Six on Saturday (13 May 2023)

It’s been a funny old week of triumphs and minor disasters. The triumphs? I managed to find room for two more 100 litre water butts in the garden, making a grand total six water-collecting vessels now, and just in time to make the most of the torrential rain we had this week. And on Friday I acquired a bargain Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ to help satisfy my current orange flowers thing. The minor disasters? When I was gleefully blasting the black aphids off the Sambucus with my water spray bottle (and getting a tad moist in the process as the wind was blowing in the wrong direction) the water-filled bottle fell off the nozzle and snapped a large stem off the Daphne beneath it.

On Wednesday evening, as dusk was falling, I went to close one of the sliding doors on the mini greenhouse after a successful search for slugs. What happened next is still a bit of a blur, but just as I started to pull the door shut I heard the sound of shattering glass and found myself staring, rather bemusedly, at a plastic door grip in my hand minus the glass. There had been a slight chip on the edge of the glass door for a year or so, but why it suddenly decided to disintegrate into a thousand pieces there and then I have no idea. I’ve taped up the gap with fleece for now, picked up as much of the glass as I can from the floor and surrounding gravel (my, what fun) and ordered a replacement door and handle. In the meantime, I’ve developed a mini-greenhouse-disintegrating-toughened-safety-glass phobia. Hmm, that’s turned into another overly long intro. Time for a brisk Six on Saturday…

1. Narcissus poeticus always takes me by surprise as it flowers so much later than the rest of the Narcissus/Narcissi/Narcissusses/Daffs (delete as appropriate). Despite all the rain of late, the slugs and snails have left most of them alone.

2. You may have noticed a few splotches of pink behind the Narcissus poeticus. Over the years the Red Campion has seeded itself around the garden a bit, mingling rather nicely with pretty much everything, including orange.

3. The flower buds of the Photinia × fraseri ‘Louise’ have opened, looking vaguely reminiscent of fluffy floral clouds against a blue sky.

4. Talking of fluffy, the powder blue flowers of the standard Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repens have opened.

5. As have the flowers of this Phlox subulata something-or-other. Unfortunately, they seem quite popular with the slimy plant assassins of the night.

6. And finally… Alliums of the ‘Purple Sensation’ variety. They’ve been dwindling in numbers over the years and I’d given up on them. However, they seem to have multiplied a bit this time which is a pleasant surprise.

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.


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 while 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 its 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 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 (7 May 2022)

It was tough choosing just six today. The garden appears to have moved up a gear, aided by some much needed rain earlier in the week, and everywhere you look there are seedlings popping up and petals unfurling. I’m hoping some of those plants that didn’t make the final cut today will still be going strong next week… if the slimy plant assassins of the night haven’t polished them off. The recent wet weather has provided the slugs and snails with an extra glide to their slide and they’ve been particularly partial to my first Six on Saturday…

1. Narcissus poeticus (or ‘Pheasant’s Eye’) adds some lovely, late flowering narcissi action in the garden. I thought I’d have plenty of time to feature these, but to my dismay a growing number have had their colourful cups nibbled to nothing. Ah well.

2. Fleeting yet fabulously fragrant flowers up next. The buds of the diminutive Korean Lilac that featured last week have now burst open, releasing their heady scent. It’s just a pity you can’t appreciate it digitally.

3. While I don’t give a second thought to wandering around the back garden, crouching down to take photos of this and that, I always feel horribly self-conscious doing the same out in the front garden. I tend to peer out the living room window to make sure nobody is around before venturing out with camera in hand. Yesterday evening, thinking the coast was clear, I opened the front door, spotted someone walking their dog and immediately panicked, quickly closing the door. I probably come across as decidedly odd/dodgy (delete as appropriate). Anyway, as soon as the dog walker had disappeared I rushed out and snapped these daisies with the silvery grey foliage.

4. Then, after a furtive glance over the hedge to make sure the coast was still clear, I decided to risk photographing the ‘Candy Stripe’ Phlox that grows at the end of the hedge next to the pavement. Out in the open, there wasn’t time to dawdle. Photos were taken quickly and thankfully one turned out non-blurry.

5. We’re back in the relative privacy of the back garden for SoS number 5. Do you remember the white Bleeding Heart from Wilko a few weeks ago? Well, it’s looking even better now. A red variety may well have been purchased last Saturday.

6. And finally… Most of the Tulips have gone over. However, ‘Mistress Mystic,’ a shade tolerant variety, was planted in some less sunny spots around the garden. I wasn’t sure about it initially, but it’s grown on me.

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 (7 August 2021)

I visited the Taunton Flower Show yesterday and although a far smaller affair than usual there were several plant stalls selling their tempting leafy-petally wares. However, while many of my Cosmos and Dahlias are languishing this year, I was determined not to make any purchases, trusting that my existing plants would pull through. Oh yes, I was going to turn over a new leaf by not acquiring anything in… err… leaf. I would be strong, steadfast in my resolve. I’d give plants an appreciative glance but say no thanks. If something caught my eye I’d just walk on by. If… What was that? Just get on with it and tell us what plants you bought? Okay, a white Cosmos, a little Allium, a sneaky fern (don’t tell my wife) and a lemon-yellow Coreopsis. But none of these feature in today’s Six on Saturday.

1. First up, Verbena hastata. A white one. I’m never sure whether I should chop them back to encourage a second flush or not. I might give it a go and see what happens.

2. I wanted to add quite a bit of white to the garden this year so instead of sowing the more colourful Antirrhinum ‘Circus Clowns’ I opted for this one instead (free with the Garden News Magazine). Over the past few summers many of the snapdragons have succumbed to a sort of rust. Thus far only one plant has developed it. Fingers are crossed it doesn’t spread to the others.

3. Next up, ‘Jackie in Yellow.’ Planted back in 2020, this is the first year this Verbascum of short stature has flowered. Whether it will reappear again next year I’m not entirely sure as it’s described as a short lived perennial.

4. Thankfully, there’s no such uncertainty when it comes to ‘Miss Manners.’ Purchased from Ford Abbey many moons ago, the Obedient plant comes up faithfully each spring. I always intend to get a pink variety but never do. Maybe next year.

5. Oh yes, more white. The leaves of this Phlox are prone to droopage during dry spells, something that hasn’t been an issue this summer. I must split it in the autumn and plant some elsewhere in the garden.

6. And finally… Some full on colour after all that white and pale yellow. Alec’s Red is enjoying a third flush of flowers. Big bold blooms with a big bold rosey fragrance and, being a standard, they’re at handy nose height too.

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 (31 July 2021)

Well, the heatwave seems like a distant memory. The garden certainly needed the rain but it could have done without the gusty winds of yesterday. However, everything is still standing, apart from a Verbena out the front that I need to prop up later today. The Zinnias and Dahlias are still doing okay, although the latter are dragging their roots rather; there’s not a sign of a flower bud on any of them. Despite the slugs and snails having an extra glide to their slide after all the rain, the Zs and Ds have remained largely unmunched thus far and I wonder whether that’s because they have been shunned in favour of my first Six on Saturday (if you have your sunglasses to hand you may want to put them on now…)

1. Nasturtiums! Orange ones. I’ve never grown Nasturtiums before but I’ll definitely be growing them again. This one is making its way up through the Sambucus. They were all plonked in pots with the tomatoes, which may have been slightly foolhardy as they seem vigorous enough without a weekly seaweed feed. Unlike the gourmet gastropods I’ve yet to sample the edible flowers or leaves. Talking of leaves…

2. Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ was planted in the spring to help brighten up a shady spot and it’s doing rather well. It’s produced the odd white flower but the foliage is the main attraction.

3. Next up is ‘Compassion,’ a climbing rose that was planted last summer. I’m a bit worried it’s going to be a tad too rampant for the spot I chose for it. The other week I made an effort to implement some order, adding wires to train it artfully around the corner of the shed towards the door. However, I fear getting inside will soon become tricky (not helped by the monster Montana that I’ve trained above the door). It looks rather pretty though.

4. As do the Phloxes. This one has been in bloom for a few weeks now.

5. Right, time for a plant that was deemed a bitter disappointment a year ago. Grown from seed, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’ took forever to flower back in 2020 and when one of them finally produced a solitary miserable looking bloom I wondered why I’d bothered. I thought I’d pulled them all up but apparently not. Left in a pot over the winter, they’re looking rather splendid at the moment, although my camera doesn’t quite capture the true colour of the petals. They’re a lot darker in reality.

In fact I’m so taken with them you’re getting two photos. And they’re not the only Rudbeckias to have survived the winter…

6. ‘Daisies Mixed’ has also made a comeback. These plucky plants, also sown from seed back in 2020, flowered all the way through to January before dying back. It would be great if they did the same again.

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 (15 May 2021)

Well, that was a wet week. The garden is certainly looking lush thanks to all the rain and milder temperatures, but some things have looked a tad soggy at times, including this gardener as he’s carried his seedlings outdoors in the mornings and brought them all back indoors in the evenings (having checked the bottoms of pots for sneaky slugs and snails). The juvenile plants have bore it rather well for the most part, except for a scabious that really hasn’t enjoyed it’s daily constitutionals. It’ll soon be time to start planting some of them out and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday.

1. Last year’s tomatoes were something of a disaster. They took forever to get going and by the time they’d finally started to produce fruit the summer was over and few tomatoes had a chance to ripen. This year is looking much more promising. I’m growing a cherry variety called Minibel. These small bushy plants shouldn’t require any support and will live outdoors in pots as soon as I’ve evicted the tulips.

2. As well as acquiring a few ‘Totally Tangerine’ Geums last year I also ended up with a ‘Scarlet Tempest.’ It’s been flowering for the best part of a month and is still going strong. On Wednesday I discovered I’d planted my two Totally Tangerine Geums right next to each other, so when this orange flushed red beauty wasn’t looking I dug it up and swapped it with the smaller TTG.

3. Each year I plant more of this fragrant Pheasant Eye. A late flowering Narcissus, it’s adding a nice dash of white to the garden. As these have opened I’ve been keeping an eye out for another white Narcissus that was planted in the autumn, Sinopel, but thus far I’ve only spotted one rather nibbled plant which is a bit disappointing.

4. Up next, a creeping Phlox. This variety never disappoints, although something has been nibbling on the flowers.

5. At some point I’m going to have to figure out where to plant this young climbing rose. I ended up with two accidental cuttings of New Dawn after I shoved two pruned offcuts into the ground back in 2019, not really expecting them to take. I gave one away last summer but this one has been kept for the garden.

6. And finally… something of a mystery but also a pleasant surprise. I grew some Hesperis from seed in 2019 and plonked them in the back garden where they bloomed the following year. Alas, they don’t appear to have produced any offspring out the back but somehow or other this one has appeared in the front garden.

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 (25 July 2020)

Fingers crossed a garden arch will be arriving next week. After the best part of a year umming and ahhing over whether there was room for one without impeding laundry drying (the whole garden is designed around the rotary washing line), if such a thing was necessary (it was), and whether I could find one one small enough to fit the only space available (hopefully it’ll be wide enough to walk through without turning sideways… although I didn’t factor in extra lockdown pounds) I finally ordered one last month. I have a sneaky suspicion the Dwarf Korean Lilac, the Mrs Bradshaw Geum and a few of the stepping stones may have to be moved slightly to accommodate it, but I’m hoping the rose tree I planted last November can stay where it is. We shall see. Anyway, it’s time for Six on Saturday.

1. Let’s start with another Phlox, a white one this time. I think I’m going to divide all of the Phlox plants come the autumn as they’re beginning to take over this border and, as lovely as they are, I’d like to create some space for other plants.

2. I don’t remember acquiring this Penstemon and yet here it is. It’s quite similar to Laura but more purple than pink. I assume I must have planted it last year and I’ll have a rummage through the shed later to see if I can find a label. Will I find it? I suspect not.

3. Next up we have a Physostegia virginiana (or an Obedient Plant) called ‘Miss Manners.’ She grows near the wildlife pond and every spring I nearly pull her up, mistaking her for a weed. It’s one of those plants that looks just as good in bud as it does in full flower.

4. In an attempt to create some breathing space for a Verbena hastata I decided to pull up a few stems of the Poulton’s Pride rhubarb. It’s a variety that can be eaten from February through to November. Planted last year it has only really started to get going this past month or so. The stems that were pulled up were used in a rather tasty rhubarb and sour cream cake and the Verbena now has some more space to do its thing. Win win.

5. Some more of the Cosmos grown from seed are starting to flower. This one might be Sensation Mixed… or it might be something else.

6. And finally… During the lockdown quite a few plants were purchased online. Most turned out to be great, some were ever so slightly disappointing size-wise and a few turned out to be disastrous. A quarter standard Minerva rose arrived at the start of May with shrivelled leaves and never recovered. It was formerly declared deceased last weekend and a refund was provided. Soon after the Minerva arrived I foolishly ordered a quarter standard Rosa ‘Friesia’ from the same company hoping I’d just been unlucky. The rose that arrived at the beginning of June was alive but looked like it had only just been grafted onto the stem. I didn’t dare remove the elastic band.

It’s doing well enough and has just produced some lovely highly fragrant yellow flowers, but the graft seems very precarious, so much so I’ve strapped it up. As soon as the rose finishes flowering I’ll chop the flowering stem back to try and encourage some more shoots lower down, plonking the cuttings in the ground in the hope that some will take. I haven’t committed to planting it 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 (18 July 2020)

Last Sunday I finally planted the Zinnias. Yes you heard correctly. After putting the task off for weeks they were finally set free from their pots to fend for themselves in the wilds of the borders. Thus far (I’ve not used ‘thus’ in a long while) one plant has been set upon by the slimy plant assassins of the night but the others are still doing okay… for now. Ever the optimist, I have a reserve batch, sown late last month, living on the swing seat. The swing seat usually serves as a sanctuary for particularly vulnerable plants, protecting them from the gourmet gastropods, but something has gone wrong. One pot of young Zinnias has been nibbled. I’ve checked on them both night and day, peering under and in pots, but I can’t find the blighters. There can be only one explanation. Slugs and snails can teleport. Ah well, time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up, another Phlox, the one referred to as ‘the Other Pink One.’ Subtle in hue it is not, unlike this next plant…

2. Advertised as a frost hardy Gardenia, ‘Crown Jewels’ was a rash purchase a few months ago (selecting the option to receive notifications of special offers from online plant suppliers was asking for trouble). It was the promise of “intensely fragrant” flowers that I found hard to resist and this one certainly hasn’t disappointed. My wife is less keen on the fragrance though.

3. I’ve sown a variety of Cosmos this year but as usual got them all mixed up when I planted them out in the garden. This might be ‘Gazebo Red’ or possibly ‘Sensation Mixed’. I was rather ruthless and pinched the flower off the top of a very spindly looking plant in the hope that it’ll bush out a bit. The yellow rose was a casualty from a bouquet of flowers.

4. Next up, a Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise.’ This was a new addition to the garden back in March. It’s a half standard to maximise planting space. Apparently the flowers will turn pink as time goes on.

5. The yellow Geum ‘Lady Stratheden’ has been flowering for a few months now. Another one of the same variety went to look decidedly deceased and was almost dug up and thrown away. However, it turned out to be only mostly dead and, as we all know, mostly dead is still slightly alive. I doubt it’ll flower this year though.

6. And finally… Regular readers may remember the tale of the Agapanthus. After failing to flower last year it has redeemed itself big time. I’m very tempted to try growing another variety.

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 (11 July 2020)

It’s all change come Monday. After working from home full time since the 19 March I’ll be heading back to the office next week. While it felt strange initially, I got used to this working from home lark. I’ll miss the regular supply of coffee, the radio playing in the background and the snacks. So many snacks. But most of all I’ll miss the view of the garden from my ‘office’ (the conservatory) and the comings and goings of the birds throughout the day.

Ah well. As I’ll no longer be able to do any emergency midday waterings of seedlings I’m going to plant out the remaining pots of this and that over the weekend, including (drum roll please) the Zinnias. I have a late sowing of the troublesome annuals in reserve in case the slugs and snails polish off the first batch. But as no rain is forecast for a while perhaps they’ll do okay. Here’s hoping anyway. Right, time for Six on Saturday…

1. I don’t have much luck with Clematis. They rarely thrive and, more often than not, tend to snuff it. However, undeterred my wife and I purchased this ‘Nubia’ the other weekend. I’m planning on growing it up an arch… when the arch arrives (another thing I’ll miss about working from home; being in for deliveries). It looks the picture of health at the moment, flowering away in its pot. Little does this Clematis know that its chances of a long and happy life are slim.

2. Another Phlox is in full bloom. I call it the ‘Pink One’, not to be confused with the ‘Other Pink One’ which is a slightly different shade of pink and which will no doubt feature next week. In the distance is a plant that I’ve been meaning to feature for a while now but I’ve kept substituting it for something else at the last minute.

3. Not this week. The Veronica has thrived since it was moved to this spot last year and has been flowering away for weeks. Popular with the bees, I’m tempted to get a smaller variety for elsewhere in the garden. The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the Jasmine. Despite a severe chopping back last November it’s as monstrously climby and twiny as ever.

4. I’ve grown a few varieties of Linaria from seed this year, including Linaria maroccana ‘Licilia Red.’ It’s rather nice.

5. This slender Penstemon is in full flower. I think it might be ‘Garnet.’ A new purchase last June, it survived the winter and I have a few more growing in pots that I propagated last Autumn.

6. And finally… Crepis rubra (Pink Dandelion). They’ve been in bloom for a few weeks now. Keen to extend the flowering period of these delicate pink beauties I tried a second late sowing of seed direct in the ground a few weeks ago. The seedlings popped up within days… and then vanished. I was puzzled initially but the other morning I watched a young blackbird throwing soil here there and everywhere in the very same spot I’d sown the late batch. Mystery solved.

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 (4 July 2020)

A quick Six on Saturday today without any preamble about accidental plant purchases (two clematis plug plants arrived earlier in the week), plant disasters (something has polished off one of the three Himalayan blue poppy seedlings), the ongoing has-he/hasn’t-he-planted-the-Zinnias-yet? saga (he hasn’t; they’re still living on the swing seat) or mutterings about the gloomy, damp and occasionally blustery weather of late (I really should have cut the lawn earlier in the week when I had the chance). Oh no, we’re straight into Six on Saturday this week…

1. First up, Rosa ‘Violet Cloud.’ This vigorous patio rose has been flowering for well over a month now. Once it starts it doesn’t tend to stop. Lightly fragrant, pretty and popular with the six-legged wingy things, it seems to just get on with things with the minimum of fuss.

2. I’m sure Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ flowers earlier each year. It was beginning to go a little wild so I dug up quite a few clumps last autumn in attempt to keep it under control. When it flowers I’m a huge fan. When it goes over I’m less keen. I was good this year and put in plants supports early on to prevent them flopping over.

3. Another plant that is prone to spreading, although in a far more stealthy way, is Phlox. There are several large clumps that have been split over the years and seedlings often appear nearby. I was pondering removing a few to create extra space for annuals, but like Lucifer, once they start flowering I have second thoughts. This is the first of the Phlox to flower this year. I always chicken out of trying the Chelsea Chop to stagger their blooms, although deadheading usually produces a second flush of flowers in August.

4. Next up, a thyme of some sort. Very popular with the bees and me. I may dabble in some propagation.

5. I spotted this Jacob’s Ladder when I was refilling a bird feeder. A self seeder, it does particularly well in shadier spots.

6. And finally… You may want to sit down for this one, I know I did. One of the delphiniums grown from seed last summer has survived to flowerhood. I think it might be the only one and there’s no sign of the plant purchased last year. ‘Tis a miracle.

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