Six On Saturday: Clinging on to Summer

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

One

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

Two

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

Three

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

Four

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

Five

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

Six

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

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

 

 

Six On Saturday: Back to being a gardener

The comments on last week’s post were very reassuring.  We all have those moments of stepping on, cutting off or killing one plant or another.  I was most struck by the thoughts that this all about learning to forgive ourselves and that enjoying what the garden gives are the most important things.  So this week, as the days shorten and the leaves begin to turn, there are a few growing successes to share.

One

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A few weeks ago it seemed that the figs would remain green and would all have to picked off.  Suddenly they started to ripen and each day brings more and more.  Most importantly I think I am getting to them before the squirrels!

Two

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More by the power of nature than my gardening skills I have managed to grow a strong crop of parsley from seed.  They were started of in a pot, transplanted into the greenhouse and a few more seeds were direct sown.  Having a steady supply of parsley is a first for me.

Three

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Also from the greenhouse is a photo of those peppers I was muttering about last week.  These are continuing to grow strongly and early problems with end rot seem to have disappeared.  The variety is supposedly Long Red Marconi, described as a mild sweet pepper.  But these have a bit of kick!

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The basil growing in the greenhouse keeps on going.  I’ve made some brilliant pesto and it is regularly used for cooking.

Five

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My eye popping aster is in full bloom.  It grows at the shadier end of the border and even there I am beginning to find it a little too bright!  I namby-pambied about giving this the chelsea chop this year.  In the end I gave it a layered chop which has produced great flowers at about 50cms.  Those stems that were left unchopped must be at 150cms now and needed staking.  I had a nose around to see if I could identify the variety and came up against the great re-naming debate.  I name this one Aster ‘Tall and Bright Pink’!

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Back to those squirrels again.  The recently completed wood facade to a breeze block structure at the end of the garden is a great place to perch and enjoy a different view.  Seems that the wildlife are also appreciating a new lunch venue and bring in their own food!  All our apples were picked and juiced a few weeks back.  Perhaps we missed one at the top of a tree.  The result of this year’s apple crop was 33 bottles of juice.  Last year we had 73 bottles.  I’m not complaining!

Mr P host of this meme, is having a busy weekend away from the garden and politely asks if someone could mow the lawn for him.  Sorry Mr P, I can’t help out as I will be too busy reading everyone else’s posts!

Six On Saturday: Stormy weather

The first storm of the winter arrived this week.  Some parts of the UK suffered more than others.  Here the weather was blustery and gusty for a few days but only minor damage occurred.  Here’s my contribution to the Six On Saturday meme:

One

IMG_2898Pride before the fall and fall the persimmons did.  Two branches came down, both  heavily laden with fruit.  They broke from the inside so nature has done a good job of opening up the tree.

Two

IMG_2905No sooner had the delphiniums put up their second flush of flower stems than the storm arrived.  Of course I hadn’t got round to tying in the tops but the ties at the bottom seem to have helped steady the stems enough to keep them safe.

Three

IMG_2900The stately cosmos that was just opening out its flowers was not so lucky.  I had tried to push a cane into the ground but there was no give at all. The plant snapped off at the bottom.  All was not lost as I cut back the side stems and brought them inside to fill a vase.

Four

IMG_2899The fruits of the passion flower are ripening and providing a focal point over the top of an arch.  These is the more common Passiflora caerulea and although the fruits are edible when very ripe I prefer to leave them be.

Five

IMG_2904There is a paragraph in the  participant’s guide  that encourages mention of gardening projects and time this week has been spent preparing the ground for some new plants.  It’s not a very exciting photo so here’s a link to the planting that inspired me:  Nice (no 3)  I was very taken by the combination of gaura and pennisetum, and I am going to try it out on a smaller scale here.  Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’ and Pennisetum villosum have been ordered and two corners have been cleared awaiting their imminent arrival.  Both should be shorter and smaller varieties of the original planting.

Six

IMG_2906Indeed the doorbell rang a moment ago and although it was not the aforementioned plants I was excited to receive the first of the bulb orders.  Excited on two counts: Yes! I had my six for the week (it was touch and go) and I could cross Colchicum speciosum Album off of the wish list.  I hope they are going to like the space I have ready for them.  Fingers crossed that it is sunny enough.

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:

One

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.

Two

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!

Three

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.

Four

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.

Five

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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.

Six

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: In my dreams

Temperatures are falling and the evenings have a chill about them.  My third summer in this garden is coming to an end.  The previous owner (PO) loved to grow fruit, figs in particular and this week I woke from a dream where I had collected armfuls of sweet soft figs.  I am sure this was inspired by a tweet from Fred, a French gardener  who had been doing exactly that.  In my garden I watch as the birds flutter in and out of the fig trees magically finding in their branches the ripe figs that I keep missing.  All the ones I can see are green.

One

IMG_2779Here’s the largest fig tree.  This was tentatively pruned back early this year but I can see it really needs to be brought down in size.  Ruthlessness is a gardening skill I am beginning to develop.  Cutting this tree back will give the summer borders more of a chance to keep going through into autumn.  I will be able to bear any loss of fruit as I don’t see much of it anyway!

 

Two

IMG_2780Because the PO’s interest were in fruit and veg the flower borders had been left to their own devices and I have been reclaiming them from the weeds.  One corner was in the grip of ground elder and I spent the first two summers digging it out.  I think I am now at the stage where I can plant this corner up.  My dreams have recently focused in on a white hibiscus and a Trachelospermum jasminoides to cover up a fence.  That’s my dream for autumn or spring planting.  For the moment this is how the corner looks now. Each summer I plant a group of annuals to keep the ground covered.  This year it was Zinnias which are filling out now.

 

Three

IMG_2768A close up of that corner showing the convolvulus cneorum bought at the Beth Chatto garden now in situ among the erigeron karvinskianus.  I’m happy with the front and I hope I will be happy with the back, now I need something mid border to bridge the gap.  I have persicaria on the wish list so maybe there is an opening for it here.

Four

IMG_2770Three 9cm pots of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’ were planted out earlier in the summer.  I have to be patient but next year I am expecting these diminutive plants to transform into dreaming spires of late summer interest. They should reach 1.2m.  Some way to go then!

Five

IMG_2773 (2)In my dreams, particularly in my day dreams, I see a luxuriously verdant garden seamlessly moving from one season to the next.  At this time of the year I find myself struggling.  The summer border becomes increasingly shady as the big fig tree branches out.  There is just enough sun to encourage the roses in a second flowering and this one is Gertrude Jekyll.

Six

IMG_2771A long term dream has been to fit in a water feature.  My original expansive daydream of putting a rill down the middle of the lawn was strongly vetoed and probably rightly so.  Instead I have in mind a much smaller feature to replace this laurel bush.  It also shades the summer border and doesn’t add any great interest to the garden.  Taking it out will leave a large hole – the first step towards the pond.

Dreaming and planning for the garden is much on my mind at the moment.  I was feeling the pressure of exhortations to prepare and plant up for next year.  It was all too much and I left the catalogues on the table and went out into the garden.  Even after the recent rains it was still dry and difficult to work but I relocated a few seedlings, planted out some mid summer purchases, cut back the lavender and rosemary and felt much better for it!

Many thanks to  The Prop for gathering together a diverse crowd of fellow gardeners who share weekly their gardening delights and sometimes the nasties! You are welcome to take a look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

One

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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!

Two

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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.

Three

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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.

Four

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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.

Five

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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.

One 

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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.

Two

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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.

Three

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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.

Four

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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.

Five

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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!

Six On Saturday: Scorchio again

Once again it’s very hot here with temperatures around 30 degrees plus.  The rain of last Sunday – really, the one day I have the family over and it rains – was welcome and filled two of the large water butts and one small one.  Total 868 litres plus some odds and ends from the greenhouse butts and I’m nearly through it already.  I am looking again at the garden to see what I can add in to extend the colour but planting will have to wait until September.  Here’s what’s happening at the moment.

One

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A melon update: My second year of growing melons and you would have thought it would be a bumper year.  There have been plenty of flowers but only one has come good as a melon.  Two or three other melons formed but then rotted off.  I’ve been hard at work cutting back the side shoots and stopping the main stem.  Now I have to decide when is the optimum time to pick this precious fruit.

Two

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The grapevine over the pergola regularly produces grapes but at this time of the year they split and never ripen.  The previous owner said it was a Black Hamburg, which, as many of you will know, is an indoor variety.  Today the wasps are having great fun and it makes sitting under the welcome shade a little nerve wracking.  I think in future I will cut off all the grapes and have beautiful shade and no wasps!

Three

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The Hollyhocks have been to be featured again. They just keep on growing.  There was a touch of rust on the lower leaves early on but the hot dry weather seems to have kept it at bay.  Reader, I measured this one. It is eleven foot six inches!  Does that sound like a challenge?  Bring on the hollyhocks.  This one is growing up into a dead fruit tree.  It never got to fruiting stage so I can’t identify it, other than to say that I suspect is was a stone fruit, maybe apricot, which succumbed to leaf curl and oozing this year.

Four

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Also doing rather well are the rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’.  I have my eye on these for dividing this year.  Spreading this wonderful colour around the garden will be a pleasure.

Five

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I was late sowing the cosmos this year but they have started to come into flower.  This one is Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Click Cranberries’.  I’ve planted them in a block but I think this one will look good dotted around the border next year.

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Lastly a zinnnia.  This is taken as a close up because my planting scheme went awry.  I planned to mix the zinnias and some ammi visnaga together but the ammi germinated late and is only just looking good enough to plant out.  Without the ammi to add some froth the zinnias look like soldiers on parade.  Maybe it will look better in October.

From here it looks like crispy lawns and parched plants for a little longer.  See what else is going on at The Prop’s blog – there you can find links to all the other great SOSs.

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:

One

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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.

Two

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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.

Three

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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!

Four

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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!

Five

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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.

Six

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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!!

 

 

Six On Saturday: Branching out

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

One

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.

Two

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.

Three

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!

Four

 

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.