Six on Saturday: Counting the cost

I’ve waited hopefully, cut back hard, watered optimistically but the time has come to admit defeat.  Well almost – I will be making one or two last ditch attempts to prevent the inevitable flatline.  Okay, let’s reveal the damage caused by my neglect, lack of experience or possibly the oh so harsh winter.

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Fred, Fred, I think the lemon tree is dead!  The move to this new garden was all the more exciting because there was a greenhouse.  Oh what exotics I would be able to grow.  Fred will remember the melons that succumbed to red spider mite.  And now the lemon tree, after one summer of delivering beautifully scented flowers, looks very sickly.  It was stowed in the greenhouse for winter,  fleeced when the temperatures fell and an extra layer added when -7 degrees was imminent.  It was watered and fed but as the temperatures rose and the fleece was removed the outcome did not look good.  I am, on Fred’s advice, going to cut back all the brown leaved stems and I’ll wait a while to see if any new growth emerges.  But I have a feeling another lemon tree will be bought and perhaps a greenhouse heater!

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Fred may have some advice for me here as well.  The French Lavender received as a housewarming gift also looks dead.  I am going to cut this back to the base of all the stems and do some more of that optimistic watering and waiting.  If not, another Lavender will be bought!  Or maybe this is this space for a small daphne?

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For this one I am going for the very cold wet winter as cause of death.  But I suppose it also comes under the heading of right plant, wrong place.  These straggly stems are the last remains of Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’.  I don’t think they are going to  make it at all.  Perhaps this is the place for some hellebores.

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A few more greenhouse deaths: a pelagonium cutting – underwatered, and a salvia cutting – I think, but of course I didn’t label it.  This was doing fine until I went away for a few days and the greenhouse temperatures hit 40 degrees.  At least I know the automatic vents work.

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Yes there’s more.  This rose came with the garden.  I released it from bindweed, pruned it, fed it and enjoyed a profusion of pinky apricot flowers.  It really performed and then it died. I think I didn’t water it enough.  It takes a while to work out the intensity of the sun in a new garden.  I cut it back as ruthlessly as I could bear and waited but there is not a sign of new growth and it has to go.  This is quite an interesting opportunity as I plan to extend the other end of this border which will make R.Natasha Richardson the centre point.  Time to work out what will go either side, something that likes it hot and dry I think.

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I am being philosophical.  It’s all part of getting to know a new garden and understanding the physics of greenhouses!  I couldn’t bring myself to provide a completely dead six and of course the tulips are coming out. So here’s what is zinging in the garden (for now): Unknown tulip and Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii.  Perfect when accompanied by sunshine and blue skies!

 

I am sure there will be some more cheerful sixes in this week’s #SixOnSaturday collections.  All the links will be at The Propagator’s blog.  Take a look and be inspired, as I know I will be, to enjoy your garden this weekend.

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Six On Saturday: Exciting times

Cold, wet and gloomy is the summary for this week but undeterred nature pushes on.  On a particular dull morning my eyes fell up on a treat.  A small twinkle at the end of the garden:

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The first blossom has appeared on one of the plum trees. It caught my eye and also that of a passing ant!

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The magnolia tree also sprang into life this week.  It’s full of beautiful blossom and I love it but I think it needs to have someone who knows what they are doing come and prune it.  It is full of water shoots growing away from previous pruning cuts.  Something for me to research.

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The last time I had someone who knows prune a tree we talked about moving an apple tree that had been planted hard up against a fence in a dark corner of the garden.  The wet spring delayed the job but finally a moment was grabbed and the tree was moved to its new spot.  It’s in amongst the redcurrants which might be moved next year.  And for a bonus item, the patch behind is where the potatoes finally got planted.  First earlies Ratte and Arran Pilot went in this week.

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The first of the tulips came into flower this week.  Yippee! It’s Tulipa ‘Nicholas Heyek’, a
triumph tulip.  It’s not one of the many that were planted last November – I’m still waiting on those.  These were planted out in the first year in the new garden and left in the ground over the summer.  This is their second year of flowering.

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Not so exciting is the damage that comes with all the exciting new growth.  The slugs and snails are active and the Thalia that looked so lovely a week ago have been shredded.

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I too was stirred into life and began sowing some seeds.  This tube contained 30 seeds of Antirrhinum White Giant.  They were tiny.  Here’s hoping they love the warmth that’s heading our way next week.  I also sowed Calendula ‘Indian Prince’, Zinnia pale mix, Nasturtium Alaska, and Tithonia Torch.  Still more sowing to be done.  Yes, exciting times.

There will plenty more gardening life on show at The Propagator who hosts the internationally famed #SixOnSaturday meme.  Enjoy your garden.

 

Six On Saturday: Stepping up a gear

Suddenly I have that feeling that I won’t get it all done in time.  But roses have been fed.  Seeds have finally been sown: Tithonia and nasturtium, carrots and leeks this week.  More annuals will be sown next week and those potatoes will be planted.  Here’s what’s in my garden today.

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A border was extended in November and I dug up a batch of bulbs to make way for the roses that will be the star attraction.  Impatiently I threw all in the bulbs in a corner of the border and forgot about them.  Of course with no care to the planting they have emerged as a perfect clump of colour.

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Continuing the yellow theme, the cowslips planted in a damp corner last year  have spread themselves out and look very settled.

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More spring colour on a subtler note comes from these Thalia narcissi.  I love the multi-stem format.  I’m mentally planning for next year and more of these are on the list.  I also want to plant some Paperwhite and White Lady narcissi together with a couple of clumps of Leucojum – now that I’ve perfected the planting in clumps technique.

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I thought that I had lost these fritillaries when all the work on the path was done.  But the new path is slightly narrower and these were just outside the trample zone. The slightly wider border is going to allow me to plant more of these too.

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The garden is full of birds and bird song at the moment.  I was planning to cut back the Verbena bonariensis but a charm of goldfinches were breakfasting on the seed heads this morning so I have been persuaded to leave that for another time.  Sadly  the free version of wordpress doesn’t allow video content so I can’t share the bird song, including the resident woodpecker, with you.  I’ll see if I can post to twitter (lol).

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Back down to earth: the inside of my shed!  The blackcurrants and gooseberries are all in leaf and I need to start thinking about how I protect them from those wonderful birds.  My favourite netting is the twisted coil of soft net but my local nursery has stopped stocking this one.  Last year I bought lengths of semi rigid plastic net which was easy to cut and fix to bamboo canes to make something resembling a fruit cage.  What do you use?  Do you have a favourite?

It is so amazing that so many are sharing their garden news under the Six on Saturday meme.  Go along to The Propagator and feast your eyes.  And keep gardening!

Six on Saturday: Rain delays

It was a no show here for snow but the rain fell insistently most of the week.  I would love to be planting out the first early potatoes but the soil is cold and wet so this week’s six starts in the greenhouse.

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Just in time, I have potted up the new dahlia tubers. My dahlia wish list consisted of Arabian Night, Magenta Star, Cafe au Lait and Mary’s Jomanda.  But I bought Thomas Edison.  Six of these will go into the borders and a combination of Blanc y Verde and Furka will go into three terracotta pots.  They are resting in the greenhouse for now.

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Settled in the greenhouse I gave the strawberry plants a tidy up and donated them a bag of my recently acquired council compost.  I am on a steep learning curve with the greenhouse.  Red spider mites made themselves known last year and the soil feels very depleted.  I have manured and mulched, added chicken pellets and another bag of council compost has gone on the other side, even so I may grow the tomatoes in grow bags again this year.

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A gardener’s dilemma: mystery seedlings.   Are they from something I grew in the greenhouse last year? Or a throwback to something the previous owner grew?   They look interesting so I have left them for now.

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It really was time to release the autumn sown sweet peas from their pot.  These are from seed collected from last year’s plants.  I am curious to see how well they do.  The plant in front is Weigela ‘Florida Variegata’, just coming into leaf.

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And as I walked down the path I noticed that my ailing euphorbia is showing the very slimmest glimmer of life.  A few new shoots at the end of one stem.  I’m keeping that one too. Perhaps it will catch up with its neighbour!

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Planting out the recently purchased Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ will also have to wait a while.  I need to have some sturdy trellis installed and then grab a break in the rain.  Thank you to all those who shared pictures of your clematis in flower.  It convinced me that this was a necessary addition to garden. I’m looking forward to next year’s flowers and their scent.

For more inspiration visit The Propagator’s blog.  The links to other #SixOnSaturday posts will take you on a gardening journey around the world!

Six on Saturday: Limbering up

There have been the occasional forays out into the garden over winter but I have been mainly gardening from my armchair or computer.  That’s all about to change and it is important to make the right start.  It’s time to limber up, get those muscles going again and really importantly, stretch them out after your gardening session.  Take care of your back!  The warmer temperatures lured me into the garden and here is what I found.

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It’s not all flowers and veg out there.  I uncovered this creature whilst turning over a pile of turf that had been left to rot down.  He was buried under the soil and he quickly pushed his way back down again. It reminded me that the wildlife have pretty much had the run of the garden over the winter and I need to go carefully as I start to make my presence felt.

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The landscapers who laid the path left some free gifts.  I have two pieces of 6 x 2, which I am sure I will put to good use – or they can join the rest of my ‘might come in useful one day’ collection. I do have more immediate plans for these sections of re-enforcing  grid.  I’m going for the industrial chic look and will use them as supports for a climbing rose.  I will let you know how I get on.

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The hydrangea buds are bursting forth.  I think I’m pretty safe to cut back the old flower heads now, but I’m going to leave it another week – after I’ve seen what the next beast brings.

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Sweet pea update:  Gwendoline is just coming through, Black Knight is about an inch high, Midnight Blue is definitely making a show but Anniversary is a non starter at the moment.  All were sown on 15 February.  My pot of autumn sown sweet peas need to be planted out but I’m trying to get hold of some hazel poles.  Request made, response awaited.

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The mahonia in the front garden is about to shine forth.  The bees love it, the smell is great and it is one of the few yellows that I like in the garden.

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By contrast, a yellow I’m not so fond of:  the forsythia.  I find it just a bit too much to take en masse.  But a few branches in a vase are a definite statement of spring.

For more news of spring explore The Propagator’s blog.  I spied a lovely tulip bud there.  Happy Gardening: In the UK it’s time to spring forward with the clocks!

Six on Saturday: Growing things

The work on the paths was delayed by the wet weather but finally it is finished. Sort of.  I have to add in soil where I have gained a few extra inches of border and of course sorting out one corner throws up uneven levels in another area.  But that is for another time.  I have got the garden back – just in time for the arrival of the mini beast from the east.  A cold weekend is expected.  Here’s what I spotted as I walked round.

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IMG_2067So this is the path looking shockingly new but I will soon get that sorted out with a few trips up and down with the wheelbarrow!

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IMG_2054 (2)The clematis pruned before the last batch of cold weather has survived and is surging onward.  It will soon be covering the trellis again.

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IMG_2053A sure sign that everything is growing.  This is most likely an ash tree seedling.  Neighbouring gardens are well forested and every year I have to be super vigilant to pull up all the seedlings that come my way.  Ash and sycamore are the most common and then the odd oak courtesy of the squirrels.

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IMG_2060The tulips are coming through. This beautiful pink edged leaf could be from China Girl or Angelique.  These two were planted along with Spring Green in a mixed clump in November.   They should be in flower come April/May.

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IMG_2063Right plant, right place I think.  I planted half a dozen cowslips in a very wet border last year and this year there is a great crop of seedlings.  I shall gently separate them and spread them around this border and elsewhere.  Lovely free plants!

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IMG_2055Don’t they look tempting.  The first lush shoots of the delphiniums.  I can just hear the slugs smacking their lips.  More vigilance required.

I am feeling excited and frustrated.  So much new growth but such a cold weekend forecast.  And I’ve still got the nerines to plant.  Patience is a virtue…

Check in with The Propagator to see what else is growing this weekend.  Gardeners from both hemispheres take part so there is always something to enjoy.  Happy gardening.

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday: Paths

The much welcome higher temperatures are having their effect and growth in the garden is very apparent.  Roses, irises, phlox and clematis are all pushing out new shoots.  But I’ve not been doing much gardening this week.  I’ve been observing the garden through the window as the new path is being laid.

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IMG_2039My old path was broken, uneven and collected water.  The new path will be well drained, carefully sloped and smooth.  But I am already missing the patina and idiosyncrasies of the old path’s age.  The builders are taking great care to keep the new path clean but I will be out there soon rubbing in the mud and possibly some yoghurt!

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In another area of the garden I am replacing a very broken up brick path and here I am using brick again.  I’m slightly curious about the brick with the number on it but I feel much happier about this path as the clay bricks already have an aged feel.   This was the most dangerous path in the garden, twisted ankles beckoned at every step.  I am looking forward to striding down this path with confidence.

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IMG_2030 (1)The laying of the paths sadly means that some things in the garden get trampled on or have been dug up to allow for the base to be laid.  I don’t think I will see any fritillaries this year and I know that one or two tulips have been snapped off.  As I always say ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’.  And of course I will have the chance to add something new to omelette!  On the upside I will lose the ugly concrete edges and gain a precious couple of inches of border.

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IMG_2035I managed to get out the greenhouse this morning and was very pleased to see that the rocket seed sown on 16 February has germinated.  The sweet peas sown at the same time are only just breaking the surface but they too are on their way.

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IMG_2037My daffodils are still in bud, the pheasant eye narcissus are coming along but the pulmonaria is definitely in flower.  The clump was planted last year from divisions given to me by a friend.  I think I’m going to divide this up again this year and use it to soften the edges of that new path.

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IMG_2040And here’s a couple of new ingredients for that omelette.  Some nerines – bowdenii Ostara, and dahlias.  The dahlias are a combination of greeny whites and are destined for pots.  The path should be finished by Wednesday, whereupon I will become a gardener again.

I hope you have all been able to get to your garden and observe all the changes taking place.  Pop along to  The Propagator  to see what else is going on in gardens around the world.

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday

It’s a white out in my garden.  There are footprints from the wildlife and frozen flora abounds.  I was going to give you a peak into next week’s project: new paths.  The path project is a big one and ‘the professionals’ are coming in to do it.  Work is scheduled to start on Monday and fortunately temperatures are set to rise.   As the paths are covered with snow I’m going to show you some pictures of the garden last summer.  There will be the odd glimpse of the path along the way, but more importantly there is some beautiful colour from plants that were sown from seed last year and from the frozen perennials that now lie under the snow.

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This is how the border started out. The roses, irises and euphorbia are in.  The canes mark the spots for delphiniums, salvias and astrantias to be planted.  It is the path on the right that is being relaid.

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The borders were filled in with annuals, here are calendula and ammi.  The wonderful delphiniums were brought from the old garden.  More perennials were added through the year.  Some grown from seed, some from 9cm pots.

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IMG_1154This is the top end of the border. Sweet pea, cosmos purity and nicotiana lime green were sown from seed.  The lambs ears in the foreground looked bedraggled in last week’s six.  Will they survive after the freezing weather of this week?  This path is staying. It’s not very attractive and if I had a magic wand it would be transformed into a lovely brick cottage garden path.   I have also planted alchemella mollis and geranium brookside, both of which tumble onto the path edges.

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This is another view of the path that will be relaid.  It is very patchy and uneven in places. The agapanthus and verbena thrive against the sunny wall.  The rose in the centre is Scepter’d Isle and a pink hollyhock climbs skyward in the distance.

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The height of summer. I am sowing calendula seeds again. The bright orange was such a highlight.  They are scheduled for sowing in April.  I will sow in modules again.

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The clematis in flower and with some of those fascinating seed heads. It’s now one of the frozen flora. It was already putting on new growth and had been cut back to about 50cms. Here’s hoping those new shoots are made of strong stuff.

It’s a bit of a bending of the rules this week, but did you really want 6 shades of white?  I am curious to see what other sixers will post.  I encourage you to take a look at The Propagator’s blog and see what materialises. I am hoping all UK sixers are warm, dry and safe this weekend.  Over to you in the sunnier climes!

Six on Saturday

I was going to dial in my apologies for this week.  There is much potential in the garden but could I really subject you to six photos of emerging shoots.  Could I cobble together something or would it end up a busted flush?  Well the social streak in me is strong and I enjoy being a part of the #SixOnSaturday meme so here I am again.

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As the new growth on the perennials comes through I cut back the old stems.  But the seed heads on these Agastache foeniculum can provide some winter interest in the border for a while longer.  They are  ‘Alabaster’ and give lovely white spires of flowers for the butterflies to feast on in the summer.

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Other plants do not fair so well over the winter.  Here are two plantings of Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’.  Those planted at the sunnier end of the border are holding their own but those at the shadier end are disappearing fast.  This is their first year in the garden so it will be interesting to see if they pull through.  But if not, I have the spot at the shadier end earmarked for some more hellebores.  It’s so important to have the right plant in the right place!

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Yes, here is another hellebore photo.  I am becoming a great fan of them and love it when the white ones catch the sun.

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There was a tweet in the week about a rosemary being in flower.  Yes, it is in my garden too.  This border has the sun from early morning to mid afternoon and with its back against the brickwork the rosemary does well here.

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Also doing well are the penstemons. Known for being on the tender side, the advice is not to cut them back until new growth starts to come through.  These penstemons have come through the winter in strong leaf but I won’t cut them back until the weather is warmer and then I will cut back to points of strong growth a couple of centimetres up from the ground.

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And here’s where I bust my flush!  It’s an emerging shoot.  No apologies for being excited to see so much new growth on this iris.  It is an allotment share from a well established clump and has a lovely tall stem with white flowers but I don’t know the variety.  I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and this shows that spring, although postponed for a week,  is on its way.

The Propagator is the place to go to read more #SixOnSaturday posts, just what’s needed after a chilly session in the garden.

Six on Saturday

After a productive morning in the garden I now present my #SixOnSaturday.  And it is not quite as I anticipated.  My plan was to sow a few seeds and get the pruning of those blackcurrant bushes finished off.  It was a frosty start so I thought a light brushing down of a few cobwebs in the potting shed would be a good warm up.

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We all have our favourite tools and for me brushing down the cobwebs is done with the old brown brush.  First I had to find it.  So the rickety old shed was emptied out.  The brush was found about half way through the emptying but I’d started so I had to finish.  First job of the day turned out to be a spring clean of the shed.  The second job – look away now if you are faint-hearted – was also shed related.  If you are ready, read on.

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The dangers of plastic bags to wildlife are much in the news and I can only think that this rat fell foul of one my garden refuse bags.  I’m not a great fan of sheds at the best of times and my survival instincts were on the alert for large spiders.  I was not expecting to find this.  But it was dead, recently so I think, and so I coped rather well.  Disposed of it, had a cup of tea and with nerves steadied, moved on to brush down those cobwebs.

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Whilst I had my feet up in January, those more resilient than I were washing down greenhouses, washing up pots and scrubbing plant labels clean.  Well today I made a start on a few of those jobs in preparation for a little bit of seed sowing. Once some of those jobs were done, sweet pea Black Knight, Gwendoline and Anniversary were planted in root trainers and the first rocket seeds were planted in modules. I decided against planting the half hardy antirrhinums as the greenhouse is on the cold side and I think they can wait until early March. As a bonus I’ve included the latest photos of the autumn sown love-in-a-mist and end of summer penstemon cuttings.

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I sowed the love-in-mist in seed trays and when I potted them on I took the chance of planting a few directly into the soil.  They have survived the winter so far.  In the background is one of the foxgloves sown from seed last year and planted out at the same time.  The foxglove should be in flower this year.

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A little dot of colour to end on.  The first of the anemones has pushed through and opened out.  I had thought the autumn mulch had buried them, but one or two are beginning to appear.

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The half price tray of white cyclamen bought a while ago are evolving.  They have begun to take a gentle pink blush.  I wasn’t expecting this either but I find it far preferable to the dead rat.

For more garden excitement from around the world go to The Propagator for this week’s links to a lovely selection of six on saturday, generally horticulturally related but with the occasional meander off the garden path.