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: Shady facts

I was a little down on the garden a week or so ago. I’ve been planting up from scratch for about three years and the first plantings are filling out now. Some are doing well but I have to face up to reality. At this time of the year the main border is in the shade of a large fig tree. This seems to create the perfect environment for mildew. I’ve spent some time spreading things out a little more and I pulled up the sweet peas. The border is a bit patchy now but I feel happier.  Now I have to plan for a few more late summer shade lovers.

One

The long border minus the sweet peas.  It’s not too bad at the far end where the shade is less dense and there are a few sun spots but the top end under the fig needs a rethink.  The day lillies have finished flowering.  They can stay as they sneek into a little sun spot by mid afternoon and I have identified a branch of the fig tree that can go and the space will open up a little more.  Every challenge presents a new project so I am in excited mood.

Two

Down at the far end of the long border behind the rudbeckia lurk a few dahlias.  They are only just about to open.  I hoped they would be able to make use of the sun spot that the rudbeckia enjoy but it’s just not quite enough.  This year I will be lifting the dahlias and finding a sunnier spot for them.

Three

Further round the corner a small border that backs on to the veg plot is shady for the morning but catches the afternoon sun.  It seems just enough for the echnicea ‘White Swan’ to get by.  This is their second year in the garden and they have bulked up quite well.

Four

Moving further round, this year’s planting of  salvia ‘Amistad’ catches the same afternoon sun and has been magnificent this year.  Some of last year’s salvias did over winter,  I dug them out of their original position and moved them to  a nursery bed when I spotted the new shoots coming through.  Those ones have only just really got going and are about half the height.  Next to the salvias are three plants of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’.  Planted in 2017, they have just made it to a reasonable height this year but clearly they would benefit from less shade.  They are just far enough into this border to see a little less of the afternoon sun.  I am going to leave them where they are for one more year.

Five

Coming right round the garden, the north facing border begins to take on a western tilt and manages to catch some early morning sun and a good bit of late afternoon sun.  The fence line casts shade at the back edge.  I am optimistically growing r. Souvenir du Dr Jamain as a climber against the fence – slow going so far.  In front, I cleared away the unhealthy choysia and threw in some annuals to cover the ground while I did some thinking.  I had a trayful of nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ and n. alata ‘Grandiflora’ to use up so in they went.  At the time I did not know that the white variety likes a little shade so I struck lucky with the result.  What was a stop gap may now be part of the long term plan.  Anemone ‘September Charm’ and a white hardy geranium are also in this mix.

Six

Lastly coming round to the truly sunny all day long border, which is quite small, I have the lovely rose ‘Natasha Richardson’ planted up this year with salvia microphylla var, microphylla – the blackcurrant sage. I have tried every week to post a picture of this salvia but the vibrant magenta just floods the image.  I hope you can get a good sense of it against the rose.  It’s a stunner.

It’s going to be a stunning long weekend here, probably too hot to garden so I shall be thinking.  There will also be some SOS reading to be done.  Plenty of ideas to be gathered at the links that Mr P hosts each week.  Read them and if you are tempted join in!

 

Six On Saturday: The height of summer

It looks like last week’s prediction of beautiful weather after the summer solstice is coming good.  Of course it will be extreme, that is only to be expected these days! Greenhouse windows wide open and pots regularly watered.  Here’s hoping the garden stands up to the next onslaught.  The pests are increasing their attacks – sawfly on the gooseberries, slightly less than last year, slugs and snails everywhere, box moth caterpillar munching the box and whitefly in the greenhouse.  I am using encarsia wasps to combat them. But there is much to enjoy at this time of year.

One

IMG_3795
This is a side view of the long border.  It is now approaching its mad, chaotic crescendo.  Geraniums, knautia, roses, penstemons, astrantia and salvias all pushing and shoving to make an appearance centre stage.  I love this disorderly behaviour but every now and then creep in to put in a little essential staking.

Two 

IMG_3786

The sun was shining the wrong way when I took this photo but I hope you can get the sense of the lovely combination of salvia nemorosa and astrantia major. They are are dream together.

Three

IMG_3791

This is penstemon ‘Firebird’.  I like the penstemons for taking on the baton of flowering from the alliums.

Four

IMG_3792

In the greenhouse the first tomatoes have appeared.  But pride of place goes to the lettuce. Growing lettuce outside has always been hit and miss for me so this year I tried a few in the greenhouse.  I now have an awful lot of lettuce to eat, I am hoping the hot temperatures are not going to ruin it.

Five

IMG_3790

My salvia ‘Amistad’ did not survive the winter or so I thought. But just days after buying three new plants I spotted shoots on two of the old ones.  I dug those up and moved them to a nursery bed where they are making slow but steady progress.  I might have some flowers by August.  In the meantime the new ones romped away and are looking dramatically sultry.  As I planted the new ones I snapped a stem but encouraged by everyone’s advice that salvia ‘Amistad’ cuttings are easy peasy I planted it up.  It took almost immediately so now I feel awash with these wonderful salvias.

Six

IMG_3785

This fuschia is another small success.  It came with the garden and I spent the first few years saving it from the clutches of bindweed and couch grass. Once freed I gave it a judicious prune and this year it is flowering well and in much better shape.  Its a var. unk. to me but maybe someone can identify it.  I love the strong colours.

If you’d like to see some more Six On Saturday posts from other sixers then go along to The Propagator’s blog.  There is much that will inform and amuse!

 

 

Six On Saturday: Taking the rough with the smooth

It’s an emotional life being a gardener.  This week I have experienced frustration with the slow growing dahlias, sadness for the agastache that didn’t come through the winter and anxiety over the lack of rain.  Fortunately there have been plenty of joys too.  Here’s six good things from the garden.

One

IMG_3660 (1)

The monthly look at the border.  From this angle the delphiniums are blocking the view of the roses that are just coming into flower.  Everything is filling out very well and for the moment the water butts are providing enough water. As I enjoyed all the new growth I was struck by how I have, almost without exception, gone for height on this border.  Not much gradation going on here, but I like it.  The brown patch is still awaiting inspiration and so for the third year will be home to the annuals grown from seed. I’m thinking about trying libertia chilensis (grandiflora) here – more height.

Two

IMG_3646

Now for the detail of the main border.  This is allium ‘Mount Everest’ which in itself it lovely but there’s a little disappointment here as I planted 12 bulbs two years ago and topped them up with six more this year.  Flowering result this year: four.  They do grow tall but the flower heads are quite small.  I suppose any larger and they would wobble on their long stems.

Three

IMG_3659 (1)

Behind the delphiniums lurk rosa ‘Wisley’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’.  This week ‘Wisley’ gets to be the star.  The roses were planted three years ago and this year they are excelling themselves.

Four

IMG_E3643

Behind the ‘Wisley’ roses are a clump of ‘White City’ irises.  Again they have been in the ground for three years, having come to me from a division of a friend’s clump.

Five

IMG_3648

Climbing up the back fence, in shade in the morning but catching the sun by the afternoon is ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’.  This was planted out last autumn and I am impressed by it’s the speedy progress and generous flowering.  A winner.

Six

IMG_3637

The not quite open irises featured last week have burst forth and are stunning.  These also came from a friend’s garden and I have promised to pass them on again to two more friends.

So this week’s little homily is there’s good and bad in life and in the garden but keeping the good in focus is what’s important!  I looked up the meaning of homily and I rather liked this definition: advice that is often not wanted.

It’s another long weekend in the UK and I shall be helping out at a local plant sale on the Sunday. Also on the to do list are planting out the overwintered pellies into the summer containers and prepping the veg beds for the beans, courgettes and cucumbers.  I shall also be peering optimistically at the parsnip and carrots sowings, and undoubtedly doing some watering. Happy gardening to all.  For the links to more SOS postings go to The Propagator’s blog and feast your eyes on what’s on offer.

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.

One


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.

Two

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.

Three

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.

Four

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.

Five

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.

Six 

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: Last of the winter jobs, moving into spring

A cold week with several foggy mornings ended with some welcome warmth.  The sunshine lifts the human spirit and that of the plants.  The last of the winter cut back needs to be done, excepting the penstemons which I will leave until April.  I did cut the grapevine back last week, just in time.  The tomato seeds did not get sown.  This first sowing is destined for the greenhouse and I must get them done this weekend.  Sowing for plants to be grown outside can be left for a little longer.  While reading the comments on Jim Steven’s SOS for last week I came across his link to a blog by The Laid Back Gardener and found my way to  Goldilocks and the three seedlings which is a great story about sowing tomato seeds.  I recommend it and hope that this year I’ve got my sowing just right.

Here’s my six for the week:

One

IMG_E3319

The first sowing of sweet peas have germinated.  ‘Midnight Blue’ with a 56% success rate and ‘April in Paris’ achieving 94%.  There may be a few laggards to come through for ‘Midnight Blue’ but they’ll have to get a move on as this weekend they will go out into the cooler potting shed.

Two

IMG_3321

Mr P who hosts this blog, and does us all a wonderful service, is a great grower of plants from seeds.  His latest success is lupins and I am much put to shame by his efforts.  By coincidence this week I received three small pots of lupins for planting out.  This is my first foray into lupins, previously not one of my favourites but  I was tempted by a twitter post of ‘The Pages’ and decided to order a few.  The colour is carmine red – let’s see what they look like in a few months time.  Of course, they will have to survive slug attacks first.

Three

IMG_3304Speaking of twitter, I have already shared my labours of last weekend there but I am happy to share the success with you all here.  The compost bins were finally built.  The bins are a slot-in build and took hardly anytime at all.  I will have to tidy up the front surface which will require nice words to delightful builder again!  In the meantime I have some compost heap turning to do.

Four

IMG_3325The deciduous shrubs are beginning to leaf up.  I love the fresh green colours.  This is my mystery shrub in the front garden.  It has black berries over the winter but unfortunately I can’t remember the flower type.  I’ll watch it carefully this year and see if I can identify it.

Five

img_3323.jpgThese hyacinths were going to be my forced hyacinths for Christmas but when they were brought into the warm they came with a plague of flies and were banished to the garden.  It’s good to see them in flower now.

 

Six

img_3322.jpg

This is my long border.  The plants left standing over winter for their seed heads will be cut down now.  I’m going to post a photo each month taken from the same spot to record the wonderful transformation that takes place over the summer months.  It’s all very gloomy today as this was another foggy morning but there is much potential!

If you’d like to join the SOS band of gardeners that go immediately to the participant guide on Mr P’s site.  SOS is a mix of the pottering gardener like myself, the adventurous like Mr Propagator and many more lovely people all willing to share their experience and knowledge.  Take the plunge!

 

 

 

 

Six On Saturday: No rest for the gardener!

This six thing is a good discipline for me.  At the first sign of cold weather I am very tempted to hunker down but I know there is plenty to do and walking round the garden this morning was a good reminder to get on and do it.  Here’s what I found.  Be warned: there’s a bit of a brown theme.

One

IMG_3085

I have been mulching and manuring this week and the less than productive veg beds were beneficiaries.  I still have more to empty out, but the calendulas need to be pulled up first.

Two

IMG_3080

The gooseberry bushes need to be pruned.  I have watched the RHS video three times now and so I should be fully qualified to be let loose on them.

Three

IMG_3084

A week of cold weather, rain and a light frost has moved the garden firmly into winter.  It now looks soggy, brown and collapsed.  It’s about now I start having ‘the cutting back’ debate.  Does it get done now or in the spring? I will try to do it now as I am always surprised by how early the garden comes back to life and I inevitably end up cutting back both the dead and the emerging shoots in spring.

Four

IMG_E3079

This is one of the allium heads I missed in the summer cut back.  I have managed to get all the alliums for next year planted but I still have about 75 tulip bulbs to put in the ground.  I overestimated the numbers for one grouping and the extras will be planted up in pots, which is on my list for this weekend.

Five

img_3078.jpg

Whilst most of the garden is shutting down some plants do manage to keep up the show over winter and even look good in the rain.  This is euphorbia characiassubsp. wulfenii.

Six

img_3077.jpg

There’s also some colour in the front garden coming from the cream edged leaves of this variegated pittosporum.  Thankfully I can just enjoy this display.

I hope there is something to enjoy in your garden at this time of the year and also that we all get some time to be getting our (northern hemisphere) gardens ready for next year.  The Prop’s blog will give the links for today’s SOS and there’s sure to be some colour from gardens in the southern hemisphere if your soul needs an uplift!

 

 

 

Six On Saturday: It was nice to see Nice

I’m just back from a week in Nice, France and so I am giving you six things from there.  Some of these did give me ideas for my garden here and others are just interesting plants. So here for your pleasure are the sun soaked gardens of Nice.

One

IMG_2834From the Albert 1er gardens just off the Promenade des Anglais.  A great selection of tropical plants, all of which were unknown to me except under the vague heading of palms or cactus like things.  This one did have an information board close by so I can tell you it is Asparagaceae Dasylirion Longissium LEM. or Totem du Mexique.  Frost resistant to -12 degrees apparently.

Two

IMG_2855From a sun baked border at the Musee Matisse in Cimiez.  A mixture of the familiar and the exotic.

On leaving the museum we ventured into an olive grove park and from there up some steps to a monastery where we were rewarded by the sight of the beautiful gardens of the monastery which were open to the public.  The last three of the six all come from this garden.

Three

IMG_2861I have long wondered if I should incorporate some grasses into the garden and I love this combination.  Does anyone knows what the planting is?  I don’t think it would fit the scale of my garden but it was so light and feathery that it did go on the ‘in my dreams’ list!

Four

img_2862.jpgMore beautiful grasses and ?  I hope the photo is clear enough for you to put forward suggestions.

Five

 

A view of one of the long borders looking great at this time of year and a detail shot.

Six

IMG_2856A riot of colour to end on.  I wish I could get my garden to look like this in September! Maybe this is the result of good deep borders and planting for height.  Something for me to consider.

I hope Mr Prop will allow the deviation from the rules – I seem to remember holiday snaps are allowed. I also hope everyone is enjoying their garden at this time of year.  On my return I did find the roses and verbenas still going strong and the asters beginning to open up so there was much to appreciate.

Six on Saturday

Having spent the last few days wondering if three or three and half on Saturday would pass muster I finally knuckled down and came up with six.  It may sound as though it’s an onerous task to post weekly.  But no,  I am enjoying the discipline of looking at the garden in a focused way.  It may even be making me a more productive gardener!

One


A week or so ago I succumbed to this impulse buy from a supermarket.  Of course, when I arrived home I thought where on earth am I going to plant them?  Their pretty little viola faces seemed rather dwarfed once positioned in the garden.  This week serendipity struck.  I remembered I had three neglected terracotta troughs.  I think they will be just right for some block planting and then I can place them along one side of a raised bed.  Perfect.

Two

IMG_1935

Inspired by a tweet from Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire I am sharing with you my borders in February.  First is the border that was extended in November.  The line of snowdrops and emerging daffodils under the hedge shows where the old border ended.  They will be moved to the front after flowering.  The roses were planted in November: three Darcy Bussell and a Jaqueline du Pre.  Perhaps now I need an artistic rose to complete the cultural theme.

Three

IMG_1937

This is my long border. As you can see the foxes/squirrels love spreading the mulch around.  I have used roses and euphorbia as the framework and I am filling in around them with astrantia, gernaniums, scabious, penstemon and a variety of annuals. The borders at Waterperry are famous for their careful staking of plants.  Here’s a tip from Pat Havers, Head Gardener there.  They start staking their perennials in April.  I always leave my staking until it’s too late.  This year I will do better.

Four

IMG_1936

Hedges.  The background to the new border is a mixed hedge.  Elaeaganus, bay and viburnum.  I like the bay and viburnum but I would love to replace the elaeaganus with a darker green hedge to give a stronger background to the foreground plants.  Sometimes you have to garden with what you have.

Five

IMG_1934

Last week I mentioned that I prefer primula vulgaris to the stronger coloured primroses appearing in the nurseries.  The brightly coloured versions add colour at this time of year but the pale yellow of the common primrose is always the winner for me.  I grow them in my spring corner.  First the primroses and snowdrops appear, followed by anemones, bluebells and aquilegia and then I am hoping last October’s planting of pheasant eye narcissus will steal the show.

Six

And lastly, the February issue of Gardeners World came to my rescue.  Mint is beginning to come through now and they suggest breaking up small clumps of it to pot up for the greenhouse.   This will give an earlier crop.  The perfect job for the weekend.

There’s a cold spell ahead and it’s a gloomy day today, but there is always something to enjoy.  I hope you find time to garden or to reflect on your garden this weekend.  It’s a lovely thing to do.  More international gardening thoughts can be found at The Propagator who hosts this meme.