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: frost arrives and a rose

The first lingering frost arrived this week.  A scraping the ice off the windscreen and frozen bird bath sort of frost.  A ‘don’t walk on the grass frost’.  But another of the bare stem roses arrived too.  So I did walk on the grass in order the plant the rose.  Here’s my six:

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The frost came on a clear sunny day and as I was scanning the garden front and back for suitable greenery for the house I remembered that I have a rather large fir tree that sometimes deigns to drop a few fir cones.  I gathered two and looked longingly up at the rest.

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I periodically wail about the lack of shrubs in the garden but whenever I get the chance to put something into a newly cleared space I choose a rose.  This week ‘Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’ arrived.  I must thank the good folk at Ulting Wick garden in Essex who tweeted about this rose for a north facing situation.  It’s a climber and I’m hoping it will romp away all over that brown fence of mine.

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I just got my photo of the cotoneaster and the ivy into last week’s six in the nick of time.  This week the berries have been stripped and the leaves have all gone.  My festive offering for this week is holly.  But no berries.

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I still have a drop of colour in the garden.  The hydrangea is turning down its bracts (I think I’ve got that right but please correct me if I’m wrong!) and showing off the pink undersides.

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My neighbours’ viburnum are beginning to flower quite beautifully now.  Ours has one single solitary flower head.  All suggestions as to how get more will be gratefully received.

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The buds on the rhododendron are forming.  This is a very large specimen on the north facing border.  The north facing border is the focus of my attention for 2019.  Watch this space for  indecision, digging  and hopefully, developments.

All the links to other SOSs from gardens around the world can be found at our genial host’s site The Propagator Blog.  If it’s cold outside stay inside and have a good read!

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: Summer is hanging on but autumn is settling in

Even though temperatures here today are forecast to reach 24 degrees, the nights are cooling down and summer is really over.  Its the end of the third summer in the new garden and progress is being made.  More bulbs have arrived and some more bare root roses will be ordered.  This week the plants for my small west facing borders have arrived:

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IMG_2950I’ve planted the same group of plants either side of a small path..  The Agastache ‘Alabaster’ were in the garden already and they have now been joined by Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’ and Pennisetum villosum.  Fingers crossed for next summer.

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IMG_2952On the diagonal opposite to this area is what was fondly known as ground elder corner.  After three summers of digging it out I think I have the upper hand and so I am beginning to put in some permanent plants.  First to go in is Trachelospermum jasminoides, a firm six on saturday favourite.  I’m hoping it will very quickly cover the great expanse of unattractive brown fence.

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The nerines have just begun to open out.  They are a little depleted in number as I stepped on one and not all of them have flowered.   The variety is Nerine bowdenii ‘Ostara’.  This is their first year in the garden so I am hoping they will settle down and put on a good show next year.

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IMG_2947Also adding some late colour are these Lillies.  Yet more naming debates: are they now Schizostylis, or Hesperantha?  I know which one I prefer.  These came from the old garden and are bulking up nicely.

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IMG_2951And since repetition is allowed and because the late colour is so fabulous, I give you again the Salvia ‘Amistad’ and the Rose, Darcy Bussell.  The Salvias mooched along all summer but they have really established themselves in the last month.  Darcy Bussell just keeps on putting out new buds.

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The warmth of summer lingers on but autumn is settling in and mushrooms have started to appear in the garden.  I’m intrigued by the blue ones but  have no idea what they are.

Here’s hoping all is well in your garden.  Autumn brings the storms and while I am still finding the garden very dry I know others are suffering from high winds and heavy rain.  It’s a gardener’s lot! Find out more at The Propagator’s blog.  That’s where all the great Six On Saturday links are posted.

 

 

 

 

 

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: 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.

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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: Fresh eyes give renewed determination

There is nothing like visiting the garden of a friend or relative for giving fresh impetus to your own garden.  After spending time last Sunday dispensing words of wisdom: ‘that  achemillia mollis can be cut back now’, ‘don’t let that lemon balm seed everywhere’ and  ‘that’s a weed and this is a tree seedling’, I came back to my garden and spotted a large clump of achemillia mollis seeding itself everywhere, nettles quietly gaining strength under the shade of the geraniums and grass creeping into the borders. It was time for a midsummer clear up.  A frantic spurt of dead heading and weeding ensued and there was that alchemilla mollis to deal with.

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The offending alchemilla mollis.  I wasn’t in a ruthless enough mood to start with so I just cut back the flowering stems.  The fresh new growth began to emerge from the shadows and I realised that if I had done this earlier and by ruthlessly cutting back the old growth by the handful those new shoots would have been taking centre stage earlier.  I know this but I rarely do it early enough!

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Down at the allotment end of the garden I noticed that the autumn raspberries were ripening.  The plants came as runners from my old allotment raspberries and this is their first fruiting year.  I’m so glad they survived the low rainfall which I’m sure owes much to their shady position.

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My clematis have all gone to seed now but I spotted one last flower valiantly soldiering on, thereby earning the right to be included in this six.

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Also on the clear up list was the rambling rose I chose to train up the back fence. It is ‘Wedding Day’.  A mad choice I confess but I planned to train it into my neighbour’s trees.  ‘Wedding Day’ is rampant and I didn’t keep it under control the first year.  This week I took it hand and tied it in as best I could, rose scratched arms is not a good look! Half way through the job I consulted my RHS book of pruning which tells me that ramblers come in three groups and the pruning is slightly different for each group.  Now I just have to find out which group ‘Wedding Day’ falls into.

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Since I have mentioned my neighbour’s trees, it is only fair that I show one or two.  This majestic willow catches the evening sun and is spectacular.

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I also benefit from another neighbour’s elder tree.  The berries are ripe now and some may find their way into fruit pie.  The colour combination of stem, leaf and fruit is just sumptuous.

Sharing gardening experiences is a great part of #SixOnSaturday and an important part of gardening.  I hope my ‘advice’ was well received but I will also share by potting up some of the seedlings I discovered in my clear up.  There are a good number of astrantia major, hollyhocks and verbena bonariensia for a start.  And I thank my neighbours for sharing their trees and giving me a fabulous frame for my garden.

For the links to other sixes pay a visit to The Propagator the hard working host of this meme.  Now time to get back to that clean up!

 

Six On Saturday: Oops I did it again

With temperatures again in the 30s I went away for the week.  Yes, I know.  No real gardener ever leaves the garden in summer, not ever!  I did the usual frantic watering, moving pots into the shade and putting everything on trays or saucers and off I went.  My garden is well past its best so I was really quite relaxed.  I went in search of inspiration from some of the great gardens of England and I found that they too had gone over plants, roses devoid of flowers and scorched lawns.  But some ideas for late summer colour were found and I returned determined to take more care of my phloxes.

But here is what is happening in my garden this week.

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Rosa Natasha Richardson is in her second flowering and is looking gorgeous.  I’m very happy with the background of Agastache Black Adder but she needs something the other side of her.  I’m still looking for her ideal companion.

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Sometime in May I optimistically sprinkled some zinnia seeds that came free with a well known gardening magazine and in the week I was away they opened up.  They were sown at the foot of the now towering tithonia and in amongst the Pentsemon Plum Jerkum.   They have given me an extra spot of late summer colour.

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You would not expect me to visit three gardens and come away empty handed now would you? I nearly did as Hidcote had sold out of Agapanthus Navy Blue – a later flowering variety that’s now on my wish list.  Fortunately across the road at Kiftsgate I found a lovely pink Salvia microphylla Blush Pink.  It should flower into November and be frost hardy.  If it does I shall be very happy.

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I left my tray of Ammi visnaga out in a shady/sunny spot hoping they might put on a spurt of growth.  I really don’t know if they are going to make it into flower but I am going to plant them out anyway and enjoy their feathery green foliage in amongst the white zinnias as planned.

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My vegetable patch has struggled this year, falling foul of lack of rain and my feeble attempts to water it.  I harvested the onions before I left and put them in the potting shed to dry out – as if they needed that!  Small but delightfully formed I think.

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The apples are also much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this is the earliest apples have ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready for picking and I’m hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that arrived on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I also need to decide what to do with this poor specimen.  Do I shorten the leader and keep the laterals in tight or will the leader strengthen over time?  So much learning to be done!

The bulb catalogues are arriving and even as I review how to improve the August and September garden my thoughts are turning to Spring.  I am well and truly on the gardening roller coaster and on the whole enjoying it.

Be dazzled by the diversity of gardens that get shown each week by checking the links given on The Propagator’s blog You will see that there is an occasional ‘cheat’ and this week The Prop has smuggled three extras into his six.  There must be a sub section somewhere that allows that then!

The apples are also so much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this was the earliest apples had ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready to pick and I am hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that came on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I need to think what I do with this poor specimen.  Should I cut the leader much shorter and keep all the laterals in tighter or will the leader strengthen over time? There is so much learning to be done!

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: How does your garden grow?

Quite contrarily is my answer! After the slug onslaught the aphids have arrived. Blackfly on the dahlias, nasturtiums and echinops and greenfly elsewhere. It hasn’t rained here in yonks, the onions are ‘delicately’ sized and the parsnips are refusing to play ball.  They are tempting me with one or two possible cotyledons but maybe I am deceiving myself. I continue to water in hope rather than expectation.  Let’s see if there are any silver bells or cockle shells to be found:

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The containers, planted up in May, are coming along well.  Cheering me up on the whole, until I realise they are verging on the dessicated!

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The carrots, that were also proving a little reluctant, finally came good in a third direct sowing.  This time I cast them onto the soil and sprinkled a little potting compost over the top.  Who knows why they decided to germinate this time!  I just have to keep them watered now.

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The courgettes, bought as small plants from the Finchley Horticultural Society plant sale, are no trouble.  Oh, I forgot.  They do need watering.  But maybe the drought conditions will keep them on the manageable side.  The lovely flower and yellow fruit cheer me up on the way to the parsnip inspection.

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The gooseberries had quite a late pruning and the crop does not seem so bumper this year.  But is this because I have yet to net them from the birds? Sigh, I do have a lot of netting to do.  The blackcurrants, which I really took in hand – thinning them out ruthlessly – are doing well.  They are beginning to ripen, but you guessed it, they haven’t been netted yet either.

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Contrary, but in a good way, is the lemon tree.  Looking for all the world like it was dead and gone after a good chilling in the greenhouse over winter, it was subjected to not one but two cut backs and has responded well.  The glossy green leaves and the beautiful scent coming from the one or two flowers it has put out more than make up for the odd shape.  Good to see.

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A rose, Scepter’d Isle. Absolutely lovely.  These are my pretty maids all in row!

I hope your plots, veg patches and gardens are giving you joy.  There are lots of superb photos of the strawberry crop out there on twitter, which are underlining the need to replace my tired specimens, inherited from previous owner and cropping poorly.  Visit  The Propagator,  our host’s blog for more gardening encouragements: good things we can aspire to and duff things that we share the pain of.  No grammar corrections please! 🙂