Six on Saturday 9th October

Chronologically we’re rapidly heading towards my least favourite time of year, it’s definitely getting colder and greyer, however, thanks to climate change, it’s still warmer than it should be at this time of year. I know climate change is a bad thing and I do my best to limit my carbon footprint, but I have to admit that the milder climate suits me. I was not designed for cold weather, and with the current fuel crisis looming (if not already here) it’s looking like we’ll either be cold or broke for a significant proportion of the next few months.

Anyway, the so far milder weather means that the garden is still doing its very best to keep going. My cosmos, despite growing in a really odd direction because they were competing with the runner beans for space and light, are still covered in buds. The weather forecast is looking mild for as far as the BBC are daring to predict so I’m hopeful that these may still emerge before the first frost.

I’m cheating slightly with my next point. Strictly I suppose these should be two separate points, but I’m lumping them together under the topic of ‘pink’. I thought the roses and the honeysuckle were done for the year, but I spotted some flashes of colour whilst staring out of the window of my home office yesterday, and on closer investigation this morning I discovered these.

My third point could be entitled ‘the ghost of pink past’. These snaps are of the remains of my pink damask. If I was Monty Don or friends, I’d probably wax lyrical about them adding autumnal structural interest or some such gardeners’ talk, but actually they do still add something to the garden, even if it’s just to provide perches for various garden wildlife.

I didn’t include my fuchsia Delta Sarah in the ‘pink’ category, partly because it starts off life as purple and only turns pink later on, but mainly because I love it so much that it deserves its own discussion. It seems most happy in the new planter. I didn’t get nearly this many flowers last year. I did prune it back quite hard this year, so maybe that gave it a boost. You can see in the background that my hebe Purple Pixie, which was the very first sale table plant that I bought, is also still in flower (just!). The nepeta to the right, not so much! This planter has been dug up so many times by (I assume) foxes and a couple of the plants are definitely not appreciating it!

Despite the milder weather out there, there is no denying that we are, in fact, entering autumn, and nowhere in our garden is that in more evidence than my new-this-year blueberry bush. This is blueberry Calypso and it produced the biggest, juiciest berries I’ve ever seen. You can see in the background that there are a couple still on the bush (or rather, there were! They’ve now joined the others in the freezer). It’s turned the most beautiful red colour now which I’ll enjoy until the leaves fall.

Finally, a sign of the winter to come. My eupatorium has got its flowers. These will hang around until Christmas time before the whole lot dies down to twigs. I leave the twigs there until the regrowth in the spring is a reasonable height, as protection from roaming foxes and foraging squirrels. The flowers are quite dainty and pretty, but it’s the leaves of the eupatorium which are its main raison d’etre.

That’s my Six for this week. Why not pop over to the Propagator’s blog to check out some more.

Six on Saturday 25th September

I’ve been somewhat remiss with my blog lately. There’s been quite a bit going on and my head’s been elsewhere, and I’ve also had to have a largely enforced absence from the garden due to a back issue. I’m now seven sessions into physio and it’s a lot better, although after a few hours weeding and digging yesterday followed by standing/walking for a few hours in the evening at a Peaky Blinders night at the Black Country museum it’s feeling a little delicate today.

Anyway, I’m here now, so on with the first of my Six. This Welsh poppy has sprung up in a new place. Welsh poppies first appeared last year, presumably a present from the birds and I do love their cheerful yellowy orange splash of colour. The original ones flowered again this year back in June/July and went to seed long ago, so I was really surprised (but delighted) to see this one.

Just across the path from the poppy is my eupatorium. I usually feature this several times because it’s probably my favourite plant in the garden. My dad, last time he was here, admired its beautiful leaves and stems with their contrasting green and purple. Clearly I’m a chip off the block because that’s why I love it too! It’s starting to produce its flowers now. They start off this pinky colour, but by the time we hit mid autumn they turn white. They’re not particularly impressive – the leaves are definitely the main draw of this beauty.

You’ll note that I said the eupatorium is ‘probably’ my favourite plant. This time last year it was ‘definitely’ my favourite, but it may have been replaced by my fatsia japonica. It has really come on in leaps and bounds this year and it is stunning!

On the left you can see its mature leaves in all their fabulous two tone glory and on the left the beginnings of new leaves just emerging. They have something of a look of frogs feet about them. It’s quite hard to believe that they’ll eventually grow as big as their older siblings.

Next I’d like to share a trio of fuchsia. I wish I could tell you with certainty which varieties they are, but I can’t, apart from the middle one which is Delta Sarah. This fuchsia has taken really well to being moved to our new planter. I gave it a good prune and it’s done much better than previous years, despite being regularly assaulted by a fox which likes to dig in the planter, much to my annoyance!

Completely without certainty, it’s possible that the beauty on the left is Mrs Popple, which my grandad used to grow in his fabulous garden in Betchworth when I was a child, and maybe the pink lady on the right is Paula Jane. Whatever the variety, I adore fuchsias and I don’t think you can have too many. I currently have seven (and counting!)

Penultimately, I’m sharing my beautiful begonias which are still a feast for the eyes well into September. I guess they’ll keep cheering my soul until the first frost, whenever that may be! I ordered these from Thompson and Morgan because it’s very rare to find these apricot shades in a garden centre. Last year every single one was apricot, but these year I’ve been treated to yellow and white as well.

Finally, another fuchsia, and this time I definitely don’t know which variety it is. A quick google seems to suggest it might be Tom West. It arrived in early summer from QVC along with five other varieties and it had been turned upside down by Hermes so all were in a sorry state, but as you can see from the first photo, this one was particularly battered. I put it in one of granny’s pots that I inherited, along with a little fairy for good luck, and I was so happy when I went out yesterday and saw that it has finally started to recover. The fairy has obviously kept a good watch over it! I just hope its big and strong enough to survive the winter. Maybe I should move it to the greenhouse if it’s looking like a really cold spell is on its way. The danger then though is that I’ll forget to water it!!

Despite my backache, I really enjoyed getting back out in the garden yesterday. There are still a few jobs that I’d like to get finished before the weather turns so hopefully I’ll be able to get back out a couple of times over the next few weeks which should mean I’ll have plenty of Six fodder! Hope you all have a good weekend, it’s my birthday tomorrow so I’ll be treating myself to all my favourite things starting with a new hair cut this afternoon and followed by some Lego building tomorrow and maybe a jacket potato from Ted’s Potatoes, the best purveyor of jacket potatoes in the world end of story, goodbye, the end (as Mad Eye Moody would say!!) TTFN.

Six on Saturday 21st August

I’ve been very remiss and haven’t joined in with the Propagator’s Six on Saturday for several weeks. I have to admit to having become somewhat disillusioned with our garden over the past few weeks. Whilst I’m incredibly grateful, especially given the events of the past eighteen months or so, for our outside space, this summer it’s seemed like all it’s done is take with very little give! The weeds have gone crazy, it’s been impossible to keep up with pulling them out. I even thought about including one of them in this week’s Six because it’s been so prominent in recent times but then I decided that rogues shouldn’t be glorified so instead I’ll just bemoan the common violet and it’s prolific self-seeding ways. I don’t mind the look of them, but this year they’ve got everywhere!! Our gravelled bistro (with weed control fabric underneath) has become like the Forth Bridge – as soon as I get to the end of pulling the violets out, I have to start again and, quite frankly, that is not how I want to spend my free time!!

Anyway, on to the first of my Six. I said there has been very little give from the garden this year, but there has been success with the runner beans.

We ate the first lot that I harvested with our Gousto meal yesterday (it was supposed to be served with garlicky kale, but really, does anyone actually like kale? We don’t in this house!) As I was preparing them that fresh bean smell really reminded me of my Granny who passed away earlier this year. I’m not even sure why it reminded me of her, but it did. My Grandad used to grow veg so no doubt he’ll have grown runner beans, but I don’t actually recall preparing them with Granny. It was a nice smell-evoked memory anyway. I’ve harvested another lot this morning and there are loads more growing. Can’t beat fresh, homegrown beans!

In the greenhouse, it’s not such a success story!

This is my one solitary tomato that’s grown! These are Maskotka tomatoes which are a trailing variety. They’re absolutely covered in flowers, but no fruit! I suspect there’s not enough summer left for any more to develop now. I don’t like tomatoes, but that’s absolutely not the point, I still want to grow them! I think, because of next door’s jungle, we just don’t get enough sun, even when it does make an appearance!

On that topic, we were astonished last week to receive a text from next door asking if he could pop round to look at the trees from our side as he’s going to get a tree surgeon in to do some hacking! I don’t think he’s planning to hack as much as we’d like him to, but anything’s better than nothing and he is going to take down the one that’s about a metre from my office/Harry Potter room and his back bedroom, so that will let more light in. Some before and after pics may well be in order when he does get it done.

Outside the greenhouse I have some sunflowers. I always grow sunflowers and they’re never very successful. Everyone else’s are just about finishing and mine are still thinking about opening. That’s the ones that haven’t been eaten by squirrels anyway!

This one is yawning, stretching and thinking about opening up so I thought I’d record it now before it gets destroyed by a squirrel. You never know, I might be able to include a photo of it fully open next time, but just in case, at least it’s featured now.

Next to the sunflowers I have sweetpeas, also unsuccessful (do you see the theme?) I have very few flowers and whilst I was waiting for enough to pick a posy, they went to seed. I don’t understand how the weather seems to have been perfect for violets, dandelions and other undesirables to thrive, but not for the plants that I actually want. I think that may be called Murphy’s Law (if we’re being polite).

These ones look quite pretty covered in raindrops so I thought I’d feature them so that all that time sowing and nurturing them wasn’t a complete waste of time! I guess it’s all a learning process, some years it works, others it doesn’t!

I haven’t featured my favourite eupatorium this year. It came back, as it does every year, but again, it hasn’t done as well as in other years.

The leaves are still beautiful but it hasn’t grown as tall as usual, or as abundantly. Maybe it’s time to take a few cuttings and try to propagate myself a few more. How does that work, though, with plants that completely die down in the winter? Do you have to take them early enough to allow them to properly grow in their first season so that they come back? I’ll investigate.

Finally, another tribute to Granny. I bought this rose early in the summer and still haven’t found a place to plant it out. It’s called Sheila’s Perfume, which was Granny’s name, and it’s produced beautiful two tone blooms that I think she’d have loved.

She looks lovely with the raindrops on her as well. I must find the perfect place to plant her out because the summer completely fades away. I just need it to stop raining so I can get out there. Oh, and for my back to remember that it’s in its forties not nineties!!!

Hope everyone manages to make the most of the weekend, despite the weather. Maybe I’ll go off and live vicariously though some of the Sixes written by people living in warmer climes.