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


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…)


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

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.


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?


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


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…


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


I forgot to remove it back in August 2012.


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.


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

And this was the view back then…


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