Six on Saturday (11 July 2020)

It’s all change come Monday. After working from home full time since the 19 March I’ll be heading back to the office next week. While it felt strange initially, I got used to this working from home lark. I’ll miss the regular supply of coffee, the radio playing in the background and the snacks. So many snacks. But most of all I’ll miss the view of the garden from my ‘office’ (the conservatory) and the comings and goings of the birds throughout the day.

Ah well. As I’ll no longer be able to do any emergency midday waterings of seedlings I’m going to plant out the remaining pots of this and that over the weekend, including (drum roll please) the Zinnias. I have a late sowing of the troublesome annuals in reserve in case the slugs and snails polish off the first batch. But as no rain is forecast for a while perhaps they’ll do okay. Here’s hoping anyway. Right, time for Six on Saturday…

1. I don’t have much luck with Clematis. They rarely thrive and, more often than not, tend to snuff it. However, undeterred my wife and I purchased this ‘Nubia’ the other weekend. I’m planning on growing it up an arch… when the arch arrives (another thing I’ll miss about working from home; being in for deliveries). It looks the picture of health at the moment, flowering away in its pot. Little does this Clematis know that its chances of a long and happy life are slim.

2. Another Phlox is in full bloom. I call it the ‘Pink One’, not to be confused with the ‘Other Pink One’ which is a slightly different shade of pink and which will no doubt feature next week. In the distance is a plant that I’ve been meaning to feature for a while now but I’ve kept substituting it for something else at the last minute.

3. Not this week. The Veronica has thrived since it was moved to this spot last year and has been flowering away for weeks. Popular with the bees, I’m tempted to get a smaller variety for elsewhere in the garden. The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the Jasmine. Despite a severe chopping back last November it’s as monstrously climby and twiny as ever.

4. I’ve grown a few varieties of Linaria from seed this year, including Linaria maroccana ‘Licilia Red.’ It’s rather nice.

5. This slender Penstemon is in full flower. I think it might be ‘Garnet.’ A new purchase last June, it survived the winter and I have a few more growing in pots that I propagated last Autumn.

6. And finally… Crepis rubra (Pink Dandelion). They’ve been in bloom for a few weeks now. Keen to extend the flowering period of these delicate pink beauties I tried a second late sowing of seed direct in the ground a few weeks ago. The seedlings popped up within days… and then vanished. I was puzzled initially but the other morning I watched a young blackbird throwing soil here there and everywhere in the very same spot I’d sown the late batch. Mystery solved.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (4 July 2020)

A quick Six on Saturday today without any preamble about accidental plant purchases (two clematis plug plants arrived earlier in the week), plant disasters (something has polished off one of the three Himalayan blue poppy seedlings), the ongoing has-he/hasn’t-he-planted-the-Zinnias-yet? saga (he hasn’t; they’re still living on the swing seat) or mutterings about the gloomy, damp and occasionally blustery weather of late (I really should have cut the lawn earlier in the week when I had the chance). Oh no, we’re straight into Six on Saturday this week…

1. First up, Rosa ‘Violet Cloud.’ This vigorous patio rose has been flowering for well over a month now. Once it starts it doesn’t tend to stop. Lightly fragrant, pretty and popular with the six-legged wingy things, it seems to just get on with things with the minimum of fuss.

2. I’m sure Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ flowers earlier each year. It was beginning to go a little wild so I dug up quite a few clumps last autumn in attempt to keep it under control. When it flowers I’m a huge fan. When it goes over I’m less keen. I was good this year and put in plants supports early on to prevent them flopping over.

3. Another plant that is prone to spreading, although in a far more stealthy way, is Phlox. There are several large clumps that have been split over the years and seedlings often appear nearby. I was pondering removing a few to create extra space for annuals, but like Lucifer, once they start flowering I have second thoughts. This is the first of the Phlox to flower this year. I always chicken out of trying the Chelsea Chop to stagger their blooms, although deadheading usually produces a second flush of flowers in August.

4. Next up, a thyme of some sort. Very popular with the bees and me. I may dabble in some propagation.

5. I spotted this Jacob’s Ladder when I was refilling a bird feeder. A self seeder, it does particularly well in shadier spots.

6. And finally… You may want to sit down for this one, I know I did. One of the delphiniums grown from seed last summer has survived to flowerhood. It think it might be the only one and there’s no sign of the plant purchased last year. ‘Tis a miracle.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (27 June 2020)

Err, how did we get to the end of June already? Over the past few evenings I’ve pulled up poppies and chopped back some of the Aquilegia to create space for the annuals. While most of the Cosmos and Antirrhinums have been planted, I’ve held back planting the Zinnias. The garden has perked up no end after all the rain we had towards the end of last week, but alas, so to have the slugs and snails. They seem to have been making up for lost plant munching time, focusing their attention on the dahlias, and I’m afraid they’ll polish off my carefully nurtured Zinnias in one night if planted out. However, I’m going to have to risk it soon and hope the garlic brew made last weekend will deter the plant assassins once watered on to the leaves. We shall see. Maybe I should also set up an assault course of wool pellets, beer traps, copper barriers and a strategically placed frog or two, though I have a suspicion that slugs and snails can actually teleport. Ah well, let’s get on with Six on Saturday.

1. I only started growing Calendulas last year. They proved to be a great addition to the garden, flowering pretty much non-stop throughout the summer and autumn. A few of them (Lemon Cream) survived the winter and have been flowering since the spring. This year I’ve tried some other varieties, including Snow Princess. This is her first bloom.

2. Growing next to Snow Princess is a Lavender. I’m always sorry when Lavender finishes flowering but the fragrance that’s released when chopping back the stems is some compensation.

3. Now this was a pleasant surprise. I thought I’d done all of the Clematis in (apart from the Montana) but I found this one growing horizontally through the undergrowth when I cleared the Honesty and Periwinkles a month or so ago. I redirected it upwards and hey presto, flowers!

4. Growing in a shady spot, Miss Belgium, is quietly doing her thing. This is the second year she’s flowered and it’s fascinating observing how the booms develop. A recent convert to Hydrangeas, I added a Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’ to the garden back in March. Fingers crossed it does as well as Miss B.

5. Next up, a pond plant. I think it might be Greater Spearwort, but as usual I’ve lost the label. Added to the pond last year, this is the first time it has flowered. I suspect it’s going to be get too big and may have to be replaced with something smaller. The frogs like the cover it provides but I fear it’s creating too much shade for the water lily.

6. And finally… I’ve gone a bit mad with roses this year. Another standard rose, Princess Alexandra of Kent was planted in May. The petals start off coral pink with flushes of yellowy orange here and there…

… before turning a dusky pink. I’ve been burying my nose in the blooms every time I walk past them.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at Hmm, it’s started raining here. A perfect day for plant munching molluscs to be on the prowl for newly planted Zinnias. It would be madness to plant them out this weekend. Maybe next week.

Six on Saturday (20 June 2020)

Last Sunday afternoon, as soon as the neighbours had gone out, I finally got around to tackling the frazzled border in the front garden. South facing, some plants can tend to struggle a bit come July and August. However, everything usually looks all right in May and early June; not this year. A dry and sunny spring left it looking very sorry for itself. A singed Buddleia ‘Buzz’ has been dug up and a self seeded Sedum that I didn’t think I had room for has been planted. Some of the gaps have been filled with Scabious and Cosmos grown from seed and a new Lavender has been added. I also decided to risk planting a Dahlia that looked as though it was big enough to fend off the slimy plant assassins of the night. I was wrong. The little divils relished all the rain we had towards the end of the week and have polished most of it off. Still, the border is looking better than it was, mostly thanks to the first of this week’s Six on Saturday…

1. Last summer I acquired a number of plants from the free nursery up in North Wales (my mum and dad’s garden) including several small Stipa grasses. They’re starting to bulk up now and will hopefully help add a bit of structure to the border. They look good throughout the year (especially in an arty close up shot) and watching the grasses waft about in a gentle breeze can be strangely calming.

2. This Candelabra Primula was also acquired from the free nursery last year and has bucked the trend of previous Candelabra Primulas by not dying. Result.

3. Hmm, there seems to be an unintentional theme developing here. This Geranium (possibly Bloody Cranesbill) also started off life at the old ancestral home. I’ve split it over the years and it’s now growing in a few spots, both sunny and shady.

4. A number of Scabious plants have survived the winter. This one isn’t far off flowering. The buds are just as interesting as the fully formed flowers.

5. Next up, Violas. A number of those that were planted last Autumn are still going strong. Possibly one of the cheeriest of flowers.

6. And finally… An Agapanthus. I planted several in the ground a number of years ago. They didn’t flower and all but one disappeared. I dug up the surviving plant in 2016ish and plonked it in a pot. A few years passed and in 2018 it had two flowers. Celebrations were held and I figured Aggie would flower every summer from then on. Last year? Nothing. Advice seems to vary. They like to be pot bound; they don’t like to be pot bound. They like feeding; they like neglect. They prefer jazz; they prefer prog rock. An attempt to re-pot Aggie with fresh compost last month proved impossible without potentially damaging the foliage. She wouldn’t budge. So she was left as was but given a good talking to and the occasional feed. Aggie is now sporting six flower buds.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at Stay safe and happy summer solstice!

Six on Saturday (13 June 2020)

Finally, some proper wet stuff. Well, a lot of wet stuff actually, and about time too! All the water butts are full, including a fourth one that was attached to the white shed back in April. There’ll be no more showering with a bucket for a while. Fingers crossed the garden will start to perk up a bit now.

I got around to planting my sweet peas last weekend and a few tomato plants were purchased from a garden centre, just in case the pitiful specimens grown from seed don’t pull through. Somehow or other I ended up with a Totally Tangerine Geum, a far bigger plant than the one I purchased online and in flower too! Right, lets get straight to my first Six on Saturday…

1. The Sour Grapes Penstemon has been flowering for a few weeks now. I think I have another one growing elsewhere in the garden that was a cutting of this plant, though it could well be a different variety; I forgot to label it. I guess I’ll find out when it flowers.

2. Before the sun disappeared the Daphne × transatlantica Eternal Fragrance was filling the air with its heady, flutey scent. It was quite pricey and very small when it was first acquired about 7 years ago but it’s proved to be a quick grower. Infact, it was starting to get rather too big and a tad twiggy in places so I gave the shrub a prune after it had finished flowering in March. I was concerned I’d overdone it but thankfully it’s put on a lot of new growth and is flowering away again.

3. The bees are continuing to enjoy the Foxgloves, as am I. They’ve been sowing themselves around the garden for several years now.

4. This lily started life in a pot over 10 years ago. Rather bafflingly I’ve not spotted a lily beetle on it for the past two years now. All was going well until yesterday when I noticed that a few large buds on a third stem had fallen off. More appear to be suffering the same fate. It’s almost as if the buds are too heavy and are snapping off. Thankfully, the flower buds on the other two stems haven’t suffered the same fate.

5. More Sweet Williams up next. Slightly brighter than the one featured last week. Some of these have been flowering for weeks.

6. And finally… Remember the Poppy buds from a few weeks ago? Here they are now. The flowers are fleeting but loved by the bees.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (6 June 2020)

I seem to have lost my gardening mojo of late. We’ve had a bit of rain, though not enough to give the plants or lawns a really good soaking, and the recent winds have battered the Buddleia, just as they did around the same time last year, snapping off several branches. Many of the seedlings seem stunted, the tomato plants are a disaster, the garlic floppy (I’ve pulled it up), and some shrubs already have that tired late summer sort of look.

However, wandering around the garden to take Six on Saturday worthy snaps has helped lift the old spirits. It’s got to that time of year when it becomes a struggle to choose just six things and tough decisions have had to be made (apologies to the Daphne and Penstemon that were all dropped at the last minute). Yet after much deliberation I’ve settled on these…

1. First up, the Sweet Williams. They’ve been flowering for a while now. Most have been single colours. However, this tiny two-tone plant is growing near the swing seat. They seem popular with butterflies.

2. It’s no secret that I’m a compulsive shrub mover. The Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ was moved for a third… no fourth time… back in March to make room for a new standard Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price.’ As lovely as the mock orange looks when it flowers, it wasn’t really adding any structure to the border and I was fed up with the aphids that attacked it every spring. However, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the fragrant shrub so ended up plonking it behind the ‘dwarf’ Eucalyptus, near the difficult to get to water butt. I didn’t hold out much hope for the poor thing, but it appears to like its new home and, rather bafflingly, has remained aphid free.

3. Now I’m undecided on this one. It’s one of the first batch of scented Lupin Lilac Javelin plants sown from seed earlier in the year. The pea-like flowers are very pretty up close but they don’t look as impressive as the swathes of flowers that were pictured on the website. Note to self; I must plant the second batch in a mini swathe. The fragrance? Sort of soapy.

4. The Oxeye daisies are adding some cheerful daisiness here and there. They seed themselves around each year and require keeping in check from time to time.

5. Now this is sort of exciting. I planted a pack of Freesia bulbs from Wilko last year and none of them grew. I accidentally dug one or two up this spring and was surprised to find signs of life. This rather short specimen has flowered and has that great Freesia fragrance, once you manage to get down low enough to sniff the flowers. I planted another pack a few months ago. Fingers crossed some more will come up.

6. And finally… A rose. Alec’s Red is a new addition to the garden. I’ve spent a while looking for a red rose to replace one that died last year. The previous rose was always rather disappointing when it came to scent but Alec’s Red is highly fragrant. This one is a standard and a great height for a 6 foot gardener.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (30 May 2020)

I don’t know about anyone else but last week seems to have raced by. Gardening at the moment has comprised mainly of hardening off young plants in readiness for life in the great outdoors and watering. The lack of rain is starting to affect the garden; the front lawn is looking decidedly crispy and the one in the back is on the turn. Both will have to fend for themselves. In an attempt to make the contents of the last water butt go that little bit further grey water is being used to water some plants, though showering with a bucket in the bath to collect water has nearly resulted in the odd mishap.

This ‘free’ water came in handy after planting a new standard rose yesterday. It’s looking a little the worse for wear after attempts to remove it from its pot resulted in far more damage than that sustained during its journey from nursery to doorstep. No blood was spilled though which might be a first. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday, and there’s something of a white theme today…

1. First up, a geranium. A white one. Acquired last year from the free nursery up in North Wales (my mum’s garden) it’s settled in nicely. I’m hoping it might go forth and multiply of its own accord.

2. The Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ was added to the garden last summer, along with a Sambucus Nigra ‘Golden Tower’. They’re both flowering for the first time this year. While the Black Lace elder is looking particularly good, the other is looking less impressive and I’m to blame I’m afraid. Both have been covered in particularly nasty looking aphids. I squashed those on the Black Lace but I used a home-made garlic and squirty soap concoction on the Golden Tower. The pungent spray seemed to kill off the aphids initially but a lot of the emerging young leaves began to drop off a few weeks later resulting in rather bare stems. I’m wondering if the soap was too salty and I suspect the poor thing would have faired much better without my intervention. Hopefully it will recover.

3. A mini mock orange up next. ‘Manteau d’Hermine’ is just a few feet high but its flowers have that fantastic mock orange fragrance.

4. Continuing the white theme, the deliciously scented Margaret Merril is looking lovely in the patio bed. She starts off with pink tinged petals that fade to white. She would have had more flowers if the garden bench hadn’t fallen on top of her while I was painting it a few months ago, snapping off a particularly healthy looking stem. Hey ho.

5. This ‘Persian Slipper’ Lupin was acquired several years ago. It’s seems less susceptible to slugs and snails than other lupins, and this one is next to the wildlife pond where the slimy ones tend to hang out during dry spells. Attempts at splitting it have been sort of successful, though the original plant has taken a few years to recover.

6. And finally… Poppies have seeded themselves all around the garden. They can take over rather, smothering other plants, so I’m a little ruthless with them, pulling the odd plant up. However, some have been left for the bees and for the vivid splashes of red they add to the garden. These buds are poised, ready to explode.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (23 May 2020)

My wife and I braved a trip to our local garden centre yesterday and we ended up with a ‘Compassion’ climbing rose (I have no idea where it’s going to go) and a serious case of Totally Tangerine Geum envy. A TTG I’d ordered online back in April finally arrived late last week. It was tiny, but I comforted myself with the knowledge that it was bound to be cheaper than a much larger garden centre specimen. Turns out it wasn’t. The oh so much bigger garden centre plant was exactly the same price (cheaper if you factor in delivery charges.) Ah well. To my surprise it’s a 2nd anniversary Six on Saturday today. My how time flies.

1. Although my Totally Tiny Tangerine Geum may not flower this year there is something vaguely tangeriney flowering in the back garden. I spotted this Ranuculus growing behind a box ball. I think this is from a new batch planted in November. Those that bloomed last year have yet to make an appearance.

2. Another week, another Dutch Iris. A pure yellow one this time.

3. The Pyracantha was a bit of a disaster last year. For reasons unknown the leaves started to turn brown and drop off, as did the flower buds. Initially I feared it might have been the dreaded fire blight but I don’t think it was. This spring I’ve watered and fed the shrub (when I’ve remembered) and it’s looking a lot healthier, although there are still a few bare branches and brown and crispy flower buds.

4. Continuing the theme of brown and crispy. Some of the Aquilegia grown from seed last year are proving to be a tad frustrating. Many of the buds have shrivelled up or have only partly opened to produce deformed looking flowers. However, some buds are finally beginning to develop fully. I’m calling this one Rhubarb and Custard. Behold…

5. The Foxgloves have been flowering for the past week or two now but I’ve kept substituting them at the last minute, figuring I have plenty of time to feature them in a future SoS. However, this white/palest of pinks Foxglove is a one-off and after a similar white one in the front garden met an untimely end last year I thought it best to include it now. You never know what colour combinations you’re going to get when it comes to self seeded Foxgloves. I hope it survives the 40mph gusts forecast for later today.

6. And finally… The only surviving Lupin from a batch grown from seed a few years ago has begun to flower. It has gone untouched by slug, snail or aphid for months and I’m ever so slightly suspicious of it’s robust health and unblemished foliage and blooms.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (16 May 2020)

It’s been a funny old week weatherwise. Many of the young plants that I’d started hardening off were returned to the mini greenhouse, along with the emerging dahlias, when near freezing temperatures were forecast. The troublesome Zinnia seedlings were given preferential treatment and were brought into the conservatory for added protection from the slimy ones. In the end we escaped a frost but as it’s been so chilly and blustery most days the youngsters have stayed under cover. The Zinnias appear to be thriving now they’re living a cushy life indoors; I have my suspicions they’re sleeping on the sofa at night, though I have no proof. Right, time for the first of this week’s Six on Saturday.

1. This delicate looking fragrant beauty, Lily of the Valley, originally came from so-and-so who acquired some from what’s-their-face. I’ve recently learnt it’s poisonous if eaten. A lot of plants are, but I’m glad I got shot of the edible wild garlic that used to grow nearby as the leaves look quite similar.

2. The Californian Poppies seed themselves here there and everywhere. Most seem to end up orange. However, a few yellow ones have returned in the front garden this year. The flowers close up early in the evening and unfurl again in the morning, even when brought indoors as cut flowers, and last several days.

3. Ah, Gertrude Jekyll. I’m growing Gerty as a climbing rose. This is her second year in the garden and she’s about a metre high now. I moved her in February so that her fragrant flowers could be more easily appreciated near the blue shed.

4. Last week I promised more Dutch Iris and here they are. I suspect a few will crop up in later SoSs.

5. A few weekends ago I had a big tidy up of the border that I refer to as the wildlife area. The tiny pond is based here but it’s also where the more rampant plants like the Crocosmia, Red Campion, Ragged Robin, Vinca/Periwinkle and Honesty live. The Honesty, a show earlier in the spring, had finished flowering and was beginning to flop all over the place. I pulled up some of it to give the other plants a bit of breathing space. However, I’ve left a few for the seed heads, which are just as pretty now as they will be later in the year when they turn into silvery paper disks.

6. And finally… The new Harlow Carr rose tree has started to flower. More fragrant blooms to inhale and at a far more sensible height than the Lily of the Valley.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

Six on Saturday (9 May 2020)

For the most part gardening helps me to forget my worries about this and that and provides an opportunity to appreciate nature up close in our little patch of green. Potting on seedlings in the evenings, cheering on the sparrows as they pick off aphids and smiling at a small posse of starlings as they search for leatherjackets in the lawn and shamelessly steal the grubs from each other; all of these things have helped maintain my inner Zen over the course of the week.

However, gardening can sometimes lead to minor despairings, mutterings and dark doings. I’m having real issues with Zinnias this year. Germination has been poor for some reason and many of the seedlings that have come up have either been eaten by slugs or simply keeled over. I’ve sown more and woe betide any slug that crosses my path (I’ve been wielding my trowel in ninja type fashion against the slimy plant assassins of late). Thankfully, there’s plenty of things in the garden to help me shrug off my minor Zinnia woes and that leads me to my first of this week’s Six on Saturday…

1. Mrs Bradshaw, a Geum, is adding some nice splashes of vivid red in the garden. I’ve acquired a few more varieties of late and I’ve finally got around to ordering Totally Tangerine.

2. For reasons unknown I’ve been unable to capture the true blueyness of my next SoS. This Lithodora grows underneath the dwarf Lilac and seems to be doing particularly well this spring. Both my phone and camera were deployed in photographing it, but the deep blue of the flowers end up up looking decidedly washed out.

3. Now this was an exciting discovery. I sowed a packet of Aquilegia seed last year, free with the Garden News magazine. The first one to flower turned out to be purple, which was nice enough, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t wowed.

Then on Thursday evening I discovered this elegant yellow one. Some more are about to bloom so I’m curious now to see what other colours there might be.

4. The Dutch Iris have begun to open. These will feature a lot over the coming weeks. For now I will limit myself to this white variety. You have no idea how much restraint that took!

5. The standard Buddleia received a severe pruning in March. After a slow start it’s finally got going foliagewise. These shoots should be several feet high in a month or two, if they don’t get snapped off in any high winds.

6. And finally… The first of the Purple Sensation Alliums have opened. Globes of purple perfection, alas hidden somewhat behind the garden bench!

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at

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