Six On Saturday: In the sweet shop

I seem to remember being a little excited over recent weeks, contrary to national sentiments at this time. This week I’m in the sweet shop anticipating a sugar overload whilst of course maintaining social distancing. The garden is throwing out new delights at every turn and some of the sulkier seeds have come through. I will definitely have enough courgettes – how could I have doubted that? The Eschscholzia have germinated and even though I am on the third hopeful sowing of parsnips I am optimistic. Here’s my six for the week.

One

I love it when the Siberian irises open up.  The combination of purple and green is just perfect. I divided these last year and spread the joy to friends.  They came to me from a division and it is only right that tradition continues.

Two

The first clematis flower arrived.  I have no idea which one it is, it came with the garden and this year I am very thankful for it.  I was a little tardy in cutting the clematis back so the bottom half is a bare but fortunately hidden by geraniums.  Must do better.

Three

Going back to reluctant seeds, two years ago I sowed an entire packet of euphorbia oblongata.  Four germinated, three survived and last year I squeezed them into small space in the border.  They looked pretty feeble and I did not expect them to survive a winter.  Well they did.  It was a lovely surprise to see them even though they are in the ‘wrong place’ in terms of the border layout. Perhaps they are in the right place for them.

Four

Dazzling away in partial shade is thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’, one of the Prop’s recommendations.  Good sir, I thank you for mentioning it.  This is its second year and it has definitely got its feet in the right place. 

Five

The just about to unfurl, perfectly curled, rose bud of r. Jacqueline du Pré.  When open the rose reveals beautiful golden stamens.

Six

Oh how I wish I could share the scent of this rose with you.  It is  ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’.  I also wish I could capture the rich shade of pink that this rose truly is but you will have to make a mental adjustment to compensate. I confess that I often walk down the garden just to inhale its fragrance.  Bliss. 

I hope you are finding bliss and a kaleidoscope of delights in your gardens this week.  It was a cold one with the early part of the week best forgotten.  Here’s hoping we are on the up from now on.  Mr P will have all the links to the SOSs of the week and of course his own inimitable gardening highlights.  If you have a moment stop by. 

Six On Saturday: The fourth week of February approaches

The fourth week of February is a significant week because this is the week I plan to sow some seeds.  Surely if I write this down I will do it?  The sap may be rising in the garden but my mojo is lagging behind.  I have had enough of howling winds and constant rain.  I have some gardening to be done as well as seeds to sow. There was some encouragement from the walk round today.  I can see the geraniums beginning to break through again, the camassias planted last year are coming along and I noticed the cowslips are in bud.   Last week’s primroses, pulmonarias and crocuses are still looking good and the hellebores continue to shine.  Here’s this week’s six.

One

Not one of my favourites but it a good indicator of the change of season.  That stalwart of front gardens, the forsythia has broken into flower.

Two

I’ve added a number of hellebore niger to the garden this year and they have just got their flower heads up off the ground.  I have some lovely soft pink hellebores but these white ones can be seen from the windows, shining beacons of light in the eternal rain.

Three

The annual splurge of euphorbia characias wulfenii is well under way.  Look carefully and you will see the ailing specimen of the four I have.  The regular downpours are not helping it in anyway and are completely destroying my artful symmetry.

Four

The clematis armandii continues to pump out the flower buds and soon there will be flowers.  I’m looking forward to those.

Five

I am training rosa Madame Alfred Carriere along the back fence and it was good to see these side shoots appearing this week.  More promise of things to come.

Six

I’ve been lucky not to have suffered any real damage from the winds.  No shed roof blown off, no broken windows in the greenhouse.  The fir tree in the front garden has stood firm, only shedding a great quantity of cones and one or two twiggy bits which has given the otherwise grey space a certain rustic woodland charm.

The Phillip Larkin poem ‘Coming’ has been on my mind this week, so I will leave you with these thoughts:

A thrush sings, Laurel-surrounded In the deep bare garden, Its fresh-peeled voice        Astonishing the brickwork. It will be spring soon, It will be spring soon –

Time to get the Fish, Bone and Blood sprinkled around and don’t forget to check in with Mr P for more signs of spring and if you get the chance, enjoy your gardening.

Six On Saturday: Signs of things to come

This is a fatal time of year for me. The Christmas break takes me away from the garden and usually cold weather keeps me away. But SOS calls and even the briefest of walks around the borders reveals that sitting with one’s feet up is not what is needed. Those weeds are looking smugly healthy whilst other more valued plants are in need of a trim or a primp. There are more leaves to be taken off the hellebores and I spotted one or two wayward rose branches that need to be taken out. I don’t have the excuse of cold weather, in truth it has been quite mild here but the ground is very wet so I will have tread carefully. Here’s what else I found.

One

 

The clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ is fattening up very nicely.  It is growing rampantly in one direction but is a little bald in the other.  One side receives much more sun and it is the sunnier side that is worse for wear.   Perhaps it will re-balance this summer.

Two

A favourite photo for this time of year, the new growth of the sedum is pushing through.  The old stems can stay on a little longer though.

Three

A visit to the greenhouse paid some dividends as the overwintering pelagonium had put out new flowers.  It was quite a timely visit as the pellie is clearly sitting below a leak point from the roof and some of its leaves were gently rotting away. On the downside all the salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ cuttings have rotted off.

Four

There was some more joy in the greenhouse. Fred, a long time SOSer had sent me seeds of anchusa capensis back in September and I sowed just a few then.  Three of them came good and are currently looking promising.  I’ll be sowing the rest in the coming months.  Thanks Fred.

Five

That great herald of spring euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii is once again having mixed fortunes in the border.  I have four of them planted centrally in the long border to give an early blast of lime green but one of them always plays up. These two plants are about a metre apart but something is having a dramatic impact on the growth of one of them.  I will soldier on but I think they are not very fond of my heavy soil and the wet winter is doing them no favours.

Six

Always reliable in providing a great mound of evergreen structure is this sage.  It came with the garden and every year I give it a thorough prune.  The compost heap smells wonderful for few days.

Happy New Year to everyone, the long month of January has arrived and we need to keep our minds focused on the impending arrival of beautiful things.  Seeds to be sown, spring bulbs to be enjoyed and where we would be without a good moan about weeds, slugs and snails.  I’m ready for it all and so is The Propagator, he’s already sown his chilli seeds!

 

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: 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: Roses, geraniums and more

The soft scent of the roses greeted me as I walked down the path to collect this week’s photos.  Yes, summer is arriving and it is time to enjoy what is on offer.  I still have work to do and ridiculously, given the dry weather, I have new plants to find homes for. Here’s this week’s collection.

One

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The climbing rose ‘Blush Noisette’ is covering the wall with small blooms and buds.  This is a three year old plant and it is just about reaching its predicted spread of four feet.  It is billed as having a a rich musky clove scent, which is not so apparent,  but it does flower generously.

Two

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Geranium psilostomen is just opening up, I bought this two years ago from the Finchley Horticultural Society (FHS) plant sale and the following year bought three more.  They are fabulous for a statement geranium, tall and covered in masses of magenta flowers with black centres.  They grow to 1.2m and are pretty much self supporting although I do stake one side of this to keep it up off the path.

Three

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Antirrhinum majus ‘White Giant’ F1.  I am so proud of these because I grew them from the tiniest of seeds last year.  They flowered well last summer and have over wintered and flowered even more vigorously this year.  They are annuals so I seem to have been very lucky to have them come through again.  I don’t think they are self seeders.  I have no idea how this has worked but I am thoroughly enjoying them.

Four

This week I made a start on one of the most terrifying jobs in the garden. Cutting back the flower stems of euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii.  They are just beginning to produce seed and are dominating the border so it’s time to cut them down and give everything else some extra space.  The foliage left after the flower shoots are gone continues provide some useful structure.  The white sap drips everywhere and can cause skin irritation so I tackle this job very carefully.  One down, three more to go.

Five

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All is not as it should be in the north facing border.  I am still trying to track down the melica plants – I think I may be on to something but I have to wait patiently for another week before I know for sure!  In the meantime the 25 geranium sanguineum ‘Album’ are just beginning to flower and there are interlopers.  At least one so far but judging by the leaf I think there may three more.  I do like the new geranium but it cannot stay here in the clearly designated ‘white plants for deep shade’ space.  Well, not for long.

Six

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Last weekend I was helping out at the FHS plant sale.  I came back with a good haul of plants, some small and delicate for the half-thought out alpine corner and some more statuesque.  These two tall ones are veronica, pink and salvia microphylla var. microphylla or blackcurrant sage.  I must have a corner for them somewhere.

My fellow sixers will be sharing their gardens and all the links are collected together on The Prop’s blog.  Mr P does a sterling job of running the show for which we are all most appreciative.  Look no further for inspiration and helpful advice.  That’s enough sucking up, time to enjoy the garden.

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.

One

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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?

Two

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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.

Three

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.

Four

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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.

Five

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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.

Six 

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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: One thing leads to another

It’s funny how things work out. You start one thing, and before you know it something else needs doing. It has been cold, wet and windy but gardening jobs have been done. Some by me and some by the professionals.

One

I planted a cherry tree. Some time ago a dead diseased apricot tree was taken out and I ruminated for a long while on what could go in the space. The old tree roots and the stump are still in the ground but I squeezed in a rose nearby. Hawthorn and rowan were high up on my list of trees to put in a little further along but then as some wild blackberries were taken out the increase in space seemed perfect for a fan trained cherry tree. The cherry tree arrived this week and I set to work planting it. This is the first tree I have ever planted so it was a momentous occasion. I wish trees came with recipe-like instructions. Tools for job: stake, tree tie, fork for forking out inevitable roots of previous inhabitants, loppers for cutting those larger roots, spade for digging hole, fish, bone and blood for fertiliser, trug to put said roots in, mallet for banging in stake, compost for improving texture of soil and last but not least the actual tree. As usual I underestimated the time it would take – an hour, which included me digging it up twice to make sure it was facing the right way!

Two

The bbq went last week and the spotted laurel went this week. My professional with the chain saw said ‘it isn’t a spotted laurel it’s an acuba. I looked up acuba and was informed that it’s common name is spotted laurel. Well it’s gone. On looking at the empty space I decided that the paving slabs were not very attractive and might be just the thing for putting down in front of the new compost bins. So rather radically for a SOSer I am going to add in some extra lawn! The paved area will be turfed. I hear howls of anguish from some quarters but that is the plan. The hydrangea may also be on the move as I think I have found a spot for it elsewhere in the garden

Three

This year I decided to have the fig and apple trees pruned by a specialist. Most are quite young trees but there is a larger older apple tree that needed a reshape. It wasn’t long before disease or insect damage was found in the fig trees. The upper end of the central branches had died back and in some cases was hollowed out leaving a bark case. There wasn’t anything to match it to on the internet so it is a mystery. A larger than expected amount had to be pruned out so the fruit crop is in doubt for this year. I hope this action will save the trees though.

Four

The clematis armandii chose this week to open out into flower. It is lovely but I can’t help thinking it is like a wearing your best flimsy frock to a Christmas night out – absolutely freezing! I am battling against the odds to train it in the direction I would like it to grow and I am quickly learning that the stems are only flexible for the first few inches. After that they break.

Five

Its probable against all the rules, but this week I moved the winter spinach. I need to get a space ready for the onions and the rotation plan meant the spinach needed to be evicted. It looks very settled in it’s new home, due in no small part to the outer slug eaten leaves having been pulled off.

Six

It was a cold wet and windy week but there was a moment of sunshine and the euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii was glowing brightly. An uplifting moment to end on.

For more uplifting moments take at peek at the links available on https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/09/six-on-saturday-09-03-2019/

Six On Saturday: Strange inspirations

I thought about pulling a ‘dog ate my homework’ one this week.  I had a good excuse – the  lightning cable has disappeared and downloading the photos looked distinctly unlikely.  But I did have six photos on the phone and I know the Prop expects every man to do his duty and so a spare was found.  Here’s my six.

One

The Christmas break offered a few days to explore some culture and a visit to Tate Modern for the Burne-Jones exhibition provided unexpected inspiration for this week’s six.  The paintings on display featured many beautifully painted plants: irises, dianthus, lillies, pansies and sweet peas, all with their own significant meanings and truly I was going to give you six insights into flowers and art but I know this will resonate much deeper – Leopard slugs.

These are slithering around the main entrance to the museum.  They are by Monster Chetwynd  who is fascinated by the idea that ‘light emitting organisms may one day power street lights.’  Now I did not know this, but leopard slugs emit a blue glow when they mate and so Chetwynd’s slugs come adorned with blue LED lights.  When you next go late night slug hunting spare a thought for what you may be interrupting!

Two

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Back to things that really are in my garden now.  My front garden hydrangea continues to give me joy.  Yesterday the brown flowers were caught by the late afternoon sun giving them a bronzed look.  The photo doesn’t do it justice, you will have to trust me on this one.

Three

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The back door pot of thyme also caught my eye in a silvery way.

Four

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And more silvery colour came from the lamb’s ear, Stachys byzantina.  Tiny signs of new growth are pushing through.  Very encouraging.

Five

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The Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii is also developing its lime green flower heads.  These were one of the first plants to be put into the new border two years ago and they look wonderful now they are reaching their full size.

Six

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When I started the hunt for six to feature this Saturday I thought the garden was looking pretty grim.  But there is always something to enjoy as plants work their way through their life cycles.  The Cotoneaster that was resplendent with berries a few weeks ago is now a skeleton, indeed looking very much like a fish skeleton.  The geometric spacing of the branches is worth taking a moment  to stop and admire.

Phew! Made it!  The first six of the New Year.  May 2019 bring us all a bounty of beautiful things in our gardens.  To take a look at what is happening in gardens elsewhere call in at The Prop’s place – there’s some LED action going on there too!

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!