Six on Saturday: 30.7.22 parent’s garden

Last weekend, we stopped in at my parents on the way to a kid’s party. My parent’s garden was looking lovely in the sun so thought I’d share a few pictures today.

Butterflies

It was nice to see a few different butterflies to the ones that visit my garden. I’ve seen lots of whites and a few speckled woods. My parent’s garden is seeing lots of gatekeepers and a few commas. It’s the Big Butterfly Count time of year so we’ll be doing our part for citizen science over the next few weeks.

Pot displays

My mum uses more tender perennials than I have patience for. I plant for pots to last and don’t like the environmental impact of temporary displays. Saying that many of her pelargoniums came through the winter with no coddling. Her pot displays are looking very pretty though. She has ended up with a bit of influence from me with the sempervivum making an appearance. I like these little succulents for low maintenance pot displays. This pot display is close to the house and gets sun most of the day.

Then this pot display is down at the bottom near their summer house is shaded part of the day.

Zinnias

I’ve already shown the zinnias in the last two choices but they are worth talking about. These were grown from seed free with gardeners world magazine. They are providing some lovely bursts of bright colour and the insects are loving them.

Agapanthus

The first of the agapanthus are coming out. So far it is just the blue ones but they have Twister and some darker ones to come over the next few months.

Alstromeria Indian summer

These were a Christmas present my mum requested a few years back. Not the easiest plant to get hold of in the middle of winter so it was a delayed present. It’s a lovely form of astromeria showing up nicely in the shade of the cherry tree.

Passionflowers

My parents passionflowers usually do well. They are growing up a brick wall with heat of the house behind. As summer goes on the bees swarm over. This white one is probably Constance Elliot which is one of the hardier options out there.

The gardeners

And last of all my parents enjoying some time with Alice.

Dinosaur Terrarium

It’s been a good while since I made a terrarium and I’ve found several good containers to make ones in. The last one I made was an open terrarium that lasted a good few years before the fittonia outgrew it and it started looking messy. The point of a terrarium is to help grow plants that need higher humidity. Unfortunately what you mostly see sold are succulents encased in glass. Succulents are adapted to dryer conditions and the higher humidity of a terrarium will slowly rot the plant. The plants that are suited terrariums are ones which want high humidity and are slow growing. A lot of plants that come from the rainforest understory are used. These would naturally grow in the damp undergrowth which will be similar to the conditions of a terrarium in our houses. A really well-made sealed terrarium can be left for long periods without much maintenance making them an attractive choice for the home or work.

I had a lot of the ingredients for making a terrarium in and bought in a few others. Today’s terrarium used:

  • Glass container
  • Leca (Lightweight expanded clay aggregate)
  • Spagnum moss
  • Potting mix
  • Moss
  • Plant (fittonia)
  • Decorative items

Alice helped make the first closed terrarium. We started with the drainage layer. I used Leca for this one. This acts as a reservoir for water so the roots don’t sit in water. Leca makes for a good choice as it’s lightweight and holds the water and releases it up as needed. Gravel or stones can be used but are heavier. Glass pebbles can be used for a more decorative choice.

Next, we used sphagnum moss to act as a barrier between the drainage and the potting mix. Some people use activated charcoal as it is believed that it helps filter toxins and impurities. We misted it down at this point to help squash it down before adding the potting mix.

The potting mix went on top of the sphagnum moss as the growing medium for the plants. I had bought a fittonia for the main plant for this terrarium from a new local houseplant shop, Botany Boutique. The shop seems to be doing well and I hope it continues to as it’s nice to have somewhere close to buy interesting choices from. The fittonia will eventually outgrow the space and then I can either restart it or cut and replace with cuttings. The moss is a carpet moss I bought from Etsy. I have used moss from the garden before and it has been alright in the spare room as we don’t heat it. But in most situations, our native moss will dry out too quick inside which is why I’ve bought actual terrarium moss. Alice chose a few rocks, the Trex and a polished ammonite for decoration. She was very proud of the end result.

Open terrarium

Then we made a second larger terrarium in an open gold fish bowl I’d bought cheap from a charity shop. I’m keeping my eye out for a glass plate or acrylic disc so I can make it a closed environment. While it’s open it will need more watering whereas if I can close it it will increase the humidity for the plants.

I used the remaining fittonia from the first and I was able to split it again to use for two sections. I had a little bit of carpet moss that I arranged around the fittonias and made a path between the two. Then grit was used to cover the bare soil.

I think it looks pretty good. Now we have to work on getting the moisture levels right in both. The nerves of this fittonia are great vibrant ones.

And a dinosaur prowling for good measure. I’ve made this one for work where it’s probably going to be in a room with fairly low light so I will probably be supplementing the light with a grow light.

I would like to develop a better knowledge of terrarium plants. There are better choices than fittonias that will stay small for longer but these should give me a year or so by which point I’ll probably want a different display at work anyway. A lot of the fun is in the construction. It makes for a pleasant craft activity.

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Six on Saturday: 16.7.22

With the heatwave, last weekend watering has been the main job. I’ve not been looking at planting anything in the heat we experienced. I did a little deadheading but got quite a few shrubs in need of a prune now they’ve flowered. A job for the summer holiday probably.

Asiatic lily

This was part of mixed box of bulbs from Tesco’s labelled as something like hot colours. I quite like the muted red. There are a few more to come. I’ve got them growing in a pot on the patio currently.

Potentilla ‘William Rollison’

This was a purchase Alice made back in 2020. I wasn’t that keen on it at the time but it seems to be a reliable plant. Fairly drought tolerant which is useful currently and producing a reasonable spread of flowers.

Outside play

It was too hot for many gardening jobs but it was good weather for getting out for a play. We filled the paddling pool up. I reckon it probably took about as long to play as she actually spent in it but it did give a good section of lawn and border a water after. She enjoyed doing a bit of birdwatching.

Eyngium planum

With the heat, we are experiencing these drought-tolerant plants are coming into their own. Sea holly does grow naturally on coasts but it is primarily a grassland species. In the border, it grows tall towers and then lots of the flower spikes off the main stem. It formed part of our wedding flowers along with daisies and I’ve been steadily adding more since we got married. It’s beloved by insects and the flowers are seeing lots of visitors.

Dahlia

Another dahlia in flower. It’s possibly Addison June, though possibly not. It was left in the pot over winter. No lifting and nice and bushy. Plenty more flowers to come.

Hildewintera Colademononis-Monkey tail cactus

I saw a decent-sized one at Wassand Hall and I was very taken with it. They form long tails over the edge of a pot. Well suited to macrame hangers. But more importantly, they are very tactile. This is a cactus you can stroke making it a much safer option for me than some of the recent cactus purchases.

We had some light showers last night. It will help the parched lawn a bit as I refuse to water it. It will recover fine. It looks like watering is still going to be the main garden job with the predicted heatwave. Hope you all enjoy your weekends.

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Wassand Hall

It’s been a good while since I wrote a blog but this week I finished my last RHS exams. Hopefully, I passed and won’t need to resit. The first exam covered fruit and veg which isn’t my strongest knowledge area but it didn’t feel too bad. The second is on protected environments. They had changed the exam from any of the previous past papers. You usually have a good few questions where you write profiles of particular houseplants. There weren’t any of these questions but a lot more of growing veg in protected structures. A bit disappointed as I know houseplants better but so it goes. Now I’ve got the exams out the way I can get back to actually focussing on my own garden so expect a few updates.

Yesterday I made it out with Alice to Wassand Hall. It’s our closest country house and garden open to the public and we’ve visited it plenty of times before so I’m not going to go into lots of detail about the gardens in this blog. Check the previous blogs for more information. After a few weekends of revision, it was good to get out and to get Alice outside into nature.

Meadows

We began with a walk around the meadow land that surrounds the house. The grassland was filled with butterflies and damselflies. Countless speckled browns and meadow browns and a few more colourful butterflies on the wing. I’ve spotted the deer quite a few times while I’ve been out on my own but no sign today. We did see a good few orchids though.

Alice walked much further than I thought she would, enjoying everything we saw. This area is such a valuable habitat for so much wildlife I’m glad we have it on our doorstep. I’m glad it’s managed as it is creating a variety of niches for different wildlife.

Walled garden

After a snack refuel we headed into the walled gardens. The walled garden is roughly split into four beds with a tropical corner, a more cottage garden feel, a shaded corner and a more mixed one. Alice loves a water feature. Whenever we visit the garden centre she loves spending her time on the water fountain aisle. She spent a good while watching the fish in the central pond.

The tropical corner is probably my favourite area. The large foliage plants mixed with spectacular lilies and dahlias are just so lush to be irresistible.

With the heat, an ice cream break was needed.

Hot house

After cooling off with ice cream we headed into the hot house. Every time we visit I am very envious of the hothouse. They have a fabulous collection of plants growing in there at sizes I could never achieve without the heat and humidity they can create in here. As the last exam was on protected environments it was good to see it all in action.

Alice loved walking through the mist of the humidifier which with the heat outside was quite refreshing. I don’t think Amy will allow me to do this with the summer room though sadly.

Fabulous gloriosa.

Mandevilla growing from a large pot.

The carnivorous pitcher, sarracenia guards the door against insects.

And a few more carnivorous nepenthes protecting the greenhouse from pests.

Back to the outside world Alice was attracted to the rill. As I said she is fascinated by the water features.

Woodland Walk

I thought Alice would have had enough of walking by this point but she was determined to do the woodland walk. It takes you in a circle around the woodland surrounding the walled garden. Along the way you look for animals doors and record the colour on a sheet.

It takes you to the stumpery, which any long term readers will know I like a lot. The mix of ferns and gunnery and wonderful foliage plants makes for a wonderfully calm environment.

I’m glad Alice still enjoys doing activities as basic as these trails. It’s valuable time together and she still found such pleasure in finding each door. At the end, we returned the clipboard to the cafe for a reward of a bag of sweets.

Cactus house

To the side of the cafe is a long thin glass-ceilinged room with the cactus and succulents collection. A stark contrast to the hot house. From warm and humid to super dry. Cactus and succulents are fascinating if strange-looking things. My A-level biology teacher had a love of them and had them dotted around the lab. At least I assume she loved them from the quantity. I also have a suspicion that they were out so the more annoying students would end up touching when they decided to give the furry-looking ones a stroke. She did have a bit of a sadistic sense of humour, though a very good teacher. For adaptations, there are few plants as interesting botanically.

While I’m sure most readers understand the cactus and succulent distinction a few might not. Succulents are defined as plants with water-storing adaptations such as fleshy leaves or fleshy trunks. While cacti are succulents with leaves that have adapted to become spines or scales to suit desert conditions.

While it is only the one stretch of plants there is an amazing variety of plants that have adapted differently for dry conditions. The spines forming micro climates to conserve water and protect the plant from anything that might eat it.

While the succulents have fleshy leaves for water storage in all manners of configurations.

I think this little one was one of my favourites, Mammillaria gracillis. I like how the spines are adapted to flatten over the cactus stems to make a web.

Plant sales

OK, I’ll be honest this was one of the main reasons we came out. I was looking to take Alice out for a nice day but no reason that couldn’t cross over with me seeing some interesting plant stalls. There were a few local nurseries there with a mix of perennials and bedding plants. Long Riston plants are very reasonably priced. The Hardy Plant Society were there with a good selection of perennials. But as we visited the local open gardens a few weeks back I already have a good pile of plants needing planting so I resisted these. I couldn’t resist the Hull branch of the British Cactus and Succulents society stand.

I think they have involvement with the display at Wassand and they had brought out a great selection for the display table.

Alice likes the ones which look like they are covered in wool as mum likes to needle felt and she felt it looked like the wool she uses.

Best of all, all of the pots were £1 each regardless of size and rarity value meaning we could pick many just based on what we liked. We both picked a good few. Then a picked up a not-so-mini tetrapanax. This is capable of becoming a large-leaved tropical-looking tree. In milder areas, they can remain evergreen. I expect mine to be deciduous dying to the ground in winter. Accounts online differ in how it copes with the wind. But I have seen a good few accounts saying it can manage with sea salt winds so I’m going to risk it. If it works out it will make for an impressive specimen within the front garden jungle.

Glad I managed to find my favourite cactus from the cactus house. I can see how people become obsessed with collecting and growing these wonderful plants. Their small nature means anyone can fit a good few. The great variety makes them very interesting. I’m tempted to join the society as they look to have a good number of online lectures each month making it easy for me to fit it around Alice. Then they meet once a month close enough for me to get to. If they ever have a press office job going I’d leap at that for the amount of bad puns that can be made. “They’re a bit of a prickly bunch with dry sense of humours.”

It was a great day out and wonderful seeing Alice taking such enjoyment from the wildlife in the meadow, to the plants in the garden, to the woodland trail, to simple pleasures such as watching the water. Despite dragging her around for over 16,000 steps, during the whole day out the only whine was when I said it was time to go.

Six on Saturday: A garden in decline

The garden is gradually sliding towards winter. The hostas are bright yellow before they turn to mush. The Acer is looking spectacular this year. There are still a good few flowers blooming but gradually reducing in number.

The view from above

The lawn is gradually needing less mowing. Probably one or two more to go to leave it tidy for winter if I get a dry enough day to walk about on it. But I haven’t had many of those recently.

From the ground

The garden is just about holding together. The hydrangea are slowly fading, though the limelight at the back still have some bright blooms. The acer is fiery currently.

The Acer

I know I featured it a few weeks ago but it is looking so good. Normally the leaves are blown off before they change so I’m taking a lot of pleasure in the colour this year.

The front garden

The front garden is full of yellowing hostas. They will remain like this briefly before going to mush. Then I can clear them and the evergreen structure of ferns and heuchera will keep the garden looking good until the spring bulbs come through.

Sea holly

One of the sea hollies planted on late in the year has produced a few blooms. I’m still seeing a few pollinators hovering around on warmer days so good to have a few flowers still helping them.

Dahlia

There are still a good few dahlias providing colour which is much appreciated as it gets darker.

Thank you for reading. Hope you all have super weekends.

Six on Saturday: house plants

We have had Alice stuck at home isolating with Covid. She hasn’t suffered too badly but we didn’t want her infecting anyone else. That combined with the weather has meant I haven’t really been out in the garden. So this week is going to be a quick look at a few houseplants. Alice is quite enjoying being at home. I’ve stayed off with her part the time and mum the other half. We’ve kept up home learning like we did during lockdown to keep routine and avoid boredom. She’s writing and reading a lot more from the focussed time so probably done her good being off with us.

Opuntia Rubescens

Also known as the roadkill cactus from its flat shape. I bought this as my reward for the last RHS exam. It is replacing several small succulents on the kitchen windowsill. It has got to a bit cluttered so I decided I’d rather have fewer large plants. It’s got a good sunny windowsill where it can be left and only occasionally watered.

Ceropegia woodii

String of hearts is a trailing plant that I’ve propagated several times since I got it a few years ago It roots in water then I pot it on. It trails down from the corner shelf in the back room. Every so often it needs a hair cut as it reaches the ground. It needs watering about once a week in summer and less so in winter so it’s pretty minimal effort.

Tradescantia pallida

This was a 99p Morrisons purchase. I potted it on after purchasing and it has spread out well since then. I like the variegated leaves and the colours.

Kentia palm

This is looking a bit sorry for itself. I think this was partly underwatering and partly too low light.

It’s been repositioned to try and put some life back into it.

Pilea peperomiodes

The Chinese money plant is a popular one currently and produces lots of offsets for potting on to pass onto other people.

Aspidistra

I have a few aspidistras in the house and in the garden. The garden one has been badly attacked by slugs and snails this year. I could do with taking a clump out and growing it on inside. Aspidistras are generally regarded as dull as they don’t really do anything but I quite like having a decent sized houseplant that doesn’t require much care. It handles low light, minimal water. It can handle neglect.

It’s half term now and between Ofsted inspections and balancing home learning with Alice I’m ready for a little time off. It’s been a good half term with my class but I’d like to catch up on some garden jobs now. Hope you all enjoy your weekends and don’t forget to check the founder of six on Saturday’s blog to see more blogs.

Six on Saturday: 9.10.21 bulbs

Well I sat my RHS exam on propagation. I was quite anxious beforehand but I think it went alright. I’m fairly confident I passed and we’ll have to see in December whether I managed the higher level of commendation. This week has been busy with the exam and then catching up on work after all my revision so this week’s is looking at the bulb purchases that have been building up.

Tulip grand perfection

Despite what this week’s blog contains I am not massively bothered by tulips. But they fill a gap between the early spring bulbs and the summer garden so I do usually plant a few. These tulips look like they should be a nice striking one paired with the existing queen of the nights. Though they inevitably won’t flower together throwing off the plan.

Queen of the nights

I already have queen of the night tulips in the ground but they gradually fade in our clay soil. Shrinking, rotting and getting dug up by mistake so it’s always good to top them up.

Giant allium

I’ve had a few taller alliums in the border this year with the Allium forelocks towering over the border and it has been quite good having alliums where I can shoot upwards when taking photos of the bees. They look a bit odd sticking out the border but the bees like them.

Tulips little beauty

These were Alice’s choice. She usually ends up picking red riding hood tulips with the striped foilage but she was taken by the colour of these. They are little short 10cm tulips so I’m not quite sure where we’ll put these so they show. They might need to be in a pot.

Iris danfordiae

I like irises in general but my early spring Iris reticulata pots are largely blue or purple. I saw these and thought it would make a bit of a change. Yellow is a welcome sight in spring standing out well in the darker months.

Tulip canasta

I usually pick a bag of tulips that are different from the more commonly cultivated ones. This has led to some beautiful forms and some fairly rubbish parrot tulips that didn’t hold their form well. These are a fringed tulip that I think will be quite striking.

Hopefully get back to featuring the garden properly next week. I’m working an extra shift at nursery next week so may not find anytime to plant these next week but it’s half term soon so should be able to get them in the ground soon.

Six on Saturday: 25.9.21

It’s been a busy week at work with lots to prepare so I haen’t managed much in the garden this week but a few jobs we’re achieved last Saturday. Then on Sunday we had a downpour in the afternoon that was flooding the roads. Luckily it didn’t rain Monday so it all had a chance to drain away so no damage done. Just a few floppy plants.

Potting on

One of the main jobs I achieved on the Saturday was potting on the foxgloves and the Primula candelabras. I will have more Primula vialii to do in a few weeks. But this was a good job off the list. They’ll be losses along the way but I’ve got a good few growing well currently.

Tesco rescue

This was a rescue plant from Tesco’s a month ago. It looked sorry for itself but I was confident it would recover fine and it has. Plenty of flowers over it.

Acanthus mollis ‘whitewater’

Alice wanted to go to The Works for craft supplies which happens to be in the garden centre. I spotted this Acanthus and I couldn’t resist the foliage. The flowers don’t look to be as nice as the contrasting flowers on the wild form. I need to think where to place it as once placed it will carry on regrowing from small root sections if I dig it up again.

Tricyrtis formosana ‘pink freckles’

And I also saw this. I’ve seen this plant on a few other six on Saturday blogs in previous years and I’ve always liked it. It’s a small delicate looking thing for deep shade.

Harvest moon

I haven’t made it in the garden much this week but did pop out at night to admire the harvest moon.

Aster

This aster is a tall leggy thing that suffers from powdery mildew. It needs plants infront of it to cover the fairly unnatractive stems. But for a couple of weeks each year it brings in the butterflies and provides colour as other plants fade. This year it hass attracted lots of comma butterflies which is an absolute joy as I hadn’t seen as many since a new housing estate was built destroying lots of nettles and brambles.

I’m going to be preparing for the next RHS exam so be busy this weekend reading up on propagation. Enjoy your weekends.

Six on Saturday: 18.9.21

It’s been a busy, but good week at work. This hasn’t left much time for gardening but there is still a lot looking good in my garden as we move into autumn. I’m hoping to get wood ordered for work this week to build some new raised beds. Then that project will keep me busy for a while.

  1. Geranium oxonianum lace time

This geranium is one of my favourites. It has flowered from spring to now and it will keep going. The delicate veining is lovely. They are tiny but worth pausing to admire. They spread but not as rapidly as wargrave pink.

2. Lupin

I grew these lupins from seed the year before last. They flowered earlier in the year but they suffered with aphids. I cut them back and the second flowering is coming through much stronger.

3. Heuchera planter

A local gardener has been selling plants to raise money for Marie Curie. She has made up lots of pots of mixed heuchera. With 4 or 5 heucheras in each pot, these were amazing bargains at £8.50. I hope she has managed to raise lots for charity as this is to make up for no local open gardens this year.

4 Primula germination

I have gone all out on primulas this year. I’ve started off lots of varieties from seed now and then they should be able to be potted on and be up to a decent stage next year. We have Primula candelabra, vialii, Miller’s Crimson, pulverulenta, and florindae. They have all germinated to some level. I got a lot of the seed from Furzey Gardens so it will be a nice souvenir if they make it full size.

5. Dragonfly close up

The dragonflies have been resting on the clematis and I managed to get out with the macro lens to get a few shots.

6. Dahlia tamburo

I’ve grown this dahlia for a few years. I love the flowers but the first few always seem to flower low down in between other stems.

The weather is hopefully going to be nice this weekend so with any luck I’ll get a few garden jobs done. I hope you all enjoy your weekends. I need to up my revision level for my next RHS exams but it’s propagation which isn’t too bad a topic.

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Six on Saturday: 4.9.21 In-laws garden

Well this has been a good week for my gardening and horticultural interests. I recieved my RHS exam results and I passed the two units I took back in June, recieving a commendation for the soil unit. So, that’s all good. Then we’ve been away to the in-laws who have a lovely garden to enjoy. We even managed a garden visit to Burton Agnes on the way back which was nice to see. I’ve been for the snowdrops and for Halloween but never made it in Summer. I’ve finished my current RHS assignment on plant choice. I just need to write the plant profiles that go with each assignment. My next exam is on propagation so I figure I’ll be taking lots of cuttings to secure the knowledge. If you missed it, I wrote about heuchera yesterday including the propagation methods suitable for them. This week’s six is coming from the in-laws garden.

The apples

They have apples grown in a few different ways, including cordons along the path. But the shed apples were the stand out apples. They set the bar for red apples standing out beautifully along the back of the border.

Roses

There were lots of roses looking great, too many for one blog, so I am just posting a few of my favourites.

Anemones

The anemones grow in a few patches around the garden but they really do come into their own this time of year. Masses of flowers over a good period. One of my favourites but they’ve not grown that well for me. My own white one in the front garden is still quite small and the back garden ones haven’t looked too healthy this year so I am keeping an eye on them.

Birds

The garden sees a good variety of birds visiting. I saw green, bull and goldfinches and multiple tit species while watching the feeders. But I did also spy this sparrowhawk eyeing up the buffet table.

Dahlias

I grew a mass of dahlias in 2019 and I gave a lot away. Two ended up in the in-laws and they are still thriving.

Alice

And last but by no means least, Alice had a good run around in the garden. They have a good bit of space to explore and the garden is divided with gates and fences and island beds, steps up to different levels. So there is lots to enjoy for a little child. She requested her usual photo on the hand chair.

And having a good run about on the lawn.

I’m back to work on Monday after the school holiday so hopefully get a few bits tidied up tomorrow. The garden is holding together alright but I’m preapring for moving a few bits around in the border as we go into autumn. Hope you all have good weekends and don’t forget to check the founder of six on Saturdays blog to see more posts.

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