing.  There was a touch of rust on the lower leaves early on but the hot dry weather seems to have kept it at bay.  Reader, I measured this one. It is eleven foot six inches!  Does that sound like a challenge?  Bring on the hollyhocks.  This one is growing up into a dead fruit tree.  It never got to fruiting stage so I can’t identify it, other than to say that I suspect is was a stone fruit, maybe apricot, which succumbed to leaf curl and oozing this year.

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Also doing rather well are the rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’.  I have my eye on these for dividing this year.  Spreading this wonderful colour around the garden will be a pleasure.

Five

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I was late sowing the cosmos this year but they have started to come into flower.  This one is Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Click Cranberries’.  I’ve planted them in a block but I think this one will look good dotted around the border next year.

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Lastly a zinnnia.  This is taken as a close up because my planting scheme went awry.  I planned to mix the zinnias and some ammi visnaga together but the ammi germinated late and is only just looking good enough to plant out.  Without the ammi to add some froth the zinnias look like soldiers on parade.  Maybe it will look better in October.

From here it looks like crispy lawns and parched plants for a little longer.  See what else is going on at The Prop’s blog – there you can find links to all the other great SOSs.