Six on Saturday: Reasons to be cheerful

Ignoring the awfulness of Thursday when, here, it rained all day with a real insistence there are reasons to be cheerful. I feel there is a sense of spring in the air. The garden is giving me strong signs that it is time to emerge from hibernation, open up the seed packets and get growing. This week I’ve sowed lupins, dahlias, a first batch of tomato seeds and three pots of basil seeds. I even gave the autumn sown ammi a brief outing in the sunshine.  There isn’t much new on the flowering front but progress is being made.

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The clematis amandii ‘Apple Blossom’ has broken into flower.  This is it’s best side, further along there are one or two bald patches.  I hope these will fill out over the year.

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A small group of anemone blanda have deigned to push through again.  No sign yet of a new batch I planted in the north border.  I’m hoping a little more warmth will persuade them to show up.

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The fritillaries are dangling their lanterns again and reminding me that I must invest in a few more of these to make the impact stronger.

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The tulips leaves are marching on.  I particularly like these striped ones from ‘China Town’ 

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There is a rose to be seen! Battered by wind and rain but managing to look pretty even so.

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I was very happy to see some new growth on the alpine alchemilla.  I thought I’d lost this after the squirrels made short shrift of it when they planted a few acorns in the same spot.  Shame on me for being so despondent. 

The ground is still very wet, the weeds, particularly the bittercress, are enjoying the damp conditions and I’ll have to get to them soon before they find the energy to flower.  That means I’ll be in the garden which can’t be a bad thing.  And would you believe it, I’ve just had a delivery of 300 in-the-green snowdrops!  They are so late coming due to the poor conditions for lifting them from the fields.  That sorts out my morning.  Mr P has all the updates from other SOSers.  Plenty to admire and inspire! Cheerfulness all round I think.

Six On Saturday: A supermarket rescue and other joys

August is the month for destruction at the supermarket flower section. Rows of sad, wilting plants reduced in price, past their best but holding out the glimmer of hope for a rescue. For a pound I was tempted and brought one home. It was submerged in water and left in a shady place to rehydrate. Thankfully it did and here it is.

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Leucanthemum ‘Broadway Lights’. I would have taken more but the others really did look past all hope.

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August brings the arrival of the late summer flowers.  This year this includes some late sown plants, the first of which is this cleome.  I have about a dozen of these dotted round in the gaps that also seem to appear at this time of year.  Some I pinched out to achieve a bushier plant with more flower heads, this one was left to grow straight up.

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My zinnias, that have been promising to deliver for weeks, have finally made it into flower.  More much appreciated magenta pink, although it looks more red here.

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This year I dug up several bits of the rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ to give to friends and to plant elsewhere in the garden.  The main plant has responded with even more vigour and makes a striking focal point for the late summer border.

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I have been waiting for sometime for the supposedly thuggish anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ to live up to its reputation and spread itself widely over the shady end of the garden.  It’s in year three and finally looks as though it is about to make an effort.  Perhaps this year the weather has been a little kinder.

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Rose of the week is ‘Scepter’d Isle, every time it flowered this year the rains fell and its lovely flowers were ruined.  Finally it can show off its elegant form, but briefly I fear as the wind and rain of today is giving it a good thrashing.

The winds are picking up here, all the pots that stand on a wall have been moved down to the ground and the fig tree is swaying wildly in the winds.  I wonder what will be left standing for next week’s six.  Seems like the perfect day to catch with some SOS reading.  All the links can be found on The Propagator’s blog and reading his contribution is a good place to start.  Wishing you and all your gardens a safe weekend.

 

 

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: 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: The race is on

Aah, what a gentle occupation gardening is.  Full of quiet moments pottering among the flowers, pulling carrots, picking strawberries.  Or are you, like me, engaged in the mad dash to get it all done before June!

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The cold and the rain delayed much of my gardening efforts but this week I finally finished cutting back the hydrangeas.  In my defence there are seven of them and only three have been waiting patiently.  Here you can see that the first flowers are forming.

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Seed sowing for vegetables is happening almost daily.  Leeks, carrots, red cabbage, spring onions, climbing french beans are all in the greenhouse. Some carrots have been direct sown along with parsnips, radishes and lettuce.  The rocket sown in February is now out in the ground. And the last of the potatoes – Sarpo Mira and Belle de Fontenay have finally been planted.  Phew!

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The onions and shallots planted out in November are enjoying some warmth.  I have been very interested to see that many people plant their onions in modules and don’t move them outside until later.  I am going to try this next year.  I did protect these against the birds but that was all removed this week.

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Seed sowing for flowers is ongoing.  The teeny tiny seeds of antirrhinum White Giant have produced teeny tiny leaves.  Tithonia and nasturtium look a little stronger, but does that mean finding time for potting on?  Zinnias and calendulars have pushed through.  But I have yet to sow any cosmos! How is this possible I ask myself?  I’m not panicking.  Last year I direct sowed some in early May and planted some in modules as late as the end of April . . . Ok,  brief panic!

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It has felt a little frantic but it is important that we take ‘time to stand and stare’ and I have really enjoyed the tulip display, the result of a mass November planting.  These are Queen of Night, Shirley, Barcelona and Violet Beauty.  I love them!

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And these are Angelique – a pink double, Spring Green – a viridiflora and China Town – a shorter viridiflora with white edged leaves, beautiful.  These were quite tightly planted in two groups in a new border to leave space for some bare root roses that were arriving later.  There is definitely room to spread them out a little, which is the plan, unless of course, I am tempted by some lovely perennials that I know will be featuring in a couple of local plant sales in May.  Have space, will fill it!

And whilst standing and staring I noticed the irises and alliums are just about to open, and the first strawberry flowers are showing.  Oh yes, we will soon be pottering!

If you’d like to stare at a few more Six On Saturday posts stroll over to The Propagator’s  blog for all the links.  Sit back and enjoy the display.

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday: Paths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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