Six On Saturday: The height of summer

It looks like last week’s prediction of beautiful weather after the summer solstice is coming good.  Of course it will be extreme, that is only to be expected these days! Greenhouse windows wide open and pots regularly watered.  Here’s hoping the garden stands up to the next onslaught.  The pests are increasing their attacks – sawfly on the gooseberries, slightly less than last year, slugs and snails everywhere, box moth caterpillar munching the box and whitefly in the greenhouse.  I am using encarsia wasps to combat them. But there is much to enjoy at this time of year.


This is a side view of the long border.  It is now approaching its mad, chaotic crescendo.  Geraniums, knautia, roses, penstemons, astrantia and salvias all pushing and shoving to make an appearance centre stage.  I love this disorderly behaviour but every now and then creep in to put in a little essential staking.



The sun was shining the wrong way when I took this photo but I hope you can get the sense of the lovely combination of salvia nemorosa and astrantia major. They are are dream together.



This is penstemon ‘Firebird’.  I like the penstemons for taking on the baton of flowering from the alliums.



In the greenhouse the first tomatoes have appeared.  But pride of place goes to the lettuce. Growing lettuce outside has always been hit and miss for me so this year I tried a few in the greenhouse.  I now have an awful lot of lettuce to eat, I am hoping the hot temperatures are not going to ruin it.



My salvia ‘Amistad’ did not survive the winter or so I thought. But just days after buying three new plants I spotted shoots on two of the old ones.  I dug those up and moved them to a nursery bed where they are making slow but steady progress.  I might have some flowers by August.  In the meantime the new ones romped away and are looking dramatically sultry.  As I planted the new ones I snapped a stem but encouraged by everyone’s advice that salvia ‘Amistad’ cuttings are easy peasy I planted it up.  It took almost immediately so now I feel awash with these wonderful salvias.



This fuschia is another small success.  It came with the garden and I spent the first few years saving it from the clutches of bindweed and couch grass. Once freed I gave it a judicious prune and this year it is flowering well and in much better shape.  Its a var. unk. to me but maybe someone can identify it.  I love the strong colours.

If you’d like to see some more Six On Saturday posts from other sixers then go along to The Propagator’s blog.  There is much that will inform and amuse!




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.



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.



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.



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.


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.



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.



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: 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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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: 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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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: 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:



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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.