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





21 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Plant Envy (27 July 2019)

  1. I have daughters who do your mother-in-law thing to me all the time. I try so hard not to feel sweet pea envy as it’s not very motherly BUT . . . aaaaargh! What kind is your agapanthus? Having failed for years to grow them in Wales (hardly surprising) I plumped for ‘Northern Star’, specially bred for cooler climes and it’s flowered a treat for eight years now in pots. Love the late foxgloves, they always add a touch of wild bee-magnet glamour, don’t they? Gorgeous phlox, very jealous as I’ve never been able to grow it. There we go again, more plant envy. Happy gardening! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy gardening to you too! It’s a blue agapanthus which I think came from a packet of mixed colours – as usual I failed to make a note of the variety. The snails appear to have left the phox alone this year – though they quite big plants. Suppose to be scented but I struggle to detect any frangrance.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That phlox is so yummy, especially the white. Felt your pain during the MIL story. Bad enough when you buy something that looks so fantastic in the catalogue but sulks in your own garden. How terrible to give plants away & not be able to recognise them! Blame it on the weather. Next year’ll be better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The white one is looking even better now, though all of their leaves tend to get a bit droopy in full sun. We need some more rain here. I considered asking for the plants back from my MIL – though I’m not sure whether it’s considered good form. Probably not.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dick Fulcher, who used to hold a National Collection of Agapanthus, would get apoplectic about the myth that Agapanthus do better when pot bound. Adequate water, adequate nutrition, good drainage and sun for most of the day seems to be the requirement. I’ve found that even if the lower part of the plant is shaded, as when it’s growing amongst other stuff, it can reduce flowering. Equally, I have one clump flowering well this year in almost complete shade so I think last year’s warmth was a fair sub for direct sun. I’ve grown Sambucus in the past and not been troubled by suckers; ‘Golden Tower’ is a new one to me, looks like a good’n.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heyjude has said the same thing about agapanthus. I think I’ll replace the compost and feed it more regularly next year. That’s encouraging to hear about the Sambucus.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s