Six on Saturday (19 November 2022)

After many years of procrastination, the rickety half trellis fence is no more. All of the fencers who provided quotes seemed jolly good and were similar price-wise, but only one was able to do the work before the spring. The idea of bulbs getting flattened on the cusp of flowerhood wasn’t very appealing and so the chap who was able to replace the fence before Christmas (well before Christmas as it turned out) was hired. He did a great job too…

1. An overly rampant Jasmine used to help provide some privacy on the trellis section of the old fence in the summer but during the winter you were left feeling very exposed. In theory, the Jasmine (which appears to have started life on the neighbours’ side between the fence and their raised bed) is no more, although I suspect there’s still quite a bit lurking beneath the soil, just biding its time. The new fence is wonderfully anti-social and somehow you feel more at ease when out pottering. It is rather fence-like though, and that leads us to SoS number 2.

2. A Cotoneaster horizontalis. The Pyracantha that was originally growing in this spot was chopped back and dug up the other weekend in preparation for the new metal posts (I’m sure a blackbird eyed me disdainfully as the berry laden Pyracantha branches were loaded into the car). Last Sunday, at dusk, I decided to fill the spot vacated by the fearsome Firethorn with a Cotoneaster that had been growing, largely forgotten, in a dark and shady spot on the other side of the garden. Acquired from the former ancestral home/free plant nursery in North Wales a number of years ago, I hadn’t realised how big it had gotten. Last minute winter evening shrub moving doesn’t really lend itself to careful diggage to ensure mininimal root damage, but hopefully it will survive and provide the birds with berries for many years to come.

3. Another plant that had to get chopped back and dug up was a Coronilla that had been grown as a climber. I’ve plonked it back in the ground in the hope that it survives. If not, a replacement will be acquired; a second winter/spring without the fragrant pale-yellow flowers of a Coronilla in the back garden is unthinkable. In the meantime, the Prunus Kojo-no-mai (which is looking even more fiery than it did a few weeks ago) will have a bit more space to spread its branches. I suspect they’ll be bare of leaf in a week or so.

4. Now I’ll come back to the flowering red rose that’s growing near Kojo in a moment. First though, come and take a look at this climbing patio rose growing up the metal arch. ‘Little Rambler’ has never looked so good or smelled so sweet as it does now. Planted back in 2020 it’s finally starting to make some progress of the vertical kind.

5. Back to the red rose, ‘Nerf Herder’ is still going strong. What was that? Err… no, that’s not its real name. I’d have to search past posts to remind myself of what it’s really called.

6. And finally… it’s a Calendula that also featured a while back. How much longer flowerage will continue now that temperatures have begun to fall who knows. It got down to 0.6 last night.

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.  Right, I’m going to make a start on bulb planting. I just wish I was feeling a little more enthusiastic about the task.

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Six on Saturday (8 October 2022)

The garden appears to be giving a final floral encore, looking far more colourful now than it did during the second half of summer. Despite the odd day of blustery winds and heavy downpours, the annuals aren’t looking too shabby. Thick carpets of Foxglove seedlings have sprung up in the borders and gravel path, and the lawns have pretty much recovered from the drought, requiring regular mowing once more. However, there can be no escaping the signs of autumn and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. The Pyracantha may need to get pruned back hard in the not-so-distant future in preparation for a new fence. Hopefully the birds will get a chance to polish off the berries before that happens.

2. Up next, Garlic Chives. I think they may be my most favourite Allium. Always the last to flower, they’re pretty things with multi-coloured stamens. They’re rather tasty too. I just wish I had more luck with the regular variety of chives.

3. The rampant climbing Rose ‘Compassion’ is having a second flush of flowers. Growing it up the corner of the blue shed has proved a mixed blessing. It’s the perfect location to appreciate the fragrant flowers but it can get a little over enthusiastic, its thorny stems making it tricky to open the shed door without risking injury at times. I pruned it right back to the ground in the spring and it’s as big now as it was this time last autumn.

4. Another week, another Calendula. What was that? Only a few weeks ago you were muttering how you’d not had much success with Calendula? I know, Apparently they’ve been hiding, just biding their time. I’ve no idea what variety this is but the petals have a pinkish tinge.

5. Last year a few of my established Sedums/Hylotelphiums went all floppy at the flowering stage. Now apparently this is just one of those things every Sedum will experience at some point in its life, especially as it gets older. However, I read that the ‘Chelsea chop’ could help prevent this issue and so decided to give it a go (although by the time I got around to it the Hampton Court Flower Show was looming, making it more of a ‘Hampton hack.’) I was slightly worried I’d left it too late, but they’ve finally flowered.

6. And to conclude… Clematis ‘Freckles.’ Back in August I feared the worst as its leaves and stems had been burnt to a crisp. But look! Buds! Masses of buds on the brink of bloomage. A pleasant surprise and something of a relief.

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 (24 September 2022): Farewell Summer

As an Astronomical Autumn chap I’ve had to face up to reality: summer is no more. While there’s still quite a bit going on in the garden there can be no ignoring the signs of the switching seasons. The sun is sitting lower in the sky and has been a bit dazzley of late. The car windows have been covered in condensation most mornings. It’s getting darker when the alarm clock goes off in the morning and it has been decidedly chilly at times, so chilly that I really need to do something about my first Six on Saturday…

1. A rather ancient indoor Pelargonium with sherbet lemon scented leaves got chopped back severely a number of months ago and I must have randomly shoved one of the discarded prunings into the pot with the dark leaved Dahlia ‘Dark Angels Mixed.’ I’d completely forgotten about it until recently when I noticed its vibrant green foliage contrasting nicely with that of the Dahlia. I really must dig it up, pot it on and bring it indoors before the first frost.

2. Another pleasant surprise: a flowering Abyssinian gladiolus. I’d given up on these, assuming I was only going to get foliage this year. I’m daring to hope some of the others will bloom soon. They’re nice and fragrant too.

3. While some plants are flowering for the first time, others are enjoying a late second flush of blooms. Rosa ‘nerf herder’ (far easier to remember than Rosa Flower Carpet Ruby ‘Noafeuer’ which I always have to look up) is blooming again. The camera sometimes struggles to cope with the full-on redness of this healthy standard Rose but it didn’t do too badly this time.

4. A plant that has pretty much flowered non-stop since the spring is this perennial Viola called ‘Etain.’ It was stuffed in a pot with the sweet peas, and while the sweet peas have long since gone over this super plant is still going strong.

5. A few weeks ago I was bemoaning my lack of Calendula success this summer. Well, I spoke too soon. A few others have appeared. What variety are they? Good question. I’ve no idea.

6. And finally… The Dahlias have done a lot better this year compared to 2021. Not well enough to convince me to acquire some additional varieties next spring but I’ll certainly attempt to overwinter my existing lot. Dahlia ‘Honka Fragile’ has become a firm favourite with flowers like little floral windmills (alas they don’t spin around in the wind).

And those crayon like markings at the centre are also rather lovely. Hmm, maybe I should try and take a few cuttings of this one next year if it survives 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.

Six on Saturday (3 September 2022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Right, I’m off to visit the Tower of London (I’m spending a few days in the Big Smoke) but not before I’ve made the most of the all-you-can-eat continental breakfast. Anyone fancy a croissant?

Six on Saturday (9 July 2022)

A lightning paced, sneeze and you’ll miss it Six on Saturday today.

1. First up Crocosmia ‘Lucifer.’ I think this flowers earlier and earlier with each passing year; although I never check whether this is actually true. I’ve been half-heartedly pulling up the odd clump in an attempt to curtail it’s attempts at world domination, but when it flowers all is forgiven.

2. The Astilbes of short stature, ‘Rock and Roll,’ have returned, although one is looking a little ropey after getting swamped by the Forget-me-nots. I was never an Astilbe fan but this variety, with its red stems, has won me over. A groan inducing Astilbe joke can be found here.

3. After a slow start, Rosa ‘Minerva’ is off. It looks more pink than purple here, and all that rain a week or so ago has led to a bit of rose balling. It has a lovely rich fragrance though.

4. Another late bloomer, this is Digitalis ‘Elsey Kelsey.’ Sown from seed last year, I’d completely forgotten about her. I just wish a few more had made it to flowerhood.

5. Another Rose up next. I always have to look up my old online order to remind me what it’s called. I always want to go a bit Leia-insults-Han-Solo and call it Rosa Carpet ‘Nerf-herder.’ However, it is in fact Rosa Flower Carpet Ruby ‘Noafeuer.’ I was almost right.

6. And finally… Having vowed not to buy any more plants this year, and certainly not a Delphinium for the slugs, I ended up with a Delphinium grandifloum ‘Summer Blues’ last Saturday. I have a feeling I bought something similar a few years ago that never returned. But considering coffee and a slice of cake costs more than £3.50 it seemed madness not to get one.

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 (25 June 2022)

Why does a week off work always fly by compared to a regular working week? An overnight stay at Lyme Regis and a day trip to Minehead hasn’t left much time for gardening. However, I did make a start planting the annuals one evening. Any half-hearted plans for a sort of colour-themed planting scheme have gone straight out the window after realising I’d forgotten to label everything at the potting on stage. Still, the usual multicoloured mish-mash approach tends to work fine most of the time, even when it comes to orange…

1. Although, I’m not totally convinced my first Six on Saturday is all that orange. Rosa ‘Simply the Best’ (a bold claim and apologies if anyone ends up with that song in their head all day) looks more yellow in reality, especially compared to the orange California poppy that has self seeded nearby. This is its second summer and it has yet to thrive, in fact the lower leaves are succumbing to black spot. I can’t help thinking I should have gone for a more obviously orange variety. It’s nice enough, don’t get me wrong, and fragrant… just not quite as fragrant as on the online descriptions led me to believe.

2. From subtle yellowy-orange/orangey-yellow to Penstemon ‘Garnet.’ There were a few Penstemon casualties over the winter and I foolishly didn’t bother to take any cuttings last year. This one is doing well though (and hopefully distracting one’s gaze from the washing in the background). I’ll be doing a spot of ‘Garnet’ cloning soon.

3. Now let’s cool things down a bit with Anemone leveillei. At least that’s what it’s supposed to be, but the flowers are lacking the blue pollen and are more pointy of petal than those shown on the websites of plant purveyors.

4. Another Rose up next. I don’t think I included ‘New Dawn’ last year, rather taking it for granted. A healthy climber that doesn’t seem to suffer from black spot, ‘New Dawn’ is doing particularly well this summer.

5. As is this Lily. For the third year running there’s been neither hide nor hair of a lily beetle. Weird.

6. And finally… California poppies. First sown almost 10 years ago, these have seeded themselves around the garden ever since. Most end up orange but there are a few yellow varieties here and there. They can get a bit sprawly, swamping nearby plants, but they usually recover after a chop. The flowers last several days indoors in a vase, closing up in the evenings and unfurling each morning.

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 (19 March 2022)

Well it’s about time. Just as astronomical spring is about to begin, the weather has finally started to become, well, springlike. Wandering around Bath Botanical Gardens last Monday, the birds singing and the blossoms of this Magnolia radiant against a sky of blue, it felt rather cheering. The clement weather has continued, for the most part, and later today… or perhaps tomorrow… seed sowing will finally commence. But enough pre-ramble, it’s time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up, some fragrant stripy pink Hyacinths that almost collapsed during all that rain we had the other week and required some emergency proppage.

2. Slugs and snails are no longer pests. Slugs and snails are no longer pests. Slugs and snails are no longer… Nope, it’s no good RHS, I’m not ready to accept this just yet.

3. Still, they haven’t munched on these Narcissi. I appear to have planted more ‘Martinette’ than I thought as they’re bursting into flower everywhere. A casualty was plonked in a recycled mini glass bottle and is filling the living room with its heady scent.

4. Last weekend I finally started chopping back this and that, including the roses. Blood was spilled. However, ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ was given a serious chopping back a few months ago and is sporting some rather pretty red-tinged foliage.

5. The foliage of Muscari is slightly less appealing (it’s a tad messy at times) but all is forgiven when they bloom. I’ve planted a few other varieties of Grape Hyacinth but I think the regular bluey-purple lot are my favourite.

6. And finally… You caught a glimpse of it last week but here it is up close. The Coronilla has been flowering since December but in March it reaches its floral crescendo. Bumble bees have been enjoying the fragrant pea-like flowers as has this gardener. I shoved a cutting of this in a pot last autumn and to my surprise it appears to have taken. It will be nurtured and hopefully, fingers crossed, will replace this one some day (they’re not very long lived apparently).

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 (2 October 2021)

I can delude myself no longer; autumn is well and truly here. Mind you, a lot of the annuals and perennials are still going strong, even attracting a comma butterfly earlier in the week, a rare sight in the garden this year. Although not as rare as this lesser whitethroat that visited yesterday afternoon.

Thankfully it seemed happy hanging around in the Pyracantha, just outside the back door, giving me a chance to grab my camera and photograph it from indoors. I doubt there’ll be butterflies and warblers in the garden today though if the weather forecast is anything to go by. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. And we start with the Cyclamen that grows near the Pyracantha, that most vicious of shrubs that drew blood last week when I attacked it with the secateurs after discovering one of its branches had made it into the open mini greenhouse.

2. Growing just to the right of the Cyclamen is this Hesperantha coccinea, acquired a few years ago from the Great Aunt’s garden up in North East Wales. A white variety (probably ‘alba’) was purchased in the spring but appears to have vanished.

3.  Now these next two photos were taken several days apart. An online purchase last year, Rosa ‘Friesia’ has surprised me and thrived, despite looking very ropey when it was delivered. This is its third flush and the fragrant flowers constantly change, starting off a rich yellow (occasionally tinged with pink in places) before fading as the days pass by.

4. While some of the Zinnias are looking decidedly nibbled, several have shrugged off the attentions of the gourmet gastropods, including this beauty. They’re doing much better than last year.

5. Next up, Salvias. My mother-in-law has gone in for them in a big way. Several tiny plug plants that she planted two summers ago have became large and shrubby. I took a few cuttings from them last year and they were doing great until I dropped them all on the floor last autumn. Thankfully two survived, although naturally they ended up being the same variety. It’s one of those plants, along with the Lavender and Agastache, where I find myself rubbing the aromatic leaves and sniffing my fingers every time I walk past them.

6. And finally… It’s another plant that drew blood the other week. The long thorny stems of the climbing Rose ‘New Dawn’ tend to hide amongst the monster Jasmine (which I’m forever trimming in an attempt to keep it in check) and occasionally surprise the forgetful gardener. The scented pale pink flowers are lovely though.

They were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday (14 August 2021)

A quick Six on Saturday today without preamble or preramble. There are bags to pack and a train to catch and, as usual, I’ve left everything to the last minute.

1. First up, a Penstemon, one that magically appeared in the garden last year. I must have planted it but I have no idea what it’s called. Cuttings will soon be taken.

2. Remember the tale of the Hibiscus? What was that? How could you forget as I post a link to it every year. Well here it is again anyway. It was planted to help provide a bit of privacy when sat on the swing seat. However, this exotic bloomed beauty has proved to be a painfully slow grower (or I’m just impatient) and so got dug up in the spring and plonked in a pot. It doesn’t seem to have minded but hopefully it won’t get too settled as it’s going back into the ground again come the autumn.

3. Now my next SoS has proved to be the complete opposite to the Hibiscus growth-wise. When I chopped back the Sambucus ‘Golden Tower’ in January I was a little concerned it would take a while to bounce back.

I needn’t have worried. Despite all the fresh new growth the aphids have proved far less troublesome than last summer, setting up home on the ‘Black Lace’ Elder instead.

4. Next up is one of my purchases from the Taunton Flower Show: Allium angulasum. I’ve just been looking it up online and apparently it’s also called ‘Mouse Garlic.’ Intriguingly, Ballyrobert Gardens writes “Can be used for cooking but poisons in large numbers.” I think I’ll stick to admiring its flowers rather than eating it.

5. A few months ago I was pondering getting shot of this new rose. The first flush of flowers were a bitter disappointment, barely opening and turning brown around the edges. However, Minerva has cracked it this time, producing fragrant purpley blooms. All has been forgiven.

6. And finally… a golden yellow Crocosmia. ‘Columbus’ I think. I do like a yellow Crocosmia and more will feature over the next few weeks.

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, where did I put the train tickets?

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 https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.