Six on Saturday (6 August 2022)

Another week and still no rain. Actually, no. I tell a lie. We had the briefest and lightest of showers on Wednesday where the rain pretty much evaporated on impact and that was that. Buying new plants during this drought would be foolhardy given the amount of watering they’d need initially… and yet I still found myself returning from Taunton Flower Show yesterday afternoon with several new purchases. However, I’ll save those for next week’s Six on Saturday (oh the suspense). Today? Today we start with brown and crispy.

1. Now brown and crispy isn’t usually something you’re aiming for in a garden during the summer… unless you’re wanting to collect seeds. A few of these seedheads from Aquilegia ‘Yellow Shooting Stars’ have been plonked in an envelope and labelled. I really need to get a move on and sow the Sweet Williams and Foxgloves this weekend if I want them to flower next year.

2. For the first time ever I managed to successfully overwinter Agastache and Verbena hastata (they were dug up and placed in the mini greenhouse). However, those that were were replanted in the sunniest borders (including this ‘Black Adder’) have really struggled over the past three or four weeks, requiring watering on a regular basis to reverse leaf droopage. I have a feeling I should have replanted them much earlier in the year so that they could get more settled in root-wise. Ah well.

3. When we moved here 10 years ago I spent a few years getting shot of an orange variety of Crocosmia that was taking over the garden. I think it may have staged a sneaky come back (it certainly isn’t the other variety of orange Crocosmia ‘Ping-pong’ I introduced a few years ago). It is pretty though.

4. Another plant that has a tendency to run a little too rampant is Linaria vulgaris (common toadflax). First sown from a packet of seed around 6 to 7 years ago out in the front garden, it’s not faring too badly in these arid conditions. It’ll need a spot of ‘editing’ at some point.

5. The pinkification process of the flowers of ‘Miss Belgium’ is now complete. This Hydrangea has coped well with the dry spell, no doubt helped by its shady position.

6. And finally… Zinnia. There have been but two Zinnia casualties so far, yet they’ve been down to the heat rather than the slugs or snails for a change (one of the few benefits of all this dry weather I guess). With the exception of Zinnia elegans ‘Envy’ (the green one) these are Zinnia haageana ‘Jazzy Mixture.’ They’re shorter, bushier and, for the second year running, far more slug and snail resistant than other varieties.

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: garden therapy (30 July 2022)

Thank goodness for the garden. A place to retreat and sigh a contented ‘aaaaaah’ after the nine to five stuff has gotten a little too ‘aaaaragh.’ A little patch of green (well, greenish and crispy brown at present) to forget your troubles for a moment and switch off. The resident wildlife has also provided some uplifting moments this week. My wife discovered a young frog that had somehow made it’s way into the conservatory. It raised a chuckle and some brief concern when we discovered it’s leg had got tangled in some fluff and cotton (we really must hoover under the bureau more often). Thankfully it all ended well and ‘Froggy’ (my wife’s choice as she formed a bit of a bond with him) was released back into the wildlife border.

And I discovered a young toad, ‘Ted’ (my choice), late one evening outside the back door. It was a moment of great excitement as I didn’t know there were any around here. It was too dark to take a photo so here’s an ancient biro sketch of a toad (made in 1996) that I knew would come in handy one day. Alas, we’ve still not had any proper rain, although the forecast is looking promising for tomorrow (fingers crossed). Some plants are coping well with the dry weather, others not so much, and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday.

1. A Phlox. A white one. The leaves get alarmingly droopy at times but thankfully recover fast after an emergency watering session. Supposedly fragrant but I beg to differ.

2. Sticking with Phlox, here’s another one, growing up through the foliage of the Sambucus nigra ‘Golden Tower.’ Also scentless but rather pretty.

3. Weirdly, the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise,’ usually the first to wilt during a prolonged dry spell, has fared much better than in previous years. The flowers are developing nicely.

4. Alas, the foliage of the Sweet Peas is looking suspiciously mildewy in places, no doubt due to the heat. Thankfully they are still flowering away. They’ve been grown in large pots this summer and trained up the sides of the new swing seat so that their fragrance can be enjoyed whilst gently swaying back and forth.

5. Most of the Cosmos are still alive (a huge improvement over last year), including ‘Antiquity.’ Its flowers fade with time, producing a variety of shades of burgundy and pink on the same plant.

6. And finally… Agapanthus, looking a bit dark and moody in yesterday’s evening light. This plant (known as Aggie) has developed a predictable pattern: it flowers every other year. It first bloomed in 2018 after a mere wait of 5 years. In 2019 there wasn’t a bud in sight. 2020, flowers aplenty. 2021, nada. I suspect you won’t seen Aggie again until 2024.

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. Right, I’m off to look up a support line telephone number to help me come to terms with the end of Neighbours (Take That fans like my sister got one I seem to remember back in 1990s when they split up). Teatimes are never going to be the same again.

Six on Saturday (23 July 2022)

Oh for some rain. Some proper, water butt replenishing, soil moisture deficit correcting, Gene Kelly song-and-dance-number-inspiring rain. Despite a few minutes of drizzle Friday afternoon, there was no sign of the MET Office ‘yellow warning’ thunder storms. Over the past few weeks three and three-quarter water butts have been emptied (I’m trying to eek out what remains of the fourth and final one to top up the mini pond for the frogs and newts) and bucketing has commenced in an attempt to minimise mains water use. Note to self: take note of last year’s note to self and actually cut down on pots next year.

Arriving back from North Wales on Tuesday I was relieved to discover that most of the newly planted Cosmos and Zinnias had survived the heatwave. However, the Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ was decidedly crisp of leaf and the Hibiscus that was plonked back in the ground in early spring (having spent the previous summer in a pot) didn’t look too clever either. Fingers crossed we get some plant-reviving precipitation sooner rather than later. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up: tomatoes. I didn’t bother growing any from seed this year, buying plants instead. This one is ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow.’ Truth be told they’re a bit tough skin-wise and I won’t bother with them next year. I’m hoping the other two varieties I’ve planted in the same pot will be tastier.

2. Back for a second year, these ‘Drumstick’ Alliums are proving popular with the bees. If someone could remind me to plant some more in the autumn it would be much appreciated.

3. Also proving popular with the bees is ‘Miss Manners,’ Physostegia virginiana (the Obedient Plant). I really should try propagating it.

4. Next up, Sidalcea ‘Party Girl’ (Prairie mallow). A bit like a diminutive Hollyhock, I’ve decided to look up what other varieties are available as they’ve coped with the recent heat rather well.

5. Alas, none of the annual Rudbeckia from 2020 survived a second winter (I must have got lucky last year). However, a new batch (‘Gloriosa Daisies’) are just getting going. Expect to see more photos of these over the coming months… if they survive.

6. And finally… Way back in the spring of 2020 I sowed some Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children.’ They didn’t flower that year, nor the year after that (although in fairness most of my Dahlias were a complete disaster last summer) and one assumed one had got shot of them all. Apparently not. Potentially siblingless, this one may get pampered.

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 (16 July 2022)

Mrs OMAHGT and I will be heading up to North Wales this weekend to visit my parents’ new house for the first time. While it’ll feel a bit odd not wandering around the garden of the former old ancestral home, placing orders for this and that, I hear they’ve already taken up some of the lawn at their new residence and I suspect it may well become a handy free plant nursery in time.

In preparation for this far flung journeying I’ve spent the past few days frantically planting my seed-sown annuals, setting aside a few for my parents’ new garden. I’m hoping these straggly youngsters will stand a better chance in the ground than in pots during this heatwave. I’ll find out if this was a wise course of action when I return. Still, it felt strangely liberating cramming things in here and there and leaving them to fend for themselves, even my first Six on Saturday…

1. The Zinnias. Photographed whilst still living in relative safety on the swing seat, this may be the first and only shot of a flowering Zinnia I take this summer. If the heat doesn’t do them in then the slugs and snails probably will. Having said that, perhaps the heat will keep the slimy plant assassins at bay.

2. Last year Hydrangea ‘Miss Belgium’ put on a surprising amount of growth. Too much really. She was severely chopped in the spring and as a result is rather sparse of blooms at the moment. The few flowers it has are at that stage I like most: lime green and on the cusp of pinkification (a technical term).

3. Talking of pink, I feared my Penstemon ‘Laura’ plants had vanished and purchased a new one a few weeks ago. I’ve since discovered that the original plant, as well as some grown from cuttings, have in fact survived. Ah well.

4. As well as planting out the Zinnias I’ve also been plonking the rest of the Cosmos into the borders. I have a feeling this is ‘Sensation.’ Fingers crossed they fill out a bit over the next few weeks and that flowerage continues. What was that? Yes, I’m really going for it with the made up words today.

5. Next up, Argyranthemum ‘Molimba Pink.’ Two of these were purchased from the bargain plant stall in town. Alas, one has been set upon by slugs and snails (a common theme this year) and yet I’m still tempted to get some more.

6. And finally… a Dahlia that has made it to flowerhood. Last year I’d decided Dahlias weren’t worth the hassle. Most of them got eaten, very few flowered and those that did were hardly what you’d call floriferous. This year they have all been planted in pots rather than in the borders. It appears to have been the right decision. Dahlia ‘Honka Fragile,’ a new acquisition back in 2021, barely did a thing last summer. This time round I’m hopeful it’ll produce more than just one or two flowers. The Agapanthus lurking in the background has also decided to up its game after producing zero flowers last summer. I suspect it may feature next time.

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 (9 July 2022)

A lightning paced, sneeze and you’ll miss it Six on Saturday today.

1. First up Crocosmia ‘Lucifer.’ I think this flowers earlier and earlier with each passing year; although I never check whether this is actually true. I’ve been half-heartedly pulling up the odd clump in an attempt to curtail it’s attempts at world domination, but when it flowers all is forgiven.

2. The Astilbes of short stature, ‘Rock and Roll,’ have returned, although one is looking a little ropey after getting swamped by the Forget-me-nots. I was never an Astilbe fan but this variety, with its red stems, has won me over. A groan inducing Astilbe joke can be found here.

3. After a slow start, Rosa ‘Minerva’ is off. It looks more pink than purple here, and all that rain a week or so ago has led to a bit of rose balling. It has a lovely rich fragrance though.

4. Another late bloomer, this is Digitalis ‘Elsey Kelsey.’ Sown from seed last year, I’d completely forgotten about her. I just wish a few more had made it to flowerhood.

5. Another Rose up next. I always have to look up my old online order to remind me what it’s called. I always want to go a bit Leia-insults-Han-Solo and call it Rosa Carpet ‘Nerf-herder.’ However, it is in fact Rosa Flower Carpet Ruby ‘Noafeuer.’ I was almost right.

6. And finally… Having vowed not to buy any more plants this year, and certainly not a Delphinium for the slugs, I ended up with a Delphinium grandifloum ‘Summer Blues’ last Saturday. I have a feeling I bought something similar a few years ago that never returned. But considering coffee and a slice of cake costs more than £3.50 it seemed madness not to get one.

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 (2 July 2022)

Back in December I mentioned that I’d been re-reading Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series about a young assistant pig keeper called Taran. I only recently discovered the author had compiled a companion book of short stories revisiting some of the characters, including Coll, the retired warrior-come-farmer/gardener.

After Coll rescues the white oracular pig Hen Wen, Dallben, the ancient enchanter, offers him a reward: a glimpse into his future from The Book of Three, a large leather-bound volume that sets down all that will come to pass.

Coll’s bald head turned pink and he pulled nervously at his ear, for he was a modest man and unused to such favors.

“Now then,” he answered, thinking hard, “I already know that spring will surely follow winter; and just as surely there will be sunlight and rain, good days and bad. And if I am to have any more such adventures – why, I would rather not know about them ahead of time. It is a great gift you offer me; but, thank you all the same, I have no need of it.”

“Think well,” said Dallben. “This chance will not be given to you again.”

“Wait!” cried Coll. “Yes, there is one matter I would know above all. Tell me, then, for it has been on my mind these many days: how shall my turnips fare this year?”

Dallben smiled. “To answer that, I need not open The Book of Three,” he replied. “They will thrive.” (from The Foundling and other tales of Prydain).

Now I’m not growing any turnips this year and I haven’t rescued any oracular pigs of late, but after something of a disaster with my pink dandelions last summer, I was curious to know how they’d fare this time round… What was that? Yes, you’re quite right. It was a rather long and tenuous literary link.

1. Sown from a packet of seed that was getting on a bit, the Crepis rubra has done much better this summer. I’ve planted them in the big pots with the sweet peas rather than in the ground this time and I’m wondering if the regular liquid seaweed feed that the sweet peas receive has helped. A bit of an understated beauty.

2. There’s nothing remotely understated about this flower though. This is one of a batch of Cosmos ‘Brightness Mixed’ grown from a packet of seed that came free with the Garden News magazine. A Cosmos of short stature with leaves and flowers that are almost Marigold like, I’ve had orangey red blooms and a yellow one so far. I’ll definitely be growing it again next year.

3. In theory this should either be Astrantia ‘Washfield,’ ‘Verona’ or ‘Venice.’ However, it doesn’t match any of the images featured on the J. Parker’s website. All three were purchased as bare roots back in early 2021 but this is the only one flowering at the moment. It’s growing in quite a shady spot but does a lack of sunlight affect the colours of Astrantia? Answers on a postcard please.

4. Next up is Orlaya grandiflora. Grown from seed harvested from a white lace flower last year, I now have half a dozen or so. They’re rather lovely and a good, compact umbellifer for a small garden. Popular with hoverflies too.

5. Growing in the border near the mini pond, this Viola is still looking cheerful despite being a little nibbled in places. The slugs and snails have been out in force after all the rain we’ve had this week.

6. And finally… a rampant climbing rose called Compassion. It got rather big, rather fast, last summer, resulting in the odd injury when entering the blue shed. I chopped it right back to the ground at the beginning of the year and feared I’d killed it. I needn’t have worried and I’m sure there will be more rose related injuries before long. Beautiful flowers though, with a wonderful fragrance.

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 (25 June 2022)

Why does a week off work always fly by compared to a regular working week? An overnight stay at Lyme Regis and a day trip to Minehead hasn’t left much time for gardening. However, I did make a start planting the annuals one evening. Any half-hearted plans for a sort of colour-themed planting scheme have gone straight out the window after realising I’d forgotten to label everything at the potting on stage. Still, the usual multicoloured mish-mash approach tends to work fine most of the time, even when it comes to orange…

1. Although, I’m not totally convinced my first Six on Saturday is all that orange. Rosa ‘Simply the Best’ (a bold claim and apologies if anyone ends up with that song in their head all day) looks more yellow in reality, especially compared to the orange California poppy that has self seeded nearby. This is its second summer and it has yet to thrive, in fact the lower leaves are succumbing to black spot. I can’t help thinking I should have gone for a more obviously orange variety. It’s nice enough, don’t get me wrong, and fragrant… just not quite as fragrant as on the online descriptions led me to believe.

2. From subtle yellowy-orange/orangey-yellow to Penstemon ‘Garnet.’ There were a few Penstemon casualties over the winter and I foolishly didn’t bother to take any cuttings last year. This one is doing well though (and hopefully distracting one’s gaze from the washing in the background). I’ll be doing a spot of ‘Garnet’ cloning soon.

3. Now let’s cool things down a bit with Anemone leveillei. At least that’s what it’s supposed to be, but the flowers are lacking the blue pollen and are more pointy of petal than those shown on the websites of plant purveyors.

4. Another Rose up next. I don’t think I included ‘New Dawn’ last year, rather taking it for granted. A healthy climber that doesn’t seem to suffer from black spot, ‘New Dawn’ is doing particularly well this summer.

5. As is this Lily. For the third year running there’s been neither hide nor hair of a lily beetle. Weird.

6. And finally… California poppies. First sown almost 10 years ago, these have seeded themselves around the garden ever since. Most end up orange but there are a few yellow varieties here and there. They can get a bit sprawly, swamping nearby plants, but they usually recover after a chop. The flowers last several days indoors in a vase, closing up in the evenings and unfurling each morning.

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 (18 June 2022)

Urrgh. I hate the heat, tending to wilt easily. Friday was sweltering (the garden thermometer registered 36 degrees Celsius in the sun at one point) and resulted in some mid-afternoon lucky-I-had-the-day-off-work emergency pot watering and a vow to plant out the long since hardened off young plants next week, including my first Six on Saturday… the Cosmos.

1. So far the Cosmos have done a lot better than they did last year… they’re all still alive for one thing. Fingers crossed they continue to fare okay once planted out in the wilds. I don’t hold out much hope for the Zinnias though.

2. Out in the south facing front garden, this Helianthemum lostthelabelus has been flowering for a few weeks now, its yellow, crêpe paper-like petals looking rather splendid.

3. Also looking rather splendid is the Philadelphus ‘Belle Étoile.’ Once prone to annual aphid attacks, it was banished to the back of a border (behind the dwarf Eucalyptus) a couple of years ago. It has thrived ever since. In fact it’s thriving a little too much and could do with a severe prune once it has finished flowering. On a hot day like yesterday the heady fragrance can be delightfully wafty.

4. Back in November I expanded the mini wildlife pond. It’s getting more sun than it used to and the blue Flag Iris (Iris Versicolor) has flowered more prolifically as a result. Unfortunately, it’s prone to toppling sideways as my ‘shelves’ for the marginal plants proved to be far too narrow and, err…. not very level. Some thick wire has since been deployed to moor the pot to the edge of the pond.

5. Now apparently Valerian officinalis was all the rage at Chelsea this year. Well, I’ve been growing it for years don’t you know, although I think I saw a much shorter variety featured on Gardeners’ World last month that I’m tempted to seek out. Alas, there were a few casualties the other evening (venturing daintily into borders to pull up weeds rarely ends well when you have size twelve feet), including a stem of one of the Valerian plants. However, it has been providing a rather pleasing fragrance indoors.

6. And finally… The garden has been visited by a few butterflies of late, including this Small Tortoiseshell. Sweet Williams appear to be a particular favourite of theirs, as does this one solitary Chive flower (I never have much luck growing regular Chives).

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 (11 June 2022)

It’s been a rather wet and occasionally blustery week and this fair weather gardener hasn’t done a great deal gardening-wise, other than ponder (from indoors) where he will plant all his annuals once the foliage of the spring bulbs has died back. However, while all this plant positioning ponderage has been going on, the slimy plant assassins of the night have been making merry in the rain, attacking the Dahlias that I’d foolishly assumed were far too established and tough to interest the gourmet gastropods. How I wish they could remain as unmunched and hassle free as this week’s Six on Saturday.

1. Take the Sweet Williams for example. They may get slightly nibbled over the winter when pickings are slim, but they’re left untouched the rest of the year.

2. And though the slimy ones often partake of the flowers of Primulas in spring, they seem to eschew those of the Candelabra variety. Hmm, I don’t think I’ve ever used the word eschew before.

3. Violas are also just getting on with it with minimal pampering (although their flowers were feasted upon over the winter). The one on the left may be the offspring of a batch that started off life in a pot a few winters ago before going free range in the beds. The one on the right is a perennial variety called ‘Etain,’ acquired in 2020 and recently stuffed in a pot with the sweet peas.

4. This Oxalis somethingorotherus is another one that just gets on with things. It came from my mother-in-law’s garden and although I sometimes hear warnings about Oxalis, this one seems reasonably well behaved, growing on the edge of the curvy path border.

5. Geraniums up next, both of which started off in the garden of the former Ancestral home up in North East Wales. They’re gradually getting split and spread around a bit, filling in the gaps rather nicely. It’s another ‘untouchable.’

6. And finally… described as an “excellent carpeter” (which I suspect means “keep your eye on it otherwise it will take over”), Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ has certainly spread since she was planted over a year ago but she’s looking rather splendid, brightening up a shady spot. I’ll chop her back after she’s finished and may try dividing her.

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 (4 June 2022)

A brisk Six on Saturday today as there’s studying to be done, a cake to purchase for the Jubilee celebrations on the green tomorrow (although it’s not looking all that promising weather-wise) and various hayfever remedies to swallow, inhale, attempt to eye-dropperer in and suck on.

1. First up, a Verbascum of short stature: ‘Jackie in Yellow.’ Purchased back in 2020, it’s doing really well this year and its diminutive proportions are proving perfect for a small garden.

2. Last year’s Sweet Bills were a big disappointment as barely any of them flowered for some reason. Thankfully, normal service has been resumed.

3. In 2020 I was a little too overzealous in the application of a homemade aphid-zapping soapy garlic spray, killing off much of the foliage and all of the flower buds of the Samubucus nigra ‘Golden Tower.’ In January 2021, after a few deep breaths and the consumption of a chocolate cherry liqueur for Dutch courage, the elder was chopped right down to the ground. Thankfully, it proved to be a quick grower and by the summer the ornamental Elder was towering over me once more. This is the first time it has flowered since it was planted in the summer of 2019.

4. Allium christophii fairs much better than ‘Purple Sensation’ in my garden, the latter having mostly vanished since they were planted a few autumns ago. As well as proving more reliable, the metallic flowers of christophii are also far less fleeting than those of ‘Purple Sensation.’

5. Next up, Aquilegia. The yellow one was grown from a packet of mixed seed several years ago (I call it ‘Yellow Shooting Stars’) and the other one (‘Bordeaux Barlow’ I think) was purchased online back in 2021.

6. And finally… some of the Dutch Iris ‘Metallic Mixture’ are still in bloom, including this quizzical one by the small pond. I suspect a few more will be planted at some point.

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.