Six On Saturday: Time for a rethink

Finally rain arrived.  Great for the garden, less good for other plans.  I’m having family over for lunch on Sunday, and rain is forecast all day.  Outdoor entertaining will have to come inside and someone will be cooking in the rain!  This week has been very hot. The plants in the garden are scorched, the veg plot is desiccated but I managed to find six things in the garden:.

One

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The lawn.  Quite an interesting view at the moment.  The crispy dry stripe is where, long ago, there was a path. The middle section is a mixture of green weeds and brown grass and the far corner is the part of the lawn that is always waterlogged through the winter.  There is local talk of underground streams but I think even these have dried up this summer.  The grass hasn’t been mown in months but a close look showed the creeping buttercup is, of course, creeping very nicely and the little acorns planted by squirrels are growing into mighty oaks.  The clover is mostly going to seed and providing food for the birds.  Such biodiversity.

Two

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The hydrangea in the front garden is usually uniformly pink but this year it is pink on the side that gets the sun and shades of pink, purple and blue on the less sunny side.  Curiously it is doing well in the heat.  The front garden is watered very sparingly – and this plant hasn’t been watered once.  I hope last night’s rain will keep it in good health.  It will probably die of shock.

Three

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The first ripened chilli in the greenhouse.  It’s a cayenne – looks pretty hot to me but apparently not a knock your socks off chilli.  Picked now and soon to be added to a tomato salsa.  The tomato crop is also ripening you can see a few ‘Golden Crown’ tomatoes in the background. Note for John K – I’m only up to four trusses.

Four

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The combination of tithonia and blackberries looks so autumnal to me.  There are lots of berries to pick and I haven’t watered these at all. Maybe they do have their roots down in an underground stream.  The tithonias have now made it to six feet and with the help of the magic water I think they may well make eight feet.

Five

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The shallots have been harvested. They were planted out in late November and again I didn’t water them so they are on the small side.  I have been so mean due to a  combination of lack of time and a short hose! Some of these are heading into a potato salad this weekend.

Six

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And finishing on a sort of ta-daa!  Work on the ‘ugly end of the garden’ project started. Temperatures were in the 30s and all was going well until the imminent thunderstorms meant the electrical equipment had to be packed away.  Now I  want the rain to stay away today so that the job can be finished.  Then I need to start planning again.  The beds get afternoon sun and I have asparagus on my wish list.  I’ve grown beans against the fence for two summers but I think it is too shady for a really successful crop.  More thinking to be done.

Who else is suffering and who is winning the rainfall lottery?  Those down under speak of cold winters.  Find out more by visiting The Propagator’s blog for this week’s links.

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Six on Saturday: There’s a new wave coming

Every now and then a song gets stuck in my head and this week it is Kids in America by Kim Wilde. Kim’s a bit of gardener too btw, so it seems very appropriate.   If you don’t know the song I recommend you look at Kim’s performance of it on the train!

So as Kim says ‘there’s a new wave coming, I warn you’ and this week I am feeling more positive about the garden.  It actually rained last night for about 30 minutes and although there may be a few pests and diseases around the garden is shaping up for mid and late summer.  And here are the highlights:

One

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My first uplifting delight was spotting a flower on the Tithonias.  They were grown from seed and the packet indicates a final height of eight feet.  I’d say they are about four feet now and are full of promise. They should see me through into autumn.

Two

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Somewhere along the way last year I picked up a recommendation for the Penstemon Sour Grapes and I would love to say thank you to whoever it was that put this plant onto my wish list.  I do thank you but I can’t remember who it was!  I planted it in amongst the Agastache Black Adder featured last week and, if I may say so, I think it works very well.

Three

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I am also bowled over, as I am every year, by the evergreen agapanthus that I grow in containers.  They did look a sorry sight at the end of winter.  But those brown leaves were removed, a granular fertiliser added to the pots and now patience has been rewarded.  They are truly a wow in the garden for the second half of summer.

The second half of the summer is also the time when the veg patch starts producing.  Of course my lack of watering and the absence of rain has had an impact.  My courgettes are tiny – hard to believe I know. The new potatoes, first batch lifted this week, were also on the small side.  But they were truly delicious as was the first outdoor cucumber.  In the greenhouse the melons and tomatoes are rather like this Six – long and rambling!

Four

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Last year the melon I grew suffered from red spider mite, thank you to Fred, a French gardener  for diagnosing this for me, and only one flower made it into a fruit.  This year I have been overwhelmed.   I tried to follow the RHS advice: ‘When fruit are gooseberry size, select the best four on each stem and remove all other flowers, fruit and leaves.  Stop the side shoots two or three leaves beyond these fruits, pinch out the main growing tips and remove new growths as they appear.’ But a week away from the greenhouse and I cannot tell a side shoot from a main growing tip and who knows which is new growth!  I am just cutting back to points where fruit has formed.  The variety is Pepito F1.  So far no mites!

Five

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The whole greenhouse experience is new to me.  Last year I grew a few cherry tomatoes under the glass and they were quite well behaved.  This year the three varieties I chose, Alicante, Golden Crown and Marmande, have gone crazy.  Side shoots doubling in size by the day, leaf growth in abundance and finally a few tomatoes!  It doesn’t look like the marmande is producing well but we shall see.  These are alicante, they are not ready for picking yet but not long now.

Six

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I thoroughly recommend Thomas Stone’s blogs in general and especially anything he posts on roses such as this one on moss roses.   I must extend my rose collection but for the moment mine are all repeat flowering english roses.  They do keep coming.  I gave them all a rose feed a few weeks ago, watered it in and the flowers are coming through once more.  This is Natasha Richardson.  I’ve shown it before and I include it again because it I was pleased that it too is a part of the new wave.

I always recommend this meme and the host The Propagator  as a great way to see what is going on in gardens around the world.  The people who post under #SixOnSaturday are all great sharers of their the knowledge and experience and I want to thank everyone for helping me grow my own knowledge.  Last week I posted a picture of my under the weather apple tree.  I looks like it has fireblight and I thank Tony Tomeo for sharing his knowledge.  Loving you all!!

 

 

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:

One

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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!

Two

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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.

Three

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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.

Four

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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.

Five

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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.

Six

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

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:

One

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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.

Two

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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.

Three

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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.

Four

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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.

Five

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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.

Six

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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