Six On Saturday: Delightful dahlias cheer up the garden

I have not ventured out in the garden too much lately but one day this week there was a gap in the downpours and I managed to do some work. I have a very sodden garden and I was squelching around in the borders. I managed to divide some day lillies and a knautia. I relocated some sanguisorba ‘Tanna’ that had not performed at all well and planted ten of the hundred or so bulbs that I have left to plant. The borders are slipping into winter dormancy and I thought there would not be much to show for this week’s six. But it is surprising what can be found. Here they are.

One

By today this dahlia had finally opened up.   Do I have the slowest dahlias in the UK?  I’m hoping the first frosts are a few weeks off.  To be fair, this dahlia was dug up and replanted in a pot after a slug attack had left it in tatters so I should be proud of its resilience.

Two

The Orange Cushion dahlias that I am hoping to propagate from seed have put out a new flush of flowers and I do much prefer this size of dahlia flowers.  Collecting seed has not been possible so far as the seed heads are a soggy mess.  Dahlia lovers – should I be cutting the heads off and bringing them inside to dry?  I have done this with my agapanthus and they did deliver some lovely black seed.

Three

These beautifully coloured mushrooms are now an annual feature of the garden.  I have quite a colony of them this year.  I think they come with the mulch that I buy each year and I am very happy to have them.

Four

This is my one flowering nerine for the year. It is  bowdenii ‘Ostara’. I planted about ten in April 2018.  I am having another go and as a result of special offer – end of season, we have so many we are giving them away – I now have 30 more.  Total cost £5.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’ve some in a pot now, hoping that they will be my insurance.

Five

The fig leaves have yellowed so much more over the week.  Sadly it is unlikely that the fruit that remains will ripen and I will have to pick them all off soon.  On of my least favourite garden jobs.

Six

The hylotelephium spectabile that I mentioned a few weeks ago have darkened to a good deep red.  I did move a few round in the front garden and have some spare plants to over-winter in pots.  As the garden matures my collection of plants in pots increases.  The self seeding geraniums and alchemillia mollis are growing in number but there are always gaps to be filled and they will be put to good use next year.

I take my hat off to Mr P who manages this herd of SOSers.  I had a busy week last week and didn’t get to read many of my usual SOS favourites.  I will do better this weekend – after I finish planting the allium and daffodil bulbs!

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Six on Saturday: Mid Autumn

I noticed that the leaves on the fig tree have just begun to turn yellow and so I am accepting that autumn is here. I’d love to be poetic about the gently falling rain but it’s seriously disrupting my gardening. I managed to plant out the Red Electric onion sets and some Jermor shallots last weekend but I don’t think much will get done this weekend. Time to focus on the positives.

One

I’m starting with some lovely greenhouse surprises.  The Six On Saturday meme has gently persuaded me to do more propagation.  These are my first ever root cuttings.  I dug around the sides of the anemone ‘Honorine Joubert’ and found some thicker roots.  I snipped off six  cuttings and planted them up in September.  The first signs of life have just appeared and it is all very exciting.  Of course I now have to get them through the winter.  I will resort to my usual tactic of crossing fingers.

Two

As the outside garden dies back so plans take shape for next year.  I sowed some ammi visnaga in September and a good number of these have germinated.  This is my first successful autumn sowing of ammi.  I’m already looking forward to the froth they will add to next summer’s garden.

Three 

The hesperantha was struggling to open up this  gloomy morning but even its closed form adds a welcome burst of colour to this corner of the garden.

Four

Some weeks ago I was tempted by some pots of salvia ‘Mystic Spires’.  I was advised to treat them as annuals and I did feel it was slightly mad to be buying a plant that was only going to last a few weeks, but I did and I think it was worth it.  There is  a slim chance that it might overwinter and I could have a go at taking some cuttings.  I’ve got nothing to lose.

Five

Forgive me if I’ve said this before but I’ve been gardening here for three and bit years now.  This colony of  erigeron karvinskianus started out as three small pots bought from a plant sale in the early days.  They have done their thing and spread out well.  They have just begun to mask the stone wall that props up this part of the garden.  I even spotted a few self seeders in the cracks which is just what I wanted.  For me it’s a doer, flowering all summer.  I know others find it thuggish but for the moment it can run wild here.

Six

The skimmia ‘Lime Green’ that I added this summer has settled down very well and has just begun to flower again.  This is in the north facing border in the space previously occupied by an ailing choysia.  I have space for a few more plants here but I need something with height to cover the fence.  I think one candidate is a camellia.  Watch this space.

It’s time to bring the last of the tomatoes in, take the lemon tree to the greenhouse and, if it is ever dry enough, to prune the climbing rose, Mdme Alfred Carriere,  on the back fence.  Let’s hope there’s a small window of dryer weather soon.  And if not, then there’s more time to read the links hosted by Mr P.

Six On Saturday: Potatoes. What do I know?

If there’s one thing I know about potatoes it is that King Edward is the best potato for roasting. IMHO. I have spent the last few years moaning about the size of those that come in the supermarket bags. Too small and what a pain they are to peel. So I took matters into my own hands and bought a few to grow. Here’s the result.

One

As you can see I did no better than the supermarket buyers.  But worse is to come.  I don’t grow many potatoes but I like to have a few varieties.  The mix this year was Arran Pilot, Belle de Fontenay, Ratte, King Edward and Pink Fir Apple.  I buy them loose, filling up a bag and separating each variety with a slip of paper.  I chitted them and planted out the first and second earlies in a raised bed.  The King Edward and Pink Fir Apple went into the ground in a separate bed.  Arran Pilot did well but was not very interesting.  Belle de Fontenay was a joy and is definitely on the list for next year.  Ratte was a strange one.  Good taste but surprisingly floury for a new potato.  It did very well as a crushed new potato.  But how would the King Edwards turn out.  After several weeks of rain I finally got round to lifting the main crop.  The King Edwards did not look like King Edwards at all.  In fact they looked suspiciously like a new potato with a nice looking shape.  It very slowly and painfully dawned on me that I had mixed up my potatoes and had been happily digging up the King Edwards throughout August and subjecting them to large amounts of mayonnaise or butter and chives.  The shame of it! Thankfully I had a few left in the fridge which will be getting a good roasting very soon. There is more to share.

Two

Now on to the results of the ‘main crop’.  The result is sadly very pathetic.  There were only a handful of Pink Fir Apple and barely more than that from the mislocated Ratte.  The size is tiny.  The upside is I don’t have to peel them and there is the chance for one more potato salad.  Barring the Arran Pilot I will grow these varieties again next year.  I will keep improving the soil and will try to water more often.  Maybe results will be better. Who knows?

Three

Happily other things in the garden are doing well and have benefited from the October rain.  The hydrangea has put out several new blooms, they are such generous flowerers when the conditions are right.

Four

I have a second flush of delphinium flowers.  This is my reward for cutting them back as soon as they had finished flowering.  Those that I didn’t get round too quite so quickly have not delivered and who can blame them.

Five

Sometime ago I whined about the zinnias being late but they arrived and have been amazing.  The bees still have something to come into the garden for and the colour is beautiful.  If I remember rightly these came from a free packet of seeds. A bargain and a definite for next year.

Six

Last week I said I would be optimistically looking at my sweet peas to see if they had germinated.  I sowed the left over seeds from this year and some I had from a few years ago.  Last week they had just broken the surface and this week they are an inch or two high.  Time for tough love, they have been removed from the sunny windowsill and placed in the greenhouse.  Overnight temperatures there dropped to five degrees one night this week.

Thanks to Mr P for starting this meme off.  It works for me and if you are tempted to join in then take a look at the participant guide on The Propagator’s site.  I’m hoping to plant some more bulbs this weekend.   Let’s hope I can tell my onions from my daffs!

Six on Saturday: Resilient roses, asters, bulbs and froglets

The torrential rain of Tuesday gave the garden a welcome soaking. Unfortunately steady showers followed on and the week had a wet and windy finish. I start this week’s six by paying homage to the roses which flower, get soaked by the rain, are defoliated by rose sawfly, and yet flower again.

One

This white rose ‘Jaqueline du Pre’ flowers at the far end of the garden and spotting a new flower in the gloomy mornings of this week was very uplifting.

Two

At the opposite end, in  a sunnier spot, the climbing version of ‘James Galway’ is making steady progress up the trellis and keeps putting out new buds.

Three

Newly arrived in flower is Colchicum speciosum ‘Album’.  These were part of last year’s autumn bulb order and one or two of them sprang into flower immediately after planting.  This year I have more of a full presence but I feel the need for more impact.  I feel another top up bulb order coming on.

Four

A top up because the second order arrived today. I’m not such a prolific orderer of bulbs as our host Mr P but somehow I have managed to total 110 in this order plus 150 crocus bulbs and 60 ‘Tete a Tete’ daffodils from earlier temptations. In this batch are Tulips: Dolls Minuet,  Ballerina, Lasting Love, Mariette and Sarah Raven, Camassias and Acidanthera murielae.  The last is related to gladioli, and is sometimes known as Abyssinian gladiolus.  The recommendation is to lift over winter but I maybe tempted to leave them in.   I did lift some tulips this year so I will see how much success I have with replanting them first.

Five 

I have only one type of aster in the garden but I have two of them.  The colour is perfect but I have them in the wrong place and I’m not sure where the right place is.   The problem is they grow so high, easily outstripping any of my pathetic attempts at staking . This year one has remained fairly upright and the other has spiralled all over the place.  Belatedly I realised I could have tried a wig-wam support system.  The right place is probably somewhere sunnier and where their height can be enjoyed.  Still thinking.

Six

This little fella was trying to wriggle away from SOS fame and fortune but he just didn’t quite fit into the gap.  It has given me an extra nudge into finding a site for a pond.  I am going to go small and cheap,  buying a pond liner and an insulation liner.  I have in mind a small area at the back of the garden that is currently being used to heel in plants that I have been dividing or moving.  I might miss that luxury but this year the garden has been full of froglets, or possibly one very active one.  I’m hoping I can offer them a permanent home. If it stops raining and I can start digging.

More rain is forecast overnight so I have low expectations of any productive work in the garden.  I will be optimistically inspecting some sweet peas that were sown last week and thinking about seeds for next year.  I’ll be finding out about other SOSers and their gardening ambitions by checking in with The Propagator and all the links he shares.  Happy weekend whatever the weather.

 

 

Six On Saturday: A Mediterranean garden

Very much in keeping with the weather here today I give you six things from a Mediterranean garden. Not mine, so ever so slightly against the rules, but I have just got back from a week away.  The plants shown today are all from the jardin de val rahmeh in Menton, France. I was much reminded of fellow sixers as I walked round it, fuschias, daturas, brugmansia, and much more.  Here’s my pick:

One 

 

The weird and wonderful aristolochia gigantea hook.  In all its stages.  This is not one I can really see in my garden but it was an impressive sight as a hedge line.

Two

This is allamanda catharitica  L – golden trumpet.  I can imagine this growing up over the pergola but it seems to be better suited to a conservatory in the UK.

Three

Haemanthus coccineus L – blood lilly.  Quite striking for a low growing plant.

Four

I loved this growing by the side of the pond but couldn’t track down a plant label for it.

Five

I’m pretty sure this was a thunbergia, possibly thunbergia laurifolia Lindl. A beautiful plant that cascaded down the walls.

Six

The cool green nasturtium like leaves of this pond plant.  Another favourite from the garden which has to remain unnamed, all suggestions gratefully received.

It will be back to my garden next week.  I have a few plants to rehydrate and the forecast is for rain so I will get some help from above.  Hopefully no casualties!

Mr P continues to generously host this meme and shares all the links to other posts in the comment section of his post.  I have some catching up to do.

Six On Saturday: Slow plants, rampant plants and the steady ones

This week was a game of two halves. A cold beginning and now a heatwave. I hope this will persuade a few more tomatoes to ripen. The courgettes keep springing surprises on me in the form of marrows and the french beans carry on being well behaved. The flower garden has seen a few rearrangements with more to come. The first of the six for this week is a welcome discovery.

One

A tiny spire of lirirope muscari ‘Big Blue’. Not quite living up to it’s name yet.  It has been three years in  development.  Billed as a perennial forming dense clumps it has just managed a clump of 10cms.  I think I have shocked it into doing something as a few weeks back I threw out two other sister plants on the grounds that they had done nothing at all.  Somehow I overlooked this one or perhaps it looked the stronger.  I’ll be watching it closely now.

 

Two

Also gaining a stay of execution is this unknown red rose.  It was here in the garden when we arrived and I have planted around it but always thinking that one day it would be moved or given up.  Every year it persuades me that it deserves to stay and it has twisted me round its little finger again.

Three

These were in the garden last weekend and have definitely gone now.  But they will be making a comeback as apple juice.  The apple trees all had a professional prune this year and look better for it.  The apples on the oldest tree were smaller but seemed to be just as plentiful.  I have 51 bottles of juice to collect.

Four

The passion flower (passiflora caerulea) has an incredible structure, fascinating to look at but it’s becoming too rampant.  I plan to completely remove it from the arch it grows over and see if it can be dug out completely.  I keep finding seedlings of it around the garden so I think I may be on the losing side.

Five

This blue scabious seems to have only just got into it’s stride, it was moved to a new location at the end of last summer so perhaps it took a while to really settle down.  Great things are expected next year though.

Six

Time for an experiment. I have sown some green manure seeds for the first time.  The onions came out and the seeds went in.  I have to remember to dig the growth over in 40 – 90 days.  I hope it does what it says on the packet.

That’s my six for the week.  To see more go to The Prop’s site.  His six and many more will  be revealed.

 

Six On Saturday: Harvest time

The high points of my gardening year are the June riot of colour and the September harvests. In truth we have been enjoying raspberries, figs and blackberries for a few weeks now. The erratic early summer weather did for one of my cucumber plants but the survivor put out enough cukes to keep the salad bowl well supplied.  There is colour in the garden thanks to the roses and phlox but this week is mainly a veg and fruit focus.

One

Dwarf French beans.  These are Safari.  This is the first time I have grown a dwarf variety and so far so good.   They have cropped well enough for me and taste good.  They don’t seem as squeaky as other French beans.  I’m freezing those that are surplus to requirements.  They are perhaps slightly fiddlier to pick than climbers from a wig-wam but I won’t have to untangle all that twine at the end of the season.  I sowed a second round a few weeks ago which I hope will give me a crop in October.

Two

Tomatoes in the greenhouse.  My greenhouse is in partial shade and the windows need a clean but temperatures still climb.  They have only just started to ripen in the last week or two.  There are  plenty of tomatoes but will they all ripen? These are San Marzano 2 and Tigerella.  I also grew Green Zebra, Golden Sunrise and Alicante.

Three

Onions, small but good enough.  The onions did better this year due to the higher rainfall.  I don’t plant many because  I never have much luck with stored onions.  I am sure these will be used up before they start sprouting.  The variety is Sturon and I will grow these again next year.  The red onions were even more diminutive and were used up very quickly.  They were growing in the rain shadow of one of the apple trees.  I will try to do better with the red onions – time to start the winter Japanese varieties now.

Four

The large fig tree has cropped well this year and for some reason I didn’t see the squirrels stealing the fruits.  Perhaps the wasps put them off.  Picking the figs had to be carried out with great care.  This tree is going to get the big trim over winter and it is much needed.  On Friday I watched the wind blow through the leaves with some trepidation.  I’m hoping we don’t get a big winter storm this year.

Five

It is apple picking weekend here.  This is because the next few weekends are taken up with other plans so it is now or never.  All the apples will be picked and taken off for juicing.  In a week or so I will collect the results.  I finally got round to buying a telescopic apple picker which I hope will mean less teetering on the ladder.

Six

There is one flower for the week.  This stray sunflower has  been brightening up a corner of the garden.  It is like a lighthouse shining through the dark, calling to the butterflies and bees.  I didn’t plant it and can only think that it came from the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder.  For which I am very grateful!

Apart from the great apple harvesting that has to be done this weekend I am hoping to make a start on some bulb planting.  I’ve not placed a big order yet but I have some crocuses and Tete a Tete daffodils to ease me in.  Planning for Spring has started.

Mr P  hosts the Six On Saturday meme and all the links to other posts can be found in the comments section.  September on show from gardens around the world.  Lovely.

Six On Saturday: Movers and Shakers

I’ve been feeling the garden needs a bit of a shake up.  This week was a staycation and it provided the opportunity to visit a few places and take in some garden inspiration.  Dan Pearson Studio has planted up a public park at Handyside Gardens, Kings Cross. Plenty of grasses of course but I spotted some wild strawberries used as underplanting. I’ve made a note for the future. In Oxford I laid eyes on a beautiful blue plant that is proving hard to id. Your thoughts are most welcome. On a very hot bank holiday Monday we visited the Ulting Wick open day.  I went to view the dahlias.  I know they are the one of the best flowers for late summer but I’ve not mastered the art of placing them in my garden.  It just doesn’t seem to be dahlia friendly.  I was also in search of some orange inspiration to balance out all my magenta colours.  I struck lucky.

One

Dahlia ‘Orange Cushion’.  Only one available so I snapped it up and hope to be able to propagate it next year.  The dahlias at Ulting Wick are very impressive, I won’t be matching them for scale of planting but I’ve made a start.  I’ve come to accept dahlias and even those with bronze foliage. I can see how to  use it in the mix.  I have great plans for next year.

Two

Some kniphofias, divisions from the Ulting Wick stock and sold by the bag full.  This bag had some new spires so I should get a few weeks at least out them.

Three

All those oranges seemed to call out for a blue and there was a handy pot of salvia pratensis.  On the right is the mystery plant spotted in Oxford.  I thought it was also a salvia but does anyone have any ideas?

Four

With my head full of thoughts for next year I decided that things have to move round in the garden,  This anchusa azurea has been flowering away at the back of the border for a couple of years now and it is so often overlooked.  I need to find a space for it show off in.  I thought it was ‘Loddon Anna’ with a slightly less intense blue than ‘Loddon Royalist’ but I couldn’t find any images for ‘Loddon Anna’.  Did I make it up?

Five

Many of the gardens I saw this week had good shows of hylotelephium spectabile.  Which is simply known as the ice plant in this house.  I’ve inherited these and have let them do their own thing which often involves collapsing through lack of water.  Now I’ve seen them put together with other planting I am going to consolidate the groups I have into one display…somewhere in the garden, for next year!

Six

Staying put and doing both moving and shaking is pennisetum villosum.  The very first flower spike.  I need a few more to complete the picture but you get the idea.  Floaty pennistetum with floaty gaura.  I never thought I would have grasses in the garden either but I have been won over here too.

I soaked up ideas from gardens visited over the years but also from the many wonderful posts from fellow SOSers.  Too many to name check but as always I recommend you take a look at the links on Mr P’s  site.  Thank you to the sixers who have inspired me.  You have widened my horizons and added to my garden.  There, that’s enough sucking up, I have some planting to do.

Six on Saturday: Shady facts

I was a little down on the garden a week or so ago. I’ve been planting up from scratch for about three years and the first plantings are filling out now. Some are doing well but I have to face up to reality. At this time of the year the main border is in the shade of a large fig tree. This seems to create the perfect environment for mildew. I’ve spent some time spreading things out a little more and I pulled up the sweet peas. The border is a bit patchy now but I feel happier.  Now I have to plan for a few more late summer shade lovers.

One

The long border minus the sweet peas.  It’s not too bad at the far end where the shade is less dense and there are a few sun spots but the top end under the fig needs a rethink.  The day lillies have finished flowering.  They can stay as they sneek into a little sun spot by mid afternoon and I have identified a branch of the fig tree that can go and the space will open up a little more.  Every challenge presents a new project so I am in excited mood.

Two

Down at the far end of the long border behind the rudbeckia lurk a few dahlias.  They are only just about to open.  I hoped they would be able to make use of the sun spot that the rudbeckia enjoy but it’s just not quite enough.  This year I will be lifting the dahlias and finding a sunnier spot for them.

Three

Further round the corner a small border that backs on to the veg plot is shady for the morning but catches the afternoon sun.  It seems just enough for the echnicea ‘White Swan’ to get by.  This is their second year in the garden and they have bulked up quite well.

Four

Moving further round, this year’s planting of  salvia ‘Amistad’ catches the same afternoon sun and has been magnificent this year.  Some of last year’s salvias did over winter,  I dug them out of their original position and moved them to  a nursery bed when I spotted the new shoots coming through.  Those ones have only just really got going and are about half the height.  Next to the salvias are three plants of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’.  Planted in 2017, they have just made it to a reasonable height this year but clearly they would benefit from less shade.  They are just far enough into this border to see a little less of the afternoon sun.  I am going to leave them where they are for one more year.

Five

Coming right round the garden, the north facing border begins to take on a western tilt and manages to catch some early morning sun and a good bit of late afternoon sun.  The fence line casts shade at the back edge.  I am optimistically growing r. Souvenir du Dr Jamain as a climber against the fence – slow going so far.  In front, I cleared away the unhealthy choysia and threw in some annuals to cover the ground while I did some thinking.  I had a trayful of nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ and n. alata ‘Grandiflora’ to use up so in they went.  At the time I did not know that the white variety likes a little shade so I struck lucky with the result.  What was a stop gap may now be part of the long term plan.  Anemone ‘September Charm’ and a white hardy geranium are also in this mix.

Six

Lastly coming round to the truly sunny all day long border, which is quite small, I have the lovely rose ‘Natasha Richardson’ planted up this year with salvia microphylla var, microphylla – the blackcurrant sage. I have tried every week to post a picture of this salvia but the vibrant magenta just floods the image.  I hope you can get a good sense of it against the rose.  It’s a stunner.

It’s going to be a stunning long weekend here, probably too hot to garden so I shall be thinking.  There will also be some SOS reading to be done.  Plenty of ideas to be gathered at the links that Mr P hosts each week.  Read them and if you are tempted join in!

 

Six On Saturday: Clinging on to Summer

Last week had a very autumnal feel. Cooler temperatures, windy and wet but I did have the time to spend in the garden and it was not a pretty sight. The sweet peas have mildew, the knautia gone to seed and everything looks a little bedraggled. My first of the six for this week is a sorry sight but it gets better.

One

The apples are ripening but one tree in particular has a bad case of brown rot. I must have lost at least half the crop so far and apparently there is nothing to be done about it.  I pick up all the windfalls and remove any of the affected apples from the tree and throw them away.  So far the other apple trees do not seem to be affected and some of the younger trees are now producing a good crop which will compensate for the lower yields on this tree.

Two

I am still adding to the August garden to keep the colour going.  My local garden centre tempted me back in with a timely money off voucher which made the helenium ‘Short and Sassy’ more attractively priced.  After that I headed for a local nursery that offers plants at a much more reasonable price and paired the helenium with perovskia ‘Blue Steel’.  This is a smaller, more compact variety, chosen for my thin border.  I managed to get these planted out into  a very dry garden before the rain set in.

Three

The bees were flocking to the helenium and perovskia before they were even in the ground.  This echinops has a similar pulling power.  For this reason alone it has remained in the garden but it is in danger of going in the great rethink that is on the horizon.  Some things need moving around and some may have to go.  Such is gardening.

Four

I inherited a large collection of water butts from the previous owner and they have been invaluable in helping to keep the garden watered but there is the eternal problem of mosquitoes and after suffering a number of bites (also not a pretty sight) I decided I would try adding olive oil.  This is the most popular suggestion that comes up on an internet search, the second most popular is keeping goldfish in the water butt. It’s interesting how the same ideas come up in different places. I am trying it out in one water butt.  Will I be able to live with oily watering cans?  Has any one else tried it?

Five

The coneflowers took a bashing from the wind and the rain, more staking required if that is going to be the pattern for summer. They have been in the garden for two years now and are clumping up well.  They are a good bridge from the end of summer into autumn.

Six

I have some  new agapanthuses this year: ‘Navy Blue’.  In their first year in the garden they have managed to produce one stem per plant, more patience required before the full affect can be enjoyed.  I have to be good at remembering to feed them up before they flower. They are giving me a summer feeling for a little longer.

For more end of summer flowers call in at The Propagator’s garden.  Our host of the SOS meme shares the links to other SOSs in the comments section.