Six on Saturday (24 October 2020)

The clocks go back tonight and I’ve been drawing up a mental list of all the gardening tasks that I need to tackle to prepare the garden for the winter. Bulbs require planting, the Jasmine chopping. There are annuals to pull up, a swing seat to cover and a garden bench to put away. A standard rose needs moving, a penstemon splitting and a new small tree unpotting. And there are weeds that need… err… weeding, borders to mulch and roses to peruse online and order. I’m hoping to make a start later today, weather permitting. What was that? Which chore will I tackle first? Rose perusal and ordering, naturally. One has to pace oneself. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up, Snap Dragons. Last year I had an Antirrhinum disaster as most succumbed to ‘rust.’ 2020’s batch have been infection free but most have taken forever to get going. Hopefully they’ll survive the winter and become more robust plants next year.

2. With the exception of the Monster Montana, most clematis tend to die in my garden. However, an evergreen ‘Freckles’ that was planted to grow up the arch a few months ago is sporting a surprisingly long new shoot.

3. This fragrant Nemesia was planted in a pot last summer and has flowered pretty much continuously ever since. If it survives another winter outdoors I’ll make an effort and change the compost.

4. Another week, another Wilko bulb purchase. Narcissus Jonquilla ‘Marinette’ looks rather similar to ‘Falconet.’

5. The leaves of the Prunus ‘Kojo-no-mai’ have gone full on Autumnal, adding a vivid splash of red in the back border. I suspect it will soon be bare of leaf.

6. And finally… This was something of a surprise; a self seeded ‘Party Dress’ Morning Glory from last year has grown up a bare stem of the Sambucus ‘Golden Tower.’ The upper section of the poor Elder never recovered from the soapy garlic spray that I applied a little too liberally to the aphid infested leaves way back in early summer.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Stay safe.

Six on Saturday (17 October 2020)

**Sighs** My name’s Graeme and I’m a compulsive shrub mover. It had been 7 weeks since I last moved a shrub; a standard Lilac. Well, it’s been moved again. It has swapped positions with the Viburnum near the blue shed and plant feng shuiiness has finally been achieved… I think. Everything else has stayed put for now. Many plants are still flowering away. But while I’m enjoying the late colour, things could really do with chopping back or pulling up to make room for the Sweet William and spring flowering bulbs. And that leads me to my first Six on Saturday.

1. A number of online bulb purchases have started to arrive in the post. However, some have been acquired from good old Wilko, including this blue variety of Allium called ‘Mattiola’s Blues Caeruleum.’ I think I might plant them in the front garden.

2. While I failed to find the label for that Aster of short stature last week I did stumble across the label of a Fuchsia that I assumed was Mrs Popple. It isn’t. It’s ‘Army Nurse’ (the mind boggles). I moved her a few years ago and she has sulked ever since. However, she appears to have finally got over her strop and is now flowering floriferously. Good word ‘floriferously.’

3. Ah yes, it’s that Wilko pom-pom Dahlia again. I think this is my favourite Dahlia and I’m making the most of it until the first frost arrives.

4. Next up is the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise.’ A new addition to the garden in the spring, the flowers have transitioned from white to pink and are now a lovely crispy autumnal brown.

5. I’d originally chosen the foliage of a Cyclamen for my fifth SoS but I made a last minute substitution. This is ‘Lemon Daisy,’ one of several varieties of Calendula I’ve grown from seed this year. I’m hoping it will sow itself about a bit.

6. And finally… I think I featured this Wilko pom-pom Dahlia a few months ago. It’s a 2019 survivor but I managed to plant another one of the exact same colour right next to it back in May. One of them will have to be moved next year (if they survive the winter in the ground) as things have become a tad too pink in this part of the patio border.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (10 October 2020)

Well that was a rather wet and gloomy week. Last weekend was a complete washout and now that the nights are drawing in there’s not much time to potter in the garden after work. There’s still plenty to enjoy out there though and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday.

1. When the red leaves of this Morrisons Acer emerged in the spring I assumed they would turn green as the year went on as they were green when it was received as a gift last summer. They didn’t. The Acer is situated in a fairly shady spot and I wonder whether this might have something to do with it. Now that Autumn has arrived the foliage has turned a deeper flaming red.

2. This Aster of short stature was acquired in bud at the end of August. I smugly went to the shed to retrieve the label that I was so sure I’d placed in the ‘label pot.’ Could I find it? Could I heck as like. For some reason I wasn’t expecting purple flowers and I’m sure the label promised something else. I’m not wowed.

3. When I was rooting through the label pot I found the labels for the two Osteospermums that are planted in the front garden. I took some cuttings from the plants last month and, despite looking rather ropey initially, they’re now showing signs of new growth. I originally labelled them ‘dark red’ and ‘pink’ but now that I’ve found the original labels I’ll have to alter them to ‘Serenity Red‘ and ‘In The Pink.’

4. Next up we have Hesperantha. They were acquired at the end of July 2019 from my 80 something, whisky loving great aunt up in North Wales.

5. Ah, Violas. One of my favourite plants for adding some cheer during the winter months. I bought a few trays from The Plant Man in town the other weekend, one of which included this purple splotched beauty. As soon as I’ve emptied the summer pots and planted my tulip bulbs these will go on top. I may need to purchase some more soon.

6. And finally… another Zinnia. Despite my Zinnia seedling woes earlier in the year several have made it to flowerhood. Will I bother again next year? Of course I will.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (3 October 2020)

Well, bulbs have been ordered, bags of pungent manure have been collected and stored down the side of the blue shed ready for mulching, and the new sonic cat scaring device has been tested. A few days ago I spotted a bold ginger cat in the back garden, sitting on the fence near the bird feeder. After it blatantly ignored my half-hearted shooings and pishhings I nipped to the front garden to retrieve the new gadget. I squared up to the moggy menace, pointed the device in its direction and casually passed my hand in front of the motion sensor to activate it. I expected great things but, much to my dismay, the cat simply sat there giving me a bored ‘yeah, so what?’ kind of look. I tried again, slightly less casually this time. Same result. The motion sensor activation hand waving became increasingly frantic, fascinating the fearless feline who appeared to make itself even more comfortable. Then, just as I was about to admit defeat, I remembered there was a setting to up the sonic frequency. I turned the dial, paused for dramatic effect… and tried again. The scaredy cat scarpered. Result!

Most of the photos for today’s Six on Saturday were taken earlier in the week in anticipation of Storm Alex. The majority of plants were still standing at the end of Friday but alas, there was a Cosmos casualty. It’s even wetter and just as windy out there today and things are looking decidedly bedraggled.

1. Although not this Calendula. An orange one. Possibly the best sort, especially when bejewelled with rain drops.

2. I sowed several varieties of Scabiosa/scabiouses this year. The bees love them and they flower throughout the summer and well into autumn. This might be Scabiosa ‘Tall Double Red’… or it could be a red variety from ‘St George Mixed.’ As usual I lost track of what was what when I planted the seedlings out.

3. A clump of Garlic Chives has been growing in the garden for several years now but this is the first time they’ve flowered. I must divide them next spring as I wouldn’t mind a few more late flowering alliums.

4. Next up, Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children’ that were sown from seed in the spring. Alas, I highly doubt they’ll flower before the frosts strike. Hopefully, they will do better in the ground next summer. They’ve taken forever to get going, as have most of the plants grown in pots this year.

5. It’s been a similar tale with the tomatoes. However, a handful of tomatoes have finally been picked from this cherry variety ‘Apero.’ It’s the first year I’ve gone totally peat free and I’m wondering whether I picked the wrong brand; or is it only a bad gardener that blames their peat free New Horizon compost? I’m going to try another sort next year, perhaps Dalefoot. Germination has been fine, the issue seems to have been post pricking out and potting on. Chicken manure pellets and a regular seaweed feed have got most of the pot planted things going eventually.

6. And finally… Calendula ‘Snow Princess’ featured a few months ago, but when a plant is still blooming away and is this lovely it seems wrong not to include it again.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Stay safe.

Six on Saturday (26 September 2020)

The weather seemed to mirror the astronomical seasons last week. Monday, the final day of astronomical summer, was all blues skies and warm sunshine. The next day things turned cooler and rather gloomy, and by Wednesday we had rain, something we’ve not had for a while here. The garden is still just about holding onto it’s summer colour, although my first Six on Saturday is decidedly autumnal…

1. The Pyracantha struggled last year for some reason. Leaves fell off, flowers turned black and berries were few and far between. This year it has fared much better and is covered in orange berries. The wood pigeons and house sparrows have already started on them.

2. The Graham Thomas honeysuckle has been flowering for many months. Just when you think this climber has finished blooming more buds appear. Alas these flowers are a little too high for me to appreciate their fragrance.

3. Ah, good old Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise.’ A ‘doer’ that flowers for months on end with regular deadheading. I grew some from seed several years ago but I can’t remember if this is from the original batch or one grown from a cutting. It seems to be easy to propagate; we’re talking Penstemon-shove-a-broken-peice-into-a-pot-and-hey-presto-a-new-plant easy.

4. I have a decision to make, and soon. Back in August I fixed a wire from the fence to the blue shed and pointed a few stems of the Clematis montana towards it. The ‘mile a minute’ monster has almost reached the other end and I’m not sure whether I should direct it around the corner of the roof (just under the guttering) or send the thing back towards the fence. It’s still having the odd mini flush of nutmeg scented flowers.

5. The lesser spotted front garden up next. South facing and prone to frazzling in the summer, I decided to add a few grasses, another Sedum and lots of sun loving annuals earlier in the year to mingle with the self seeded Verbena, Californian Poppies, Lavender and Rock Roses. It’s not looking too bad, although a cat has taken to using the foliage of a Rock Rose and the edge of the lawn as a litter tray; highly annoying as there’s bare soil in the neighbour’s border, surely a far more desirable spot for a feline to do it’s business? I’ve acquired one of those sonic cat scaring devices. Fingers crossed it works.

6. And finally… Grown in pots, Cosmos ‘Gazebo White’ has taken rather a long time to flower but it was worth the wait. The bees seem to think so too.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (19 September 2020)

Apart from regular deadheading and watering pots there hasn’t been much to do in the garden of late. However, I’m aware that the September is racing by and before long there will be annuals to pull up, the odd perennial and shrub to move, the Jasmine to chop back (oh joy), mulching to be done and bulbs to plant. Talking of which, this weekend will be spent perusing bulb catalogues for tulips, narcissi, iris and perhaps a few different varieties of my first of my Six on Saturday…

1. These hardy Cyclamen have been flowering away for weeks now. Originally acquired from my mother-in-law’s garden several years ago, they have multiplied, popping up here and there, including the gravel path. More subtle than the blowsy and less hardy varieties that featured last week, the patterned leaves are just starting to emerge.

2. Last year I sowed Alyssum in card trays and then thinned out and planted a thousand or so seedings (well, perhaps not quite a thousand, but it felt like it). Not this year. I scattered the leftover seed I had around the patio border and hoped the previous year’s plants had set seed. They had. The Alyssum finished flowering a month or so ago but was chopped back and we’re now enjoying a second flush of tiny fragrant white blooms. It’s proving to be a good mingler with neighbouring plants.

3. A dwarf yellow Dahlia up next. This was grown from seed last spring and survived the winter in the ground. It’s been a hit with the bees.

4. While most of the Japanese Anemones have yet to spread about and explore the garden, this small double variety has been slightly more adventurous. I’m okay with this for now. Will I regret my easy going, chilled attitude to its reproducing antics in a few years? Answers on a postcard or in the comments section below.

5. Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ has cropped up in this and that a lot of late, including a recent episode of Gardeners’ World. I was very tempted until a visit to Forde Abbey earlier in the week. I’ve visited many times before but I hadn’t realised that this yellow beauty was that very same plant. As lovely as it is it’s also big. Very big, and it dawned on me that I’d struggle to find space for one in my small garden. Ah well.

6. And finally… It’s another ‘Fizzy Rose Picotee’ Cosmos. Weirdly, the same plant has produced two completely different shades – white flowers edged with pink and these beauties.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (12 September 2020)

There’s a chap who has a plant stall in town most Saturdays. My wife and I call him ‘the plant man.’ I try to walk past his stall in a nonchalant manner, casting but a fleeting glance at his tempting floral wares; partly because I don’t want to disappoint him if I don’t fancy buying anything, but mainly because I want to try and exercise a bit of willpower and resist acquiring yet another bargain that I don’t really have room for. However, more often than not my resistance crumbles and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. I don’t know if these Cyclamen will survive out in the garden over the winter (I suspect not) but I might put them in the north east facing conservatory just before the frosts arrive.

2. The flowers of the Sedums have started to open and the bees and flies are loving the tiny flowers. I’m sure they’ve bloomed a little later this year though.

3. Oh yes, it’s another Zinnia ‘Jazzy.’ These have been a pleasant surprise and I’ll certainly grow them again next summer.

4. The Daphne x transatlantica ‘eternal fragrance’ has lived up to its name this year. This hardworking shrub has been flowering off and on (mainly on) for many a month now, despite a prune earlier in the year. Every garden should have one.

5. Next up, Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Fizzy’ Series. This is ‘Fizzy Rose Picotee’ growing in the back garden. They tend to vary quite a bit pinky-white/whitey-pink-hue-wise. I suspect they will feature again over the next few weeks.

6. And finally…. Erodium manescavii. I grew a few plants from some seed kindly provided by Jim last year. Only one Erodium plant has survived to flowerhood but I have some leftover seed for a second attempt and I’ll harvest some seed from this plant later in the autumn. It has attractive foliage (though the leaves below belong to a Californian Poppy) and beautiful flowers that have this fascinating intricate pattern on three of the petals. I’ll hopefully have a few more next year.

Well, 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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday: late summer colour (5 September 2020)

Well, September is here. A few years ago the garden would have been rather lacking in flowers come late Summer (I’m an Astronomical Autumn and Meteorological Spring kind of guy) but nowadays I think the garden might be at its most colourful at this time of year. Some flowers have come as something of a surprise though and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. The Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ appears to be a tad confused as to what season it is. As well as elderberries it’s sporting fresh new growth and flowers. I could do with chopping back the flowering branches as they’re encroaching onto the path at head height, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

2. The Linaria vulgaris (common toadflax) was sown from seed several years ago. I pull it up in handfuls in an attempt to keep it under control, with mixed success. This clump is growing several feet away from where it was first sown.

3. Towards the end of August I featured a white Japanese Anemone. I have another one growing in a nearby bed that I thought was the same variety. But upon closer inspection it’s quite different. The flowers of one plant have a lot more petals than the other.

I went for a rummage through some old plant labels and found two for Honorine Jobert. The top plant is certainly HJ but either a mistake was made when it came to labelling or I bought a third Japanese Anemone and have mislaid the label (highly likely). If the latter I have an AWOL Honorine Jobert. I’ve done some Googling (other search engines are available) and the closest match I can find for the bottom plant is Whirlwind.

4. Another of the Zinnia ‘Jazzy’ mix up next. It’s quite different from the flower that featured in last week’s SoS.

5. A few more of the surviving Zinnia ‘elegans’ plants have started to flower. In previous years I’ve had a variety of colours: pinks, red, yellow and orange. This year I seem to have ended up with various shades of pink. Not that I’m complaining mind. The halo of stars never grows old.

6. And finally… I’ve seen a few Heleniums featured in various Six on Saturdays of late and was puzzled why I didn’t have one. This grievous oversight has now been rectified after a trip to Hestercombe last Sunday. I’ve yet to find a spot for ‘Fuego’ but for the moment it seems happy in a pot.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (29 August 2020)

I had my first full week off work since Christmas and it’s been rather nice doing not much of anything. There was an afternoon garden centre crawl (several plant and bulb purchases were made), I wrestled with a floppy 8 foot Eucalyptus that came adrift from its support during Tuesday’s storm and the Lilac that I’d planted too close to the Buddleia got moved. My wife and I also visited my old ancestral home up in North Wales last weekend, once I’d figured out the various bubbling and extended household rules for England and Wales. Thankfully, as we were married when the moon was in Sagittarius, one of us had a pet budgie as a child and the other knew what eight sevens made without the aid of a calculator, fingers, baking beans or a Mr Men Times Tables book, it was fine to make the trip and stay over. Visits to the old ancestral home inevitably result in the odd plant acquisition or two and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. A Potentilla of unknown name. When I unpacked the car back in Somerset I also found what appeared to be a pot of soil. For the briefest of moments I was slightly concerned my mum had a gone a bit funny, but then I remembered they were the snow drops I’d pre-ordered during my last visit way back in February.

2. Next up, a pink Osteospermum. This was a new addition to the front garden a couple of months ago. It has taken a while to get going but has now got into its flowery stride. I hope it survives the winter.

3. Back in the spring I sowed some Chrysanthemum ‘Eastern Star.’ Some of them have just started to flower and apparently there must have been a mix up at the Wilko seed packing facility. It’s very pretty but ‘Eastern Star’ it ain’t.

4. I’d given this Aster frikartii ‘Jungfrau’ up for dead in the spring but it turns out it was just fashionably late. Purchased at the Taunton Flower Show last year, it’s bulking out nicely.

5. Which is something this Crocosmia ‘Jackanapes’ has yet to do. This might have something to do with the fact that I move it around every year to make room for this and that. I think I’ve finally found the perfect spot for it so hopefully it’ll start to do what all Crocosmia seem to do and spread around to the point where I’m pulling handfuls up to keep it under control.

6. And finally… I sowed a variety of Zinnia this year. While the slugs and snails have attacked a lot of the Zinnia elegans they appear to have left the shorter Zinnia ‘Jazzy’ alone. The flowers are smaller than those of Zinnia elegans and vary in colour and form. I have showed great restraint and featured just one this week, but I’ll feature some of the others in future SoSs.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Right, time to deadhead some dahlias. What was that? What are eight sevens? Hang on, I’ll need to grab the baking beans…

Six on Saturday: stormy weather (22 August 2020)

Well that was a rotten week of weather. On Tuesday evening I started preparing the garden for the strong winds that were forecast for Friday. Metal supports and canes were shuffled around to aid those plants that looked most likely to topple over, including the pampered Zinnias. Whilst surveying my handiwork, feeling quietly confident all would be well, a wood pigeon landed smack bang on top of a small cosmos that was growing in a pot, flattening it. I wasn’t best pleased. It’s still a little breezy out there this morning but, thankfully, everything appears to be intact. Right, time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up is a yellow Crocosmia. I do like a yellow Crocosmia. I wish I could remember which variety it is.

2. The Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ has been flowering for a few weeks now. The flowers are popular with the bees and I enjoy the fragrant foliage. This used to grow in the front garden but has proved far happier in the back, next to the curving path.

3. Now I always mix up ‘Caryopteris’ and ‘Coreopsis.’ This is Coreopsis ‘Bengal Tiger’, so called because the flowers resemble tiger eyes. Admittedly I’ve never got all that close to a tiger but I don’t see the resemblance myself. I’ve been deadheading it every day… well, maybe every other day.

4. The Buddleia that I grew as a standard has reached mammoth proportions. It always amazes me how much growth this puts on despite chopping it right back each spring. Every August, just before it flowers, I ponder getting shot of it, replacing it with something smaller. Yet once in bloom I change my mind. Popular with butterflies, bees and hoverflies during the day, it’s just as popular with moths come dusk. I really should have planted the new Lilac further to the left though.

5. Growing near the Buddleia is this white Japanese Anemone. A well behaved one too that has yet to make any attempt at world domination. Pity. I wouldn’t mind a few more.

6. And finally… This Wilko pom-pom Dahlia (nicknamed ‘the Comeback Kid’ last year after it was nearly polished off by the slimy ones) survived the winter in the ground only to be set upon by the slugs and snails as soon as the leaves emerged. It was briefly plonked in a pot on the swing seat to recover and then planted out. It’s double the size it was last year and despite a slight mishap last week (the heavy rain snapped a stem off at the base) is flowering away happily.

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.