Six on Saturday: 19.5.18

Today the garden will hopefully be in use as we have family coming round for Alice’s second birthday. No Royal Wedding for us. Time has gone quickly with Alice coming on more everyday. The garden has come on a long way over that time as well.

1. Alliums purple sensation

There are still a few queen of the night tulips hanging on in there, but most of the tulips are gone. This loss though is being replaced the alliums. The purple sensations spheres are spreading out to form full spheres. These alliums form one tall stem with one small sphere to each stem.

2. Alliums Turkish onion

These alliums were planted in the first year in the house. They have large leaves before forming a large sphere low to the ground.

3. Aquilegia

Aquilegia, or Granny’s bonnet isn’t something I planted. It has come up each year poking out through other plants. But the leaves are interesting. The colours vary. One is flowering now, while a few more self seeded ones in the shade have more to come.

4. Oxalis

Last week we went to a community plant sale and picked up some cheap purchases. Amy like the oxalis. I believe this can spread badly, but for now it’s going on the new ladder planter on the patio.

5. Lilies

I also bought two lilies for the patio. One orange and one pink. They’ll add a burst of colour to the ladder.

6. Herbs

Amy wants a number of herbs to cook with, so we got a few cheap purchases at the sale. Dry as a bone currently. In need of a good water this evening.

Now to get things ready for birthday celebrations. Guests arriving in an hour. Hope you all have good weekends. The weather is glorious for a garden party. No sitting in watching weddings or football for us. The previously posted birdbath is getting good use now.

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Six on a Saturday 12.5.18

Time for six on Saturday as started by the propagator. The last few weeks of heavy rain followed by bright sunshine has really brought on the garden. Everywhere luscious green foliage is appearing. Blossom is out all over. The tulips are almost spent, but the alliums are following close behind to replace the loss. I like Summer flowering plants that form tall spires and they are all making their push to the sky. The hollyhocks, the foxgloves, lupins and teasel are all pushing up higher and higher. It’s a good time of year for the garden.

1. Clematis

The first of my six isn’t actually from my garden. It’s my neighbour’s clematis that is growing through. My own aren’t doing very much right now. There is one on side of the fence that was in the garden when we moved in. This had become thin and sprawling and only managed one flower last year. I’ve trimmed it back to almost the ground and it seems to be returning stronger. Then I have another on the other fence that was planted fresh last year that seems to be establishing now.

The neighbours clematis is growing through and over the fence. It’s providing a nice burst of colour in a patch that is currently a bit bare. I’ve got a climbing rose coming up here. Combined they should compliment each other well. Not sure of the type of clematis, beyond Spring flowering, but it is going strong.

2. Lilac

The lilac is out in flower now. It’s one of Amy’s favourite and the colour is nice. Not as strong smelling as I remember last year, but still has more flowers to come.

I’ve taken out a few suckers to grow new plants. Lilacs spread by suckers. The roots spread and new shoots grow around the stem. I’ve dug out three and potted up in a gritty soil mix. Then watered well and stones on the top to help retain moisture. These are destined for school if they establish well enough. I’m trying to save school budget by improving my outdoor area with free plants grown by different methods of propagation. I’m also making use of the discarded plastic pots of other purchases that are now planted in the border.

3. bluebells

The bluebells in my garden are just getting going. This years frosts has sent everything a bit off kilter. They were English, but I think they might be hybridized now. I’ll see when they flower.

Behind the garden there is a path with both blue and white varieties flowering. They are one of my favourite Spring flowers. Another like daffodils that mark the season.

4. teasel

Last year I established some small teasel seedlings in the border. Now they are beasts ready to flower. While not a popular garden option as it seeds all over and the leaves fill a lot space I wanted it for its wildlife potential. Bees love it. Goldfinches flock to it. I love seeing the goldfinches in. Last year they were all over my cornflowers. I’ve scattered some cornflowers seeds again. So I’m hoping between the cornflowers and the teasel and putting out niger seed I’ll see them more regularly. As biennials it should flower this year, as there second year. I have a few starting off this year to ensure a patch flowering next year.

The leaves are great, large, thorned things that surprisingly haven’t been eaten apart by slugs and snails.

5. Sempervivum

My patio holds my more exotic plants with alpines and succulents, while the border holds more traditional cottage garden choices. The sempervivum suffered with the frosts, but are recovering well now with rich green leaves and the darker leaved varieties looking fresher.

Six. beer traps

The slugs and snails have been devouring one of the patches of foxgloves and self seeded hollyhocks.

I have tried to avoid weed sprays and pest deterrent sprays that may be harmful to much of the visiting wildlife. I haven’t used pellets for several years now to avoid poisoning other animals up the food chain. My compromise has been beer traps. I periodically fill them up to kill off a few of the slugs and snails and give plants a chance to recover. It doesn’t eliminate, but it gives the plants a chance to establish a bit stronger. In hot weather the beer evaporates quickly, so they need topping up regularly if you want to keep them effective. As I’m just trying to keep numbers down I’m a bit lackadaisical about this.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six and enjoy your weekends.

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My watcher on the wall keeping an eye on my writing.

Six on Saturday-5.5.18

So this weekend is a longer weekend with the Bank Holiday. Surprisingly, we have sunshine as well. Bread buns are out of stock across the nation as people prepare for barbecues. My garden is seeing Spring coming to fruition. The blossom is on the trees. The Spring bulbs are all coming through I force now. The Summer bulbs are starting to poke through. Already I’ve forgotten what went where and having to check back on the blog to see what I’ve planted.

1. Cherry tree

Last Summer I ended up with a cheap dwarf cherry. It had lost many of its leaves, but come back to life now. The branches aren’t the most amazing shape, but I’m hoping as it grows up I can encourage a more pleasing form. The birds have been pecking away at buds for the last few weeks. Despite this the blossom has still managed to come out.

2. Apple tree

The apple tree is also blossoming. Another dwarf fruit tree. This was given a severe prune last year and dug out and turned around to encourage growth in a better form. It had seen five years of neglect while the house was rented. So last year we only had a small number of apples while it recovered. This year going off the blossom I might get enough for chutney again.

3. Queen of the night tulips

The queen of the night tulips are starting to flower marking the last of my tulips. These have grown much taller than the other tulips despite the pack details saying they’d be roughly the same height. This has give them a bit of a leggy effect, tall and thin over their other family.

4. Geraniums

Carrying on from last week I’ve added two new geraniums to fill patches of border that are a bit empty. Then as these grow I can divide and spread around the border and take some for school when I’ve filled my borders.

I’ve gone for two recommended for pollinators: Ingwersen’s variety and renardii. After this severe Winter I’m more aware of hardiness in the garden. Both of these have good hardiness ratings and RHS plant of merit awards as well as the good for pollinators award. Both are tolerant of a range of soils and conditions so they should thrive. They are also recommended for under planting roses. I haven’t currently done this, but maybe if they get to a point where I can divide I might use them for that purpose.

5. Ajuga, black scallop

I bought one small plant last year as part of an alpine deal. Since then it has spread nicely over its pot. It’s a hardy evergreen with rich dark leaves. The blue flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies. Unlike most of my other alpines it likes moister soil and shade. It is recommended for under planting shrubs, so long as it is an area that stats moist. It spreads by runners, so I can create more removing the runners to establish in other pots.

6. Seagulls

For the last of my six here are one of my commonest visitors the seagulls. Being a seaside town my garden is swamped by these as much as sparrows and blackbirds. Currently I’m woken by a dawn cacophony of randy seagulls on our roof. They like sitting on the shed and at times will try to sit their massive frames on the bird feeder. I do put bread out for them, which is swarmed over within minutes. It isn’t the best food source for them, but as were a seaside town I can’t imagine it’s any worse than the chips. Yesterday Alice and myself were in the garden when this group descended within metres of us. Alice thought it was hilarious and wanted to go closer to say hello, but I kept her back. Don’t fancy a peck from those beaks.

They can be a pain stomping through borders, but by and large I quite like seeing them settled on the fence.

Hope you’ve all enjoyed my six and have good long weekends enjoying the sun.

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Six on A Saturday 28/4/18

Well a week of sun and then heavy rain has really brought on the garden. The grass is looking lusher and the shrubs leaf buds have opened bringing the rich green back. Lots of flowers that have been on the point of opening for several weeks are now open.

1. Tulips

After several weeks of seeing other people’s spectacular tulips my own have finally opened.

The eagerly anticipated black parrot tulips have opened revealing their magnificent shades of purple into black. The frilled petals are nice contrast to the more popular rounded edges of my other tulips. I think next year I may try further variations of petal types.

I have a number of pots of Red Riding Hood tulips on the patio. These are giving a bright splash of colour at the moment. The pot grown are looking nicer than the border ones. I think have them grouped in greater numbers is working to greater effect. The striped leaves are an attractive feature providing interest before they flower.

The alectric tulips are a nice contrasting variety. I think I moved a number of these while digging up the brick border, so they’ve ended up dotted around a bit randomly, but some nice individual specimens.

2. Rhododendron

The rhododendron suffered with the cold, but the leaves now seem to be recovering. After re-potting it last year and keeping it fed with liquid ericaceous feed it has flowered better this year. This plant came with my last house where it had been put at the front. It had been deprived of water and had outgrown its pot and used up all nutrients. However it now seems to be doing alright with the best show of flowers yet.

3. Fronds

Most of my ferns are evergreen, but they still brown off over winter as the old leaves die off ready for the new fronds. It’s nice seeing the curled up fronds ready to unfurl.

4. Saxifraga

My saxifrage had formed a nice mossy mound. For the last week it has been displaying its bright red or pink flowers, the colour depending on the light. It just provides small daisy sized flowers, but a nice dash of Spring colour.

5. Geraniums

“When in doubt – plant a geranium!”

Margery Fish

Last year my mum donated some geraniums she had divided. They’d now taken and formed solid domes of foliage. The first burst of flowers are just coming through. Geraniums are a good workhorse in the garden with one suiting most situations. At the end of this year I should be able to divide these further creating more patches. While not as flashy as the tulips they play a valuable role in suppressing unwanted wild flowers establishing as weeds.

6. Monty Don-Down to Earth

This week I finished reading Monty Don’s down to Earth. Like much of Monty’s work he passes on his passion for gardening to bring pleasure. The garden is a way to relieve stress and worries. For him gardens are made by people and their use of their gardens. The book offers a good guide to get started in gardening and has a good practical month by month guide to jobs in the garden. While a lot of lot of it will be information known to most gardeners of a couple of year Monty’s writing style is enjoyable. It is all information worth repeating. Currently available for kindle and in hardback, but I believe it is seeing a paperback release later in the year ready for the Christmas market.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. I’m heading out to look at pavers. We are having the house rendered again and we are considering getting the patio paved probably while he’s on the job. It is currently a cracked concrete surface, so would be vastly improved if we can have it done.

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Six on a Saturday-21.4.18

This week my school got the phone call all teachers dread, the Ofsted phone call. So Monday was a mass amount of activity at work checking and rechecking our provision, which is absolutely fine, but this is what happens when you get the call. So come Wednesday I was ready for a bit of a rest. I managed to plant two new plants shared in today’s #SixonSaturday.

1. Bleeding heart

Asda provided me with the plant formerly known as Dicentra spectabilis, but now known as Lamprocapnos spectabilis. Or stick with the easier name bleeding heart. While it’s looking a bit dehydrated with the warm weather this week it did have an excellent root network. Many of the supermarket purchases have been a bit poor on this front, but this looks good.

2. Honeysuckle

Continuing on from previous weeks I’ve added one more climber, again as with the Jasmine I’m pushing for scent with a honeysuckle Belgica, more commonly known as early Dutch Honeysuckle. I already have a wonderful patch of honeysuckle, but it’s behind a tree and I only get to enjoy the scent when pruning or weeding near it. Generally while getting spiked by other things. They can go a bit rampant, but the other patch I just give one prune a year and it’s at a time when I don’t have much else to do in the garden. I also quite enjoy pruning the honeysuckle as it isn’t a job I do with a great degree of care. Again this has come from Asda and seems to have a decent root network and been reasonable looked after.

3. Primrose

Next is Victorian Lace primrose. These were a present last year for my birthday. While I probably wouldn’t have bought them for myself there pretty enough if a bit isolated at the moment.

4. Muscari

The muscari have finally decided to do something after seeing lots of other six on a Saturday posts flowering. It’s my first year growing them. My mum bought me a pack of bulbs last year. There pretty enough, but feel I probably need something else in the pot with them for some impact. I had in my head that they grew a bit bigger, so these tiny little blue burst seem a bit feeble at the moment. I think they need mixing up with something else next year.


5. Watering

After many months of only needing to water newly planted additions we have had a week of sunshine making watering necessary. At the moment just looking at a good soaking once a week for the border and pot plants I’ve done twice. Alice wanted “more water” though. So we made sure the bird baths and hedgehog bowl was filled.

6 Bean sticks

Rather than using my standard bamboo canes for support I’ve bought willow canes this year. The idea being they are sustainable and native grown lowering my carbon footprint in the garden. So rather than importing Eastern bamboo of various quality I’m going to give these a go. I think they look more attractive than the bamboo. I’m going to try the sweet peas up a wigwam frame of these.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six for this week and enjoy getting out while the weather is nice. I’ll leave you with a rather nice blue tit photo from my journey home from work.

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Camelia propagation

After watching Carol Klein, on this weeks Gardeners World, I thought I’d try and take some cuttings of one of my camellias. I’m planting more in my outdoor area at school, but as I have little budget to spare in this I’m relying on cuttings from my own garden, donations and plants grown cheap from seed. Having had success with lavender last year and my hebes from this year are doing well I’m going to continue trying expand my propagation techniques.

The camellia has been looking stunning the last few weeks, but the flowers are wilting now. Having fed it better during the last year has had a big impact.

So having watched Gardeners World, checked the literature and internet for advice I set out to attempt the cuttings.

I started with the drainage for the pot with a crock and stones.

Then a thin layer of gravel.

The soil needs good drainage and space for roots to form through. I mixed compost and a gritty sand as a good medium for the cuttings.

To choose a branch for cutting I was looking for growth from the last year. The older growth is lighter and the newer growth redder and fresher. Looking on this particular plant. Then with secateurs I cut a small section of the newer growth.

With a sharp knife I then cut diagonally just after a leaf. These were dipped in rooting powder then placed in the prepared soil mix.

After a water the cuttings were covered with grit for two reasons. First to retain moisture. Second to stop weeds.

The cutting has been placed on the patio in a warm spot, but not one that gets sun the whole of the day to prevent drying out. Some sources of advice mention sealing the pot with a plastic sandwich bag over. I hate taking these on and off to water, so going to try without. Time will tell if it was a bad decision.

The advice reckons the cuttings will be ready for potting on in around three months. I’m looking for roots out of the bottom of the pot, but as I’ve used quite a big pot I’m unsure if I’ll get this.

While I’ve been bust propagating Alice has been busy planting stones from the alpine plants pots into the left over plastic pots from recent purchases. She is happy as anything using these plastic pots. So for Gardeners Worlds aim of reducing or reusing plastic if you have lots of spare plastic containers give them to a toddler to see a face of pure excitement.

I will report on progress later in the year. To follow my garden exploits and wild exploits with Alice subscribe to the blog or follow on twitter.

Six on a Saturday-14.4.18

The weather has remained horrible for much of this week. However there are signs of gradual improvement. The temperature is slightly warmer. I managed in the garden without a coat yesterday.

Currently my garden has a bit of a void. It’s transitioning between seasons. The crocus and glory of the snow are going over or gone. The camelia is still flowering, but wilt is setting in. The daffodils are still going adding bursts of sunshine and the forget me nots are starting to bloom. I’m eager with anticipation for tulips and then Summer flowers.

1 self seeders

Across the borders many plants have self seeded. I selected many cottage garden favourites for just reason when planting my first flowers. From a small patch of forget me nots under two years ago any bare earth has been claimed by forget me nots. The first are flowering now adding small patches of sky blue to the border just visible from the house.

The foxgloves have seeded in a nice drift behind the bench in the shade. I love the appearance of foxglove’s flowers. There structure being visually appealing to me.

I’ve even got a few hollyhock seedlings establishing themselves around.

2 Skimmia Japonica

The skimmia has given me a good dash of colour through Winter. It has now opened its flower’s revealing the dainty white flowers.

3 Roses

Last month I won garden vouchers from linking to The Old House in the Shires Linky on garden blogs. This includes many good reads on gardening. With my vouchers I thought I’d go with a few plants that will hopefully last a good while. Both options I’ve gone for are strongly scented. In my mind roses are supposed to be scented and many modern varieties have lost this. I’m not a big fan of roses however having bought some tougher gold leaf gloves and enjoyed the long flowering season of several of the existing roses I’m coming round to them. Much of my planting is cottage garden style and roses suit the garden.

Cottage maid has white flowers with speckled pink lines much like a raspberry ripple ice cream. Then Charles de Mills has been a popular choice amongst rose growers for many years. It only flowers once I believe, but it has reasonable foliage for the rest of the year to make up for it. With some under planting I can still have colour coming through.

I’ve planted them in a big hole with new compost and root powder to give them a good start. I wrote on planting roses before with my climbing roses and they seem to be taking off now.

4 Dicksonia Antarctica

Also with the vouchers I bought a Dicksonia Antarctica. This fern can grow to large sizes eventually, though growth will be gradual year on year. I’ve wanted one for a while. It would be nice have one further on its growth. However the price rapidly goes up for a larger one. This will be planted in my shady shed area. I haven’t planted yet as I wanting to check advice on the best means of planting.

The patch it will be going into.

5 Jasmine

On my continuing quest to establish climbers over the fence I have planted two jasmine. Jasmine Stephanese have fragrant flowers that are generally white, but can be pink or sometimes yellow. They fruit a black berry. This was another purchase from tesco’s along with the passionflowers purchased previously. As mentioned with the roses I’m hoping to make more of scent in the garden. I have a wonderful section of fence covered in honeysuckle, however it is behind trees and only smelled when I prune it. My lilac bush is beautiful scented, but short lived. So it would be nice to have more pleasing fragrances.

6 Gertrude Jekyll

Over the last week I’ve read Gertrude Jekyll’s the beauties of a Cottage Garden. While there was little actually discussing cottage gardens, it was still informative despite the 100 years since publication. I did like this paragraph:

But the lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others is to know the enduring happiness that the love of garden gives. I rejoice when I see one, and especially children, enquiring about flowers, and wanting gardens of their own, and carefully working in them. For the love of gardening never dies, but always grows and grows to enduring and ever increasing source of happiness.

Following from the child comment, my little gardener has been in the garden with me moving one weed at a time. She is getting a reward with the last of my vouchers. I’ve bought her Percy from Thomas the Tank engine to go with her Thomas from the New Forest. I haven’t given it to her yet, but I’m sure she’ll be happy with it Percy is one of her favourite characters.

Having reported on wildlife provisions in the garden last week I set up the trail camera for the first time this year. I’m pleased to report hedgehogs came in last night twice. Not sure if it was the same one twice or different, but either way happy they are still visiting.

Hope you all have lovely weekends with the improved weather.

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