Six On Saturday: Potatoes. What do I know?

If there’s one thing I know about potatoes it is that King Edward is the best potato for roasting. IMHO. I have spent the last few years moaning about the size of those that come in the supermarket bags. Too small and what a pain they are to peel. So I took matters into my own hands and bought a few to grow. Here’s the result.

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As you can see I did no better than the supermarket buyers.  But worse is to come.  I don’t grow many potatoes but I like to have a few varieties.  The mix this year was Arran Pilot, Belle de Fontenay, Ratte, King Edward and Pink Fir Apple.  I buy them loose, filling up a bag and separating each variety with a slip of paper.  I chitted them and planted out the first and second earlies in a raised bed.  The King Edward and Pink Fir Apple went into the ground in a separate bed.  Arran Pilot did well but was not very interesting.  Belle de Fontenay was a joy and is definitely on the list for next year.  Ratte was a strange one.  Good taste but surprisingly floury for a new potato.  It did very well as a crushed new potato.  But how would the King Edwards turn out.  After several weeks of rain I finally got round to lifting the main crop.  The King Edwards did not look like King Edwards at all.  In fact they looked suspiciously like a new potato with a nice looking shape.  It very slowly and painfully dawned on me that I had mixed up my potatoes and had been happily digging up the King Edwards throughout August and subjecting them to large amounts of mayonnaise or butter and chives.  The shame of it! Thankfully I had a few left in the fridge which will be getting a good roasting very soon. There is more to share.

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Now on to the results of the ‘main crop’.  The result is sadly very pathetic.  There were only a handful of Pink Fir Apple and barely more than that from the mislocated Ratte.  The size is tiny.  The upside is I don’t have to peel them and there is the chance for one more potato salad.  Barring the Arran Pilot I will grow these varieties again next year.  I will keep improving the soil and will try to water more often.  Maybe results will be better. Who knows?

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Happily other things in the garden are doing well and have benefited from the October rain.  The hydrangea has put out several new blooms, they are such generous flowerers when the conditions are right.

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I have a second flush of delphinium flowers.  This is my reward for cutting them back as soon as they had finished flowering.  Those that I didn’t get round too quite so quickly have not delivered and who can blame them.

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Sometime ago I whined about the zinnias being late but they arrived and have been amazing.  The bees still have something to come into the garden for and the colour is beautiful.  If I remember rightly these came from a free packet of seeds. A bargain and a definite for next year.

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Last week I said I would be optimistically looking at my sweet peas to see if they had germinated.  I sowed the left over seeds from this year and some I had from a few years ago.  Last week they had just broken the surface and this week they are an inch or two high.  Time for tough love, they have been removed from the sunny windowsill and placed in the greenhouse.  Overnight temperatures there dropped to five degrees one night this week.

Thanks to Mr P for starting this meme off.  It works for me and if you are tempted to join in then take a look at the participant guide on The Propagator’s site.  I’m hoping to plant some more bulbs this weekend.   Let’s hope I can tell my onions from my daffs!

Six On Saturday: Dad’s Delphiniums

To avoid charges of misleading posts, this is not a delphinium themed post but Dad’s delphiniums do get pride of place this week.  It is always good to have plants in the garden that hold memories of people and places and it seems particularly appropriate to share his delphiniums in this week of D-day memories.  Dad followed up the first D-day landings on Sword beach as a member of a tank regiment and went on to the battle for Caen.

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The delphiniums came from a division of the delphiniums that grew in the parental garden.  They came to the old house and settled in their for twenty odd years.  I divided them up when we moved and brought a clump with me.  They have always reached a good height but this year they have excelled themselves, I am estimating at least two metres.  I took this photo on Thursday as I was more than a little concerned for them suffering in the wet and windy weather that was forecast.  So far, they are still standing proud.

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I also have good memories attached to this geranium which came from Aunty Jen’s garden.  It also moved gardens when we came here and it’s settled in well.  I have a distant memory that it is ‘Johnson’s Blue’.

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I do love a geranium and this one is ‘Brookside’. It’s a big sprawly one and beautifully grows around the roses, in this case ‘Wisley’.  I wish I could be cheesy and say I have fond memories of the Wisley gardens but I’ve never been there.

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The sweet peas are flowering.  They were sown in February and have grown very chunky and strong.  This variety is ‘April in Paris’ and I can say I have enjoyed many good times there.  This is a beautifully scented variety with long stems.

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I also enjoyed a good day out Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire a couple of years ago and this cistus was bought there.  It’s  ‘Alan Fradd’ and is laden with flowers at the moment.

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The rainy weather of the last few days has been a wonderful relief for the garden. The water butts are filling up again and I imagine the slugs and snails are partying like mad.  A few weeks ago I spotted this beautiful pot thrown out in a skip.  I called at the house and asked if I could liberate it.  I was amazed that anyone would want to throw it away but when I flexed the muscles to lift it from the skip I realised why.  It is plastic!  It fooled me but I was still happy to take it and give a new hosta a home.  I’ve wrapped copper tape around the pot and mulched the top with a layer of slate chips that were lurking at the back of the shed.  I’ve placed it on the wooden top of a raised bed.  What more can I do?  I’m pleased that I made a small contribution to plastic recycling and I now have another garden memory.

Mr P has a truly beautiful rose (I’m so envious) on show in his Six on Saturday and all the links to other sixes will appear in his comments section through the day.  If it’s raining where you are put your feet up and have a good read.

 

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: Reaching the heights or lost in the foothills?

I’ve definitely had the feeling of losing the battle this week.  Slugs and snails are eating their way through the young plants – cosmos, lettuce, borlotti beans are high among the casualties.  The parsnips are refusing to germinate – third sowing and the last! And it looks like the fox has taken a shine to wandering through the agastache at night. I’m also losing the battle to keep everything watered, no rain and the water butts are empty again.  It looks grim.  But this is Saturday and optimism rules:

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Definitely reaching the heights are these delphiniums, I think they must be six feet tall.  Taken as a division from the parental garden many years ago, they were divided again when we moved here and I am very pleased to see them thriving this year. I was meticulous about staking and tying them in but they have exceeded my expectations!

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Also climbing upwards are the stems of Knautia macedonica.  These were planted out from 9cm pots last autumn and have settled down well.  They seem slug proof unlike some of the plants I have recklessly invested in.  Fortunately I remembered to stake them – just in time.  The bees love them.

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Down in the foothills where most of the slug damage is being done are these delightful dianthus deltoides.  They sulked after the garden move last year but have come good now.  No damage to report.

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Up again in the heights is this lovely clematis, inherited from the previous owner.  I thought I had killed it last year as I tried to separate it out from the bindweed and lemon balm but it made a comeback.

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A combination of higher foothills and the heights is provided by the lovely rose Blush Noisette and the Astrantia Claret featured in an early six.

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And seeming to be safe in the foothills but, I hope, heading for the heights are these Tithonias.  Grown from seed, one group was planted out a few weeks ago, straight from modules into the ground.  The other group I potted on, returned them to the greenhouse and finally planted them out in the week. This group has made much more growth.  So it looks like potting on is the best option.  The final height is said to be 8 feet.  I’ll report back!

It’s June and I hoped I would be pottering by now.  Well almost, I have some spare cosmos and some zinnias which really do need to go out.  And I’m going to count watering as pottering – so nearly there.  I hope you are too.  Take a look at  The Propagator’s blog , where you’ll find the host of this meme, the ‘rule book’ and all the links to other sixer posts.

Six on Saturday

It’s a white out in my garden.  There are footprints from the wildlife and frozen flora abounds.  I was going to give you a peek into next week’s project: new paths.  The path project is a big one and ‘the professionals’ are coming in to do it.  Work is scheduled to start on Monday and fortunately temperatures are set to rise.   As the paths are covered with snow I’m going to show you some pictures of the garden last summer.  There will be the odd glimpse of the path along the way, but more importantly there is some beautiful colour from plants that were sown from seed last year and from the frozen perennials that now lie under the snow.

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This is how the border started out. The roses, irises and euphorbia are in.  The canes mark the spots for delphiniums, salvias and astrantias to be planted.  It is the path on the right that is being relaid.

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The borders were filled in with annuals, here are calendula and ammi.  The wonderful delphiniums were brought from the old garden.  More perennials were added through the year.  Some grown from seed, some from 9cm pots.

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IMG_1154This is the top end of the border. Sweet pea, cosmos purity and nicotiana lime green were sown from seed.  The lambs ears in the foreground looked bedraggled in last week’s six.  Will they survive after the freezing weather of this week?  This path is staying. It’s not very attractive and if I had a magic wand it would be transformed into a lovely brick cottage garden path.   I have also planted alchemella mollis and geranium brookside, both of which tumble onto the path edges.

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This is another view of the path that will be relaid.  It is very patchy and uneven in places. The agapanthus and verbena thrive against the sunny wall.  The rose in the centre is Scepter’d Isle and a pink hollyhock climbs skyward in the distance.

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The height of summer. I am sowing calendula seeds again. The bright orange was such a highlight.  They are scheduled for sowing in April.  I will sow in modules again.

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The clematis in flower and with some of those fascinating seed heads. It’s now one of the frozen flora. It was already putting on new growth and had been cut back to about 50cms. Here’s hoping those new shoots are made of strong stuff.

It’s a bit of a bending of the rules this week, but did you really want 6 shades of white?  I am curious to see what other sixers will post.  I encourage you to take a look at The Propagator’s blog and see what materialises. I am hoping all UK sixers are warm, dry and safe this weekend.  Over to you in the sunnier climes!