Six on Saturday: Flowers are hiding a multitude of sins

Continuing on from the theme of last week: losing the plot, all is still chaos in the garden. It’s been a busy week. The house is encased in scaffolding. Painters and roofers are everywhere. Good for them that it hasn’t rained, not so good for me.  There is watering to be done and weeds to be pulled.   It is time to cut back the hardy geraniums and delphiniums, which, once done, will definitely bring the garden back into some sense of order.  But then who wants order in the garden? Let the flowers rule!

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I call these shasta daisies, but I have a distant memory that they have been renamed. Or maybe it is just that they have a formal classification name as well. Of course I didn’t get round to giving them a little bit of support so they have happily sprawled over the path. That path is getting hard to find these days. These have been in the garden, grown from seed, for three years now. Doing well I think.

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Suddenly the day lillies have burst forth.  I have ‘Golden Chimes’.  I can’t quite remember why  I chose these.  I really have a hankering for ‘Flore Pleno’.  But these will do – for now.  Day lillies are a sign, for me,  that the season is moving on.

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Sidalcea also indicate a change over is taking place.  This is ‘Stark’s Hybrid’.  This came to the garden last year and is beginning to clump up.  It should be very good next year.  It is in the mallow family and is not too dissimilar to hollyhocks but quite a bit shorter.

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Speaking of which, the hollyhocks this year are not quite at the giddy heights of last year but there is still time.  They seeded everywhere and I have realised that you need to be quick to pull out any unwanted ones. They develop very long roots that put up quite struggle.

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Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’ was a feature of SOS posts last year and after spotting it in a garden in France I was convinced that I had to have it here.  This is the first summer of flowering and it is not an established clump.  It does look beautiful swaying in a breeze, very summery.  I have high hopes of this making a bigger impact next year.

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There always has to be a rose at this time of year and this week it is ‘Darcey Bussell’.  Beautiful scent, fabulous colour and full of flower.  What more can you ask for?

For more summer highlights visit Mr P’s garden and you will find yourself meandering down garden paths from around the world.  Highly recommended.

 

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Six On Saturday: The first rule of gardening is…

Things always take longer than you think.  I could have shared six photos from the one gardening job I had to do this week but I didn’t have the phone with me.  It started well.  The two roses I had bought from Thomas Stone arrived.  Thomas had suggested Rosa Madame Isaac Pereire for a sunny south facing border.  I’ll just put them in before it gets dark I thought.  No need to change I thought, this won’t take long.  There were a few trips up and down the path to locate the fish, bone and blood and the spade, oh and the hand fork for a few weeds, and then the  trug for the weeds to go in but then I was ready.  Suddenly that space didn’t seem quite big enough.  The fennel had to come out and those penstemons.  Down the path again for the fork.  Two penstemons, the fennel and a hollyhock later the rose was ready to go in with a sprinkle of FBB and some mycorrhizal powder.  On to the next one.  Again the space didn’t seem quite big enough so there were more penstemons to be moved.  Two found places in a new location but one had to be heeled in.  The verbena bonariensis also looked a bit close so that came out too.  Time to dig the hole.  The rose was going into a spot that turned out to be quite near the dead tree (which has been cut down and buried by mulch).  So back down the path for the loppers to cut through various tree roots.  Turns out this spot is also where I squeezed in several spring bulbs.  So they were relocated.  Finally time to put the rose in.  Darkness is now descending.  Where is the mycorrhizal powder?  Oh yes, under the heap of soil I dug to create the hole.  Rose goes in at last.  Tools collected up and put away, shed is very dark now and clearly full of spiders.  Jeans are filthy.  Hurrah, the roses are in.  But in the night I think Tony Tomeo flew over from the West Coast (into Heathrow).  In the States they plant their roses differently – with the union at soil level.  Here, I do as I’m told and plant the union about 2 inches below soil level. The next morning this greeted me!

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My  heeled in plants joined several others in a spot I am trying to keep clear for onions.  It now houses several delphiniums relocated to make way for the gaura and penesetums, a hebe from the front garden, a polemonium – recovering from slug attacks, and now the fennel and penstemons.  They’ll have to find new homes in the New Year.

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In all the trudging up and down I did notice the first of the white hellebores – just in time for Christmas.  It is being photo-bombed by primrose leaves.

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Fat balls have been made for the birds. One part fat, two part whatever is around – dried fruits, bread and some oats.  Of course the squirrels get to them first!

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The blackcurrants have gone!  I kept four for myself – heeled in around the garden and the others have gone to good homes.  The smell as they were dug up was wonderful. Now I have a blank canvas on the north border for my white shade loving plants.

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Time to wish you all Happy Christmas.  Decorating the house has just begun and my small contribution to seasonal light pollution is the wrapping of a string of lights around a bay tree.

It’s a busy time of year but if you need a moment of peaceful relaxation then drop by at Mr P’s.  He maybe playing a bit of Slade but everyone is welcome!

 

Six On Saturday: The power of seeds

On the whole it was a gloomy, wet and windy week here but a little milder than of late. It was with some trepidation that I ventured out into the garden to collect this week’s six but gardens have a great way of taking care of themselves and providing a few surprises.

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One of the major projects of this year was the laying of the garden path.  It was laid on top of the old path which worked well in most places but as the path rounded the corner to meet up with the lawn the height differential came into play.  The weather was so hot and dry that plans to build up the lawn height were put on hold until about a month  ago.  Part of the lawn was stripped off and the soil level was built up.  My lawn is a patchwork quilt of grass, creeping buttercups, wild yarrow, clover, daisies and much more.  The stripped off turves did not hold together and when re-laid there were several scrappy patches which needed seeding.  I had given up hope of the new seed germinating but I really was very excited to see that the first new shoots have appeared.

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This new growth reminded me of one or two other things in the garden that had sorted themselves out.  Last winter I lost a French lavender plant given to me as a house warming present.  It had done so well over its first summer but winter was just too much for it.  Or so I thought.  A few weeks ago I noticed new shoots of lavender appearing alongside the English lavender I had planted in its place.  This is the strongest of the bunch and I’m hoping that sheltered by the English lavender it might make it through this winter.  There are a couple of smaller seedlings that I am going to lift and overwinter in the greenhouse.  I would love to report back to the giver that I do still have the French lavender.

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This young yew tree was given to me by the birds!  I can’t bring myself to pull it out and would love to find a corner of the garden where I can nurture it along into something significant.  Maybe I can start up my own wild hedgerow along the back fence.  I’ve got a few wild blackberries that need to be taken in hand.  Throw in a dog rose and some years of patient waiting and I could be onto something.

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The back fence is already home to Iris foetidissima and these have helpfully self seeded very successfully.  The orange berries glow brightly through the gloom and a good colony of these in the dark corner will provide a much welcomed lift to the spirits through winter.

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I collected some Hollyhock seeds to bring with me to the new garden and now the seeds from those plants are starting to colonise well.  I have had to take a few in hand as they managed to get themselves going some distance from the main site.  I never know what colours are going to appear which is part of the fun.

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Another great self seeder is the foxglove.  I did not have any in the garden so I bought a packet of seeds and did some sowing around the end of August.  There was a good success rate and I have moved some out into the garden and left some to overwinter in the unheated potting shed.  I’m hoping this belt and braces approach will give me a reward.

The fireside keeps calling me but the garden won’t let go just yet!  Have a look at what everyone else is up to by visiting The Propagator’s blog – there’s no way Mr P will be putting his feet up just yet!

 

Six On Saturday: Scorchio again

Once again it’s very hot here with temperatures around 30 degrees plus.  The rain of last Sunday – really, the one day I have the family over and it rains – was welcome and filled two of the large water butts and one small one.  Total 868 litres plus some odds and ends from the greenhouse butts and I’m nearly through it already.  I am looking again at the garden to see what I can add in to extend the colour but planting will have to wait until September.  Here’s what’s happening at the moment.

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A melon update: My second year of growing melons and you would have thought it would be a bumper year.  There have been plenty of flowers but only one has come good as a melon.  Two or three other melons formed but then rotted off.  I’ve been hard at work cutting back the side shoots and stopping the main stem.  Now I have to decide when is the optimum time to pick this precious fruit.

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The grapevine over the pergola regularly produces grapes but at this time of the year they split and never ripen.  The previous owner said it was a Black Hamburg, which, as many of you will know, is an indoor variety.  Today the wasps are having great fun and it makes sitting under the welcome shade a little nerve wracking.  I think in future I will cut off all the grapes and have beautiful shade and no wasps!

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The Hollyhocks have been to be featured again. They just keep on growing.  There was a touch of rust on the lower leaves early on but the hot dry weather seems to have kept it at bay.  Reader, I measured this one. It is eleven foot six inches!  Does that sound like a challenge?  Bring on the hollyhocks.  This one is growing up into a dead fruit tree.  It never got to fruiting stage so I can’t identify it, other than to say that I suspect is was a stone fruit, maybe apricot, which succumbed to leaf curl and oozing this year.

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Also doing rather well are the rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’.  I have my eye on these for dividing this year.  Spreading this wonderful colour around the garden will be a pleasure.

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I was late sowing the cosmos this year but they have started to come into flower.  This one is Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Click Cranberries’.  I’ve planted them in a block but I think this one will look good dotted around the border next year.

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Lastly a zinnnia.  This is taken as a close up because my planting scheme went awry.  I planned to mix the zinnias and some ammi visnaga together but the ammi germinated late and is only just looking good enough to plant out.  Without the ammi to add some froth the zinnias look like soldiers on parade.  Maybe it will look better in October.

From here it looks like crispy lawns and parched plants for a little longer.  See what else is going on at The Prop’s blog – there you can find links to all the other great SOSs.

Six on Saturday: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

 

It was the best time to spend a week on the Suffolk coast. High temperatures, blue skies and lazy days. But the worst time to leave the garden. First the best.

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A stop at the Beth Chatto gardens was made en route. I wanted to purchase Convolvulus cneorum, also known as shrubby bindweed.  It seemed strange to be looking for a plant with convolvulus in its name when most of us are digging out its less popular relative. But Christopher Lloyd planted it with  Erigeron karvinskianus and if it worked for him I’m going to give it a go.  It seems very popular in Suffolk:  I found it growing in the holiday garden alongside bindweed and I was soon spotting it everywhere. The silver foliage looked wonderful in the sunshine.

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If I maybe allowed to stretch the rules, here’s one I would like to have in my garden. It’s the scabious ‘Stafa’ planted here with knautia macedonica. This is a photo from the Beth Chatto garden.

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So there I was having a lovely time on the coast, enjoying the cool breeze coming off the North Sea, vaguely aware that temperatures were soaring elsewhere, when idly checking in on Twitter I come across a conversation between The Propagator and Fred, a French gardener discussing drip feed systems for the greenhouse tomatoes and the constant watering required elsewhere.  I had soaked the greenhouse plants before I left, left seedlings in trays of water and given the garden as much of a soak as I could.  What would I find on my return?  The plant here – which I confess is not in my garden – is marram grass.

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Well the hollyhocks seemed to have enjoyed the heat.  These have been grown from seed gathered from the old allotment plot.  I thought I had collected the deep burgundy ones.  Last year’s  seedlings came up yellow and this year’s are white.  So far not a burgundy flower among them.  But they are very impressive.

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In the greenhouse, the tomatoes had just about held on, the chillies and basil were drooping and an optimistically sown tray of tagetes had shrivelled to a crisp.  I was relieved to see that the only two euphorbia seeds to germinate had made it through as had some potted on Ammi visnaga – who where very tardy in their germination.  I had recently been given two young plants of Japanese cucumbers which had also just survived.

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The best news was that the blackcurrants, which grow on a shady side of the garden are just ripe – so the job for today is picking them before they go over.

I’ll also be doing a week’s worth of dead heading – the roses look a sorry sight, plenty more watering and planting out the japanese cucumbers and my new bindweed!  Visit The Propagator  to see what other SoSers are doing this weekend.  Enjoy the sunshine.