Six on Saturday 10/04/21

Brrrrr. It’s chilly out there but the sun’s trying to shine. Fingers crossed that it succeeds. On the subject of weather – where are the April showers? It seems such a distant memory but I definitely remember complaining that the garden was water logged due to too much rain through autumn and winter. It has been several weeks since we had any meaningful rain and there doesn’t seem to be any forecast here for at least the next couple of weeks. I’ve been watering the pots for quite a while but I think I’m going to have to do some watering in the borders as well. I split and replanted a lot of the herbaceous perennials a while back and they are showing signs of stress and not a lot of growth. The established plants, however are growing daily. I love this time of the year, everything changes so quickly. Here’s an update from my garden this week.

  • There’s so much new growth and I’ve been a bit worried as we’ve had a few frosts this week. One plant that hasn’t liked the cold is Parthenocissus henryana. A lot of the lovely new leaves are all black and crispy.

  • From a sorry looking plant (that will recover) to one that is looking absolutely beautiful
Amelanchier lamarckii ‘Ballerina’ through the glasshouse roof

This tree was in my Six this time last year and I also took a video of it at the time because it was full of honey bees. Although yesterday was bright and sunny for a while it’s a lot colder than this time last year and the honey bees haven’t arrived yet. The bumble bees seem to prefer the nearby Pieris. It will be interesting to see if there are as many Amelanchier berries for the birds to eat.

  • Talking of birds……. the starlings have caused great amusement this week. The bark of the Birch tree is peeling off in strips and the starlings must be using it to help make their nests. They spend ages in the tree pulling the ends of the strips until they have a beak full of pieces. They aren’t very good at knowing when to stop and fly away with what they have collected and often lose the whole lot while trying to pull off one more piece. The bed below is littered with all of the dropped pieces but they don’t often think to take the easy route.
They wouldn’t pose for the camera, even though I was indoors
  • I’ve been mostly pleased with the pots this spring although the tulips have flowered before the narcissi in a couple of them. Not in the plan! This one is going in the right order though.
N. ‘Jack Snipe’and Chionodoxa luciliae to be followed by T. ‘China Town’
  • The pots of Tulips are getting ready to fill the patio area with a riot of colour (that’s the plan, anyway), they need some sun though. T. ‘Stresa’ was in a mixed pot and has been and gone already. I’ve grown T. ‘Quebec’ for the first time and have found it pretty if a little underwhelming.
  • Another pot of bulbs to finish with. These didn’t flower last year so they earned another chance.
Fritillaria uva vulpis

While sat writing this I’m looking out at the beautiful Lamprocapnos spectabile. Why isn’t it in this weeks Six? How could I have forgotten it? Too late now.

I’ve some Cosmos seedlings to prick out this morning then there’s weeding to do, Clematis to tie in and lots of other jobs to keep me busy outside all day. I just hope it warms up a bit. Thanks for reading, have a lovely weekend and don’t forget to read the other Sixes at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Six on Saturday 03/04/21

In my mind things in the garden are well ahead this year. However, looking back through the photos I used this time last year that’s not the case with everything. One of my Six was Clematis alpina ‘Francis Rivis’ in full bloom. Currently, the first green shoots are only just appearing. Some things are at the same stage though including

  • Tulip ‘Angelique’. These were planted out three years ago after being in a spring pot. Most of my potted Tulips haven’t reappeared when planted into the borders so I tend not to bother any more but these have made a good display for a couple of years but there’s less of them this time around.
  • I have tried to grow Anemone blanda many times without much success. This time I decided to plant the corms in a pot, rather than in the ground. They didn’t all come up but most did. My plan is to plant them ‘in the green’ in the hope that they will establish themselves better. It might take a few years to get a good sized patch!
  • The frost has broken a pot containing an Agapanthus and I finally bought a replacement pot this week. The frosted pot fell apart on opposite corners into two pieces so removing the rootball was easy. I know that Agapanthus like to be pot-bound but I’m sure they like some compost as well. This was absolutely solid.

The new pot was only a little bit bigger so I trimmed the roots back a bit and eased the rootball in

I have another potted Agapanthus, it’s a much larger variety and I decided to repot it at the same time. It has spent the winter outside in what I thought was a sheltered spot. Sadly though, I think it must have got wetter than I thought as the emerging new shoots are rotten.

I knocked it out of the pot expecting to find that the roots had rotted as well but they seem to be healthy. Will it grow? Does anyone have any ideas?

  • I mentioned last week that I’d had one of those ‘wouldn’t it be a good idea if…..’ ideas. The Non-Gardener built me a cold frame many years ago. The site wasn’t ideal, north facing, but it was the best at the time (out of the way of small children being the main consideration). Since then a larger glasshouse has been put in front of it, a neighbours Laurel hedge has grown much taller and I can no longer lift the window lights (old wooden windows) on and off. The side wall of the garage is opposite the front of the glasshouse and has a west facing border running the length of it and is covered with a Solanum jasminoides each summer. This is the most sheltered border in the garden and I plant out tender perennials here. Over the last few years I have acquired quite a few Dahlias and have grown them in among the border plants but the results have been disappointing as they are not so easy to stake and fall prey to slugs and snails as they grow up through the other plants. I’d decided that this year I would use the garage border as a Dahlia bed, hoping to get better results. Then I had the aforementioned idea – this border is the perfect spot for a cold frame. Or two. Sheltered, sunny, near a water butt and next to the glasshouse. Using wood he had and some polycarbonate sheets that I use to insulate one side of the glasshouse in the winter the N-G has magiced up a new cold frame. One large frame, two light and easily detachable lids. They filled up very quickly though the succulents will be out once this cold snap has passed.
  • The trouble is that I’ve now lost my Dahlia planting space as there isn’t much border left. I then decided that grass is a very over-rated thing in a garden and a new bed has replaced part of the small and ever-decreasing lawn. The plan is to not fill it with my beloved herbaceous plants but just bulbs and Dahlias. I planted the Crocus and Iris from the spring pots in it yesterday and have also added some Dutch Iris and Allium schubertii. This was only ‘finished’ on Thursday and the edge needs fine-tuning.
The new toilet facility for the local cats
  • Acer palmatum, grown from seed many years ago, is coming into leaf. The lime green and shrimp pink combination is a stunning, if short-lived, one.

It was lovely to have a few warmer nights this week so that the fleece didn’t have to go on in the glasshouse but it’s back to cold nights again for a while, sadly.

There’s, potentially, a whole weekend of gardening ahead for me although it’s rather cold at the moment. Time to give the houseplants some TLC I think. I hope you get to spend some time in your garden and if you need some inspiration then head to our host at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Six on Saturday 27/03/21

Does anyone else have those moments when you think “I reckon that a (insert name of plant or thing) would work well there”? I had one of those moments last weekend and so began a new project. Well, one thing tends to lead to another and one project turned into two. The Non-Gardener has helped with his brilliant diy skills. I’ll show the results next week. In the meantime, here are this weeks Six.

  • Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ is in full bloom and is a magnet for bumble bees. I counted five in there at one point yesterday.
That’s a shy bee in the centre
  • The Pieris shares this small, north facing, border with an Amelanchier. This means that as they have grown the ground has become very shaded and quite dry. When we were let out last summer I bought Mukdenia rossii ‘Crimson Fans’ from a local garden centre as the label said that it was suitable for a sheltered north facing situation. Perfect. When I looked it up at home this plant also likes a moist but well drained soil. I’ve never worked out how ground can be both moist and well drained but there’s nowhere like that in my garden. Anyway, the Mukdenia has reappeared so that’s a good start.
  • Many years ago I grew some Fritillaria meleagris from seed collected from my dads garden. I planted them in several places in the garden in the hope that some would grow and spread. Strangely, for a plant that likes the damp, the only clump to still be going is in the above border. They don’t spread though and there was a white one last year that hasn’t appeared yet (she says optimistically). The dwarf Pieris behind them was liberated from a pot last year and has settled well.
  • Just visible at bottom left of the above photo are the newly emerging fronds of Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’. This fern has been in this border for quite a long time and seems to have adapted to the drier conditions over the years. In a very dry summer it has been known to die back below ground. The very wet winter seems to have suited it as it has spread.
Please ignore the weed seedlings
  • Heuchera ‘Caramel’ grows under the Amelanchier and, unlike some other Heucheras in the garden, has looked attractive all winter. I hadn’t realised how much the leaf colour had faded through the winter until the new leaves started to emerge. I must remove the nibbled leaves.

That’s five from this little border so it’s time to go elsewhere in the garden for number six. This is Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’. When I’ve seen it in other gardens it has been quite a strong looking plant but this one is rather weedy, despite being three years old. Maybe it needs to move.

I know that it’s still March but I’m fed up with these cold nights and covering things up with fleece. Roll on the warmer weather! Enjoy your garden this weekend and gather lots of inspiration from everyone at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Six on Saturday 20/03/21

The weather has been on a more even keel this week and the plants have enjoyed the respite from rain, frost and strong wind. There seem to be signs of new growth on something new every day, all very exciting. I’ve been lifting, dividing and cleaning up some clumps of Hylotelephium in the front garden this week. One has had some wild garlic growing through it for the last few years (this bulb arrived with a plant from a friend many years ago and, despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to completely get rid of it since) and another has Brodiaea ‘Queen Fabiola’ doing the same. I’ve spent hours pulling out little bulbils but I bet I haven’t got them all 😔. Brodiaea/Triteleia is one of those plants that should come with a health warning. I love ‘Queen Fabiola’ flowers, such a pretty blue but just as everything is looking lush in the garden the prolific foliage starts to collapse very messily. The bulbs multiply like mad and it also seeds around prolifically. Apart from that, I love it!

After a winter of having to look hard to find six things it’s lovely to have a choice of things for a Six now. Here’s todays choice.

  • I decided it was time to bring the boxes of Dahlia tubers and Begonia corms that have overwintered in the loft down. This is the second winter that I have done this – partly to free up more winter storage space in the glasshouse – and it worked well last year. With crossed fingers I opened the Begonia box and…….
Phew! They’re alive
  • Next box…..
The Eucomis are shooting as well

The Dahlias seemed fine as well. A couple had even started shooting. All now potted up in the already crowded glasshouse.

  • The patio pots continue to evolve and the first Tulips are now flowering. Sadly, the little sun we had yesterday had gone past the patio by the time I went out with my camera and they had closed. In this pot, strangely, the Tulips have appeared before the Narcissi
  • The Non-Gardener doesn’t like the smell of Hyacinths and so I don’t usually grow them. However, a local garden centre was selling some at a bargain price in the late autumn and so I planted up a late outside pot.
  • Continuing with the blue theme, the Muscari are coming into flower. This is another bulb that needs a health warning and keeping on top of.
  • There are several Pulmonarias in the garden but most are seedlings from an un-named plant. However, I do have two named varieties and this one is P. longifolia. The foliage has more silver markings, is longer (as it’s name says) and lights up a shady corner.

I must cut the Epimedium leaves off before the flowers start to appear. A job for later.

That’s it for another week. Where do those weeks go! Have a great weekend and don’t forget to make time to catch up with all the other Sixers at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Six on Saturday 13/03/21

The sun shone at the beginning of the week and I managed to spend two days in the garden lifting and dividing herbaceous perennials. Most of them went back in the border where they were originally but some have moved to new homes. The less said about the last few days weather the better! So let’s move onto this weeks Six and they are all flowers.

  • I bought Skimmia ‘Rubella’ last autumn for a winter patio pot and it will go in a border when the pot is needed for the summer plants. The Skimmia has taken everything that the weather has thrown at it and the flower buds are finally starting to open
Skimmia ‘Rubella’
  • I showed several of the patio pots a couple of weeks ago. The Crocuses and Irises have now gone over and the Narcissi are flowering now. I bought a lot of my bulbs from a different supplier last year. The quality of bulbs received was good but several haven’t been the variety that was written on the bag, as happened with the mixed colour Iris and these Narcissi are very lovely but are supposed to be ‘Blushing Lady’
Not a blush to be seen
  • Last spring and summer I planted up a lot more pots than usual as I had all the time in the world to look after them. Having filled all of the larger pots up I then decided that the water butt by the shed/opposite the glasshouse needed a plant on top of it (like you do. Don’t you? Maybe it’s just me). Or maybe it needed several plants. The obvious solution (well to me) was a shallow purple Tubtrug that was in the glasshouse. Make some holes in the bottom, spray it with some chalk paint that was in the garage and fill it up. Trailing plants hung down over the water butt, Begonias and Fuchsias filled the centre and it was better than I’d hoped. It’s turned into a permanent feature but the chalk paint hasn’t fared brilliantly in the winter weather.
  • A few weeks ago I ordered some double snowdrops and winter aconites in the green and they arrived this week. I rarely see Aconites growing in my area and my previous attempts haven’t worked but I’ve not tried them in the green before. The ones I received are on the point of flowering so at least I’ll have their beautiful bright yellow flowers for one year! I’ve planted them in several places to see which they prefer.
Eranthis hyemalis
  • The Pulmonaria are starting to flower well now. This is an unnamed seedling.
The Allium christophii seedlings are taking over the borders. I’ll get rid of these when the Pulmonaria has finished flowering
  • I know March can be winter and/or spring but it seems to be Christmas this week. The Hellebore niger has finally decided to flower.

Indoors, a Christmas Cactus is starting to flower for the third time – October, January and again now. There’s quite a lot of buds as well. No photo as my WordPress photo library is at 100%. Does this mean that the only way I can post again next week is to delete older photos? Six on Saturday is my only on-line presence and I use the free version of WordPress for it.

Hopefully, I’ll be back next week but I will certainly catch up with all the other Sixers at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Six on Saturday 06/03/21

I ordered a couple of David Austin roses a while back and they arrived this week. I duly soaked the bare roots in a bucket of water and set about planting them and there began the merry-go-round of planting that has taken place this week. To make room for climbing R. ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ I had removed a tired Physocarpus a couple of weeks ago. On Thursday I removed some Eccremocarpus scaber plants and settled Gertrude into her new home. I wanted to keep the Eccremocarpus and removed a very large, self-sown fern that seemed, to me, to be in the wrong location (it, presumably, didn’t think so). Eccremocarpus now planted. Even though it was in a very sunny spot the fern looked very healthy last year so I thought it would help fill the space beneath the fern wall and bridge the gap between the soil and the first shelf of plants, along with an existing Cyrtomium. That meant moving a smaller fern forward and relocating some bulbs. I’ve had similar “fun” with a Clematis and other plants. When you’ve gardened a small garden for a long time changes have to be rung. Enough of that, let’s get on with this weeks Six – no photo so the above doesn’t count towards the total.

  • A job I was hoping to do in late autumn but was thwarted by the constant rain was to clear a bed that runs along a party fence. There was a lot of bindweed and brambles coming through and my tall herbaceous planting made it difficult to see the enemy until it was quite well established. The soil was finally dry enough (a relative term) that I could get on it this week. Most of the existing plants went back in and a few others were added. Not a lot to see at the moment but the neighbourhood cats are loving it 🤬
Along the back of the border are clumps of Panicum which I’m hoping will disguise the fence. It may not be sunny enough for them though.
  • Just to the right of this border, in front of the glasshouse is a lovely square pot with an Agapanthus in. Make that was a lovely pot…
New pot required.
  • Inside the glasshouse the over-wintered plants and cuttings are putting on growth. With growth, sadly, comes pests.
  • Most of the succulents have spent the winter under glass to get them out of the wet. I shall replant the succulent tower when they’ve been hardened off but want to avoid too many small pots on the patio this year. Having seen several pictures of repurposed wooden stepladders I thought something similar might be the answer – quite a lot of pots in a relatively small area. The N-G* didn’t want to give up his step ladder (not even for me) but has built half a step ladder (a ladder, I suppose!) and I repotted some daffodils from the local greengrocer to display until the succulents emerge from their winter home. This involved another plant merry-go-round to re-home the plant that was in a pot and growing up the trellis.
In the background, Hellebore niger has finally decided to flower!
  • We look out on to the Birch border. As the leaves emerge the spring flowers die down and are replaced by ferns and I’m looking forward to the fern walls second summer.
The Snowdrops and Crocus have gone already.
  • Along the far side of the glasshouse is a north facing border with an Amelanchier.Not a lot grows below it, sadly, but I keep trying

The empty patch on the right used to be home to an obelisk with two Clematis. The trouble was that it was too far forward in the border as there used to be something growing behind it (I can’t remember what). New obelisks have also been made and as I took the old one down to replace it the space just opened up. The Clematis became part of the move around party. I’m not sure yet what to plant here instead. It’s north-east facing and next to the path through to the compost bins/cold frame etc. There’s a large Honeysuckle on the post. Food for thought.

It’s another cold but dry day so it’s time to wrap up and go weeding/tidying up. I’m going to try to not move any plants today! Thank you for reading, have a good weekend and enjoy all the other Sixes at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

  • Non-Gardener

Six on Saturday 27/02/21

What a difference a week makes, weather-wise anyway. The last couple of days here in North Somerset have been lovely and sunny. This has meant frosty mornings but it has soon cleared. It’s also staying light later so more time outdoors. The birds are definitely behaving as though spring is coming and I’ve seen quite a few bees out and about in the flowers. The sunshine has brought the plants in the garden on well, especially the bulbs so I thought this weeks Six could be Six Spring Pots. If you say that quickly several times it turns into six pring spots, or is it only me.

The Iris and Crocus in these pots will be followed by Narcissi and Tulips
The bumblebees are enjoying the sunshine as well
I should have moved the pot with the dead Ficinia in out of the picture. It’s a borderline hardy plant and it survived last winter but not this one
These will be planted in the border when they’ve finished flowering
Iris reticulata ‘Eyecatcher’. There must have been a bit of mingling going on when they were packed. The Iris in the pots above were also a bit of a mix as well
Iris reticulata ‘Katharine Hodgkin’. I’ll definitely grow this variety again.
The Tulips are coming!

A short one this week but the bulbs go over so quickly in the sunshine I wasn’t sure that some of them would hang on for another week or two.

Have a great weekend, I’ll be in the garden trying to catch up after all of the wet, cold weather and then seeing what the other Sixers have posted at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Six on Saturday 20/02/21

Saturdays come around so quickly! Yet again there hasn’t been a lot of suitable gardening weather but I did spend several hours in the glasshouse potting cuttings on, removing things that haven’t made it through the winter (very few of these, thankfully) and having a general sort out. Very satisfying. The main job outstanding in the garden is a border that needs stripping out, digging over to remove the bindweed that has made inroads from next door and then be replanted. I’ve removed and potted up most of the plants but the soil is still far too wet to work on. One day……. In the meantime here are six more positive things happening in the garden.

  • I have a little ‘Froggy’ pond in the front garden, under the wall by the pavement. During the first lockdown it became quite an attraction for local children as they watched the frog spawn develop into tadpoles and then into froglets. I had a bit of a clear out around it a few weeks ago as a Phlox and some Crocosmia had got a bit (lot) out of control so the pond is rather exposed at the moment. It was still frozen last Sunday but thawed throughout Monday daytime. It was very noisy out there Monday night resulting in a large clump of frogspawn by Tuesday morning. Another couple of clumps appeared Tuesday night.
  • Last week the Hellebores were flat on the ground for several days due to the cold. I’m always amazed at the way that they bounce back. This one is below the fern wall, under which I’ve put the pots of Sempervivums to keep them dry(ish).

I bought the above Hellebore three? years ago but most of mine are self sown seedlings that I’ve moved around. These are growing in a north facing border alongside the glasshouse and under the Amelanchier.

Self-sown Hellebores
  • The first of the Narcissi have opened this week
N. ‘February Gold’ in the herbaceous border
  • Despite the cold and wet there are signs of new life everywhere in the garden. I haven’t cut the old flowering stems off of the Hylotelephium yet but the new stems are emerging. The glaucous leaves hold raindrops for days.
H. ‘Red Globe’
  • Among some of the Snowdrops the dark red stems of Lamprocapnos spectabilis are pushing upwards.

A wet weekend is forecast so I’m going to sort through the seeds and start making sowing plans.

Thanks for reading my Six and don’t forget to read all of the others at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Have a great weekend.

Six on Saturday 13/02/21

There’s been no gardening activity here at all this week as it’s been so cold and the ground hasn’t thawed since Tuesday. I’m looking forward to getting outside next week as the forecast is for warmer (relatively) weather although some rain is also forecast. Can’t have it all, especially not in February.

  • The soil is very alkaline here so the couple of dwarf Rhododendrons that I have are in pots. The flower buds have been fattening up nicely but now some of the buds on one of the plants have stopped and are going black. Is this Bud Blast?
Problem buds at the bottom of the picture
  • With this prolonged (for here) cold spell the Pansies, Violas, Irises and Hellebores have been flat on the ground for days. I’m sure that the Hellebores will recover but I’m not so sure about the other less robust plants. A definite casualty is this variegated Erysimum. The grown on cuttings in the cold frame have also succumbed, sadly

  • I finished cutting virtually all of last years herbaceous stems down before this cold spell but left Chasmanthium latifolium as it holds shape well. Although the new growth is coming up when I want to remove the old stems they will just pull away at the base so there’s no worry about cutting the new leaves.
Flattened seed heads of Chasmanthium latifolium
  • In the glasshouse Echiveria ‘Black Prince’ isn’t fazed by the cold

  • I don’t have many evergreens within my small garden but there are several on the boundaries. When sitting in the front room I look out on a mixed hedge I planted between ourselves and the neighbours. By the house is Aucuba japonica. I cut it back hard every other year to keep it within bounds and at this time of year the foliage is very welcome. It also helps to ‘hide’ the dreaded wheely-bin
  • Although, it’s been bitterly cold there hasn’t been an awful lot of sunshine, sadly, but when it came out on Wednesday it was very welcome and the Birch tree lit up. I think it’s a pair of Blue Tits in the branches but birds haven’t been visiting the feeders much, despite the frozen ground. Have others found the same? We seem to have far fewer birds visiting this winter.

Hopefully, with a thaw and some warmer weather in the coming days I will have more signs of life for a Six next week. Time will tell which borderline plants won’t have made it through the winter but at least some gaps will give room to plant some of my online purchases made during gardening inactivity. Plus all the plants that are going to grow from all of the seeds that I’ve bought! Best not tell The N-G. Our secret.

I’m really looking forward to seeing some exuberant planting from Sixers in other parts of the world this week. Catch up with everyone at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Six on Saturday 06/02/21

It’s been a mixed bag, weather-wise, this week and it has been lovely to see the sun a few times. It makes the world seem a better place when it shines. I have managed to cut some of the old herbaceous stems down as they are looking very bedraggled. It’s still too wet to do much else and the continuing heavy showers don’t help. Thankfully though, here in the south-west we won’t be visited by Storm Darcy. Having just read Jim’s latest Six I rushed out to check on my autumn sown seeds. They’ve certainly had the cold but there’s still nothing showing above ground so no late arrivals to the SonS party.

  • As I was cutting the stems down I was amazed at how many small slugs and snails there were. It might explain why the primroses all look like this (or worse)
  • While cutting down I dug up a nearby clump of corms/bulbs(?) that I must have planted in the past but can’t remember doing so. I noticed these growing a couple of years ago and they produce leaves but no flowers. After two years I’m guessing that they don’t like where they are. Can anyone help identify them? They have a very flat base. Gladious byzantinus?? I have a vague recollection of being given some of these but have never seen a flower.
Mystery plant
  • One bulb that does really well here is Allium christophii. I leave the giant seedheads in-situ through the summer and autumn and over the years they have self-seeded very generously and there are now several clumps in the border. I removed and gave away several quite large bulbs last year but there are hundreds of replacements germinating to take their place. I need to do a cull. It’s a nice problem to have, I guess. The SnS sadly don’t eat the germinating shoots but wait until the leaves appear on the larger bulbs then feast on those.
Newly germinated A. christophii among the Forget-Me-Nots
  • Another plant that seeds around is Crocus thomasinianus.
  • The wallflowers that I planted out in the autumn are being eaten, along with the primroses. A few are also starting to flower.
  • In a dark corner the dark leaves of Heuchera ‘Binoche’ are set off by some Snowdrops.

That’s my Six wet, muddy and somewhat eaten things for this week. It has to get drier soon, doesn’t it?

Find many more Sixes at https://thepropagaorblog.wordpress.com/

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.