Six on Saturday – 25th June 2022

Good morning fellow gardeners around the world! Thanks as always to Mr P for hosting. Here are my six, in haste, as I try to organise myself to go to a wedding whilst gritting my teeth through chronic pain. I would rather be in the garden but then that is my default setting! I’m sure I’ll have a fabulous time once I get there. And Sunday is earmarked for gardening, pain notwithstanding!

Head over to The Propagator’s page to see what everyone else is sharing this week:

This little viola self-seeded in this pot of acidanthera murieli. The acidanthera are decidedly miffy so I’m delighted they’ve got such a bright and amiable companion.
I think this paeony is Sarah Bernhardt. Whichever one she is, she’s always late to the party, which is handy as it extends the paeony season in this border considerably.
I find the protuberant flower heads on these houseleeks strangely amusing, but I’m odd like that.
I’m very attached to this lotus berthelotii, which is now at least 5 years old and has flowered prodigiously this year. Every year it emerges from overwintering in a cold greenhouse looking like it’s going to give up completely, and every year it bounces back after a bit of a prune and a feed.
These diorama are meant to be ‘Blackbird’ but I don’t think the flowers are dark enough. A long term investment, these were the very devil to grow from seed and finally bloomed some four years later. Extremely difficult to photograph as they bob about so much in the breeze, which I appreciate is the whole point of having them in the garden. They’re really pretty and I am very pleased with them, whichever variety they are, they add great structure and movement.
The recent spell of heat and high sun has brought the dahlias along and here Bishop of Llandaff is strident alongside salvia Amistad and a penstemon which I think is Andenken an Freidrich An, or something like that. The red hot pokers are going over now but the achillea Cloth of Gold in the centre is just thinking about opening, which will give this ensemble exactly the sort of strident announcement of colour I aim for in the border in high summer (subtlety is not my watchword, in the garden or elsewhere).

In a Vase on Monday – 20th June 2022

Today’s IAVOM presented multiple challenges. I cling to the preconception that vases may only be filled from things that had to be pruned or cut back anyway, which significantly reduces scope. Since we are in that odd dip between the Spring display going over and the Summer one getting into full swing, there was a surprisingly small range of things in need of cutting to choose from. I had nothing in the bright orange colour that I would have liked to team with the alchemilla and the corncockle (and I feel more than a little lazy for falling back on the alchemilla again, but it needed to be cut as Chief Engineer was complaining of wet legs after every trip down the path!) The corncockle was confounding, as what looks fulsome and colourful in the border proves to be a sorrowful thing with few blooms on the individual stems when cut. Still, here we are. Some foliage was needed and nothing big and striking was to be had… until I noticed that the artichoke leaves were blocking light from everything else in the border. Finding a receptacle was the next difficulty – a table lantern I’d made out of a vase stolen from an old workplace proved the ideal shape. The final problem was finding a background that worked… everywhere is so cluttered and higgledly piggeldy in our house that an expanse of plain empty space is nowhere to be found. I tried three different spots and I still think the shot taken in the chaotic pigsty of a kitchen looks best!

Thanks to Cathy for hosting IAVOM. Pop over to her site to be wowed by her beautiful garden and to see what everyone else is putting in their vases this Monday!

Late June 2022 – Everything is Rosy

I was only able to garden for one day out of the three that comprised my weekend, making it imperative that I cram as much as possible into the Sunday. I think I gave a reasonable account of myself. Saturday was taken up with torrential and much needed rain. Sunday was overcast but warm and dry, so perfect for a good long stint of gardening. I did a lot of tying in, a huge amount of cutting back and a gratifying amount of harvesting, ably supported by Chief Engineer (also on cutting back duties) and the Under-Gardener (on sniffing and snoozing duties, with the occasional bout of enthusiastic tail-wagging). Sufficient pauses were taken to smell the roses.

The Boss is brandishing the weed burner and I don’t trust that thing.
I was up a stepladder deadheading the rose arch and tying in the new growth when I thought the view up the garden from there would make a nice shot, so I climbed down to find my phone (it’s a long way back to the house!) and snapped one. It’s a shame it was such an overcast day!
Gertrude Jekyll has the best scent…
…but I think The Generous Gardener is ever so slightly prettier.
The elder is covered in black fly… but it is also covered in ladybird larvae! They are not terribly easy to see in this pic, they just look like black blobs, but trust me, I have never seen so many in one place before.
The flowers on these peas are so pretty. This pea is from a friend, I think it’s called revejo or something similar. It is a very old variety, used for drying and storing as a pulse for soups and stews. It’s delicious and I grew nowhere near enough last year so I’ve grown loads this year, along with lots of other legumes for drying.
I lifted the first of the potatoes today. There’s always at least one that gets speared by the fork! The yield isn’t amazing but they’re nice spuds (we had them for tea and I can confirm they’re delicious). These are Red Duke of York. I think I may have lifted them slightly early, as I remember I was a little later than planned getting them in, because it was cold, and in the end I used a cloche to give them a bit of protection (and a good job too, as we did have some frosts just after I planted those first ones). I’ve left a few other plants of the same variety in, so I’ll wait a bit longer before lifting any more. The soil was quite dry, despite me having watered, so it’s possible I under-estimated just how thirsty they are and this has also affected yield. Overall, I’m reasonably pleased with these, I think I’ve improved on last year’s performance already.
I have improved my pelargonium husbandry with judicious pruning and feeding.
Apples coming along nicely on the newest tree. I’m not sure I’m meant to let it fruit in its early years, actually. At the very least I should probably thin these fruitlets.
I’m pleased with this. A hole cut in the leylandii hedge with a mirror in it on an angle creates the illusion of another garden beyond. I need to adjust the branches around the edges to obscure the mirror a bit more but I think it’s quite a fun effect.
That accidental miniature rose from David Austin is a real do-er, I love her.
The heat is bringing along the orange flowers of high summer. First lily has opened. I am ever alert to the menace of lily beetle, which has clearly been having a chow down on this when I’m not looking.
I thought it might be nice to share a view from above. This is the view from our bedroom window. That clematis armandii on the pergola is a sickly looking thing. I blame the mole. I wonder if lining the planting hole with chicken wire might help to deter his earthworks around the roots?
The life of an Under-Gardener is unbelievably hard. Note cunning use of weasel toy as pillow. He did that himself. He’s no fool. Above right in the black pot, the lemon tree I grew from a pip, now 7 years old;centre, two pots of perennialising blue lobelia, also grown from seed which was free with a magazine, so that’s exceptionally good value; centre in the teal pot, a circis someone else grew from seed which I intend to plant against a wall and train eventually. Obviously this more than makes up for all the other plants that did not come to me free of charge!

Six on Saturday – 18th June 2022

It was scorching yesterday, so obviously I chose to collect and bag up a tonne of horse manure with a hangover. Today, blasts of very welcome heavy rain have kept me out of the garden so far, but I’m not complaining. I’m dallying over an extra coffee and browsing the gardens of all the other SOSers, who are really raising the bar with some fabulous photos. Check them out on Mr Propagator’s page, link below, and take a look at the participant guide, second link, if you fancy joining in yourself. Wishing everyone a decent sprinkling of rain with enough dry spells for a spot of gardening in between showers!

Slightly blurry poppies, since they were swaying in the breeze when I tried to photograph them. Self-seeded (and HOW!!! They are EVERYWHERE!!!!) Originally from seed given to me by a couple of friends. I love the colour and the showy stamens. I do love the seedheads too but I might deadhead sooner this year in a bid to avoid turning the garden into a monoculture.
This penstemon was a swap done with a neighbour at our old allotment site and this is the first year it’s put on a good show. It looks set to make a nice big statement in the border and provide a good block of bold colour.
The self-sown teasels are ridiculous. This one must be 8ft tall. I rather like it, but it’s in the most inconvenient place, close to the front of the border. I shall be torn between leaving the seedheads up for the birds and taking them down to avold further self-sowings. We all know the former shall win out though, don’t we?
Peas are good. These are competing with the teasels. I’ll need stepladders to harvest. These are the ‘telefono’ peas from Franchi seeds. I find some Franchi stuff a bit hit and miss, but these peas never fail me. Some other varieties of pea in front. I’ve gone all out on peas this year.
The yellow loosestrife, nepeta Six Hills Giant and the pink centranthus are real spreaders, but I need tough bulky plants here because the leylandii hedge makes this border inhospitable to many things, so I’m happy to let these thugs sprawl. Chief Engineer complains of wet legs when hanging out the washing on the line, though, so I might need to curb the nepeta’s enthusiasm.
Clematis Midnight Etoile coming along nicely. A very mixed bag from my clematises (clematii? Clematis? What is the plural?!) Some are refusing to do much of anything at all. I think a combination of mole and S&S is probably to blame. Infuriating. This clematis is very reliable, though.

Thursday 16th June 2022 – cheers!

There is no point at all in putting all this effort into a garden if you don’t do this in it.

Today this little blog hit 1000 views since I started it, which isn’t bad really considering I only ever really intended to use it as a virtual garden diary. Having abandoned all social media apps, blogging on here has been a revelation, and I get far more out of engaging with other bloggers and peeking into their gardens than I ever did from scrolling through the anger of random strangers on Twitter. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who visits and to all the other bloggers who take the time to share their gardens and their thoughts. Cheers, everyone!

Early – Mid June 2022

Flaming June isn’t doing a huge amount of flaming so far: we’ve had a fair run of reasonable weather but a cold wind seems to be taking the warmth out of the inconsistent sun and also is drying everything out. As usual, some things are performing better than ever and some are disappointingly reluctant, with no rhyme or reason to it. No matter: I love the garden anyway and I love the process. I am managing a good few hours of gardening in the evenings after work at the moment, with the long light evenings: I savour every moment and feel the benefit in mind and body.

I don’t generally care much for miniature roses. This one was sent to me in error by David Austin when I ordered a completely different bare root specimen. Their customer service is so excellent that they fulfilled my order correctly and told me I could keep this one too. It is a healthy, dainty little thing in a strangely pleasing shade of peach. I wouldn’t have chosen it but I’m happy to welcome it. I’ve yet to meet a David Austin rose I didn’t like.
This is the rose I actually wanted from David Austin: Rosa gallica, the apothecary’s rose. I wanted it to make tinctures, tissues and syrups from the petals, but I can’t actually bring myself to pick the blooms. The smell is divine and I love the hot pink.
There are people who will tell you that yellow, pink and purple do not go well together: those people are wrong and their opinion may be safely disregarded.
The cool breeze is pleasing to the Under-Gardener, who finds it helpful for drying his thick coat, having been unceremoniously thrown in the bath after months of bath-dodging, due to his smell becoming quite unbearable. He will be working hard to restore his doggy aroma very soon, by dashing into puddles and streams and seeking out unmentionable things to roll in.
I love the way the colour palette in the garden changes as the year draws on, the sun gets higher and we move further into Summer and the colours getting bolder, warmer and brighter. I divided the red hot pokers last Autumn and they’ve repaid me with more flower spikes than ever. I know not everyone cares for them but I have loved them since seeing my granny’s specimen when I was little. I especially like them with the dark blue/purple of salvia ‘Amistad’ on the right, which is definitely one of my desert island plants. I lift this one every year to over-winter it and take safety cuttings too. I dare say it might make it through a winter in situ and might then come back bigger, but I love it too much to take the risk – which is silly, really, as I always have spares and it’s easy enough to come by a replacement anyway!
A blowsy big sister to the David Austin miniature, this peachy-orange madam came from a site at which we used to have an allotment. She grew, unloved, inside the remains of a derelict greenhouse on an overgrown, abandoned plot… so I dived in with my fork and spirited her away to a better life. I call her ‘Barbara Cartland’ because she was a much pinker shade in her previous home and reminded me of the sort of cloying colours she was known for wearing. There probably really is a pink rose called Barbara Cartland, actually. Anyway, this old girl gets bigger and stronger every year, and I love her.
The nifty planter built by Chief Engineer has been converted into a really useful cold frame. That chill wind is no friend to my courgettes – but by fastening on those simple cloches I made earlier this year, we have built the perfect shelter. I discovered last year that courgettes were surprisingly happy restricted in these polystyrene boxes, so here we have the perfect arrangement. I’ll start taking the cloches off on hotter days soon.
Those teasels are frankly ridiculous. I’m not sure I’ve seen them grow quite this tall in the wild, but then I’ve really only seen them on wasteland or roadside verges. I rather like them, but I won’t be letting these self-seed!
Dahlias, penstemon and dianthus starting up; lupins and oriental poppies going over. Time to embark on some judicious cutting back in this border, to give light and space to the next season’s stars. I used to find it really hard to do, now I find it exciting to welcome in the next phase and I enjoy building my skills and knowledge, gaining an understanding of how to make space and manage the changes for a continuous display. Keeping the borders looking full is a challenge.
Finding the least convenient place to sunbathe is a challenge the Under-Gardener can meet head-on every time.

The white nigella really is everywhere. I love the way it adds a little accent of light and I will be welcoming its enthusiastic self-seeding next year too! The daucus carrota has proved more robust than ammi – less delicate and airy but if the pay-off is that it’s perennial, tougher, doesn’t need staking and is generally less work, then I’ll take that. I’ll probably sow more daucus c. in the Autumn and give up on ammi for a bit – one less bit of slug fodder and one less thing to have to cosset with several pottings on!
Quite right. Stop potting on and give me attention immediately. and for heavens’ sake wash those filthy gardening dungarees.

In a Vase on Monday – 13th June 2022

Delphinium casualties brought about by high winds meant immediate action was needed with the secateurs, which spurred me on to tame the worst excesses of the alchemilla mollis. I don’t especially care for the centaurea montana because I find its prolific, thuggish self-seeding irritating and I find the whole plant quite coarse, but I let it carry on because the bees love it. The stems without opened buds proved to be useful foliage filler for this vase, which has opened up new options for me in keeping it under control in the borders and has left me more kindly predisposed to it! It does wilt rather quickly once cut, but searing it in boiling for a little longer next time will probably help with that, as it does for most things. This year most of the nigella opening is white and I seem to recall an accident with a dropped packet of N. “African Bride’ so that might be why! No matter, it is lovely in drifts everywhere about the garden and encourages me to use more white in my planting, as it seems to ‘lift’ everything, adding a brightening aspect as it does here in this vase… well, jug. I love blue and white enamel ware because I am clumsy and our quarry-tiled floor and granite work surfaces are very unforgiving when I drop things. The enamel ware dents and chips but does not shatter!

Thanks as always to Cathy for hosting IAVOM – have a look at everyone else’s lovely arrangements over on her page:

Six on Saturday – 11th June 2022

Saturday again already! I’m late today but it is still Saturday, so here are my six. Pop over to The Propagator’s site to see what all the other SoSers are up to.

Christo Lloyd would approve of this colour combination, I’m sure. Acid yellow euphorbia oblongata with shocking pink lychnis coronaria (I think that’s the correct name). I love strident clashing colours in the borders.
A nice crop of globe artichokes coming along. I’ll try to leave some of the later ones to flower for the bees, but I do really love eating artichokes… and the bees don’t exactly go hungry in this garden as it is! In fact, one stung me yesterday. I have forgiven it. It was my fault, I didn’t realise it had landed on my dungarees when I reached into my front pocket for string…!
I never used to bother lifting and storing my dahliae, but I did last Winter and it has made such a difference. I forced some indoors with heat early this year and have been richly rewarded. Bishop of Oxford is first off the blocks. I love all the Bishop series.
No recollection of the name of this clematis. It is very reliable and seems very happy scrambling through the apple tree. The geranium phaeum below are performing well too.
My dad’s name was Nigel and my mum and I both love nigella, so we both grow lots of it. I particularly like the deep blue shade. I probably let the nigella self-seed too much, really, but it’s so pretty. I did have drifts of the ‘Persian Jewels’ variety, but the pink toned variants in that mix seem to have been bred out over the years – I should probably thin more mercilessly and sow more bought seed.
Despite there being lots going on around her, Rosa “Gertrude Jekyll”, centre stage on the pergola, steals the show every time. Nobody can resist burying their nose in her blooms as they pass, and she rewards everyone with a delicious strong old rose scent. Normally I save the petals and dry them for tea, but damp weather has made it difficult recently, as the petals tend to go mouldy if they are damp when brought inside. She has a long flowering season so hopefully there will be dry enough weather to save petals later in the Summer.

That’s my six, time to catch up with everyone elses’ over a cold beer in the garden! Cheers!

Late May – early June 2022 -tempus fugit

Just over a fortnight off work flew past in a heartbeat, with half of it spent lazing in foreign sunshine and the later half spent gardening and socialising with friends old and new in the less reliable British weather. It was glorious to spend a whole week gardening relentlessly and I became so focused on getting everything done that I failed to take many photos. Those I did take were snapped during the grey, overcast hours and don’t quite show the colours to their best advantage, but such is life. It was one of those weeks when I was more interested in doing the work and sitting back to admire it and soak it all in than I was in looking at it through a phone screen and recording it, and I’m ok with that. I binned all social media some time ago and I am keen to keep screen time to a minimum in the interests of seeing more of real life. So, here are a few pics from the past fortnight… not very good ones, but they give a flavour of how things have been looking. Everything changes so quickly in the garden at this time of year, highlighting to me how important it is to experience it all directly, with all senses, and if that is at the cost of failing to capture it for posterity, well, that is a cost worth paying. No captions for this post either: let’s just enjoy the view. Questions and comments are very welcome, though!

Six on Saturday – 4th June 2022

We went away for a week and came back to an explosion of colour in the garden. We’ve had a further week off at home, more or less all of which has been spent working in the garden, and I think it’s paid off – I’m happier with it than I’ve ever been and I almost feel on top of all the jobs! Here are six pics taken at various points through the past week – I intend to do a fuller round up on Sunday, if weather and time permit.

Pop over to The Propagator’s page http://www.thepropagator.wordpress.comto see what he and all the other SoSers have been up to this week, and check out the participation guide if you fancy joining in the fun. Hope everyone’s having a good gardening weekend.

Paeonies have benefited from watering via a diverted drainpipe.
I love this fleabane which has self-seeded in these steps, and just about everywhere else.
I believe this is a June bug or cockchafer. I believe they may be destructive, but he was so big and looked so much like something out of Starship Troopers that I decided I’d leave him alone. He didn’t seem to be doing any damage to this rose.
Not a great photo but I do love the combination of this corydalis. With the geranium.
How about the blue on these delphiniums? I’m so proud of these (grown from seed saved from previous delphiniums, also raised from seed!)
Rose ‘Rambling Rector’ is cascading over the old outside loo (now a shed!) just as I hoped it would. Its flowering season is brief but it’s so pretty I forgive it that (and also forgive its rampant nature and vicious thorns).