Six on Saturday

Hesperantha are todays star performer and are much easier to pronounce since the RHS changed the name from Schizostylis! I have always had a spreading group of the red ‘coccinea’ which I have to cull every so often to curb their tendency to run, but this year I added a blush pink variety called ‘Pink Princess’ which has flowered right on cue.

The other brilliant, if rather straggly performer, is the awkwardly named Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ which is an outstanding if rather garish cerise pink colour. I am not sure I like it and it may have to go!

For some odd reason, the Salvia microphylla and gregii types like ‘Hot Lips’ and ‘Royal Bumble’ have a last hurrah in October and their flower colour intensifies for a few weeks until the first frost hits them. Perhaps they prefer the cooler weather or they are intent on setting good seed but whatever the reason, it makes a good autumn show.

The Rudbeckias are almost over now having flowered since July but the Dahlias are still going strong and with constant dead-heading, will go on until the first frost. On sunny days, the bees are all over them.

Aster asteroides ‘Stardust’ continues to shine out in the gloom of increasingly dull, cloudy days giving a lift to the borders and providing a rich nectar feed for pollinators.

The last flowers on Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’ are beginning to fade and soon she will be asleep for the winter, gathering her strength for another show in 2021. I can’t wait!

That’s my six for this week. I have been bulb planting as well but who wants to see bulbs before they flower! Over 200 narcissus have gone into pots and borders including 100 white Triandrus ‘Tresamble’ planted in the rose garden to give an early display and the tulips are lurking in paper bags in the shed waiting for their turn in November.

More of that another time.

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

The garden is slowly but surely going to sleep, casting off its bright summer clothes and getting ready for winter. The autumn colours in my little shrubbery are a reminder that all good things must come to an end but I will enjoy the last vestiges of what has been a glorious year in the garden.

Amelanchier, Viburnum and Liquidamber in autumnal colours

The little forest of self sown Verbena bonariensis which jostles for space among the Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ and the remnants of aquilegias and foxgloves, are still going strong and provide a focal point at one end of the front garden.

Over the back garden gate, the ever reliable and evergreen Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ is just beginning to flower and will clothe the arch for many weeks with its pink freckled flowers. In summer it fights for position with an everlasting white sweet pea, Lathyrus latifolius ‘Alba’, which has just been cut back to make way for the show.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

The young Chinese Rowan in the front garden, Sorbus hupehensis, is so laden with berries I fear some of the stems might snap under the weight, particularly when the fat, but acrobatic, wood pigeons descend for their annual feast. They will cling on for grim death until every berry is consumed. The Blackbirds and an occasional Waxwing or Fieldfare will take a few but it’s mainly Woody Wood Pigeon and his mates.

One or two stalwarts are hanging on including this fuchsia which refuses to die. It is not supposed to be hardy, was turfed out of a hanging basket five years ago and left to take its chances in the border. It soldiers on, oblivious to rain, drought and my neglect. Every garden needs a few of those!

The Chrysanthemums are just beginning to flower and the first as usual is ‘Romantika’ , a delicate pom-pom chrysanth with pink flowers which fade to white and goes on and on for weeks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t much like the rain and the flowers become a soggy mess after a heavy shower. Still, there are always so many buds that a quick snip gets it back to it’s former glory.

Chrysanthemum ‘Romantika’

So that is my six for this Saturday.

Have a great weekend and stay safe

David

Six on Saturday

We are still enjoying the last remnants of summer and I have been trying to get ahead of the curve by starting to cut back the herbaceous detritus while still leaving interesting seedheads and deadheading where possible to keep things going. This Scabious atropurpurea has self seeded all over the front garden and I leave it where I can without spoiling the overall look. This little patch has rewarded me with pink, dark red and white.

The combination of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ and Verbena bonariensis is very pleasing and gets a lot of comments from passers-by.

Geranium Rozanne continues to flower and extend herself through the new rose garden beds. This is my first tentative experience with her, a Rozanne virgin you could call me, but she has lived up to her well deserved reputation of being a star performer for months on end without any hint of pest or disease, oblivious to wind and rain and coordinating beautifully with just about everything.

New mail order plants arrived this week from Larch Cottage Nurseries in Penrith, Cumbria, who provide plants to National Collections, Parks, Botanical Gardens, National Trust properties as well as the general public. My interest was more and different Tradescantia Andersoniana Group specimens of which they seem to be sole suppliers in many cases. Beautifully packed and protected in strong crushproof cardboard with sticks in each pot to prevent damage if something heavy was put on top (despite multi warnings of live plants – this way up-do not stack!)

The dreaded Box Moth Caterpillar has arrived in Cheltenham and friends from our gardening group are sharing sprayers and sachets of XenTari biological insecticide to try to stem the tide of damage. Nothing is guaranteed but this seems to be less deadly than Box blight if you catch and destroy the little blighters early enough.

The fantastic weather this year has been wonderful for my Canna Tropicanas which have reached 2m tall and are still flowering as the centrepiece of the hot bed.

Thought I would end on another pic of Clematis ‘Yukikomachi’ which is flowering again and looks so delicate and fragile when in fact it is as tough as old boots!

That’s my six for this Saturday.

Happy gardening and enjoy your weekend .

David

Six on Saturday

Another beautiful afternoon in Cheltenham, sunny and warm, but you can tell Autumn is just around the corner.

This Thalictrum minus gets hacked down in August when I cut the beech hedge it resides next to. Then I run the lawnmower over it to gather the clippings! It comes back in just two weeks as green and lush as if it had never been touched. The flowers are tiny and disappointing for a Thalictrum but the ferny foliage is delightful.

I have several clumps of Cyclamen hederifolium and coum, none of which I planted. I am told the ants like the sticky seeds and carry them long distances where they germinate. These are growing under the purple beech hedge at the front and are as reliable as they are pretty.

The Diascia personata is still flowering her socks off and is a really hard working plant for any cottage garden. Tall, wiry stems with lipstick pink flowers which seem oblivious to heat, cold and rain. What a find!

This box of plants arrived from The Secret Gardening Club today. A lovely job to look forward to after the Malvern Plant Fair tomorrow!

This unusual Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ comes into its own now and is well named with flowers shooting up and outwards in all directions. Goes well with purple Asters.

Had to end on a high note and this Dahlia is over 6 ft tall. It is a cactus hybrid on steroids! As you can see, it is not a particularly good specimen and wouldn’t win any prizes but the bees don’t know that!

Enjoy your weekend

David

Six on Saturday

Here in the Cotswolds we are still blessed with good weather and after the recent rains we now have warm sunshine which is promoting new growth and repeat flowering.

Erysimum ‘Apricot Twist’

Most of the perennial wallflowers have finished and been cut back but Apricot Twist just keeps going. Difficult to place and a bit sprawly in habit but delicious nevertheless.

Hesperantha coccinea

The first of the Kaffir lilies are appearing and will continue right up to December if it stays mild. It’s the strong winds they don’t like and soon become tatty. I have acquired two more varieties this year, the pure white ‘Snow Maiden’ and ‘Pink Princess’ which I am hoping will flower this year.

Salvia mycrophylla ‘Trelissick’

This shrubby Salvia is one of my favourites and has been going strong for many years in the well drained sunny border. It is cut back hard each spring and responds with 18″ of new growth and months of pale cream petals from pink blushed buds and a dark, sometimes almost black calyx.

No, not mustard and cress, but thousands of white Foxglove seedlings in the ground beneath the mother plant. This has happened all over the garden this year but, sadly, they will have to be reduced considerably leaving just a few to mature. For some odd reason which I cannot fathom, white Foxgloves do better here than pink ones and although some do hybridise, I always have patches of pure white ones.

Lunaria annua

This purple Honesty was given to me by a friend this year as I wanted to establish some in the wilder parts of the front garden near the road. It was spectacular in flower and is now hopefully seeding itself around to give me lots more in the future.

Physocarpus ‘Lady in Red’

This Nine Bark is rewarding me with more lovely new red growth despite having been moved twice this year! It went from small pot to big pot to garden but didn’t lose its stride. A good ‘doer’ as they say.

One more for luck. This Dahlia has been an absolute bee magnet since early July and shows no sign of slowing down. Moist rich soil has produced six feet of growth and dead-heading produces non-stop flowering.

That’s all for this week. I hope you enjoyed my Six this Saturday. I will enjoy reading what others are up to.

Good gardening

David

Six on Saturday

Those who have read this blog recently will know I have developed a strong liking for Tradescantia virginiana and T. andersoniana hybrids like this one, ‘Concord Grape’, which is one of the most popular and easily obtained. Easy to grow too, almost any soil will do as long as it doesn’t dry out. It’s not fussy about position although prefers dappled shade.

They all have these bright yellow anthers which are very visible on the flowers which open in the morning and are usually gone by lunchtime, particularly in sunshine. The strappy mound of grass-like leaves can be a bit untidy but you can’t have everything!

I don’t think anybody will be surprised to learn that in an RHS trial, dahlias were found to be one of the most pollinator friendly plants but that the single flowers were better than all the others and particularly favoured by bumble bees. This hybrid in my garden is covered in bumbles all day long and is worthy of it’s place in my garden for that reason, mongrel or not.

Hydropod cuttings update. Most of the cuttings I have propagated in the Hydropod have done well and gone on to make sturdy little plants. Some have even flowered already like this Salvia microphylla ‘Red Bumble’. The standout winners though have been Penstemons, Erysimum and Diascia personata.

The Alstroemerias are still going strong and producing more flower stems despite the change in the weather. These flowers opened during the torrential rain on Thursday so are not looking their best, but they are still quite stunning set off by their dark foliage.

Not much of a picture I know, but a bit of an experiment for me, rose cuttings. My climbing David Austin rose ‘The Generous Gardener’ was ripped off it’s trellis by high winds and snapped in several places so had to be cut back. I think it will re-grow but, just in case, I thought I would try my hand at some cuttings. This is the recommended ‘Gardener’s World’ method so I will report progress in due course. It may take a while!

Never one to shy away from problems in the garden, this just shows that even the toughest of shrubs can die on you for no apparent reason. This Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ was coppiced for several years until I decided to allow one leading shoot to grow into a main stem to form a small tree. It looks like this was a mistake! Most of the new growth has turned brown and has died. The fresh new growth from ground level is fine so it looks like it will have to be coppiced again next year.

Let’s end on a high note, the pure white Japanese Anemone which is well behaved in my garden, unlike the pink ones which tried to take over and had to be forcibly removed. The dainty white ‘Honorine Jorbet’ enjoys a dry shady north facing spot where little else will grow and shines out even on the darkest of cloudy days.

That’s it for this week’s Six on Saturday.

Enjoy your weekend

David

Six on Saturday

Not everything in my garden is rosy! My purple sprouting broccoli outgrew it’s Enviromesh covering and a plague of Cabbage White butterflies descended. I checked for eggs and destroyed many clumps but obviously missed a lot because the entire crop has been ruined by thousands of voracious caterpillars.

Oddly, the other bed of the same variety which was sown later and kept covered for three weeks  longer has no damage. The Cabbage Whites are now dancing around but not laying eggs. Phew!

I am pleased I had the patience to grow this Gladiolus papilio ‘Ruby’ from seed three years ago. They have rewarded me with several spikes of beautiful rich velvet red flowers for the first time this year and hopefully for many more years to come.

Some gardeners are a bit snooty about yellow but I love it. To me, it’s the colour of sunshine, chucky eggs and happiness. Consequently, I have yellow everywhere and now is it’s time. Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’, Helianthus ‘Happy Days’ and the tall spectacular daisy flowered Silphium perfoliatum.

This little Aster is an ideal front of border plant and gradually spreads but not in an invasive way. It also has the attribute of hiding it’s spent flowers with new ones avoiding the usual browning and decay. A magnet for pollinators and butterflies too. Pretty and clever, the ideal combination!

It may be common Myrtle but any plant included in Royal bouquets is good enough for me. Grown from a single tiny cutting in a 9cm pot just three years ago, it has literally blossomed into a substantial and much admired shrub.

An impulsive £2 supermarket purchase of a ‘white’ hemerocallis has turned out to be a beautiful lemon yellow and scented to boot! A fortunate stroke of serendipity!

So there you have my six for this Saturday.

Enjoy your weekend.

David

Six on Saturday

During the last very, very hot two weeks it has been a struggle to keep everything alive, particularly plants in pots and those planted out just a few months ago in the new rose garden. The (five) water butts ran out in quick succession and I had to resort to the hosepipe which I try not to do but needs must! Of course, as soon as I got the hosepipe out, it rained; big rain, lots of rain. My (five) water butts are now full again!

I am a great fan of Soapwort with its pretty white and pink flowers; so dainty yet tough as old boots. As perennials go, this one should be in every garden but it seems to have lost favour like a lot of ‘common’ plants. The nursery trade has a huge influence on how gardens are planted unless, like me and many others, you hunt down the seeds and grow them yourself.

The saponin properties found in soapwort plant are responsible for creating the bubbles that produce soap. You can easily make your own liquid soap simply by taking about twelve leafy stems and adding them to a pint of water. This is usually boiled for about 30 minutes and then cooled and strained. Alternatively, you can start out with this small, easy recipe using only a cup of crushed, loosely packed soapwort leaves and 3 cups of boiling water. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes on low heat. Allow to cool and then strain. Note: The soap only keeps for a short period (about a week) so use it right away. Use caution as this can cause skin irritation in some people.

These two tough little pots of Liliope muscari were given to me by my friend Nan a few years ago and only found their way into the ground in May, since when they have been much happier and flowered better than they ever did in pots. They like the shade of the Physocarpus and the moist clay beneath.

This is quite simply a stunning rose despite its rather lax habit, with gorgeous apricot flowers on almost thornless stems and a fruity tea scent. Destined to be one of my favourites I think

My little potted Eucomis bicolour has excelled herself this year with eleven flower spikes which I think is down to the ‘Carol Klein method’ of repotting with fresh gritty compost every February before growth gets underway. It has surprisingly few roots for such a leafy plant, but stores it’s food in its huge bulb.

Finally, I don’t often recommend gardening websites, particularly the large nurseries with big marketing budgets or here-today-gone-tomorrow gadgets, but this one seems to be different and a good idea for hard pressed gardeners. The Secret Gardening Club https://www.secretgardeningclub.co.uk/ is a venture by Yorkshire Lavender who take over excess stock from nurseries all over the country and sell it to club members at a fraction of the price, often starting at just £1.99.
Every week they let all their club members know what great plants offers they have available by email. I have joined the club, bought some plants, received them and have been impressed with the quality, the packaging and the customer service. I speak as I find and so far this seems to be a genuinely good idea.

So, there are my six for this Saturday.

Have a great weekend!

David

Six on Saturday

A quick glimpse of the booze factory! Blackberry Gin, Redcurrant Vodka, Blackberry Brandy, Japanese Wineberry & Maple Syrup Vodka, Blackberry & Vanilla Vodka Liqueur all steeping for 12 weeks before being strained, filtered and bottled for Christmas. Obviously, might have to sample each one before then!

Incredible sunset last night. Looked like the sky was on fire. Another hot couple of days still to come. Out with the watering cans!

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’ is reputedly a short lived perennial but this one has been going for 8 years. Never quite sure what ‘short lived’ means, is it 3,5,7 years or longer? I have found it easy to take heal cuttings and propagate them in the Hydropod so all will be well.

I am always impressed with the simple and abundant flowers of perennial sunflowers. This Helianthus has been with me since we moved here 12 years ago and has been split, walked on and moved several times since then. It is one of those plants that come with a warning that they may spread vigorously which this one certainly does. However, in the right place the 2m tall flowers make a wonderful backdrop to a mixed border as long as you’re not sniffy about yellow. Pollinators love them and as I wrote previously, it takes a Chelsea Chop in May which doubles the flowers and prolongs the season.

Everybody likes a good Phlox! This one is short and sweet, and free of mildew for now!

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is finding it tough going in my clay soil. She dries out quickly and needs constant watering which seems to result in shorter growth and smaller flowers. I enriched the soil with compost and have pampered her with organic fertiliser but nothing seems to perk her up. I think I may have to give up and just accept her runty growth.

And that is my Six on Saturday, on time for once!

Six on Saturday – missed again!

I have discovered that my hitherto punctuality is a thing of the past and I am now pretty hopeless at remembering to update my blog as promised. Could be an age thing, could be the distractions of family and friends last weekend (a two year old granddaughter demanding attention from the moment she wakes up doesn’t help!) or it could be the red wine, who knows! Anyway, I promise to do better from now on, to which end I have taken the photos today and uploaded them so I just have to write the words. No excuses then!

In the meantime, here are the ones I meant to post last week.

Named after the house in Shropshire where King Charles II allegedly hid after his defeat in the Battle of Worcester in 1651, this David Austin bred repeat flowering rose, (apparently with the scent of Myrrh but I couldn’t possibly comment having never smelt the real thing) is on its second flowering and doing better than the first. It has the great attribute of holding its head up rather than drooping like so many David Austin modern roses do. A gorgeous coral pink with glossy green leaves, it is a stunner.

At just £2 for a bag of 5 bulbs from Morrison’s, I rate this summer flowering bulb for its height and form, bee friendliness and sheer exuberance. It is rated as perennial but if it isn’t, I haven’t lost much and had a wonderful first and last summer.

This unusual Kniphofia ‘Green Jade’ is about as reliable as any red/orange and is not as difficult to place in the garden. It combines well with most colours and fades into the background. Bombproof, thrives on neglect flowers for weeks on end and easy to tidy up in the spring. I just wish it had tidier flower heads, it always looks a bit scruffy!

This is one of those Dahlias that started off life as a ‘Bishop’s Children’ derivative and has morphed into it’s own semi variety. It stays in the ground, comes up every year without fail, battles the slugs and snails in April and May and comes good in July and August. It’s tough, pretty and never lets me down; a metaphor for the best thing in my life.

This Salvia was grown from a demonstration cutting discarded at a Plant Heritage meeting seven years ago. It is one of those plants that you love to hate. It smells awful, it has an enormous appetite for water, it is not particularly attractive and yet it just won’t die! It is supposed to be H3 meaning it won’t take a frost, but I leave it out all year and despite the initial leaves often getting frosted, it soon sends out more as if to say “you can’t kill me!”

And another plant which hasn’t read the book. Cannas are also H3 so should be ‘lifted, dried and stored carefully in a frost free place over winter’. Frankly, can’t be bothered. If you plant them deep enough they easily survive an average Cotswold winter and come up unscathed to flower from August to October with these head turning colours.

So that’s it for this/last week. Sorry I was late…again. I will improve…promise!