Six On Saturday: ’tis the winter season

Not being one of the very early risers the gloomy mornings are only just starting to have an impact on me. Fortunately there are only two weeks to go until the shortest day and then we will be on the up again. Winter frosts have turned most of the herbaceous borders brown which is a reminder to me to get those soggy plants removed.  I was looking forlornly out of the kitchen window this morning wondering what my six would be when I realised that the garden was full of birds. The persimmon tree was hosting several species and one in particular caught my eye. Out came the book of birds and I was able to identify a redwing.  Once again Mr P’s Six On Saturday regime has come up trumps.  Armed with optimism I sallied forth to see what else was going on in the December garden.

One

One step outside the back door and the first reward was spotted,  The mint that had frazzled up and died in the summer is pushing through again.  This was grown from seed this year so I’m very pleased to see it’s resurgence.

Two

Two steps more and I was reminded of the annual moss cull that takes place at this time of year.  The birds descend and pull up the moss from the cracks in the paving.  They fling it around with gay abandon, they have no need for the moss now.  I imagine they are searching for insects.  What else could it be? I have some sweeping up to do.

Three

Down the steps, the hydrangeas are in their last throes of pinky-brown.  Some have advanced further into winter foliage and some have new buds forming.

Four

The leaves are down from the trees.  There seemed to be a never-ending supply of them but now they are piled up in the leaf cage it doesn’t look like much.

Five

 

Round the back in the nursery corner the salvia ‘Amistad’ that overwintered from last year is still in flower.  I am coming to view this plant as a late summer contributor.  I have six cuttings in the greenhouse that are doing well, so far.  There have been casualties though.  The salvia nemorosa caradonna cuttings have gone from three to one and the lavender looks a bit wobbly.

Six

It feels like a few years ago now but some time in the recent past I sowed a whole packet of euphorbia oblongata seeds.  Forty five I seem to remember.  I managed to get three plants which hovered between life and death for some months.  I tipped them out into the garden to do or die and one of them looks quite healthy now.  It will, of course, die over the winter.  But maybe not.  I’ll keep those fingers crossed.

Fingers crossed that your winter gardening throws up some joys.  I am thinking about the spring bulbs that are doing their thing below the surface at this very moment.  I have also thought about slugs that are lurking so tomorrow’s job will be to clear the sogginess.

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.

One

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.

Two

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

Three

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.

Four

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.

Five

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.

Six

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: First Frost

There is nothing like the first frost to wake up this semi hibernating gardener. It was a light one but it had me scurrying to get the last of the pellies into the greenhouse. Not that my unheated greenhouse offers much protection, the thermometer recorded 1.3 degrees.  Winter approaches and six things in the garden becomes an interesting challenge.  Here’s my motley collection for the week.

One

The last vestige of summer – the second flowering of the delphiniums.  Hardly enough to make a show but such willingness to have a go must be admired.

Two 

Likewise for astrantia major.  This plant is happily self seeding in the garden.  There may come a day when I regard it as a thug but for now  I’m content to relocate the seedlings to other parts.

Three

The first of the hellebores has flowered.  This is a very early variety known as ‘Happy Day’.  I picked it up from a plant sale once upon a time and I’d like some more of them but I haven’t been able to locate them.  I never seem to be around when they are setting seed – note to self: must try harder.  It is time to have a look at the leaves of hellebores and remove last year’s foliage.  More advice on this can be found in this RHS article .

Four

All those good gardeners who have winter structure in their gardens will be smiling smugly now as I try to find the last three.  I don’t have much in the way of seasonal shrubs which I always mean to rectify but never quite get round to.  My long border winter structure comes from four euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii.  Every year they take it in turns to look unhappy.  Believe it or not, this is one of the healthier ones.  This year’s sad specimen is being closely watched but I now have two seedling understudies waiting in the wings.

Five

This is a part of the garden that’s waiting for some inspiration.  It is a narrow border and this half of it has been home to wild blackberries and a thornless cultivar since before we arrived.  This week’s job was to cut back last year’s fruiting canes and bring the whole thing under control again. The berries are welcome in the summer and no doubt some will be kept but each year I manage to get a little more this border turned over to flowers.  Maybe next year I’ll push on to the end of the path.

Six

Last week I borrowed a weeping willow tree from my neighbour and this week I am borrowing a gorgeous rose.  Who knows what it is, but it is leaning over into my garden and looks full of curiosity.  This weekend I will be browsing  rose catalogues from the comfort of an armchair in search for a new climber for this garden.  The passion flower is going and a new rose is coming.

Tulips and roses are in my thoughts for November.  The weather has been relatively gentle here so far.  That cannot be said for other parts of the UK.  I hope you are not suffering flooding or constant rain and that there is something still be found in your gardens.   All will be revealed in Mr P’s roundup and no doubt there will be blue skies from the other side of the world.

Six On Saturday: Winding down

There’s no denying it. The leaves are falling and every now and then a cold night sneaks in. It’s time to move to those autumn/winter jobs. I left two tomato plants standing after the big greenhouse clear out but even those must be dealt with now. The mower blades will be set to high as the mower is used to collect leaves and tulip bulbs will be planted. This weekend I will take the scented leaf pelagoniums into the greenhouse but I needed a some more compost for their over-wintering pots, Of course that was fatal:

One

A trip to the garden centre, even at this time of year, is a dangerous thing.  Compost was purchased – peat free of course – but the route back to the exit went via the reduced bench and there were a few 3l pots of Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’.  Well they might as well sit in my garden as stand in the garden centre, don’t you think?  Especially at a bargain price of £4.50 a pot.  They’ve gone into my new orange and magenta border.  Dreams of next summer already!

Two

Speaking of borders here is the long border in its autumn clothing.  It’s definitely winding down here.  The asters at the far end keep going but the roses are putting out smaller and smaller flowers and the autumn crocuses were felled by the rain.

Three

The cuttings of salvia ‘Amistad’ were growing so strongly that I decided to pot them on.  I used a very gritty mix to start them off and the root system had developed well.  I’ve got six at the moment in the hope that I can get three through the winter.

Four

In the front garden the hydrangea that this year flowered blue has faded into the usual autumn colour.  I enjoy its muted tones at this time of the year.  I was not so fond of the blue, a result I think of the mulch it received last winter.

Five

Also looking autumnal in the front garden is my mystery plant.  It does flower but I never seem to catch a photo of it.  The single black berries are very attractive.  I think it is some form of cotoneaster.

Six

The greenhouse clear out meant bringing in the romano peppers.  A few had just about ripened and a week in the kitchen has moved them on a bit more.  Time to eat them!

A cold night is forecast  for Sunday and my evergreen agapanthus are already showing a few yellow leaves.  The time for fleece has arrived.  It’s also time to see who else is taking winter precautions.  A trip to Mr P’s site is called for.  Who’s still got colour and who is wrapping up for winter?

Six On Saturday: Delightful dahlias cheer up the garden

I have not ventured out in the garden too much lately but one day this week there was a gap in the downpours and I managed to do some work. I have a very sodden garden and I was squelching around in the borders. I managed to divide some day lillies and a knautia. I relocated some sanguisorba ‘Tanna’ that had not performed at all well and planted ten of the hundred or so bulbs that I have left to plant. The borders are slipping into winter dormancy and I thought there would not be much to show for this week’s six. But it is surprising what can be found. Here they are.

One

By today this dahlia had finally opened up.   Do I have the slowest dahlias in the UK?  I’m hoping the first frosts are a few weeks off.  To be fair, this dahlia was dug up and replanted in a pot after a slug attack had left it in tatters so I should be proud of its resilience.

Two

The Orange Cushion dahlias that I am hoping to propagate from seed have put out a new flush of flowers and I do much prefer this size of dahlia flowers.  Collecting seed has not been possible so far as the seed heads are a soggy mess.  Dahlia lovers – should I be cutting the heads off and bringing them inside to dry?  I have done this with my agapanthus and they did deliver some lovely black seed.

Three

These beautifully coloured mushrooms are now an annual feature of the garden.  I have quite a colony of them this year.  I think they come with the mulch that I buy each year and I am very happy to have them.

Four

This is my one flowering nerine for the year. It is  bowdenii ‘Ostara’. I planted about ten in April 2018.  I am having another go and as a result of special offer – end of season, we have so many we are giving them away – I now have 30 more.  Total cost £5.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’ve some in a pot now, hoping that they will be my insurance.

Five

The fig leaves have yellowed so much more over the week.  Sadly it is unlikely that the fruit that remains will ripen and I will have to pick them all off soon.  On of my least favourite garden jobs.

Six

The hylotelephium spectabile that I mentioned a few weeks ago have darkened to a good deep red.  I did move a few round in the front garden and have some spare plants to over-winter in pots.  As the garden matures my collection of plants in pots increases.  The self seeding geraniums and alchemillia mollis are growing in number but there are always gaps to be filled and they will be put to good use next year.

I take my hat off to Mr P who manages this herd of SOSers.  I had a busy week last week and didn’t get to read many of my usual SOS favourites.  I will do better this weekend – after I finish planting the allium and daffodil bulbs!

Six on Saturday: Mid Autumn

I noticed that the leaves on the fig tree have just begun to turn yellow and so I am accepting that autumn is here. I’d love to be poetic about the gently falling rain but it’s seriously disrupting my gardening. I managed to plant out the Red Electric onion sets and some Jermor shallots last weekend but I don’t think much will get done this weekend. Time to focus on the positives.

One

I’m starting with some lovely greenhouse surprises.  The Six On Saturday meme has gently persuaded me to do more propagation.  These are my first ever root cuttings.  I dug around the sides of the anemone ‘Honorine Joubert’ and found some thicker roots.  I snipped off six  cuttings and planted them up in September.  The first signs of life have just appeared and it is all very exciting.  Of course I now have to get them through the winter.  I will resort to my usual tactic of crossing fingers.

Two

As the outside garden dies back so plans take shape for next year.  I sowed some ammi visnaga in September and a good number of these have germinated.  This is my first successful autumn sowing of ammi.  I’m already looking forward to the froth they will add to next summer’s garden.

Three 

The hesperantha was struggling to open up this  gloomy morning but even its closed form adds a welcome burst of colour to this corner of the garden.

Four

Some weeks ago I was tempted by some pots of salvia ‘Mystic Spires’.  I was advised to treat them as annuals and I did feel it was slightly mad to be buying a plant that was only going to last a few weeks, but I did and I think it was worth it.  There is  a slim chance that it might overwinter and I could have a go at taking some cuttings.  I’ve got nothing to lose.

Five

Forgive me if I’ve said this before but I’ve been gardening here for three and bit years now.  This colony of  erigeron karvinskianus started out as three small pots bought from a plant sale in the early days.  They have done their thing and spread out well.  They have just begun to mask the stone wall that props up this part of the garden.  I even spotted a few self seeders in the cracks which is just what I wanted.  For me it’s a doer, flowering all summer.  I know others find it thuggish but for the moment it can run wild here.

Six

The skimmia ‘Lime Green’ that I added this summer has settled down very well and has just begun to flower again.  This is in the north facing border in the space previously occupied by an ailing choysia.  I have space for a few more plants here but I need something with height to cover the fence.  I think one candidate is a camellia.  Watch this space.

It’s time to bring the last of the tomatoes in, take the lemon tree to the greenhouse and, if it is ever dry enough, to prune the climbing rose, Mdme Alfred Carriere,  on the back fence.  Let’s hope there’s a small window of dryer weather soon.  And if not, then there’s more time to read the links hosted by Mr P.

Six on Saturday: Resilient roses, asters, bulbs and froglets

The torrential rain of Tuesday gave the garden a welcome soaking. Unfortunately steady showers followed on and the week had a wet and windy finish. I start this week’s six by paying homage to the roses which flower, get soaked by the rain, are defoliated by rose sawfly, and yet flower again.

One

This white rose ‘Jaqueline du Pre’ flowers at the far end of the garden and spotting a new flower in the gloomy mornings of this week was very uplifting.

Two

At the opposite end, in  a sunnier spot, the climbing version of ‘James Galway’ is making steady progress up the trellis and keeps putting out new buds.

Three

Newly arrived in flower is Colchicum speciosum ‘Album’.  These were part of last year’s autumn bulb order and one or two of them sprang into flower immediately after planting.  This year I have more of a full presence but I feel the need for more impact.  I feel another top up bulb order coming on.

Four

A top up because the second order arrived today. I’m not such a prolific orderer of bulbs as our host Mr P but somehow I have managed to total 110 in this order plus 150 crocus bulbs and 60 ‘Tete a Tete’ daffodils from earlier temptations. In this batch are Tulips: Dolls Minuet,  Ballerina, Lasting Love, Mariette and Sarah Raven, Camassias and Acidanthera murielae.  The last is related to gladioli, and is sometimes known as Abyssinian gladiolus.  The recommendation is to lift over winter but I maybe tempted to leave them in.   I did lift some tulips this year so I will see how much success I have with replanting them first.

Five 

I have only one type of aster in the garden but I have two of them.  The colour is perfect but I have them in the wrong place and I’m not sure where the right place is.   The problem is they grow so high, easily outstripping any of my pathetic attempts at staking . This year one has remained fairly upright and the other has spiralled all over the place.  Belatedly I realised I could have tried a wig-wam support system.  The right place is probably somewhere sunnier and where their height can be enjoyed.  Still thinking.

Six

This little fella was trying to wriggle away from SOS fame and fortune but he just didn’t quite fit into the gap.  It has given me an extra nudge into finding a site for a pond.  I am going to go small and cheap,  buying a pond liner and an insulation liner.  I have in mind a small area at the back of the garden that is currently being used to heel in plants that I have been dividing or moving.  I might miss that luxury but this year the garden has been full of froglets, or possibly one very active one.  I’m hoping I can offer them a permanent home. If it stops raining and I can start digging.

More rain is forecast overnight so I have low expectations of any productive work in the garden.  I will be optimistically inspecting some sweet peas that were sown last week and thinking about seeds for next year.  I’ll be finding out about other SOSers and their gardening ambitions by checking in with The Propagator and all the links he shares.  Happy weekend whatever the weather.

 

 

Six On Saturday: A Mediterranean garden

Very much in keeping with the weather here today I give you six things from a Mediterranean garden. Not mine, so ever so slightly against the rules, but I have just got back from a week away.  The plants shown today are all from the jardin de val rahmeh in Menton, France. I was much reminded of fellow sixers as I walked round it, fuschias, daturas, brugmansia, and much more.  Here’s my pick:

One 

 

The weird and wonderful aristolochia gigantea hook.  In all its stages.  This is not one I can really see in my garden but it was an impressive sight as a hedge line.

Two

This is allamanda catharitica  L – golden trumpet.  I can imagine this growing up over the pergola but it seems to be better suited to a conservatory in the UK.

Three

Haemanthus coccineus L – blood lilly.  Quite striking for a low growing plant.

Four

I loved this growing by the side of the pond but couldn’t track down a plant label for it.

Five

I’m pretty sure this was a thunbergia, possibly thunbergia laurifolia Lindl. A beautiful plant that cascaded down the walls.

Six

The cool green nasturtium like leaves of this pond plant.  Another favourite from the garden which has to remain unnamed, all suggestions gratefully received.

It will be back to my garden next week.  I have a few plants to rehydrate and the forecast is for rain so I will get some help from above.  Hopefully no casualties!

Mr P continues to generously host this meme and shares all the links to other posts in the comment section of his post.  I have some catching up to do.

Six On Saturday: Slow plants, rampant plants and the steady ones

This week was a game of two halves. A cold beginning and now a heatwave. I hope this will persuade a few more tomatoes to ripen. The courgettes keep springing surprises on me in the form of marrows and the french beans carry on being well behaved. The flower garden has seen a few rearrangements with more to come. The first of the six for this week is a welcome discovery.

One

A tiny spire of lirirope muscari ‘Big Blue’. Not quite living up to it’s name yet.  It has been three years in  development.  Billed as a perennial forming dense clumps it has just managed a clump of 10cms.  I think I have shocked it into doing something as a few weeks back I threw out two other sister plants on the grounds that they had done nothing at all.  Somehow I overlooked this one or perhaps it looked the stronger.  I’ll be watching it closely now.

 

Two

Also gaining a stay of execution is this unknown red rose.  It was here in the garden when we arrived and I have planted around it but always thinking that one day it would be moved or given up.  Every year it persuades me that it deserves to stay and it has twisted me round its little finger again.

Three

These were in the garden last weekend and have definitely gone now.  But they will be making a comeback as apple juice.  The apple trees all had a professional prune this year and look better for it.  The apples on the oldest tree were smaller but seemed to be just as plentiful.  I have 51 bottles of juice to collect.

Four

The passion flower (passiflora caerulea) has an incredible structure, fascinating to look at but it’s becoming too rampant.  I plan to completely remove it from the arch it grows over and see if it can be dug out completely.  I keep finding seedlings of it around the garden so I think I may be on the losing side.

Five

This blue scabious seems to have only just got into it’s stride, it was moved to a new location at the end of last summer so perhaps it took a while to really settle down.  Great things are expected next year though.

Six

Time for an experiment. I have sown some green manure seeds for the first time.  The onions came out and the seeds went in.  I have to remember to dig the growth over in 40 – 90 days.  I hope it does what it says on the packet.

That’s my six for the week.  To see more go to The Prop’s site.  His six and many more will  be revealed.

 

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.

One

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.

Two

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.

Three

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.

Four

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.

Five

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.

Six

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.