Six on Saturday 19th June

My offering is late this Saturday because I’ve spent all day in the garden, mainly focused on one particular project and finishing off with a little bit of general gardenkeeping (is that a word? Housekeeping is, so why not gardenkeeping?)

Anyway, this week I’m mainly talking about my new planter which I have bought in an attempt to fill the problem space alongside our lawn and underneath part of next door’s jungle which gets no sun (literally none) and is zapped of all goodness and moisture due to the aforementioned jungle. I figure a planter will be easier to maintain since I can control the soil and the watering much easier. That’s the idea anyway. Who knows if it’ll work. Here’s hoping because the planter was flipping expensive and backbreaking to put together (although I am suffering with my back at the moment, so it may not be so bad for a healthy backed person!) and I had to put A LOT of compost in it!!

Here is it with hubby valiantly brandishing the screwdriver as if he did the whole lot!!!! To be fair, he was at work when I put the majority of it together and I’m too impatient to wait for help unless absolutely necessary. Each of those half moons of timber was separate and had to be joined, and they didn’t have pre-drilled holes! I just needed help to put the panels together once I’d constructed them because it was pretty unwieldy because of the size.

I decided to fill some of the bottom with various paraphernalia to use up some space because I’d calculated that it would hold 1000 litres of compost. It was quite good actually to get rid of some of the rubbish lying around the garden and put it to good use (and save me some money!) As it turns out, either my calculations were wrong, or the dimensions given were wrong, but it actually took 1350 litres of compost, even with the detritus in the bottom, which involved two trips to Homebase. Luckily hubby wasn’t working this morning so I didn’t have to carry it all from the car to the garden because that really wouldn’t have done my back any good! It’s already complaining about the amount of lifting and digging that I did actually do.

Eventually, after that second trip to Homebase, I managed to get it filled and, what do you know, it stayed together and I think it looks pretty good, even before the plants were added.

In the lefthand side of the planter we have, back left, my very first sale table plant that I’ll be really upset at if it doesn’t tolerate being moved, my hebe Purple Pixie. It’s one of the few plants that actually has managed to compete successfully with the jungle. In front of that, the pinky thing, is a weed I think, but it’s a pretty weed so I kept it and in front of that is a hosta which is a shade-lover anyway so has managed to stay alive there for a couple of years. Next to the hosta is a sedum which self-seeded itself elsewhere in the garden. Also a shady lady so should be fine there. Behind that is my fuchsia Delta Sarah which also prefers some shade. It’s a couple of years old now and has come back to life this year. I pruned it quite significantly back to the regrowth so hopefully it won’t object to the upheaval. Behind Sarah is a new plant that I picked up a couple of weeks ago at Dobbies. It’s a nepeta and it should be ok with shade as long as I keep it topped up with water until it establishes. Nestled next to the nepeta is an Asiatic lily. I really don’t know how that will take to the movement, but I thought I’d try it – you never know. In front of that I added some white begonias because they’re pretty tolerant of anything that you do to them and they brighten up a darker spot.

Moving to the back right of the other end of the planter we have acer Butterfly. This is also new so I’ll make sure it gets everything it needs to thrive. In front of the acer is my coprosma. This is the third time the poor thing’s been moved because it wasn’t doing well in it’s first two spots. I talked nicely to it and promised never to move it again if it can do its best to settle in well here. Next door to the coprosma is a plant that my in-laws bought for me and I can’t remember what it is! Having just consulted google, I think it may be a Japanese laurel. Back and left from there is another new plant. I ordered this one from Thomson and Morgan in February and it only turned up a couple of weeks ago! It’s a sarcococca which I got because my aunt told me that they smell amazing and should be ok with shade. Immediately in front of that is fuchsia Snowcap. This is one of the six that I ordered from QVC which got turned upside down by Hermes and arrived in a bit of a sorry state! I’ve been tending to them carefully ever since and I think I’ve managed to save them all (although one is still a bit touch and go – it’s in one of Granny’s pots for good luck). Goodness knows where the other four are going to go, but I really should decide before they get pot bound! At the very front is another sale table find and I can’t (even with the help of google) remember what it is. It has a really odd flower that looks like some kind of alien, however it didn’t look very happy before I moved it so I’m not expecting it to survive, but, again, you never know! I’ve left a bit of space at the front because I’d like a couple of heucheras there but I don’t own said heucheras yet and I think I’d better wait till pay day to make any more purchases!!

I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out and it looks so much better than the mostly empty space before did. I’ll have to keep on top of the maintenance because most of the jungle is made up of fir trees which like to drop their needles in abundance. This is good sometimes because I think it does help to keep moisture in, but it’s not good when it covers the poor plants just trying to survive underneath. I hope I haven’t planted things too close together – I’ll just have to see how they get on as they (hopefully) get bigger.

I’m going to finish up with another raised bed that I’ve been tending today and over the last couple of weeks.

I’d already planted out the marigolds, sweetpeas and runner beans and they seem to be doing ok despite being trampled on by any number of neighbourhood cats, foxes, squirrels and magpies! The runner beans and sweetpeas are all starting to wind their way up the wigwams and all the marigolds have buds waiting to spring forth with orangy gorgeousness. Today I added four sunflowers (short ones) that have been growing in the greenhouse. They got attacked by slugs so were somewhat put back in their growth but I’m hopeful that they’ll survive. I also planted out my second batch of cosmos after the first lot also fell foul of the slimy critters. You can’t really see them, but they’re in the middle. I don’t normally stake cosmos, but they were all looking a little droopy so I decided to give them a little helping hand, especially as we’re expecting rain again tomorrow which might batter tiny plantlets (I’ve made that up, but they’re more than seedlings, but not quite plants yet).

All in all it’s been a most satisfying (if expensive) day of gardening and I’m feeling happily accomplished. I’m off to check out some of the other Sixes now that I’ll be able to find on the Propagator’s blog – why not join me? Enjoy the rest of the weekend – happy gardening!

A weekend in the garden – finally!

I haven’t done a Six on Saturday for a couple of weeks, partly because the weather’s been so rubbish that I’ve barely been able to get out in the garden, and partly because due to said pants weather nothing’s really been happening out there other than weeds growing! I’ve also been speed crocheting a secret present which has taken up every spare moment, but is now almost finished (more on that when it’s been gifted).

However, despite a terrible weather forecast this weekend, I have managed to get out there in between showers and downpours. Yesterday I spent a bit of time in the greenhouse. I have lots of happy places, but one of them is definitely in my greenhouse with a compost filled table, some bits of paper (last year’s Gardeners’ World calendar) a trowel and some seeds.

I noticed in the week that something had started to eat my seedlings!!

How annnoying is that?! They’ve chewed my sunflowers, decimated my cosmos and absolutely obliterated my zinnias. I found the culprits – nestled underneath my seed trays were two snails and a slug! All three were swiftly disposed of down the end of the garden where they can eat weeds to their hearts’ content for all I care!

I do have some have intact seedlings/plants left and I decided that some of them were big enough to move to the new cold frame to start hardening off. First of all I had to remove the biggest herb Robert I think I’ve ever seen! This weed thrives in our garden, and especially, it would appear, likes the heat of the cold frame!

It would seem that the slimy things don’t like sweetpeas because they’re largely unscathed and three sunflowers look to be redeemable. I must remember to go out this evening to lower the lid.

Back in the greenhouse, I did some replacement sowing and some later seeds that needed doing. I sowed my petit pois in my raised bed a good couple of weeks ago, and absolutely nothing is happening! I don’t know if there’s any hope or if they’ve been eaten and/or dug up by animals but in case I don’t get any from the direct sown seeds, I sowed some in pots to transplant (hopefully) so I at least get some petit pois. I also sowed some more cosmos, because out of twenty that I sowed (most of which were growing nicely) I now only have three that haven’t been chewed! Then I decided it’s finally warm enough to sow my runner beans.

Then I potted up some pansies and begonias that have been patiently waiting for some time.

I did actually still have a couple of pansies in the pots which had managed to survive the winter. The begonias in the wheelbarrow are a yellow and orange mix again. If they turn out like last year’s did, then they’ll be beautiful all through the summer (if we ever get one) and into the autumn. I’ve ordered these from Thomson and Morgan the last couple of years because you don’t seem to be able to get yellow and orange from garden centres very often and they are just so pretty. I hope there are enough in the planter. I ordered fifteen, but a couple didn’t survive the post and three went in my hanging basket. We’ll see.

I decided to try something a bit different for my other hanging basket.

I bought this grass Nigrescens a few weeks ago intending to put it in one of Granny’s pots, but I changed my mind. I think it’ll be ok in here, and it’ll be nice to have something in there all year round. I can always pot it on if it gets too big.

Just before I headed in, I decided to go and dig up the euonymous that I noticed at the end of the garden. It was quite tricky to get up because it seemed to be in several pieces all surrounded by nettles and borage (work in progress!) but hopefully the bits I got will thrive.

Today I headed back out there not sure how long the rain would stay away, but apart from one brief shower, it stayed away until well into the afternoon.

Our garden can be quite daunting because there’s still so much to do, and I’ve found that it’s best to pick a small area or job and concentrate just on that, otherwise you run the risk of coming in feeling overwhelmed and a complete failure. Today I picked this area behind my birthday planter.

I think I did a pretty good job getting the weeds up. I’ve learnt not to be too precious with gardening. It’s never going to be perfect, so it’s best to just accept that from the get go. There were some giant stinging nettles that did their best to sabotage me. There were right in the corner behind the hydrangea, next to a holly bush and some brambles! A somewhat spiky area to tackle.

You can’t see the bramble, but I decided to leave it in the hopes that we might get some blackberries. If it gets too wild in the meantime I can always change my mind. You can just see on the left that the rhododendron is teasing me with pink flowers. Hopefully they’ll pop out soon. Bottom right is my much-loved eupatorium. It’s taking it’s time (as is everything else given the cold spring) but it’s slowly getting there.

Towards the back, in the middle is a new addition. My Mum gave me this grass from her garden when I saw her briefly at Granny’s funeral. Driving back from Surrey with it in the back of the car was like having someone dancing in a hula skirt in the boot all the way home! I’ve been trying to decide where to put it, and Mum said it needed somewhere where it can go crazy, so I settled on here. Hopefully it won’t mind the shade of next door’s jungle.

I made two discoveries in this area. One is a fern in the back corner. Hopefully it’ll grow nice and big.

The second has self seeded from a Juncus Spiralis grass in my birthday planter.

As you can see, I’ve dug this one up and potted it on to get a bit bigger before I decide where to put it. It’s also called corkscrew rush, and you can see why.

This is exactly the look I was aiming for when I practised curling my hair yesterday ready for my first proper night out out post lockdown in a couple of weeks. Nature does it much better than curling tongs!

Sticking with the self seeded plants, I decided to fill my new wall basket with beautiful self seeded cowslips.

Since the very first cowslip appeared at the end of the garden, we’ve had a few more appear each year. Good job I like them, but then, you probably can have too much of a good thing. I’m not there yet though. I’m going to put something floral on the bird table on the left but I haven’t decided what yet. Probably something trailing would be good.

It was somewhat muddy out there, given all the rain we’ve had recently. I was very grateful for two things: first, my rubber gardening gloves that you can see in the corkscrew photo. They were much better for pulling up wet weeds and scrabbling in mud than the fabric ones that get all soggy and second, my new doormat to stop our kitchen getting mud trailed through.

Two family members were very pleased when we came back inside.

They’re really not used to being on their own anymore since we’re nearly always at home in this new covid lifestyle. Now, I think I’ll go and do some more crochet and play with these lovely little girls. Hope everyone has a good week.

It’s been a while ….

I’ve missed a couple of Six on Saturdays and haven’t seemed to find the time to write any other time for a while, so I thought I’d use some of the bank holiday to write a quick catch up on the last couple of weeks.

My new love of Lego continues. I succumbed to ordering 4 Privet Drive, the house that Harry Potter lives in with Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and Dudley and it’s fab. You can make Hogwarts letters come flying out of the fireplace like they do in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Ron’s blue Ford Anglia really does pull Harry’s bedroom window out as it does when Ron, Fred and George come to rescue Harry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. You can even open up the side of the house to see inside the cupboard under the stairs which was Harry’s bedroom until he went to Hogwarts.

I also treated myself to a newly released set – Winnie the Pooh’s house in the Hundred Acre Forest.

The attention to detail is fantastic. Pooh bear can sit on the log outside his house and inside he can look in the mirror when he can do his stoutness exercises and obviously there are honey (hunny!) pots galore.

I’m super excited that Lego have just announced some new Harry Potter sets being released on 1st June. I’ve already ordered the Hogsmeade set which includes the Three Broomsticks pub and Honeydukes sweet shop, but I can feel a couple more purchases coming on!! Honestly, we need a bigger house so I can have a Lego room.

We could also do with a teddy bear room! I treated myself to a new bear called Theo last weekend when I went to Webbs garden centre.

He’s currently living on our bed. I did buy some lottery tickets this past weekend thinking that we could see if our neighbour would consider selling us his house so we could make a Lego room and a teddy bear room and a gym. We did win, but I don’t think he’d sell it to us for £30!

My actual reason for going to Webbs was to choose some plants to go in Granny’s pots that I inherited. I tried to choose plants that either had a relevant name or that I thought Granny would like.

On the left of these first three pots is poppy Beauty of Livermere which I thought Granny would like. She was a very cheery person so the bright red of a poppy seems appropriate. She was also born between the wars so a poppy is relevant. In the middle is a fuchsia. My Grandad loved fuchsias and they remind me of visiting them both when I was a child. This fuchsia is one of six that arrived from QVC. Unfortunately they’d been tipped upside down by Hermes so I’m trying my hardest to help them recover. I’ve put a little fairy in the pot with this one, which was the worst hit, to watch over it. On the right is a patio rose called Sweet Memories.

On the other side of my raised bed we have, on the left, hebe Golden Pixie. Granny had a hebe in her front border which she told me someone reversed their car into. In the middle is geum Pink Petticoats which, again, I thought Granny would like. Finally on the right is polemonium Stairway to Heaven with obvious relevance.

I love how they look arranged around my raised bed, with the two lily pots at the head.

I also bought this rose …

… because it’s called Sheila’s Perfume – Granny was called Sheila. I haven’t decided where this is going to go yet.

While I was planting these up, I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye so I went to investigate, and found this friendly little robin.

Now I know it’s not unusual to see a robin whilst you’re gardening, but I’ve never had one let me get this close and for so long. It really seemed interested in what I was doing. My Mum said it was my Grandad popping in to see what I’d done with his pots. They were his and Granny’s when he was still with us, and he was the gardener really, Granny maintained them after he’d gone, and now I’m going to continue doing that.

I also inherited this stool which makes me think of Granny and Grandad every morning when I get up.

It’s been around for the whole of my life, and I remember sitting on it when I was small enough to do so! It came from Kenya when my Great Uncle (Granny’s brother) was working there. It’s not worth anything to anyone else, but to me it’s priceless.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of crochet too. I finished my Picnic on the Beach blanket which was a cal (crochet along) by Coastal Crochet.

And I’ve made quite a bit of progress on my D’Histoire Naturelle blanket which is a Scheepjes cal.

I should now be doing the next cal which is the Picnic by the River cal also designed by Coastal Crochet, but for Little Box of Crochet. However, I’m being patient with that one because I’m busy crocheting something else which I can’t tell you about in case the intended recipient reads this!

Moving back to the garden, and it’s coming back to life slowly but surely. Everything seems to be taking longer this year, probably because it’s been so cold and dry. Here’s a collage of colour for you – Welsh poppy, geum Totally Tangerine, pieris in full on show off mode, honesty and two different erysimums.

Finally, I’ll end with some pics of our visit to Hoo Farm last week. We’ve been here a few times and it’s always a good day out. They have lots of animals, and many of them are rescues or old animals that are living out their last days in peace. They’ve also added a walk through dinosaur section called Hoo-rassic World since our last visit which was fun.

Right, I’m off to do some more speed crocheting as the decidedly autumn weather outside has put the kibosh on anything outdoorsy!