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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: Turn around time

Weekends and weeks have been busy and the garden has received only fleeting attention.  The forecast of heavy rain for Friday saw me up early to sprinkle rose feed around so that the rain would do the watering in job.  I managed one afternoon of ruthless cutting back and hardly made a dent in the job.  I need to clear the borders to allow the later performing flowers to have their space.  It’s easy to feel that there is a mountain to climb but even in that one afternoon there was so much loveliness to enjoy.

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I planted an awful lot of allium sphaerocephalon last year but I don’t quite have the affect I wanted #neverhappy! But of course I am happy – they are full of bees and are keeping the colour in the garden going.  I have no idea how the name is pronounced so I may be using the common name of round headed garlic.  Much simpler.

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The geranium’ Brookside’ are the biggest culprit for taking up space, stunning when they climb over the early roses but once the flowers go they have to be cut back.  They are well established and cutting them back is a major job.  My compost heap is heaping up.  Each year I dither about getting a shredder but as the garden has been restocked and matured it is obvious to me that this is my next purchase.

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I had to get my priorities right today.  The deluge of rain has filled the water butts again but with the forecast of more to come I needed to pump the contents of one butt down to the end of the garden to fill the large water tank.  I think it holds about 800 litres and is my go to for keeping the veg plot watered.  While that was filling up I took the rest of my photos, serendipitiously benefited from the combination of sun and raindrops. This osteospermum is a workhorse in a sunny corner and deserves a mention.

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I have given up trying to protect the soft fruits from the birds.  I have had a few good pickings of gooseberries, blackcurrants and whitecurrants and I have taken off the netting to share the rest with nature. The whitecurrants look beautiful on the branch but remind me of fish eggs once in the colandar.

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I managed to get the last tray of annuals in the ground this morning.  I sowed cosmos late so there is not a flower to be seen but the nicotiana also sown late have come in to flower and the combination of heat and rain will no doubt do them both some good.

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The rose of the week is Jaqueline du Pre.  I really enjoy this one for its difference.  It was flattened by the overnight rain but by crawling around on the grass and propping it up on some other branches I managed to get a half decent photo.  I spotted an interesting salvia this week – Salvia × sylvestris ‘Schneehügel’ –  a white variety. I am going to add this in around the rose.  Just can’t stop myself.

I know someone else who can’t be stopped, yes Mr P.  Go visit and see what’s happening there and around the world.  Seems like the rain can’t be stopped either, its just started again.  My empty water butt will be filling up nicely.  Happy days.

 

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: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: The joy of small things

It’s a late post today, the forecast is for showers this afternoon and there were some gardening jobs that had to be finished off.  I was very happy to have plenty of rain this week and the water butts are now full again.  Everything is looking very lush and about to burst forth into a froth of colour.  I am becoming slightly impatient as the roses have been promising to burst forth for a few weeks now.  But I have managed to put that impatience aside and enjoy what is moving along in the garden.

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I’m giving myself a little pat on the back for managing to overwinter the scented leaf pelagoniums in the greenhouse.  Probably not a difficult task in truth but when I tucked them away for the winter there was a great sense of trepidation.  Well they made it and the beautiful flowers are emerging.  This one is ‘Pink Capitatum’.

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Unfurling majestically in the garden is the geranium ‘Phaeum’ which I also noted is happy enough in its spot to start self seeding.  Self seeders are much appreciated when a new garden is being stocked.

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Also self seeding very happily is astrantia major.  I moved some of these over to the north facing border, amongst the geranium sanguineum ‘Album’ and had plenty left to share some with a friend.

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One of the first plants I put into the garden was zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Crowborough’. A beautiful arum lilly that I was hoping to enjoy for many a year.  It came to nothing for two years.  Today I noticed these tiny leaves and also the most likely reason for its coming to nothing – slugs.  I am thinking I might dig this up and treat it to the luxury of a well protected pot.

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Nearby I noticed the new leaves of rodgersia aesculifolia coming through.  It is being crowded out by a clump of siberian irises that need to be taken in hand once they have flowered.

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The nasturtium seedlings are ready to be transplanted.  I’m not going to pot these on.  They will go straight into their own designated space in two batches, just in case there is a late frost.

Looking at the small things in a garden keeps us going until the big adventure of summer arrives!  To see what else is opening up in gardens around the world go to The Propagator’s page for all the links to this weeks #SixOnSaturday posts.

 

 

Six On Saturday: Views from the borders

I was belatedly staking plants last weekend in anticipation of Storm Hannah.  The tulips in the long border are sprawling around now but otherwise no damage to report.  Weeding continues, the greenhouse tomatoes were moved into greenhouse and a second attempt at a patch repair of the broken glass will have to do for a week or two.  The dwarf french beans have germinated, the second batch of rocket was planted out and this weekend the courgette seeds will be sown.   Here’s what is out and about in the flower borders this week.

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A last shout for the tulips.  Contrary though they are I do love them.  This is a second outing for ‘Spring Green’ and ‘China Town’.  Last year this planting was infiltrated by a rogue orange tulip and a ‘Queen of Night’.  I think some cross pollination must have occurred as ‘China Town’ has an orange tinge this year, instead of the pink tone of last year.  Fortunately the orange tone works well with the terracotta pot.  I’m happy.  This planting should also contain the lovely pink double ‘Angelique’ but she failed to turn up.  I was beginning to think ‘tulips, pah!’ but then I read this week’s Dig Delve, Dan Pearson’s blog, and I was smitten again.

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This is an early morning photo of the North facing border, the sun will come around to this corner again in the afternoon.  I’ve lost the plot on the tulip varieties – I offer you ‘Flaming Spring Green’ – with no evidence of the flame, ‘Ronaldo’ – or not and ‘Jan Reus’.  The recently planted armeria maritima is fittinng in well with erigeron karvinskianus, and the osteospermum has just opened up alongside the bluebells.

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Restocking the garden continues. The latest purchase was tiarella ‘Emerald Ellie’ which is lining the shady path to the compost heap.  This sounds a bit below the dignity of Ellie, but I think she will do well there.

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Another of the missing plants for the deep shade section of the north border arrived.  Three pots of pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’ will give some evergreen structure.  All that remains to be found is the melica which I hope will appear in nurseries later in the season.  This part of the border gets early morning sun but then is shaded for the rest of the day.

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The sunny border is beginning to offer up the allium ‘Purple Sensation’ which takes over from the tulips.

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The first flowers of geranium sanguineum var. striatum are opening up.  I keep moving this plant around but I’m hoping it is in now in its forever home.

It’s another bank holiday in the UK, this time cold and windy but I’ll find some time to garden, I hope you do too.  Check in with The Propagator  to see what else is going on in the varied collection of SOS gardens.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: Shamed into action

I have been shamed by my fellow sixers!  The shorter days and colder temperatures have me reaching for the blanket, the gardening books and a cuppa.  I was even considering not posting a six!  But reading Mr P’s links to today’s sixes have encouraged me to get out in the garden.  I have not sown my sweet peas seeds, planted any bulbs and only just in time did I fleece my tender agapanthus plants.  But then none of us are perfect are we?  The very least I could do was to share six from my garden this week:

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img_3032.jpgI garden in London and so get a little complacent about frosts.  But this week the lawn has had a light frosting and it was clearly a sign that cold weather gardening had to start.  Last year’s fleece was in shredded tatters in the shed and I hate all those white flaky bits.  I hot footed it to Homebase and found some delightful green bags of 35gsm fleece with very handy draw string pulls.  I usually fleece up the agapanthus armed with a stapler but these jackets were easy to pull over the plants and the fetching shade of green is slightly less obvious than white.  Job done.

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IMG_3034I was certainly lulled into complacency by the balmy days I experienced in Suffolk last week but the cold evenings are changing the colours of the garden.  The persimmon tree is looking beautiful even as the leaves are falling.

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IMG_3033The previously sun scorched hydrangeas are also taking on their winter hue.

 

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IMG_3031But elsewhere the summer container plants are still in good health and I will leave them out throughout the winter.  In mild years I have been able to carry the geraniums over into the next summer.

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IMG_3036The white antirrhinum sowed from seed is still in flower at this end of the garden but elsewhere I have collected seeds from another plant that has done its bit for summer.

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img_3035.jpgI recently planted out some gaura and pennisetums  in a west border and alongside them I put in some Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, which still thinks there’s time to put on a display.  Thank you!

Thank you too, to everyone who shares their gardens on a Saturday.  You provide inspiration, support and encouragement and always make me laugh!  What more can you ask for?  Well, if anyone’s free to plant a few hundred bulbs….

 

 

Six On Saturday: Returning friends and small beginnings

I hope I’ve said this before because it needs to be said.  Thank you to  the Prop   for starting up this meme and for keeping us all in order.  There’s much to be gained from taking a look at all the posts that are contributed and there is a lovely supply of help and support on offer, so take a moment to stop by.  Thanks to everyone last week who pointed me in the direction of gauras and pennisetums.  I always thought that grasses were not for my garden but now I think I have the perfect place for them.  Time to move on to this week’s six:

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IMG_2877.JPGCutting back plants after flowering really can work.  The alchemilla mollis which were sheared to the ground have come through again and at this time of year they look beautiful with their dressing of early morning dew.

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IMG_2884This is Geranium ‘Brookside’.  It roamed through the garden in early summer, knowing no boundaries and so cutting it back when it finished flowering caused me no stress.  The plant needed to be tidied up.  This week I noticed it was flowering again.

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IMG_2878Also starting up again are the seedlings of Nigella, love in a mist.  I have a carpet of them which I should probably be thinning out and sharing around the garden.  But I might just leave them all here to keep the weeds down and see how they come through next year.

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img_2879.jpgIn the greenhouse I have managed to keep a tray of foxgloves and echinacea pallida seedlings alive and it looks like some potting on needs to be done.  Temperatures are on the up next week so they I hope they will put on some good growth once moved into a pot.

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IMG_2880Encouraged by the good example of others I decided to try some winter vegetables. I rescued a tray of rainbow chard and perpetual spinach from certain death and planted them out a few weeks ago.  The pesky slugs made straight for them but they have pulled through and growth looks good.

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IMG_2881Last November I planted out bare root roses in a new border and Darcy Bussell is still flowering.  I am impatiently waiting for the roses to become fully established but even in the first year the flowers have been rewarding.

I hope your garden or allotment is rewarding you and that we all manage to find a moment this weekend to appreciate them.

Six On Saturday: Temptations resisted?

The first temptation has been resisted.  Having spent last weekend removing slugs from the border, it put me in mind of the children’s song about worms ‘Big fat juicy ones, Tiny little squiggly ones’ and I was tempted to post six varieties of slugs.  But we’ve all had enough of them haven’t we?

I was also tempted to post six geraniums or six roses.  I think I’ve also bought at least six new plants in the last month – temptations not resisted.  I decided to mix it up:

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A rose and geranium combination in recognition of the arrival of June.  The rose is Gertrude Jekyll, so beautifully scented.  It really does fill the air with perfume.  The geranium is Brookside.  This is definitely asserting itself this year, the long stems thread round the other planting giving height to the border.  The RHS say stems are reasonably short at 50 cms but I would say medium height.

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A rose and lavender combination and one of the new plants bought.  The rose is Natasha Richardson, opening pink and fading to a pale pink.  I was wondering what to underplant it with and eventually realised that the French Lavender living next door looked a good combination so I bought one more to plant towards the front.

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A geranium on its own.  The eye popping Geranium psilostomen, also in its second year and achieving an impressive height.  It is pretty much self supporting although I have put a hoop in on the path side to keep it in its place.

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Another new plant: Salvia Armistad.  Featured more for the slug damage to the lower leaves.  I did wonder if this will survive a winter in my clay soil but decided to try it out.  On second thoughts it might not survive the summer if the slugs keep munching it.  I am going to try nematodes.

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Last year I extended my collection of Astrantias.  I added Roma to the border.  It’s not come through as pink as I was expecting but I will give it time to settle.  It’s subtlety might be what the border needs.  I’ve already decided the geum in the back needs to be moved. Pink and yellow is not my favourite combination.

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I can’t resist the temptation to revisit one of last week’s six.  I must say thank you to  Jim Stephens  John Kingdom and Tony Tomeo  who gave me advice on the two tier rhododendron.  With their help I’ve discovered that my ancient plant is the invasive, common R. ponticum.  I’ve been up the ladder to take a photo of the the top tier which is now in flower and I think the top and bottom are the same, that is, it is not a more rarefied rhoddie grafted on to the ponticum root stock. It’s quite a monster and dominates that side of the garden so it does need to be tamed a little.  I think I’ll be getting help with that one.  The first photo is the bottom flower, the second the top tier flower, the third the whole tree and the fourth the tree as is looked last week.

Each new Six On Saturday post brings new temptations, this week a rose on  Thomas Stone’s blog  has caught my eye.  On the list for the autumn temptations!  Be tempted at The Propagator’s blog where you’ll find links to all the Sixes.