Six on Saturday: feeling hot hot hot (17 August 2019)

Well, the garden survived the gusty winds last Saturday. Apart from a few flattened Verbena bonariensis in the front garden, everything else, including the Buddleia, got through the ordeal unscathed. It’s still quite breezy out there though and rather wet.

My past few SoS’s have mainly featured plants of pastelly pink and purplish hue. This time I’ve gone all out hot hot hot colourwise. So put on some some sun glasses, add an extra ice cube or three to that rather early/mid-afternoon/evening G & T and set your fan to oscillate.

1. We start with a close up of a Morning Glory (stop smirking). This is ‘Split Second Double’, grown from seed that was free with the Garden News magazine.

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Except I don’t think it is. It looks nothing like the picture on the front of the seed packet and after reading The Pink Wheelbarrow’s SoS last week I think it might be ‘Party Dress’.

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2. Next up is an anonymous Crocosmia that’s in full bloom beneath the standard Buddleia. I usually end up buying some sort of yellowish Crocosmia every time I visit the Taunton Flower Show. Not this year. I resisted, which was probably the right decision as this one could do with splitting when it’s finished flowering.

3. I sowed a few varieties of Zinnia this year but this one doesn’t match any of those shown on the seed packets. It hasn’t developed any further layers of petals and I don’t know whether this particular flower has just gone a bit awry or whether it’s meant to look like this. I’m calling it Zinnia ‘Wagon Wheel’.

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4. Another Zinnia. I think this one might be one of the ‘Whirlygig Mixed’ variety.

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5. This perennial Lobelia Fan ‘Scarlet’ was purchased a few months ago but I only got around to planting it last weekend. The photo below doesn’t really do justice to the full on vivid red of the flowers. Having since read up on these it sounds as though it may not make it through the winter which is a bit disappointing. We shall see.

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6. And finally… This is Dahlia ‘The Comeback Kid’. Grown from a packet of tubers from Wilko, it was very nearly polished off by slugs and snails… twice. After the first attack I dug it up, plonked it in a pot and placed it on the swing seat, out of reach of the slimy so-and-sos. The Dahlia recovered and into the ground it went, briefly, until it was savagely set upon once more. I potted up what was left of the poor thing and placed it on the swing seat for a second time and if I’m honest I didn’t hold out much hope for it. However, ‘The Comeback Kid’ is now the tallest of the three Pompom varieties I have and is a picture of health. I risked putting it back in the ground last weekend and so far so good.

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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: batten down the hatches (10 August 2019)

Just as the standard buddleia was finally starting to recover from previous blustery batterings this summer, along comes a perfectly timed storm to do yet more damage to the davidii. I’m hoping it’ll have toughened up a bit but we shall see. I’m also a bit worried about the Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ which was planted last month but has yet to be staked. And what about the fences? Will they still be standing come the evening?

Ah well. We’ll just have to wait and see how the garden fares. Knowing things were on the turn most of these photos were taken earlier in the week when the weather was more clement.

1. Cosmos ‘Fizzy’ has taken ages to get into the swing of things but now, finally, we have flowers. This one, growing in a pot with some Rudbeckia and dwarf Dahilas, is in fine fettle; bushy, tall and feathery rather than short and scratty like some of the others in the garden. I’ve had to keep an eye on the black fly though as they seem to have added this plant to their menu.

2. The Zinnia have also been slow to get going. Last year they were in full flower by mid July. Initially I thought this was down to planting most of them in the borders rather than in pots. However, those in pots have proved just as lackadaisical, some doing their usual trick of withering away for no obvious reason. Still, better late than never. I’ve tried a few varieties this year. Half the fun with Zinnia is watching how the flowers unfurl. This one (‘Whirligig’ mixed, free with the Garden News magazine) started off like this…

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… and now looks like this…

This one is ‘Sprite Mixed’, peeking from behind the garden bench, oddly untouched by slug or snail.

3. Miraculously, some of the Wilko Dahlias that were planted as tubers earlier in the year, have also seen off the slimy plant assassins of the night. Perhaps watering them with a garlic concoction actually worked. They’re a lot shorter than I thought they’d be but hey-ho. Like the Zinnia, it’s fun watching the unfurlage. This was one of the flowers last week…

And this is how it looked on Thursday…

4. Around this time last year I was surprised by the early appearance of the cyclamen. Well, they’ve taken me by surprise again.

5. Next up, an anonymous Allium. This is much smaller and paler than ‘Millennium’ which featured last week. Purchased several years ago, it originally grew in the front garden where it tended to get swamped by the other plants. Last Autumn I moved it to the back garden and it’s doing much better.

6. Hmm. It’s becoming apparent that most of my choices over the past few weeks have been of pinkish-purplish hue. Time to shake things up. Brace yourselves…

Some of the Wilko Minibel tomatoes finally ripened. I say some, it was actually just two. As you can see from this photo not many of the flowers have developed into fruit. They were picked soon after this photo was taken earlier in the week, chopped up with some yellow Tumbling Toms, sprinkled with salt, pepper and torn basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and served on toast. And rather delicious they were too.

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: plant purchases (3 August 2019)

My wife and I did our annual visit to the Taunton Flower Show yesterday. For two days at the beginning of August Vivary Park is taken over by stalls and marquees selling all manner of plants, tools, metal, wooden and glass sculptures and ornaments, ride-on-mowers, sheds, food and drink, garden furniture and hats. A marquee houses all manner of prize winning vegetables, flowers, cakes and strange crafty themed creations (we rarely agree with the judges and I mutter about the epic cake wastage). And marching bands, death defying bike acrobatics, falcons and sheep herding dogs entertain everyone in the Arena.

Visiting the Flower Show is always rather dangerous as it coincides with pay day and inevitably the odd plant or garden related item is acquired. By weird coincidence we came back with six purchases this time… though alas not the sempervium encrusted K-9. It wasn’t for sale.

1. First up is Aster frikartii ‘Jungfrau’. I’ve been intending to get an Aster for years now but for some reason just never got round to it. I don’t know where it’s going to go but I’m sure there’s space somewhere.

2. Next up is Agastache ‘Blackadder’, Blackaaaader, de dum de dum de duuum. While we were walking around the ‘Plant Village’ I kept an eye on which plants were popular with bees and hover flies. This one was covered with bumble bees. The leaves are supposed to have an aniseed scent though I’ve struggled to detect it. I don’t know where it’s going to go but I’m sure there’s space somewhere.

3. This rather lovely Allium ‘Millenium’ was a big hit with the local wildlife as soon as we got home. I don’t know where it’s going to go but I’m sure there’s space somewhere.

4. My wife spotted this one. It’s an alpine, Lewisia cotyledon Sunset. I don’t know where it’s going to go but I’m sure there’s space somewhere.

5. Now this plant seemed really popular with the honey bees. It’s Verbena hastata rosea. I’d never heard of it before and it’s very different to Verbena bonariensis form-wise with mini spires of beautiful pale pink flowers. What was that? No, I don’t know where it’s going to go but I’m sure there’s space somewhere.

6. And finally… Though I spend a lot of time cursing snails in the garden there is something oddly appealing about the way they look. I spotted this in the craft tent and decided it would be the perfect addition to the garden. What’s more I know exactly where it’s going to go!

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: Plant Envy (27 July 2019)

My mother-in-law was giving me a tour of her garden the other day, proudly showing me the former vegetable bed that she’s turned into a more manageable herbaceous border (though there are still a few broad bean and runner bean plants growing amongst them). I’d supplied quite a few of the annuals and perennials as seedlings earlier in the year and I couldn’t help but notice that they looked quite different to those growing in my own garden.

“These are the Dwarf Dahlia’s you gave me” she said, “There are some over there too.” I eyed them suspiciously. They looked much bigger than my lot. More flowers too. She must have bought some more established plants and forgotten, surely?

“Here are the Zinnias” she continued. Hmm. Bushy, unnibbled, flower covered Zinnias. And was that a yellow one? I’d never had a yellow one before.

“Now I can’t remember what these are.” I peered down at some lovely pale yellow flowers that looked vaguely familiar. Did I really give her these? Hang on, they’re Calendula. Crikey.

“And these are the Cosmos” she said, pointing at some tall specimens covered with blooms. But wait. That couldn’t be right. Weren’t they supposed to be spindly and sparse of flower?

It was no good, I had to know what her secret was. Why were her plants doing so much better than mine. Her answer?

“I’ve just been watering them every evening”.

I have a lot to learn. Anyway, onto my first SoS…

1. The Agapanthus has been a big disappointment this year. It had been growing in the ground for years but stubbornly refused to flower. Two years ago I dug it up and plonked it in a pot having read that they did better when their roots were slightly constricted. Last year it finally flowered. Remember this?

I thought I had it sussed. No more agapanthus aggravation. Well I was wrong. This year there’s not been a single bud. I’ve fed it and spoken to it nicely, but to no avail. I may try re-potting it with some new compost next month.

2. To add insult to injury I have an ill looking Ilex. This was a new purchase over the winter as I wanted to see how it compared to box which I always worry will get box blight or be attacked by box tree caterpillars. The Ilex Crenata ‘Dark Green’ was looking the picture of health a few weeks ago, putting on new growth, if rather slowly. Yet I failed to notice that the rain-flattened cornflowers had swamped it. Chopping back the cornflowers back a few days ago I was greeted with this sorry sight. I hope it recovers but at the moment it ain’t looking good.

3. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. So far all of the dwarf variety of dahlia grown from seed this year have been yellow. There’s nothing wrong with yellow. I’m a big fan of yellow. However, I was pleased to find this deep pink one growing away in a large pot with the annual Rhudbeckia and a cosmos.

4. The Phlox have exploded into flower. We started off with four a number of years ago, all planted in the same bed. But they’ve been split every so often and are now dotted all around the garden.

I think this one is my favourite. Alas I’ve no idea what any of them are any more.

However, the white variety seems prone to suckering and I find myself pulling it up every so often to keep it in check.

5. Talking of suckering, a few weeks ago I purchased a Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’. However, this is another new elder, Sambucus Nigra ‘Golden Tower’. I’m hoping the golden feathery foliage will provide a bit of privacy when we’re sat on the swing seat, replacing the small tree I accidentally did in last October. It’s supposed to remain compact and can be chopped back as required. However, when I mentioned my new acquisitions to my mother-in-law and a friend from work they immediately warned me of the evils of suckering. Worried, I’ve been doing some online research but as far as I can gather these ornamental varieties should be okay. I hope so, I don’t want this one escaping under the fence.

6. And finally… The majority of the foxgloves have gone over but two plants that’d I’d given up on, figuring they were going to bloom next year, have flowered stealthily without my noticing until now. The first is hidden near the garden bench and has slightly paler innards than the rest.

The second one is near the conservatory and was being enjoyed by a bee when I took this photo.

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: Rain (20 July 2019)

Finally, some of the wet stuff. Well, quite a bit of the wet stuff actually. Two water butts completely replenished and the third now half full… or half empty, depending on your outlook on such things. The rain has flattened the cornflowers and the slugs and snails are no doubt celebrating the downpours by having an all you can eat buffet, probably starting with the dahlias before moving onto the zinnias and finishing with a few strawberries for dessert. However, the garden certainly needed it. The lawn was beginning to look rather parched, the beds were bone dry and in an attempt to save on the old tap water for the pot plants I’d resorted to collecting our shower water with a bucket. However, a few plants have been thriving in the dry weather which leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. The annual Rudbeckias supplied as plants from that free nursery up in North Wales. They’ve survived neglect (I left them in their module tray for months, often forgetting to water them), the odd mishap (they were trod ) and since planting, a mini drought (which my lack of watering as seedlings no doubt prepared them for), but they’re looking rather well at the moment.

And the flowers last for weeks. I’m going to make enquiries regarding the variety and sow some of these myself next year.

2. Physostegia virginiana ‘Miss Manners’ next. I almost lost her last spring when she was swamped by the Sour Grapes penstemon. She was moved and survived but didn’t flower particularly well. This year Miss M’s putting on a much better show, sending up several spires of flower buds…

… that have just started to open.

3. As have those of the crocosmia Lucifer. I was rather ruthless with this in the spring, digging up all but a few plants as it was threatening to take over the bed. Still, I’m sure it’ll stage a comeback over the next year or two.

4. While I’ve had success controlling Lucifer (for now) the same can’t be said for the Jasmine. Despite hacking it back every year it grows back and rampages up, through and over the trellis fence on one side of the garden. I’ve never quite figured out whether it was planted on our side of the fence originally or the neighbours’. It’s great at providing privacy and the heady fragrance of the simple yet elegant white flowers is lovely in the evenings. But by ‘eck it’s a thug.

5. The Verbena bonariensis has been flowering away for a month or so now. It’s more prolific in the sunnier front garden but it has seeded itself around a bit in the back too. There’s no sign of the lollipop variety I purchased last year though which is a bit disappointing.

6. And finally… Brachycome Surdaisy Strawberry and Calibrachoa Calita Special Blue Star (two plant names I will never remember in a million years). These were bought a few months ago as cheap plants to add a bit of cheerful and surprisingly colour coordinated cheer to the new shelf near the side gate.

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 (13 July 2019): Tree worries

I was doing a bit of pottering in the garden on Tuesday evening when I overheard a conversation taking place in the driveway of the house behind us that immediately set alarm bells ringing. “What’s wrong with your fence?” asked one voice. “Oh, we think it’s their tree” came the reply. Stealthily tiptoeing back to the house (which is vaguely pointless on a gravel path) I began pondering just what was amiss with the fence. It seemed fine from our side.

The next day, after a troubled night’s sleep, I made my way to the back of the blue shed, knocking a stack of pots over in the process. Peering over the fence I saw for myself what was wrong. The base of the fence near the tree was bulging out about half a foot onto their driveway. Our plot is about 2 foot higher than the bottom half of the neighbour’s driveway that slopes down towards their house. At this spot the back of the garden has a small retaining wall built with breeze-block holding everything back. Had the roots of the allegedly 2m-by-2m-in-20-years-but-more-like-3m-by-3m-in-8-years Prunus cerasifera ‘Hessei’ broken through and caused the problen? Armed with trowel, and feeling rather apprehensive, I started to dig away in the strange 15cm wide channel/gap that runs between the back of our garden and the actual fence. The channel was full of soil, gravel, rubble, a broken Guinness glass, screws and a newt, but no tree roots. It soon became clear that it was the compacted detritus (good word ‘detritus’) that had caused the lower part of the fence to bow and not the tree… or the newt. We’ve chatted to the new neighbour, explained the problem and at some point the fence will be fixed.

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However, during my excavations I realised that the tree is rather close to the retaining wall and I wonder whether it might be sensible to chop the tree down, dig it up and start again, planting something smaller and more manageable. I can’t say I relish the job or the sudden lack of structure and privacy the tree’s removal will create (and the birds aren’t going to be too impressed ), but perhaps it would be for the best. The Prunus ‘Kojo-no-mai’ that was planted in the perfect spot last Autumn may find itself on the other side of the garden come October. Anyway, enough of such woes. Time for my first SoS…

1. The pink dandelions (Crepis rubra) have been flowering away for over a week now and they’re lovely. I wish I’d sown a few more. I gave a batch to my mum and hers have lush green dandelionesque foliage but for some reason mine have very little. I wonder if they’ve struggled a bit with the dry weather (we’ve not had any proper rain for several weeks now). I’ve dead-headed some of them in the hope that they’ll go on flowering.

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2. Continuing with pink, this is a scented climbing rose, originally given to us as an anonymous patio rose almost 10 years ago. I planted it in the ground in August 2012 when we moved here and it soon became apparent that this wasn’t a patio rose at all. Last year an SoSer suggested it could be New Dawn.

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3. Yellow now. This Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’ was grown from seed a few years ago and is still going strong. It’s proved easy to take a cutting from too (we’re talking plonk-a-bit-in-a-pot-and-away-it-grows easy… unless I got lucky).

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4. More yellow: a perennial Evening Primrose acquired from the old ancestral home in Wales. This is it’s second year and it has been flowering away for a month or so. In the evening, when the buds burst open, the fragrant flowers almost glow in the fading light. But their beauty is fleeting. Come early morning they still look good but as the day wears on they begin to fade. The plant is looking a little tired and scruffy now but I’m rather reluctant to cut it back when it’s still flowering.

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5. I grew a dwarf pale yellow Cosmos a few years ago but this is the first time I’ve grown Cosmos of non-short stature. This is a white one grown from a packet of free seed that came with a garden magazine. I pinched them all out as seedlings and it seems to have taken ages for them to flower. This is the only one to bloom so far. I’m also waiting for Cosmos ‘Fizzy’ to get its act together.

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6. And finally… The dwarf shrubby honeysuckle was a show last year. This year it looks a little odd. It’s having delusions of grandeur, sending out several large stems as though it were a climbing honeysuckle. Still, if these flower it’ll be much easier to appreciate their delicious scent.

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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 (6 July 2019)

I sat on the lawn the other evening, eyes closed, simply enjoying the warmth of the sun, inhaling the delicious scent of the mock orange that hung in the air and listening to the buzz of the bees and hoverflies on the nearby flowers. It was a moment of peace. Tranquillity. All cares forgotten just for a few minutes. I had found my inner zen… until the unmelodious racket of a scrawny young magpie shattered the peace and I began a hay fever induced sneezing fit having inhaled the pollen filled evening air a little too deeply.

I then began pondering what six gardeny things I could share for today’s Six on Saturday, and it was tough. Really tough. But after much deliberation the final six have been chosen…

1. Actually, there wasn’t much deliberating over the inclusion of this one. ‘Miss Belgium’ is flowering. She’s a compact variety that was purchased in the autumn of 2017. This is the first time she’s flowered and I’m rather taken with her.

I’m not sure whether her leaves are supposed to be tinged with red but it adds to her beauty. The flowers are gradually changing from a pale green to a fetching pink. It’ll be interesting to see how the colours continue to alter over the coming weeks and months.

2. The tomatoes are flowering away. Yellow Tumbling Toms and Minibel.

And look… tomatoes!

3. This Veronica has struggled for many a year under the big tree at the back of the garden. It would become straggly, floppy and was never much to look at. The bees liked it though.

I dug it up in the spring and moved it to the back of the bed by the curving path and it’s looking far happier.

4. I think Linaria ‘Fairy Lights’ might be one of my favourite hardy annuals at the moment. I grew it for the first time last year after my great aunt gave me a packet of seeds from a garden magazine. I sowed a few of the leftover seeds this spring but there are quite a few offspring from last year’s batch (though there’s no sign of any white and yellow varieties yet). They’re rather striking but also blend in rather nicely with their neighbours.

5. Now initially I was going to include a dahlia in my final six. But then I thought “nah”, the dahlias that have survived the slimy plant assassins of the night thus far will be flowering for months to come, there’s plenty of time to include them (I really hope I don’t come to regret this decision). So the Bishops of Llandaff and Aukland and the first of the flowering dwarf dahilas grown from seed (a yellow one) have been put on hold for now, although you can catch a glimpse of the old Bish of Llandaff in one of the Veronica photos and the little yellow one in my next choice: the carpet of Alyssum and Virginia Stock. It’s one of those happy accidents. The Alyssum was planned, the Virginia Stock was not, but I think the two work quite well together.

The Alyssum also looks good with this Viola.

6. And finally… A few Penstemons have been flowering away for a while now.

My favourite is Sour Grapes which lights up this part of the garden. It’s another favourite with the bees.

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.