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.

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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! 🙂

Six On Saturday: Reaching the heights or lost in the foothills?

I’ve definitely had the feeling of losing the battle this week.  Slugs and snails are eating their way through the young plants – cosmos, lettuce, borlotti beans are high among the casualties.  The parsnips are refusing to germinate – third sowing and the last! And it looks like the fox has taken a shine to wandering through the agastache at night. I’m also losing the battle to keep everything watered, no rain and the water butts are empty again.  It looks grim.  But this is Saturday and optimism rules:

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Definitely reaching the heights are these delphiniums, I think they must be six feet tall.  Taken as a division from the parental garden many years ago, they were divided again when we moved here and I am very pleased to see them thriving this year. I was meticulous about staking and tying them in but they have exceeded my expectations!

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Also climbing upwards are the stems of Knautia macedonica.  These were planted out from 9cm pots last autumn and have settled down well.  They seem slug proof unlike some of the plants I have recklessly invested in.  Fortunately I remembered to stake them – just in time.  The bees love them.

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Down in the foothills where most of the slug damage is being done are these delightful dianthus deltoides.  They sulked after the garden move last year but have come good now.  No damage to report.

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Up again in the heights is this lovely clematis, inherited from the previous owner.  I thought I had killed it last year as I tried to separate it out from the bindweed and lemon balm but it made a comeback.

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A combination of higher foothills and the heights is provided by the lovely rose Blush Noisette and the Astrantia Claret featured in an early six.

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And seeming to be safe in the foothills but, I hope, heading for the heights are these Tithonias.  Grown from seed, one group was planted out a few weeks ago, straight from modules into the ground.  The other group I potted on, returned them to the greenhouse and finally planted them out in the week. This group has made much more growth.  So it looks like potting on is the best option.  The final height is said to be 8 feet.  I’ll report back!

It’s June and I hoped I would be pottering by now.  Well almost, I have some spare cosmos and some zinnias which really do need to go out.  And I’m going to count watering as pottering – so nearly there.  I hope you are too.  Take a look at  The Propagator’s blog , where you’ll find the host of this meme, the ‘rule book’ and all the links to other sixer posts.

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.

Six

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.

Six On Saturday: Stepping up a gear

Suddenly I have that feeling that I won’t get it all done in time.  But roses have been fed.  Seeds have finally been sown: Tithonia and nasturtium, carrots and leeks this week.  More annuals will be sown next week and those potatoes will be planted.  Here’s what’s in my garden today.

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A border was extended in November and I dug up a batch of bulbs to make way for the roses that will be the star attraction.  Impatiently I threw all in the bulbs in a corner of the border and forgot about them.  Of course with no care to the planting they have emerged as a perfect clump of colour.

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Continuing the yellow theme, the cowslips planted in a damp corner last year  have spread themselves out and look very settled.

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More spring colour on a subtler note comes from these Thalia narcissi.  I love the multi-stem format.  I’m mentally planning for next year and more of these are on the list.  I also want to plant some Paperwhite and White Lady narcissi together with a couple of clumps of Leucojum – now that I’ve perfected the planting in clumps technique.

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I thought that I had lost these fritillaries when all the work on the path was done.  But the new path is slightly narrower and these were just outside the trample zone. The slightly wider border is going to allow me to plant more of these too.

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The garden is full of birds and bird song at the moment.  I was planning to cut back the Verbena bonariensis but a charm of goldfinches were breakfasting on the seed heads this morning so I have been persuaded to leave that for another time.  Sadly  the free version of wordpress doesn’t allow video content so I can’t share the bird song, including the resident woodpecker, with you.  I’ll see if I can post to twitter (lol).

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Back down to earth: the inside of my shed!  The blackcurrants and gooseberries are all in leaf and I need to start thinking about how I protect them from those wonderful birds.  My favourite netting is the twisted coil of soft net but my local nursery has stopped stocking this one.  Last year I bought lengths of semi rigid plastic net which was easy to cut and fix to bamboo canes to make something resembling a fruit cage.  What do you use?  Do you have a favourite?

It is so amazing that so many are sharing their garden news under the Six on Saturday meme.  Go along to The Propagator and feast your eyes.  And keep gardening!

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.

 

 

Six on Saturday

I’m beginning to feel some sympathy for the long lasting month of January.  Maligned in the old song ‘January, you’ve been hanging on me’ I’ve come round to thinking it does have much to offer.  My hands are cold as I’ve just come in from completing what is the first of my sixes.  Yes, I have been in the garden this week and here’s what I found.

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This morning’s main job was to prune the grapevine.  It produce grapes which inevitably split just as they seem to be ripening so I’ve come to accept that its main role is to shade the pergola.  This is my second year of pruning it (I’m in a new garden if you are new to this six) and I’m getting bolder.  This time I cut out a whole branch on the grounds that it was very clearly crossing.  Otherwise I restricted myself to cutting back to one or two buds, which were clearly  visible.  I think I did this job just in time.  The tree in the background is my neighbour’s enviable willow.

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January is the month for pruning some types of fruit trees.  Earlier on I pruned the Persimmon tree and this week it was the turn of the apples and figs.  The smaller ones I did myself but I called in the professionals for the large fig and a large apple tree both of which had got to a height that had defeated me and my ladder. Which is not actually that great a height.  This photo is the apple tree after the prune.  It is much lighter, but I think the reshaping will take a year or two.

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I recently spotted a bargain buy of 6 helleborus niger and they arrived mid week after a deluge of rain.  The lawn was sodden and the heavy clay soil of the borders was sticky and uninviting but in they went.  The seem to have settled very well. There’s also a bit of colour from some primroses.  I prefer the yellow common primrose but these are staying in for the moment.  Just behind you can see the first of the daffodils pushing through.

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January is also the month when the first snowdrops appear.  Mine, planted in the green last year, are now getting into their stride, edging the line of small apple trees.

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So despite the cold, windy and wet weather that we have had recently the garden is waking up.  Today I also spotted the first new shoots of the lovely magenta phlox that is dotted around the back border.  I can’t wait for these to be in flower again.  But first I’ll need to cut out last year’s dead stems.

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Finally, a rosebud.  It may not make it into a fully formed flower if the rain and cold weather continue but it is another cheering sign that the seasons are changing.

Yes. It’s a thumbs up for the end of January at least.  For more news and views from the other sixer gardens stop  by The Propagator’s blog for links to the posts for this Saturday.

 

Six on Saturday

There have been some warm autumn days in the last week and much talk about flowers that are still in bloom or putting on a second show.  My first is one of those.

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Choysia ternata.  RHS advises that this often flowers fitfully into winter.  I’d say it was putting on a very strong show.  It is in north facing border at the end that catches a sliver of late afternoon sun from the west.  Its white flowers are lifting the autumn gloom.

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Iris foetidissima.  The seed pods are really popping and every now and then I help them along a little.  I am hoping I will be able to develop a colony of these under the rhododendron but having looked into their propagation it seems it may take a year or so.  I have taken a few berries to plant in pots and will see just how long it takes.  Of course the easier route would be to divide them now or in the spring.

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The persimmon tree is shedding its leaves quite rapidly now but the fruit are hanging on as they are supposed to.  Advice is to pick the fruit in late October and let it ripen on a sunny windowsill, so any day now I will be putting the advice into action.

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Borlotti beans.  I grew about three plants this year.  The site is against the fence, west facing but in reality very shaded until the late afternoon.  It took  a while for the flowers to appear and eventually bean pods followed.  Its only a small crop but they will be enjoyed.  I miss my full sun allotment plot but I on the positive side I am not getting so many gluts.

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The lemon tree with its one ripe lemon was moved into the greenhouse a week or two ago and this week I was pleased to see several of the new lemon fruits had grown in size.  This is my first year of growing lemons and the first year of putting the tree in the greenhouse.  I don’t know how low the temperature gets in the greenhouse over winter so this is going to be a learning curve.

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I do like finishing with a rose.  This week it is a beautiful spray from R.Natasha Richardson.

I hope your garden to continues to flower and be fruitful.  Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the wonderful Six on Saturday.  Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession

Six on Saturday

Thanks so much to everyone who gave me advice on the Euphorbia.  The RHS thought it might be poorly because of root rot due to wetness and also suggested, as others mentioned, cutting back the sad stems when the new growth comes through in spring which might persuade it to regenerate.  I think it might have picked up a little in the past week so I am going to remain optimistic.  Here’s my six for this week.

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Geranium sanguineum var. striatum.  These were making such a good show on a visit to Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire in June that I bought some for myself.  They have established well and this pink flower shone out on a gloomy day this week.  Don’t know why it’s also known as Bloody Cranesbill, seems quite inoffensive to me.

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Some small scale seed sowing and propagation has taken place.  I finally potted on some of the Nigella damascena seeds which were collected from plants growing at the allotment.  I also collected some sweet pea seeds from the summer flowering.  They have just germinated.  It was a spur of the moment thing as I unentwined them from their supports.  I put them in a pot and hoped.  So far so good. Next in the row are the penstemon cuttings taken in August.  I took four, four rooted and so far four are growing on.  One was a little thin on the root growth but it seems to be making progress.  I should have taken more cuttings as an insurance policy.

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This aster is eye popping in the border where the colour is actually a little more subtle than this photo shows.  It’s another purchase from the Finchley Horticultural Society plant sale.  Who needs Chelsea? The cosmos is still flowering but in preparation for storm Ophelia I did cut back some of the larger stems for flowers for the house.

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Some autumnal mushrooms have arrived in the garden.  Plants for free, yes.  But I’m not sure about food for free.  I don’t know anything about mushrooms so I will leave them where they are.  Something seems to be enjoying them, I suspect squirrels but could it be the birds?

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Some golden leaves from the fig tree.  The colours are turning and the leaves falling but these figs aren’t going to ripen in this garden.

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My last one for the week is this climbing rose, Blush Noisette.  Beautiful soft pink flowers and hopefully many more to come.  It is growing up a south facing wall and it will be interesting to see how long this micro climate will help keep it flowering.

I hope your garden to continues to flower and be fruitful.  Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the wonderful Six on Saturday.  Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession

 

 

Six on Saturday

I was musing on what would be the six for this saturday.  The garden is going into autumn and the newly planted border doesn’t have that extended season content in it yet.  The veg patch has some parsnips, a second sowing of carrots and the very shabby end of season cukes and courgettes.  A brief glimpse of sun enticed me into the garden and suddenly the six came into focus.

Erigeron karvinskianus

Erigeron karvinskianus or Mexican fleabane .  I’d always hankered for a crop of this spilling through the rocky walls of a border.  And the new garden had just the right spot.  Three small plants purchased from the good growers at Finchley Horticultural Society have spread out this summer to cover a bare patch.  They have dropped seeds and I am hoping these will have tumbled into the nooks and crannies of the border walls and that new plants will weave their way around the stones for next summer’s display.  They are looking just perfect right now.

R.Natasha RichardsonOn the opposite side of the garden, the very lovely R. Natasha Richardson is still sending out new buds.  This was also acquired through an FHS sale, it was a donation from one of the society’s twitter followers.  It has flowered all summer long.  The bed is south facing and was mulched with horse manure last autumn. The rose was fed with Toprose after its first flowering and then recently with Fish, Bone and Blood.

cowslips
And surprisingly, to me at least, the cowslips have been flowering on and off all year. They are nestled in amongst some Japanese irises in a damp border.  The irises have become a little thuggish and I am admiring this cowslip’s resilience as it holds onto its ground.  It’s only the first year in the border for the irises and I will let them flower again before I thin them out.

Passion flower

This is an inherited plant and a bit of an attention grabber.  It is a passion flower, passiflora caerulea, that grows up and over an arch.  At this time of the year some of the flowers are turning to fruits.  Their soft orange skins open to reveal a raspberry like fruit inside.  The fruit can be eaten when it’s really ripe but its not a patch on the real passion flower fruit.  I just enjoy those orange yellow bursts of colour amongst the greenery.

Persimmon

And here is some more fruit from the garden.  This is from the persimmon tree.   Although some fruit has dropped there is more on it than last year.  If I am lucky it may ripen for October or November.  I have my fingers crossed.

And lastly. More fruit that really doesn’t look as though it will ripen.

Figs

Last year we managed a small crop of figs in August.  This year although there is plenty of fruit, none of it has ripened.  From experience there is very little ripe fruit to gather in November and the squirrels always seem to get up earlier anyway.  I have been told to wrap plastic bags around the branches to help the ripening process but so far I have resisted.  The view from the kitchen window would just be too weird.

That’s my Six on Saturday. Thanks to The Propagator for hosting. Read his blog posts and Six on Saturday at The Propagator my plant obsession