Six On Saturday: Last Hurrah for November

I am going to ignore the gloomy wet week that has just past and revel in the blue skies and frosty morning of today. The water in the bird bath is well and truly frozen and the grass is fully frosted. It was a cold night. Time to enjoy the winter garden.

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The beautiful view from one end of the garden.  Most of the leaves are now down but this tree is still glowing with autumn colour.

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The frost made finding six garden delights much easier.  These are the frosted leaves of  Cistus × purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’.

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Frosted Primrose leaves.  A sigh of relief goes with this picture. There were some lingering scented leaf pellies in this pot and I just got them into greenhouse in time.  Last night in the greenhouse it was -.08 degrees.

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The seeds of the verbenia bonariensis are going to provide a chilly snack for the birds today.  But if they come late morning things might have improved.  As I took these photos the sounds of dripping water indicated that the sun was melting the frost away.

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My parsnips.  They’ve had a couple of frosts now so its time for me dig up a few and see how they fared over the summer.  Definitely an improvement on last year when none of the seeds germinated.

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More beautiful leaf colour but also a bit of fail here as I didn’t prune the gooseberries in July and haven’t yet got round to doing the winter prune.  Still there’s plenty of time – if I can be persuaded out into the garden.

So now we settle into winter dormancy for the plants.  For me,   I will finish the rose pruning, take down the passion flower and prune the soft fruits and the grapevine.  I will, I will.

I wonder what is on Mr P’s to do list?  Stop by and find out and catch up with other SOS news from around the world.

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: The borders take shape

This garden has a long history of growers. The very first owner here was a prize winner for a plate of three raspberries and the second owner was a committed fruit grower.  When I came along the fruit growing had taken priority and the borders were being taken over by weeds and grass.  There are still plenty of weeds and fruit bushes around but flowers are gradually being reinstated.

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The monthly long border shot.  This year I have gone for two smaller wigwams of sweet peas.  I planted out the early sowings last weekend.  On the left  ‘April in Paris’, a white variety and on the right ‘Midnight Blues’.  I now have a gap where the large wigwam went and although I have some annuals lined up to fill the space I feel the need for an evergreen shrub to give more form to this end of the border.  The delphiniums are shooting away and with storm Hannah blowing through I need to get out there and do some tying in.  In case you are wondering, the bamboo cane is there to remind me not to step on the emerging echinacea ‘White Swan’.  Roses, geraniums and knautia are also making good progress, ready to take over from the tulips and euphorbia.

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The left hand end of the north border. This used to be home to a stand of blackcurrant bushes and in turning over the soil for the nth time I found a label: Ben Tirran.  Four of those bushes went on to new homes so I will pass on the information.  The others have been found temporary homes elsewhere here.  So this end of north border was ready to plant up this year.  First to go in were two hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, climbing hydrangeas for the back fence.  Last weekend I planted 23 geranium sanguineum ‘Alba’ and six anemone ‘Honorine Jobert.  I have two more geraniums waiting to go in once the front row three of pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’ arrive.  I’ll fit the last two geraniums in around them.  The black pots along the back row are representing 10 melica altissima ‘Alba’.  These are proving elusive at the moment and I am hoping I don’t have to resort to a well known but more expensive on-line supplier.  I am following a plan from Joe Swift – Five plants for a deep shade border – as published in Gardeners’ World August 2018.  I also have some seedlings of astrantia major to fit in and finally I plan to add snowdrops for some early interest.

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At the other end of the north border the Choisyas are opening up.  This can mean only one thing.  The days are numbered for the ailing one.  For the moment I’ll enjoy the scent and the green and white colours.

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Patiently waiting to fill the space soon to be vacated by poorly choisya is a skimmia ‘Kew Green’.  Most descriptions use the very attractive phrase ‘no need to prune’.  The scent is described as’ lilly of the valley’ and it does well in shade.  Sounds perfect.

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I was lucky enough to inherit a greenhouse, old and needing some glazing repairs but it looked wonderful to me.  I put in some automatic openers but the frame on one side sticks in one corner and I haven’t solved the problem.  Last week the frame gave way at its weak point – the glass.  I made a temporary repair with some left over plastic and clingfilm but storm Hannah has curled her lip!  I am hoping the local company that helped out with the glazing last time will come to my aid again.

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The sowing of tomatoes for the greenhouse are coming along well.  Time to move them on I think.  That will encourage me to get that window repaired.

The weather has changed dramatically.  Cold, wet and windy.  I am grateful for the rain as already the water butts were getting low.  Fingers crossed that the wind isn’t too damaging, there is so much blossom around now.  I hope your garden stays safe and don’t forget to take a look at Mr P’s blog for more news from SOSs around the world.

 

 

Six On Saturday: Sorry, Sunday!

A late posting this week due to unexpected 48 hour lurgy having struck.  Feeling better now but the task of planing out the main crop potatoes does not sound that appealing.  I think they can wait another week.  I’m hoping to have the energy for planting out the sweet peas, dead heading the daffs and sowing a few annuals.  If the thought of gardening is exhausting you too go to The Propagator’s blog  for armchair gardening or the inspiration to get out there for real.  Here’s my six for the week.

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The first of the irises have opened.  These were divisions from a neighbour’s garden at the old house, brought along in pots when we moved and now in their third summer in this garden.  They are putting on a better show than last year so perhaps they truly feel at home now.  Just in time for another division?

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Six on Saturday is a good thing to get involved with!  Thanks go to Sedums, dahlias and hayfever for sharing their enjoyment of the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens some time back.  It went onto the list of places to visit and this week was ticked off.  It’s a fantastic place with a series very impressive glass houses.  Thanks also go to the Rivendell Garden blog for regularly sharing alpine plants in his sixes.  Having spotted armeria maritima last week what chance did I have when I saw three pots of the stuff for sale in the plant shop.  Purchase made.  The alpine section at the Botanic Gardens is also very much worth a visit.  In fact I may have to do a separate write up – I must be feeling better.

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Before heading off to Edinburgh there was an intensive spell of 5 minute gardening to be done.  Of course it always takes at least half an hour but I did manage to get the first rows of rocket planted out and this year’s new try out – edamame beans. These were an impulse buy when I was picking up my compost for the summer sowings.  The beans have to be boiled for 10 mins to kill off the toxins!  I thought they were the healthy option.

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This interesting collection is the result of sowing 45 seeds of euphorbia oblongata last summer.  Only four germinated and very late in the season.  I had really given up on them but somehow they struggled on so I potted them up to overwinter them in the greenhouse.  They have all made very different progress. One fatality.  I’m keeping them in the greenhouse for a few more weeks before they go outside but their place in the garden has been lost.  They were intended as the underplanting for the Darcy Bussell roses.  I’ll scout around for a new corner for them.  Looking at them here I am tempted to pinch out the tops.

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The first of the lettuce seedlings are ready to be moved on.  I will plant some in the greenhouse and some outside.  These were sown at the end of February if I remember rightly.

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I found this growing on the compost heap and with a gardener’s optimism planted it up.  I am hoping it is sweet woodruff.  Any thoughts?

Well that’s my lot for this week.  Back with a bit more vim next week.  Those potatoes must be planted by then.

 

Six On Saturday: Call yourself a gardener?

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

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

My first six is also a disappointment

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

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

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

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

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IMG_2914The astrantia major are flowering again.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Six On Saturday: Returning friends and small beginnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six On Saturday: Changing seasons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six On Saturday: Fresh eyes give renewed determination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Six On Saturday: Oops I did it again

With temperatures again in the 30s I went away for the week.  Yes, I know.  No real gardener ever leaves the garden in summer, not ever!  I did the usual frantic watering, moving pots into the shade and putting everything on trays or saucers and off I went.  My garden is well past its best so I was really quite relaxed.  I went in search of inspiration from some of the great gardens of England and I found that they too had gone over plants, roses devoid of flowers and scorched lawns.  But some ideas for late summer colour were found and I returned determined to take more care of my phloxes.

But here is what is happening in my garden this week.

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Rosa Natasha Richardson is in her second flowering and is looking gorgeous.  I’m very happy with the background of Agastache Black Adder but she needs something the other side of her.  I’m still looking for her ideal companion.

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Sometime in May I optimistically sprinkled some zinnia seeds that came free with a well known gardening magazine and in the week I was away they opened up.  They were sown at the foot of the now towering tithonia and in amongst the Pentsemon Plum Jerkum.   They have given me an extra spot of late summer colour.

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You would not expect me to visit three gardens and come away empty handed now would you? I nearly did as Hidcote had sold out of Agapanthus Navy Blue – a later flowering variety that’s now on my wish list.  Fortunately across the road at Kiftsgate I found a lovely pink Salvia microphylla Blush Pink.  It should flower into November and be frost hardy.  If it does I shall be very happy.

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I left my tray of Ammi visnaga out in a shady/sunny spot hoping they might put on a spurt of growth.  I really don’t know if they are going to make it into flower but I am going to plant them out anyway and enjoy their feathery green foliage in amongst the white zinnias as planned.

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My vegetable patch has struggled this year, falling foul of lack of rain and my feeble attempts to water it.  I harvested the onions before I left and put them in the potting shed to dry out – as if they needed that!  Small but delightfully formed I think.

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The apples are also much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this is the earliest apples have ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready for picking and I’m hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that arrived on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I also need to decide what to do with this poor specimen.  Do I shorten the leader and keep the laterals in tight or will the leader strengthen over time?  So much learning to be done!

The bulb catalogues are arriving and even as I review how to improve the August and September garden my thoughts are turning to Spring.  I am well and truly on the gardening roller coaster and on the whole enjoying it.

Be dazzled by the diversity of gardens that get shown each week by checking the links given on The Propagator’s blog You will see that there is an occasional ‘cheat’ and this week The Prop has smuggled three extras into his six.  There must be a sub section somewhere that allows that then!

The apples are also so much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this was the earliest apples had ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready to pick and I am hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that came on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I need to think what I do with this poor specimen.  Should I cut the leader much shorter and keep all the laterals in tighter or will the leader strengthen over time? There is so much learning to be done!