Six on Saturday: Rain delays

It was a no show here for snow but the rain fell insistently most of the week.  I would love to be planting out the first early potatoes but the soil is cold and wet so this week’s six starts in the greenhouse.

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Just in time, I have potted up the new dahlia tubers. My dahlia wish list consisted of Arabian Night, Magenta Star, Cafe au Lait and Mary’s Jomanda.  But I bought Thomas Edison.  Six of these will go into the borders and a combination of Blanc y Verde and Furka will go into three terracotta pots.  They are resting in the greenhouse for now.

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Settled in the greenhouse I gave the strawberry plants a tidy up and donated them a bag of my recently acquired council compost.  I am on a steep learning curve with the greenhouse.  Red spider mites made themselves known last year and the soil feels very depleted.  I have manured and mulched, added chicken pellets and another bag of council compost has gone on the other side, even so I may grow the tomatoes in grow bags again this year.

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A gardener’s dilemma: mystery seedlings.   Are they from something I grew in the greenhouse last year? Or a throwback to something the previous owner grew?   They look interesting so I have left them for now.

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It really was time to release the autumn sown sweet peas from their pot.  These are from seed collected from last year’s plants.  I am curious to see how well they do.  The plant in front is Weigela ‘Florida Variegata’, just coming into leaf.

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And as I walked down the path I noticed that my ailing euphorbia is showing the very slimmest glimmer of life.  A few new shoots at the end of one stem.  I’m keeping that one too. Perhaps it will catch up with its neighbour!

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Planting out the recently purchased Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ will also have to wait a while.  I need to have some sturdy trellis installed and then grab a break in the rain.  Thank you to all those who shared pictures of your clematis in flower.  It convinced me that this was a necessary addition to garden. I’m looking forward to next year’s flowers and their scent.

For more inspiration visit The Propagator’s blog.  The links to other #SixOnSaturday posts will take you on a gardening journey around the world!

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Six on Saturday: Limbering up

There have been the occasional forays out into the garden over winter but I have been mainly gardening from my armchair or computer.  That’s all about to change and it is important to make the right start.  It’s time to limber up, get those muscles going again and really importantly, stretch them out after your gardening session.  Take care of your back!  The warmer temperatures lured me into the garden and here is what I found.

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It’s not all flowers and veg out there.  I uncovered this creature whilst turning over a pile of turf that had been left to rot down.  He was buried under the soil and he quickly pushed his way back down again. It reminded me that the wildlife have pretty much had the run of the garden over the winter and I need to go carefully as I start to make my presence felt.

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The landscapers who laid the path left some free gifts.  I have two pieces of 6 x 2, which I am sure I will put to good use – or they can join the rest of my ‘might come in useful one day’ collection. I do have more immediate plans for these sections of re-enforcing  grid.  I’m going for the industrial chic look and will use them as supports for a climbing rose.  I will let you know how I get on.

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The hydrangea buds are bursting forth.  I think I’m pretty safe to cut back the old flower heads now, but I’m going to leave it another week – after I’ve seen what the next beast brings.

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Sweet pea update:  Gwendoline is just coming through, Black Knight is about an inch high, Midnight Blue is definitely making a show but Anniversary is a non starter at the moment.  All were sown on 15 February.  My pot of autumn sown sweet peas need to be planted out but I’m trying to get hold of some hazel poles.  Request made, response awaited.

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The mahonia in the front garden is about to shine forth.  The bees love it, the smell is great and it is one of the few yellows that I like in the garden.

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By contrast, a yellow I’m not so fond of:  the forsythia.  I find it just a bit too much to take en masse.  But a few branches in a vase are a definite statement of spring.

For more news of spring explore The Propagator’s blog.  I spied a lovely tulip bud there.  Happy Gardening: In the UK it’s time to spring forward with the clocks!

Six on Saturday: Paths

The much welcome higher temperatures are having their effect and growth in the garden is very apparent.  Roses, irises, phlox and clematis are all pushing out new shoots.  But I’ve not been doing much gardening this week.  I’ve been observing the garden through the window as the new path is being laid.

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IMG_2039My old path was broken, uneven and collected water.  The new path will be well drained, carefully sloped and smooth.  But I am already missing the patina and idiosyncrasies of the old path’s age.  The builders are taking great care to keep the new path clean but I will be out there soon rubbing in the mud and possibly some yoghurt!

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In another area of the garden I am replacing a very broken up brick path and here I am using brick again.  I’m slightly curious about the brick with the number on it but I feel much happier about this path as the clay bricks already have an aged feel.   This was the most dangerous path in the garden, twisted ankles beckoned at every step.  I am looking forward to striding down this path with confidence.

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IMG_2030 (1)The laying of the paths sadly means that some things in the garden get trampled on or have been dug up to allow for the base to be laid.  I don’t think I will see any fritillaries this year and I know that one or two tulips have been snapped off.  As I always say ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’.  And of course I will have the chance to add something new to omelette!  On the upside I will lose the ugly concrete edges and gain a precious couple of inches of border.

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IMG_2035I managed to get out the greenhouse this morning and was very pleased to see that the rocket seed sown on 16 February has germinated.  The sweet peas sown at the same time are only just breaking the surface but they too are on their way.

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IMG_2037My daffodils are still in bud, the pheasant eye narcissus are coming along but the pulmonaria is definitely in flower.  The clump was planted last year from divisions given to me by a friend.  I think I’m going to divide this up again this year and use it to soften the edges of that new path.

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IMG_2040And here’s a couple of new ingredients for that omelette.  Some nerines – bowdenii Ostara, and dahlias.  The dahlias are a combination of greeny whites and are destined for pots.  The path should be finished by Wednesday, whereupon I will become a gardener again.

I hope you have all been able to get to your garden and observe all the changes taking place.  Pop along to  The Propagator  to see what else is going on in gardens around the world.

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday

It’s a white out in my garden.  There are footprints from the wildlife and frozen flora abounds.  I was going to give you a peek into next week’s project: new paths.  The path project is a big one and ‘the professionals’ are coming in to do it.  Work is scheduled to start on Monday and fortunately temperatures are set to rise.   As the paths are covered with snow I’m going to show you some pictures of the garden last summer.  There will be the odd glimpse of the path along the way, but more importantly there is some beautiful colour from plants that were sown from seed last year and from the frozen perennials that now lie under the snow.

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This is how the border started out. The roses, irises and euphorbia are in.  The canes mark the spots for delphiniums, salvias and astrantias to be planted.  It is the path on the right that is being relaid.

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The borders were filled in with annuals, here are calendula and ammi.  The wonderful delphiniums were brought from the old garden.  More perennials were added through the year.  Some grown from seed, some from 9cm pots.

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IMG_1154This is the top end of the border. Sweet pea, cosmos purity and nicotiana lime green were sown from seed.  The lambs ears in the foreground looked bedraggled in last week’s six.  Will they survive after the freezing weather of this week?  This path is staying. It’s not very attractive and if I had a magic wand it would be transformed into a lovely brick cottage garden path.   I have also planted alchemella mollis and geranium brookside, both of which tumble onto the path edges.

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This is another view of the path that will be relaid.  It is very patchy and uneven in places. The agapanthus and verbena thrive against the sunny wall.  The rose in the centre is Scepter’d Isle and a pink hollyhock climbs skyward in the distance.

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The height of summer. I am sowing calendula seeds again. The bright orange was such a highlight.  They are scheduled for sowing in April.  I will sow in modules again.

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The clematis in flower and with some of those fascinating seed heads. It’s now one of the frozen flora. It was already putting on new growth and had been cut back to about 50cms. Here’s hoping those new shoots are made of strong stuff.

It’s a bit of a bending of the rules this week, but did you really want 6 shades of white?  I am curious to see what other sixers will post.  I encourage you to take a look at The Propagator’s blog and see what materialises. I am hoping all UK sixers are warm, dry and safe this weekend.  Over to you in the sunnier climes!

Six on Saturday

After a productive morning in the garden I now present my #SixOnSaturday.  And it is not quite as I anticipated.  My plan was to sow a few seeds and get the pruning of those blackcurrant bushes finished off.  It was a frosty start so I thought a light brushing down of a few cobwebs in the potting shed would be a good warm up.

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We all have our favourite tools and for me brushing down the cobwebs is done with the old brown brush.  First I had to find it.  So the rickety old shed was emptied out.  The brush was found about half way through the emptying but I’d started so I had to finish.  First job of the day turned out to be a spring clean of the shed.  The second job – look away now if you are faint-hearted – was also shed related.  If you are ready, read on.

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The dangers of plastic bags to wildlife are much in the news and I can only think that this rat fell foul of one my garden refuse bags.  I’m not a great fan of sheds at the best of times and my survival instincts were on the alert for large spiders.  I was not expecting to find this.  But it was dead, recently so I think, and so I coped rather well.  Disposed of it, had a cup of tea and with nerves steadied, moved on to brush down those cobwebs.

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Whilst I had my feet up in January, those more resilient than I were washing down greenhouses, washing up pots and scrubbing plant labels clean.  Well today I made a start on a few of those jobs in preparation for a little bit of seed sowing. Once some of those jobs were done, sweet pea Black Knight, Gwendoline and Anniversary were planted in root trainers and the first rocket seeds were planted in modules. I decided against planting the half hardy antirrhinums as the greenhouse is on the cold side and I think they can wait until early March. As a bonus I’ve included the latest photos of the autumn sown love-in-a-mist and end of summer penstemon cuttings.

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I sowed the love-in-mist in seed trays and when I potted them on I took the chance of planting a few directly into the soil.  They have survived the winter so far.  In the background is one of the foxgloves sown from seed last year and planted out at the same time.  The foxglove should be in flower this year.

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A little dot of colour to end on.  The first of the anemones has pushed through and opened out.  I had thought the autumn mulch had buried them, but one or two are beginning to appear.

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The half price tray of white cyclamen bought a while ago are evolving.  They have begun to take a gentle pink blush.  I wasn’t expecting this either but I find it far preferable to the dead rat.

For more garden excitement from around the world go to The Propagator for this week’s links to a lovely selection of six on saturday, generally horticulturally related but with the occasional meander off the garden path.

Six on Saturday

Whilst our esteemed leader is scratching his itch and beginning to sow a few seeds I am still at the pottering stage.  The cold of January does not often entice me out into the garden but there are one or two things to be done.  Here I should state clearly the level of my gardening skills: pottering amateur. So what I do in my garden is not a recommendation or a ‘how to’ guide.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

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I have been buying a few seeds.  These are my Sweet Pea choices.  Last year was the first summer in a new garden.  It was a garden that needed clearing of weeds and then planting up.  I put in some roses and some 9cm pots of a few perennials and some plants brought from the old garden but I needed to fill in the spaces.  So I grew annuals.  My wigwam of Midnight Blue sweet peas were a great success and I’m growing those again.  I’ll also grow a mix of Gwendoline, Anniversary and Black Night for a second wigwam.  I’ll start them off in root trainers in February.  I also have a pot of  autumn sown sweet peas in the greenhouse which are doing well and need to be potted on soonish.  Eventually these will be planted out amongst some climbing beans on the veg patch.

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Of course buying a few seeds is nigh on impossible. Another success from last year was Calendula Indian Prince and I will sow these again but I also discovered, late in the season, the wonderful Tithonia.  I saw a great cloud of tall orange flowers at a garden I visited and was smitten.  I am trying out Tithonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’.  The seed packet says height 1.2-2.5m and a flowering period of 3 months.  If I am successful it will be a bargain splash of colour.

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Zinnias were my other success of last year.  I planted zinnia Lilac Rose and after nurturing them through the early days of slug attacks they put on a dazzlingly long lived display.  This packet of seeds is a mix of Benary’s Giant Lime, Benary’s Giant White and Benary’s Oklahoma Ivory.   Sorry, I can’t tell you who Benary is.  I will need to find the right spot for them as the flower height is 90-100cms, taller than last year’s zinnias which I used for edging. I’ll be finding a space for Lilac Rose as well.

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Featured in an earlier six was the wildlife attack on my old sink filled with succulents.  I wasn’t sure that I really like them so the fox or squirrel did me a favour.  This year I am going to fill that sink with a cascade of nasturtiums.  I hope they will enjoy the gritty mix of compost that remained after all that furious digging.

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I have also bought my seed potatoes.  May the chitting commence.  I put out a potato poll on twitter and had a lovely number of great suggestions.  I was influenced by the thumbs up for Sarpo Mira as the floury main crop choice and by the loyal support for Arran Pilot, a waxy first early.  The other two choices were Ratte, a waxy second early and Belle de Fontenay, a waxy maincrop which caught my eye at the nursery.

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And just when you were thinking I hadn’t been out in the garden at all this week I bring you a clematis.  And here I stress: pottering amateur.  I had a lovely viticella which grew up into a lilac tree in the previous garden and I barely pruned it all, just pulled out the dead bits every now and then.  In this garden there is a clematis growing up a fence panel on either side an arch.  The top of the arch is dominated by a passiflora so I need the clematis to clothe the side panels.  I noticed that the clematis was already putting on new growth so I took the plunge and cut it back.  I hope the current drop in temperatures and the bitingly cold winds don’t freeze the new growth to death.

That’s the round up of my gardening week.  Take a look at what other sixers have been doing in their gardens at The Propagator where you can also read about that itch