Six on Saturday: 17.10.20 Derek Jarman

I have recently read a number of books that have mentioned Derek Jarman and his garden at Dungeness. I had a vague knowledge of the seaside garden he created. The garden plants faced tough conditions needing to survive salt conditions. I picked up his garden book wanting to know why so many people held this book in such high regards. I devoured it very quickly. It features images of the garden and Derek, poems and descriptions of the garden and plants that thrived. He may be better known for his films and sexuality but this is a wonderful garden book. While my garden doesn’t face as harsh seaside conditions as his, my garden is also by the sea and I took early to collecting items from the beach. The ideas in his garden have influenced others who I think have probably influenced my garden before I was even aware of his. I probably have lusher conditions but we have some commonalities that I thought I’d explore.

1. Lawns

Lawns, it seems to me, are against nature, barren and often threadbare – the enemy of a good garden. For the same trouble as mowing, you could have a year’s vegetables: runner beans, cauliflowers and cabbages, mixed with pinks and peonies, shirley poppies and delphiniums; wouldn’t that beautify the land and save us from the garden terrorism that prevails.

This is a passage early on in the book that brought me right on side. I would happily cut down the lawn. While there is sometimes a need for negative space there are other ways of achieving this. However, I have been told we need a lawn while Alice is little to play on. I’m sure she’d have more fun in a jungle of plants. Hide and seek is boring with a standard lawn in the middle. Derek’s conditions would have made a lawn pretty much impossible to make it look good. Our lawn is overgrown as I’ve left it while the builders are working. I did claim a bit of the lawn when I built a raised bed to grow a few bits during the first lockdown. We have a few sprouts forming and then I will probably dismantle. The lawn is going to need a bit of care after that to get it back in order. Far too much effort for something I don’t really like.

2. Driftwood

Derek’s garden made use of many pieces of driftwood found along his stretch. They stand around the Dungeness garden like standing stones and as pieces of sculpture. We have a number of large pieces we have brought back from the beach and many smaller pieces. A few are dug into the border with the plants surrounding.

3. Found objects

The garden at Dungeness was filled with lots of found objects from walks. Our garden has been filled with many odds and ends from the beach. Amongst my favourite are the brick spires that I created to stop the seagulls landing and digging up plants. The metal bars threaded through are reinforcing bars for concrete. They are gradually gaining a layer of rust which I think adds to the look.

4. Seeds

I have got a number of seeds that are about to be started that would have graced the Dungeness garden. I am trying a number of types of sea holly. These formed part of our wedding flowers. I have a few in the border but they are not very exciting forms. I’m hopeful Miss Wilmott’s Ghost will take. It’s a white form that is very pretty. The story goes that Miss Wilmott used to carry around the seed and scatter it in peoples gardens if she thought the borders needed a bit of livening up. The other Dunganess staple I’m going to attempt is Crambe Maritima-sea kale. I want this for the dry raised beds I’m planting up at work. These are supposedly erratic in germinating and can take a long time so I don’t know if I’ll have success but I like to try new plants.

5. Metal

Derek Jarman’s garden had many twisty pieces of metal found on his walks. I have a few but have to be careful with a small child around. We do have some rusty metal around.. This decoration was made with a charity shop purchase and a rusty pole we had around.

6.Crowded borders

Other paradises: Christopher Lloyd’s Great Dixter up the road, Gardens that deny paradise: Hidcote Manor, known to us as Hideouscote, which is so manicured that not one plant seems to touch its neighbour. The National Trust must have a central nursery as all their gardens look like that.

You won’t find this in Great Dixter; It’s shaggy. If a garden isn’t shaggy, forget it.

I certainly couldn’t be accused of over tidiness and like many people with small gardens, I have filled every inch with plants. I’ve moved a few plants around in the front garden. I had two patches of Hakonechloa macra that had been buried by other growth. I’ve moved them to edge of the path to contrast with the Ophiopogon. Then I’ve bulked them out with some I bought from Wassand Hall’s plant bench.

The scaffolding came down this week so I have started the process of tidying the patio up and getting the garden back in order. It is looking nice. I’m rearranging the log stores, Alice’s mud kitchen and the mini-greenhouse. We have a seating area bench being delivered in a few weeks. So I’m aiming to have an area of practical stores and a seating area on the edge of the patio to look out onto the garden. I’d mentioned last week that I was looking to make a living wall off the wood store. So a few projects to get on with. I am looking to plant up a large pot with an autumn display this weekend with Alice. We could do with a good bright heuchera to finish it off. I’ll probably feature the results next week. Unless it looks terrible. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 10.10.20

Welcome to the weekend and this weeks six on Saturday. There have been lots of new people joining in with six on Saturday, particularly on Twitter. If you don’t know what it’s all about, check out the guide from the founder. It’s been a busy week for me as I’ve covered extra shifts at work which has been lovely working with different children but has meant I haven’t got on with any of the jobs I wanted to in the garden. Even if I hadn’t been working I would probably have tred carefully doing any jobs this weeks as we have had lots of rain and if I’m not careful I will turn the garden into a quagmire. The scaffolding is still up from the builders and they have a few finishing jobs to do. But they aren’t going to while we are having days of hailstones.

1. Dryopteris sieboldii

After featuring a rather beautiful but possibly tender fern last week I thought I’d feature a tougher specimen. This one originates from China, Japan and Korea. It is fully hardy, drought-tolerant though a slow coloniser making it well suited to pots. I have a number of forms of Dryopteris though this one is distinct from any of the others with its finger-like fronds.

2. Allium amethystinum ‘forelock’

I picked out a new allium to try. This grows globes much like many others and then forms tufts on the top. A little strange. They are around half a metre in height so should be good for the middle of the border. I think I may start them in individual plastic pots and then move them to spots in the border in spring when I can see where they will look good.

3. Allium siculum (Nectaroscordum)

Not one I’ve grown before but I have seen them in many gardens. The hanging flowers are quite attractive. Like most alliums, it is loved by bees.

4. Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’

It often feels like I miss out on autumn as many of the trees and shrubs have the leaves blown off by our strong winds before they have a chance to change colour but this little ornamental cherry is doing well. I recently moved it into the ground. It is currently too crowded but I’m going to be lifting some of the dahlias around it soon so it will have a bit more space when the spring blossom returns.

5. Ornamental kale-Brassica oleracea

In order to add a bit of interest after the dahlias have gone, I got a tray of ornamental kales. I saw these around a few gardens in the neighbourhood last year and they seemed to be doing well in peoples gardens. So, I thought I’d give them a try.

6. Fuchsia hanging pot

I planted this fuchsia in the borders as it said it was a shrub variety. However, it seems to want to trail so I’ve put it in one of these hook pots that I can attach to the wood store. I can gradually build up a living wall type set up on it. I’m not a massive fan of fuchsia but currently, they are providing some of the best colour in the garden.

Hopefully, I might manage a few of the garden jobs this weekend. I won’t manage anything much today but might manage a bit tomorrow. A bit of a rushed six after a busy week but hopefully have some time to rest over the weekend. Alice’s dance class this morning so I’m going to sit and read Derek Jarman’s the garden. Enjoy your weekends!

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Six on Saturday: 3.10.20 astrantia fest

The rain is coming down now. We have a week ahead of rain so probably won’t get on with much gardening this week. I was going to get a few things moved and planted yesterday but I got a call from work asking if I could come in early to cover. So the garden job list is building up. This week I’ve gone a bit astrantia heavy and almost all shade-loving options.

1. Building work

The builders have almost finished. The render is on. An extra line of tiles has been added to make up for the extra insulation on the outside. Hopefully, it will be tied up soon so we can get things back in order and start to move pot plants back.

It has created a lot of dust on some of the plants where they had their builder’s rubble bag. But the rain has come down and washed it off now.

2. Astrantia major ‘Alba’

This went in the front garden a month or so ago and while it is a bit floppy with the wind and rain of the last few weeks it is establishing well. While the main focus of the shaded front garden is foliage it’s nice to have a few flowers. The whites of these really stand out for the contrast against the other plants. Perfect shade plant.

3. Astrantia major ‘Claret’

This was Alice’s purchase from our recent trip to Scampston. It’s a wonderfully rich red. The photos don’t really do it justice. Ones do light, ones too dark.

4. Astrantia major ‘Margery Fish’

Also known as ‘Shaggy’. Named ‘shaggy’ by the great plantswoman herself but known better by her own name. I bought some of these seed as an add on to another order. I’ve not had much luck with trying to save seed from astrantia so I thought I try and buy some and see if they do any better. This is a spikey white variety. It’s a little different from Alba which has green edging to the petals. These are pure white. It also goes by the name ‘Hattie’s pincushion’ which entertained me as it’s my mum’s name. Hattie, not pincushion. They seem to take a little time germinating and can need periods of cold, so ideally they need to go in the fridge if not germinating. Our fridge is too small for that though so they’ll just move inside and outside if they aren’t germinating.

5. Coniogramme emeiensis

This is a Chinese native originating from the slopes of Mount Emei.  Plant profiles suggest it is tender at H3 or H4. My suspicion is that it won’t remain evergreen but should return in spring as it would experience -10 and sometimes lower in its natural environment. I’m split between placing it in a pot close to the heat of the house or in a sheltered bordered spot. The foliage is so striking for a fern that I hope I can keep it going. I reckon it probably just hasn’t been trialled enough to rate it hardier but we will see.

6. Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’

This is another native to China along with Siberian regions of Russia, Manchuria, Mongolia, Korea and Japan. Reliably hardy and another shade lover. Brunette is a more compact form. This was another purchase from Spampston. They had it growing in the borders. The contrast between the leaves and white flowers is very attractive. I am going to clear some rather thuggish hardy geraniums so I can place with a backdrop of euonymus on one side and ferns behind so the dark leaves should stand out. The ferns are reliably evergreen so they provide constant year-round interest. It spreads by rhizomes so I’m hoping it should be able to claim a little area here.

We are heading out to Alice’s dance lessons and then to the garden centre to collect some craft materials Alice wants to make Halloween decorations and the Works bookshop is based in the garden centre. So we should be able to pick up some coloured card and other bits. Not specifically after any plants today but we’ll see what specials we get directed through and whether I can resist.

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Scampston Hall-Autumn

We have returned from a family trip out to Scampston Hall. Scampston has two great attractions. The grounds were designed by Capability Brown, the great landscape designer of the 18th century. Then the walled gardens contain the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf’s largest private commission in the UK. We had chosen to go there so we could meet up with my parents. It feels more comfortable meeting somewhere outside currently.

Scampston is free for one visit to RHS members, but only on Fridays. So far I’m not managing to get any free visits out of my membership. I visited Burnby too late in the year. Glad I’m paying student membership. I am enjoying the RHS magazine though which has been excellent.

We began with the walk around the grounds. There is a short walk through part of the grounds and woodland or a longer walk taking in more of the area. With Alice’s shorter legs we only did the shorter walk but it was a nice stretch taking in parts of the Capability Brown design. Alice was very keen to check the map each step of the way.

It took us through the rock garden which currently looks like it’s a work in progress. Several gunneras have been cut to the ground and the river was dry.

It took us down to the waterside and bridge-building.

Several swans and geese about.

Then we went through a stretch of trees with a pleasing trio of Acers.

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Six on Saturday: 26.9.20

It’s been a week of contrasts. The first half of the week was glorious sunshine. The second half of the week has been hailstones, torrential rain and strong winds. This has put a halt to the building work. They made a good start but they can’t do the render until there are a few dry days together. The wind has crushed a few plants but hopefully most will recover alright.

1. Tulip pot

Alice bought her tulips last week but she wanted a really nice pot. She won a garden centre voucher back in May for National Children’s Gardening Week that we hadn’t spent yet. So, we went to the local garden centre and she chose this bee pot and we got the tulips planted last Sunday before the weather turned.

2. Wild about weeds competition

I also had some good news this week that I came 2nd place in a competition! I entered Jack Wallington’s wild about weeds competition. The aim of the competition was to show a weed within a plantings scheme. This was the photo I entered showing Asplenium within the front garden.

3. Sambucus racemosa

I planted this earlier in the year. It’s still only small but the lovely bright foliage is stunning right now. The foliage is working well against the darker dahlias foliage.

It is looking particularly nice against the Fuschia next to it.

4. Hanging basket

The hanging basket was replaced with a few fuschias I grew from cuttings. They’ve been slow to get going but they have finally realised I am growing them for their flowers.

5. Leptinella squalida and Acer palmatum ‘seiryu’

I have combined this Acer with Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s black’.

‘Platt’s black seems to be getting marketed as black moss. It isn’t really a moss but it does act as a ground cover plant. The foliage is small and fern-like in appearance. It’s actually part of the Asteraceae family, the daisies. It does flower with small brown flowers. Hopefully, it will spread to fill the base of the pot.

I wanted to see if the finer filigree leaves hold up better to my drying sea winds. It will still need a sheltered spot. But in theory, small leaves of this nature should lose less water and be more tolerant of the winds though it will still need a sheltered spot.

6. The dry garden

I have volunteered to tidy several of the planters at work. They have got a bit worn over the last year and just need a bit of a spruce up. They are outside the nursery and have a compost mix of sand and soil in. They are in full sun and will not see much watering for periods. Currently, there are a few lavenders healthy enough and a few sempervivums, a broom and a patch of Festuca grass. So I figure it makes sense to plan for dry garden conditions. The existing plants are mainly silver as many drought-tolerant plants have silver foliage. I have started reading Beth Chatto’s book, “The dry garden” to gain better knowledge. I largely garden on clay and my favourite area to work is my shaded front garden. So these planters are pretty much the extreme opposite of what I normally work with. I grow a few alpines and succulents in pots. I think it would look nice to find the handful of darker options to contrast with the existing silver plants. I’ve got a few stonecrops and sempervivums that can be split to use. It does feel a bit ironic to be planning a dry garden during the wettest week in months.

We are planning a visit to Scampston Walled gardens tomorrow so hopefully, the weather will hold off long enough for us to have a nice day. The gardens include both Capability Brown designed areas and Piet Oudolf designed areas so a bit of a contrast. I’m sure I will end up reporting back on it if we do go. Enjoy your weekends whatever you are up to.

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Six on Saturday: 19.9.20

The building work has started properly now. We have stacks of materials around the garden. It is difficult getting to a few areas but they reckon they will be done by the end of next week so that seems hopeful. I’d mentioned in my blog on Burnby Hall that I think my RHS exam went well. I need to get the next assignment done. This unit is around compost and plant nutrients so it is quite a useful unit with plenty of chances to apply the knowledge practically.

1. Air plant

I’ve had two air plants in the spare room that have survived a good while yet and saw this one at the garden centre. They have gone from being a speciality purchase to being sold on the counter as an extra like a novelty cactus. An improvement on the googly-eyed cactus though. This one has gone in the bathroom where it will get a burst of humidity each day to keep it going and then the odd spray.

2. Tulips

Taking Alice to school she noticed the florist have their tulip bulbs for sale now. She had asked a few weeks back about getting a few new ones. I hadn’t really planned to add any more tulips as I have quite a lot that seem to be returning. She choose Giuseppe Verdi, a short yellow and red Kaufmann tulip that flowers in early spring. Then Chopin which is yellow with a red streak. It is supposedly perennial but we’ll see. She has requested that they go in a pot, but a nice one. We’ll look at getting them in today. Not the most exciting photo I have featured within my six. But, if I don’t record what goes in the ground I won’t be able to look back to work out what they are.

3. Watering can

I’ve been after a new watering can for a while. My larger watering can doesn’t fit up to the water butt tap and the smaller watering can is cracking. This new one feels nice and solid and should last a good while.

4. Hydrangea libele

I moved this hydrangea into the ground back in February. It suffered a bit with frost but it bounced back and seems alright. Last year a lot of the flowers were hidden in the foliage whereas it seems to be sorting itself out with a handful of the lacecap heads opening up.

The white bracts are pretty with a centre made up of a mixture of blue and pink.

5. Japanese anemome ‘honorine jobert’

This was planted as a reduced bargain last year and didn’t do very much. It is planted in a spot where a line of hebes used to grow. I think this has meant it has struggled a bit to establish but it is hanging on in there and has flowered. In late autumn or spring, I’ll add a bit more mulch around it to improve the soil conditions.

6. Iris unguicularis

A few people featured these irises last winter and I liked the fact that they flower during winter when little else is. I’ve managed to get hold of two cultivars. Mary Barnard is a velvety blue flower that will flower in February or March. It has an RHS award of merit for being reliable. Then Walter Butt has lavender coloured flowers that flower in December or January. It is apparently the most scented of the unguicularis so that should make it a nice treat for by the back door in the winter months. They are currently placed out of the way while the building work goes on.

I’ve got a few jobs to get started on now. I’ve given the front garden a good weed over but I need to try and work around the builder’s materials to check over the back garden. There are a few bulbs to get in the ground. But, I reckon I should have time to get back up to date after focusing on exam revision. Time to get cracking.

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Burnby Hall

Today I sat my first RHS exam. I think it went well. I was able to answer everything. Just a few questions I think I may have lost marks on. In order to break up the journey home from Skipton I stopped off at Burnby Hall Gardens. I enjoyed my lunch and did a quick loop of the gardens. The garden contains a large man made lake and contains the National Collection of hardy water lillies.

It was a glorious day to visit with the sunlight reflecting on the water.

The pond is filled with ornamental roach and carp that are used to being fed by visitors. They come to snap at anyone near the edge of the water.

The water lillies were looking spectacular. Though I can’t say I can distinguish that many differences in the collection beyond colour.

The water was attracting many dragonflies. They were skimming all over the water hunting for smaller insects.

Off the edge of the lake are various garden areas. With Covid they have put a one way system in which takes you to the Victorian garden first. This is made of a walkway, pavilion and formal beds.

The beds were looking good but I think they probably peak earlier in the year. But some pretty Japanese anemones and Asters.

After the Victorian garden you come to the rock garden along the edge of the lake. Ferns fill many of the crevices. but there were a few more autumn favourites. The nerines looking particularly good.

The butterflies were enjoying what is possibly plumbago.

Though I did have the urge to take the labels off many of the plants. Here one slightly spoiling this otherwise beautiful Acer palmatum ‘dissectum’.

The stumpery was probably my favourite area. The shade was appreciated today. The mass green of foliage from ferns was very peaceful. A serene area scattered with totem like sculptures. The hobbit house is a nice playful touch.

They seem to be in the process of establishing a hydrangea walk. Only small specimens at the moment but theis will look great in a few years.

A well filled dovcote.

I enjoyed my trip today. A pleasant stop off for food on the way home and to bring my blood pressure down after my exam and the drive through Harrogate and the Wolds. I could happily return again to see it through the seasons. Thank you for all the well wishes today and support people have given me for my first RHS exam. I won’t get the results until December 2nd but I’m feeling fairly confident of at least a pass. I’m still getting to grips with the new blog editor so apologies for mistakes and poor formatting.

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Six on Saturday: 12.9.20

I have made it through my first week at work. It’s been lovely. I have the first of the RHS exams next week. I am feeling confident of passing but I’d like to get the commendation but we’ll see. WordPress has made the update to the new editor for writing my blogs. So far it is very clunky, sections I’ve written keep vanishing so I’m hoping I can change it back or it improves rapidly as this was a pain to write. I hope you all appreciate it.


1. Scaffolding

The builders are returning to finish our rendering. This has been an ongoing problems since last year. The builders did the job poorly putting internal insulation on the outside of the house and then rendering over. This all has to come off and then another team of builders who seem to know what they are doing are fixing it. It means the garden is going to be a bit of a mess for a while as a lot had to come off the patio ready for the work.

2. Front planters

I have two planters either side of the front door. Into these I placed hydrangea runaway brides. One has thrived. The other has shrivelled. Not sure exactly why. They were both suffering slightly with chlorosis but they’ve both had the same feed. They both get watered at the same time and have similar conditions.

I have cut back the one that has shrivelled. It may return next year but I’m not holding out much hope soI have moved some cylamen in to fill the gap for now. The foliage of the cyclamen being one of my favourite autumn plants.

Only one is flowering currently but they look to be a red and a white one.

3. Pot Rose

Alice has been going past the florist each day on her way to school and has been asking if we can get one of these little pot roses. As we’d made it through a week of work and school I indulged her.

Not necessarily a colour I’d choose but it looks nice enough. We’ll keep it inside to flower and then try transferring it outside to see if it can come back again.

4. Mouse

I went looking in the shed for a potlast Sunday and knocked this little mouse into the bird feed box. I kept it in a box so Alice could have a look and then released it back. They don’t do any harm in the shed. The bird food is all in metal tins and I’d rather they were out in the shed than coming in the house.

5. Bishop’s Children dahlia

This was another of the Bishop’s Children dahlia grown from seed this year. There has been a variety of colours from bright red, through pink and orange and yellow. This one seems to have developed as a partial double form.

6. Asters

The asters are coming into flower now. This is a tall variety that is wedged behind a hebe and sambucus.


And now they’re flowering the insects are happy.

Well, this was painful to write in the new editor. There is no spell checker and trying to read back through it leaps around so I expect complaints from my mother about mistake. I will be getting on with my last burst of exam revision this weekend so I may not get around to reading everyone else’s six blogs until after Monday. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 5.9.20 Monocots & Dicots

For this weeks six I thought I would do a blog to aid with revision for my first RHS exam in a few weeks. Having had a look through past exam papers the differences between monocts and dicots is a regular exam question. Flowering plants (Angiosperms) are divided into two key groups moncots and discots. The course never really explains why this is important to know but it does give you a good idea of how a plant will grow, what leaves it will have. Some diseases may affect dicots but not monocots so it can be useful to be able to categorise the two.

1. Leaves

The leaves of monocotyledonous plants have parallel veins. They are usually strap-like in shape and have the stomata (where oxygen exits and carbon dioxide enters) are spread evenly between the top and bottom of the leaves. Grasses would be a good example of this. Here we have a hosta showing the parallel veins.

Whereas, dicotyledonous plants have spreading, reticulate (net-like) and branching veins. Here on the heuchera you can see the veins spreading out like a web. The stomata are located on the underside of the leaves.

2. Stems

Monocot stems have vascular bundles scattered around the stem with an epidermis one layer thick. They cannot undergo secondary thickening so they do not form woody stems. There are some exceptions such as palm trees and bananas that can form larger stems but these are exceptions that have developed different strategies than dicot stems for growing larger. So while something like a hosta may grow large leaves it does not develop a large stem. Here the agapanthus has the strap like leaves with a long stem but it cannot undergo secondary thickening to make it more stable.

Dicot stems have vascular bundles arranged in circles around the pith acting as a starch store. They can undergo secondary thickening. So, in general, most trees will be dicots.

3. Flowers

Monocot flower parts are arranged in multiples of 3. Irises and lilies are good examples of this.

Whereas, dicot flowers have parts arranged in multiples of 4 or 5.

4. Seeds

Monocot seeds have one cotyledon, thus the name monocot. The cotyledon is the embryonic leaf that the plant initially grows when first germinated. As it grows larger it forms the true leaves. In the case of monocots, as already said, strap-like.

In dicot seeds, they have two cotyledons. Here we have the two seed leaves of the dicot coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea.

5. Roots

In monocot roots are usually fibrous. They sometimes have an initial taproot that dies off quickly to be replaced by the adventitious fibrous roots. Whereas dicots can form a tap root system with a central thicker root growing down with roots branching off this. Then from the secondary roots smaller taproots may form. Here we have the fibrous roots coming off an onion.

6. Pollen grains

Monocot pollen is monosulcate. This means it has a single pore through the outer layer.

Whereas dicot pollen is tricolpate meaning it has 3 ridges through the outer layer.

I hope you have enjoyed me sharing some of my course knowledge. Hopefully, some of it may be accurate. One more weekend to go before the test so I have a bit more time to cram. Sorry if I don’t get around to reading everyone else’s sixes this week. Between starting my new job on Monday and preparing for my exam I am a bit busy. But it should settle into a nice routine after the exam. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 29.8.20

I haven’t spent much time in the garden this week apart from preparing for wind damage. A few things have been staked in better and a few things removed as they were blown over. I lost one sweet pea patch but nothing major. The combination of wind and rain can be very punishing for the garden but as the week has gone on it has shifted to a bit less wind and a bit more rain. I have still been reading up on plenty of gardening know-how as I prepare for my first RHS exam in a few weeks. On Thursday evening I attended a zoom lecture by Rosy Hardy of Hardy’s plants. This was excellent. The talk came through Lou Nicholls Patreon channel. There is a good line up of talks coming up. It’s about the same price as the monthly gardening magazines and probably better value. Rosy’s talk covered several perennials with excellent tips, a wealth of experience around the Chelsea chop, growing tips for plants, trouble-free alternatives to several popular choices. It was well worth the monthly price. Mark Lane, Steven Edney, Phil Gilmartin, Harriet Rycroft and more are lined up already. It gives you access to Chelsea winners, university lecturers and authors and the chance to pick their brains on their specialist area.

1. Heuchera ‘Bressingham’ hybrid

These were started from seed a few months ago. I bought two types from Chiltern Seeds. These and greenfinch. I potted them on from the seed tray this week into plugs. I now have about 100 plus. I doubt they’ll all make it to maturity but I should hopefully have enough for my needs. They have evergreen bright green foliage. The flowers come out red, pink and coral and are cut for cut flowers but they are also loved by the bees. I haven’t seen as many of the greenfinches germinate but not abandoning them yet.

2. Digitalis lutea

This is a perennial foxglove I am growing from seed. These have been potted on now into 9cm pots. They should be able to carry on rooting for another month or so and then I should have some strong plants ready for next year. They are shorter than the biennials but I have had issues with the biennials. I had one year I where I think I removed many of the self-seeders and another where slugs accounted for a number. With the perennial varieties, I can plant them where I want and now where they are coming back up.

3. Hylotelephium

The talk with Rosy Hardy reminded me I’d added two new Hylotelephiums to help encourage butterflies. I’ve also wanted some of the dark-leaved varieties since I first saw them in the in-laws garden. Time to mention them so I have the record on the blog of what they are called. These were known as sedum but they had a name change with the spring flowering plants retaining the name sedum while these autumn flowerers gained a new name. This is a short, sprawling one ‘Bertram Anderson’. I have placed at the front of the border to spill over. It’s a bit untidy but I think as it flowers it should be popular and when it puts on fresh growth next year it will fill out and look a bit better.

This is another dark-leaved type, Hylotelephium ‘Vera Jameson’. More like the popular ‘Autumn Joy’ with dark leaves. It is taller than ‘Bertram Anderson’ but that is currently meaning it has flopped over. It would have benefitted from a Chelsea chop but I bought it after the time for that. Rosy Hardy gave an excellent explanation of how to do this in various ways on the Thursday talk. I’ve put it next to the green ‘Autumn Joy’ which you can see in the picture. This has lost a number of its leaves as I don’t think it was in the best health when I got it but it will come back fine next year.

4. Brunera ‘Alexander the Great’

This is just small currently but will fill a nice space with its super foliage. Suitable for shade and the small forget-me-not flowers attract the bees. It has a large Dryopteris fern to one side. They should contrast nicely in terms of texture and foliage shapes.

5. Verbena rigida

This is shorter than the ever popular verbena bonariensis but forms larger clusters of purple flowers. But just like its taller relative, the small tubular flowers are popular with butterflies. I have got a packet of seed kicking around somewhere so may try and grow a few more to spread around. It’s fitting in nicely here with the fuschia.

6. Dahlia tamburo

I believe this is Tamburo. Alice swapped labels last year. I bought the tubers last year as part of a collection of short dahlia for pots. It’s a lovely dark dahlia. It’s one fault is that the flowers tend to come out in the middle of foliage. They often form between stems and then the foliage growth overtakes them. I’m sure this could be resolved with careful pruning but deadheading is enough of a job currently.

I’ve got one more week and then I return to the world of work. There are a few days forecast as dry so I can hopefully get a few garden jobs done so the garden is in the best state before I start work. If you fancy taking part in six on Saturday read the guide.

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