Six on Saturday (12 October 2019)

I have a long list of tasks that need doing, including planting the Sweet Williams, Foxgloves, Aquilegia, Sweet Rocket and bulbs, not to mention giving the lawn a trim.

Yet with the relentlessly wet weather and the increasingly short days it’s been tricky finding an opportunity to do any gardening of late, except for a spot of deadheading. My first SoS suggests I’ve been neglecting my gardening duties far longer than I thought…

1. Weed or wildflower? With leaves like that I’m afraid I class it as a weed. Quite how it slipped under my weedar for so long I’m not sure. Still, the flowers are pretty. Having consulted my wild flowers of Britain and Europe book I think it might be Smooth Sow-thistle. If I see any six-legged-wing-ed things enjoying the flowers I may just deadhead it until it finishes. Hmm, I must be getting soft in my middle age.

2. The Verbena bonariensis has been flowering for many months now. I don’t deadhead these as the flowers continue to form on top of the spent blooms. There are quite a few seedlings growing in the gravel that I’ll need to dig up and move at some point.

3. I think this is Penstemon ‘Garnet’. A new purchase back in June, it has a narrower leaf than some other varieties. It didn’t really do much earlier in the year but is flowering away nicely now. From past experience the finer leaved varieties haven’t proved as hardy as other Penstemons so I’ll attempt a cutting or two at the weekend.

4. This gladioli took me by surprise with its sudden growth spurt and buds. This photograph was taken a few days ago just before it started to topple over. Gladioli were a new addition to the garden this year. As nice as they are, I’m tempted to dig them all up and try a smaller, more vibrant variety next year.

5. Next up, another Zinnia. Possibly ‘Whirligig.’ It’s determined to add a bit of cheer amidst the gloom.

6. And finally… I think this is Hesperantha. It was acquired from my great aunt up in North Wales at the end of July. I only got around to planting it in the ground last month but it appears to be doing well. I’m tempted to see what other colours are available as the prospect of adding more late colour to the garden is rather appealing.

And 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.

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Six on Saturday (5 October 2019)

I’m bored of blustery wet weather. There have been brief spells of fleeting sunshine, but more often than not the skies have been grey and prone to precipitation. The slugs and snails have been having a field day, which leads me to my first SoS.

1. Zinnia. Pink ones. The flowers of some varieties seem to last for ages, forming cone-like centres adorned with halos of yellow stars. I thought most of them had outgrown the slimy menaces of the garden, but I’ve noticed a few of the larger plants have been nibbled of late.

2. Many of the climbing plants in the garden have done poorly this year for some reason. The Graham Thomas rose hasn’t flowered at all. I chopped it right back in the spring in an attempt to get it to throw up a few more stems from ground level. It produced one stem and is looking very ropey indeed. Most of the clematis seem to have snuffed it and the Golden Graham honeysuckle is also looking a little sad, its branches leafless for the most part. However, it is producing a few late flowers, though a little too high up for me to appreciate their scent.

3. A mystery plant next. I spotted this growing in the border next to the conservatory a few months ago. I think it might be a cotoneaster of some sort.

I’ve decided to see if I can grow it as a standard but if someone identifies it as being a monster-like tree I may have to reconsider. It seems to be growing at quite a pace so it might be a foolhardy idea.

4. Some of the Sweet Williams have had a second flush of flowers. Next year’s batch are ready to be planted as soon as I’m feeling sufficiently motivated.

5. Now this is exciting. These Primula prolifera (Candelabra primrose) were grown from some seed that Jim kindly sent me a few months ago. There’s no sign of the others yet but I’ll try a second sowing in the spring.

6. And finally… This is the first year I’ve grown Cosmos in the garden. After a slow start, Cosmos ‘Fizzy’ has proved to be a great doer. The flowers appear to change colour over time. There are whites edged with pink…

Deep pinks streaked with white…

And all sorts of variations thereof, all on the one plant. I’ll definitely be growing this variety again.

And 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: Autumn has arrived (28 September 2019)

After a week of wind and rain the garden has suddenly turned all autumnal. The leaves of the Morning Glory have started to turn yellow, the Sambucus nigra ‘Golden Tower’ has lost much of its foliage, and the Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ is definitely on the turn. Yet despite the recent battering, many plants are still flowering away, the yellows, whites, pinks and purples of the Zinnia, Dahlias, Scabious, Cosmos and Calendula appearing to glow in the fading light of evening.

I’m still diligently deadheading to keep the flowers going for as long as possible. Which leads me to my first SoS…

1. Calendula ‘Lemon Cream’ has almost featured as a Six on Saturday on several occasions but for some reason always get swapped for something else at the last minute.

It was grown from a packet of free seed, courtesy of the Garden News magazine, and has been flowering for months thanks to deadheading. Some are beginning to go a tad mildewy though.

2. Another plant that inexplicably didn’t make the final SoS cut earlier in the year is Delphinium grandiflorum ‘Blue Butterfly.’ Its blue blooms lasted for ages and the plant munching molluscs left its delicate looking leaves alone. It finished flowering months ago but I spotted a seed pod on it the other weekend.

I picked it, sprinkled the seeds on some compost and plonked the pot on a window sill. I wasn’t really expecting much success, but look! Seedlings. Now whether they’ll survive the winter or not I have no idea. I wonder if I should have waited until the spring before sowing them.

3. The Cosmos (Gazebo White) is another plant that is still flowering its socks off. Initially I was underwhelmed by this white variety and the lack of flowers, but as the months have passed by the flowers have got more prolific. I’m now a fan, as is this hoverfly.

4. I introduced Linaria vulgaris (common toadflax) to the front garden a few years ago, growing it from seed. As beautiful as the flowers are it does have a tendency to take over. I thought I’d been ruthless last year, pulling up most of it before it had a chance to flower. However, it’s staged a comeback.

It is lovely though.

5. Next up, a mallow that’s having a second flush of flowers. Now this is either the one that was purchased from the wildflower section of a garden centre or the non-wild one that was obtained from the ancestral home up in North Wales. I was convinced I would remember when I planted it. I was wrong.

6. And finally… The Zinnia are still flowering away and providing some nice bright colour in the garden.

This yellow variety has taken a while to get going. I’m always fascinated by the changing form of Zinnia flowers. This was it a few weeks ago, tinged with lime green…

And this is it now.

And 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: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (21 September 2019)

Well, all this warm sunny weather of late has been been rather pleasant. The butterflies have been enjoying the Buddleia, Zinnia and Verbena and providing quite a few photo opportunities.

Though two hummingbird hawk moths have continued to thwart my futile attempts to zoom in, focus and snap them as they dart about from flower to flower. I sat for a few hours with my camera zoomed in and focused on some Verbena that I’d seen one enjoy on several occasions in the past, only for it to choose the Buddleia and Jasmine when it finally showed up.

Alas, it sounds as though the clement weather is coming to an end as Hurricane Humberto drops by. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. While there’s still a lot of colour in the garden of the petalled and fluttery wings variety (here’s another sneaky butterfly photo taken last weekend…)

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it’s not all photogenic loveliness out there. Oh no. This week’s SoS is a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly.

1. First up, the good. I tried sowing some seed from the Clematis montana earlier in the year. I didn’t want any more but I was curious to see whether any seed would germinate. Within a week one seedling appeared. However, it wasn’t a clematis. I wasn’t sure what it was until a few weeks ago, when a bud started to form, and to my surprise it turned out to be a sunflower.

I’ve never had much luck with sunflowers. They usually get eaten by the slimy plant assassins of the night and I’d long since given up trying to grow them. So I’m a bit puzzled as to where this one came from. The only sunflower seeds in the garden are the sunflower hearts I feed the birds. It’s rather nice though and of pleasingly short stature.

2. For the past few years I’ve grown annual varieties of Scabious from seed rather than purchase the perennial variety that I never seem to be able to keep alive for more than a year or two. These annual variety also last for a few years but cost peanuts. I’ve probably featured this purple variety before but it’s been flowering for months now and is looking particularly good at the moment. Even the seed heads are rather attractive.

3. Continuing with the good; following Fred’s advice a few months ago I chopped back the rather straggly looking perennial Evening Primrose and it’s given it a new lease of life.

The flowers add a lovely splash of yellow in the corner of the garden and their scent is lovely.

4. Okay, the bad next. I’ve tried a few late sowings of hardy annuals this year in the hope that they’ll flower earlier next year. These white cornflowers ‘The Bride’ were grown from a free packet of seed and were doing grand until last week. I started to leave them outside to harden them off, completely forgetting that the slugs and snails were partial to snacking on them. They may pull through… possibly.

5. More bad. Antirrhinums featured a lot in my Six on Saturdays last year. However, this year they’ve faired very poorly. I’m not sure what’s gone wrong. Many of last year’s plants came through the winter and flowered earlier in the summer.

Yet the new, batch sowed earlier in the year, were supposed to take over from them. They haven’t. Most are looking very sickly indeed foliage-wise and some have snuffed it.

6. And finally… the ugly. My wife tells me there’s no such thing as ugly, but when confronted with the Korean lilac Syringa meyeri Palibin at this time of year I’m not so sure. While a lot of shrubs gradually take on lovely autumnal hues and retire for the winter in style come October/November, this shrub, a fragrant stunner in June, always looks like it’s dying a horrible and unpleasant death come September.

Indeed, sometimes the sudden transformation from green to crispy brown can start as early as August. I’ve tried watering it, thinking that it’s in desperate need of a drink, but it doesn’t make any difference. ‘Tis a shame, as it stands out horribly next to its green neighbours.

And 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 (14 September 2019)

The garden seems to be ticking over nicely at the moment with minimum intervention, well apart from some diligent deadheading.

Some plants have yet to do their flowery thing and are fast running out of time (come on African foxgloves, what are you waiting for?) Others have been having a second flush of blooms, one last final hurrah before they think about hunkering down for the winter or joining that great big compost heap in the sky. Which leads me to my first SoS…

1. The search for the perfect blue delphinium took a while but two were eventually found back in late June. I resisted planting them, chopped the blue beauties back when they’d finished flowering and placed them out of reach of the slimy ones in the hope that they might have a second flush of flowers. One plant has and I’ve finally committed to planting it in the ground. So far, so good. Yet from past experience I know they’re unlikely to survive the slugs and snails for long.

My wife is a big fan of delphiniums so I sowed a mixed pack of them earlier in the year. If I’m being honest I think this is folly; it’s lupins all over again. However, the plants are looking the picture of health at the moment in the mini greenhouse (top shelf, left hand side) and I’ve just started hardening them off ready for life in the great outdoors (and I predict a short life at that). The ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ foxgloves and Sweet William seedlings will also need planting out soon.

2. Next up is my favourite Penstemon, Laura. She’s enjoying a second or possibly third flush of flowers. I must take some cuttings at the weekend.

3. Some of the Dahlias (like this pompom variety) are doing really well. Others are struggling to fend off the slugs and snails (even the Bishop of Llandaff is succumbing to their late night munchings).

I’ve had mixed success with the dahlias grown from from seed this year; most were eaten. However, this cheerful yellow dwarf variety (possibly Piccolo mixed) has survived and is flowering away nicely now. It’s proving popular with the six legg-ed buzzy wing-ed things too.

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4. As are the scabious/scabiouses/scabiosa/scabyarses. This one was grown from a packet of mixed burgundy and white ‘St George’ seed.

5. Remember the Crepis rubra (pink dandelions) that featured earlier in the year?

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Well, they’ve gone to seed and look even more dandelionesque. I’m going to save some of the seeds but I’ll be curious to see whether it spreads itself around the garden and whether I come to regret growing it.

6. Despite the frequent batterings the standard Buddleia endured earlier in the year it’s made a full recovery.

As a result of all of the bashings and snappings it flowered a little later than usual, but it’s pulling in far more butterflies than I’ve ever seen on it before. It was the offspring of a Buddleia that was growing here when we bought the house 7 years ago. The original one was getting far too large for our small garden, taking up valuable plant space, so I trained the seedling as a standard. I’m always amazed how much new growth it puts on (I chop it right back to the top of the main trunk each year). Hopefully with a bit of deadheading it’ll go on flowering for a while yet.

And 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 (7 September 2019)

I should probably be thinking about buying bulbs and deciding what should replace the allegedly-small-yet-in-reality-large Prunus cerasifera ‘Hessei’ tree if I chop it down later in the year. I should definitely be pulling up the zombie Sweet Peas, planting out the Sweet William and Foxglove seedlings and perhaps giving the outdoor shelves another coat of Danish oil. And yet I’m feeling rather unmotivated. With all the late colour in the garden I think I’ve been trying to convince myself that summer isn’t really over. Or perhaps I’m just an Astronomical Autumn kind of chap.

However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the signs that the seasons are on the turn. The mornings are decidedly nippier, the sun is sitting lower in the sky, the days are getting shorter and the trees on the green are beginning to shed the odd leaf or three. It’s time to start planning for next year; and so I shall, at some point fairly soonish, though perhaps not just yet. Anyhow, on to my first SoS…

1. The Linaria purpurea (or purple toadflax) was accidentally introduced to the garden last year. It probably needs cutting back but the bees love it.

2. The Alyssum, which was chopped back several weeks ago, is now having a second flush of flowers. It’s provided really good ground cover and fingers are crossed that it will seed itself around a bit. I’m hoping bending down to enjoy the honey-like scent of the flowers will become easier now that I’ve started doing a spot of Yoga!

3. I can’t decide if I like this Oxalis or not. My mother-in-law gave us a few plants several years ago. When they’re looking all green and healthy with their bright pink flowers I’m a fan. But when they go through a sickly looking phase during the summer (and they always do) I consider getting shot of them. However, I fear this isn’t really an option; they’ve started popping up elsewhere in the border ever since I temporarily dug them up last August to make the curving path.

4. I’m assuming this is Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’. I prefer this to the pale pink variety, which for some reason has yet to flower. So far they’ve all behaved themselves and haven’t attempted to take over the garden. Unless they’re just biding their time.

The hoverflies rather like it.

5. Next up is Crocosmia ‘Jackanapes’. It wasn’t looking too clever earlier in the year yet seems to be doing alright now. It’s rather hidden away though and I may need to find it a new home in the spring.

6. And finally… The Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ used to live in the front garden but tended to get swamped by other plants and go unnoticed. Earlier in the year I moved it to the back garden, next to the path, and it’s doing a lot better.

Extremely popular with the bees, I’ve developed a new appreciation for the intricate blue flowers (that look suspiciously purple in the photo below) and the fragrant leaves that I can’t resist rubbing and sniffing as I walk by.

And 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: Now and Then (31 August 2019)

Last week’s long bank holiday weekend was spent lazing in the garden, relaxing. It was too hot to do much of anything, except for a bit of dead-heading and cream tea eating (apparently jam goes on top of cream around these ‘ere parts). Bees and hoverflies were out in force and the Buddleia finally lived up to its name as the ‘Butterfly Bush’.

Right now the garden seems to have reached something of a floral crescendo. It got me thinking about how it looked seven years ago when my wife and I moved into our new home. Six photographs were taken of the garden at the beginning of August 2012. Back then it was all rather rectangular and had very little colour. Seven years on it looks quite different. So let’s travel back and forth in time for another ‘Now and Then‘ Six on Saturday (cue harp flashback effect music….)

1. This is the spot where I stand and stare while waiting for the watering can to fill up, pondering this and that.

It was all quite different back in 2012. All I could focus on then was the strange wooden raised bed that jutted out into the path, disturbing the whole feng shui-iness of the garden. I got rid of it soon after this photo was taken.

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2. Over the years the odd patio slab has been taken up to create extra planting space. However, this year I really had it in for the patio and reduced it further. This is how it looks now…

And this was how it looked back then…

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3. I remembered to remove my nemesis, the washing line, for this latest garden photo shoot.

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I forgot to remove it back in August 2012.

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4. I’m slowly adding a bit more structure to the conservatory bed with the odd shrub or two. The standard Buddleia in the corner is the offspring of the Buddleia that was growing next to the big green shed in the photo above.

In 2012 the bed was much smaller and something of a thicket.

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5. Here’s the view looking back towards the house now…

And this was the view back then…

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6. And finally… The view from the bedroom window today…

And the view back then…

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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.