Six On Saturday: Delightful dahlias cheer up the garden

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

One

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

Two

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

Three

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

Four

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

Five

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

Six

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

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

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Six On Saturday: Harvest time

The high points of my gardening year are the June riot of colour and the September harvests. In truth we have been enjoying raspberries, figs and blackberries for a few weeks now. The erratic early summer weather did for one of my cucumber plants but the survivor put out enough cukes to keep the salad bowl well supplied.  There is colour in the garden thanks to the roses and phlox but this week is mainly a veg and fruit focus.

One

Dwarf French beans.  These are Safari.  This is the first time I have grown a dwarf variety and so far so good.   They have cropped well enough for me and taste good.  They don’t seem as squeaky as other French beans.  I’m freezing those that are surplus to requirements.  They are perhaps slightly fiddlier to pick than climbers from a wig-wam but I won’t have to untangle all that twine at the end of the season.  I sowed a second round a few weeks ago which I hope will give me a crop in October.

Two

Tomatoes in the greenhouse.  My greenhouse is in partial shade and the windows need a clean but temperatures still climb.  They have only just started to ripen in the last week or two.  There are  plenty of tomatoes but will they all ripen? These are San Marzano 2 and Tigerella.  I also grew Green Zebra, Golden Sunrise and Alicante.

Three

Onions, small but good enough.  The onions did better this year due to the higher rainfall.  I don’t plant many because  I never have much luck with stored onions.  I am sure these will be used up before they start sprouting.  The variety is Sturon and I will grow these again next year.  The red onions were even more diminutive and were used up very quickly.  They were growing in the rain shadow of one of the apple trees.  I will try to do better with the red onions – time to start the winter Japanese varieties now.

Four

The large fig tree has cropped well this year and for some reason I didn’t see the squirrels stealing the fruits.  Perhaps the wasps put them off.  Picking the figs had to be carried out with great care.  This tree is going to get the big trim over winter and it is much needed.  On Friday I watched the wind blow through the leaves with some trepidation.  I’m hoping we don’t get a big winter storm this year.

Five

It is apple picking weekend here.  This is because the next few weekends are taken up with other plans so it is now or never.  All the apples will be picked and taken off for juicing.  In a week or so I will collect the results.  I finally got round to buying a telescopic apple picker which I hope will mean less teetering on the ladder.

Six

There is one flower for the week.  This stray sunflower has  been brightening up a corner of the garden.  It is like a lighthouse shining through the dark, calling to the butterflies and bees.  I didn’t plant it and can only think that it came from the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder.  For which I am very grateful!

Apart from the great apple harvesting that has to be done this weekend I am hoping to make a start on some bulb planting.  I’ve not placed a big order yet but I have some crocuses and Tete a Tete daffodils to ease me in.  Planning for Spring has started.

Mr P  hosts the Six On Saturday meme and all the links to other posts can be found in the comments section.  September on show from gardens around the world.  Lovely.

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: Back to being a gardener

The comments on last week’s post were very reassuring.  We all have those moments of stepping on, cutting off or killing one plant or another.  I was most struck by the thoughts that this all about learning to forgive ourselves and that enjoying what the garden gives are the most important things.  So this week, as the days shorten and the leaves begin to turn, there are a few growing successes to share.

One

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A few weeks ago it seemed that the figs would remain green and would all have to picked off.  Suddenly they started to ripen and each day brings more and more.  Most importantly I think I am getting to them before the squirrels!

Two

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More by the power of nature than my gardening skills I have managed to grow a strong crop of parsley from seed.  They were started of in a pot, transplanted into the greenhouse and a few more seeds were direct sown.  Having a steady supply of parsley is a first for me.

Three

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Also from the greenhouse is a photo of those peppers I was muttering about last week.  These are continuing to grow strongly and early problems with end rot seem to have disappeared.  The variety is supposedly Long Red Marconi, described as a mild sweet pepper.  But these have a bit of kick!

Four

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The basil growing in the greenhouse keeps on going.  I’ve made some brilliant pesto and it is regularly used for cooking.

Five

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My eye popping aster is in full bloom.  It grows at the shadier end of the border and even there I am beginning to find it a little too bright!  I namby-pambied about giving this the chelsea chop this year.  In the end I gave it a layered chop which has produced great flowers at about 50cms.  Those stems that were left unchopped must be at 150cms now and needed staking.  I had a nose around to see if I could identify the variety and came up against the great re-naming debate.  I name this one Aster ‘Tall and Bright Pink’!

Six

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Back to those squirrels again.  The recently completed wood facade to a breeze block structure at the end of the garden is a great place to perch and enjoy a different view.  Seems that the wildlife are also appreciating a new lunch venue and bring in their own food!  All our apples were picked and juiced a few weeks back.  Perhaps we missed one at the top of a tree.  The result of this year’s apple crop was 33 bottles of juice.  Last year we had 73 bottles.  I’m not complaining!

Mr P host of this meme, is having a busy weekend away from the garden and politely asks if someone could mow the lawn for him.  Sorry Mr P, I can’t help out as I will be too busy reading everyone else’s posts!

Six On Saturday: In my dreams

Temperatures are falling and the evenings have a chill about them.  My third summer in this garden is coming to an end.  The previous owner (PO) loved to grow fruit, figs in particular and this week I woke from a dream where I had collected armfuls of sweet soft figs.  I am sure this was inspired by a tweet from Fred, a French gardener  who had been doing exactly that.  In my garden I watch as the birds flutter in and out of the fig trees magically finding in their branches the ripe figs that I keep missing.  All the ones I can see are green.

One

IMG_2779Here’s the largest fig tree.  This was tentatively pruned back early this year but I can see it really needs to be brought down in size.  Ruthlessness is a gardening skill I am beginning to develop.  Cutting this tree back will give the summer borders more of a chance to keep going through into autumn.  I will be able to bear any loss of fruit as I don’t see much of it anyway!

 

Two

IMG_2780Because the PO’s interest were in fruit and veg the flower borders had been left to their own devices and I have been reclaiming them from the weeds.  One corner was in the grip of ground elder and I spent the first two summers digging it out.  I think I am now at the stage where I can plant this corner up.  My dreams have recently focused in on a white hibiscus and a Trachelospermum jasminoides to cover up a fence.  That’s my dream for autumn or spring planting.  For the moment this is how the corner looks now. Each summer I plant a group of annuals to keep the ground covered.  This year it was Zinnias which are filling out now.

 

Three

IMG_2768A close up of that corner showing the convolvulus cneorum bought at the Beth Chatto garden now in situ among the erigeron karvinskianus.  I’m happy with the front and I hope I will be happy with the back, now I need something mid border to bridge the gap.  I have persicaria on the wish list so maybe there is an opening for it here.

Four

IMG_2770Three 9cm pots of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’ were planted out earlier in the summer.  I have to be patient but next year I am expecting these diminutive plants to transform into dreaming spires of late summer interest. They should reach 1.2m.  Some way to go then!

Five

IMG_2773 (2)In my dreams, particularly in my day dreams, I see a luxuriously verdant garden seamlessly moving from one season to the next.  At this time of the year I find myself struggling.  The summer border becomes increasingly shady as the big fig tree branches out.  There is just enough sun to encourage the roses in a second flowering and this one is Gertrude Jekyll.

Six

IMG_2771A long term dream has been to fit in a water feature.  My original expansive daydream of putting a rill down the middle of the lawn was strongly vetoed and probably rightly so.  Instead I have in mind a much smaller feature to replace this laurel bush.  It also shades the summer border and doesn’t add any great interest to the garden.  Taking it out will leave a large hole – the first step towards the pond.

Dreaming and planning for the garden is much on my mind at the moment.  I was feeling the pressure of exhortations to prepare and plant up for next year.  It was all too much and I left the catalogues on the table and went out into the garden.  Even after the recent rains it was still dry and difficult to work but I relocated a few seedlings, planted out some mid summer purchases, cut back the lavender and rosemary and felt much better for it!

Many thanks to  The Prop for gathering together a diverse crowd of fellow gardeners who share weekly their gardening delights and sometimes the nasties! You are welcome to take a look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six On Saturday: Branching out

I foresee blue sky photos for this week’s sixes.  And about time too!  Here are mine.

One

IMG_2252The trees in the garden are beginning to put on a show.  First up is the persimmon tree.  There was a bumper crop last year but I’m not a fan.  I inherited it with the garden and it does look fabulous in winter when the leaves have dropped and the orange fruits remain.

Two

IMG_2255I also inherited a number of apple trees and here is some delightful apple blossom from one of them.   Again, there was a bumper crop last year, we don’t store the apples and there are only so many we can eat so the majority of them are taken off for juicing.  We are still drinking the 2017 vintage.

Three

IMG_2258The leaves on the fig trees are just opening.  Not such a good year for figs for me last year and the squirrels always get the best of them.  I managed to bag a handful!

Four

 

IMG_2257And after my winter pruning efforts  it is always a great relief to see new leaves on the vine.  It does produce grapes but so far they have split before we get the chance to taste them.  The grape variety is Black Muscat, which I understand is also known as Black Hamburg.  Again, I was fortunate enough to inherit this well established vine which shades the pergola.

Five

IMG_E2256There is a great foaming wave of Choysia in one sunny corner of the garden.  It’s perfectly lined up with a view from the window.  Many thanks again to the previous owner.

Six

IMG_2250Finally, all my own work!  The white triumphator tulips are still hanging on and are a great companion to the irises that have just begun to flower.  There is also a glimpse of the almost open allium ‘purple sensation’ – something for next week!

Wishing you all a great gardening weekend – and the extra day in the UK.  More time to read all the sixes on show at The Propagator’s blog. Blue skies all the way.

Six on Saturday

As I write the first real frost in the garden is being melted by the sun.  It is the third frosty morning  and this time the water in the bird bath has frozen.  The birds have been active in the garden foraging for food and my first six is on this theme.

One


This one is for John Kingdon at the Rivendell Garden blog The blackbirds have found my cotoneaster and the display of bright red berries is diminishing.

Two

There are still jobs to done in the garden and this is one I completed yesterday.  Cutting back the old and diseased foliage of the hellebores.  I only have a few so it wasn’t arduous and it enabled me to appreciate all the new flower buds forming. This is Pretty Ellen and the bud that I featured a week or so ago has opened beautifully.

Three


There have been plenty of posts recently about collecting leaves, so here’s my leaf mould corner.  Made from chicken wire and a few posts put together with a staple gun.  A varied collection of leaves blow in from neighbouring gardens.  My contributions are from the fig and apple trees.  I collect these mainly by mowing the lawn with the blades set high, shredding and collecting in one sweep.

Four


And here is the deleafed fig tree.  Only a few figs ripened and even the squirrels are turning up their noses at those that are left.  I now have the mammoth tasking of removing all but the very smallest figs.  A job for many Saturdays.

Five


I have recently extended a border and the first planting is complete.  The old plants have been brought out from under the hedge, tulips planted and lastly the roses.  A robin waited expectantly as I took this photo.  He’s pretending not to be looking. But I wasn’t turning over any worms that day. There’s more on the new border at New garden, new borders, new optimism

Six

Back to some of my favourites for the last one.  R.Scepter’d Isle is still putting out new buds and providing some late season colour.  I would also like to put in a good word for geranium brookside.  I have plans to divide this once it is well established and weave throughout the borders.  It definitely earns its keep.

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