Six on Saturday – 21st May 2022

We’re away on holiday at the moment and the Under-Gardener is having a little break at his holiday home too, hanging out with his best mates and probably getting a bit rowdy. I took a few photos in between rain showers before we left, though, so here are my six. Many thanks to Mr Propagator for hosting, pop on over to his site https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2022/05/21/six-on-saturday-21-05-2022/ to see the other Six on Saturday posts and to join the fun and post your own. Wishing everyone a weekend of good gardening weather (I just need good drinking and lazing about weather this weekend, myself!)

My favourite oriental poppy obligingly opened before we went away. I love this rich red.
Gertrude Jekyll, a David Austin rose, so dependable and lovely (and with vicious thorns). The smell is heavenly. She’s very biddable and easy to train and I should get a nice column of blooms all the way up the pergola (and maybe one day across the top of it, too). This one is a cutting from my original – I can’t stop myself from attempting to strike cuttings with prunings. There’s always room for more roses.
I love the way hosta leaves hold raindrops.
Strawberries look promising for the first year ever – https://gardening-naturally.com’s low fruit cage has stood right through since last year, I just rolled the nets back over winter and held them in place with wire, so that birds could get in and get at pests for me. The plants have bulked up nicely and we have a good show of flowers, so I’m hopeful we might actually get a decent crop this year, since the nets should keep the blackbirds off (though I dare say the voles will not be deterred, little buggers love strawberries!)
This is an extremely unsophisticated rose from Lidl. It didn’t have a name, so I call it Tequila Sunrise (I am a huge Eagles fan). Its rather brash colours clash with just about everything and I love it.
I have interplanted carrots and garlic this year in a bid to outwit the carrot fly, but I heard on the Garden Organic podcast this month that this is a myth and it doesn’t actually work. I am considering trying one of those carrot fly screens, though it seems implausible to me that the flies don’t just go over the top of it…

Friday 13th – Sunday 15th May 2022 – conscious competence

Finally – a decent mass of alliums. Only taken me 6 years of planting more and more of the damn things every autumn. And still I’d like more! I suspect the christophii will open while we’re away, just to spite me.

Frenzied activity in the garden all weekend, with three long days of hard graft put in by all three of us (well, the Under-Gardener perhaps not so much). We had scorching hot weather followed by a warm wet day and I am so grateful for a good downpour that I didn’t mind working in it. To be honest, as long as it’s warm, I never mind gardening in the rain.

I have removed all of the forget-me-nots and made a good start on planting out the annual seedlings I had raised to plug the gaps. For the first time ever I was pleased to be taking out the FMNs, noticing how the air and light was let into the borders by me doing so, and starting to see how to create drifts and blocks of colour for impact. I finally feel like I’m really gaining skills in translating how I want things to look in my head into reality in the beds. Not that I don’t still make plenty of mistakes, though… I found several perennials getting swamped by other things, and had to move a few things around. There is still a stubborn patch in the long border where it’s difficult to get things to grow, I’m fairly sure there’s an old tree root there. Still, I am happier with the garden than I have ever been, and I am revelling in a sense of competence.

The Under-Gardener is a sworn enemy of the wheelbarrow and thus must monitor it closely for the slightest hint of insurrection. He will follow it up and down the path, eyeing it with suspicion.
I’m going to get really boring about these alliums. Sorry. And that washing line ruins the view. It used to be possible to reel it in, but I discovered today that Chief Engineer has now lashed the end to the post in a complicated knot (probably to stop me from leaving it down at inopportune moments).
Saturday’s bright sun popped the first bud on the oriental poppy. We have a deeper red one that I much prefer, but that hasn’t opened yet. This one I grew from seed 7 years ago, however, so I do feel rather connected to it. I love the strange blue-black pollen – the bees seem to roll around and get drunk in it.
These roses on the top arch seem to me to be a brighter yellow than ever before, but I am probably mis-remembering. In any event, they lit up the grey day on Sunday.
This tickled me. That giant teasel has big pools of water trapped in the nodes at each set of leaves (here you see a cerinthe petal floating in the pool). I suppose this must be its way of ensuring a supply of water to get it through dry weather or something. Nature’s ingenuity is so pleasing.
A slug’s determination and appetite, however, are not. I planted out some dahliae in the gaps created by the FMN removal. I appear to have opened an all you can eat buffet for molluscs. I should have put a slug pub next to it. The Bishop of Llandaff has been denuded. Balls. Luckily I held one back as insurance.
Wheelbarrows simply cannot be trusted.
Peas, on the other hand, should be given a chance (sorry).
I’m having a very leguminous year this year, I seem to have ordered, sown and raised all sorts of weird and wonderful peas and beans, having been disappointed not to have grown more last year. The middle block of peas here are already forming pods… which makes me think I might get something in the space immediately after they’ve finished, and make this bed do double-service this year… a late row of brassicas, perhaps?
Chief Engineer has worked like ten men this weekend. He laid more pebble path along the far side of the central veg bed and also built the rather smashing wooden trough you see to the right in this shot. it is exactly the right size to hold four of those polystyrene boxes you see nestled in it. These come from the grocer, who gets wholesale broccoli in them, and I’ve found they are perfect for a whole host of jobs in the garden. They are currently housing dahliae which have overwintered in them and are now waiting to be planted out in pots or the borders, and once the dahliae move on, they will probably either house beans or courgettes, or possibly a bit of both. The wooden trough means I don’t have to see the white poly boxes from the house. I’m also sneaking a narrow row of beans in next to the brassica cage on the right, so that the cage is obscured from the house. I think this is probably going to backfire on me spectacularly – either the slugs will take the lot, or I’ll have proved to have jammed too much into too little space and it’ll all fail. We’ll see. Time enough to sow more as back-up, I think…
Here’s that smart new path. And a nearly full veg bed. And – oh look! More beans and peas! These are an old Spanish variety for drying. They were delicious in soups and stews last year and I wished I’d grown more. Rapidly running out of room now, though…
Chief Engineer also found time to earth up the potatoes with garden compost, having turned the heaps first. You can just see the potato beds with the fresh compost on them beyond the fence. That fruit cage has a right lean on it, doesn’t it? The fence and gate, meanwhile, lean in the opposite direction. This is entirely in-keeping with the whole house, which is very old and doesn’t have a straight wall in it anywhere.
A representative sample of the potting on I did today in the greenhouse, when it got too wet even for me outside. I reckon I potted up about 25 tomatoes, 11 padron peppers (nobody needs so many of either); 5 courgettes (the slugs will eat these, unlike every other gardener in history, I have yet to have a glut of courgettes); 2 chilli peppers; 4 aubergines; 11 assorted squash (see courgettes: slug banquet) and various flowering plants, both annual and perennial. One area I have yet to improve in is appreciating timing – had I thought more about when we were going away, I could have timed my seed sowing better, so that potting on of plants that had put on a growth spurt didn’t need to be done in a hurry today (and I might not have been left with the worry of whether they’ll expire from drought while we’re gone, either). There is always room for improvement.
This year I am determined to do better with my chrysanthemums. I’m trying them in the greenhouse border and to do so I am having to fight my belief that precious greenhouse space should be preserved for edibles only. Because I am a pathological over-planter, however, I have tucked in some aubergines and a chilli pepper, as well as sticking in several African marigolds which I use as slug sacrifices (and any marigolds that – against all odds – survive the marauding molluscs can serve as deterrent for other pests, though how effective that is I am never really sure). I am religiously pinching out and disbudding my chrysanthemums. If I don’t get at least one decent bunch for the house in autumn then the whole lot is going on the compost heap as a bad job, and I shall be in high dudgeon.
I’m going to get really boring about my lupins too. I can only apologise.

Six on Saturday – 14th May 2022

A week of first appearances of the year this week with more colour coming through every day as temperatures rise and days continue to lengthen. A decent fall of rain gave everything a welcome drink mid-week too, thank goodness. My sworn enemies the gooseberry sawfly and the errant football have done their best to dishearten me. I try to be good-natured about the latter, but I’d like to dispense with it with the same brutality I show the sawflies!

Wishing gardeners everywhere a good weekend, may your days be free of pests of all kinds! Head on over to Mr Propagator’s site https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/ to see what he and everyone else has been up to this week and check out the notes here: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/ if you’d like to participate in Six on Saturday yourself.

The first of the lupins are out and it’s clear the autumn manure mulch has really given them a boost. These at the bottom of the border are the first to benefit from longer days and the gradual rise in the sun’s position. Those further up the border come along a week or two later. The books will tell you lupins are short-lived perennials and that they should not be cut down after flowering: in my experience, neither is true.
Scarlet Geum ‘Mrs J Bradshaw’ always turns up much later than ‘Totally Tangerine’ and is never as vigorous. She’s very pleasing though and combines arrestingly with the euphorbia oblongata, which is turning into a bit of a thug, but it’s such a good filler that I’m prepared to forgive it.
The chard is still going strong, though some plants are just starting to go to seed and it seems affected by some sort of rust or blight which has also seen off the first of the year’s chard seedlings, frustratingly. I will raise another tray and keep them indoors until bigger. I find it much easier to grow than the true spinach, standing and cropping far longer and actually more useful in the kitchen too (not to mention prettier in the garden).
This beautiful iris came from Hestercombe Gardens in Somerset (by which I mean they sell their divisions to visitors, even I wouldn’t go to a garden armed with fork and trowel to help myself!)
Every year I raise ammi from seed (both majus and visnaga) but it’s a right faff and the seeds are miffy about germinating (I do find umbellifers moody). I saw what I believe to be daucus carotta, the wild carrot, growing on a roadside verge and it occurred to me it might make a tougher alternative which I think is perennial and won’t need cosseting and staking. So far, so good. Just as well – barely any ammi have made it to planting out size this year and the visnaga refuses to germinate at all!
On the whole I am inclined to let self-seeders get on with it, but this sometimes this leads to enforced inconvenience. Stachys byzantium and some sort of wild marjoram set up home together in the tiny space between patio paving slabs and erigeron karvinskianus decided to move in alongside. The downpipe I diverted into the bed on the right of this shot, plus the run-off of plant food from watered pots on the patio, has boosted these incomers rather dramatically. I like the effect but it does pose a slight obstacle to what is meant to be the route to this bench. The pink in the bed on the right there is gladiolus Byzantium, a species gladiolus that is altogether less blowsy than its larger cousin and to my mind more pleasing. I planted 100 last year in the hope they will perennialise and add a splash of colour in that lull between spring and summer. They’re just starting to pop up everywhere now and I’m very pleased with their understated elegance (not something that is often seen in this garden!)

Here are some other SoSers I’ve been enjoying recently:

After Eden http://aftereden.blog/2022/05/11/wordless-wednesday-11-may-2022/

Rambling in the Garden https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2022/05/11/wordless-wednesday-candle-in-the-wind/

Gardening in the Prairie https://wisconsingarden.wordpress.com/2022/05/13/whorled-milkweed-has-arrived/

Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th May 2022 – learning when and when not to be ruthless

Every year, I leave the forget-me-nots in too long, and they run to seed and go blowsy, flopping over perennials and generally making things soggy and scruffy. Then I have to rip them all out at once, and spend at least a fortnight bemoaning the huge gaps left in the border. Not this year! I have been raising ridiculously large numbers of annuals in trays and modules, and have commenced gradual, phased removals of FMNs, replacing with annuals to plug gaps quickly. My Dear Friend & Gardener (a professional gardener from whom I have learned much of what I know) endorses this as “proper gardening” and I glow with pride. This s a long-winded way of explaining that this posy exists because I needed to actually get around to deadheading the Bowles Mauve erysimum before it went over, rather than leaving it until it had become leggy and straggly, and once I’d done that I needed other flowers to go with it, and just for once the blooms were sufficiently numerous at this time of year for me to feel justified in cutting a few for the table. Dear F&G, like the great Christopher Lloyd, believes that good gardeners know how and when to be ruthless: I am trying to be more so, but sometimes I need not to be, as we shall see. I have posted too many photos this week – the light in the garden is beautiful and I have had one or two small sherries…

Homer’s still hanging around. He follows me around the garden puffing up his chest and coo-ing. I think he may have mistaken me for a hen pigeon.
This self-seeded teasel is turning into a bit of a beast and is not really the right scale for the spot it’s in, but since they are loved by birds and bees and are also biennial, I don’t feel I can be ruthless enough to ignore all its efforts. Of one year plus and remove it. It reminds me of the ghastly pods in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers films.
Soggy Bottom is resplendent.
The currants (white, red, black) are setting fruit and are safely netted.
The strawberries are flowering and need to be netted asap. That dead water butt and the pile of bricks make it looks very messy, don’t they? I really need to tidy up the productive end of the garden so it doesn’t look like Steptoe’s yard. This is not an allotment.
Raspberries also flying. Summer pudding is assured.
Finally learned to sow peas early enough and in large enough quantities for some to actually make it to the dinner plate instead of all getting eaten by me and the Under-Gardener somewhere between soil and kitchen door.
A hidden bench in a shady corner. The pole for the washing line irks me, but we do a lot of laundry.
The euphorbia oblongata sings in the evening sunshine.
Aquilegia is having a moment right now. I love these but I really wish I could grow the technicolour Mckanna hybrids, however for some reason they always fail for me and I can only succeed with purple ones. I long for the Tequila Sunrise in red and yellow tones, and the strident red and white ones.
When not to be ruthless: this phlomis (not sure which one, I – erm – borrowed a cutting from a park) has never flowered before and look! It flowers on last year’s wood, so, like the lilac, I need to learn when to leave a thing alone as well as well as when to rip it out, and I need to be less snip-happy with those secateurs.
Might I have raised too many seedlings? (This isn’t all of them). Does anyone really have time for 40 fussy zinnias raised in modules? I suppose the slugs will be happy if nothing else.

Six on Saturday – 7th May 2022

New growth appearing all over the place as temperatures crawl up; the nighttime low now hovers around 10 Celsius at night in the greenhouses – the all important point I wait for before moving really tender things around. The great greenhouse shuffle commences – overwintered stuff out, Summer crops in. A very grey day on Friday made for some rather flat photos. More to come in a Sunday post, where I hope to show things to better advantage. In the meantime, here are my six, and I wish everyone dry days, rainy nights and good gardening (oh for some rain though, please!!!!)

Head over to The Propagator’s latest post to see what the other Six on Saturday posters have been up to. https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2022/05/07/six-on-saturday-07-05-2022/

Finally, a childhood dream realised: I own a flowering wisteria.
I don’t like to boast but honestly, look at these bad boys. Centre stage, delphiniums raised from seed, now two years old, and aren’t they majestic beasts? I diverted a drainpipe to feed rain water directly into this previously rather dry bed and it’s sent everything shooting skyward. Paeonies on the left there giving the delphs a run for their money.
At last, a decent show of lily of the valley. I discovered these grow best when the pips are jammed in somewhere tight to a hard surface – they love to run along brick path edging, for example. I lifted them and replanted to the brick edge here and they’ve repaid me handsomely with enough blooms for a small pot on my desk – smells like heaven.
An indecently healthy hosta. Sure to be ravaged by molluscs any day now.
Candelabra primula. I love these crazy things, I just wish I knew what had happened to the orange and yellow ones that went in alongside these pinky-red ones last year. Do slugs recognise colour? Nothing would surprise me. The squirrels favour the purple crocuses…
Path through damp shade garden (Soggy Bottom) rapidly getting obscured. This is becoming my favourite part of the garden in Spring.

Monday 2nd May 2022 – Potential

An overcast weekend (apart from the odd sunny spell on Saturday) but we are not deterred, no, we have gardened as much as we could and the garden is bursting with potential. Every spare inch of space in both greenhouses is packed full of seedlings or seeds just sown. The plants are all sighing with relief at the welcome rain which fell for most of Sunday. We need more, but we’re grateful for what we had. I am happier with the garden as it is right now than I have ever been before at this time of year, and that is quite something for me, as I am rarely happy with it. I’ve even remembered to sit in it and relax a bit. I can see my skills and husbandry improving and that’s very gratifying indeed.

Tulip ‘Ballerina’ has it all – fabulous form and colour, scent and allegedly happy to perennialise (I’ll believe that last when I see it).
Yes, it’s that time of year again – the obligatory ‘ant on paeony bud’ shot.
I almost like the sight of rain droplets caught on lupin leaves even more than I like the flower spikes. Almost. Fennel here on the left providing a beautiful feathery foil. Meant to be bronze. It isn’t. I actually prefer it fresh and green now anyway.
I said ‘almost’. The first flower spike is forming. They’ve loved their autumn feed, I’m hoping for great things from them this year.
Not wanting to be outdone, the first of the oriental poppies. I have these in two colours, these are my favourite of the two, a brazen rich red like a screen siren’s fingernails. This plant was here when we moved in but in a really stupid place. I moved it and it sulked and sulked… it has finally forgiven me and has bulked up. I shall look to divide it this Autumn.
One of the wisteria buds I didn’t knock off whilst planting the damn thing. Look at that colour. I can’t wait for this. Buying one that is in bud is the one sure way to know you won’t have to wait years for it to flower. Expensive, but worth it if you’re impatient and hate to be disappointed.
This honeysuckle smells so lovely and is a riot of colour along the hedge behind the apple tree. I’ve been gradually encouraging it from the back of next door’s hedge and now it is getting well established. I should take cuttings, really, as an insurance policy against it getting ripped out on the other side.
The lilac is especially frothy this year and the smell is heavenly. I had hoped to cut some for the house, but it’s all got extraordinarily stumpy stems. I’m wondering if this is due to some really ham fisted pruning. I shall read up – it looks as though it has flowered on last year’s wood, so probably all it needs is dead-heading after flowering and then for me to LEAVE IT ALONE! No snipping unless it is getting too big for its boots (or for the garden).
Here, and below, some pansies that are very jolly despite having been munched by slugs. Pansies are always worth buying from the plant graveyard in garden centres, as you will always find some languishing there at a bargain price and nobody buys them because they look beyond redemption, but they are easily brought back to life with a little disbudding and a dash of food and repotting (check for vine weevil before planting out – the little buggers love pansies and places like the garden section of DIY stores are a breeding ground for them!) Which reminds me, I must apply my nematodes before they go out of date…
Fortunately there was enough sun on Saturday to please the Under-Gardener.
Homer the Hopeless Pigeon has monitored me from various nearby perches throughout the weekend, dropping down to ground level occasionally to inspect things and to see if I feel like offering any food. He’s probably been over fed, to be honest. How much are pigeons meant to eat, anyway? I’m worried about him, really. He must be lonely. I am no substitute for a flock. Poor thing. Keeping him seems ridiculous but his owner doesn’t want him. I suppose sooner or later he will find a lady pigeon and fly away. Or a cat or buzzard will get him! I’ll look after him as best I can for as long as possible.

Six on Saturday – 30th April 2022

In haste, my Six on Saturday. Despite this being a bank holiday weekend I can’t quite seem to get on top of things… but sometimes I think the point of gardening is to teach one to let go of the need to feel on top of things all the time. Wishing all the SoSers and indeed gardeners everywhere hours of happy gardening this weekend… remember to pause and admire the fruits of your hard labour!

Geum (“Totally Tangerine”), cerinthe, teasel, euphorbia oblongata. Love these colours together.
Dicentra spectabilis if you’re old-fashioned like me, lamprocapnos if you’re up to the minute, bleeding heart if you’d really rather not make things any more complicated than they need to be. One of my very favourite plants. I don’t seem to be doing as well with it as I used to. The places I have it may be too dry. I will experiment.
First of the artichokes forming a fruit (is it a fruit? Not sure!) These haven’t really cropped properly since transferring from the old allotment. I think I forgot how hungry these plants are. They had a good mulch of manure in the autumn and look happier now. This is the violetta di Chioggia variety, where it is picked young and eaten whole. I could eat these until they come out of my ears… but that would probably hurt, as they are spiky.
I’m delighted the candelabra primulae have returned for a second year but I’m bemused as to how the yellow and orange ones planted last year are now red.
Here are those irises again, more fully in bloom. Aren’t they beautiful?
We have been adopted by a stray racing pigeon. He’s been hanging around for ages. I’ve found his owner and tried all sorts of advice and techniques to get him to go home, but it’s not happening. He’s clearly rubbish at homing. The owner says I can keep him. We’ve named him Homer (the pigeon, not the owner). I’ve got a sinking feeling this might turn into more work and hassle than it at first appears. The Under-Gardener is extremely put out and keeps chasing Homer, but Homer is completely unruffled by this, and simply flies out of reach, peering down at the Under-Gardener from a height, as if he’s thinking “idiot dog”. To be honest, they’re both incredibly stupid. I’m not sure what I’ve started here… if anyone has any pigeon-tending tips, please do pipe up!

I forgot to add a link to Mr Propagator’s page with all the updates from the other SoSers – go here to check out what other gardeners around the world have been up to! https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2022/04/30/six-on-saturday-30-04-2022/

Sunday 24th April 2022 – dog tired

The Under-Gardener has had a lot to complain about: he’s exhausted from all the garden supervision he’s had to provide for the humans this weekend and he’s peeved that despite these being his notes, people haven’t seen much of him. So here he is, in his favourite occupation of sunbathing on the job. That ridge in the lawn is where Chief Engineer has uncovered the mole tunnels, packed them with chopped onion and replaced the turf back over the tunnels. It’s working so far… and I see next door have two fresh molehills, so hopefully we’ve pushed Moley over there for a bit!

It’s been a weekend of non-stop gardening and we were all exhausted at the end of it. I spent a fortune on replenishing my dahlia stocks and a selection of really beautiful tubers arrived on Thursday, so I potted them up at the weekend and already shoots are visible. I can’t wait for these – it’s going to be a technicolour explosion. I also bought a wisteria (which Chief Engineer kindly paid for half of, as it was rather more expensive – and bigger – than I was expecting!) I made very heavy weather of planting it and affixing it to the pergola, knocking off several buds in the process, which I am furious with myself for. The rest of the work was largely pricking out of seedlings and making successional sowings of veg. Chief Engineer netted the gooseberries (after I’d meticulously hunted down every gooseberry sawfly caterpillar and dispatched it with a squish) and he also netted the brassicas – not a moment too soon, as the idiot wood pigeons have finally found them and started tearing into them, plus multiple cabbage white butterflies have been spotted. I see that the nettles I leave to grow here and there are well munched by something, so I am hopeful that some of our more attractive native butterflies will also be seen in the garden before too long.

Chief Engineer at work. Buying this cage was a revelation after years of constructing ramshackle things from scratch using canes, string and bits of old net. This was well worth the investment and I’ll gradually buy more. So much quicker and easier and more attractive and effective, too.
It’s a terrible photo – I just never seem to be able to capture the apple blossom well on camera, but this is one of our best years yet for blossom and the bees are going wild for it. The apples aren’t great but they’re fine for cooking and the tree is well used by a huge range of garden birds. The tits in particular (blue, long-tailed, great, coal) all love to pick off aphids and other pests (and they are most welcome!)
Although the wind was quite fresh, the sun was strong. The Under-Gardener was grateful for a spot of shade. That lemon tree in the black pot – grown from seed! – is being munched. I think it’s the dreaded vine weevil – time for nematodes. Vine weevil nematodes are the only nematodes I’ve ever had any success with. Even then I still find the odd adult weevil (they are a lot crunchier than the sawfly larvae when squished!)
Planting out germinated peas. If I sow direct, the voles will take the lot. Sowing in guttering in the greenhouse has revolutionised pea growing for me – it’s so incredibly easy to plant out. Hoe a shallow trench and slide everything out of the length of guttering into it. I’ll never grow peas any other way again. Attributed to the late and utterly wonderful Geoff Hamilton, I think.
Here’s a curiosity – imagine my surprise when I opened this packet of carrot seeds to find they were a bright pearlescent green. Apparently they are coated with a “green, non-toxic, anti-fungicidal food dye to aid visual identification in the soil”. Well, I will say that it made it much easier to sow the seed thinly, but I am not sure I’d have bought these if I’d known about this. It’ll be interesting to see what the germination rate is like (and the quality of the carrots!)
An overlooked plant in an overlooked corner, this epimedium is flowering its heart out right now. I love its crazy jester’s hat flowers on delicate branching stems. An uncomplaining plant that thrives without fuss in difficult, dry shady corners. I’d actually like to get more of these in some different varieties.
Tulips starting to go over now (apart from new introduction Ballerina, giving welcome orange-red on the far left) but plenty of other stuff bulking up. the lupins seem particularly happy about the autumn manure mulch (unsurprising, since they are legumes, I think). I do hope this doesn’t mean they’re going all out on foliage at the expense of flowers.
The year’s first allium fixing to open! Every year I plant more, every year I wonder where they’ve all gone. Surely nothing eats alliums?!
The Under-Gardener wishes it to be understood that the snacks are closer to the top end of the path and Head Gardener should focus her attention this way.
First irises in the last of the evening sun. I shall take better photos of these in better light when more have opened. They are heavenly. I want to fill this space with them. They love the heat bouncing off the house and the patio.

Six on Saturday – 23rd April 2022

A lack of rain and a cold drying wind have some things looking a bit parched here – I need to get out and do a spot of judicious watering. The weather was just the same this time last year, according to my sort-of garden journal. A busy weekend of planting out and potting up awaits me and I shall try to post again tomorrow, but in the meantime here are my Six on Saturday (well seven actually, I’m cheating this week!) Happy Saturday to SoSers all around the world, and happy gardening, hope the weather is kind where you are.

Camassias really love our moist rich Welsh soil. I’m really pleased with the way the pinky-purple tulips and the red hints on the new rose foliage pick up the pink undertones in the camassia spires. It’s at least half deliberate on my part. The camassias keep spreading – their beauty is fleeting but they provide such welcome vivid blue and good form and height so early in the season that I’m happy to leave them to it.
I’m taking a bit of a gamble here but I’ve put the potted tender perennials outside for the Summer season. This should turn into a billowing collection of foliage and flower soon, with the warmth bouncing off the patio paving and the wall of Chief Engineer’s office (West-facing). The flamingos have been in for a service and had a re-spray. My Dear Friend and Gardener observes these and remarks that I refuse to take gardening seriously, don’t I? On the contrary, I say, I am very serious about it indeed! They remind me of Alice in Wonderland. If only we had hedgehogs.
Great year for apple blossom so far, I just hope we don’t get very high winds and heavy rain smashing it all before fruit sets. this is St Cecilia, a relatively new addition to the garden. St Cecilia is a variety bred in the village we live in. It was grafted specially for me by a nursery in West Wales, on a very dwarf rootstock. The diminutive height has given me an opportunity to smell the blossom, which I never have before. It has a light, subtle, fresh scent, it smells of Spring.
An unusually understated tulip for me, Spring Green. I wanted one border to be a bit more subtle. This border is the last to get sun as it gets higher through the year (again, West-facing) plus it suffers from running along the leylandii hedge. Here Spring Green battles on regardless, looking rather fine with the honesty in the background and the slightly glaucous new growth on the valerian all around it. This is partially a medicinal herb bed. I use the valerian leaves for tea and also make tincture from the roots – it really does help with short-term sleeplessness, plus the flowers are pretty and insects love it. My phone camera doesn’t seem to like photographing white. I don’t grow a lot of white, actually, but it does lift and brighten and I think I might start introducing more of it.
Mr Mole is causing havoc! Whilst I am very grateful for the piles of beautifully tilled soil which make great potting compost, I should prefer it if he went away. Does anyone have any ideas, please?
A double cheat here as these last two pictures take me to seven in total and they are not from my garden, but the sight is too beautiful not to share, though my elderly phone camera does not do it justice. Bluebells as far as the eye can see, a beautiful haze of blue in woodlands near our home, managed by a truly wonderful little charitable trust. Every year they get better and better. I wish I could share the smell, too, which is heavenly.

Check out the other Six on Saturday posts from other gardeners via The Propagator’s page, http://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com .

Here are a few other SoSers whose posts I’ve been enjoying recently: http://gardenruminations.co.uk;

http://wisconsingarden.wordpress.com;

http://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com

http://frogenddweller.wordpress.com

Six on Saturday – 16th April 2022

I am determined to get my Six on Saturday post right this week so I’m getting it in early! Lots of new growth and signs of Spring in the garden this week as the days lengthen and temperatures rise. I’ve taken the risk on bringing a few of the more tender things out of the greenhouse, starting to make room in there for other things. The last of the potatoes have gone in and I’ve planted out the peas which I started off in guttering a few weeks ago (no photo as not very interesting to look at!) Check out the other Six on Saturday posts from other gardeners via The Propagator’s page, http://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com .

First apple blossom bud of the year. Every year, Chief Engineer gets better and better at the twice yearly prune. I’ll make a gardener of him yet.
I’m not brilliant at butterfly identification but given the amount of ivy in our garden I’d say this was a Holly Blue. Tiny, beautiful, and the most vivid bright blue when it opened its wings (which it resolutely refused to do for the camera).
Big, fat, juicy iris buds. I can’t wait for this iris to open. The rich deep purple is like velvet and the scent is heavenly, like no other floral scent I’ve ever smelled. Given to me by my mother, from a house owned by a friend, and a place I loved – these also have huge sentimental value for me.
I know I keep posting photos of tulips but these just captivate me. With the evening sun behind them last night they glowed like stained glass. I’ll definitely be planting more of these, I want to fill this bed with these two (Abu Hassan and Purple Dream).
The fierce sunshine we’ve had (I’m not complaining!) has fried the earliest tulips but the later ones are coming on to plug the gaps – these yellow ones in particular (no idea of the variety) always come up last and stay the longest. I love it when the forget-me-nots join them – the blue haze is a fabulous gap-filler and their scent is the essence of Spring (the bees love it too).
It looks a little battle-weary and it probably needs repotting but I’m very pleased with this brugmansia. A present from my mum, bought in Lidl (last of the big spenders, my mum), it is now about 6 years old and has never been this big or had so many leaves so early in the year before. In previous years I’ve hauled it into a greenhouse to over-winter, but this year I just kept it outdoors and kept it covered with a heavy duty fleece bag whenever temperatures dipped below 5 Celsius (fleece bags from Gardening Naturally, http://gardening-naturally.com . I can’t recommend this company highly enough, they’re truly excellent). It has some woody patches on the stems but it still looks healthier than it usually does at this time of year – I normally have to lose a lot of the height in pruning out wood that’s died back. It looks happier than its smaller offspring which was kept in the greenhouse as an insurance policy. I’ll start feeding it, repot and tidy it up a bit, and have high hopes of big blooms earlier in the Summer than usual. It has tended to flower at the end of the Summer/start of Autumn, just as the weather changes, spoiling the flowers and making it too cold and wet to sit outdoors and enjoy the heady evening scent. Fingers crossed I can coax a better, earlier performance out of it this year!