Six on Saturday: There’s a new wave coming

Every now and then a song gets stuck in my head and this week it is Kids in America by Kim Wilde. Kim’s a bit of gardener too btw, so it seems very appropriate.   If you don’t know the song I recommend you look at Kim’s performance of it on the train!

So as Kim says ‘there’s a new wave coming, I warn you’ and this week I am feeling more positive about the garden.  It actually rained last night for about 30 minutes and although there may be a few pests and diseases around the garden is shaping up for mid and late summer.  And here are the highlights:

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My first uplifting delight was spotting a flower on the Tithonias.  They were grown from seed and the packet indicates a final height of eight feet.  I’d say they are about four feet now and are full of promise. They should see me through into autumn.

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Somewhere along the way last year I picked up a recommendation for the Penstemon Sour Grapes and I would love to say thank you to whoever it was that put this plant onto my wish list.  I do thank you but I can’t remember who it was!  I planted it in amongst the Agastache Black Adder featured last week and, if I may say so, I think it works very well.

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I am also bowled over, as I am every year, by the evergreen agapanthus that I grow in containers.  They did look a sorry sight at the end of winter.  But those brown leaves were removed, a granular fertiliser added to the pots and now patience has been rewarded.  They are truly a wow in the garden for the second half of summer.

The second half of the summer is also the time when the veg patch starts producing.  Of course my lack of watering and the absence of rain has had an impact.  My courgettes are tiny – hard to believe I know. The new potatoes, first batch lifted this week, were also on the small side.  But they were truly delicious as was the first outdoor cucumber.  In the greenhouse the melons and tomatoes are rather like this Six – long and rambling!

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Last year the melon I grew suffered from red spider mite, thank you to Fred, a French gardener  for diagnosing this for me, and only one flower made it into a fruit.  This year I have been overwhelmed.   I tried to follow the RHS advice: ‘When fruit are gooseberry size, select the best four on each stem and remove all other flowers, fruit and leaves.  Stop the side shoots two or three leaves beyond these fruits, pinch out the main growing tips and remove new growths as they appear.’ But a week away from the greenhouse and I cannot tell a side shoot from a main growing tip and who knows which is new growth!  I am just cutting back to points where fruit has formed.  The variety is Pepito F1.  So far no mites!

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The whole greenhouse experience is new to me.  Last year I grew a few cherry tomatoes under the glass and they were quite well behaved.  This year the three varieties I chose, Alicante, Golden Crown and Marmande, have gone crazy.  Side shoots doubling in size by the day, leaf growth in abundance and finally a few tomatoes!  It doesn’t look like the marmande is producing well but we shall see.  These are alicante, they are not ready for picking yet but not long now.

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I thoroughly recommend Thomas Stone’s blogs in general and especially anything he posts on roses such as this one on moss roses.   I must extend my rose collection but for the moment mine are all repeat flowering english roses.  They do keep coming.  I gave them all a rose feed a few weeks ago, watered it in and the flowers are coming through once more.  This is Natasha Richardson.  I’ve shown it before and I include it again because it I was pleased that it too is a part of the new wave.

I always recommend this meme and the host The Propagator  as a great way to see what is going on in gardens around the world.  The people who post under #SixOnSaturday are all great sharers of their the knowledge and experience and I want to thank everyone for helping me grow my own knowledge.  Last week I posted a picture of my under the weather apple tree.  I looks like it has fireblight and I thank Tony Tomeo for sharing his knowledge.  Loving you all!!

 

 

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Six on Saturday: Short and sweet

Life is very busy at the moment and it has been hard to find the time to spend in the garden, watering is being neglected and the veg patch is suffering.  The courgettes are tiny and the borlotti beans are barely climbing up the bean pole.  The latest pest is mice who are taking tiny bites out of the leek stems.  So here’s a very short six:

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IMG_2555Phlox. Evidence of my poor watering regime!  I am just about keeping the flowers going.

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IMG_2546The flower stem of Acanthus mollis.  I took a small division from a large plant when we moved house two years ago.  It was tiny but it has taken hold and this year produced the first flower stem.  Fred has some of these!

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IMG_2565Passion flower – Fred has some of these too.  His are p. edulis but  I wonder if this is Passiflora caerulea The link is to the RHS page.  Since this survived the cold winter I think it could be a caerulea.  It came with the new garden and grows rampantly over an arch.

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IMG_2554The apples are growing but I have these brown leaves.  Same happened last year so I don’t think it is a watering problem – but then again I didn’t water the trees last year either.  Any ideas.  Dahlia lovers among you will have noticed the photo bomb from D.Thomas Edison.  My first foray into a non white dahlia!

Five

 

IMG_2566 (2)Agastache Black Adder – it my very hot dry sunny border.  The perfect place for it but as a new plant it does require regular watering.  It’s one I am trying to keep and maybe this is where I introduce some grasses.

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IMG_2557And of course I have to keep watering the containers.  I am managing to keep these going by collecting the cold water than comes through before the hot in the kitchen tap.  What a palaver! But I am enjoying these scented leaf pelargoniums.

That’s my six, for more links please visit The Propagator.  I have been so busy I haven’t read last weeks comments but I am hoping next week slows down and I can catch up soon.  And of course I should say – haway the lads – or something similar. Those who know will know!

Six on Saturday: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

 

It was the best time to spend a week on the Suffolk coast. High temperatures, blue skies and lazy days. But the worst time to leave the garden. First the best.

One

A stop at the Beth Chatto gardens was made en route. I wanted to purchase Convolvulus cneorum, also known as shrubby bindweed.  It seemed strange to be looking for a plant with convolvulus in its name when most of us are digging out its less popular relative. But Christopher Lloyd planted it with  Erigeron karvinskianus and if it worked for him I’m going to give it a go.  It seems very popular in Suffolk:  I found it growing in the holiday garden alongside bindweed and I was soon spotting it everywhere. The silver foliage looked wonderful in the sunshine.

Two

If I maybe allowed to stretch the rules, here’s one I would like to have in my garden. It’s the scabious ‘Stafa’ planted here with knautia macedonica. This is a photo from the Beth Chatto garden.

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So there I was having a lovely time on the coast, enjoying the cool breeze coming off the North Sea, vaguely aware that temperatures were soaring elsewhere, when idly checking in on Twitter I come across a conversation between The Propagator and Fred, a French gardener discussing drip feed systems for the greenhouse tomatoes and the constant watering required elsewhere.  I had soaked the greenhouse plants before I left, left seedlings in trays of water and given the garden as much of a soak as I could.  What would I find on my return?  The plant here – which I confess is not in my garden – is marram grass.

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Well the hollyhocks seemed to have enjoyed the heat.  These have been grown from seed gathered from the old allotment plot.  I thought I had collected the deep burgundy ones.  Last year’s  seedlings came up yellow and this year’s are white.  So far not a burgundy flower among them.  But they are very impressive.

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In the greenhouse, the tomatoes had just about held on, the chillies and basil were drooping and an optimistically sown tray of tagetes had shrivelled to a crisp.  I was relieved to see that the only two euphorbia seeds to germinate had made it through as had some potted on Ammi visnaga – who where very tardy in their germination.  I had recently been given two young plants of Japanese cucumbers which had also just survived.

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The best news was that the blackcurrants, which grow on a shady side of the garden are just ripe – so the job for today is picking them before they go over.

I’ll also be doing a week’s worth of dead heading – the roses look a sorry sight, plenty more watering and planting out the japanese cucumbers and my new bindweed!  Visit The Propagator  to see what other SoSers are doing this weekend.  Enjoy the sunshine.

Six on Saturday: Send in the locusts!

Don’t bother they’re here!  Well not actually locusts, the latest garden pest to arrive is the sawfly caterpillar.  I caught a crowd of them devouring my nasturtiums and radishes.  And following a tweet from Horti Hugo  I scampered off to check the gooseberries.  I couldn’t see a single caterpillar but the evidence was there:

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I’ve cut my losses on the gooseberries this year.  Life got busy at the wrong time and I didn’t get that netting done so I picked all that I could and I will have to wait for next year.  The blackcurrants have been netted and at least there are plenty of berries there for us all to enjoy.

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Pottering gardener alert:  I decided there was far too much leaf on the tomatoes in the greenhouse and my goodness, turn your back for moment and those side shoots put on a spurt.  The side shoots were removed and some of the longer branches were cut back.  I know this is usually done as the tomatoes ripen but I decided that it needed to be done now.  I did find several green tomatoes hiding beneath the foliage so I think I did the right thing.  The long side shoot at the bottom has also gone now!

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Still no rain here and the hydrangeas are wilting.  Here’s my favourite one which is framed on either side the by striking foliage of the siberian irises.  They did get a good watering after this photo was taken and picked up nicely.

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I am delighted to report my first dahlia flower – not one of those bright stunners but a rather subtle white and green affair.  It’s blanc y verde from a Sarah Raven collection.

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The penstemons are coming through now.  I thought I had carefully recorded the name of this one when it was purchased, but no.  I think it was firebird but could it be garnet?  Maybe there is a pot somewhere with a label on it!

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It’s still June, so I’m still featuring roses.  I really like this one because it is so different to my other roses.  It’s Jaqueline du Pre, a semi double Harkness rose.  I love the stamens.

For all the links to sixes from gardens around the world go to The Propagator’s blog – all the ups and downs of gardening and gyo will be on display.

Six On Saturday: How does your garden grow?

Quite contrarily is my answer! After the slug onslaught the aphids have arrived. Blackfly on the dahlias, nasturtiums and echinops and greenfly elsewhere. It hasn’t rained here in yonks, the onions are ‘delicately’ sized and the parsnips are refusing to play ball.  They are tempting me with one or two possible cotyledons but maybe I am deceiving myself. I continue to water in hope rather than expectation.  Let’s see if there are any silver bells or cockle shells to be found:

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The containers, planted up in May, are coming along well.  Cheering me up on the whole, until I realise they are verging on the dessicated!

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The carrots, that were also proving a little reluctant, finally came good in a third direct sowing.  This time I cast them onto the soil and sprinkled a little potting compost over the top.  Who knows why they decided to germinate this time!  I just have to keep them watered now.

Three

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The courgettes, bought as small plants from the Finchley Horticultural Society plant sale, are no trouble.  Oh, I forgot.  They do need watering.  But maybe the drought conditions will keep them on the manageable side.  The lovely flower and yellow fruit cheer me up on the way to the parsnip inspection.

Four

The gooseberries had quite a late pruning and the crop does not seem so bumper this year.  But is this because I have yet to net them from the birds? Sigh, I do have a lot of netting to do.  The blackcurrants, which I really took in hand – thinning them out ruthlessly – are doing well.  They are beginning to ripen, but you guessed it, they haven’t been netted yet either.

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Contrary, but in a good way, is the lemon tree.  Looking for all the world like it was dead and gone after a good chilling in the greenhouse over winter, it was subjected to not one but two cut backs and has responded well.  The glossy green leaves and the beautiful scent coming from the one or two flowers it has put out more than make up for the odd shape.  Good to see.

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A rose, Scepter’d Isle. Absolutely lovely.  These are my pretty maids all in row!

I hope your plots, veg patches and gardens are giving you joy.  There are lots of superb photos of the strawberry crop out there on twitter, which are underlining the need to replace my tired specimens, inherited from previous owner and cropping poorly.  Visit  The Propagator,  our host’s blog for more gardening encouragements: good things we can aspire to and duff things that we share the pain of.  No grammar corrections please! 🙂

Six On Saturday: Reaching the heights or lost in the foothills?

I’ve definitely had the feeling of losing the battle this week.  Slugs and snails are eating their way through the young plants – cosmos, lettuce, borlotti beans are high among the casualties.  The parsnips are refusing to germinate – third sowing and the last! And it looks like the fox has taken a shine to wandering through the agastache at night. I’m also losing the battle to keep everything watered, no rain and the water butts are empty again.  It looks grim.  But this is Saturday and optimism rules:

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Definitely reaching the heights are these delphiniums, I think they must be six feet tall.  Taken as a division from the parental garden many years ago, they were divided again when we moved here and I am very pleased to see them thriving this year. I was meticulous about staking and tying them in but they have exceeded my expectations!

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Also climbing upwards are the stems of Knautia macedonica.  These were planted out from 9cm pots last autumn and have settled down well.  They seem slug proof unlike some of the plants I have recklessly invested in.  Fortunately I remembered to stake them – just in time.  The bees love them.

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Down in the foothills where most of the slug damage is being done are these delightful dianthus deltoides.  They sulked after the garden move last year but have come good now.  No damage to report.

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Up again in the heights is this lovely clematis, inherited from the previous owner.  I thought I had killed it last year as I tried to separate it out from the bindweed and lemon balm but it made a comeback.

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A combination of higher foothills and the heights is provided by the lovely rose Blush Noisette and the Astrantia Claret featured in an early six.

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And seeming to be safe in the foothills but, I hope, heading for the heights are these Tithonias.  Grown from seed, one group was planted out a few weeks ago, straight from modules into the ground.  The other group I potted on, returned them to the greenhouse and finally planted them out in the week. This group has made much more growth.  So it looks like potting on is the best option.  The final height is said to be 8 feet.  I’ll report back!

It’s June and I hoped I would be pottering by now.  Well almost, I have some spare cosmos and some zinnias which really do need to go out.  And I’m going to count watering as pottering – so nearly there.  I hope you are too.  Take a look at  The Propagator’s blog , where you’ll find the host of this meme, the ‘rule book’ and all the links to other sixer posts.

Six On Saturday: Temptations resisted?

The first temptation has been resisted.  Having spent last weekend removing slugs from the border, it put me in mind of the children’s song about worms ‘Big fat juicy ones, Tiny little squiggly ones’ and I was tempted to post six varieties of slugs.  But we’ve all had enough of them haven’t we?

I was also tempted to post six geraniums or six roses.  I think I’ve also bought at least six new plants in the last month – temptations not resisted.  I decided to mix it up:

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A rose and geranium combination in recognition of the arrival of June.  The rose is Gertrude Jekyll, so beautifully scented.  It really does fill the air with perfume.  The geranium is Brookside.  This is definitely asserting itself this year, the long stems thread round the other planting giving height to the border.  The RHS say stems are reasonably short at 50 cms but I would say medium height.

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A rose and lavender combination and one of the new plants bought.  The rose is Natasha Richardson, opening pink and fading to a pale pink.  I was wondering what to underplant it with and eventually realised that the French Lavender living next door looked a good combination so I bought one more to plant towards the front.

Three

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A geranium on its own.  The eye popping Geranium psilostomen, also in its second year and achieving an impressive height.  It is pretty much self supporting although I have put a hoop in on the path side to keep it in its place.

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Another new plant: Salvia Armistad.  Featured more for the slug damage to the lower leaves.  I did wonder if this will survive a winter in my clay soil but decided to try it out.  On second thoughts it might not survive the summer if the slugs keep munching it.  I am going to try nematodes.

Five

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Last year I extended my collection of Astrantias.  I added Roma to the border.  It’s not come through as pink as I was expecting but I will give it time to settle.  It’s subtlety might be what the border needs.  I’ve already decided the geum in the back needs to be moved. Pink and yellow is not my favourite combination.

Six

I can’t resist the temptation to revisit one of last week’s six.  I must say thank you to  Jim Stephens  John Kingdom and Tony Tomeo  who gave me advice on the two tier rhododendron.  With their help I’ve discovered that my ancient plant is the invasive, common R. ponticum.  I’ve been up the ladder to take a photo of the the top tier which is now in flower and I think the top and bottom are the same, that is, it is not a more rarefied rhoddie grafted on to the ponticum root stock. It’s quite a monster and dominates that side of the garden so it does need to be tamed a little.  I think I’ll be getting help with that one.  The first photo is the bottom flower, the second the top tier flower, the third the whole tree and the fourth the tree as is looked last week.

Each new Six On Saturday post brings new temptations, this week a rose on  Thomas Stone’s blog  has caught my eye.  On the list for the autumn temptations!  Be tempted at The Propagator’s blog where you’ll find links to all the Sixes.

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:

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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.

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And the something else is a trailing bacopa snowflake.

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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).

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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.

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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.