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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

Six on Saturday: Counting the cost

I’ve waited hopefully, cut back hard, watered optimistically but the time has come to admit defeat.  Well almost – I will be making one or two last ditch attempts to prevent the inevitable flatline.  Okay, let’s reveal the damage caused by my neglect, lack of experience or possibly the oh so harsh winter.

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Fred, Fred, I think the lemon tree is dead!  The move to this new garden was all the more exciting because there was a greenhouse.  Oh what exotics I would be able to grow.  Fred will remember the melons that succumbed to red spider mite.  And now the lemon tree, after one summer of delivering beautifully scented flowers, looks very sickly.  It was stowed in the greenhouse for winter,  fleeced when the temperatures fell and an extra layer added when -7 degrees was imminent.  It was watered and fed but as the temperatures rose and the fleece was removed the outcome did not look good.  I am, on Fred’s advice, going to cut back all the brown leaved stems and I’ll wait a while to see if any new growth emerges.  But I have a feeling another lemon tree will be bought and perhaps a greenhouse heater!

Two

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Fred may have some advice for me here as well.  The French Lavender received as a housewarming gift also looks dead.  I am going to cut this back to the base of all the stems and do some more of that optimistic watering and waiting.  If not, another Lavender will be bought!  Or maybe this is this space for a small daphne?

Three

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For this one I am going for the very cold wet winter as cause of death.  But I suppose it also comes under the heading of right plant, wrong place.  These straggly stems are the last remains of Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’.  I don’t think they are going to  make it at all.  Perhaps this is the place for some hellebores.

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A few more greenhouse deaths: a pelagonium cutting – underwatered, and a salvia cutting – I think, but of course I didn’t label it.  This was doing fine until I went away for a few days and the greenhouse temperatures hit 40 degrees.  At least I know the automatic vents work.

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Yes there’s more.  This rose came with the garden.  I released it from bindweed, pruned it, fed it and enjoyed a profusion of pinky apricot flowers.  It really performed and then it died. I think I didn’t water it enough.  It takes a while to work out the intensity of the sun in a new garden.  I cut it back as ruthlessly as I could bear and waited but there is not a sign of new growth and it has to go.  This is quite an interesting opportunity as I plan to extend the other end of this border which will make R.Natasha Richardson the centre point.  Time to work out what will go either side, something that likes it hot and dry I think.

Six

I am being philosophical.  It’s all part of getting to know a new garden and understanding the physics of greenhouses!  I couldn’t bring myself to provide a completely dead six and of course the tulips are coming out. So here’s what is zinging in the garden (for now): Unknown tulip and Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii.  Perfect when accompanied by sunshine and blue skies!

 

I am sure there will be some more cheerful sixes in this week’s #SixOnSaturday collections.  All the links will be at The Propagator’s blog.  Take a look and be inspired, as I know I will be, to enjoy your garden this weekend.

Six on Saturday: Rain delays

It was a no show here for snow but the rain fell insistently most of the week.  I would love to be planting out the first early potatoes but the soil is cold and wet so this week’s six starts in the greenhouse.

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Just in time, I have potted up the new dahlia tubers. My dahlia wish list consisted of Arabian Night, Magenta Star, Cafe au Lait and Mary’s Jomanda.  But I bought Thomas Edison.  Six of these will go into the borders and a combination of Blanc y Verde and Furka will go into three terracotta pots.  They are resting in the greenhouse for now.

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Settled in the greenhouse I gave the strawberry plants a tidy up and donated them a bag of my recently acquired council compost.  I am on a steep learning curve with the greenhouse.  Red spider mites made themselves known last year and the soil feels very depleted.  I have manured and mulched, added chicken pellets and another bag of council compost has gone on the other side, even so I may grow the tomatoes in grow bags again this year.

Three

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A gardener’s dilemma: mystery seedlings.   Are they from something I grew in the greenhouse last year? Or a throwback to something the previous owner grew?   They look interesting so I have left them for now.

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It really was time to release the autumn sown sweet peas from their pot.  These are from seed collected from last year’s plants.  I am curious to see how well they do.  The plant in front is Weigela ‘Florida Variegata’, just coming into leaf.

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And as I walked down the path I noticed that my ailing euphorbia is showing the very slimmest glimmer of life.  A few new shoots at the end of one stem.  I’m keeping that one too. Perhaps it will catch up with its neighbour!

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Planting out the recently purchased Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ will also have to wait a while.  I need to have some sturdy trellis installed and then grab a break in the rain.  Thank you to all those who shared pictures of your clematis in flower.  It convinced me that this was a necessary addition to garden. I’m looking forward to next year’s flowers and their scent.

For more inspiration visit The Propagator’s blog.  The links to other #SixOnSaturday posts will take you on a gardening journey around the world!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Six on Saturday

After a few weeks away from these posts and the garden there is much to be done.  No time for looking back on past successes and inevitably remembering all that didn’t get done.  Here’s what is happening in my garden now.

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The first buds on the Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii have appeared.  I planted four as 9cm pots in Autumn 2016 and so this is the first flowering year.  Although one of the four is still suffering from an unknown malaise, possibly too wet a position, the other three are romping away and giving me the beginning of a structure to the new border.

Two

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This is Hellebore Happy Day.  I bought this from a market stall, seduced by the discounted price.  On doing some research I discovered that it is a Hellebore Niger which has been specially developed for early flowering, mainly from October to December.  I can confirm that it was early to flower and I am interested to see how long it keeps going. It is providing a good splash of brightness in the winter gloom.

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Not yet in flower are these snowdrops.  These are also part of the new garden planting.  This time last year I dug out a good sized rectangle of grass around the fruit trees and on a cold and sleety day I planted about 100 snowdrops in the green along one edge of each of them.  In retrospect I should have planted greater numbers to create a bigger impact.  I will review them when they flower this year – one for a future six.

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Getting to know a new garden is a long term process.  Understanding which parts dry out soonest, which stay wet and soggy and which are the sunny corners takes several years.  This osteospermum is a division of an existing plant that I moved in the summer.  It was probably the wrong time to move it, but the parent plant was very leggy and I was trying to weed around it.  Parts of the plant broke off as I tried to disentangle it.  With a gardener’s optimism I dug a hole in a sunny corner and planted the divisions.  I now know that the sunny corner is also very sheltered as the osteospermum has continued to flower through the winter.  Now I need to see what else will enjoy that spot.

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Here’s a view of one corner of the veg patch.  The last of the parsnips have been pulled and eaten.  I grew Tender and True from seed planted in late April.  The other beds were for Carrots Nantes 2, Cucumber,  Onions and Shallots.  The cardboarded raised bed was for courgettes and sweet peas.  The far bed was the cut flower patch, which will host potatoes this year.  I’m a semi planner.  I won’t be doing multi coloured charts but I will rotate crops and I will be planting more varieties this year.  There may be a pencil plan in a notebook but I think that will be it!  I will share the progress here.

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Saving the best for last, this morning I collected my new Niwaki herbaceous sickle from the post office.  I can’t wait to use it.  The borders are in need of a tidy but this morning we had the first frost for many weeks and I shouldn’t be walking on the frosted grass.  I can do along the paths and maybe there will be time when the frost has melted.  I came across this tool in Thomas Stone’s blog   Christmas gift ideas for the gardener in your life.  I am sure I am going to be tempted by more of Thomas’ suggestions.  Christmas may be over but the gardening carries on!

I hope you have some time to enjoy your garden or allotment this weekend. Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the wonderful Six on Saturday.  Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession

 

 

 

Six on Saturday

There’s some tidying up of the garden to be done.  Deadheading still, fallen leaves to  be collected, mulching and planting bulbs but close up there are some gems to be found.  Here’s my six for this week.

One

Schizostylis or, and much easier to say, Kaffir Lilly.  This came in a pot of something else when we moved house.  I  love the strong pink colour at the end of the season so I’m glad it stowed away and I’m hoping that it will settle into its new spot and send up more flowering spikes over time.

Two

R.Scepter’d Isle.   No apologies for showing this one again.  Mid October, still flowering and sending out new buds.  It seems happy in my demi paradise.

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But not everything in the garden is thriving.  One of the four euphorbia characias wulfenii that I planted to give structure to the border is failing dramatically.  The plants around it seem unaffected.  Possibly too wet in this particular spot?   The other three are still looking good.  Has anyone else experienced this?

Four 

Here’s an update on the persimmon tree.  The leaves are turning and amongst the beautiful copper reds the fruit is also changing colour.  There may be a chance that I will have some ripe fruit yet.

Five 

Geranium Brookside against a healthy euphorbia.  This was a new geranium to me and I love the way it sprawls around the roses and euphorbias.  The flower shines out and the leaves are beautifully cut. The plants have spread out much faster at the sunnier end of the border and so the two languishing at the shady end will have to be moved on.  Right plant, wrong place.

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Please correct me if I’m wrong but I think I am introducing Arum Italicum.  It’s an inherited plant.  It grows in a north facing border in a very shady spot.  Its bright orange seed berries have died back and the white veining of the leaves is particularly eye catching at this time of the year.  A good autumnal photo to end on.

I hope you are still finding good things in your gardens and let’s hope the less successful ones aren’t harbouring something nasty.

Thanks to The Propagator for hosting. Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession