Has anyone seen Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? It starts in the summer holidays with Harry sat on a swing in suburban Little Whinging, Surrey with normal summer activities going on around him in the park, and a radio somewhere is discussing it being the hottest day of the year. Well it feels like that today! I’m sat on my egg chair in the garden and I can hear normal family life going on in one neighbour’s garden – the kids on the trampoline, the dog wanting to jump over and kill me and the parents discussing what to have for dinner. On the other side our solitary neighbour is whistling to the birds, and someone somewhere is playing summer tunes. Back to Little Whinging, and soon Harry’s cousin Dudley turns up and starts taunting him, but then the sky turns black and the calm is shattered as the pair are forced to run for their lives when the dementors of Azkaban swoop in. It seems to me that the forecasted heatwave for the next three days is the real life version of the dementors waiting to swoop in and end the current summer happiness on my street!
Anyway, at least it’s only three days till normal British summertime is resumed, and in the meantime, here’s some pictures of pretty garden regalia to occupy our time until the heatwave sucks all the joy out of us.
First up, here’s one of the few inhabitants of the garden that might actually thrive in the heat, my olive tree. It’s covered in flowers, but I’m not holding my breath because although it’s had flowers before, it’s never produced any fruit.
My hebe Purple Pixie is flowering nicely. It looks bluey-purple in the photo but is a deeper purple in reality. This was my first ever hebe which I rescued from the sale table at Notcutts several years ago. It’s doing well even though I’ve moved it a couple of times and it’s in complete shade.
I’m glad I nipped out on my lunch break earlier in the week and took photos of my pink damask flowers which emerged all of a sudden, because, as I’ve lamented before, they’re beautiful but barely last more than a couple of days. They’ve pretty much done their thing already for this year. The remaining ones are certainly not going to survive 40° on Monday.
I found half a packet of nigella seeds in the greenhouse earlier in the year and decided to sow them without really expecting much success, but now I have a pot of them! This was the first one that opened. I really love their layered petals and the delicate blue hue.
This gerbera has unexpectedly survived two winters. I didn’t even notice a bud this year but one day this week I went outside and found this flower. Lovely surprise!
Finally another discovery this week. I pulled out some dreaded herb Robert that had managed to find its way into my hanging basket that houses my nigrescens and found that said nigrescens is flowering. This is the first time it’s done that, so now I have high hopes that I may get some berries on it in the autumn. How exciting!
So there we are for another week. I’m off to think happy thoughts to summon my patronus (which, by the way, I’m pretty sure would be a cat, but I can’t be sure because I didn’t get my Hogwarts letter) to banish the heatwave and save my pots from death by dementor’s kiss! For anyone who doesn’t obsess about Harry Potter like me, apologies because that will make zero sense to you, but hopefully you’ll have enjoyed the flowers. Why not pop over to the Propagator to check out some more?
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.
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.