Six on Saturday: 31.8.19

It’s almost the end of my Summer holiday and I’ve made good progress with the front garden. The front border is gradually filling up and the plants will fill out over the next year. The back garden has been neglected a bit but the dahlias and zinnias have filled this late Summer period well. I’m gradually building up to having a good level of seasonal interest throughout the year.

1. Gladioli

I’m not that keen on these gladioli and pulled a lot out last year but obviously didn’t get them all. They were bought as a cheap mix. They have reliably flowered each year and come out in the blousiest colours. They do add some late Summer colour which I appreciate, but I’d like more definite stronger colours.

2. Perennial sweet peas

These are next doors but they flop over Alice’s mud kitchen nicely. They come back each year and so long as I keep cutting they’ll keep flowering for a while. I didn’t manage to grow my own this year as we were limited for space for seed trays with the building work going on. These partially make up for it.

3. Fairy Gardens

I got criticised last week for not including my little star, so she’s back. She has been working on her fairy pot displays currently. She is rapidly becoming very girly. Everything has become all about the unicorns or the mermaids. She bought a fairy kit for her birthday a while back now. It came with grass seed which rapidly grew out of control and I have enough grass to cut without mowing the fairies lawn too. So the dying grass has come out to be replaced with sempervivums. I drilled a few holes but I’m not sure it has good enough drainage so we’ll see how it lasts but won’t look worse than the grass.

She then got a new fairy kit this week. She decided she wanted it the brightest pink in the pack. This one came from the Irish Fairy Door company. It’s a nice little kit with the door, paint, felt-tips and colouring book and special key. We only paid £4 for it though whereas it’s £16 online.

Then we glue gunned it to a pot and added stones around the door and she has set it up within a bucket planter. All her found objects have been put in. Acorns, conkers and pine cones. So it may have some odd seedlings in a few months. Then we put a few more sempervivums for flowers dotted around.

We also made it to garden village in Hull this week to see the fairy doors. Alice found her name along the avenue of trees.

And she got a ceramic toadstool to add to her garden.

4.Fern-Dryopteris

Part of my parents garden is being dug out for an extension. They kindly offered it to me. It is quite a beast. At about a metre heigh and similar spread, it took some digging. If I’m doing any more plant removing I need to remember my own tools. Spades are meant to be cutting tools not bludgeoning tools. For future reference here is a video on how to sharpen tools parents. I have been spoiled for nice tools over the last few birthdays and Christmas so have got used to top-notch tools. Though I do appreciate the fern it is looking grand in a shaded spot next to the lilac where little has thrived. I think it is probably some form of Dryopteris and will need well watering in for a while as this isn’t really the ideal time to be moving a plant of this size.

5. Nasturtium

I planted dairy maid last year. These have come up in the same spot but have flowered much brighter orange. So I’m not sure if these are the self-seeded offspring or something different. I did let Alice loose with some of the free magazine seeds that could be sown direct. So these could be the result of her random scattering as I think there were some nasturtiums amongst what I gave her. Next year there will also be poppies in places I haven’t planned. Keeps things interesting and ensures all spaces are filled. These are adding a nice bright burst where I’ve cut the lychnis back so I can see the sedum as it is coming into flower now.

6. Dahlia soulman

This dark beauty came as part of the Sarah Raven short dahlias for pots. I featured the other half last week. The growth has sprawled sideways out of its pot. These were meant to be short and not need staking, but perhaps a short stake might have helped tidy the growth. The flowers are stunning. It’s been one of the last to flower. It doesn’t currently have as many buds as others. but the few flowers I’ve got justify the effort.

It’s been a boiling week in the garden. The first proper week of Summer weather and now back to work. I’ve got a bit of work to do in the back garden. We’ve got two railway sleepers to make a step outside of the sliding doors. I’m not sure how well this will work but it didn’t cost much to get them and they can be used for something else if they don’t work there. Then the edge of the house has a gap of rubble. I was going to see if we can plant sempervivums into these spaces to tidy it up and suppress the weed growth.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekends and get some time to enjoy your gardens.

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Six on Saturday: 17.8.19 Exbury Gardens Hydrangeas galore

We have returned from our holiday down in Dorset having seen some lovely gardens. It’s interesting travelling down South. The difference in climate makes a massive difference to what is grown. Cordylines tower over roundabouts. Camellias look healthy rather than windswept and it feels like everything grows that little neighbourhood taller with pines common across the county. Visiting gardens gives me a chance to see specimens I wouldn’t necessarily see locally.

This weeks six comes from Exbury Gardens which we visited earlier in the week. Exbury is located on the edges of the New Forest. It is owned by the Rothschild family famous for mass wealth made through banking. It is known for its rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias which I imagine were spectacular earlier in the year when the majority will be in flower. It holds two national collections: Tupelo and Oxydendrum. With a small steam railway and 200 acres, it has a lot to offer visitors. I may have gone overboard on the photos but believe me I could post a lot more.

1. Hydrangea paniculata

We enjoyed this spectacular walk, which I think was from the Jubilee Pond. My love of hydrangeas has been discussed a lot recently. This stretch was largely made up of hydrangea paniculatas of different varieties. They were clearly well positioned and well established as they were thriving. One of the great advantages of hydrangeas is the long season of interest and these I’m sure will be looking great for a good while to come.

I spotted this variety great star that was a bit different from any I’ve seen before. I was quite taken with it, but then I was quite taken by the whole row. Earlier today I saw a quote from Vita Sackville-West that seems relevant here.

“In some gardens the hydrangeas were making a great display, but they look their best in large clumps, I think, not as a single specimen for which a small garden has only room; and in any case they always remind me of coloured wigs” Vita Sackville-West

The hydrangea were massive. Here are photos with family for scale.

2. Hydrangea walk

Further round there was a dedicated hydrangea walk made up of lots of varieties but mainly the dome mopheads of macrophylla. In my neighborhood, the soil largely creates pink hydrangeas. It was interesting to see a mix of colours along one walk.

Alice wasn’t so taken with the Hydrangeas. She only allowed us to continue as we’d told her it was the route to ice cream. Though she did enjoy playing hide and seek.

3 Steam train

The little railway gave us a tour of the gardens Alice couldn’t manage on foot so we got glimpses of the rock garden and the dragonfly pond. At Halloween, it transforms into a ghost train and at Christmas offers Santa Steam Specials which sounds great fun. Alice enjoyed the train ride even though it wasn’t her favourite colour red.

4. Ferns

The sheltered conditions of the dense woodland and sheltered slopes combined with the milder Southern climate gives ideal tree fern conditions. I have given up on my tiny little specimen. It’s either been too cold or too dry and it’s going to be years to form a trunk.

5. Rhododendron

While the majority of the rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, the gardens are famous for, are past their best there were odd flashes of colour. Alice liked this vibrant red.

6. Ice cream

Alice eventually got her promised reward. She enjoyed it lots. She did well walking good distances. She almost got ice cream for dogs before I realised what I’d got. There were a lot of options for dogs around the area with many of the pubs and restaurants we visited offering snacks and drinks for dogs. Quite a dog-friendly part of the world. Unusually Alice went for strawberry ice cream rather than her usual chocolate but she enjoyed it lots.

We barely covered a fraction of what Exbury has to offer but was more than satisfied with our day out. I could happily visit again at a different time of year or even the same season as there was so much ground we didn’t cover. If I lived close I’d be buying a pass.
We’ve had a great time away and I’ll be posting more about our trips out over the next few days. Check out other sixes through the propagator’s blog.

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Six on Saturday: 6.7.19-Murder in the garden

After last weeks Agatha Christie-themed six, we return to normal service, though Alice has committed a number of garden crimes this week. The weather has been good allowing lots of the plants to romp away. The consensus on the mystery plant was pericaria. I’ll have to see what happens as it continues to flower.
1. Murder in the garden

A few weeks ago Alice helped prune the dwarf Korean lilac bush with her scissors. The problem is now she wants to cut everything down. In a lapse of attention from Amy, Alice took her scissors to the hydrangea. Luckily she can’t reach too far so it’s mainly lost blooms towards the bottom.

Butter wouldn’t melt.


2. Dahlia progress

She then went onto commit a second garden crime pulling and snapping off one of the dahlia seedlings. Luckily it was one of the varieties I’ve grown from seed and I have around 20 on the go. She wanted to plant the part she’d pulled out, so we now have lots of dahlia cuttings on the go. I don’t know that they’ll have time to grow to any height but it kept her busy while I potted some more of the dahlias.

I’ve potted on about 20 of my little Bishops children seedlings. They are getting to reasonable heights now and the sun should bring them on a lot.

And two of the tuber grown dahlias have gone in the ground now, complete with snail beer traps. We even have a few buds.


3. Nemaslug

In order to try and protect the dahlias and the hostas that have gone in the front garden, I’m trying nemaslug. Nemaslug is a biological control using microscopic worms that prey on the slugs. It is supposed to be harmless to other wildlife, unlike pellets. I haven’t used any controls for about 4 years beyond beer traps and barriers but as I have planted so many slug favourites I thought I’d try this so the hostas can make it through their first year. It comes as a powdery mix that you dilute in water and then use diluted again in your watering can.


4. Watering

The ground needs to be wet for nemaslugs to work so I’ve needed to wet the ground in the heat. I’ve not been using the hose recently. I’ve been managing purely from the water butt. But I want the nemaslug to be effective so I set Alice loose with the hose. It might mean the watering is a bit sporadic. The hydrangeas and the slide got more water than other areas but everything, including Alice, was definitely wet.


5. Lily Martagon-pink morning

I planted these in pots last December. These have been the first of my lilies to flower. They were stuck in a shaded corner while the building work went on. This has led to them growing at a bad slant towards the light but the flowers are still stunning.


6. Poppy

The first poppy has come through. I think this is self-seeded from last year as the two I spread this year were red and pink. These are a stunning colour. Last year the wind came through just as they opened and I only got to enjoy each for a day. But it’s been a bit calmer this year.

It’s getting hard to choose six each week now with so much to do and so much going on. If you want to see more of what is going on check the Propagator’s latest blog to read more peoples sixes. I’m going to be trying to do some weeding and clear a few of the spent Spring flowers ready for dahlias going in the ground.

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30 Days Wild: Idea 24-nighttime stroll

Getting outside in the dark for a wild hunt can be interesting. Even walking or sitting out in a familiar space such as your garden can reveal different visitors to the daytime.

The back of my garden has a path and behind ours is a mass of ivy and brambles. During the nighttime, this becomes alive with moths with this being a perfect combination for them.

Every so often we are lucky enough to get bats and hedgehogs visiting. The mere nearby by does offer evenings for bat watches. Bat conservation trust has a list of local groups for if you fancy getting out and seeing more. The Barn owl trust may be able to give you more information

IMAG0047

For younger children, the National Trust has a nighttime adventure book. Many of the ideas are obvious but still a nice bunch of ideas. It’s about to be re-released in a new edition. I’m not sure if it has changed or just a new cover.

30 Days Wild: Idea 23-Eat outside

Well, the 30 Days app suggested eating outside so let’s examine why eating outside is good for you. It has been suggested that eating outside can make the food taste better, concentration improves, eating in the sunlight can improve vitamin D and increase your immune system. I don’t know how much truth there is any of this but eating outside certainly feels like an event. Whether it’s a BBQ or a picnic these are events that can be remembered for a long time. It creates a chance for bonding as a family or just a break on yourself.

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30 Days Wild: Idea 22-Get closer to the grass

Previous years I’ve walked barefoot on the grass but as Alice doesn’t like going barefoot very much we’ve just looked today at getting closer to the ground. While she might not like going barefoot she is quite happy rolling it and sniffing it.

Grass has many potential benefits. It can improve air quality by capturing carbon and it acts as a pollution filter. Areas of grass stay cooler than many hard surfaces. Then there are the mental benefits of green spaces. Green spaces can lower blood pressure and help mental well-being. Well worth celebrating and getting a bit closer with to connect with.

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30 Days of Wild: Idea 16-Download the app

So we are halfway through 30 days if you’re short of ideas you could try and download the 30 days app. I downloaded the app today in seconds. It then gives you a suggestion of something to do. f you don’t like it you can select again. It then gives options to share what you’ve done by taking a photo or sharing on social media.

Today it gave me this idea.

A quick trip out into the front garden I discovered a fern growing up the cracks in the brick wall. I think it’s some form of Asplenium it is slowly colonising the cracks. We are looking to rebuild the wall so I may have to try and transplant this to another spot.

The top of the wall has patches of moss. If you stop and take the time to observe moss it is rather interesting with a soft carpet of green and red spikes coming out.

Very quick task but satisfying achieving.

A lot of people expressed concern about the seagull chick in my garden featured on yesterday Six on Saturday. It has moved around to the back garden where it has found a number of spots it can hide from the rain. I’ve seen the neighbours cats in at the same time and so far it isn’t bothering the chick. It has found one of the apples I put out for the blackbirds and seems happy tucking into this for breakfast.

Enjoy your Sundays. The weather is looking a bit better and might be able to get outside a bit more.

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