Six On Saturday: The strange case of the two tier rhododendron and other oddities

So Monty Don recently said  ‘Gardening is easy. Stick it in the ground the right way up and most plants will grow perfectly well.’ Which is essentially true but every now and then strange things happen:

One

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I think I know why my rhoddy looks like this.  It’s possible that the tree was planted soon after the house was built, which would make it about 100 years old.  I think it had been left to its own devices and being on a north facing border it had reached forward for some sun.  I think the previous owner then cut it back hard at the bottom to regain some of the lawn.  My evidence: when we moved in I discovered a large pile of wood stashed behind the foliage.  Since then the bottom of the tree has regenerated and this year has put out some fabulously healthy flowers and more luscious green leaves.  But the top of the tree struggles on with yellowing leaves and smaller and much later flowers.  My guess is the bottom is sapping the energy of the top.  So do I radically cut back the top, probably reducing the height by half – which feels like vandalism, but if it needs to be done….or do I lightly prune the top every year until the tree balances itself out again?  It has plenty of water and although north facing it does get early morning and late afternoon sun so I think the conditions are okay.  Any thoughts?

Two

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This beautiful iris came free, picked up from the allotment sharing bench.  I think it is  ‘White City’ and last year they were all the palest blue colour fading to white.  This year there is an interloper.  Now since it was a large clump divided from an even larger clump maybe the purple iris has been there all along and has only  just flowered. Or has it been cross pollinated?  Either way I am enjoying them both.

Three

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Is my Sneezeweed trying to tell me something?  I bought some last year with the aim of adding some late colour to the borders but it has been in flower since May.  Label says ‘Flowering period: late summer’.  My, the year is going fast!

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Back to some normal happenings.  These stunning Siberian irises came as several divisions from a friend’s collection.  This is their second year in the garden and they have multiplied amazingly, definitely a case of growing perfectly well.

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The equally successful Astrantia ‘Claret’.  I did try to grow some from seed but that didn’t happen so I happily bought some 9cm pots which have bulked up well in their second year.  The roses in bud behind are ‘Blush Noisette’ – so close to popping but not for this week!

Six

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I must give a shout out to the growers at the Finchley Horticultural Society who also seem to have the knack of making gardening easy.  I decided to diversify my tomato growing this year.  Instead of 15 plants of one variety grown from seed I have six plants of three varieties bought at last week’s plant sale.  I’ve missed the roller coast ride of raising them from seed but I’m going to enjoy the variety: Marmonde, Golden Crown  and Alicante.  I was also tempted by some chilli plants and a couple of Romano peppers.  I’ve taken the plunge this year and planted them direct into the soil instead of in grow bags.  Let’s see what the greenhouse soil has got in it!  I have grown my own basil which I’ll be planting around the tomatoes.

There’s an extra gardening day again in the UK.  Will it be hot and sunny, hot and thundery or a wash out?  Let’s hope we can all find a way to enjoy the weekend whatever.  More gardening stories can be found at The Propagator’s blog.  The contributors also seem to be growing very easily.

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Six On Saturday: Red, white and blue

Oh go on,  indulge me!  It’s Harry and Meghan’s day and here’s my Six:

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I’ve planted up the containers.  I’m very predictable.  It’s always two geraniums and something else.  This year I have two trailing ivy leaf geraniums, this one is Merlot.

Two

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And the something else is a trailing bacopa snowflake.

Three

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And the first of the blues is Polemonium caeruleum or Jacob’s ladder.  I strayed from my plan to plant in blocks and just bought one of these.  I am now trying it out around the garden to be sure I find the perfect spot for it.

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The second red is of course a geum, Blazing Sunset.  Bought last year at the Finchley Horticultural Society plant sale – which is where I shall be on Sunday, manning a stall.

Five

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The second white is a Cistus or rock rose.  There is a label for this somewhere,  but for now I am joining our noble leader in the var. unk. club! (I think it might be Alan Frapp).

Six

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The second blue was a difficult choice but I’ve decided to save my favourite one for next week… For this week it’s going to be Geranium himalayense ‘Gravetye’.  It’s just coming into flower and is doing a great job filling out the new border.

Okay, so maybe the blues are a little purple and one of the reds is on the verge of orange but I think you get my drift!

Happy weekends everyone, be it weddings, football, plant sales or gardening!  And save some time for reading all the other sixes as featured at The Propagator’s blog.

Six On Saturday: Building up the layers

Another crazy week in the garden.  Doing the hokey cokey with the greenhouse plants: in, out, in, out and trying very hard not to shake them all about and the layers in the new borders are building up.  This week it is the turn of the alliums.

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These are Purple Sensation. I hope they stay around long enough to look good with the Rosa Blush Noisette which is just in bud behind.  Now the path is complete I need to find some low growing edging plants to drown out the weed seedlings.  Or maybe I move the geraniums forward.  Hhmm,  I think I’ll do that.

Two

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These are Allium Mount Everest, looking suitably tall.  The tulips are really past their best but there is enough life in them to make the border look quite colourful.  Some of the Mount Everests have done a disappearing trick, about six have gone awol causing me to set up a spreadsheet for the autumn bulb order.  Otherwise I am sure to forget that I need more.  I like the height they give to the border at this time of the year.

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And the bonus tulip is …orange! These are in a border that only gets afternoon sun and they are lasting rather well.  I though Queen of Night was the lone gatecrasher in this border but this late arrival is a real stand out.

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The pheasant eye narcissus have been a joy in the last few weeks.  Their scent drifts across the back of the garden and they are looking very happy in combination with the bluebells and pulomonaria.  This corner is going to look quite empty when the spring flowers finish.  More layering to be done.

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This is geranium phaeum which came with me in pots from the old garden.  This is its second year in the new border and it has really established itself well.  It’s far more stately and elegant in this garden than it ever was before.  I do love a geranium and will be dividing this up and spreading it around.

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And lastly, the dwarf azalea has revealed its true colour and I think it has earned the chance to move out of its pot and into the border.  It is just the right height for the front of the north west facing corner.  But there is work to be done on that border, currently the most neglected part of the garden, home to ground elder, geranium robertianum and the ubiquitous sherperd’s purse.  The RHS advice gleefully informs me that ‘a single plant is able to produce an average of 2-3000 seeds each, with three generations per year.’  Plenty still to be done there then.

Don’t forget to check in with The Propagator, host of the Six On Saturday meme for a mesmerising selection of gardening delights from around the world.  Happy gardening.

 

 

Six On Saturday: Branching out

I foresee blue sky photos for this week’s sixes.  And about time too!  Here are mine.

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IMG_2252The trees in the garden are beginning to put on a show.  First up is the persimmon tree.  There was a bumper crop last year but I’m not a fan.  I inherited it with the garden and it does look fabulous in winter when the leaves have dropped and the orange fruits remain.

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IMG_2255I also inherited a number of apple trees and here is some delightful apple blossom from one of them.   Again, there was a bumper crop last year, we don’t store the apples and there are only so many we can eat so the majority of them are taken off for juicing.  We are still drinking the 2017 vintage.

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IMG_2258The leaves on the fig trees are just opening.  Not such a good year for figs for me last year and the squirrels always get the best of them.  I managed to bag a handful!

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IMG_2257And after my winter pruning efforts  it is always a great relief to see new leaves on the vine.  It does produce grapes but so far they have split before we get the chance to taste them.  The grape variety is Black Muscat, which I understand is also known as Black Hamburg.  Again, I was fortunate enough to inherit this well established vine which shades the pergola.

Five

IMG_E2256There is a great foaming wave of Choysia in one sunny corner of the garden.  It’s perfectly lined up with a view from the window.  Many thanks again to the previous owner.

Six

IMG_2250Finally, all my own work!  The white triumphator tulips are still hanging on and are a great companion to the irises that have just begun to flower.  There is also a glimpse of the almost open allium ‘purple sensation’ – something for next week!

Wishing you all a great gardening weekend – and the extra day in the UK.  More time to read all the sixes on show at The Propagator’s blog. Blue skies all the way.