Six on Saturday (7 November 2020)

The first frost of the autumn finally struck the garden yesterday, finishing off the Dahlias and one or two of the annuals. I’m kind of relieved. I can finally start chopping back some plants and pulling up others to create space for bulbs, something I couldn’t bring myself to do while there were still flowers to enjoy. However, I’m going to have to wait a little longer to remove my first Six on Saturday…

1. The Cosmos in the front garden escaped Friday’s frost completely unscathed. They’re still providing nectar for the odd insect visitor or two so I’ll leave them bee… I mean be… for now.

2. For some reason I’ve never made much of an effort bulbwise in the front garden, something I plan to rectify this autumn. As soon as the Cosmos finish flowering I’ll be planting some of these Dutch Iris in their spot.

3. Next up, Jasmine Chopdown 2.0. Two weekends ago I made a start on chopping back the tangled trellis-covering climber but I gave up when I got to this section.

Last Sunday I resumed where I left off. It’s always the worst bit, but I don’t think the Jasmine is solely to blame as there’s an equally rampant pink flowered climber growing here that the bees love. I have no idea what it is and I must include it in a Six on Saturday next year to see if anyone can identify it.

4. The Sedum growing next to the blue shed is looking rather impressive at the moment. It’s got surprisingly big over the years, almost shrub like, and helps provide some structure to the border throughout the summer and winter. It’ll get chopped back come the spring.

5. The other side of the blue shed isn’t quite so picturesque. It’s where I hide the bags of compost and empty pots. If I go missing my wife has instructions to check down here as I frequently trip over this and that when trying to retrieve pots or get to the water butt.

6. And finally… I wasn’t sure this Wilko pom-pom Dahlia was going to flower this year but it managed to produce a solitary bloom before the frost struck. This photo was taken on Thursday. Less globe-like and a paler pink than the other pom-pom Dahlia that featured a few weeks ago, I think it was worth the wait. Alas, it is no more.

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. Stay safe.

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Six on Saturday (31 October 2020)

Remember that list of gardening chores from last week’s Six on Saturday? Well, I actually accomplished a few of them. I know, I know. I was surprised too. But more on that later. Last Saturday was a complete washout (and today isn’t looking very promising either) but I did manage to make a plant purchase before the heavens opened and that leads me to my first SoS…

1. This is a fragrant perennial Viola that was spotted whilst passing the stall of ‘The Plant Man’ in town. The flowers are larger than your usual Viola; almost Pansy-like. The label says it’s ‘Rebecca’ but after a bit of internetting I reckon it’s ‘Etain.’ I’m going to attempt to take some cuttings.

Viola ‘Etain’

2. The Harlow Carr standard rose is having an enthusiastic final flush of flowers. It was planted near the patio last November, the perfect spot at the time. But this summer I added an arch and all of a sudden the rose looked out of place. I was originally planning on moving it next month, once it had finished flowering, but when Sunday dawned surprisingly bright and dryish I decided to relocate the rose there and then.

A photo of Rosa ‘Harlow Carr’ taken just before it was moved

I soon regretted my decision as the spot I’d decided to move the rose to (near the garden bench) turned out to have a great big lump of cement and rubble lurking a mere 4 inches below the soil. The pickaxe was deployed and, after a fair bit of muttering, a hole was dug. The rose was extracted relatively easily but removing the blasted stake that had caused me so much grief last year resulted in more muttering. Fingers crossed ‘Harlow Carr’ survives the move.

The new Bay tree (with the relocated Rose in the distance)

3. Another reason for moving the rose earlier than planned was the arrival of a standard Bay tree. I’m hoping this won’t turn out to be a foolish purchase as supposedly they’re not fully hardy below -5°C. However, I’ve read they’re tougher when planted in the ground and I have some fleece on standby should temperatures plummet. In theory the evergreen will provide a bit of patio privacy once it fills out. I’d originally planned to get a self-fertile holly but a free supply of bay leaves for soup and stews proved too tempting.

4. On Sunday afternoon I decided to tackle the Jasmine. I started by the swing seat and got as far as the bird box which had been lost amongst the foliage of the rampant climber. I’m never sure how much I can chop off on the neighbour’s side of the fence; I must read up on Jasmine pruning etiquette.

Chopping back the Jasmine

I gave up when I got to the section where the Jasmine merges with a thorny climbing rose and the Pyracantha. Alas, I don’t think I’ll be completing the job this weekend.

Yet-to-be-chopped-back Jasmine

5. Two varieties of Rudbeckia were sown from seed in the spring. This one is ‘Daisies Mixed.’ The other one, ‘Cherry Brandy,’ has only just started to develop flower buds and I’m not very hopeful they’ll open. We shall see.

6. And finally… Another Viola which will provide some floral cheer during the winter.

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 brave the wind and the rain to retrieve a couple of empty pots that have been blown down the garden. Stay safe.

Six on Saturday (7 March 2020)

Despite the wind and rain last weekend I managed to nip out into the garden in-between showers and make a start on tidying up this and that. The faded flowers of the hydrangea ‘Miss Belgium’ were snipped off and some cuttings of the Verbena bonariensis and the zombie Prunus cerasifera ‘Hessei’ were taken. I potted up some newly acquired pompom dahlia tubers from Wilko just in case those I left in the ground over winter have rotted away (after all this rain I fear the worst) and I chopped back the Phlox, Buddleia ‘Buzz’ and the Hylo-telly… the Hylo-telephony… um, the name’s on the tip of my tongue… Nope, it’s gone; I chopped back the Sedums.

It was a start, but there are no end of weeds that need pulling up, foxgloves and forget-me-nots to reposition and seeds to start sowing. I was hopeful the garden was going to dry out a bit during the week as Monday and Tuesday were bright and sunny. Alas, the rest of the week was wet (though thankfully not windy) and it looks like I might be dodging showers again this weekend. Ah, well, there’s still plenty of time to get things started and, as the evenings get ever lighter, I’ll soon be able to undertake some after-work gardening, weather permitting. Anyway, enough woe-is-meing. Time for my first Six on Saturday.

1. This lupin is looking remarkably healthy and suspiciously unnibbled. It’s strangely unnerving. I can only assume the slimy plant assassins of the night are just biding their time, toying with me, lulling me into a false sense of all-will-be-well-with-the-lupins-afterall security before making their move.

2. The newly unfurling leaves of the Sambucus nigra Golden Tower, a new addition to the garden last year, were looking good in the sunshine earlier in the week. They look a bit like mini rhubarb at the moment and it’s hard to imagine they’ll eventually turn a yellowy green.

3. The Hyacinths have begun to open. This one, near the small wildlife pond, is growing on a slightly raised bed making it easier to appreciate the heady fragrance.

4. My parents purchased this Trachelospermum jasminoides for the garden when they visited last summer. My wife has always wanted one but it’s taken me this long to figure out where to plant it. I’ve settled on the sunny back bed near the patio. I’m hoping in time it will replace the increasingly shabby looking bamboo screen that was here when we bought the house. The drystone/rubble wall behind it is mostly comprised of the mortary bits chipped off the bottoms of paving stones that have been taken up over the years to create more planting space. They look better from a distance.

5. I’m hoping the Trachelospermum will release its wafty scent when I’m sitting on the patio come the summer. In the meantime I’ve been enjoying the fragrance of the nearby Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’ (which has a paler yellow flower and a greyer leaf than the Coronilla by the front door). It’s been blooming since the end of December and is still going strong.

6. And finally… Throughout spring and early summer last year I waited patiently for a twiggy, leafless Hibiscus that I planted in February 2019 to spring to life. Alas, it never did (the full tale of woe can be found here) and a replacement was received and eventually flowered. Having resigned myself for a long wait to see if this one had made it through the winter (apparently they can be notoriously late to come into leaf) I was amazed to see this tiny bit of green so early on in the year. I’m well chuffed.

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 (7 December 2019)

Well that’s it, the garden has finally been put to bed for the winter. The swing seat has been covered up, the borders have been tucked up all nice and warm with a mulch of well rotted manure and a blanket of fallen leaves, and that last big job that I’d been putting off for ages, has finally been completed…

1. Oh yes! Last Sunday the Jasmine received its annual chop. In a few hours it went from this…



To this…



The sun even came out just as I finished the job and I’m sure I heard a choir singing “Hallelujah.”



For all its benefits (nice foliage, beautifully scented flowers and the privacy it provides along the trellis fence) the Jasmine is a thug. This stem was running along the length of the border



putting down roots wherever it touched soil.



2. The Cyclamen have spread themselves around the garden in a far more civilised manner. They stopped flowering a while ago but this has allowed their foliage to take centre stage.




4. Now apparently my next SoS is on a list of invasive non-native species, although so far this one seems to have behaved itself. Cotoneaster horizontalis, a plant acquired from the old ancestral home up in North Wales a few years ago, is fast loosing its leaves. Yet even without foliage the structure of the plant remains interesting.




5. Some more autumnal colour up next, Poulton’s Pride Rhubarb. This was a new addition to the garden in the spring. We’ve resisted picking any stalks over the summer, allowing it to get established. Compared to my mother-in-law’s two plants it looks a little puny. I suspect it needs more space.



6. And finally… You have no idea how glad I am to get to my sixth SoS. For some reason WordPress has switched to something called ‘Block Editor’ and typing this blog has been hellish. The rest of the weekend will be spent trying to switch it back to ‘Classic Editor’. I will try to maintain some sort of inner zen-like calm by picturing this new Viola (a new purchase last weekend). Wish me luck.



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: weekend weather woes (2 November 2019)

At this time of year you really are at the mercy of the weekend weather if you’re a full-time nine to fiver. It’s all very well having the odd day of dry weather during the week. That’s no good to me, stuck at work, indoors. If it’s wet and miserable at the weekend (as it has been most weekends) then you’re pretty much stuffed gardening-wise. Temperatures took quite a dip early on in the week, getting down to 0.2°C one morning, but the weather was bright and sunny. But now we’re back to mild, wet and blustery, just in time for the weekend. At this rate I’m never going to plant any of the Foxgloves, Sweet Williams or bulbs. On the plus side it does mean I don’t need to tackle my first SoS…

1. The Jasmine. I dread the annual chopping back of this rampant climber. It seems to be the most chorey of gardening chores. The longer I can put this task off the better. This photo was taken last Sunday. Despite the sun and blue sky the garden was sodden and cutting the lawns proved a bit of a challenge with the push mower.

2. The Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ has been in the ground a year now. It’s grown a little but I think it may be quite some time before it surpasses the height of the fence and starts to provide a bit of privacy. I must exercise patience.

Day by day the leaves are turning a lovely deep red. Last year I very nearly didn’t get a chance to capture its autumnal splendour as it shed most of its foliage rather suddenly. I’ve been more vigilant this year. The photo above was taken last Sunday and the one below on Friday.

3. The Sedums (possibly Autumn Joy) have also turned a rather nice red. They were covered with bees in late August, just as the flowers were beginning to open, and into September when the flowers took on a pinker hue.

This is how they look now (well, earlier on in the week when the sun was shining)…

4. The Foxgloves, Sweet Williams and a few other perennials have been sat outside for weeks now, waiting for me to get around to planting them. However, the September and October sowings are nicely tucked away in the mini greenhouse. This is Erodium manescavii, grown from some seed kindly provided by Jim. I must look up what it actually looks like fully grown and flowering.

The Linaria seedlings are also doing okay, though looking at this photo I think I need to turn them round in order to straighten them up a bit.

5. Next up… the obligatory Zinnia photo. I thought their days were numbered last week when the temperatures took a dip. But no, they’re still going.

6. As are my final SoS, the Cosmos. These are growing in the front garden and have been flowering away nicely despite my rather erratic dead-heading.

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 (7 July 2018)

Finally, we had some rain here in Somerset. The garden is still looking a little sorry for itself, and the front lawn is decidedly crispy underfoot. However, the wet stuff was welcomed with outstretched arms by this gardener who took the opportunity to plant out some young snapdragon and scabious plants, oblivious to his increasingly drenched state until his wife poked her head round the back door and enquired whether he was aware that it was raining. He looked up, gazed at her lovingly and replied…

Anyway, here are my Six on Saturday…

1. The Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ has now exploded into flower and is looking rather vibrant, though not quite as vibrant as this picture would seem to suggest. My phone struggled to accurately capture the flaming red, adding a rather yellowy luminescence to the petals. As usual they’re begining to fall over, despite support, but they do look rather impressive when you’re looking out from the conservatory.

2. This shrub form of honeysuckle is doing particularly well this year (it appeared to enjoy being dug up and placed in a pot when the builders came). It never gets much taller than a foot or two as it’s pruned back each spring. Unfortunately this means you have to bend down quite a bit to appreciate the scent, which I’m finding increasingly trickier to do as the years go by (I think I may need to take up yoga) but it’s worth it.

3. The Californian Poppy tends to do it’s own thing each year, seeding itself wherever it fancies. I prefer this yellow version so naturally the orange one is proving far more successful in its going forths and multiplings and my frequent attempts at sowing the red Californian Poppy have been a dismal failure every time. It’s rather perplexing. They can get a little big and unweildly after a while but they don’t seem to mind being chopped back hard. The flowers last several days in a bud vase, closing up in the evenings and opening up again in the morning which is strangely saitisfying.

4. When we moved here 6 years ago I think the Jasmine had only been in the garden a short time, presumably planted to weave itself through the top row of trellis that runs along the fence and provide a bit of privacy. It’s hard to determine whether it began on our side of the fence or the neighbours’ side, but it’s really taken off over the past year or so. If the back door is left open in the evening and there’s a gentle breeze, its wonderful scent can fill our living room at the front of the house.

5. Verbena bonariensis is one of my favourite plants. It seeds itself around the garden, it doesn’t take up much room, the bees and butterflies love it (we’ve even had the odd hummingbird hawkmoth drinking from its nectar rich flowers) and once it starts flowering it goes on flowering throughout the summer and well into the Autumn.

6. And finally, water butts. Two of them. It seemed a shame to be limited to just the one slim line water butt when there was the potential to fit another to double the amount of free water for the garden. Admittedly two slim line water butts probably take up the space of one normal size one and it’s a bit trickier for my wife to squeeze past with her bike, but they’ve already proved a great success. The rain we had last Sunday filled the first one and half filled the other. The sound of the rain water trickling into them was strangley exciting and when the new one started to fill up filming was required to capture the momentous occasion. Prepare to be awed (if you’re viewing this on a web browser)…

By Wednesday the new one had already been emptied (despite the rain the ground is still bone dry) but as luck would have it we had more of the sweet smelling wet stuff leaving us with two completely full water butts and a very happy gardener.

Want to join in the Six on Saturday posts but not sure how? Then visit the site of the chap who started it all over at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Six on Saturday (30 June 2018)

Last weekend was a full on decorating and clearing up frenzy after the builders finally finished and my Six on Saturday was put on hold while order was restored. Inside, chairs, tables, bureaus (well, just the one) and other odds and ends were put back in their rightful place. And outside, plants that had been dug up and plonked in pots for their own protection were returned to their beds, some having faired far better than others (a perennial honesty is looking extremely ropey, while a shrub honeysuckle has never looked healthier).

It seems wrong to complain about too much sun and blue sky, but there’s no doubt a lot of plants in the garden are suffering, particularly those in the front which get the sun throughout the day. Pots are being watered every evening but everything else has had to tough it out thus far (apart from an echinacea which, having been rescued from near mollusc munching oblivion last summer, was returned to the flower bed in the spring and is being slightly pampered). The climbing roses and jasmine on the trellis are thriving however and filling the garden with their heady scent in the evenings. There’s talk of rain on Sunday and fingers are crossed that we get some (and I suspect the slimy plant munching assassins of the night are hoping the same). Anyway, here are my Six on Saturday…

1. This Dahlia was grown from seed a few years ago now. There was a red dahlia (which I initially hoped this one would be) but a few of the tubers had rotted over the winter and it’s now evident that only the white one survived. Still, it is rather nice.

2. The sweet peas have started flowering. I always plant them in a pot next to the swing seat. This is Painted Lady and has a lovely scent.

3. The Crocosmia Lucifer has gone a little wild in the back garden and I’m afraid some of it is coming up in the autumn to make room for a new Daphne. However, when it isn’t toppling over, it is a show. It’s poised at the moment, ready to unleash a red flowery inferno that will last for a few weeks.

4. I’ve never had much luck with garden centre Scabious plants. They cost a fair bit and don’t seem to last many years. However, those grown from seed (and described as a hardy annual) are a bargain and have made it through a couple of Somerset winters, including the last one with all the snow.

They’ve proved easy to grow and I’ve sown some dark red and white ones this year. The petals are fascinating to look at up close when they start to open, and they flower continuously which is always a bonus.

5. Snapdragons are a personal favourite. As kids we were shown how they could be made to talk (or snap I guess) by squeezing the back of the flower. It still amuses me. They’re grown every year from seed. These seem to be self sown from last year’s batch and have a head start on those sown in April.

There was a beautiful deep crimson one growing in a crack between the drive and the house. Alas, it was trampled on by the builders!

6. And finally, we have some tomatoes forming, Tumbling Tom Red and Yellow. I’m a bit weird when it comes to tomatoes. I’m not a fan of their texture, but I love the cherry types. I usually grow Sweet Aperitif from seed, but I left it too late this year and also fancied smaller plants that didn’t require support (they’re always grown outside in pots). These tumblers were bought as plants. So far, so good. However, I’m a bit wary as to how they’ll taste as the last time I grew a tumbling variety they weren’t very sweet or juicy. There’s no point me worrying yet though as they’re a long way off ripening.

Want to join in the Six on Saturday posts but not sure how? Then visit the site of the chap who started it all over at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Six on Saturday (9 June 2018)

The garden is looking a little sorry for itself at the moment having suffered at the hands of one of the deadliest foes a garden can face. What was that? Slugs and snails? Oh yes, they’re still about and enjoying the phloxes. But no, not the slugs and snails. Aphids? Well, they’re wreaking havoc with the Philadelphus and attempting to set up home on the young lupin plants (which I’ve still not put in the ground yet). Pardon? The wood pigeon? Well yes, he’s snapped and flattened the pale pink Jacobs Ladder bought last year. No, this is a new foe and there have been plant casualties, sorrowful shakings of the head, sniffles (purely hayfever related) and… What was that? For goodness sake, get on with it and just tell us what deadly foe it is of which you speak? Oh, of course. Yes, sorry, tis the chocolate-hobnob-munching-and-endless-mugs-of-tea-drinking kind. Tis builders.

Very nice builders. Conscientious about their work too. And as a size 12 footed gardener I’ve inflicted the odd bit of accidental damage myself from time to time. But armed with scaffolding, ladders, guttering, power tools and steal toe capped boots, well, I guess the likelihood of the odd mishap is inevitable. Anticipating the worst, I dug up a few of the more vulnerable and prized plants that were most likely to be at risk, potting them up and moving them to a safer place. But the foxgloves, sweet williams and the buddleia that I’d grown as a standard have taken a bit of a bashing. And it’s only week one. Ah well.

Still, here are my Six on Saturday, and there’s a bit of a scented theme.

A perennial evening primrose grown from seed by one of my main suppliers of plants, my mum. The one she had was orange apparently, which this one most definitely isn’t. Still, the flowers glow in the evening light and the scent is lovely. They open in succession, but their beauty is quite fleeting as each flower only lasts a day or so.

A patio rose which reminds be a little of the dog rose. Again, a lovely scent, if you can crouch down far enough to sniff them. I have a label for it somewhere…

The Philadelphus Belle Etoile has had a troubled year so far. It was originally planted behind a hardy fuchsia (which was moved to another spot in the spring) but I hadn’t anticipated that in competing with the fuchsia (which gets surprisingly large despite being cut back each spring) the mock orange would get so tall and leggy. Covered with buds, I was reluctant to prune it back until after it flowered. Then the blackfly got to it. As there were too many to squash (I took my eye off the ball I’m afraid) I tried spraying them every day with a mixture of washing up liquid, water and thyme oil (which had worked on the green fly on the lupins) but this lot seemed more resistant and I gave up in the end.

It has still flowered but it looks a little sorry for itself from a distance. It has a lovely scent which always reminds me of my childhood as we had an orange blossom in the front garden. As soon as as it’s finished flowering the secateurs are coming out.

I have mixed feelings for this Jasminum humile ‘Revolutum’. It’s described as being highly fragrant but I’m not convinced it’s even slightly fragrant. My mum had one apparently and she did warn me that it would be a disappointment. I didn’t listen though, and she was quite right. I always hope I’ve misjudged it and nip out in the morning, afternoon and in the evening just in case it releases this highly fragrant scent at a specific magical time. But no. It does look good at the back of the garden though. Still, I’m tempted to replace it.

Now this is highly fragrant. Daphne x transatlantica (Eternal Fragrance). A heady scent which I think of as ‘flutey’ (don’t ask me why). And it flowers pretty much nonstop throughout much of the year. The flowers do well in a bud vase too, filling a room with its flutey scent.

And finally, another anonymous rose. This was a gift and was supposed to be a patio rose. However, it turned out to be a climber, and a lovely one at that.


Want to join in with the Six on Saturday posts but not sure how? Then take a gander at the site of the chap who started it all over at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com