Six On Saturday: Blue sky thinking

There’s a chill in the air and it’s a bit blustery but the sky is a brilliant September blue. Uplifting, encouraging and inspiring. Somehow it is this time of year that seems to be the best time to think about plans for the garden. I’ve been tidying up this week: courgettes culled and tomatoes collected in for ripening – the missing door on the greenhouse has pushed me into action a little earlier than usual. There has been just about enough rain to soak down a few more centimetres and encourage more flowers but the garden is still on the dry side. Here’s six for this week.

One

Whilst dahlias are the order of the day for this time of year, here it is the roses that are putting on a show. This one is a climber, one of the David Austin English roses, James Galway.

Two

And nearby another David Austin rose, Natasha Richardson. In previous years these roses have pushed on well into November.

Three

Another stalwart of late summer is salvia ‘Amistad’. I hope you will accept this slightly abstract version of the flower, the best of several blustery shots. This has been in flower for some time but it seems at its best in the autumn months, again lasting through until the frosts.

Four

This fuchsia is another late summer bloomer. An unknown variety, this one overwinters well but of course has gall mite. I nip off the affected parts and it battles on.

Five

The anemones that suffered so much in the summer heat have proved resilient and ‘September Charm’ that was flowering at the end of July suddenly looks much happier in the cooler temperatures.

Six

This hardy geranium is enjoying a second flowering. Lovely crinkly papery pink flowers of the bloody cranesbill, geranium sanguineum var. striatum, such a severe name for so delicate a bloom.

I’m thinking about a new greenhouse, there is a new rose to order and I have a new shrub to plant out. I’m going to sow green manure seeds on the veg patch and I have a tray of echinacea ‘White Swan’ that have been grown from seed. They have grown on well over the summer and the root system looks strong enough to cope with planting out in the big wide garden. Much to be getting on with then. Please take a look at other SOS posts as tended by The Propagator. And of course, enjoy your gardening.

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.

Six

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: Heat!

I can’t avoid stating the obvious: it’s been hot this week. I have resorted to hanging sheets in the greenhouse to try to provide some shade but there have still been some wilting tomato plants. The water butts are empty and I don’t see any rain in the forecast. Too hot to garden, too hot to write and so here is a quick six from the garden this week.

One

At least this part of the garden looks cool. Ferns and the ‘Kashmir White’ geranium make a great combination in a slightly shadier spot.

Two

My first foray into a dark leaf heuchera. This is ‘Grape Timeless’ which I always think should be ‘Grape Time’!

Three

The over-wintered salvia ‘Amistad’ has just begun to open out. A long laster, this should be in flower until autumn.

Four

Every year the astrantias burst forth and remind me of what an absolute dream they are. This one is ‘Roma’.

Five

Last winter I moved a climbing rose ‘Souvenir du Dr Jamain’. It was growing against a shady fence but not really enjoying it. It’s not in the best of health but amazingly it has produced a beautiful flower. I am nurturing it and hoping that this isn’t its last effort before a demise.

Six

And ending on an amusing note: This is the greenhouse. No matter how many times I check there is always a side shoot missed on the tomatoes. In addition to the sheets, I have been liberally throwing watering cans of water over the path to keep the humidity up and hopefully the red spider mite down. The marigolds are there to keep the white fly down and oxalis is there because I can never be rid of it!

For more hot gardens tune into The Propagator who hosts this meme. Stay cool, water wisely and as always, take time to enjoy the garden.

Six on Saturday: Time to get going

As the garden gets going it is time for the gardener to step up the pace. The beginning of March has been cold and wet here but growth continues. It is time to give the fruit trees their quarterly feed of bonemeal and the roses will receive a handful of fertiliser to propel them into abundant flowering. Having spent a week away from the garden I came back to find a very soggy lawn and wet borders. I have snowdrops to divide and the last of the herbaceous perennials to cut back. Not a seed has been sown yet but this weekend I will start the tomatoes off. Here’s six from the garden.

One

I plant the David Austin rose ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ in 2020, in its climbing form. It has now made up to the top of the arch and the new growth is lining up nicely. I’m hoping for more of its lovely red flowers this year.

Two

I have been taking stock of what has survived the winter and I’m pleased to say that this salvia ‘Amistad’ planted against a south facing wall is just beginning to show signs of new growth. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get caught by a late frost. I have insurance in the shape of a cutting in the greenhouse which looks good too.

Three

The euphorbia oblongata has also come through unscathed. It’s described as a short lived perennial, so I should be prepared for it to fade away soon. It’s been with me for about three years, it will be interesting to see how short lived it is.

Four

No seeds sown this year but these are lychnis coronaria that I sowed last autumn. Lychnis are self seeders so these were a bit belt and braces. I will plant them out away from the parent plant, spreading a little more hot pink around the garden.

Five

I took some sage cuttings last year when the very old sage bush had a good cut back. The parent plant seems to be none the worse and the cuttings have taken.

Six

In June I will have been gardening here for six years. I inherited a large pot of strawberries that I transferred to the greenhouse in the hope of an early crop of fruit. But there they languished producing very little at all. I am finally about to dig them up and use the space for something else. The soil will need some improvement. In the meantime I have six new strawberry plants, three of ‘Cambridge Favourite’ and three of ‘Elsanta’, chosen from the limited selection available at the garden centre. Roll on Summer, I am ready!

More garden reports can be found on The Propagator’s site, where he hosts all the SOS links. Join in or simply read for pleasure. It’s a merry band.

Six On Saturday: Time to stop dithering and do. Probably.

The trees that surround this garden have just started to change colour, there was a cold north wind for a day or two but in general the weather is still quite mild. I am dithering about whether to take things into the greenhouse this weekend or next. Dithering is one of my favoured gardening techniques, employed in every season. It’s just the way I garden. After some dithering this morning and several changes of plan, here’s this week’s six.

One

I’ve been dithering for some time about fumigating the greenhouse. I didn’t get on top of the whitefly this year. The encarsia wasps used a month or so ago made an impact but didn’t fully clear the infestation. As the temperatures were warm enough I finally deployed the ‘garlic bombs’ that had lurking around for some time. I don’t know what the whitefly made of it, but my stomach definitely heaved when I opened up the packaging. Of course I should have taken a photo of the smoke filled greenhouse, with the smoke gently seeping out of every opening. Far more dramatic. But I didn’t, so sadly this will have to do. Let’s hope the fumigation has had an effect and I promise to do better next year.

Two

I needed to get the greenhouse sorted out to make it available for some tender plants. The last of the peppers and chillies were picked before the fumigation and I had yet another go at removing the oxalis. There’s some mild weather forecast for next week but the lemon tree will have to go inside soon. It has had a good year outside and seems to have fully recovered from its near death a few years back. There are flowers, new fruits and some not quite ripe fruit. The greenhouse is not heated so when winter arrives the lemon tree will get a fleece wrap.

Three

This euphorbia mellifera has also done well this year. It arrived as a self-sown seedling about this time last year and Jim of Garden Ruminations identified it and warned me that it would grow and grow. How right, as ever, he was. It didn’t flower this spring, I’m hoping it will next spring and then I will do as Jim advised and cut it back.

Four

I have five pots of the large evergreen agapanthus that are tender here and need a fleece wrapping every winter. They are showing signs of needing it now. Last year I discovered that pegs are great for holding the fleece in place.

Five

The leaves of the trachelospermum jasminoides, star jasmine, have just begun to turn red. It’s making slow progress up the fence but year by year it is thickening up. I don’t have much in the garden that gives this darker autumn colouring, no Japanese maples, no cotinus and no dogwoods either. I just don’t seem to have the right spaces for them, so these red leaves will be especially enjoyed.

Six

Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’. I’ve probably shared these before, but anything that looks this good in the last week of October deserves another mention. I planted three 9cm pots two years ago and they have filled up the space well this year. Such a rich colour.

I still have narcissus bulbs to plant and a few tulip bulbs lined up to go in the ground in November. The foliage of day lilies and the deciduous agapanthus is in need of cutting back before it becomes a soggy mess but there are plenty of plants that I will leave standing over winter. We can’t be too choosy about which wildlife we support in this way and from today’s walk round I can see that the slugs are enjoying the garden all too well at the moment. Yes, jobs to be done. It’s not hibernation time yet. Don’t forget that The Propagator hosts this meme and shares all the links to other SOS posts. Happy gardening.

Six On Saturday: A glorious garden

I am behind with my virtual visits to the SOS gardens around the world but I do have a good excuse. I have spent a few days wallowing in the Sussex countryside in celebration of a wedding anniversary. We visited Charleston House near Lewes and Nymans gardens near Haywards Heath in West Sussex but it was the hotel garden that was photographed the most. So this week’s six is from that glorious garden.

One

I loved this combination of persicaria with asters and kniphofia. My guess is that this is p. Foxtail, but it’s just a guess. The kniphofia in my garden finished flowering in August, which just isn’t good enough! I am will have to look into some later/longer flowering varieties, suggestions welcome, and I’m definitely adding in some persicaria – somewhere.

Two

Dahlias were of course holding court and this one is ‘Magenta Star’. I managed to catch the gardener for a quick chat. She said that the dahlias are lifted every year.

Three

She also said they lift all the salvia ‘Amistad’. These are the cuttings in the greenhouses that were taken five weeks ago. I know mine would look nothing like this after five weeks. We bemoaned our shady greenhouses at home and I felt the guilt of one who has not yet taken a salvia cutting. It could be too late, but I might try.

Four

The squashes have already been lifted and are stored in a conservatory, also home to a peach tree, chilies and agapanthus.

Five

The sheltered walled garden had it’s own micro climate and felt almost tropical. I was a just a tiny bit pleased to see that the birds feast on these glorious apples just as they do on mine at home.

Six

Hydrangeas featured throughout the garden, now in their softening autumn colours. It’s another guess but I’m saying this is ‘Limelight’.

It’s been a long time since we headed to the South East of the UK and a note has been made to visit again. Nymans, a National Trust garden, has wonderful views over the countryside and I did take advantage of their garden shop to buy a new pot. Half price, I couldn’t say no, could I?

This weekend I shall be on the hunt for some corners of the garden to revamp, I hope to be spreading another bag of Strulch and undoubtedly will be disposing of more slugs. I hope you can find time to enjoy your gardens or find a beautiful one to visit, it does lift the spirits.

The Propagator, as ever, hosts this meme and all the links will be found on his site. Visitors always welcome!

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 PĂ©reire’, 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: Headless Chicken

There were so many possibilities for today’s theme: ‘forgive me for I have sinned’ and ‘midsummer madness’ being close contenders but headless chicken won out – running around in an illogical and disorganised way summed up my gardening this week. I couldn’t get to the garden for about four days and was being driven mad by the rain that fell whenever I had a free moment. Friday was the first opportunity to garden and there was so much to do. But of course as you set out to do one thing another catches your eye. The first distraction was to salvage some delphiniums that had been caught by the wind. Then at this time of the year the alchemilla mollis and geranium ‘Brookside’ take over the garden path and as the grass needed mowing they had to be cut back or they would have been crushed by the lawn mower. The roses were begging to be deadheaded and my prime task of cutting back the geranium phaeums was plummeting rapidly down the ‘to do’ list. The weather stayed fine and the jobs were done. My sins were forgetting to drench the martagon lilies in lily beetle spray – all the foliage stripped away and looking terrible, and not supporting the leucanthemum x superbum. They get to a height of one metre and every year I foolishly think they can support themselves but not of course in the wind and rain. The madness refers to the crazy amount of self seeding that has gone on the garden this year: the borders are crammed. In between times I did manage to take a few photos.

One

The three top culprits when it comes to self seeding are the astrantias, alchemilla mollis and geranium ‘Brookside’ but if you like an ‘informal’ look then it’s winner!

Two

The regal lilies are just about going over but their scent is still strong and these did get a regular drench with the lily beetle spray. It was about 95% effective, I have spotted three or four of the charming lily beetle grubs but the foliage is still intact.

Three

This is ‘Munstead’ lavender. In the past I have lost ‘Hidcote’ lavenders over the winter and although I much prefer the darker colour I chose the lighter ‘Munstead’ for this spot on the patio. So far so good. I cut it back to about an inch or so off the ground in September/October.

Four

Oh dear. Another sin. I bought these salvias two weeks ago and here they sit patiently waiting to be planted out. I keep changing my mind as to their final location and, second sin, I don’t have enough compost to pot them on. They are ‘Mainacht’ and ‘Shneehugel’. My first thought had them destined for separate borders but they look comfortable together.

Five

Sometimes the answer to a gardening dilemma is right under your nose. I was looking for something upright for a front of border gap and as I edged the grass I rediscovered these. Stachys officinalis or, as it also seems to be known as, betonica officinalis. I bought these about four years ago, planted them in a spot they did not seem to enjoy and so moved them round and promptly forgot them. This year they have come good and I think there is enough sun in the other spot for them to flourish there as well. Eventual height is said to be 60cms, so far these are about 30cms.

Six

The scented leaf pelargoniums have been slow to get into flower this year, but this one ‘Prince of Orange’ is leading the race. It’s in a pot on the steps beside the hydrangeas.

The Propagator has some lovely looking plants in his six and a real nasty! As has been the case here, the slugs and snails have been out in force and have destroyed a clump of lobelia. It’s looking as sorry a sight as my martagon lilies. But there are plenty of lovely flowers from around the world in the SOS thread. Check the links and enjoy!

Six On Saturday: Something for Halloween

I’m a little shocked to find myself at the end of October with so much still to do in the garden. The rain is spoiling all my plans, but thankfully so far it has been quite mild and the lemon tree and the scented leaf pelagoniums that are still outside haven’t suffered. A trip to the garden centre saw me suckered into buying reduced Tete a Tete bulbs, these are my priority for the weekend. I’m planting them in pots so that I can move them into the front garden in spring when the gaps in the borders are evident. Here’s six from this week’s very squelchy garden.

One

Strange things are afoot in the front garden. This is my contribution to Halloween this year. It looks like it should be in use in the bathroom. I have no idea what it is, other than some sort of fungus. Suggestions most welcome.

Two

I stumbled across these salvias in the week. Evidence of previous garden centre temptations. I planted them under the roses and promptly forgot about them but they have settled in very well. They are ‘Nachtvlinder’. I am glad I spotted them again as there is the chance I will lose them if the winter is a harsh one. Maybe it’s not too late to try taking a cutting or two.

Three

My next contribution to Halloween. The seed pods of Iris foetidissima are just beginning to open. The berries stay on the plant well in to winter, giving a good splash of orange to some dark corners of the garden.

Four

Zinnias are just surviving the regular downpours of rain. It hasn’t been the best weather for them but the occasional flower braves the showers.

Five

Lovely, lovely autumn leaves. These are from a nearby parkland walk. The garden here has a few trees in it and is surrounded by some very well established oaks, sycamores and ash trees in neighbouring gardens. The leaves are beginning to fall and it’s a good workout to gather them up and store them in the leaf cage to rot down over the year. Last year’s leaves have been bagged up to rot a little more and then they’ll be used as a mulch for the raspberries.

Six

Last splash of orange for Halloween. The blue sky is a distant memory from last Sunday and the beautiful pyracantha berries are a reminder that there are still one or two plants on the wish list for the garden. These were growing outwards from a garden neighbouring the local park.

The rain has arrived so my bulb planting will be taking place in the potting shed, which leaks. I’ll be in the dry corner. The Prop could be anywhere but all the links to the SOS meme will be on his website. Enjoy them.

Six On Saturday: Here’s one I prepared earlier

I was half way through my six last week when I was derailed. Nothing dramatic just things to do and then Sunday was spent in the garden. In the shed to be precise. I was emptying it out in preparation for the delivery of a new shed. The weather was good and although the shed won’t arrive until November it was too good an opportunity to miss. I was tempted to share a photo of the now empty shed but on second thoughts I’ll save that for another day. Here’s last week’s three and three for this week.

One

I am going to upgrade my score for veg growing to a 6/10. I pulled the second sowing of carrots last week and was pleasantly surprised. A few nibbles from the slugs but no carrot fly damage. I am sure this is because they grew in a bed of calendular flowers. This may have made the competition for precious water a little greater but all in all it was not a bad haul.

Two

The salvia ‘Amistad’ really gets into its stride in October taking over from the ‘Darcy Bussell’ rose, but Darcy is still sending out a flower or two. I took cuttings of the salvia last year in case this crowd didn’t over winter. Of course they did and now I have an abundance of salvias – which is no bad thing.

Three

The appearance of mushrooms in the garden is sure sign that autumn has arrived. This atmospheric group are colonising an old tree stump. I think, from comparing them to those that Fred tweeted, that they are not edible. But I’m happy to enjoy them visually.

Four

On to this week’s contributions. The hydrangeas are looking fabulous in their new colours. At least something in the garden is enjoying the endless rain. So much so that some of the other hydrangeas have put out new flowers.

Five

The hesperantha is brightening up a corner by the rosemary. As I write, I am thinking that I should try to spread these around a little more. They offer a good splash of colour at this time of the year.

Six

A little late perhaps, but this is anemone ‘September Charm’. It’s neighbour did do the charm thing in September but this one was a little later into bloom. It’s sharing a space with salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ and the second flowering of skimmia ‘Lime Green’. This is one of the more recently planted borders and needs to fill out a little more or have some more plants added. It’s a shady north-ish facing border which is always an interesting place to plant up.

I am hoping for a dry spell so that the bulb planting can commence. I have forgotten what is hiding in the boxes, tulips for sure and some more camassias and possibly some other delights. It will be like Christmas! Oh, sorry, not sure we allowed to talk about that for fear of jinxing it. Wishing every one well and hoping that the garden exploits of SOSers revealed at The Prop’s will cheer us all up. OMG, thanks to Jim’s words of wisdom, I have sort of managed to edit the url link. I dare not try to tidy it up a bit, I’ll see if I can do better next week.