Six on a Saturday: 21.9.19 a taste of the exotic

Well, it has been an interesting week in the garden. It was very chilly at the start of the week and it has ended with brilliant sunshine on Friday. My garden is need of a good water today.

1. Aeonium

My aeonium is a long-suffering plant in my garden collection. It was given to me by brother in law as a small cutting. As I lacked space inside it was left out through the Beast from the East. It survived, though with only a small rosette left. Then last year I thought I would give it a better chance and brought it in where it suffered from lack of light. I put grow lights on it but it still wasn’t that happy. It was thriving through the Summer but something seems to have taken a liking to it as some of the leaves have been nibbled. It will be coming back into the shelter in a month or two before the worst of the frosts.

2. Hydrangea runaway bride

I had made the claim that I had reached my hydrangea limit in the garden but these were on offer from Thompson & Morgan. Then our visit to Exbury has only given me more plants on the wish list. I’ve bought two very little runaway bride hydrangeas. It won the Chelsea flower of the year in 2018. Most hydrangeas flower at the end of each branch whereas these produce lacecap flowers along the branches. I’m going to try these in pots on the patio. I’m interested to see how these do. They are only little but as they were bargains I’m willing to wait for a bigger show.

3. Nasturtiums/caterpillars

These nasturtiums featured a month ago. They’ve flowered well and are now being chomped to pieces by cabbage white caterpillars. The combination of verbena flowers above and nasturtiums has been irresistible bringing in many butterflies. I don’t mind though as I’m happy to see the butterflies in large numbers in the garden.

4. Tits

A large number of caterpillars and fennel are bringing in large numbers of tits. I’ve had regular blue and great tits. These are fairly regular visitors anyway but the fennel has brought in large numbers of long-tailed tits.

Then an even rarer visitor has been coming more often, the coal tit.

5. Clematis

I had featured this clematis earlier in the season but I think it’s worth showing again as it is flowering better than ever before. The seed heads are also going over and I love the fluffy silver seed heads.

6. Passionflowers

I’ve been grumbling about my lack of flowers on these plants for the last month. It has put on tons of growth this year and is claiming large sections of the fence but was showing no sign of flowers. Then it put on lots of buds that have then taken a good month to open. They are worth the wait, a stunning flower. Though so far they are opening one at a time. I had dreamt of a spread of many flowers across the fence all open at once but as ever the dream is a long way from reality. Maybe next year.

As well as my existing passion flower I have managed to grow a few from seed that I think are ready to go in the ground now. They apparently take a few years to flower but I’m impressed enough that I’ve managed to get this far up North. I really didn’t think I’d get any going without the headstart of a greenhouse. We’ll see whether they manage to harden off before Winter.

I’ve got quite a bit of school work to get on with today but hopefully find some time to get these in the ground. Then got a few bulbs to get in pots. We’ll have to see whether I manage to get them in. The builders have returned to finish the render. We still have a bit more to go but I’m hopeful I may have my patio back before winter. I’ve got a few evergreen ferns to go in pots to give me some foliage through the winter. If you fancy taking part in Six on Saturday check out the participants guide. Don’t forget to read the other posts.

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Six on Saturday: 14.9.19 return of the rose

It seems to be the season of deadheading. The cosmos, dahlias and sweet peas are still going strong but need plenty of snipping to keep them going. The builders have returned to cap the wall so everything has come off the patio currently so it’s all a bit messy. Hopefully, they will get a move on with finishing the render so I can get pots off the lawn before they destroy it again. Onwards with this week’s six.

1. Bonsai-Golden larch-Pseudolarix

Before Alice was born I had a fairly successful bonsai that I’d kept going a few years. When I went on paternity it suffered and I never got it to recover. I thought it was time to try again. This time going for an outdoor variety. The golden larch isn’t a true larch but has bright yellow leaves before they drop.

2. Heuchera

My mum had bought me two new heucheras a few weeks back now. I decided to clump them near the path a these won’t spread as much as the ferns. They should behave themselves the foliage of lime marmalade contrasts beautifully with the dark forever purple. These are evergreen so they will give me some colour through Winter.

3. Cyclamen

The cyclamen have gone in the front garden. The white flowers standing out in the Northern shade of the house. While I bought them for the flowers I like the foliage of cyclamen too.

4 Geranium oxonianum

This was one of our wedding presents last year. It’s a small geranium but with very pretty small flowers.

5. Further fairies

Alice’s fairy garden efforts have continued with this fairy from Hull Bus Station. The bus station has a pretty decent florist with a good selection of garden and house plants.

6. Rose

This is the second flowering of the yellow rose this year and has become one of my favourites for its colour progression from bright flame buds to buttery flowers.

I’m off out for the day. Going to try and pop into the wildlife photographer of the year exhibit while I’m in Beverley. So I’ll catch up on everyone else’s six on Saturday blog later on.

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Six on Saturday: 7.9.19

Another week goes by and we are starting the slide down into Autumn. The weather is shifting. That said there is still plenty of colour in the garden. Last year I had several seasonal gaps but I seem to have managed better shifts between different flowers ending and starting this year. So onwards with this weeks Six on Saturday.

1. Butterflies

This year has seen a lot of butterflies in the garden. I don’t actually have a mass number of butterfly favourite flowers in the garden. The verbena is always popular but on the whole, I have more for bees so it has been good to see several species new to the garden this year. The small and large whites have been regular visitors but I think I’ve had them in larger numbers this year. I’ve found them one of the worst to photograph though as they don’t stay still so I was happy with these two shots where they’ve settled long enough to focus.


2. Dinosaur garden

Last week Alice worked on her fairy garden. This week she has built up her patio area with a dinosaur garden. She found this dinosaur at the beach. The shards of rock I’ve had laying around for a while and I’ve been intending to use in a succulent planter but they suit this well. The dwarf conifer I’ve had in a pot for a while not really doing much so it’d found a purpose.


3. Bargain Hostas

I walked past a church sale last week of pure tat but they also had some plants for sale at 50p each. So I filled my bags with as many hostas as I could carry.

These are probably going to be used for pots on the patio. I’ve potted a few up along with some I’ve had sat in their plastic pots for a while. From left to right the twisty foliage is dream weaver, then a blue leaved halcyon at the back, fortuneii at the front with the nibbled leaves, one of the church sales at the back, then blue mouse ears at the end. I’m thinking if use these for the patio it will link some of the front and back garden planting with lots of the same plants repeated throughout. I’m considering some bulbs around the pot edges for the start of the year. Maybe dwarf irises or Muscari that will die down as the hostas come back up.


4. Choisya

The choisya is having a second burst of flowers. The yellow rose that grows up out of this is looking like it might manage a second burst as well.


5. Nights drawing in

The nights are starting to draw in earlier. While I may well be glum about the lost time in the garden I’ve found some advantages. Sitting in our little new extension room I’ve found my garden seems to draw in the bats for the early evening. I can sit on the sofa and they are swooping right up to the windows. Wonderful to watch!


6. Dahlia, not Rebecca’s World

I bought this tuber from Thompson and Morgan. It was meant to be Rebecca’s world which is red and white. While Alice switched some labels and I don’t think she did with this one. But even is she did this doesn’t look like any I ordered as I went with almost all dark options. That said it is a stunner. The buds have a rich purple edging before it opens as a large white flower. The purple has gradually faded to pure white.

It looks like I still have a few more weeks of colour coming through but things are definitely on the wane. I’m pretty tired after my first week back at work. I’ve changed year groups at school and getting to grips with new routines. Luckily the little helper has been to hand to keep on top of the watering. Enjoy your weekends.

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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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Summer Holiday: Part 4 Exbury Gardens

I have already discussed the wonders of the gardens in a previous six on Saturday blog but there was plenty I didn’t include so here is a bit more about the day.

When we first arrived we had a short period of time before we got on the steam train so Alice had a quick play in the playground. She is getting more and more adventurous.

She initially wanted help on the rope then told us to stand back.

The train gave us views of the dragonfly ponds and the rock garden which we didn’t manage to walk to.

Alice enjoyed spotting the sculptures.

Walking backwards is great fun.

Constant snacking is vital for taking a three-year-old anywhere.

I talked about the amazing hydrangeas and many of the other plants in the previous blog on Exbury but didn’t give much space to the acers/maples that I was also taken by. It’s a popular garden option that I struggle to grow because of the wind scorch. Over the last few months, I’ve bought a number to try in my own garden. Acer Butterfly is still doing well, but several of the others have suffered a bit. Getting the balance between giving them shelter and being able to see them is tough with my conditions. Here are a few from Exbury.

I heard plenty of birds during the day but didn’t see many through the thick woodland canopy but did see a good number of fluffy robins.

It was a superb garden and I still have plenty more photos I haven’t shown but these hydrangeas are worth revisiting. Hope you’ve enjoyed the extra shots.

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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: 10.8.19-Summer colour

We have gone off for a breakaway this week, so this weeks six has been pre-written. The garden is reaching a zenith of full flowers with many of the finest flowers reaching their peaks. It’s a nice point of the year where I have to choose six rather than struggling to locate six things of any interest. Much of the time I choose plants for long-lasting foliage more than flowers but this week we have six bright choices.

1. Cosmos-double click cranberries

These were grown from seed purchased from Sarah Raven. I grew several varieties moving them inside and outside when it was still chilly. But unfortunately several of the seed trays were flooded by rain and many of the cosmos seedlings died off. These, however, have flourished into a wonderful thick patch.

2. Fuschia-Alice Hoffman

I’m not a big fan of fuschias but this one has proved hardy enough and I like the contrast in the flowers and the dark leaves. I’ve kept it confined to a pot and cut it back each year and it seems happy with this arrangement. It is flowering well.

3. Hydrangea paniculata-Limelight

I’ve featured lots of other peoples hydrangeas but haven’t shown my own off. I planted two of these in the back garden and one in the front garden. These came from Thompson & Morgan. I didn’t expect much from them in their first year but they are looking fabulous. They should only get better as they grow taller. I was worried about how the one in the front garden would do with the sea winds but so long as I keep it watered it should be fine. The combination of a shaded North facing garden and lots of heavy rain this SUmmer has helped it settle in well.

4. Solenostemon/coleus

Coleus changed name this year to Solenostemon but I’m sure it will still be known as coleus for many years to come. I grew a few varieties from seed. These have been used in the ground as filler in the front garden, as house plants, and a few in pots on the patio which had bulbs in before. The foliage comes in a wide variety of bright colours adding to the mix between the hostas and ferns.

5. Peacock butterflies

After the excitement of the influx of painted ladies, the garden has seen lots of peacock butterflies. Just as colourful as this week’s flowers.

6. Dahlia’s Bishops Children

These dahlia flowers have been the results of months of work and I am very happy with them. For people who have followed their progress through this blog and Twitter, you will have seen them grow through lots of stages. It is my first year growing dahlias and I am enjoying the bright bursts of flamboyant colour they offer. These were bought from Sarah Raven as seeds. Almost every seed germinated and I’ve kept most going to end up with just shy of 30 plants. I didn’t expect as high germination rate or to keep them all alive. I’ve passed lots on to friends and family with plenty to go in my own garden. Amy even passed one onto the window cleaner to clear the patio. Some have gone in the border, some in pots.

They flower in a range of colours. So far I’ve had deep pink, red, yellow and orange flowers. The foliage is lovely in itself. Dark, crimson foliage with pointed leaves contrasting well with the hosta fortuneii on the patio. I was concerned about these growing quickly enough up North to flower well. With colder temperatures, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get them outside with time for these to grow enough to flower from seed. But I didn’t need to worry. These have grown spectacularly. I will probably try saving some seed for next year.

The forecast for our week away is lots of light rain so while we might be having a wet time away at least the garden will be looked after. Hopefully, I will return from my break having visited one or two gardens to report on. We are potentially going to Peppa Pig World. Not somewhere you’d think I’d voluntarily go but Paulton’s park also has gardens including Japanese gardens so I might manage ten minutes seeing those. Enjoy your Sundays!

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