Six on Saturday: 8.10.22

Well, it is most definitely autumn now. The leaves are coming off the trees fast. I find I usually miss out on seeing the leaves change colour in my garden. Being by the sea many of the leaves are blown off before they change colour. It’s been a fairly grey wet week. I’ve not been in the garden much this week beyond a little light weeding but I need to try and get out and start moving a few pots and other bits for autumn.


I still haven’t bought any bulbs for autumn planting but other people around me are obviously feeling the itch. My mum bought me some purple doll tulips. These have a base of green and purple petals. They open to a ruffled flower similar to the dolls minuets I’ve grown before. Then Amy and Alice came back from Tescos with the alliums and Tulip grand perfection. I’m not sure whether these will go in the border or pots but I’ve got time to decide. I usually leave tulip planting until late autumn so they don’t sit rotting in wet autumn weather.

Autumn seed sowing

I am testing some peat-free seed compost I’ve not tried before. I’m using Lemington seed compost. It is made from coir and wood chipings. It seems to have a nice loose structure for seeds growing in. I hadn’t read the coir content before buying otherwise I probably would have left it with coir having the issues of transport taking away from the peat-free eco friendliness.

I’ve sown Larkspur and Hollyhocks from the Halo series. These Hollyhocks are supposedly more rust resistant. They have both germinated well. Growing these from seed in autumn, I’m aiming for a small plant to put in the cold frame for winter and then it gives them a headstart in spring if they survive.

Actea simplex ‘brunette’

I bought this plant after seeing it at Scampston Hall. I liked the contrast of the dark leaves with the white flowers. it grows well in damp shaded spots. It has taken a little while to establish but it is doing well now. It is supposedly a good plant for pollinators. I’ve not noticed much on it but, then, I’ve not been out much.


After posting about Mangaves a few weeks back I got offered another I didn’t have. I’ve now got an extra pineapple express and a snow leopard. The snow leopard is new to me and possibly my favourite of my current mangaves. The contrast of the variegation is great and I can see it standing out in a few combinations.

Aster and Sambucus

The Asters are coming out strong and combining well with the Sambucus. The Aster is a fairly leggy plant through much of summer and I wonder each year whether to remove it. Then it flowers and I remember why it is allowed to remain.

Dahlia single flame

I grew this dahlia from a tuber this year. It has flowered reasonably well though I think the colours are coming out better now in the cooler weather. During the summer they were pretty much pure red. Now they have more of a yellow centre.

We are looking to head to Burton Agnes for the autumn fair this weekend so may end up with some plant purchases. I think it’s more craft stalls, but sure they’ll still have a few plants for sale. I’ve just started reading the new book by Harriet Rycroft on pots, so hoping for some inspiration to rearrange my pots ready for winter.

Six on Saturday: 1.10.22

So it’s the start of the new month and it is has definitely shifted to autumn. Not that we will experience many of the joys of autumn in my garden this year. The leaves fell without changing colour as a result of the drought.

Delphinium dwarf blue

I picked up two of these delphiniums at Tesco’s a few weeks ago. They had been reduced as they had a good few yellowed leaves but I was confident enough they would recover. After a good soak they were planted in the border a few weeks back and they are flowering nicely now. It’s good to still provide as many flowers as possible to cater for the insects still on the wing.


I saw this going on Facebook for a fiver and thought it was worth getting at that price. I don’t have a set idea in mind for it. I may use it in the border for a bird bath to sit on. It’s not the largest or prettiest but at that price, it seemed worth getting.

Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’

I’ve been on the lookout for Geum totally tangerine but to no avail. I may end up ordering some online. I did however find this Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ on discount. It was a very large pot and when I took it out of the pot I decided it was good for dividing as it was quite root bound. I split it three ways and still had decent-sized pots. Mrs Bradshaw is a double scarlet flowered variety. I would prefer the orange single flowers of totally tangerine as they would be better for insects but I believe this still forms open enough flowers insects can still make use of them. They’ve been dotted midway into the hot border. This will hopefully give some good repetition.

Geum Koi

I also picked up this dwarf geum discounted. It’s gone in a pot for the patio so that it repeats some of the plants in the border. They remain roughy evergreen through winter and flower with small bright orange flowers over a good period. Garden media seems to be increasingly focusing on plants that flower over longer periods such as salvias. With most people having limited space you need plants that stay interesting for a long period. I’m hopeful the geums should contribute to this. I have lots of astrantias that keep going in the shade through summer and autumn. I need more workhorse plants for the sunny spots.

Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’

Meconopsis are known for being a little tricky to keep going. They are part of the poppy family and are similar to the yellow Welsh poppy commonly seen but with a bright blue flower. This one is a short-lived perennial, though longer lived than some other Meconopsis. I reckon my front garden should provide it the conditions it needs. It will get damp clay soil with partial shade. I’m hoping it will flower and then self seed in future years. The blue flowers are very striking and also popular with the bees.

Dwarf dahlias

I had got fed up with these seed-grown dwarf dahlias not doing much so had bunged them all together in a trough. They put out a lot of leafy growth all summer and have finally realised they need to get on with flowering. They’ve come out in a good range of colours. I would grow them again, but maybe look at starting them off earlier so they get to flower. I think I started these at the beginning of May and maybe need to begin in April.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s six and you all get a chance to get out and enjoy yours this week.

Plant rescue: Senecio angel wings

I have a new rescue project. I think this one may be beyond help but I’ll give it a good try out of a perverse interest in whether the damage can be undone. I have been given this Senecio angel wings from my local houseplant shop. It isn’t really a plant I think of as a houseplant. I think of it more as a garden plant for sensory gardens and see it in a few gardens around me as it is tolerant of our salt winds. It originates from Patagonian region of Chile. Depending on where you read its hardiness goes from -5 in some sources while others say not below 0. It’s generally seen growing in pots as a result where it can be brought in when cold weather strikes. Senecio angel wings are evergreen perennials that are usually short-lived. It’s a succulent with velveteen leaves. I’d been warned this had been allowed to dry out and then watered, possibly too much so it’s fallen into the common trap with succulents. You end up in a cycle of overwatering, and underwatering leading to a slow death.

I forgot to take a picture of how this started but placed back in the initial pot you can see it was a decent-sized pot. It had been top dressed with wood chips. The soil was probably too moisture retentive. This is a succulent that needs free draining soil. The moisture retentive soil with wood on top trapping more water probably wasn’t a great combination for growing this.

I suspected it was suffering with root rot and just intended to inspect the soil by taking it out of the pot to check the roots. It came away from the pot. It appeared that this probably wasn’t that well rooted when delivered from the nursery. It had a central core of roots going down and then circling the pot but not a decent network going through the pot. The plant came away leaving a short root network. The issues with this possibly go back to the nursery selling a plant before it was properly established but without seeing it earlier on I can’t judge that fairly

I’m not convinced it has enough root left to survive but I’m going to chance it. I’ve potted it up in a mix made for succulents and cacti. This has a higher content of sand and grit to allow the water to drain. As it is succulent it doesn’t need lots of water to survive so the limited root system may not be too much of an issue if I carefully make sure it gets water but doesn’t end up waterlogged. I think it will be hard but it may be able to recover and form a stronger root network.

The potting up process was a bit messy leaving lots of the old compost mix stuck to the furry leaves. Some of the leaves had hardened off, possibly through being allowed to dry out too much before being overwatered or just getting old.

I’ve pruned off a few of the worst leaves to reduce the strain on the root system. Fewer leaves mean less photosynthesis so less need for water.

It’s not looking pretty right now and I don’t think this ones going to be recovering anytime soon, if at all. It will need mollycoddling through winter and then might manage to put on fresh growth in spring. For now I’m going to place it outside on dry days to get some more light and then bring it in on wet days and place near the grow lights. I think it probably needs more light than it was getting as a houseplant. If plants don’t have enough light they don’t use water as quickly for photosynthesis. Online sources suggested 6 hours of sunlight a day but as this more often grows outside I think much more than that to really thrive.

So, having addressed the wet compost mix I’ve got to balance the watering, light and heat now for it to stand a chance. It may not survive but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn about what would make it thrive if I end up with another. I probably wouldn’t grow it as a houseplant I reckon it would favour being outside for most of the year and just in for winter. The velvet leaves are quite nice but Stachys can give me the same effect in the garden without being as particular. Tradescantia sillamonata has a similar feel as a houseplant while being more straightforward to keep alive and propagate me, so I’m not sure this has a purpose in my collection but it’s interesting to know more about it.

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Six on Saturday: 24.9.22

Been a busy week at work. We had several people off so I’ve been covering extra sessions. As a result, I’ve not spent much time in my own garden. This week’s six is from my parent’s garden last week.


A good few blooms coming through looking very nice.

Another rose

Another rose, but this one only had one bloom. It was looking nice against the pyracantha.


The time for winter and autumn bedding is upon us. Cyclamen are lovely plants with the foliage and the delicate flowers.


The agapanthus are doing very well. My mum has built a good collection that are flowering over a good period. These are some of my favourites.


This zinnia was just pure floral perfection. My mum has grown lots in pots this year and they have been wonderful providing great bright bursts of orange and pink and red.


Harvests have been a bit erratic with the drought this year but my parents have managed a good harvest of decorative gourds ready for autumn displays.

Hope you all enjoy your weekends. I’ve got a few more extra shifts next week but will hopefully have some garden time this weekend. Still haven’t planted last week’s purchases so want to get them in.

Six on Saturday: 17.9.22 RHS treats

Having done so well completing my RHS Level 2 in Horticulture I felt entitled to a few treats. We headed off to Skirlaugh Garden Centre. Of our local garden centres, I think this one has one of the best range of perennials at the best price. A few others have more choice but you pay for it. I was hoping for a few plants for what I’ve designated as the hot border. The other borders are looking like they’ll be fairly cohesive but this one isn’t looking so good. I had Geum totally tangerine in mind for decent bright flowers over a reasonable period. They had a lot of yellow Geums I wasn’t bothered for and one short red one I was tempted with but didn’t have a place in mind for. I was also looking for more Ophiopogon to go edging the arch on either side but it was very expensive for small pots so I’ll just divide my existing plants. It’ll take longer but it was looking to cost the better part of £50 to get enough to fill the space. But, let’s take a look at what I did buy.


It turned out they had all plants reduced. I assume they are clearing stock ahead of winter. So, all of this came to £30 which is pretty good for some decent perennials. I got 5 Kniphofia uvaria Flamenco. I have a lot of plants forming low mounds of foliage. I wanted a few plants that have more of an upright shape like these to vary things up. While I didn’t find the geum I wanted I did find Potentilla nepalensis Miss Wilmott. This has small pink flowers with a dark centre. Alice picked a potentilla a few years ago that I wasn’t sure about. However, it has proved a good plant and as this one has Miss Wilmott’s name to it, I’m willing to try it. I got 3 Agapanthus purple clouds that I’m planning to put together in a pot. I am trying to reduce my pot watering and the agapanthus have been great in the heat this year. I let Alice choose a number of plants from the alpine section for her alpine garden. She picked: Sempervivum arachnoideum bryoides, Erodium reichardii Album, Chaenorhinum origanifolium ‘blue dream’, Rhodiola pachyclados and Lilium formosanum var. Pricei. Amy choose a Rhodohypoxis Tetra Pink.

Agapanthus ‘purple cloud’

This is supposedly one of the darkest purple Agapnathus. Currently, I have various shades of blue, from very pale to a more royal blue. They have been reliable plants in the pots. They require minimal effort in terms of watering and they bring colour in late summer when there is a bit of a lull between some of the early summer plants fading. The bees seem to love them. This seems like a good enough reason for them to exist in my garden. I think the purple will complement nicely with my blousy pink hydrangeas.

Potentilla ‘Miss Wilmott’

I had envisioned this in a spot mid-border but when I looked up the details it is shorter than the label suggests. It should form a dense clump of strawberry-like leaves and flower through summer and possibly even into autumn. I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Miss Wilmott’s life and it is a fascinating story. An amazing plantswoman, though a bit of a controversial figure in her time, and I’m willing to give any plant with her name assigned a try. I’m going to have to reconsider my positioning though and look for a spot front of the border.

Kniphofia uvaria Flamenco

These are heading into the border I have assigned the hot border. As I said I wanted some plants with more upright shapes. There are a lot of clump-forming perennials with broader leaves like geraniums so these will make a contrast. They form the bottle brush flowers in shades of red, to orange, to yellow. Kniphofia are native to Africa and as such like it on the dryer side. I’m not sure what they’ll make of my soil which is much-improved clay soil. I think I’ve improved it enough over the last few years that these should survive and fit with my plans for more drought tolerance to reduce the need to water.

The alpines

Alice helped me plant up her choices in her fairy garden. We had the one sempervivum that didn’t fit that I’ll probably use in a pot sometime and Amy’s choice of the Rhodohypoxis Tetra Pink which went in the border. I’m not sure it will suit the border soil but Alice was definite it belonged there. A lot of what Alice selected are spreaders so we’ll see how they colonise the space of which suit the conditions well and which don’t. The lilies were new to me. They are a dwarf form that still forms a large flower but on short sturdy stem apparently. They look pretty on the label, but we’ll see. Lily beetle have been around a lot this year though I have still had most lilies make it to flower.

Acanthus ‘morning candle’

I like acanthus. They have nice deep cut leaves and the contrasting flowers are very attractive. I tried Acanthus whitewater last year but this year’s growth has been very weak. Whitewater is a highly variegated one and I wonder if this has weakened it. Morning candle has attractive veining but it is still a dark green so hopefully, this will grow strong. They form tap roots and regrow from small root sections so once placed they can keep coming back even if you move so I need to consider its position well.

I still want to track down the geum I failed to get but I feel this was a pretty good plant haul as a reward for my RHS results. A few people have asked if I plan to continue my studies. I’m not carrying on with any RHS courses currently. I am however aiming for a National Collection of Iris foetidissima. I’m also attending the British Cactus and Succulent society meetings. So between working on the National Collection for plant heritage, reading information from the British Iris Society and building my cactus knowledge I have plenty to keep me busy as I continue to develop my plant knowledge.

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Six on Saturday: 10.9.22

It has been a busy week for me as I returned to work after the school holiday. It’s been a good week back but I also had more significant gardening news. I passed my final two RHS exams and to top it off I received commendations for both exams. So, I finished the course with 6 out of 8 as commendations. Very pleased to have made it through so I think a few gardening treats are in order.

Seating area

Work continues on the seating area. I got the weed matting down and started on the stones. It is gradually taking shape. It should be done by next week.

Burton Agnes Purchases

We went to Burton Agnes Hall last week and made a few purchases. Alice picked the Armeria which I reckon we can add to her fairy garden we started last week. Amy picked Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot Rainbow’. She liked the contrast of the stem and leaf. I’ve put this one in a pot to give it the drainage it needs. I went for Penstemon ‘Pensham Plum Jerkum’. I fancied something forming towers of flowers that flower over a decent period. The gardens are still filled with lots of plants looking great but it is feeling a bit run down in areas. It’s gradually looking in need of a designer to come and bring some cohesion back to the individual garden sections.

Clematis Montana Warickshire rose

I picked up a cheap Clematis from Morrisons for one side of the arch. Their cheap climbers have grown well for me in the past and Montana are vigorous anyway. They have pale pink flowers in late spring or early summer. I planted an unnamed Montana for the other side of the arch. They should cover the arch nicely but without being spiky for walking through.

Houseplant treats

After receiving my RHS results I figured I deserved a little treat on the day. I got a little Sansiveria. Nothing particularly special, but it isn’t one I’ve got. Then a Crassula Rhapsody in pink. That’s the strange one that looks like little tails. Both of these are barely rooted cuttings so will need a bit of care to keep going. They were cheap but still probably shouldn’t be sent out from their nurseries like this. But the demand for houseplants is outstripping supply I reckon. Then I got a Chamaelobivia, the peanut cactus. It can be grown as a houseplant or in the garden. This one has bright red flowers. It is marketed as a hardy garden cactus. It is reckoned to hardy to -7 though it may be killed by winter wet, so I may put it in the mini greenhouse to shelter it from rain and then it’ll be a garden plant as the weather warms up. They grow easily from offsets so I may pluck out a few to keep inside as an insurance policy.

Cleistocactus strausii

I saw this cactus for sale on Facebook for £7. I’ve been after a nice big specimen and this is fulfilling that role. The big column is a decent two foot. I’m going to need to work out the best way to deal with the browned off stems. I think I will probably divide it and cut out the browned sections leaving me with the tall column and a shorter one. It’s not necessarily a plant you see for sale very often though it is used within a number of well-known gardens planting schemes. Jimi Blake uses it within his garden, Hunting Brook Garden, in Ireland. Looking online these are selling at £100 to £200 so hopefully I can divide this successfully and have a spectacular specimen for the cactus display. Not bad since it included the pot.

Astrantia ‘claret’

I got this Astrantia from Scampston a few years ago and it has proved a reliable plant. It has flowered well through summer and it’s still going strong.

I have the rest of the stone to get on with moving to finish the seating area. We may have ordered too much so the passage around the back of the house may get a fresh layer of stone too. I’d like to try and make it to the garden centre some point this weekend for a few treats for my exam result. I’ve got a few gaps in the border from moving things around that I’d like filled but have to see what’s available. We’ve had a lot of rain this week so the plants that have been moved are largely settling well and the water butts are looking full again. Hope you all enjoy your weekends whatever you are up to.

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Six on Saturday: dramatic changes

This week has been a busy week in the garden. We’ve talked about making a new seating area for a good while but haven’t we got around to it. With this being the last week of the school holiday I’ve got started before I run out of time. Half the lawn has been lifted to make the seating area. The turf has been bagged and hopefully will rot down over autumn and winter to form some good compost to use as a mulch. The back half of the garden will have the seating and the front half still has Alice’s slide. This is going to compartmentalize the areas and hopefully make them more usable for all the family and give us a spot to sit out for a cuppa.

The arch

To mark the divide, I thought an arch would help really mark the areas. It also helps change the view from the house. Looking from the kitchen the eye is drawn across the garden and down to the gate. The aim here is that the arch breaks up the sightline and draws the eyeliner through the arch. Currently from the kitchen, that gives you a view through to the Hydrangea limelight making for something more likely to draw you out into the garden. I have one spare Clematis Montana for one side of the arch but could do with another to climb the other side.

The seating area

The seating area will have weed matting put down and then we are travelling. It would be nice to have it paved or something more robust but for now, we are going with the cheaper option. Both the table and the arch were reduced at the garden centre as they are clearing ready to transform the garden furniture ready for Christmas. The table is eucalyptus wood and resin. The resin is made with recycled fisherman rope, which feels quite fitting with us being by the coast. Quite a bright choice but it’s Amy’s favourite colour and they are more comfortable than the wooden fold-out ones we had before.

Shaded area

Around the seating area is a mix of foliage plants with the Hydrangea limelight bringing the main colour. This area has more shade than the rest of the garden with the black cherry and lilac on one side. Then the other side has a holly, Ilex golden king. This is still small but after a couple of years of settling, it’s put on a good bit of growth this year. The fences are gradually getting claimed by climbing hydrangeas. So hopefully you will be surrounded by green when sat here. This area has most of Iris foetidissima plants. I am currently in the process of building up towards a National Collection so this will house them in a more attractive and unified border than it was before.

The slide

The slide has been turned around so Alice doesn’t have to slide into the border. I’ve moved some of the turf lifted to repair a few patches. I’ll probably end up seeding the lawn to as it’s had a hard year.

Underneath I have set up Alice’s fairy garden. I thought she’d use the underneath as a den area when we built it but she rarely did. It just ended up being a scruffy patch of grass underneath. We had the fairy garden in a pot previously but this is a bit more accessible. She helped set it all up and has made stories around each landmark already. The frame above provides some rain cover. A bit still gets through but not as much. It gets quite a bit of morning sun and then the frame will shade it for midday before the sun goes around and it will get some more. We’ve planted in a number from pots where they had spread well and needed dividing. It keeps all her fairy bits together and allows me to have a mini rock garden to play with.

Cool border

We are a good few years into starting the garden and some plants have outgrown their spaces and others haven’t performed as expected. I have a better knowledge of where gets more sun and more shade and where wind directs. Some of the planting combinations were working and some weren’t. So, I made the decision to do a big shift around. It’s not the ideal time to do it as it’s a bit too hot still so I am having to water it all in well. We do have a week ahead of rain though which should help. The border to the side of the slide has largely worked but there were a few colour combinations that weren’t working and a few plants receiving too much sun. The Acer has been potted up for now and the candelabra primulas have been moved to more shaded areas around the seating area. The remaining plants were largely shades of blue and purple with a number of white Aster family members. I figured I might as well make this the unifying colour scheme and make this a cool border. There is a tall Symphyotrichum novi-belgii (formally aster) that flowers in late summer. The frothy Erigeron karvinskianus provides little daisy flowers at the front of the border. Next to that is wood asters which are a slightly taller white daisy. The Echinops (globe thistles) have done well this year. They suffered with aphids early on in the year but it hasn’t stopped them flowering well. Behind and out of sight is the Eryngium (Sea holly). I have moved all the Eryngium that was dotted along the border together to see if it can make more of an impact as a group. Hopefully these will all work better together. Many of the flowers made up our wedding flowers so it should work nicely together. A lot of the planting flowers mid to late summer so I’ll maybe need to get a few bulbs into add some spring interest. But as this border is completely obscured from the house by evergreen planting I’m not too concerned if this only has summer interest as there won’t be many people looking at it any other time beyond me.

The hot border

Opposite the cool border I’ve decided we’ll have a hot border. It’s a bit tired at the moment with a lot of the plants finished flowering. The salvias are still going strong and the gladioli are coming into flower one by one. The crocosmia are bringing a little colour but it won’t really be until next year where it comes into its own. The front of the border is largely made up of different short hardy geraniums that flower late spring. Interspaced along the front are several short Iris sibericas that offer a different leaf shape to the geraniums. I’ve placed Salvia hot lips at both ends of the border as this has done well for a long period bringing in lots of bees. I could probably do with a few taller plants mid border. There are a few salvias and monarda. Lupins will come up for early spring but this border still isn’t quite right. More thought needed.

And that’s your six. The patio is getting a tidy too. I’m trying to reduce the pots to a couple of neat displays as it has got too full this year. I’ve got a number of drought-resistant plants for the full sun positions but I need to repot a few things. I think what I’ve worked on this week should make a nicer garden long-term. It’ll be a little while settling in but it should be a more unified garden and a lot of what I’ve moved should be happier in their new positions. I think it will help with the drought tolerance if summers carry on like this year. We are forecast showers for the next week so have to see how much I can get done this week. Come back to see progress next week. Check out the propagator’s blog for how to take part in six on Saturday if you fancy getting involved.

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Six on Saturday: 27.8.22

We’ll get the all-important update out of the way first. We had rain starting with showers at the start of the week and then pretty much a full day of rain on Thursday. Here in the UK, that is all any gardeners are interested in right now. So it seems off that my area is now entering a hose pipe ban when it’s the first time in the last month I haven’t needed to get out and water obsessively. With the wetter weather, I’ve moved a few bits in the border that weren’t quite working. I had little clumps of crocosmia that were looking a bit thin and whispy spread out across the border. I’ve bulked these into one large clump. Then I’ve done the same with the sea holly. I’ve grouped them together to see if they have more impact as a group. With the dry weather, they have been one of my reliable plants this year. This week I’m looking at a few plants that are coping well and a few plants I’m testing for winter hardiness and to make the garden more drought tolerant.


The gladiolus seem to thrive in the heat. They’ve grown up tall and flowered well. They were a cheap purchase a few years ago. I don’t massively like the blousyness of these but they provide late summer colour each year so I didn’t remove all them.


I don’t think I saw this clematis flower last year. It grows around the same area as the Clematis Montana so it may well have been pruned back at the wrong time. So it’s nice to see it return. The Montana has suffered a bit in the heat while the other clematis seem to be enjoying it.

Salvia kisses and wishes

I picked up three of these salvias on a 5 for £11 pound deal. They are small pots so it needed 3 really to make up one decent clump. They’ve been planted in a rough triangle front of the border for now. They are half hardy. I had this one last year and it made it through the winter but got eaten to pieces by slugs. So these will stay in the ground but be given some frost protection. Then I’ll take a few cuttings to keep in case it does suffer from frost or slugs again. The tall dark stems and pink flowers will make a nice contrast against the surrounding hardy geraniums and Erigeron.

Mangave blazing saddles

Mangaves are a cross between Agaves and Manfreda. They go back as far as 2005 though are finding more popularity now. I’m seeing them mentioned more regularly as the mad about Mangave collection has found its way to supermarkets and garden centres. They have developed around 30 cultivars with some wonderful variations in colours and patterns as well as some fabulous wavy leaves. In theory they have gained positive characteristics of their parents. They have fast growth from the Manfreda but grow bigger with the Agave genetics. They retain the drought tolerance of both. They can tolerate full sun though they actually like a little shade. They look spikey but don’t have quite as nasty spines as the agaves. They are reckoned to be hardy down to about -5 but my guess is winter wetness is probably going to be a bigger issue so this has been repotted in a sandy-gritty compost mix to allow it to free drain. Then the pot will be raised on legs through autumn and winter to ensure it drains. This was actually a plant Alice choose a while back after we’d seen the cactus and succulents at Wassand Hall. She saw these in Morrisons and fancied one. I’m willing to give them a try. They are interesting architectural plants and should stay looking interesting over winter so I can keep some form of pot display.

This is one of their smaller more ground-hugging cultivars. I reckon it should do well in a pot where it will contrast to my other spiky plants which are largely shades of lighter green. This one has a nice speckled pattern to it. I’ll be interested to see how it holds up through winter. I quite fancy one of the wavy ones so I may need to try and stop at Morrisons to see if they have any more.

Yukka gloriosa ‘citrus twist’

This is another drought-dolerant purchase for the pots. After Alice chose the Mangave I saw this cheap outside the florists. I thought the brighter yellow and green leaves would make a good contrast to the Mangave while still having the pointed leaves.

It’s a tough plant capable of handling full sun and drought. They can survive frosts down to quite low levels but their appearance will suffer. They originate from Texas so they are used to extremes of weather. Looking up close the leaf has shades of cream and yellow with an inner stripe of almost blue-green.

Opuntia humifusa

Then for the final choice for this week’s six I’m going for a cactus. I decided I would try the ultimate in drought tolerance. Opuntia humifusa is reckoned to be one of the hardiest but also able to survive some winter wet. It originates from Northeastern USA and even grows in Canada. Not necessarily reckoned to be the most attractive Opuntia form but it seems a good place to test out hardiness and what can survive in my conditions. It forms yellow flowers around June and these become the prickly pears which are edible as are the pads if times get hard. I’m planning to leave it out over winter but close to one of the walls to avoid a bit of rain. Too much rain is more likely to cause loss than death by frost.

It’s been a productive week in the garden. I’ve got through several big pruning jobs. The lilac and cherry have been cut back a lot for this year. I’ve pruned a lot of honeysuckle hard back as it’s finished flowering and suffered badly in the heat. The roots are hard to get to for watering as it’s right at the back of a thick border. But I’m fairly confident it will return. I’m hoping to get a bit more down before I go back to work. Hope you all enjoy your weekends.

Cotswold Wildlife Park

After the first trip of our holiday to Kiftsgate, it was Alice’s choice of where to go. She decided on Cotswold Wildlife Park which I was happy with as I wanted to go to. I’ve seen snippets of the garden through Harriet Rycroft on Twitter. As well as having lots of animals to see it has walled gardens with a good reputation.

Cactus and succulent beds

One of the areas I was interested to see was the cactus beds. They have a great collection of cactus and succulents outside.

It’s interesting to see lots of plants we normally see as houseplants growing outside like the spikey Aloe veras.

Aeoniums and opuntias were used a lot through these beds with several opuntias being fully hardy.

It was interesting to see lots of the opuntias fruiting. Some varieties have edible fruit and the pads can be eaten as well but I’m happy to let them keep growing. I’m trying a few outside in my garden and want to test their hardiness over winter.

I’d love to know more about the winter maintenance of this area of the garden. Some of the plants in the bed are hardy but many must need protection from winter wet. They appeared to be in the ground so I’d be interested to know if they are dug out or else protected in place.

A few of the plants being propagated were visible in a service area but could only peer in.

Exotic planting

There is much more to enjoy within the walled garden. Bananas and palms tower over the main planting. Then dahlias were providing much of the colour.

Some of it was growing in walk-in hot houses with the animals. We spotted many birds here but the sloth remained elusive.

We sat and waited and watched but no luck.

We did enjoy some of the more exotic birds in there.

Fabulous frizzy hair styles.

The train

We took the little train around the park. It does charge separately from your park entry fee but was only a few quid.

It takes you on a loop of the park down to the furthest end where the rhinos and giraffes are. You can’t get out but if you have someone who will struggle with the walking it will give them a chance to see around more of the park as it was a decent walk from one end of the park to the other. Particularly in the heat we visited.

The tree ferns around the station were coping well with the heat.


For most people, the animals are the main attraction and there is more than I’m going to show. The prairie dogs were one of Amy’s favourites.

The penguins kept Alice’s attention the best. She occasionally talks about liking a job like being a vet but when she actually has animals in front of her she isn’t massively interested. She did like watching the penguins going in and out of the water.

The tortoise was one of the more accommodating animals for photos.

Though I think the rhinos were one of my favourites. With them being so endangered it is good to know we still have populations being looked after. While it is a far from ideal set up at least it gives the possibility for reintroductions to the wild at some stage. It was hot and dry enough in the heatwave that they were looking right at home. Many of the animals were hiding away in the shade whereas they were a bit more active.

Amy’s macro

It was so hot Amy didn’t stop much to make use of her camera as it was too much effort swapping her lenses but she did get some wonderful photos in one of the cooler exhibits.

While I was marvelling at the fact that they have maidenhair ferns that don’t look miserable. Clearly, I need to build a fake waterfall inside to give them the right conditions.

And they had nepenthes hanging down in here.


The grasslands around the house were looking much like the Savanna many of the animals come from. To get to the animals at the far end of the park we did little shade hops from tree to tree.

The larger grasses and ret hot pokers were amongst the plants doing better in the heat.

But meant we got to see the giraffes a bit better than from the train.

And the camels were being quite sociable coming out to see the visitors.

Alice showed her appreciation of the tree’s shade.

Despite the heat, it was still a great day out. We got to see some amazing animals and I got to see some interesting plants. I’d love to know more about their winter maintenance of the cactus. There is a book on the gardens which I may need to speak out. I’m finishing here but a few more photos below.

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Six on Saturday: 20.8.22 freebies and more

For the first time in a while I’m going to write about my own garden. Our trip to the Cotswolds has inspired me, but there is nothing like the joy of your own garden. If you want to see the first part of our holiday to Kiftsgate Court Gardens check the blog out. I have been fortunate recently to end up with a number of free plants locally that I’m going to be writing about. Then a few successes and a failure.


The first of the freebies was a Drosera, commonly known as sundew. This was an odd plant to see offered for free on the local Facebook group.

These are carnivorous plants and are supposedly one of the easier to look after. I wanted it for the summer room where I figure it might stop the odd pest on the cactus and succulent collection. Currently, it seems to have managed a few pollen beetles that aren’t really any major harm.

My local houseplant shop, Botany Boutique, is now selling plant rescue bags. I bought one previously (previous blog) and did pretty well out of it. The bags contain less than perfect plants that the shop can’t justify selling at full price. By selling them this way the shop avoids a loss and cuts their environmental waste and the buyer potentially gets a good plant if they can nurse it back. Botany Boutique had a bag that had been reserved and then left unclaimed. As I had bought the other she offered it to me for free while I was in buying something else. This included 2 Boston Ferns, a peace lily, Oxalis triangularis, Tradescantia and a parlour palm. I already own each of these except the Boston ferns so had a pretty good idea of what each needed. The parlour palm and peace lily just needed a few browned stems and yellowed leaves cut out and they now look presentable. I cut back the dead growth on the Tradescantia and stuck a few cuttings of one I already owned into the soil to bulk it out. The Oxalis has had a trim and a water. These can grow inside or outside so I’ve left it outside, for now, to get more sun to help it recover. Oxalis triangularis spreads by rhizomes so even if appears that all the top growth has died it’s worth waiting a while to see if new growth comes. By coincidence, I had ordered several self-watering pots to help my maidenhair fern. The maidenhair fern is bad for dropping leaves and browning. The self-watering pots have a reservoir of water at the bottom. A wick runs from the reservoir into the soil to keep the soil moist without waterlogging the plant and causing rot. I potted both of the rescue Boston ferns up in these. We’ll see if it makes any difference. They’d lost quite a lot of fronds and it may be too much of a time investment to get them looking good again. But I’m grateful for a bunch of freebies.


Now for a casualty of the heatwave. Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ has been gradually crisping but with our week away and the heat it is looking worse by the day. Our neighbours did a good job watering the garden but this has been going downhill for a few weeks. I’m going to pot it up and move it to a more shaded place. I should wait until dormancy to move it but it may be too late by then. I have a suspicion this may be past the point of saving. I have planted a tetrapanax nearby that can take over. The tetrapanax is happier with sun and should hopefully thrive there and add to the exotic feel of the garden. As it is, the Acer is one of the few plants that looks to have expired in the heatwave which in comparison with those of you down south I am getting off lightly so far. A hosepipe ban is coming into effect but not until the end of the month. I’m getting by on the water butts currently but we have had a few bursts of rain this week.

Hydrangea limelight

Now for something that is still thriving. Throughout or holiday we have seen hydrangeas looking very miserable but ours are all doing well. The best of the bunch is Hyrangea paniculata ‘limelight. Panculata seem to have a bit more drought tolerance than some of the other hydrangeas. This is in the shaded front garden where we have clay soil. It has still needed watering a good deal but it is worth the time as it makes a great centerpiece to the front garden.


I bought this back in 2020 from the plant bench at Wassand Hall. It has sat not really doing anything since then. I had considered composting it. This year it has rewarded me with three of the pineapple-like flower spikes. The purple edging and inner triangles is quite pretty so it can stay another year.

Japanese anemone honouring jobert

This clump has been in a few years now and is producing a better number of flowers. With any luck these will keep producing through to autumn.

While it has cooled down a lot in my area watering is still the main job to get on with. We have rain forecast for Monday but we’ll see how much actually materialises. Hope you are all coping with your gardens. We have our linen wedding anniversary to celebrate though we have nothing planned to mark the occasion.

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