Six on Saturday: 12.6.21

The garden is shooting onwards after a thunderstorm earlier in the week followed by lots of sun. Far more than six beauties to pick currently but this week’s six will feature a mixture of jobs and flowers and wildlife sightings.

The yellow rose

This rose came with the garden. It flowers reliably and is fairly trouble free. Nice dark yellow blooms fading to buttery yellow.

Nematodes

The hostas have been getting nibbled. I’ve started my nighttime patrols with my snips and my torch but also given the plants a dose of nematodes. The nematodes are a natural way of killing off the slugs and keeping the numbers down.

Frogs

Luckily there are also lots of frogs around. This one looked to have swallowed a full snail.

Aquilegias

These are growing madly this year. They self seed around and then I usually pull most out allowing just a few to come through. My genetic gene pool is largely creating murky pink ones but the bees love them so a few can stay.

The hanging pot

The sunnier weather has led to this shooting off and creating lots more flowers. A rather pretty shade of dark and light pink.

Bearded iris

This has been my favourite bloom this week. It was a cheap Wilco’s purchase. It’s taken till it’s 2nd year to bloom but it’s an absolute beauty.

Thank you for reading. Looking to be a hot weekend. The forget-me-not clear and shake process has started. This is always nice as one they are cleared away I discover lots of hidden plants coming through in the mass of faded blue.

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Six on Saturday: 5.6.21 hodge podge edition

This week’s six is coming from a few different gardens as it’s been half term and we’ve kept busy. I am taking part in the Wildlife Trust’s 30 days wild, though I am not blogging about it daily this year as it is quite time consuming and I have a lot coming up this month.

Wassand Hall

We made it to Wassand Hall on the bank holiday Monday. Wassand is probably our closest garden to visit. It’s just out of town with a short woodland walk and a small walled garden but they pack a lot in. They had set up a trail of small animal doors for kids to find on the woodland walk. Alice got a bag of sweeties at the cafe for her efforts so she was happy. We enjoyed a courgette cake and a bakewell slice. The gardens were at an odd inbetween season with some bits going over and other bits on the way. It’ll look great in a month or so. The hothouse is filled with amazing cannas and banana trees so the exotic section will be looking good again. The current star of the show was the irises. I picked up a few cheap from their plant sales and a couple of hardy geraniums.

Deer

We then walked out from the garden towards the mere. Were were tret to the sight of 2 deer running off to the long grass and managed a quick snap. I see them quite often locally but this is the closest photo I’ve managed yet.

White butterfly

Returning to my own garden we’ve had some sunshine this week bringing out the insects. Here we have the forget-me-nots being enjoyed. They’ve probably got another week or two until I pull them out and scatter the seed again. Amy’s teaching more photography next year so we’ve both been practising our skills more this week.

Damselfly

The damselflies have started to make their first appearances of the year in our garden. Hopefully the dragonflies will follow soon.

Alliums

We visited my parents later in the week. The alliums are doing well and a good few bees coming out to play. I rather like the contrast on this photo.

Robin

And the birds weren’t too bothered by us being there.

I have my first jab this afternoon so hopefully still have the use of my arm afterwards as got a few jobs to get done tomorrow before the return to work. Hope you are all keeping well.

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Six on Saturday: 22.5.21 front garden update

So it’s been a busy day today. Unusually I’ve been at work today. We’ve had an open day to allow families in to see the nursery. Just one at a time with Covid restrictions. It’s been nice to have them visit as many parents haven’t been able to come in ever. A chance to see where their kids spend a large part of their time. Then I’ve been busy with a bee activity set with Alice from Catkin and Co. We made a sandwich wrap and candles. Strangely satisfying. So it’s a later six this week. Coming in and out of the house it has been nice to see how much the front garden has progressed. From starting it afresh over a year ago it has established well.

The front garden

The basic concept of the front garden was to create something that would be fairly low maintenance by using lots of ground cover. I wanted more of a focus on foliage than flowers. The garden is North facing, shaded by the house, thick clay and is exposed to strong sea winds. So, on the face of it not the best conditions. But, I think I’ve found a lot of plants that are the right plants in the right place. The brick spires are looking good. The foxgloves have shot up the last few weeks with lots of rain. The ferns and hostas are returning well. Alice refers to it as the jungle as a lot of it is now as big as she is. Eventually it should fill out to that point where you have to push through the foliage to get around the stepping stones.

Lamprocapnos spectablis ‘Alba’ Bleeding heart

This was a little bare root purchase from Wilcos the year before last. It is a bit lost behind a foxglove but it is poking through nicely.

Leucojum vernum

This was a spurr of the moment purchase. It doesn’t quite suit the garden conditions. Ideally I think it likes full sun. But it seems happy enough so far. I took the chance as I thought it would be nice to extend the snowdrop season.

Allium ursinum-wild garlic

Allium ursinum has a bad reputation for spreading badly. I’ve taken the risk as it’s quite a short plant and I don’t mind it acting as an understory plant and spreading around the gaps. Much of what I’ve growing is larger and will drown them out so they can fill the odd space left. I like it hough. The flowers are pretty. They are edible if I want to harvest them and they add another food source for pollinators.

Hostas

Many of the hostas were bought cheap from a local church sale. These are looking very nice currently. They all seem to be coming back strong currently. The beer traps and frogs seem to be keeping the slugs in check currently but I could probably do with applying some nematodes. One of the reasons for growing the wild garlic was a vague theory that it might put the slugs and snails off chewing the hostas. People spray hostas with garlic spray so surely surrounding them with the scent of garlic plants should have a similar effect.

The view from above

I like taking photos from above on a regular basis as it shows areas that are working well, which areas aren’t, which plants are complementing each other and which are not. Currently the foxgloves are dominating a lot of areas but these are making nice spires as a contrast to the spreading hostas. The ferns are producing the wonderful bright new fronds. The heuchera are providing a few pockets of contrasting foliage. All in all I’m happy with how it is developing. The Ilex creanata hedge along the edge is growing painfully slow but hopefully it is rooting in well and will get going.

I’m glad I made the decision 2 years ago to overhaul the front garden. It is much nicer returning to this than the weedy gravel. We see a lot of people stopping to admire and they often stop to talk and compliment it if I am out working on it. I’ve got to know more of the people on the street through my front garden than I would otherwise know. Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief snapshot.

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Six on Saturday: 15.5.21 bee week

This week with Alice we’ve been looking at bees with a bee themed play tray. So I thought for this week I’d take a look at some of our measures to help the bees. Educating Alice about the world around her feels like the best way to encourage her to grow up to care and respect all that we find in our world.

The play tray consisted of a tinker set from tots of fun. Then the large bee peg dolls I painted. The bee hive was a special purchase having sold off a few magic tricks I made a while back. She’s come up with some lovely stories over the week with it and enjoyed the open ended play taking it in different directions each day.

We got some wildflower seed with the tots of fun set and some bee bombs from Rowse honey. Alice helped plant them in her bee pot now her tulips have gone over. Didn’t really look at exactly what was in the mix but hopefully something will come up.

For my birthday I spent part of my birthday money on a Mason Bee tube. Mason bees are one of our more common solitary bees that are easy to help. These tubes are great. I wanted one that was easy to replace tubes as they are used and a set up easy to clean. Many marketed bee hotels are too short with tubes too wide or too narrow. Sometimes plastic encouraging damp. Basically most sold at garden centres to people with good intentions are rubbish encouraging disease and parasites. So I decided I just want one decent one rather than several that potentially harm the bees. They benefit from some maintenance each year which you can find on the mason bee website.

I also bought the new Dave Goulson book gardening for bumble bees. The garden jungle covered this subject briefly but good to know more. Dave’s books are easy to read but filled with research based facts. I like his focus on positive steps people can do to help wildlife. Looking forward to reading this one.

Within the garden we grew lots for wildlife. As a general rule less cultivated single flowers are better for pollinators. I provide a variety of open flowers and tubular flowers as different insects favour different flowers. This geranium phaeum has been very popular with the smaller garden bumble bees the last few weeks. It flowers well. Then I prune it back to the ground and usually manage 3 sometimes 4 bursts of flowers over a year.

The forget-me-nots are out in abundance currently. I let them spread all over the border. These are favoured by the honey bees. Here photographed by my wife. These self seed all over and then over plants come up through. Many of the alliums are coming through which are also great for bees. The single dahlias are very popular with both bees and butterflies. Planning for different flowers through the year keeps an interesting variety of visitors coming into the garden.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at bees. It’s Alice’s birthday tomorrow. She’ll be 5 years old and very excited. So lots to get on with. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 8.5.21

It’s been a week of extremes. The very dry weather replaced by wet weather and then hailstones yesterday. This hasn’t left much time for gardening though as you’ll see I have been busy constructing in the garden.

  1. Plant sales

A few weeks back there was a cheap tabletop sale outside the Floral Hall. They had some good value plants so picked up a few gap fillers. A few cosmos can be used for any empty spaces. There is a tray of red salvias. I’ve not tried salvias before but these should be good bee magnets. Then a trailing pink and white Fuschia for the hanging pot.

2. Great tit

We made it to my parents last week and I love this picture I got of a tit desperate for some nest material.

3. Slide

Next week on Sunday is Alice’s birthday and it is time for her to have an upgrade on a slide. She’s outgrown the little dinosaur one. So, in preparation, a new climbing frame has been built. She got a brief burst of time on it last Sunday and since then it has been wet on an evening. She’s been so desperate to go on it again we had to put waterproofs on and go out in the cold and wet. And so this begins a decade of this dominating the garden.

4. Features

She had great fun on it though and should be good for burning off some energy and her imagination. It has space underneath for a den and the steering wheel on the top. It immediately became a pirate ship.

5. Juniperus squamata ‘blue star’ sense

I talked last week about wanting to change part of the border to vary the shape, color and texture of the plants. Currently, it is lots of similar dark-leaved plants. This may replace the hebe as a ground cover plant. The silver foliage should look nice against the darker Sambucus nigra. The label states it’s a good winter shelter for birds. Junipers do form berries many finches like but as this is a dwarf form I don’t think it will form the berries.

6. Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Sungold’

Another conifer for the same stretch of border. This one forms a dome of yellow foliage offering some year-round color. Some yellow conifers burn in sun but this one is supposed to be fine. It is, like the juniper, listed as good cover for birds in winter so hopefully attract in a bit of winter wildlife.

It is far too wet though today for me to get on with any of the garden jobs. I’ve just about got the bare lawn patches going again so I want to avoid stepping on it while it is sodden. I might get a few plant profiles done for my RHS course. Hope you enjoy your weekends.

Six on Saturday: 1.5.21

So covered a few extra sessions at work again this week so not really done much in the garden the last week. But did manage a bit of weeding. Last weekend I gave the garden a good watering as it was in need of it. Rain was forecast but it din’t come till the end of the week in any great quantity.

  1. Rain

After a month or so of drought we fnally got a heavy downpour overnight. It’ll do the garden a lot of good as the ground had been dry as a bone. It should help refill the water butts again as they’d been drained.

2. Pop up tent

During the week though it had been nice enough to have the pop up tent and tunnel out to play in the garden. Now Alice wants to play out again it gives me a bit more time to enjoy the garden.

3. Long border

I don’t post pictures of the full borders very often but they are looking pretty good right now. The long border is mainly a sea of forget-me-nots with bulbs coming through. The climbing rose on the fence is getting to a decent point and should provide a good display this year.

Looking back the other way the hydrangea suffered as I mentioned last week. Drought and frost has left it damaged but I think it should still flower well enough. This Acer is growing strong with the bleeding heart underneath it. The climbing rose is visible again. Right in the corner before the patio the cotoneaster is coming up. The idea being to have a berry source close to the house to attract the birds close to the windows. Then a honeysuckle is growing along the patio seating area to provide scent.

4. Shade corner

The shaded corner is coming back to life. The shed is need of a few boards replaced at some point but the roof is still keeping the rain out so that’s the main thing. The large ferns that dominate the back area had their trim and are just returning to life but by and large it’s looking pretty lush. The lilac is coming back to life. The black cherry has kept a reasonable form. The hydrangea limelight behind the bird feeder is gradually growing in size. The climbing hydrangea along the fence isn’t visible but provides a good bit of cover for the birds.

5. Unsatisfactory border

This border is the part I like the least. I’ve already discussed the camellia previously. It’s for the chop. Not hardy enough and I’m not keen on the blooms anyway. The hebe at the edge isn’t hardy enough, spends much of the year recovering. It does flower well and the bees do like it but I think the space could be better employed. The rose in the middle is Charles DeMills. It did reasonably well last year. Part of the issue is none of these three compliment each other so it needs some reworking.

6. A little further along

Whereas just a little further along the plants work better together. The Sambucus nigra provides a dark centerpiece with vibrant contrasting pink flowers later in the year. The Acer spring green has a long dead stem but the section that is alive is doing well. The geranium phaeum underneath the sambucus provides a reliable ground cover plant which the bees love. Behind te Acer is a larger Dryopteris fern which is just poking fronds up again There is another climbing hydrangea going up the fence here but it is still tiny. It’s a varieagated one that should contrast well. This section of border just works better than further along as it has a variety of colours, shape, form and texture. Though it is a bit straggly now it will look good later in spring.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a bit more of the borders than I normally post. We’ve had exciting news at work with some funding for a number of gardening projects. Potentially a sensory garden I can lead on. So need to get reading up on suitable plant options. Hope you all get to enjoy your long weekend.

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Six on Saturday: 24.4.21

Hello all. The last week has been a harsh one for the garden with cold nights and dry days so the plants are taking a double whammie of drought and frost. So, the job of watering begins again.

1. Drought

The plants have largely held up alright but the hydrangeas have suffered from the dry weather and cold lights. I have watered them more this week but the Hydrangea libelle has suffered most. This one seems to be a little less hardy than the others suffering more than the others each year.

2. Tulip Tres Chic

We were bought these as a wedding gift and so far they have been coming back, though I haven’t seen many yet this year but I think there is another patch of them somewhere so they may turn up still.

3. Mixed tulips

Alice selected some mixed tulips for pots last autumn. As individual tulips they are nice colours but they haven’t worked well in pots as suggested as the height and timing of each has varied too much. They can be shifted into the border once they’ve finished this year where I think they will work better. The yellow and red has been the nicest of the mix.

4. Sambucus racemosa sutherland gold

The Sambucus leaves unfurling are stunning. The leaves initially display the dark centre before turning to a vibrant golden green. It’s drought-tolerant, wind tolerant and can handle being hard pruned. The flowers are popular with pollinators. It’s a winner for me by the coast.

5. Iris unguicularis Walter Butt

This has decided to put out another flower. While you only get a few at a time it is nice having something that flowers from December through to April. That little flower burst in winter was much appreciated but even now when the spring flowers are in full swing it is still worth pausing for.

6. Lamprocapnos spectabilis

I have lots of the standard pink bleeding heart spread along the border now. It seems to grow well in my ground and flowers for good periods. It was enjoyed by the bees a lot last year when we were on full lockdown and I could sit and watch. This particular patch is getting to a good size again. I’ll probably leave it another year and then divide it again.

They are beautful flowers. With the weird shape it’s always a bit of surprise to see bees enjoying them, but they are popular.

Lots to enjoy this week. The lawn is mown. But looking very dry. We have rain forecast later next week so hopefully get the water butts refilled but for now I’m going to need to give things a bit of help. Hope you are all keeping well and enjoying the slight relaxation of freedoms.

Six on Saturday: 17.4.21

So last weekend we went out to the garden centre for the first time in months. I wanted some manure to mulch the roses with. It was pretty quiet now people have a few more options opening up to them.

Manure

So in at number 1, what we actually went for. One bag of manure has been spread around the base of my couple of roses. The main Charles DeMills has had a good thick mulch. Help with water retention as well as the bit of feed it gives.

Bulb purchases

I let Alice make choices with the bulbs each year and she went for this Dahlia Addison June. I’m not a fan of ball dahlias as they offer less to wildlife but I like to keep Alice involved in the garden so it was her choice. I picked an Astrantia. Primadonna is a pale pink one. So far my astrantias seem to have done well and I like a plant that flowers for a good period.

Outdoor rug

We got an outdoor rug to go with the seating area. The patio is concrete and it’s not the most attractive looking set up so this at least covers it up.

Camellia

The camellia is looking pretty poor. It’s had a few years to settle and I still don’t like it, so it is going to be going. It was a gift but it’s not to my taste. The space can be used better.

Here you can see one flower looks lovely while one looks horrible. Frost damaged and curling. The majority look the worse for wear. It’s not worth keeping and I can place something in with a longer season of interest that can benefit me and the sildlife for a longer period.

Acer ‘going green’

This is another failing plant. One long branch of this is looking dead. I’m not going to abandon this quite yet. However, it is going to be significantly reduced in height cutting this branch off. I know I shouldn’t bother with Acers as they don’t suit my conditions but they are one I like to persist a bit longer with.

Tesco’s tulips

These were cheap Tesco tulips 3 or 4 years ago. They were some of the first I planted and have come back nicely each year. They had an odd name like aelectric and I’ve not seen them since.

Been a busy week at work. I’ve taken on more hours and I’ve covered a few extra hours on top of that so glad of a rest. Though it has been a nice week back. Hope you’re all keeping well and have got to enjoy some of the sun this week.

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Six on Saturday: 10.4.21

It’s been a funny old week. We had a glorious weekend last week followed by a week of cold weather. I have got a few jobs done during my school holiday though not as much as I’d like. But, I have completed my next RHS assignment on design. Not feeling great about this one as I think I may have misinterpreted the questions. We’ll see when I get feedback.

Fun in the sun

So last weekend was Easter Sunday so we had our Easter egg hunt. Normally we would see see family but it’s not a possibility this year. Alice still had a good hunt. The Easter Bunny may have gone overboard on the eggs, so I didn’t put them all out and she still had a very full basket by the end.

Taking stock of her hunt.

Sun lounger

Amy bought herself a new sun lounger which was immediately claimed by Alice. You can see the difference in the weather to now. Dress, no sleeves, no hat, no multiple layers.

Dancing

Alice relocated a ribbon stick she made last year and had a good dance around the garden.

Random seeds

I gave Alice some of the seeds from the draw that can be direct sown to scatter. This fills gaps in the border and gave me some interesting surprises last year. The blackball cornflowers were quite pretty last year so hopefully they’ll do well again.

Ballerina tulips

The tulips are going strong now. I think these are ballerina tulips though the photo makes them look redder than they really are. There are patches of these coming along the border. It seems to have come back strongly.

Snow

And from glorious sun to snow. It came down pretty quickly for a period on Tuesday, though it didn’t settle. The wind was pretty strong and the garden is all looking very dry now. We haven’t had any of the forecast rain this week and the garden could probably do with a good shower. There is some forecast but I think I’m going to need to start watering the front again. I’ve been watering some of the more tender plants as it helps protect them from the frost a bit. When the leaves have a fine layer of water it provides a bit of insulation and slows the thawing a bit. Don’t know how much truth there is in this but can’t see it’ll do much harm.

Hope your week has been good. I return to work next week and I’m taking on a few more hours. So, a little less garden time but a bit more time to make use of the nursery polytunnel.

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Six on Saturday: 3.4.21

The weather has been nice for the first week of the holiday though meant to be chiller next week. I have had to use the new blog editor so I have no idea what will show. You may just have to imagine six beautiful photos as I have no idea if it will work.

  1. Ladybird Loveliness I have been happy to see several ladybird in the garden. We had a lot of aphids last year with the veg patch so an army of ladybirds would be useful.

2. Sealing wax daffodil

This is one of the few daffodils I know the name of as it was Amy’s choice of the bulbs from the discount bin two years back. Almost all the other daffodils are cheap mixed bags.

3.Prunus incisa Kojo-no-mai

I moved the small prunus into the ground in autumn and it is looking grand. It is only about half a metre but every cm is covered in blossom. Should look spectacular as it grows. It grows to about 3m and should fill the space beautifully.

The bees are loving it anyway.

4. Narcissus Elka

I put these little daffs in the hanging pot back in autumn. They came as a cheap add onto another order but they are rather pretty in the pot.

5. Beefly

We have had quite a few of these visiting the garden. It’s a beefly. Not an actual bee, but a fly that disguises itself as a bee. They have the very distinctive long proboscis sticking out in front. A great wonder in the garden.

6. Robin

We’ve seen a good few different birds in the last week but I was happy to manage this photo of the robin mid song. It’s been back and forth from the feeder to the ivy so nice to get a shot.

Hope the photos have showed as I feel I got some good photos this week. Hope you’re all keeping well and enjoyed the slight relaxation of the Covid restrictions.

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