Six on Saturday 23rd October

Hi! I’m supposed to be doing my Tesco online shop, but the website’s been down all day, so here I am instead, having taken a sojourn in the garden to do some autumn tidying and found that, actually, there’s still plenty of botanical goings-on out there that are worthy of reporting.

It’s a mix of seasons out there so I’m going to start with a couple of reminders of summer that are still lingering on out there with hope in their hearts. The first is specifically for my aunt with whom I share a love of these gorgeous giant begonias in apricot shades. She sent me a picture of one of hers earlier this week and I reported back, with some envy, that mine were fading fast, but, look ……

….. this definitely isn’t fading!! How does nature know how to create something so beautiful?! I was intending to clear the wheelbarrow planter that the begonias lived in this summer, but I couldn’t resign this to the green bin.

The second point is cosmos. I grew these from seed and they’ve got huge!! I planted them in between my sweet peas (which were a bit of a flop this year) and my runner beans which were whatever the opposite of a flop is (flap?) I cleared the flop and flap and then had to prop the cosmos up once their bed fellows’ support had gone. Such a pretty colour and there are dozens of buds waiting to burst open. Fingers crossed that the weather stays mild enough to facilitate some late magenta blooming.

Moving on to more autumnal offerings and I decided to share some white frothiness.

On the left is my favourite eupatorium. I’ve a feeling I wrote a few weeks ago that the flowers of the eupatorium were somewhat of a let down after their beautiful purple and green foliage during the summer, but actually, this year the flowers are gorgeous and far more plentiful than in previous years. There’s something of a bubble bath about them.

Bubbling away next to the eupatorium is my fatsia japonica. The leaves are definitely the star of this mottled beauty, but the flowers and weird raspberry-esque fruits are worthy of a mention. They really are most unusual and eye-catching.

Next up, I’m forced to reluctantly admit that winter is on its way by the appearance of hellebore flowers in my birthday planter. Hopefully they’ll get a bit bigger because they’re currently hidden under the profusion of leaves and it would be nice to see them poke their little heads out to look around. I have another hellebore which bears velvet-like purple flowers, but there’s no sign of those appearing yet.

My granny is the link between these final two points, the first of which I think is appropriate to continue my winter theme from the previous point. I may be wrong because I’ve never grown these nerines before, but they look to me like they’re gearing up to do something! They came from granny’s garden after she passed away and I really wasn’t sure where they’d like to be, so I planted them here in the space left by a geranium that I removed, and kept my fingers crossed.

For the final point I’m thinking positive, and forward to next summer. I bought this rose after granny died because it shares her name, it’s Sheila’s perfume. I think I shared a photo of its flower in an earlier Six, it has stunning rhubarb and custard coloured petals and an amazing scent. I pulled out a tree rose that had some kind of infestation and put Sheila in its place. It had been in its pot for some time whilst I found space for it, so I was worried it might not thrive, but here you can see some promising new growth so I’m hopeful for success next year.

Right, I’m off to check Tesco’s website to see if I can update my order for tomorrow or if we’re going to get a bag of cat litter delivered!! Whilst I’m doing that, why don’t you pop over to visit the Propagator to see his Six this week?

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 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.