Six on Saturday (23 July 2022)

Oh for some rain. Some proper, water butt replenishing, soil moisture deficit correcting, Gene Kelly song-and-dance-number-inspiring rain. Despite a few minutes of drizzle Friday afternoon, there was no sign of the MET Office ‘yellow warning’ thunder storms. Over the past few weeks three and three-quarter water butts have been emptied (I’m trying to eek out what remains of the fourth and final one to top up the mini pond for the frogs and newts) and bucketing has commenced in an attempt to minimise mains water use. Note to self: take note of last year’s note to self and actually cut down on pots next year.

Arriving back from North Wales on Tuesday I was relieved to discover that most of the newly planted Cosmos and Zinnias had survived the heatwave. However, the Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ was decidedly crisp of leaf and the Hibiscus that was plonked back in the ground in early spring (having spent the previous summer in a pot) didn’t look too clever either. Fingers crossed we get some plant-reviving precipitation sooner rather than later. Anyway, time for Six on Saturday.

1. First up: tomatoes. I didn’t bother growing any from seed this year, buying plants instead. This one is ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow.’ Truth be told they’re a bit tough skin-wise and I won’t bother with them next year. I’m hoping the other two varieties I’ve planted in the same pot will be tastier.

2. Back for a second year, these ‘Drumstick’ Alliums are proving popular with the bees. If someone could remind me to plant some more in the autumn it would be much appreciated.

3. Also proving popular with the bees is ‘Miss Manners,’ Physostegia virginiana (the Obedient Plant). I really should try propagating it.

4. Next up, Sidalcea ‘Party Girl’ (Prairie mallow). A bit like a diminutive Hollyhock, I’ve decided to look up what other varieties are available as they’ve coped with the recent heat rather well.

5. Alas, none of the annual Rudbeckia from 2020 survived a second winter (I must have got lucky last year). However, a new batch (‘Gloriosa Daisies’) are just getting going. Expect to see more photos of these over the coming months… if they survive.

6. And finally… Way back in the spring of 2020 I sowed some Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children.’ They didn’t flower that year, nor the year after that (although in fairness most of my Dahlias were a complete disaster last summer) and one assumed one had got shot of them all. Apparently not. Potentially siblingless, this one may get pampered.

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

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Six on Saturday (30 October 2021)

Last weekend I finally made a start on preparing the garden for winter. One of the South African Foxgloves, an Agastache and a Verbena Hastata were dug up, plonked in pots and put in the mini greenhouse (after a battle with the ‘easily adjustable’ shelving). And the other evening I took a few quick cuttings of the Salvia ulignosa ‘African Sky’. There’ll be no more brief after-work garden potterage from tomorrow though. Oh no. After the clocks go back tonight gardening will be restricted to the weekend-weather-permitting kind. And now that the big delivery of bulbs has arrived I must confess that I’m hoping the weather won’t permit gardening of any kind this weekend. I hate planting bulbs. Which make my first Six on Saturday all the more puzzling.

1. Another Wilko bulb purchase. I’ve never grown Camassia before but have decided to give them a go. I’m sticking to just the one pack for now to see how they fair. If they’re a success more will be acquired this time next year.

2. Back in April I planted a Mahonia ‘Soft Caress.’ The leaves are pleasingly ferny and I’m hoping the flowers will be as fragrant as those of the spikey leaved variety. I’ll soon find out looking at these buds.

3. While the Mahonia should be flowering my next Six on Saturday shouldn’t. At least I don’t think it should. This Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ certainly wasn’t in flower this time last year. I’m not sure what’s going on.

4. Next up we have a Cyclamen. One of those fancy varieties that’s not necessarily all that hardy (although a red one left outdoors in a pot last winter is in full flower again). This has been living outdoors for the past month or so, but the other day I suddenly remembered that back in 2020 Jim had mentioned a fragrant variety. Curious, I sniffed this one and was pleasantly surprised to detect a sweet fragrance. It is now living in a posh pot indoors.

5. ‘Rudbeckia ‘Daisies Mixed,’ sown from seed back in 2020, is still going strong. I hope it survives another winter as it’s been one of the stars of the garden this summer.

6. As has Fuchsia ‘Army Nurse.’ She resented being moved a few years ago but has finally forgiven me. Back in October 2020 Eileen’s Tiny Welsh Garden found some details regarding the background to its intriguing name (details can be found here).

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: wanderings (11 September 2021)

I’m actually up in North East Wales, visiting the old Ancestral home for a few days. But before setting off I had a wander around the front and back gardens in Somerset, wondering as I wandered whether I’d find anything of wonder to photograph. Thankfully, my wanders led to the discovery of six wonders, putting an end to both wanderings and wonderings. What was that? You wonder when this wandery introduction will end and you’ll get to see these six wondrous wonders discovered on my wanders? Well wonder no more…

1. The very first time I grew honey scented Alyssum from seed I sowed it in trays, transplanting the seedlings to the borders. It was faff and the following year I was relieved to find it had seeded itself about a bit. Now I just sprinkle a packet of seed here and there in April and let it do its thing. Chopped back several weeks ago, it’s now having a second flush of flowers

2. Another plant I grow from seed each year is Cosmos. A few months ago I wrote about my ‘old reliables,’ plants that never let me down and flower for months. Cosmos was one of them. Well I take it all back. This year they have really struggled and the majority of flowers have been nibbled. I’ll still grow them again next year mind you.

3. Thankfully, Calendula ‘Snow Princess’ hasn’t let me down. In fact it’s one of the few plants thriving in the front garden at the moment. The mini heatwave earlier in the week left many of the plants out the front struggling. Despite a gloomy August I don’t think we had much, if any, rain. Thankfully we had some heavy showers on Thursday.

4. The Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ has been abuzz with bees and hoverflies for a few weeks now. I thought it was a bit behind compared to previous years but having done a a quick search of old Six on Saturday posts over the years it appears not. Beautiful flowers and the foliage is nice and fragrant when rubbed.

5. Talking of fragrance, the night scented phlox (Zaluzianskya) is flowering. Two earlier sowings of a different variety (‘Midnight Candy’) snuffed it soon after germinating. Undeterred but clean out of ‘Midnight Candy’ seeds I grabbed a packet of these in Wiko, not holding out much hope. But behold, flowers! They certainly live up to the ‘night scented’ thing as I can only detect their sweet fragrance (which reminds me of those pink, white and yellow alphabet letter sweets of my youth) at night.

6. And finally… a Rudbeckia of short stature called ‘Toto’ (does anyone else hear Dorothy shouting after her dog when they see that name?) Pádraig featured one of these a while back and by strange coincidence I spotted one for sale in the Country Market shop in town a week or so later. It was obviously meant to be and was purchased post haste.

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 (21 August 2021)

The train to Cornwall was caught with plenty of time to spare last Saturday and apart from a temporary blip at Plymouth where we ended up without a train driver (don’t ask) all went to plan. Four days were spent pottering around Truro (where I lived for over a year way back in the mists of time) and Falmouth. Despite the slightly gloomy weather spirits were high, helped by the tropicalesque gardens in Falmouth and the odd Roskilly’s ice cream.

August is racing by and, rather worryingly, leaves have begun to fall from some of the trees on the green. I’ve started pondering a few changes shrub-wise come the autumn, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy the garden as is. Well, sort of as is. Some of the plants that usually provide lots of late summer colour have struggled so far and I’m beginning to wonder whether they’ll actually make it to flowerhood before the first frosts. An emergency plant has had to be deployed, and that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. Dahlia ‘Dark Angels Mixed.’ I left most of my Dahlias in the ground over the winter (as I’ve done in previous years). This time the gamble didn’t pay off; they didn’t reappear. However, those that were left in pots survived and several new tubers were planted in the spring. All seemed to be going to plan initially but then the slimy plant assassins of the night struck. Hopes that any will flower are fading, hence this ‘here’s one someone grew earlier’ bargain purchase made yesterday.

2. A lot of the annuals in the garden are grown from packets of free seed that come with the Garden News Magazine. Rudbeckia ‘Sputnik’ was sown in the spring. Alas, only one plant has survived but it’s a good ‘un.

3. Another Garden News Magazine freebie up next: Cornflower ‘Black Ball.’ I rarely have much success growing cornflowers (I don’t think any of the blue lot have survived, despite sowing some in pots and scattering the rest here, there and everywhere). This is the only ‘Black Ball’ to have made it this far. I may try again next year.

4. Violas usually only feature in my SoSs in winter and spring. Removed from the tulip pots in May and plonked in the ground, some are still going strong, including this beauty.

5. Agastache ‘Black Adder’ has yet to overwinter successfully in my garden but I still find myself buying replacement plants each year. The flowers are popular with the bees and I enjoy the aromatic foliage. I may try digging some up come the winter.

6. And finally… Another yellow Crocosmia. Last week I featured ‘Columbus.’ I think this might be ‘George Davison.’ I have a plan to label all the yellow Crocosmia so that I can spread them around the garden whilst getting shot of some of the orange variety that is in danger of taking over. Whether I’ll actually get around to it though is another matter.

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 (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.

Six on Saturday (5 December 2020)

A brisk Six on Saturday as I’m feeling cream-crackered. I suspect the most green-fingered thing I’ll do today is put up the artificial Christmas Tree, but fingers crossed I may resume the bulb planting tomorrow.

1. First up, a houseplant. They don’t feature very often in my Six on Saturdays but this was rather noteworthy. I’ve been growing bored of the post-Covid loss of smell and taste. On a whim I decided to rub a Pelargonium leaf between finger and thumb to see if I could detect the slightest whiff of the lemon-sherbety foliage. And you know what? I could!

2. Keen to see if I could detect the scent of any other fragrant foliage I went outside and sought out a Corsican mint I planted earlier in the year. Again, success. This bodes well.

3. Several weekends ago I planted up a pot for a bit of evergreen interest during the winter months. It contains a new fern (don’t tell my wife), a variegated ivy, a red cyclamen and some primula or other.

4. Talking of evergreens, the Clematis ‘Freckles’ is continuing to climb up the garden arch. It’s growing surprisingly quickly.

5. I always forget I have the Cotoneaster horizontalis as it’s hidden away in a corner behind the Buddleia. To take this photo I had to clamber over a few bags of manure and negotiate several trays of primula, getting snagged by a standard rose in the process. I must tidy things up a bit.

6. And finally… This Rudbeckia ‘Daisies Mixed’ is still going strong. The least said about the ‘Cherry Brandy’ variety the better.

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.

Six on Saturday (21 November 2020)

Could this be the weekend I finally start my bulb planting? The weather forecast is looking promising so fingers crossed it might actually happen. However, the old wellies will have to be deployed (having first checked that there are no spiders lurking in them) as the garden is sodden, particularly the lawn which is decidedly squelchy underfoot. It’s been a drab old week and colour of the floral kind is certainly becoming trickier to find. Yet there are a few flowers out there, oh yes! And that leads me to my first Six on Saturday…

1. A Wilko Chrysanthemum that was grown from seed is still sporting the odd bloom. It’s adding some cheerful yellowiness/yellow cheerfulness to the garden, which is particularly welcome on a grey and gloomy day.

2. A few sweet peas are also hanging on in there. I should have pulled them up a while ago but I’ll leave them be for now. These flowers will be cut and brought indoors later to enjoy their fragrance.

3. Though most of the surviving annuals are only sporting the odd bloom or two, this Cosmos out the front is still doing the full-on-floriferous thing, oblivious to the fact that it’s mid November.

4. As is this patio rose ‘Violet Cloud’ which has flowered pretty much non-stop since May. What was that? It’s pink not violet? I agree. Daft name.

5. It’s not all about the flowers though. The berries of the Honeysuckle are looking pretty good with the neighbour’s blue shed as a backdrop.

6. And finally… I’m still waiting for the sole surviving Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’ to flower. After eight or nine months it’s almost there. It had better be worth the wait.

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.

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: 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.