Six On Saturday: Never go to the garden centre on a sunny day and when there’s 10% off!

I only went for compost, honest.  But that Daphne had been on the wish list for a while.

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IMG_2963Daphne Eternal Fragrance.  I had resisted buying this all year on the grounds that I wasn’t sure I had the right spot for it.  But there it was on the bench in front of me with a label that said suitable for containers. I’ll find a space for it soon.

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IMG_2956I have moved the scented leaf pelagoniums into the potting shed and taken a few cuttings for insurance.  That meant two summer containers were sitting empty.  There in front of me was a tray of winter pansies.

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IMG_2958Recently added to the wish list was Brunnera macrocephala ‘Jack Frost’.  Described as good for shade and for ground cover, I thought it would be ideal for under the snowberry tree.  These were lurking just around the corner from the pansies.  Speaking of lurkers – do the slugs like brunnera?

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IMG_2957I was almost at the exit point when I spotted the pots of Gaultheria Procumbens ‘Big Berry’.  I’ve had these in winter window boxes before with some ivy.  The red berries are usually plentiful.

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IMG_2964I had to walk back to the beaming cashier past the bulb section and remembered just in time that I needed to top up the alliums and fritillaries.

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IMG_2959 I count myself as quite restrained – I can’t give you a full six from the garden centre purchases!  My last for this week is something that is giving me cause for concern.  These Liriope muscari ‘big blue’ went into the garden in autumn 2016 and have not flowered once.  The RHS site promises  ‘small violet-purple flowers carried in dense, erect spikes to 30cm in height in autumn, followed by black berries.’  To quote our esteemed leader ‘Nothing, nada, zilch.’  Any suggestions?

For more pithy observations from the leader visit The Propagator.  You’ll find much to inform and amuse plus a list of links to SOSs from gardens around the world.  Happy gardening.

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Six On Saturday: Summer is hanging on but autumn is settling in

Even though temperatures here today are forecast to reach 24 degrees, the nights are cooling down and summer is really over.  Its the end of the third summer in the new garden and progress is being made.  More bulbs have arrived and some more bare root roses will be ordered.  This week the plants for my small west facing borders have arrived:

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IMG_2950I’ve planted the same group of plants either side of a small path..  The Agastache ‘Alabaster’ were in the garden already and they have now been joined by Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’ and Pennisetum villosum.  Fingers crossed for next summer.

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IMG_2952On the diagonal opposite to this area is what was fondly known as ground elder corner.  After three summers of digging it out I think I have the upper hand and so I am beginning to put in some permanent plants.  First to go in is Trachelospermum jasminoides, a firm six on saturday favourite.  I’m hoping it will very quickly cover the great expanse of unattractive brown fence.

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The nerines have just begun to open out.  They are a little depleted in number as I stepped on one and not all of them have flowered.   The variety is Nerine bowdenii ‘Ostara’.  This is their first year in the garden so I am hoping they will settle down and put on a good show next year.

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IMG_2947Also adding some late colour are these Lillies.  Yet more naming debates: are they now Schizostylis, or Hesperantha?  I know which one I prefer.  These came from the old garden and are bulking up nicely.

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IMG_2951And since repetition is allowed and because the late colour is so fabulous, I give you again the Salvia ‘Amistad’ and the Rose, Darcy Bussell.  The Salvias mooched along all summer but they have really established themselves in the last month.  Darcy Bussell just keeps on putting out new buds.

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The warmth of summer lingers on but autumn is settling in and mushrooms have started to appear in the garden.  I’m intrigued by the blue ones but  have no idea what they are.

Here’s hoping all is well in your garden.  Autumn brings the storms and while I am still finding the garden very dry I know others are suffering from high winds and heavy rain.  It’s a gardener’s lot! Find out more at The Propagator’s blog.  That’s where all the great Six On Saturday links are posted.

 

 

 

 

 

Six On Saturday: Back to being a gardener

The comments on last week’s post were very reassuring.  We all have those moments of stepping on, cutting off or killing one plant or another.  I was most struck by the thoughts that this all about learning to forgive ourselves and that enjoying what the garden gives are the most important things.  So this week, as the days shorten and the leaves begin to turn, there are a few growing successes to share.

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A few weeks ago it seemed that the figs would remain green and would all have to picked off.  Suddenly they started to ripen and each day brings more and more.  Most importantly I think I am getting to them before the squirrels!

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More by the power of nature than my gardening skills I have managed to grow a strong crop of parsley from seed.  They were started of in a pot, transplanted into the greenhouse and a few more seeds were direct sown.  Having a steady supply of parsley is a first for me.

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Also from the greenhouse is a photo of those peppers I was muttering about last week.  These are continuing to grow strongly and early problems with end rot seem to have disappeared.  The variety is supposedly Long Red Marconi, described as a mild sweet pepper.  But these have a bit of kick!

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The basil growing in the greenhouse keeps on going.  I’ve made some brilliant pesto and it is regularly used for cooking.

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My eye popping aster is in full bloom.  It grows at the shadier end of the border and even there I am beginning to find it a little too bright!  I namby-pambied about giving this the chelsea chop this year.  In the end I gave it a layered chop which has produced great flowers at about 50cms.  Those stems that were left unchopped must be at 150cms now and needed staking.  I had a nose around to see if I could identify the variety and came up against the great re-naming debate.  I name this one Aster ‘Tall and Bright Pink’!

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Back to those squirrels again.  The recently completed wood facade to a breeze block structure at the end of the garden is a great place to perch and enjoy a different view.  Seems that the wildlife are also appreciating a new lunch venue and bring in their own food!  All our apples were picked and juiced a few weeks back.  Perhaps we missed one at the top of a tree.  The result of this year’s apple crop was 33 bottles of juice.  Last year we had 73 bottles.  I’m not complaining!

Mr P host of this meme, is having a busy weekend away from the garden and politely asks if someone could mow the lawn for him.  Sorry Mr P, I can’t help out as I will be too busy reading everyone else’s posts!

Six On Saturday: Call yourself a gardener?

At this time of the year the garden here becomes shadier.  The sun slips lower in the sky and neighbouring trees cast their shadows.  Like the garden I am sliding towards my winter dormancy. But before I curl up there are a few more sixes to be posted.  Recently  I have muttered to myself, ‘Call yourself a gardener?’

The first was on the tragic occasion of admiring the emerging flower stem of a nerine and seconds later stepping on it.  The second on dead heading a rose still in flower, which was swiftly followed by chopping back branches on the tomato plants and finding a perfectly formed truss of green tomatoes among them.  But these things happen, don’t they?

My first six is also a disappointment

IMG_2908This week I dug up the last of my sarpo mira potatoes.  This is the total haul from two plants.  Barely enough to mash and I was certainly crushed.

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IMG_2909 (2)The tale of woe continued.  Into the greenhouse I went to pick some tomatoes.  I noticed that the romano peppers needed tying in again.  But as I brought the stems together to tie them in they snapped.  But these things happen, don’t they?  This photo was taken after a good many of the peppers had been used for the evening meal.

The sun was shining on these tragic events and the birds were singing so even as I chastised myself for not staking, not tying in, not watering, not being more careful, and not being out in the garden more I couldn’t avoid seeing some positives and here they are.

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IMG_2910This bright cheerful zinnia, grown from a tiny seed, continues to shine.

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IMG_2914The astrantia major are flowering again.

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IMG_2913Autumn is coming and softer colours take their place in the garden.  I call these ice plants but I’m going to venture to suggest the Latin name of Hylotelephium spectabile.  Yes or No?

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Miracles happen.  Last week I featured the bulbs of Colchicum speciosum ‘Album’, which had just arrived.  I planted them the very same day, idly thinking that I would have to wait a year before the flowered.  That would give me time to spread out the lamb’s ear plants that I wanted to surround them.  This week I found this amazing sight.

IMG_2916So I add to my crimes, ignorance.  I had no idea the bulbs would flower this year.  What a blissful ignorance it was.  Without it I would not have been half so thrilled and excited as I was when I saw this flower and I didn’t step on it!

Gardeners come with different skill levels and it is great fun to be part of The Propagator’s Six On Saturday crowd, where we are all sharing, learning and always enjoying gardening.  I really recommend you stop by and take a look.

 

 

 

Six On Saturday: Stormy weather

The first storm of the winter arrived this week.  Some parts of the UK suffered more than others.  Here the weather was blustery and gusty for a few days but only minor damage occurred.  Here’s my contribution to the Six On Saturday meme:

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IMG_2898Pride before the fall and fall the persimmons did.  Two branches came down, both  heavily laden with fruit.  They broke from the inside so nature has done a good job of opening up the tree.

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IMG_2905No sooner had the delphiniums put up their second flush of flower stems than the storm arrived.  Of course I hadn’t got round to tying in the tops but the ties at the bottom seem to have helped steady the stems enough to keep them safe.

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IMG_2900The stately cosmos that was just opening out its flowers was not so lucky.  I had tried to push a cane into the ground but there was no give at all. The plant snapped off at the bottom.  All was not lost as I cut back the side stems and brought them inside to fill a vase.

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IMG_2899The fruits of the passion flower are ripening and providing a focal point over the top of an arch.  These is the more common Passiflora caerulea and although the fruits are edible when very ripe I prefer to leave them be.

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IMG_2904There is a paragraph in the  participant’s guide  that encourages mention of gardening projects and time this week has been spent preparing the ground for some new plants.  It’s not a very exciting photo so here’s a link to the planting that inspired me:  Nice (no 3)  I was very taken by the combination of gaura and pennisetum, and I am going to try it out on a smaller scale here.  Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’ and Pennisetum villosum have been ordered and two corners have been cleared awaiting their imminent arrival.  Both should be shorter and smaller varieties of the original planting.

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IMG_2906Indeed the doorbell rang a moment ago and although it was not the aforementioned plants I was excited to receive the first of the bulb orders.  Excited on two counts: Yes! I had my six for the week (it was touch and go) and I could cross Colchicum speciosum Album off of the wish list.  I hope they are going to like the space I have ready for them.  Fingers crossed that it is sunny enough.

Six On Saturday: Returning friends and small beginnings

I hope I’ve said this before because it needs to be said.  Thank you to  the Prop   for starting up this meme and for keeping us all in order.  There’s much to be gained from taking a look at all the posts that are contributed and there is a lovely supply of help and support on offer, so take a moment to stop by.  Thanks to everyone last week who pointed me in the direction of gauras and pennisetums.  I always thought that grasses were not for my garden but now I think I have the perfect place for them.  Time to move on to this week’s six:

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IMG_2877.JPGCutting back plants after flowering really can work.  The alchemilla mollis which were sheared to the ground have come through again and at this time of year they look beautiful with their dressing of early morning dew.

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IMG_2884This is Geranium ‘Brookside’.  It roamed through the garden in early summer, knowing no boundaries and so cutting it back when it finished flowering caused me no stress.  The plant needed to be tidied up.  This week I noticed it was flowering again.

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IMG_2878Also starting up again are the seedlings of Nigella, love in a mist.  I have a carpet of them which I should probably be thinning out and sharing around the garden.  But I might just leave them all here to keep the weeds down and see how they come through next year.

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img_2879.jpgIn the greenhouse I have managed to keep a tray of foxgloves and echinacea pallida seedlings alive and it looks like some potting on needs to be done.  Temperatures are on the up next week so they I hope they will put on some good growth once moved into a pot.

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IMG_2880Encouraged by the good example of others I decided to try some winter vegetables. I rescued a tray of rainbow chard and perpetual spinach from certain death and planted them out a few weeks ago.  The pesky slugs made straight for them but they have pulled through and growth looks good.

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IMG_2881Last November I planted out bare root roses in a new border and Darcy Bussell is still flowering.  I am impatiently waiting for the roses to become fully established but even in the first year the flowers have been rewarding.

I hope your garden or allotment is rewarding you and that we all manage to find a moment this weekend to appreciate them.

Six On Saturday: It was nice to see Nice

I’m just back from a week in Nice, France and so I am giving you six things from there.  Some of these did give me ideas for my garden here and others are just interesting plants. So here for your pleasure are the sun soaked gardens of Nice.

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IMG_2834From the Albert 1er gardens just off the Promenade des Anglais.  A great selection of tropical plants, all of which were unknown to me except under the vague heading of palms or cactus like things.  This one did have an information board close by so I can tell you it is Asparagaceae Dasylirion Longissium LEM. or Totem du Mexique.  Frost resistant to -12 degrees apparently.

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IMG_2855From a sun baked border at the Musee Matisse in Cimiez.  A mixture of the familiar and the exotic.

On leaving the museum we ventured into an olive grove park and from there up some steps to a monastery where we were rewarded by the sight of the beautiful gardens of the monastery which were open to the public.  The last three of the six all come from this garden.

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IMG_2861I have long wondered if I should incorporate some grasses into the garden and I love this combination.  Does anyone knows what the planting is?  I don’t think it would fit the scale of my garden but it was so light and feathery that it did go on the ‘in my dreams’ list!

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img_2862.jpgMore beautiful grasses and ?  I hope the photo is clear enough for you to put forward suggestions.

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A view of one of the long borders looking great at this time of year and a detail shot.

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IMG_2856A riot of colour to end on.  I wish I could get my garden to look like this in September! Maybe this is the result of good deep borders and planting for height.  Something for me to consider.

I hope Mr Prop will allow the deviation from the rules – I seem to remember holiday snaps are allowed. I also hope everyone is enjoying their garden at this time of year.  On my return I did find the roses and verbenas still going strong and the asters beginning to open up so there was much to appreciate.

Six On Saturday: Changing seasons

It was a busy gardening weekend last week.  The extra day, a bank holiday in the UK, was spent helping out at the Finchley Horticultural Society allotment NGS open day.  Fortunately after the wash out that was Sunday, Monday remained dry and the allotment looked verdant.  Of course I was tempted by the plants the growers had for sale and I came away with this:

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IMG_2810A persicaria – labelled as ‘pink’ so I can’t add any further information.  It goes some way to my getting persicaria into the garden but I am on the hunt for some of the dark red ones.  I planted it next to the salvia ‘Blush Pink’ bought earlier in the summer and I hope they will be happy soul  mates.

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IMG_2808I singularly failed to record the other great gardening activity of the weekend which was the apple picking.  It was a smaller crop this year, both in numbers of apples and size.  Some were little bigger than a golf ball but as they all go for juicing they were all picked.  In about a week I will know how many bottles this year’s harvest produced.  The bent double apple tree of a few weeks ago is now nearly horizontal so I took a picture of that!

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IMG_2819Every week I think about including this Cleome ‘Senorita Carolina’ in the six but for some reason it stays on the sub’s bench.  This week it makes it into the team.  I really don’t know why it has taken me so long, it’s been flowering like this all summer.  The real colour is slightly less vibrant than captured here.  It’s a tender plant so if the winter is anything like last year I shall probably lose it.

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IMG_2812Just coming into flower is the Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’.  Earlier in the year its poor leaves were scorched by the sun but as the season moves on it’s site is more in the shade where the splash of white shines through.

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Also adding some brightness are the self seeded calendulars that spring up around the garden.  The insects seem to like them too.  The ones on the veg patch are dropping seed and new plants are already growing.

Six

IMG_2817Given the size of the apples this year I was surprised and impressed by the persimmon fruits.  They are much larger than last year and although I am not a great fan of the fruit I do enjoy their orange colour as they ripen in November.

That’s my six for the week.  There are plenty more to view at The Propagator.  If you stop off there I recommend you also read his Garden Blogger’s Hierarchy of Needs a brilliant summary of what gardeners do and why they sometimes post and sometimes don’t. I hope you all find time to garden this weekend – that’s the important bit.

Six On Saturday: In my dreams

Temperatures are falling and the evenings have a chill about them.  My third summer in this garden is coming to an end.  The previous owner (PO) loved to grow fruit, figs in particular and this week I woke from a dream where I had collected armfuls of sweet soft figs.  I am sure this was inspired by a tweet from Fred, a French gardener  who had been doing exactly that.  In my garden I watch as the birds flutter in and out of the fig trees magically finding in their branches the ripe figs that I keep missing.  All the ones I can see are green.

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IMG_2779Here’s the largest fig tree.  This was tentatively pruned back early this year but I can see it really needs to be brought down in size.  Ruthlessness is a gardening skill I am beginning to develop.  Cutting this tree back will give the summer borders more of a chance to keep going through into autumn.  I will be able to bear any loss of fruit as I don’t see much of it anyway!

 

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IMG_2780Because the PO’s interest were in fruit and veg the flower borders had been left to their own devices and I have been reclaiming them from the weeds.  One corner was in the grip of ground elder and I spent the first two summers digging it out.  I think I am now at the stage where I can plant this corner up.  My dreams have recently focused in on a white hibiscus and a Trachelospermum jasminoides to cover up a fence.  That’s my dream for autumn or spring planting.  For the moment this is how the corner looks now. Each summer I plant a group of annuals to keep the ground covered.  This year it was Zinnias which are filling out now.

 

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IMG_2768A close up of that corner showing the convolvulus cneorum bought at the Beth Chatto garden now in situ among the erigeron karvinskianus.  I’m happy with the front and I hope I will be happy with the back, now I need something mid border to bridge the gap.  I have persicaria on the wish list so maybe there is an opening for it here.

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IMG_2770Three 9cm pots of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’ were planted out earlier in the summer.  I have to be patient but next year I am expecting these diminutive plants to transform into dreaming spires of late summer interest. They should reach 1.2m.  Some way to go then!

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IMG_2773 (2)In my dreams, particularly in my day dreams, I see a luxuriously verdant garden seamlessly moving from one season to the next.  At this time of the year I find myself struggling.  The summer border becomes increasingly shady as the big fig tree branches out.  There is just enough sun to encourage the roses in a second flowering and this one is Gertrude Jekyll.

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IMG_2771A long term dream has been to fit in a water feature.  My original expansive daydream of putting a rill down the middle of the lawn was strongly vetoed and probably rightly so.  Instead I have in mind a much smaller feature to replace this laurel bush.  It also shades the summer border and doesn’t add any great interest to the garden.  Taking it out will leave a large hole – the first step towards the pond.

Dreaming and planning for the garden is much on my mind at the moment.  I was feeling the pressure of exhortations to prepare and plant up for next year.  It was all too much and I left the catalogues on the table and went out into the garden.  Even after the recent rains it was still dry and difficult to work but I relocated a few seedlings, planted out some mid summer purchases, cut back the lavender and rosemary and felt much better for it!

Many thanks to  The Prop for gathering together a diverse crowd of fellow gardeners who share weekly their gardening delights and sometimes the nasties! You are welcome to take a look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six On Saturday: Fresh eyes give renewed determination

There is nothing like visiting the garden of a friend or relative for giving fresh impetus to your own garden.  After spending time last Sunday dispensing words of wisdom: ‘that  achemillia mollis can be cut back now’, ‘don’t let that lemon balm seed everywhere’ and  ‘that’s a weed and this is a tree seedling’, I came back to my garden and spotted a large clump of achemillia mollis seeding itself everywhere, nettles quietly gaining strength under the shade of the geraniums and grass creeping into the borders. It was time for a midsummer clear up.  A frantic spurt of dead heading and weeding ensued and there was that alchemilla mollis to deal with.

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The offending alchemilla mollis.  I wasn’t in a ruthless enough mood to start with so I just cut back the flowering stems.  The fresh new growth began to emerge from the shadows and I realised that if I had done this earlier and by ruthlessly cutting back the old growth by the handful those new shoots would have been taking centre stage earlier.  I know this but I rarely do it early enough!

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Down at the allotment end of the garden I noticed that the autumn raspberries were ripening.  The plants came as runners from my old allotment raspberries and this is their first fruiting year.  I’m so glad they survived the low rainfall which I’m sure owes much to their shady position.

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My clematis have all gone to seed now but I spotted one last flower valiantly soldiering on, thereby earning the right to be included in this six.

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Also on the clear up list was the rambling rose I chose to train up the back fence. It is ‘Wedding Day’.  A mad choice I confess but I planned to train it into my neighbour’s trees.  ‘Wedding Day’ is rampant and I didn’t keep it under control the first year.  This week I took it hand and tied it in as best I could, rose scratched arms is not a good look! Half way through the job I consulted my RHS book of pruning which tells me that ramblers come in three groups and the pruning is slightly different for each group.  Now I just have to find out which group ‘Wedding Day’ falls into.

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Since I have mentioned my neighbour’s trees, it is only fair that I show one or two.  This majestic willow catches the evening sun and is spectacular.

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I also benefit from another neighbour’s elder tree.  The berries are ripe now and some may find their way into fruit pie.  The colour combination of stem, leaf and fruit is just sumptuous.

Sharing gardening experiences is a great part of #SixOnSaturday and an important part of gardening.  I hope my ‘advice’ was well received but I will also share by potting up some of the seedlings I discovered in my clear up.  There are a good number of astrantia major, hollyhocks and verbena bonariensia for a start.  And I thank my neighbours for sharing their trees and giving me a fabulous frame for my garden.

For the links to other sixes pay a visit to The Propagator the hard working host of this meme.  Now time to get back to that clean up!