Six on Saturday 5th September

September … a bitter sweet month for me. It’s my birthday in September which is generally a positive, or at the very least conjures up memories of when birthdays were something that seemed to take an age to arrive but were worth the wait, and when becoming another year older was a good thing. However September also heralds the end of my favourite time of year. I’ll soon be swapping my Summer front door wreath for my Autumn one. I’ve worn boots for the first time since March. The heating’s been on and the Winter duvet is on the bed. I do not do cold! I haven’t had to turn the SAD lamp on yet, but it won’t be long.

Anyway, enough with the doom and gloom – maybe we’ll have an Indian Summer – and on with the business of the day

First up, an update on the tourniqueted Sunflowers and, well, you win some …

… and you lose some!

At least I tried to save them both. I’m pleased that one of them has thrived despite the squirrel assault.

Harvest time is coming to an end, but I did bring some produce back in with me after my usual Saturday morning potter around the garden.

These are my first ever peppers and I’m stupidly happy about them. The courgette is somewhat squat! I don’t know what I do wrong with my courgette plants. Most people get a glut of courgettes but this is only the second one I’ve had – all the rest have rotted. I have had loads of runner beans though, and the carrot crop will keep us going for a while. I’ve chopped everything up and frozen it so nothing gets wasted (apart from the courgette because they go mushy – we’ll have that next week in a stir fry most likely).

My lovely Berberis is getting its gold edging back for the first time since I bought it.

I bought this from Hop Pocket, a lovely shopping village near Worcester which is filled with crafty things, home baked goods and, importantly, a garden centre. However, when I planted it in the garden, all its leaves fell off and it really didn’t look happy, so I whipped it out again and kept everything crossed that it would recover in a pot. It survived but never returned to its former glory until now. It looks like it’s coming along in leaps and bounds.

My Pussy Willow is starting to lose its leaves.

I bought this earlier this year before lockdown and it’s done pretty well through the Summer. Sad as it is that it’s preparing for the cold weather, the skeleton leaves do look pretty spectacular.

We built a catio for our cats over the last couple of weekends. They’re house cats because we live on a busy road, so we thought they might like a little bit of outside space to smell the air and nose around. I decided to prettify the catio with some plants hanging off it.

This is my favourite one. I’ve coveted an ornamental kale for ages. I think they’re so pretty. The plants are all on the outside of the catio so there’s no danger of the cats ingesting something they shouldn’t.

Finally, I want to ask for opinions!

What on God’s green earth are these that have appeared in the soil at the base of one of my tomato plants? Some kind of spider egg? Apart from the usual arachnophobia worries, do I need to be concerned about this?

As ever, don’t forget to check out the Propagator for more Sixes.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Six on Saturday 29th August

I didn’t think I’d have time to write a Six today as we have a busy day ahead, but I’m awake earlier than anticipated so I took myself out in to the garden to see what delights I could share today. Would you believe it, it’s dry! Rather blustery, but dry. At last! I really thought I was going to need an ark at some point soon!

Anyway, on to my quick Six and first up, I think, an update on my tourniqueted Sunflower which I shared last Saturday. We now have two tourniqueted Sunflowers due to the squirrel’s obsession with climbing them (and, some may say, stupidity for not realising, if it didn’t hold it last time, it’s not going to hold it this time either!)

This is the flower, so it seems that my rather dubious first aid attempts are actually working! I have to admit, as I sat at my home office desk this week gazing out over the garden being buffeted and blown by the high winds, I didn’t think it’d hold, but it’s clinging on there. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to share a fully open flower.

Moving on up (moving on out, time to break free? Black Box anyone? No? Never mind!) to the greenhouse and my peppers are finally going red.

This is a definite red now. Last week you had to squint and look at the right angle to see it but now, yep, that’s red! There are two that are like this, and another five at various stages of green. I’ll call that a success for my first time growing peppers.

Next in the greenhouse are my tomatoes.

Last week I only had the ones on the left, but now there are some growing on a second plant as well. I think this is very late and I’m keeping everything crossed that we get enough sun over the next couple of weeks for these to continue maturing (also for the rest of the peppers to grow and ripen). Although I don’t actually like tomatoes, I LOVE the smell of the plants. I may have to rethink growing them in the greenhouse next year (or grow fewer plants) because the tomato jungle has meant I’ve had no space to try taking and growing cuttings which I really wanted to do.

Next for some colour.

I’ve shared these Begonias before, but they really are looking stunning. I think they’re my favourite thing in the garden at the moment. Although, oh, my Eupatorium, and, hmmmm, my Dahlias. Well, they’re definitely in the top three anyhow! These Begonias are in my wheelbarrow planter and they’re directly in my eyeline as I sit in my home office. They look beautiful and cheerful even in the rain and I think I’ll most likely plant these every year until I die! I can’t see me ever tiring of them.

Well, ok, if you insist, of course I’ll share another picture of my Eupatorium. It would be rude not to now I’ve mentioned it, wouldn’t it?

It definitely hasn’t got as tall this year, which I hope won’t be an ongoing trend. Maybe I really should try a cutting of it, just in case! I did take one last year, and it was doing ok until it got cold and damp and then it died. Maybe I could find somewhere cat-proof inside to nurture a cutting. It has lots of new growth coming through at the moment so it’s still got time to get taller. It flowers in the Autumn though, so not much longer probably.

Finally, in recognition of the rain this week, I’ll share a rainy grass.

This is one of my Festuca Intense Blue babies that self seeded on our bistro. I nearly pulled them up last year when they appeared, but decided to leave them to see how they looked growing higgledy piggledy around their mother, and I’m glad I did because they look lovely. This one particularly took my fancy this morning as the early morning sunlight glistened off the droplets nestling in its fronds. As ever, the photo doesn’t do it justice, but it’s still lovely.

There we go, that was a quick Six so now on with the business of the day – lunch at Webbs Garden Centre, followed by a browse of the plants (and most likely a purchase or three) and then off to meet my lockdown nephew for the first time. A coronial baby apparently is the newly coined term! Have a mosey on over to the Propagator’s blog for more Sixes.

Six on Saturday 22nd August

Hey there! Hope everyone survived the wind yesterday (meteorological, of course, not gastronomical!) We have some really tall, thin trees at the bottom of our garden (must find out what they are) and I just love the rustling sound they make in the wind, and as my home office overlooks the back garden, that was the soundtrack to my Friday.

I was afraid that the wind would scupper the homemade plant tourniquet that I fashioned on Thursday! This is my first point.

On Thursday afternoon sitting in my home office, I was forced to watch in silence (because I was on a conference call) as a squirrel climbed up my second tallest Sunflower until its weight overcame it and it snapped over. To add to my dismay, it then picked one of my Sunflower Teddy Bears and sat on the fence post nibbling it without a care in the world!

Anyway, conference call duly completed, I hot footed it out to the garden to see if I could salvage the toppled Sunflower. It’s days away from flowering and I really want the poor thing to fulfil its floral destiny. So, I made sure its bottom half was securely inside the metal support, then added a taller bamboo support and tied it securely in a couple of times and then wrapped the snapped part in gaffer tape. I then had to sit and watch yesterday as the wind buffeted it all day. I was expecting by today, for its leaves to be wilted, but so far it seems to be holding up. Fingers crossed enough goodness is getting up that stem to allow it to flower on.

Moving on to the greenhouse and I finally have what looks like tomatoey success appearing in the tomato jungle!

I’ve no idea what type of tomatoes these are as I got the labels mixed up when I potted them on, but all the plants have flowers so hopefully I’ll get some of each of the three varieties that I planted. Just need it to stay warm enough for them to develop. To be honest, given how late I sowed them (because I changed my mind about growing them) I’ll be happy if I just get one tomato! As you can see, they’ve completely taken over my greenhouse. I was intending to take some cuttings to get myself some free plants, but there’s no room!

The only thing I do have room for in there is my pepper plant.

This is one of the first two peppers that grew on the plant weeks ago and I’ve left it and left it to ripen because I prefer my peppers any colour other than green, but I was starting to doubt that it would ever change colour, so I was delighted to see this morning a very definite red tinge to it! It’s a bit tricky to see in the photo, but if you squint at the back of it, you may just see the redness developing. it’s tied up to any support I could find in the greenhouse because there are seven peppers growing on it, so it’s somewhat top heavy. Hooray!

Continuing with the veg theme for now, I harvested my carrots this week – isn’t there something very satisfying about the pop with which they come out of the ground?

They’re not the biggest carrots in the world, but they’re mine and I grew them so I’m happy. We had a couple with a chicken dinner in the week and they were delicious. I haven’t brought myself to eat the one with legs yet because it’s cute, but I guess I should steel myself to chop it up and devour before it’s too late. If feels like we should have some kind of ritual death ceremony for it.

Moving back to the non-edible, and I have quite a few seed heads around the garden. Some of them may have already scattered themselves but I might be able to harvest some seeds to save for next year.

Left it right, we have Aquilegia (which itself, self seeded from somewhere unknown), Welsh Poppies which were a beautiful yellow (also self seeded on our bistro) and Nigella which I grew from seed and which flowered beautifully, but somewhat short lived. I have to decide whether to save these seeds to grow more next year, or whether to keep them to use in the kitchen – they’re delicious stirred into rice.

Finally I’m going to finish with one of my favourite flowers of this year as it probably won’t last much longer now that the weather’s going decidedly Autumnal (sob!)

Delightful, dazzling, delicate Dahlia. I really think I could become a Dahlia enthusiast if I had the time and space to dedicate to them. As it is, I satisfy myself with buying one or two each Summer and enjoying their gorgeousness for a couple of months. This year I’ve enjoyed this one more than usual because it lives in a pot on our bistro where I spent much of my time furloughed and it’s right in my eyeline to the side of my laptop now I’m back in the home office.

There’s my Six. I’m off to do some cross stitch now while I wait for Tesco to deliver our shopping, then I’m off out for an afternoon tea with my best friend and, would you know it, we’re having it in a garden centre! I feel a purchase coming on!

As ever, check out the Propagator’s blog for more Sixes.