Six on Saturday: 31.7.21 the wilderness

I have at times made reference to the wild area or the wilderness. This is a much grander title than the reality of this area. It is the path that leads behind the gardens on our street where our neighbours store their bins. It is covered in ivy from the houses behind, nettles, docks and creeping buttercups. Brambles crawl through, although they don’t get to flower much as I have to cut them back to keep a path for the wheelbarrow and neighbours for their bikes. It has a whole host of caterpillar plants with ivy and nettles being good for many moths and butterflies. So, on the whole I don’t tidy it much beyond keeping a functional path. But last year bind weed crept in so I made an effort to clear it as the odd seedling was coming into my garden. I’ve seen a few tufts of it back this year but I think I’m keeping on top of it so it doesn’t flower and set more seed. Having cleared part of it I looked to make the soil less fertile and suitable for certain wildflowers.

  1. The area

The neighbours keep their bins back here whereas I’m too lazy to wheel them round each time so they sit as an eye sore in the front garden. Beyond the bins is a good nettle patch which is harvested periodically for nettle fertiliser and left most of the time for wildlife. The other side was cleared of bindweed and currently is where I throw any pollinator friendly seed packs that come from charities, magazines, etc. Beyond is a wall of ivy across 4 gardens.

2. Poppies

The area has been filled with poppies of various types and colours. This pale pink has been the most numerous. It seems to be favoured by the hoverflies rather than the poppies within my garden which are swarming with bees.

3. Mallow

There are a few dark coloured mallows. I rather like this one. I wouldn’t be upset to have this in the main garden.

4. Cornflowers

Within the garden I’ve got a few different colours but in the wild patch it is just the blue. But it is a brilliant blue.

The bees are enjoying them and the birds will when they go to seed.

5. Teasel

I grew teasel in my garden a few years ago. I’ve not allowed it to return as it is took up a lot space. But it is very good for insects and then the seeds for birds. So I’m glad some of it escaped to the back path where it can grow out of my way.

6. Another poppy

This variety hasn’t been as numerous as the pink but it does stand out.

It’s a messy path but it is doing a lot of good for the biodiversity of the area. I need to cut the ivy back a bit further before the fence collapses. It isn’t really my job to do but if I didn’t we’d lose access to the garden this way. I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks detour out of the garden. The end of this week has been made up of thunderstorms. A few things are flattened but it’ll bounce back. I hope your gardens are all holding up well and the flooding around the country hasn’t affected any of you too badly.

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Six on Saturday: 24.7.21

It is now the school holiday. It’s been a lovely year at the nursery and I’ve been lucky to work with lots of groups of amazing kids. We’ve got lots of gardening plans for next year at work so will be nice to get cracking on that.

Discount climbers

Tesco’s has obviously been worried about the heatwave as they reduced all plants by 25%. I picked up a pile of climbers for my work project and some for me. Honeysuckle and passionflowers for the shaded woodland border. Then a clematis for my garden.

Geranium rozanne

I know this is a very popular geranium as it is reliable but I’m not really that bothered by it. The colours are not that exciting. Most of the hardy geraniums have been given a hard prune to the ground. They’ll grow and flower several times a year treated this way. Rozanne is still flowering well though. The bees like it at least.

Love in a mist

A house around the corner was selling pots for 50p. 50p well spent. I love the strange flowers and the seed pods that follow.

Echinops ritro

Butterflies have made the news the last few weeks. The wet spring and start to summer has meant numbers are down. So I’m trying to make sure they have some decent flowers available when they are in flight. This is a short globe thistle that should be good for bees and butterflies. They like a sunny position with free-draining soil. Mine is improved clay but this should mean it is fairly drought tolerant and shouldn’t need much watering. Possibly none once established.

Eryngium planum

Sea holly was part of our wedding flowers and I’ve got a few patches around. I’ve added this one as it’s a nice tall one to add some height mid borders. As with the globe thistles, they are good for wildlife and drought tolerant. Mine have returned each year but not seed seeded. I think with my clay soil they don’t self seed as readily as other soils. But we’ll see if this year is any different.

Small tortoiseshell

I have started to see a few more butterflies but we have rain forecast for the next week which badly affects butterflies’ ability to fly. So it’s going to be more important than ever to provide for the butterflies during the periods they can fly. Here is one on the hydrangea.

Today we have Alice’s ballet lesson before a break for summer, followed by a kids party. I’m going to be carrying on with clearing a bit more of the forest school this week for the woodland border. Then begin planning the allotment and sensory garden areas. Hope you all enjoy the weekend.

Six on Saturday: 17.7.21

So this week has seen a good increase in the Covid numbers across my area. As the government is announcing “Freedom!” Braveheart style we are getting told to carry on with Covid business as usual. More reason to avoid people and stay in the garden. Sounds like a plan. This weeks six sees a few jobs, a disappointment, and more orange than I’d consider my garden to have. I have no issue with orange, but it isn’t a colour that comes to mind. But this week we have two bright and bold orange blooms.

  1. Seed sowing

This week I have sown a few different things. I have a few trays of foxgloves on the go. I think it was Alba and foxy mixed. The foxgloves are great this year and they will probably self-seed but I’d like a few on the go to make sure I have some to place where I want them. Then I’ve gone with 2 trays of primula candelabra. These can be more erratic to germinate according to the pack so we’ll see if I end up with any. I loved the mass plantings at RHS Harlow Carr and I think I could emulate this in my woodland border at work which I will get onto next. Despite checking on them several times a day there still hasn’t been any germination but fingers crossed.

2. The woodland border

Within the forest school at work there is a little corner near the bird hide that has been undeveloped for a while. I’ve had a request for a flower border to attract insects. I wasn’t planning to start this for a little while as I don’t want to be having to water in the plants over the summer holiday but I’ve just ended up with a mass amount of Iris foetidissma that needed to go in the ground quickly. This is what the area looked like Monday morning.

I’ve cleared back a good bit of ground. It’ll need doing a few times I imagine as I won’t have got all the roots out and they’ll be more things seeded in the ground I probably don’t want but I got the irises in. I threw in a few of my more aggressive hardy geranium ‘Wargrave pink’ as it can roam free out of the pace and be kept in check by children trampling it as it goes out of the desired area. Then a few Alchemilla molis amongst the irises. I don’t know that these will take but it has the seeds on which should drop and then more will grow. Iris Foetidissima is one of our two native irises. The other being the yellow flag iris. It grows well in shade and can handle dry conditions which is needed for a plant that may be left for the six weeks holiday. The flowers are not as exciting as many irises but it has bright red berries that are quite attractive and the leaves are evergreen keeping some structure over winter. I’ve got a few plants later from local donations and my own divisions. We’ve got a few hardy geraniums and hostas, then a few tiny hellebore seedlings I’ll need to nurse a while longer. I do have a budget but I’m trying to get what I can from people locally. Ideally, I’d like some astrantias and Japanese anemones. If anyone local has divisions they’d be appreciated. Plants that will thrive in the shade and be good for wildlife. There is also the added dimension of not wanting plants that flower in the school holidays, so spring and autumn flowering plants are good. Then looking for maybe one or two decent shade shrubs that are good for wildlife. We have a lot of ivy around the forest school so I may go with something more ornamental but wildlife friendly on this fence.

3. Hydrangea runaway bride

This is one of the disappointments this week. This was awarded the Chelsea flower of the year a few years back and a few other awards. It flowers more than other hydrangeas. You get flowers along the stems rather than just the end of branches. They should be a stunning plant from the descriptions and photos. I bought two to use in window boxes outside the front door the year before last. One died and the other has struggled on. It has suffered from chlorosis, yellowing of leaves. It doesn’t flower that well. My suspicion is this is down to being in too deep shade in the front garden more than nutrient deficiency. So I may move it to another spot and see if it picks up. Hydrangeas normally cope with shade well but this doesn’t seem happy. I don’t know if all the breeding gone into it has created something that is just weak. Time will tell. I will move and report back. The couple of flowers it has are nice but the growth is too spindly and the flowers are too few to recommend it over other more established hydrangea cultivars.

4. Everlasting sweet peas

This is a perennial sweet pea that comes through the fence from our neighbours. It adds a bit of colour against the wall each year. The neighbours are moving soon so hopefully, the new neighbour will keep it in so I can benefit.

5. Nasturtium

I think this is a self-seeded one as the ones I planted have been dairy maid that is a pasty yellow I don’t actually like that much and a deeper red one. They both probably came free with magazines and will have been given to Alice to scatter. This orange is much nicer than either and is welcome to self-seed more similar offspring.

6. Pontellia William Rollinson

This was one of Alice’s choices last year. It’s not really my taste being a bit too fluffy and low on wildlife benefit but the color is vibrant. The stem structure isn’t great with a lot of flopping on the ground meaning the flowers aren’t that visible. It doesn’t really cover any ground either so the area around it has been bad for becoming weed-infested. Hopefully, it will improve with age. When the flowers are aimed the right way they are quite striking and adding to my generally clashing border with pink hydrangeas behind. The front garden has color coordination. The back garden doesn’t as I selected more on personal whims and wildlife benefit whereas there was a plan drawn out for the front. They both look good in their own way.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s six. Hoping to get a few more seeds sown today and I’ve a few plants to pot on but we’ll have to see if I manage it. The foxgloves in the border are almost over so I’ll be collecting some of the seed and allowing some to fall soon. I have a few gardening books to read through as I plan for more around the nurseries gardening project. Looking at how to create meadows currently. The designated spot has quite rich soil so going to need to deplete the nutrients if they want a meadow. Hope you all have a good weekend. Stay safe with the predicted heatwave.

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Six on Saturday: 10.7.21

This week I have a poorly daughter. Her voice is just about gone and she is very sniffly. She’s in need of lots of cuddles. The garden, however, is in pretty good health. I have spotted vine weevils again. I have done a dose of nematodes recently to try and tackle them with more natural methods and squished the two I’ve found. But the plants they affect seem to still be growing strong. So hopefully keeping them in check currently.

Rose-Peter Pan

I bought this bare root last year as a reward for my first RHS exam results. It is a patio rose described as somewhere between a minature and a floribunda. If you look back at the starting point you can see it’s put on a good amount of growth in one year.

It is covered in small dark red flowers. I still haven’t got my sense of small back fully after covid but this is described as only having light scent. It is more of a visual feast.

And the obligatory raindrops on roses.

Astrantia Alba

I’ve discussed my love of astrantia before. They have pretty flowers, loved by bees, particularly honey bees and they flower over a long period. There is lots to like about them. This patch in the front garden has settled in well and has put on a lot of growth. The front garden is shaded with quite heavy clay soil which is a fairly goo situation for astrantia. They like moisture-retentive, humus-rich soil. They can be grown in sun if kept watered but I think are best for shade. This one is particulalry nice as the white flowers show better in shade. You can also see some of the foxgloves. They’ve been pretty crazy this year reaching great heights and flopping all over the place. We’ve had people knocking on the door to compliment them. I’m just getting started on sowing some more for next year as I haven’t had them self seed reliably.

And a bee enjoying the astrantia. There has rarely been a moment they have not had something visiting this week. Even with the heavy rain this week the foxgloves and astrantia have still seen plenty of bees. A testamant to how even a small front garden can be used to help wildlife.

Flesh fly/Allium forelock

I featured the allium last week but I took this photo on my phone and I was impressed with this little fy with its stylish black and white chequered patterning.

Agapanthus

I have been growing agapanthus for a few years now. They were bought as bare root stock and I knew it would take a little while for them to bulk out enough for a decent display. The last few years I’ve just had a single blue flower. There are two varieties in the pots polar ice and queen of the ocean. This year is looking more hopeful for seeing both varieties finally.

Scabiosa butterfly blue

We went to the garden centre last week to get some potting compost and I was taken in by this plant. Scabiosa are great for insects and the display was covered in butterflies. I couldn’t resist. We have lots of flowers that are great for bees but not as much for butterflies. So far, in my garden, it has only been visited by the bees that I’ve seen but the butterflies will come. With dead heading it should carry on producing flowers for a while. I’ve put it in a pot near the house as it likes free draining soil and I thought it would show better there than in the border.

Wall poppy

This is a self seeded poppy finding a home in the crack in the wall. But even a little flower like this is still helping the bees.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s six. I’m taking a lot of pleasure from the garden currently. There is a lot to enjoy and even the jobs of seed sowing and weeding have been pleasant. So far this week the “weeds” have included a dog rose I’ve potted up and a holly. Hope you are enjoying your gardens currently and have wonderful weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 3.7.21

So we move onto a new month and I can see a shift into summer now. More of the summer flowers are coming into flower now I’ve cleared the spring forget-me-nots. The roses are hitting their peaks. The foxgloves are towering high. Lots to enjoy. Having got another round of RHS exams out the way I’ve had lots of enthusiasm for getting out in the garden and I’ve got on with a good bit of maintenance work this week.

Charles DeMills

This is an old rose I planted a few years ago as I wanted the added disease resistance that comes with many old roses. They don’t generally repeat flower but they put on a single decent show and are usually strongly scented. It has however failed to flower all that well previous years as it has suffered from rose balling. The petals have got wet from rain and then they fail to open. This year it is up to a size where it has managed a decent display of flowers. They apparently smell wonderful but I haven’t got my smell back fully since Covid. They open up to form a flat flower head and it opens up to a more ruffled afair. Then it starts to disentegrate and needs dead heading.

While I have managed to achieve more flowers from it, it is still a fairly shapeless shrub with little to recommend it the rest of the year. It may not stay. As I go on in gardening the more I agree with Christopher Lloyd that rose worship should be abandoned to treat them like any other shrub. The odd one is nice but not in every garden.

Cornflowers

I bought a cheap little pollinator planter from Tesco’s. So far it has mainly been a pretty mix of different coloured cornflowers. I haven’t actually seen any pollinators on them. But they’ve got a lot of other choices in the garden to pick from.

They may still prove useful for the birds though. Previous years the goldfinches have enjoyed the seeds. The blue ones are probably the standout colours. The pinks are pretty enough but a bit washed out for my taste.

Allium christophii

These are a reliable favourite allium. They have large rounded heads. Also known as star of Persia. You can see form the structure why. The bees love them and so do I. Never enough alliums.

Allium forelock

I think these were forelock which I planted last autumn. These are a new addition to the garden. They have however grown to about 2m. They are taller than me which places them twice the height on the pack. But I don’t have anything else that quite looks like this so I think they must be forelock. They open to form the round ball leaving the white tufts sticking upwards.

Allium nigrum

These are a favourite allium of mine. I like the white heads. They form a half dome and work best in combination with other plants. The contrast making the other plants shine out.

Petunia-constelation

We went to a table top slae last week. There were plant sales outside. I didn’t purchase any but Alice wanted this one. I don’t really bother with this sort of annual plant but Alice wanted it and it’s pretty enough. It has gone in a hanging pot on the log store.

I grew these last year while I was working as a grower at the garden centre. They are a popular choice. The speckles are interesting and they stand out well.

We’ve got a fairly quiet weekend ahead so hopefully have a good bit of time to get on with catching up on garden jobs. I’m also enjoying a bit of garden reading. I’m dipping in and out of “the flower yard” by Arthur Parkinson. He gardens in pots. It’s had a few useful tips but it’s not really my way of gardening. I like a spread of flowers through the year to have maximum impact for wildlife whereas Arthus gets a wow factor for spring and summer. The sort of gardening of emptying pots, annuals is heavy on environmental impact with a lot fo compost getting used as well as using annuals and bulbs that have to be replaced fairly regularly. But the pot combinations he comes up with are very pleasing. An instagram gardener. Apart from anything I’ve shifted more out of the pots to save the time watering as the pots require that extra time watering more regularly than plants in my clay soil. Anyway, hope you enjoy your weekends whatever you are up to.

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