Six on Saturday: the ever-shrinking patio (6 April 2019)

It’s been a funny old week weatherwise. It’s been sunny one minute, overcast the next. There’s been rain, wind, the occasional hail shower and more rain. And boy has it been nippy. Still, at least we didn’t have snow down these ‘ere parts. Despite the weather I’ve been making the most of the lighter evenings now that the clocks have gone forward, pottering in the garden after work and tidying this, moving that, cursing the squabbling wood pigeons that have knocked over a pot of newly sown Silene ‘Pink Pirouette’, and surveying the freshly emerging greeny leafyness of our little Eden. And that leads me to my first SoS…

1. A hydrangea called Miss Belgium, that for some reason makes me think of a Horticultural beauty contest. I’d fancied a hydrangea for a while and we bought Miss B back in the Autumn of 2017. She’s supposed to be a compact variety and so ideal for a small garden. Alas, she didn’t flower last year. I have a feeling this was down to being dug up and temporarily plonked in a pot last June in order to protect her from the builders. She’s looking good at the moment with her new fresh foliage. Fingers crossed she flowers this year.

2. It’s been almost six years since the blue shed was first painted and it was beginning to look a little scruffy, particularly when compared to the swanky new shed that was put up last October. I spent Sunday afternoon giving it a new lick of paint and now it positively dazzles in the evening light.

3. From blue sheds to bluey-lilac forget-me-nots. These have started to put on a growth spurt. I sowed a packet of mixed colours (blue, white and pink) soon after we moved here in 2012. Little did I know they would take over the garden, well the blue ones anyway. They’ve been heavily weeded and repositioned here and there but I wouldn’t be without them.

4. The patio reduction has continued. Last year it looked like this…

In January I took up 4 slabs…

A week or so later I took up another two and vowed that was it. No more slabs were going to be taken up. Ever.

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January 2018 (phase 2)

And yet… Everyday over the past couple of months I’ve been studying the patio and thinking “should I take up a few more?” The gardening angel on my right shoulder has advised against such a course of action telling me we need room to easily navigate the patio without falling head-first into the herbaceous border, that plants will encroach onto it and soften the edges and that space is needed for pots. The gardening devil on my left shoulder simply shrugs and says “More soil, more plants”.

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January 2018 (phase 2)

On Tuesday evening I surveyed the patio from all angels… I mean angles…, mallet, chisel and pick-axe at the ready. The gardening angel on my right shoulder hadn’t given up. “No matter how many slabs you pull up you know you’ll want to pull up more and in reality how much more planting space are you really creating? Don’t do it. Be content with what you’ve got.” The gardening devil on my left shoulder simply rolled it’s eyes and said “Yes, yes, yadda, yadda. More soil, more plants”. So I took up one slab and then deliberated whether to take up another one. Surely just one more wouldn’t hurt and besides it was already a bit loose.

At this point my wife came out and sensibly suggested I take some more time to think it through. I nodded solemnly. Wise words. I looked at the patio again. Yes, it wouldn’t hurt to think about this some more. There was no need to rush.

A minute later I’d removed the other slab, my wife had given me ‘the look’ and I’d added another stepping stone. Am I finally happy? Well, yes and no. I’m still wondering whether or not I should remove one more, that corner one that stops the patio looking L-shaped. I’m going to be good though and wait and see how the plants do first. Truly I am.

5. When I took up the first lot of patio slabs in January I ended up with a hefty bit of rock-hard concrete and masonry upon which the original brick edging had been laid. It weighed a ton and was unbashable so I buried it under the two stepping-stones across the new bed. Out of sight, out of mind.

And yet it wasn’t. I knew it was there and it bothered me. So when I took up a few more paving stones a couple of weeks later, I dug it up and decided to add it to the base of part of the ramshackle don’t-sneeze-as-it-will-probably-fall-down mini drystone wall that lines the bottom of the back fence (made up of all the cement splodges chipped off the bottom of paving stones that were taken up to create the back border in 2013, and the small bed behind the swing seat last Spring). On Monday, in order to prettify things a bit, I created a planting pocket within the ‘wall’ and put in a new Aubrieta ‘Deep Purple’. I’m hoping it will ‘flow’ down the rubble in time.

6. And finally… the buds of the Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ are developing nicely. In a few weeks we’ll be treated to some gloriously scented white flowers.

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.

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Six on Saturday (20 October 2018)

As the days get ever shorter it’s getting harder to find time to take photos of the garden in advance of compiling a Six on Saturday blog and increasingly photo taking is actually happening on Saturday!

1. I still haven’t planted all of the packs of bulbs I bought back in September, including these Purple Sensation alliums. And I’ve purchased more bulbs since then. We already have Purple Sensation in the garden but they never do that well. I don’t think they like the heavy clay soil. A few flower but most look rather weedy and tend to get flattened on a blustery day. But undeterred I got some more.

I’m planning on taking some of the gravelly soil from the spot where the growhouse used to be (and where the new tree will be planted when it arrives) and digging it into the back bed to make it more free draining and hopefully more favourable for allium growing. That’s the idea anyway.

2. I purchased a new white Japanese Anemone a few weeks ago as our original one hadn’t flowered this year. I just need to work out where to plant it.

3. The snap dragons are still flowering away and providing a lot of colour in the garden.

4. As are some of the Linaria Maroccana ‘Fairy Lights Mixed’. I’m definitely going to try these again next year.

5. And that patio rose (Violet Cloud) that has featured in a few Six on Saturdays is still going strong.

6. But plants haven’t been the top priority over the past week. The old shed that was emptied last weekend is no more.

It was replaced with a new one and thankfully it fits perfectly! I’ll confess now that we didn’t dismantle the old one or erect the new one. The shed people did it all and very well they did it too. My wife and I painted the two panels that were going up against the fences last Saturday, the plan being that we wouldn’t need to move it to paint these sides once built. However, some untreated side strips were added to each corner and I also wanted to fit a gutter, so we had to move it anyway.

It’s well-built, smells wonderfully timbery but weighs a ton. It’s now rather dazzling with its Natural Stone and Pale Jasminey paint job (though I’m not entirely sure about the Pale Jasmine – it may require a more sensible colour that won’t show the dirt quite so much). I’m now trying to justify spending a small fortune on a very small aluminum and glass mini lean-to greenhouse in Cotswold Green that would go perfectly on the end of the shed. It’s in my basket but I’ve yet to pluck up the courage to click on the ‘proceed to checkout’ button.

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.