Six on Saturday: 27.3.21

Well, it is holiday time Two weeks off to start catching up on garden jobs. The lawn has been reseeded but I still have some pruning jobs to do. I talked about the hydrangea last week but there are still the hydrangea paniculata to go. I’m going to be spending a day in work reseeding a few grass patches as hundreds of tiny feet takes its toll on the grass. But should have time for my RHS course and gardening. It was my birthday this week, but it was another lockdown birthday so no going out. But I got some nice gifts. Nothing on the gardening side but there isn’t really anything I needed.

1. Moon

One present I did get is a card reader to transfer photos from my big camera to my phone making it quicker to get access to my photos. Here is a quick moon shot taken Thursday night. Popped out in the garden as I could see a clear gap in the clouds. It was a nice mild night. You can hear the frogs out there currently. I need to set the trail camera again and see if the hedgehogs are around.

2. Forget-me-nots

The forget me nots are out in force which will bring in many bees over the next month. I know some people don’t like them but I like the fact that they spread to fill any spaces in the border and bring in so many insects.

3. Muscari

A stray muscari coming up well ahead of the others.

4. Discount planter

I picked up one of these cheap wildflower planters from Tesco now they have reduced stickers. It has a mix of poppies, cornflower, cosmos and sunflowers. So wildflower used in the loose term. I like these for using for bulbs for spring displays as they store easily when not needed. I have a few round pots but thought this might bring in a few insects on the patio this year before it is repurposed for bulbs.

5. Alice’s tulips

Alice’s tulips are growing strong. I think these were Chopin or Giuseppe Verdi tulips. I can’t remember which way around we planted them. Either way, a very bright burst of sunshine out the back door.

6. My real garden

We crowdfunded a gardening book a few months back and it has now arrived. The book was put together by Ann-Marie Powell and Tasmin Westhorpe documenting peoples gardening experience in lockdown. They asked for contributions and it features a great mix of professional and amateur gardeners.

And here is our contribution. Alice taking her place amongst garden media and Chelsea Gold winners.

Hope you all have good weekends. The weather is meant to be good this weekend before it becomes wetter. So time to get jobs done.

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Six on Saturday: 19.03.21 pruning hydrangeas

It’s been a busy week at work. Just one more week to go until the holiday and then I’m doing a few more hours after the holiday. But I’ll at least have some time to catch up on garden jobs. Last weekend I tackled two of the hydrangeas. These are Hydrangea Macrophylla, generally referred to as mopheads.

1. Sophie Conran topiary shears

I bought these a while back as a reward for my RHS exam. They are beautiful to use. They are a bit bigger than secateurs. But they can still be used in one hand like scissors making them perfect for jobs like the hydrangea where I want to move branches with one hand and cut with the other.

2. Flowerheads

The aim of the pruning is to cut back the flowerhead. I’m aiming to go back from the flowerhead to a new set of leaves. The flowerheads stay on over winter to offer some frost protection but cutting them off frees up space and encourages more flowering stems.

3. Cut out dead growth

When you look into the crown there are usually some dead branches with no new buds forming. I also prune out some of the overlaps where it is too heavily congested. This encourages a bit of airflow to reduce some of the diseases, mainly fungal that can affect the hydrangeas. Doing this each year with the older stems encourages continual fresh growth from the base of the plant.


4. Closer look

Not the best pic, but here you can see the blurry mophead. If you look along the stem you can see the new leaves are quite far back so the pruning goes back to this point. This is lower down on the plant where I also try to keep a bit of space around the ground. There are two hydrangeas opposite each other on either side of the path so I try to keep them roughly symmetrical.

5. Wayward branches

Then there are some branches growing out on their own that ruin the shape of the plant, cover the path or the patio have to go. I often do the job and come back a few days later to check where I’ve missed. If you do have one that has grown too big for its space you can cut back hard and they will come back but you may lose a year of flowering.

The Iris reticulata ‘George’ from last week sneaking in again in the background of the last photo. They are now in full bloom and making a good impact.

6. Lawn crocus

Most of the crocus in the lawn are single colours but this one has some stripes making it stand out.

Hope you found today’s blog useful. I still have the Hydrangea paniculata to do which are slightly different in that they can be harder pruned. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 13.3.21

Well, I made it out into the garden a few times last week. Got a few jobs done. The front garden is largely weeded so now need to do a bit more work on the back garden. Lots coming up now.

1. Science week

This week in the nursery the topic has been flowers. I’ve done a few activities with the kids, sowing some seeds, sketches and we tried food colouring in the carnations water. Red and yellow didn’t take, but the blue has given them some edging.

2. Bleeding heart

Or Lamprocapnos spectabilis for those of you who remember the new name. I like the fresh growth of these. They come up as strange bony fingers and spread. The leaf colour stands out amongst the darker heuchera and ophiopogon.

3. Crocus Joan of Arc

I had doubted their existence a few weeks back. It didn’t look like many of these were coming back in the front garden. But I’m glad to say many of them are poking up now. The first bees have been coming in to enjoy.

4. Snowdrop planting

The lack of signs of crocus at the start of the month had led to me ordering more snowdrops from Gee-Tee bulbs as they snowdrops were coming up stronger. We got 100 nivalis into the ground last weekend. It sounds like a lot but it isn’t really when you put a few to a hole. Alice helped plant them and then we gave them a good water as it had been dry for a few weeks. This has, of course, meant it has rained all week since.

5. Mud kitchen

And we got to play in the mud kitchen for the first time in a few months. Despite her face in the photo she was actually enjoying herself.

6. Iris reticulata ‘George’

I think this has been one of my favourite of the early irises. The dark colouring and patterning is gorgeous. I planted these in pots and in the planters at work, so these are on display as the hundreds of parents and kids come around the site. Pretty little morning treat for those who notice.

Forecast is pretty grim for today with rain and wind. The rain I can stand but the wind is a hazard for sorting roses. So may give that a miss today. We are looking at frogs next week at work so I’m preparing the activities while Alice trials playing with it all. I went in the garden at night earlier in the week and could hear them all croaking away. I hope you all have good weekends whatever you are up to.

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Six in Saturday: 6.3.21

Hello all, lacking a bit in garden motivation currently but also lacked for time with sorting things for Alice. But got some jobs we need to get on with so looking to get out today. The garden is looking alright but it is in need of some weeding. I’m not planting much currently for reasons I’ll go into later.

1. Alice’s birdwatch prizes

Alice won prizes from Nest Friends and Learning Resources for her efforts in the Big Garden Birdwatch. She won a series of prizes including a wildlife camera that shows photos of animals from around the world. Last weekend I set them up as a tray around Australia and the pilot Amy Johnson (my wife became Amy Johnson when we married) as one of the camera locations is Australia. My continuing efforts to interest Alice in animals remains part of the plan for engaging her in wildlife and the garden.

The camera was the main prize and it shows animal photos and then tells you facts about them. Pretty cool though probably not something I’d think of buying so nice to win.

2. Seagulls

The seagulls are causing damage again. They have tipped over a pot of tulips. I’ve pushed them back in but too late for some. They’ve been shredded. The battle with the seagulls has been ongoing through the last year as they’ve become more destructive through lockdowns while they’ve had less fish and chips. I won’t be planting much for a while as they are trying to pull things out.

3. Red Riding Hood tulips

I always remark on them but Red Riding Hood tulips are mainly remarkable for their foliage. While they’ve been chewed on they are great.

4. Sedum, that isn’t sedum anymore

This changed name but that’s irrelevant. It will be known as sedum for a good while. I like the tight rosettes of the leaves. Normally these get the Chelsea chop but that is going to be confusing with Chelsea moving to the Autumn.

5. Daffodils

The first of the daffodils are out. Most of my daffs are cheap mixed bags and are nameless.

6. Fake flowers

Alice wanted to buy a flower arranging craft kit from Amazon. She has saved up some money but the set she wanted looked like things we could make easily. So a burst with the glue gun, die-cut flowers and some garden wire and we have a set of fake flowers.

She rearranged it a couple of times and it looks pretty enough. It’ll do for an occasional activity alongside doing the real thing.

I’ve had a delivery of snowdrops in the green so whether the seagulls are being destructive or not I’m going to need to get on with planting them. Wish me luck.

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