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 This time last year it was ‘definitely’ my favourite, but it may have been replaced by my fatsia japonica.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