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 This time last year it was ‘definitely’ my favourite, but it may have been replaced by my fatsia japonica.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.

Six on Saturday 17th July

I have organised myself early this week to join in with the Propagator’s Six on Saturday. It’s actually Thursday as I’m writing this and I’ve just been inspired by a stroll around the garden.

My poor tomato plants were in a little bit of a sorry state from lack of water, but I don’t think they’re beyond redemption. Time will tell. (Edit to add: they’re fine!) I’m finding, that even though I’m at home all day (still working from home) I forget to go out into the garden to do my watering. When I was in the office it used to be a regular routine that I’d go straight out there when I got home to check what was going on. Must try harder.

So, on to this week’s Six. First up is my first sweetpea of the year – a lovely white number tinged with purple. I’m not sure what’s gone wrong this year, but they’re very slow to get going. On my Timehop today there is a photo from two years ago of an arrangement I’d made with loads of sweetpeas. I planted them in a different place this year that gets more sun, which I thought they’d bask in. I’m still hopeful of being able to make a pretty posy this year too.

My second point has surprised me. It’s a dahlia that I found on a sale table a few weeks ago, but it’s not the flouncy, show off kind of dahlia that I normally gravitate towards. If I’m completely honest, I only got it because it was reduced, but look how amazingly pretty it is.

The photo definitely doesn’t do it justice. I’ve deadheaded it today so hopefully I’ll get another couple of flowers by the time I actually publish this. It’s in a pot on our patio table and I see it every morning as I stumble into my home office at eight twenty nine and fifty nine seconds! Lesson learnt: understated beauty can be just as pleasing as the obvious flouncy kind.

However, I couldn’t resist the buy me, buy me and jumping up and down of the flouncy one so this one came home with me too. This is so cheerful with its sunshine petals. It practically glows when the sun shines on it.

Next up is my wheelbarrow. I’ve put apricot begonias in it again, but also had to supplement it with marigolds because Thomson and Morgan let me down and several of the begonias I ordered from them didn’t survive the post. I think you’ll agree though, the ones that did survive are making up for the loss. I just love them. I never seem to be able to find this colour in garden centres.

My hydrangea is finally getting going too. I love the flowers when they’re at this in between stage. They’re like floral rhubarb.

Finally, my buddleia has sprung to life this week. I’ll be on butterfly watch from now on. This purple colour is one of my favourites and when it appears in nature it’s just stunning.

Chris Packham was on the One Show this week talking about butterflies. They’re in decline due to climate change and we’re being asked to count butterflies to try to get an idea of the extent of the decline.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. It was 24° in my car this morning before 9am when I dropped hubby at work so I’m feeling that it may be too hot for any gardening (or much else for that matter) to get done, other than some necessary watering.