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


Six on Saturday: a case of mistaken identity (1 February 2020)

The garden is sodden. The lawns squelch underfoot and the borders are well and truly saturated. Despite a frost earlier in the week most days have been wet and grey. But there are signs of life in the garden that are helping to dispel the gloom a little, cheerful reminders that spring is on the way. However, some signs of life were not welcomed with open arms earlier in the week and that leads me swiftly to my first Six on Saturday.

1. Wandering around the garden, peering at this and that, I stumbled across what I thought were aphids on the dwarf Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis (or Christmas Box). I was far from impressed and, after taking their picture (poorly I might add), finger and thumb were swiftly applied. However, after tweeting about my discovery some knowledgeable individuals identified them as Globular Springtails (possibly Allacma fusca) and in theory harmless to plants. I felt rather guilty.

2. And my gardener’s guilt increased upon discovering these bulbs. They were unearthed after digging up the old tree back in November and I’d set them aside for replanting. Only I completely forgot about them. They don’t seem to have minded too much though and they’ve since been plonked in the bed near the back door. I’m not sure what they are. Possibly bluebells.

3. Next up, an emerging lupin. It looks like it’s already been nibbled on and to be honest I don’t care. As lovely as lupins are I find them far too needy. I have three or so that I grew from seed a few years ago. They flowered for the first time last year but required daily aphid squishing (big green blighters and definitely not springtails). Will I remain as hard-hearted if the lupins survive the slugs and snails, flower buds form and the sap suckers arrive? Nope, I suspect I’ll come running to their aid, just as I did before.

4. The Viburnum (possibly farreri) is also showing signs of leafy life. There’s something very pleasing about its newly emerging foliage.

5. Alas, the decidedly munched petals of this Iris reticulata aren’t quite so pleasing. Some more are opening nearby so hopefully I’ll get to photograph one before the slimy ones get to it.

6. And finally… The scented pea-like flowers of the Coronilla valentina subsp glauca are adding some much needed yellow cheer in the front garden. This one seems prone to windrock and after a few years the branches tend to give way at the base. I risked pruning it right back to the ground in 2018 and it recovered well. I may need to do the same again come April when it finally finishes 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

Six on Saturday (5 October 2019)

I’m bored of blustery wet weather. There have been brief spells of fleeting sunshine, but more often than not the skies have been grey and prone to precipitation. The slugs and snails have been having a field day, which leads me to my first SoS.

1. Zinnia. Pink ones. The flowers of some varieties seem to last for ages, forming cone-like centres adorned with halos of yellow stars. I thought most of them had outgrown the slimy menaces of the garden, but I’ve noticed a few of the larger plants have been nibbled of late.

2. Many of the climbing plants in the garden have done poorly this year for some reason. The Graham Thomas rose hasn’t flowered at all. I chopped it right back in the spring in an attempt to get it to throw up a few more stems from ground level. It produced one stem and is looking very ropey indeed. Most of the clematis seem to have snuffed it and the Golden Graham honeysuckle is also looking a little sad, its branches leafless for the most part. However, it is producing a few late flowers, though a little too high up for me to appreciate their scent.

3. A mystery plant next. I spotted this growing in the border next to the conservatory a few months ago. I think it might be a cotoneaster of some sort.

I’ve decided to see if I can grow it as a standard but if someone identifies it as being a monster-like tree I may have to reconsider. It seems to be growing at quite a pace so it might be a foolhardy idea.

4. Some of the Sweet Williams have had a second flush of flowers. Next year’s batch are ready to be planted as soon as I’m feeling sufficiently motivated.

5. Now this is exciting. These Primula prolifera (Candelabra primrose) were grown from some seed that Jim kindly sent me a few months ago. There’s no sign of the others yet but I’ll try a second sowing in the spring.

6. And finally… This is the first year I’ve grown Cosmos in the garden. After a slow start, Cosmos ‘Fizzy’ has proved to be a great doer. The flowers appear to change colour over time. There are whites edged with pink…

Deep pinks streaked with white…

And all sorts of variations thereof, all on the one plant. I’ll definitely be growing this variety again.

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: 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

Six on Saturday (8 June 2019)

Be careful what you wish for. Last weekend I wished for rain to replenish two empty water butts. And rain it has, filling the water butts, topping up the small wildlife pond and giving the garden a much needed soak. But that’s enough now. I don’t need anymore for a little while thank you. I’ve got grass to cut, things to plant and some outdoor shelves to put up. Thankfully I took some photos earlier in the week as Friday proved a complete wash out (though I did venture out to take this one).

Some plants are rather prone to getting flattened in the rain (the oxe-eye daisies and a linaria have required some emergency support) and a few, like Mrs Bradshaw, are leaning drunkenly to one side. However, they’re still standing (yeah, yeah yeah). But it was all too much for one former star of the garden, which leads me rather sadly to my first Six on Saturday.

1. When I pulled up onto the drive after work on Thursday evening it was evident that all was not well in the front garden. There had been a casualty. The white foxglove that featured in a SoS a few weeks ago was lying face first across the flower bed, snapped off at the base.


All this wet and occasionally windy weather appears to have proved too much for it (though if we receive an electricity and gas bill within the next few weeks I may suspect the meter reading man of foul play). Alas, there’ll be no offspring from this one which is a shame. However in the back the pink foxgloves are now flowering away nicely.

2. This rogue sweet pea was a pleasant surprise. Self sown from last year’s batch, it’s growing up through through the viburnum in the bed next to the pot containing this year’s sweet peas. Those in the pot have yet to show any signs of buds.

3. The Sweet Williams are in full flower. I grew some from seed last year but got a bit panicky a few months ago when I couldn’t find them. A garden without Sweet Williams wasn’t an option so a tray of emergency replacement plants was purchased.

However, I needn’t have worried. My own plants have appeared. I must sow next year’s batch soon.

4. As well as sowing more Sweet Williams I really need to get around to planting some of the dahlias, cosmos and other plants that are occupying the swing seat and the patio (well, what’s left of it). I just need to pull up the rest of the forget-me-nots and a few of the Californian poppies to create a bit of space. The pink dandelion plants (Crepis Rubra), grown from seed a few months ago, are bursting to get out their pot. The leaves look extremely dandelion like and I have a feeling I’m going to end up pulling them up thinking they’re weeds. Plant labels may need to be deployed.

5. Last week’s mystery plant was identified by some knowledgeable planty folk as Phuopsis stylosa. Another mystery plant has started flowering. I’ve tried the PlantNet app and I think it might be rapeseed, presumably brought in by a bird. It’s rather pretty.

6. And finally… The new Gertrude Jekyll rose that was purchased in January as a bare root plant is finally flowering. Cue one or three closes ups…

I’m growing her as a climber, though at the moment she’s only a few feet high.

I’m hoping in time that I’ll be able to train her towards the blue shed where we’ll be able to enjoy her strong rosy scent more easily. That’s the plan anyway.

Unfortunately she’s rather close to a bird feeder and required a makeover prior to her photo shoot in order to dislodge a few sunflower hearts from her blooms. What was that? You’d like to see her from another angle? Oh okay then, here’s one more…

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 July 2018)

Though lucky to have had enough rain to fill the water butts a few weeks ago, it didn’t appear to do the ground much good. Every evening I’ve continued to water pots and newly planted annuals and perennials. But as the hot dry weather continues it’s also become necessary to water some long established plants that had previously been left to fend for themselves. As a result of all this watering one water butt has been completely emptied and the other is now half empty/half full (delete as appropriate).

The South facing front garden has always struggled a bit from mid June onwards. However, this year it’s looking decidedly ropey. A variegated Weigela looks very sickly indeed, though at least the lawn is a uniform crispy straw like colour unlike the lawn in the back which is unpleasingly patchy.

In the back garden the phloxes, usually a show at this time of year, are looking very sorry for themselves, many of the buds having simply shrivelled up, and a viburnum is looking almost autumnal. An attempt to plant out snap dragons and some of the lupins (I’m past caring if they survive or not) would have been a lot easier if I’d used a hammer and chisel to break up the clay soil rather than a trowel.

Still, there were a few slightly overcast and cooler days last week so plants enjoyed a brief respite from the relentless heat. Anyway, enough moaning, here are my Six on Saturday.

1. This is Graham Thomas, one of a number of honeysuckles in the garden. The flowers start off pink before turning a lovely yellow and white. GT has been flowering for a few months now and grows near the swing seat where its scent can be more fully appreciated.

2. It was touch and go for the Echinacea last year. During previous years it had flourished and tales of woe from my mum concerning her own failed attempts to protect her coneflowers from slugs and snails were met with sympathetic oh-dears, how-annoyings and slightly baffled well-they-don’t-seem-to-touch-ours musings. And so I got complacent, failing to notice that Echinacea had been added to the 2017 summer menu of our resident gourmet gastropods until it was almost too late.

The few remaining nibbled stems were hurriedly dug up, plonked in a pot and taken to the sanctuary of the swing seat where it began to make a very slow recovery but failed to flower. This summer, after it had put on a sufficient amount of growth, it was put back in the ground, surrounded by wool pellets, and after a lot of pampering it has a couple of flowers. I think I prefer them before the petals have fully opened, what do you think?

3. These are the offspring of some yellow Marigolds from my mum. The first batch of seeds failed to germinate for some reason, but the second batch have done well. They’ve been flowering for over a month now and will hopefully go on for a few more months with regular deadheading. They’re sharing a pot with some dwarf sweet peas that have yet to develop any buds (I wonder if they may need a more sunny position?)

4. The blue version of the perennial cornflower (Centaurea montana) flowered earlier in the year. Some of it was chopped back in the hope that it might flower again this summer and some of it was pulled up to help keep it under control (it can get a bit rampant). However, I’d had my eye on the white version (Centaurea montana ‘Alba’) after seeing one at the Taunton Flower Show a few years ago. As luck would have it I discovered my sister had one in her garden and after placing an order through my mum for any potential propagatings, voilà…

I’ve yet to find a place in the garden for it but I’m going to plant it in a bed well away from its blue relative to minimise the chances of accidently pulling it up when attempting to keep the blue one in check.

4. The Zinnias are in full flower now. Grown from a packet of mixed seed, I never know what I’m going to get. I always hope for a few red flowers but this year they’ve all turned out to be pink, with one rather unusual shaggy pale pink one.

The flowers last for ages, adding layer upon layer of petals until you end up with a ruff of sorts with a circle of dancing yellow stars around the centre.

6. And finally, an Agapanthus. It’s taken years for an agapanthus to flower in the garden. They’re a favourite of my wife and remind me of holidays on the Isles of Scilly. Half a dozen bulbs were put in the garden about 5 years ago (a mixture of pink, white and blue) and did absolutely nothing and I’d forgotten all about them until I spotted some agapanthus leaves tentatively poking out of the soil two years ago. After reading that they flower best if their roots are constricted I dug it up, placed it in a pot and waited…

And, 24 months later, success! We’ve known for a few weeks now that it was going to be blue (we were both secretly hoping this would be the case) and it’s been fascinating watching the buds develop. This week they finally began to open…

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

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.

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