Six on Saturday (29 October 2022)

It has been unseasonably mild of late; positively balmy at times when the sun has shone. However, the clocks go back tonight and it’ll soon be November. Hardly a sensible time for my first Six on Saturday to think about blooming and yet here it is…

1. … a Delphinium requienii, on the cusp of flowerhood. I read about these in an SoS at the beginning of the year and decided to give them a go. Unlike regular Delphinums, which I never have much luck with, it’s glossy of leaf and slug resistant. I assumed it would bloom next summer (it’s classed as a biennial on a lot of websites) but these seem keen to give it a go now. I just hope the buds open before the first of the frosts.

2. Some plants have flowered all summer long, including Erysimum ‘Apricot Twist.’ Planted in the spring, I wasn’t sure about it initially, preferring the Siberian Wallflower, but I’m now a big fan. It also goes rather nicely with the blue shed.

3. The Zinnias growing in the south facing front garden have done really well this year, especially Zinnia ‘Jazzy Mixture.’ It’s featured quite a bit in my SoS’s over the past few months.

4. Another fantastically floriferous plant (adorned with a sleepy bee in this photo) is Alyssum which has formed a soft white blanket of honey-scented flowers in the patio border.

5. Now I must confess I’ve always been a bit anti-Mahonia. The flowers are lovely and fragrant, but I find the spikey leaves a bit strange proportion-wise for some reason. Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ won me over though with its pleasingly ferny and perfectly proportioned foliage. It’s just a pity the flowers (which are very popular with wasps, bees and ants) aren’t fragrant. Ah well.

6. And finally… a Chocolate Cosmos. Now in its second year, it struggled a bit during the heatwave and has only produced a few flowers. In the not too distant future it will get dug up and overwintered in the mini greenhouse.

They were my Six on Saturday, a meme originally started by The Propagator. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, head over to the blog of the current Six on Saturday host, Jim.

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Six on Saturday (3 September 2022)

Well, that’s August done. As an astronomical autumn kind of guy I can pretend it’s still summer for a few weeks yet (although when it comes to spring I’m meteorological all the way). I’m hoping for a final herbaceous hurrah before summer says ta-ta for another year but I’m setting my expectations low given the sorry state of some of the plants at the moment. Perhaps the rain that’s been forecast for the next few days will make a difference. We shall see. Anyway, time for my first Six on Saturday…

1. Acquired as ‘here’s some a nursery raised from seed earlier’ plants back in May, ‘Supersweet 100’ (the red lot) and ‘Sungold’ (the orange lot) are doing quite well. I may go down the ready grown tomato plants route again next year. It’s been far less faffy, if slightly less satisfying, than growing them from seed.

2. The pinkification of the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’ is well under way. Unfortunately, pretty much everything else in this border (the Hydrangea ‘Miss Belgium,’ Rosa ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent,’ most of the Japanese anemones, the Astrantias, Rosa ‘Violet Clouds,’ and Daphne x transatlantica ‘Pink Fragrance’) is also pink. When I bought ‘Vanille Fraise’ back in 2020 I thought its snowy white blooms would help break things up a bit. And they do. For a while. I just didn’t factor in the colour change later on. It is lovely though.

3. As is Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ which has just burst into flower and is proving a big hit with the bees. I find myself rubbing the fragrant foliage each time I walk by. It’s also mingling rather nicely with a neighbouring plant…

4. … a self-seeded orange California Poppy that is also proving popular with bewinged six-legged buzzy things.

5. Towering above the Caryopteris and the California poppy (and not blending with them in the slightest) is ‘Alec’s Red,’ a Rose that’s having a second or possibly third flush of flowers. A standard, the perfumed blooms are at perfect nose-height for a six footer.

6. And finally… Some of the Cosmos are wonderfully feathery of leaf but oddly flowerless. Whilst others are rather spindly of leaf yet oddly floriferous. Will I bother with them again next year? Probably.

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 visit the Tower of London (I’m spending a few days in the Big Smoke) but not before I’ve made the most of the all-you-can-eat continental breakfast. Anyone fancy a croissant?

Six on Saturday (20 August 2022)

Finally, some rain. You could almost hear the garden breathe a sigh of relief as it fell from the heavens, although I fear it came too late for Clematis ‘Freckles’ and several Phlox that have been burnt to a crisp. Anyway, after a rhyming Six on Saturday last week, it’s back to the old standard prose today, and we start with the ever changing flowers of a shrub that last featured at the end of July

1. The standardised Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise.’ I was afraid its blooms were going to change from white to crispy brown, skipping the pinkification stage altogether in the heat. Hopefully the rain and cooler temperatures have turned things around.

2. Lythrum or Purple Loosestrife (although it looks more pink to me) has been flowering for a month or so now. It was accidentally dug up and plonked in a pot with a Buddleia ‘Buzz’ a couple of years ago. Every spring I intend to untangle it from the Buddleia and plant it in a border but, for reasons unknown, I never get around to it. Luckily it doesn’t seem to mind.

3. Last month my wife spotted a hedgehog on the housing estate and a few weeks ago I spotted what looked like hedgehog droppings in the front garden. I’ve since cut a hole in the bottom of the side gate in the hope one may venture into the back garden. In the meantime I’ll have to make do with this Juncus ensifolius (‘Flying Hedghogs’) that grows in the mini pond.

4. Next up, Dahlia ‘Dark Angels Mixed,’ a ‘here’s one someone else grew earlier’ bargain purchase made last year after something of a Dahlia disaster. Dug up and overwintered in a pot, this dark leaved beauty has just started flowering.

5. Poor old Hibiscus ‘Marina Blue’ the Second (the sorry tale of its predecessor can be found here) really struggled in the heat despite getting watered on an almost daily basis. It was planted back in the ground in early spring (having spent the previous summer in a pot) and I suspect hasn’t had a chance to get settled in root-wise. Despite being rather sparse of leaf it has been flowering for a week or so now. Currently tied for first place with the Prunus Incisa Kojo-no-mai in the slowest growing shrub competition, it may actually need a spot of pruning next year.

6. And finally… The Zinnias out in the front garden have certainly perked up since the rain. Unfortunately so have the snails, and they’ve always had a particular fondness for Zinnias. I’ve been carrying out a snail patrol at 10pm for the past 4 nights, collecting a pot full of the beshelled slugs each time.

Now it’s quite possible I’m collecting the same snails each night. Apparently snails have homing tendencies and, soft hearted thing that I am, I’ve merely been chucking them on the green opposite the house. Given the speed with which they manage to climb out of the collecting pot I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to nip back across the road and into the garden within the space of an hour. Alas, this plant has started to look very nibbled of leaf.

Anyway, 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 (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 (12 June 2021)

It’s a fast-paced, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Six on Saturday today. Alas, there’s no time to show off my newly clipped box balls, share my continuing Black Lace Elder aphid woes or provide an update on the nesting robins (although they got down and jiggy with it the other day). Oh no, I’m curtailing the preambleage and cutting to the chase.

1. And we start with Aquilegia, After a slow start they’re finally up, up and away, including this yellow variety, grown from a packet of seed that came free with The Garden News magazine a few years ago. If flowers made a sound I reckon these would make a wooshing noise. They’re like floral shooting stars.

2. Back in the spring of 2020 I planted a packet of Ixia bulbs of various hues. None of them made an appearance come the summer and I’d presumed that was that. However, this solitary specimen has popped up. I’m not sure I’d bother with them again, but the bees seem to like the flowers.

3. Another week, another ‘Metallic Mixture’ Iris, a yellowy-pinkish-brown one. Alas, they’ve not been quite as mixed as the Thompson and Morgan illustration led me to believe.

I’m beginning to suspect there aren’t going to be any reds, lilacs and dark purples pictured below. The Irises that have flowered thus far (the yellow variety above and the blue lot from last week) aren’t even pictured. It’s ever so slightly disappointing but hey-ho.

4. Up next, a Rock Rose or Helianthemum that made a cameo appearance in last week’s SoS. It’s another one of those plants acquired from the free nursery up in North Wales, with ruffled, crepe paper petals of red and yellow iridescenciness.

5. The almost metallic looking flowers of Allium Christophii have gradually been opening up in the back garden. They’re a new batch planted last November to replace those that have disappeared over the years. Fingers are crossed that these will gradually spread.

6. And finally…. the big blowsy fragrant flowers of ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent.’ A standard rose, this is her second year in the garden and so far she has remained black spot and aphid free.

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: 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 (1 June 2019)

Tomato plants should come with a health warning. Oh they look all innocent enough in their little pots, waiting to be planted outside in big pots where, hopefully, they’ll spend the rest of their days flowering and producing tomatoes. But over the past week I’ve become rather wary of them. Last Monday, when I was removing the first young tomato plant from it’s pot, I felt a sharp pin-prick type sensation on my finger. Puzzled I looked down and found a bee on the root ball. We looked at one another for a while, both a little baffled, before I gently placed it on the lilac. After seeking out a bit of sympathy from her indoors (I felt my first ever bee sting was worthy of some fuss) I carried on where I’d left off and planted all but one plant which I’d promised someone at work.

On Wednesday morning before heading off to work, I nipped outside to collect the aforementioned tomato plant, casually bending over to pick it up. While I was straightening up I felt a slight twinge but didn’t give it another thought. But as the day wore on the twinge became less twingey and more oooh-ee, by evening rather aaargh-ee and by the middle of the night decidedly oooh-aaaarah-ee (though slightly less yokelly sounding). My back is still giving me some grief but keeping active seems to help ease the pain so there’ll be a bit of light gardening over the weekend, even if it is only squishing aphids. And that leads me to my first SoS…

1. Oh yes, ’tis lupins again! A few of them are flowering away nicely now, though it’s a constant battle keeping on top of the sap sucking pale green aphids that enjoy them so much. Yet they seem less of a problem when compared to the sap sucking black aphids that are appearing everywhere; on the garlic, the chives, the philadelphus, red campion and dahlias… But back to the lupins. Some of them are actually looking rather well.

However, is it wrong to feel a little dismayed that so far the only lupins that have made it to flowerhood are all purple? Don’t get me wrong, I like purple. Very much. Still, I’d have quite liked the odd yellow or pink one. That’s the problem with a packet of mixed seed, you never know what colours you’re going to end up with. I also have a suspicion that the one below might actually be a cutting I took from the more sturdy Persian Slipper variety rather than one grown from seed.

2. Next up, a mystery plant. I think my wife spotted this at the East Lambrook nursery section last year but I can’t find a label. Does anybody recognise it?

Here’s a close up.

3. The pyracantha is looking rather ropey at the moment. Some of the flowers are fine.

But others are not.

It tends to look a little sickly during the winter but usually perks up at this time of year. I’ve started watering it each evening in case it’s down to a lack of rain (it grows right up against the fence) but in the back of my mind I’m thinking fireblight. I hope not.

4. These metallic looking spiky alliums appear to have benefited from mulching as they’re much taller than they’ve been in previous years. I really need to add some later flowering varieties to the garden.

5. Back in 2013 I purchased one meagre looking ox-eye daisy. These days I spend a fair amount of time pulling it up from here there and everywhere. I don’t regret introducing it to the garden though. The flowers are lovely and the insects like them. I only wish they’d stand up straight and unsupported as they do when you see them in meadows and on verges.

6. And finally… A geum. Mrs Bradshaw. We have two and they’re doing well this year, adding a splash of red around the place along with some poppies.

She looks rather nice next to the orange perennial wallflowers that are still going strong weeks after they first started flowering.

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.