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!

 

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Six On Saturday: Is it summer, winter or spring?

The season is clearly changing but the garden seems to be in a state of confusion.  Here are six things from my garden this week.

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Natasha Richardson rose, one of the English roses that just keep on flowering.  Lovely pink flowers and new buds still appearing.  It could be summer!

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Penstemon ‘Plum Jerkum’.  This suffered in the scorching sun of summer but it is happily putting out new flowers now.  It was a great companion to the Tithonia, which truly does know summer is over and is slowly curling up at the edges.

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There are one or two last flowers on the rudbeckia but most have gone to seed.  I will leave them standing through the winter to give some shape to the border.

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The agastache ‘Black Adder’ is also in its winter clothing.  This was an absolute winner this year.  Great colour and always thrumming with the sound of bees.

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Elsewhere in the garden there are signs of Spring.  The primroses are out and offering a reminder that the slugs and snails are still active.

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At the very back of the garden in a shady sheltered corner the hellebores are putting out new flowers.  I am sure these didn’t appear last year until January.  This one is Pretty Ellen.

I’ve got bulb planting to do this weekend.  The start I made last weekend resulted in only 18 bulbs being planted.  As usual I was distracted.  The dahlias needed cutting back, zinnias were pulled up and some of the foxglove seedlings were planted out.  This weekend I will be trying to put a few tulips in the border without crashing in on those that are already there.  Could be interesting.  Wishing you all well with your gardening pleasures. If you want to see what everyone else is up to visit The Propagator for all the latest links to other Six On Saturday posts.

Six on Saturday: Send in the locusts!

Don’t bother they’re here!  Well not actually locusts, the latest garden pest to arrive is the sawfly caterpillar.  I caught a crowd of them devouring my nasturtiums and radishes.  And following a tweet from Horti Hugo  I scampered off to check the gooseberries.  I couldn’t see a single caterpillar but the evidence was there:

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I’ve cut my losses on the gooseberries this year.  Life got busy at the wrong time and I didn’t get that netting done so I picked all that I could and I will have to wait for next year.  The blackcurrants have been netted and at least there are plenty of berries there for us all to enjoy.

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Pottering gardener alert:  I decided there was far too much leaf on the tomatoes in the greenhouse and my goodness, turn your back for moment and those side shoots put on a spurt.  The side shoots were removed and some of the longer branches were cut back.  I know this is usually done as the tomatoes ripen but I decided that it needed to be done now.  I did find several green tomatoes hiding beneath the foliage so I think I did the right thing.  The long side shoot at the bottom has also gone now!

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Still no rain here and the hydrangeas are wilting.  Here’s my favourite one which is framed on either side the by striking foliage of the siberian irises.  They did get a good watering after this photo was taken and picked up nicely.

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I am delighted to report my first dahlia flower – not one of those bright stunners but a rather subtle white and green affair.  It’s blanc y verde from a Sarah Raven collection.

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The penstemons are coming through now.  I thought I had carefully recorded the name of this one when it was purchased, but no.  I think it was firebird but could it be garnet?  Maybe there is a pot somewhere with a label on it!

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It’s still June, so I’m still featuring roses.  I really like this one because it is so different to my other roses.  It’s Jaqueline du Pre, a semi double Harkness rose.  I love the stamens.

For all the links to sixes from gardens around the world go to The Propagator’s blog – all the ups and downs of gardening and gyo will be on display.

Six on Saturday

I was going to dial in my apologies for this week.  There is much potential in the garden but could I really subject you to six photos of emerging shoots.  Could I cobble together something or would it end up a busted flush?  Well the social streak in me is strong and I enjoy being a part of the #SixOnSaturday meme so here I am again.

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As the new growth on the perennials comes through I cut back the old stems.  But the seed heads on these Agastache foeniculum can provide some winter interest in the border for a while longer.  They are  ‘Alabaster’ and give lovely white spires of flowers for the butterflies to feast on in the summer.

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Other plants do not fair so well over the winter.  Here are two plantings of Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’.  Those planted at the sunnier end of the border are holding their own but those at the shadier end are disappearing fast.  This is their first year in the garden so it will be interesting to see if they pull through.  But if not, I have the spot at the shadier end earmarked for some more hellebores.  It’s so important to have the right plant in the right place!

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Yes, here is another hellebore photo.  I am becoming a great fan of them and love it when the white ones catch the sun.

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There was a tweet in the week about a rosemary being in flower.  Yes, it is in my garden too.  This border has the sun from early morning to mid afternoon and with its back against the brickwork the rosemary does well here.

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Also doing well are the penstemons. Known for being on the tender side, the advice is not to cut them back until new growth starts to come through.  These penstemons have come through the winter in strong leaf but I won’t cut them back until the weather is warmer and then I will cut back to points of strong growth a couple of centimetres up from the ground.

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And here’s where I bust my flush!  It’s an emerging shoot.  No apologies for being excited to see so much new growth on this iris.  It is an allotment share from a well established clump and has a lovely tall stem with white flowers but I don’t know the variety.  I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and this shows that spring, although postponed for a week,  is on its way.

The Propagator is the place to go to read more #SixOnSaturday posts, just what’s needed after a chilly session in the garden.

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.