Six on Saturday: 8.10.22

Well, it is most definitely autumn now. The leaves are coming off the trees fast. I find I usually miss out on seeing the leaves change colour in my garden. Being by the sea many of the leaves are blown off before they change colour. It’s been a fairly grey wet week. I’ve not been in the garden much this week beyond a little light weeding but I need to try and get out and start moving a few pots and other bits for autumn.


I still haven’t bought any bulbs for autumn planting but other people around me are obviously feeling the itch. My mum bought me some purple doll tulips. These have a base of green and purple petals. They open to a ruffled flower similar to the dolls minuets I’ve grown before. Then Amy and Alice came back from Tescos with the alliums and Tulip grand perfection. I’m not sure whether these will go in the border or pots but I’ve got time to decide. I usually leave tulip planting until late autumn so they don’t sit rotting in wet autumn weather.

Autumn seed sowing

I am testing some peat-free seed compost I’ve not tried before. I’m using Lemington seed compost. It is made from coir and wood chipings. It seems to have a nice loose structure for seeds growing in. I hadn’t read the coir content before buying otherwise I probably would have left it with coir having the issues of transport taking away from the peat-free eco friendliness.

I’ve sown Larkspur and Hollyhocks from the Halo series. These Hollyhocks are supposedly more rust resistant. They have both germinated well. Growing these from seed in autumn, I’m aiming for a small plant to put in the cold frame for winter and then it gives them a headstart in spring if they survive.

Actea simplex ‘brunette’

I bought this plant after seeing it at Scampston Hall. I liked the contrast of the dark leaves with the white flowers. it grows well in damp shaded spots. It has taken a little while to establish but it is doing well now. It is supposedly a good plant for pollinators. I’ve not noticed much on it but, then, I’ve not been out much.


After posting about Mangaves a few weeks back I got offered another I didn’t have. I’ve now got an extra pineapple express and a snow leopard. The snow leopard is new to me and possibly my favourite of my current mangaves. The contrast of the variegation is great and I can see it standing out in a few combinations.

Aster and Sambucus

The Asters are coming out strong and combining well with the Sambucus. The Aster is a fairly leggy plant through much of summer and I wonder each year whether to remove it. Then it flowers and I remember why it is allowed to remain.

Dahlia single flame

I grew this dahlia from a tuber this year. It has flowered reasonably well though I think the colours are coming out better now in the cooler weather. During the summer they were pretty much pure red. Now they have more of a yellow centre.

We are looking to head to Burton Agnes for the autumn fair this weekend so may end up with some plant purchases. I think it’s more craft stalls, but sure they’ll still have a few plants for sale. I’ve just started reading the new book by Harriet Rycroft on pots, so hoping for some inspiration to rearrange my pots ready for winter.

Plant rescue: Senecio angel wings

I have a new rescue project. I think this one may be beyond help but I’ll give it a good try out of a perverse interest in whether the damage can be undone. I have been given this Senecio angel wings from my local houseplant shop. It isn’t really a plant I think of as a houseplant. I think of it more as a garden plant for sensory gardens and see it in a few gardens around me as it is tolerant of our salt winds. It originates from Patagonian region of Chile. Depending on where you read its hardiness goes from -5 in some sources while others say not below 0. It’s generally seen growing in pots as a result where it can be brought in when cold weather strikes. Senecio angel wings are evergreen perennials that are usually short-lived. It’s a succulent with velveteen leaves. I’d been warned this had been allowed to dry out and then watered, possibly too much so it’s fallen into the common trap with succulents. You end up in a cycle of overwatering, and underwatering leading to a slow death.

I forgot to take a picture of how this started but placed back in the initial pot you can see it was a decent-sized pot. It had been top dressed with wood chips. The soil was probably too moisture retentive. This is a succulent that needs free draining soil. The moisture retentive soil with wood on top trapping more water probably wasn’t a great combination for growing this.

I suspected it was suffering with root rot and just intended to inspect the soil by taking it out of the pot to check the roots. It came away from the pot. It appeared that this probably wasn’t that well rooted when delivered from the nursery. It had a central core of roots going down and then circling the pot but not a decent network going through the pot. The plant came away leaving a short root network. The issues with this possibly go back to the nursery selling a plant before it was properly established but without seeing it earlier on I can’t judge that fairly

I’m not convinced it has enough root left to survive but I’m going to chance it. I’ve potted it up in a mix made for succulents and cacti. This has a higher content of sand and grit to allow the water to drain. As it is succulent it doesn’t need lots of water to survive so the limited root system may not be too much of an issue if I carefully make sure it gets water but doesn’t end up waterlogged. I think it will be hard but it may be able to recover and form a stronger root network.

The potting up process was a bit messy leaving lots of the old compost mix stuck to the furry leaves. Some of the leaves had hardened off, possibly through being allowed to dry out too much before being overwatered or just getting old.

I’ve pruned off a few of the worst leaves to reduce the strain on the root system. Fewer leaves mean less photosynthesis so less need for water.

It’s not looking pretty right now and I don’t think this ones going to be recovering anytime soon, if at all. It will need mollycoddling through winter and then might manage to put on fresh growth in spring. For now I’m going to place it outside on dry days to get some more light and then bring it in on wet days and place near the grow lights. I think it probably needs more light than it was getting as a houseplant. If plants don’t have enough light they don’t use water as quickly for photosynthesis. Online sources suggested 6 hours of sunlight a day but as this more often grows outside I think much more than that to really thrive.

So, having addressed the wet compost mix I’ve got to balance the watering, light and heat now for it to stand a chance. It may not survive but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn about what would make it thrive if I end up with another. I probably wouldn’t grow it as a houseplant I reckon it would favour being outside for most of the year and just in for winter. The velvet leaves are quite nice but Stachys can give me the same effect in the garden without being as particular. Tradescantia sillamonata has a similar feel as a houseplant while being more straightforward to keep alive and propagate me, so I’m not sure this has a purpose in my collection but it’s interesting to know more about it.

Find me on Twitter.

Six on Saturday: dramatic changes

This week has been a busy week in the garden. We’ve talked about making a new seating area for a good while but haven’t we got around to it. With this being the last week of the school holiday I’ve got started before I run out of time. Half the lawn has been lifted to make the seating area. The turf has been bagged and hopefully will rot down over autumn and winter to form some good compost to use as a mulch. The back half of the garden will have the seating and the front half still has Alice’s slide. This is going to compartmentalize the areas and hopefully make them more usable for all the family and give us a spot to sit out for a cuppa.

The arch

To mark the divide, I thought an arch would help really mark the areas. It also helps change the view from the house. Looking from the kitchen the eye is drawn across the garden and down to the gate. The aim here is that the arch breaks up the sightline and draws the eyeliner through the arch. Currently from the kitchen, that gives you a view through to the Hydrangea limelight making for something more likely to draw you out into the garden. I have one spare Clematis Montana for one side of the arch but could do with another to climb the other side.

The seating area

The seating area will have weed matting put down and then we are travelling. It would be nice to have it paved or something more robust but for now, we are going with the cheaper option. Both the table and the arch were reduced at the garden centre as they are clearing ready to transform the garden furniture ready for Christmas. The table is eucalyptus wood and resin. The resin is made with recycled fisherman rope, which feels quite fitting with us being by the coast. Quite a bright choice but it’s Amy’s favourite colour and they are more comfortable than the wooden fold-out ones we had before.

Shaded area

Around the seating area is a mix of foliage plants with the Hydrangea limelight bringing the main colour. This area has more shade than the rest of the garden with the black cherry and lilac on one side. Then the other side has a holly, Ilex golden king. This is still small but after a couple of years of settling, it’s put on a good bit of growth this year. The fences are gradually getting claimed by climbing hydrangeas. So hopefully you will be surrounded by green when sat here. This area has most of Iris foetidissima plants. I am currently in the process of building up towards a National Collection so this will house them in a more attractive and unified border than it was before.

The slide

The slide has been turned around so Alice doesn’t have to slide into the border. I’ve moved some of the turf lifted to repair a few patches. I’ll probably end up seeding the lawn to as it’s had a hard year.

Underneath I have set up Alice’s fairy garden. I thought she’d use the underneath as a den area when we built it but she rarely did. It just ended up being a scruffy patch of grass underneath. We had the fairy garden in a pot previously but this is a bit more accessible. She helped set it all up and has made stories around each landmark already. The frame above provides some rain cover. A bit still gets through but not as much. It gets quite a bit of morning sun and then the frame will shade it for midday before the sun goes around and it will get some more. We’ve planted in a number from pots where they had spread well and needed dividing. It keeps all her fairy bits together and allows me to have a mini rock garden to play with.

Cool border

We are a good few years into starting the garden and some plants have outgrown their spaces and others haven’t performed as expected. I have a better knowledge of where gets more sun and more shade and where wind directs. Some of the planting combinations were working and some weren’t. So, I made the decision to do a big shift around. It’s not the ideal time to do it as it’s a bit too hot still so I am having to water it all in well. We do have a week ahead of rain though which should help. The border to the side of the slide has largely worked but there were a few colour combinations that weren’t working and a few plants receiving too much sun. The Acer has been potted up for now and the candelabra primulas have been moved to more shaded areas around the seating area. The remaining plants were largely shades of blue and purple with a number of white Aster family members. I figured I might as well make this the unifying colour scheme and make this a cool border. There is a tall Symphyotrichum novi-belgii (formally aster) that flowers in late summer. The frothy Erigeron karvinskianus provides little daisy flowers at the front of the border. Next to that is wood asters which are a slightly taller white daisy. The Echinops (globe thistles) have done well this year. They suffered with aphids early on in the year but it hasn’t stopped them flowering well. Behind and out of sight is the Eryngium (Sea holly). I have moved all the Eryngium that was dotted along the border together to see if it can make more of an impact as a group. Hopefully these will all work better together. Many of the flowers made up our wedding flowers so it should work nicely together. A lot of the planting flowers mid to late summer so I’ll maybe need to get a few bulbs into add some spring interest. But as this border is completely obscured from the house by evergreen planting I’m not too concerned if this only has summer interest as there won’t be many people looking at it any other time beyond me.

The hot border

Opposite the cool border I’ve decided we’ll have a hot border. It’s a bit tired at the moment with a lot of the plants finished flowering. The salvias are still going strong and the gladioli are coming into flower one by one. The crocosmia are bringing a little colour but it won’t really be until next year where it comes into its own. The front of the border is largely made up of different short hardy geraniums that flower late spring. Interspaced along the front are several short Iris sibericas that offer a different leaf shape to the geraniums. I’ve placed Salvia hot lips at both ends of the border as this has done well for a long period bringing in lots of bees. I could probably do with a few taller plants mid border. There are a few salvias and monarda. Lupins will come up for early spring but this border still isn’t quite right. More thought needed.

And that’s your six. The patio is getting a tidy too. I’m trying to reduce the pots to a couple of neat displays as it has got too full this year. I’ve got a number of drought-resistant plants for the full sun positions but I need to repot a few things. I think what I’ve worked on this week should make a nicer garden long-term. It’ll be a little while settling in but it should be a more unified garden and a lot of what I’ve moved should be happier in their new positions. I think it will help with the drought tolerance if summers carry on like this year. We are forecast showers for the next week so have to see how much I can get done this week. Come back to see progress next week. Check out the propagator’s blog for how to take part in six on Saturday if you fancy getting involved.

Find me on Twitter.

Six on Saturday: 27.8.22

We’ll get the all-important update out of the way first. We had rain starting with showers at the start of the week and then pretty much a full day of rain on Thursday. Here in the UK, that is all any gardeners are interested in right now. So it seems off that my area is now entering a hose pipe ban when it’s the first time in the last month I haven’t needed to get out and water obsessively. With the wetter weather, I’ve moved a few bits in the border that weren’t quite working. I had little clumps of crocosmia that were looking a bit thin and whispy spread out across the border. I’ve bulked these into one large clump. Then I’ve done the same with the sea holly. I’ve grouped them together to see if they have more impact as a group. With the dry weather, they have been one of my reliable plants this year. This week I’m looking at a few plants that are coping well and a few plants I’m testing for winter hardiness and to make the garden more drought tolerant.


The gladiolus seem to thrive in the heat. They’ve grown up tall and flowered well. They were a cheap purchase a few years ago. I don’t massively like the blousyness of these but they provide late summer colour each year so I didn’t remove all them.


I don’t think I saw this clematis flower last year. It grows around the same area as the Clematis Montana so it may well have been pruned back at the wrong time. So it’s nice to see it return. The Montana has suffered a bit in the heat while the other clematis seem to be enjoying it.

Salvia kisses and wishes

I picked up three of these salvias on a 5 for £11 pound deal. They are small pots so it needed 3 really to make up one decent clump. They’ve been planted in a rough triangle front of the border for now. They are half hardy. I had this one last year and it made it through the winter but got eaten to pieces by slugs. So these will stay in the ground but be given some frost protection. Then I’ll take a few cuttings to keep in case it does suffer from frost or slugs again. The tall dark stems and pink flowers will make a nice contrast against the surrounding hardy geraniums and Erigeron.

Mangave blazing saddles

Mangaves are a cross between Agaves and Manfreda. They go back as far as 2005 though are finding more popularity now. I’m seeing them mentioned more regularly as the mad about Mangave collection has found its way to supermarkets and garden centres. They have developed around 30 cultivars with some wonderful variations in colours and patterns as well as some fabulous wavy leaves. In theory they have gained positive characteristics of their parents. They have fast growth from the Manfreda but grow bigger with the Agave genetics. They retain the drought tolerance of both. They can tolerate full sun though they actually like a little shade. They look spikey but don’t have quite as nasty spines as the agaves. They are reckoned to be hardy down to about -5 but my guess is winter wetness is probably going to be a bigger issue so this has been repotted in a sandy-gritty compost mix to allow it to free drain. Then the pot will be raised on legs through autumn and winter to ensure it drains. This was actually a plant Alice choose a while back after we’d seen the cactus and succulents at Wassand Hall. She saw these in Morrisons and fancied one. I’m willing to give them a try. They are interesting architectural plants and should stay looking interesting over winter so I can keep some form of pot display.

This is one of their smaller more ground-hugging cultivars. I reckon it should do well in a pot where it will contrast to my other spiky plants which are largely shades of lighter green. This one has a nice speckled pattern to it. I’ll be interested to see how it holds up through winter. I quite fancy one of the wavy ones so I may need to try and stop at Morrisons to see if they have any more.

Yukka gloriosa ‘citrus twist’

This is another drought-dolerant purchase for the pots. After Alice chose the Mangave I saw this cheap outside the florists. I thought the brighter yellow and green leaves would make a good contrast to the Mangave while still having the pointed leaves.

It’s a tough plant capable of handling full sun and drought. They can survive frosts down to quite low levels but their appearance will suffer. They originate from Texas so they are used to extremes of weather. Looking up close the leaf has shades of cream and yellow with an inner stripe of almost blue-green.

Opuntia humifusa

Then for the final choice for this week’s six I’m going for a cactus. I decided I would try the ultimate in drought tolerance. Opuntia humifusa is reckoned to be one of the hardiest but also able to survive some winter wet. It originates from Northeastern USA and even grows in Canada. Not necessarily reckoned to be the most attractive Opuntia form but it seems a good place to test out hardiness and what can survive in my conditions. It forms yellow flowers around June and these become the prickly pears which are edible as are the pads if times get hard. I’m planning to leave it out over winter but close to one of the walls to avoid a bit of rain. Too much rain is more likely to cause loss than death by frost.

It’s been a productive week in the garden. I’ve got through several big pruning jobs. The lilac and cherry have been cut back a lot for this year. I’ve pruned a lot of honeysuckle hard back as it’s finished flowering and suffered badly in the heat. The roots are hard to get to for watering as it’s right at the back of a thick border. But I’m fairly confident it will return. I’m hoping to get a bit more down before I go back to work. Hope you all enjoy your weekends.

Cotswold Wildlife Park

After the first trip of our holiday to Kiftsgate, it was Alice’s choice of where to go. She decided on Cotswold Wildlife Park which I was happy with as I wanted to go to. I’ve seen snippets of the garden through Harriet Rycroft on Twitter. As well as having lots of animals to see it has walled gardens with a good reputation.

Cactus and succulent beds

One of the areas I was interested to see was the cactus beds. They have a great collection of cactus and succulents outside.

It’s interesting to see lots of plants we normally see as houseplants growing outside like the spikey Aloe veras.

Aeoniums and opuntias were used a lot through these beds with several opuntias being fully hardy.

It was interesting to see lots of the opuntias fruiting. Some varieties have edible fruit and the pads can be eaten as well but I’m happy to let them keep growing. I’m trying a few outside in my garden and want to test their hardiness over winter.

I’d love to know more about the winter maintenance of this area of the garden. Some of the plants in the bed are hardy but many must need protection from winter wet. They appeared to be in the ground so I’d be interested to know if they are dug out or else protected in place.

A few of the plants being propagated were visible in a service area but could only peer in.

Exotic planting

There is much more to enjoy within the walled garden. Bananas and palms tower over the main planting. Then dahlias were providing much of the colour.

Some of it was growing in walk-in hot houses with the animals. We spotted many birds here but the sloth remained elusive.

We sat and waited and watched but no luck.

We did enjoy some of the more exotic birds in there.

Fabulous frizzy hair styles.

The train

We took the little train around the park. It does charge separately from your park entry fee but was only a few quid.

It takes you on a loop of the park down to the furthest end where the rhinos and giraffes are. You can’t get out but if you have someone who will struggle with the walking it will give them a chance to see around more of the park as it was a decent walk from one end of the park to the other. Particularly in the heat we visited.

The tree ferns around the station were coping well with the heat.


For most people, the animals are the main attraction and there is more than I’m going to show. The prairie dogs were one of Amy’s favourites.

The penguins kept Alice’s attention the best. She occasionally talks about liking a job like being a vet but when she actually has animals in front of her she isn’t massively interested. She did like watching the penguins going in and out of the water.

The tortoise was one of the more accommodating animals for photos.

Though I think the rhinos were one of my favourites. With them being so endangered it is good to know we still have populations being looked after. While it is a far from ideal set up at least it gives the possibility for reintroductions to the wild at some stage. It was hot and dry enough in the heatwave that they were looking right at home. Many of the animals were hiding away in the shade whereas they were a bit more active.

Amy’s macro

It was so hot Amy didn’t stop much to make use of her camera as it was too much effort swapping her lenses but she did get some wonderful photos in one of the cooler exhibits.

While I was marvelling at the fact that they have maidenhair ferns that don’t look miserable. Clearly, I need to build a fake waterfall inside to give them the right conditions.

And they had nepenthes hanging down in here.


The grasslands around the house were looking much like the Savanna many of the animals come from. To get to the animals at the far end of the park we did little shade hops from tree to tree.

The larger grasses and ret hot pokers were amongst the plants doing better in the heat.

But meant we got to see the giraffes a bit better than from the train.

And the camels were being quite sociable coming out to see the visitors.

Alice showed her appreciation of the tree’s shade.

Despite the heat, it was still a great day out. We got to see some amazing animals and I got to see some interesting plants. I’d love to know more about their winter maintenance of the cactus. There is a book on the gardens which I may need to speak out. I’m finishing here but a few more photos below.

Find me on Twitter.

Six on Saturday: 20.8.22 freebies and more

For the first time in a while I’m going to write about my own garden. Our trip to the Cotswolds has inspired me, but there is nothing like the joy of your own garden. If you want to see the first part of our holiday to Kiftsgate Court Gardens check the blog out. I have been fortunate recently to end up with a number of free plants locally that I’m going to be writing about. Then a few successes and a failure.


The first of the freebies was a Drosera, commonly known as sundew. This was an odd plant to see offered for free on the local Facebook group.

These are carnivorous plants and are supposedly one of the easier to look after. I wanted it for the summer room where I figure it might stop the odd pest on the cactus and succulent collection. Currently, it seems to have managed a few pollen beetles that aren’t really any major harm.

My local houseplant shop, Botany Boutique, is now selling plant rescue bags. I bought one previously (previous blog) and did pretty well out of it. The bags contain less than perfect plants that the shop can’t justify selling at full price. By selling them this way the shop avoids a loss and cuts their environmental waste and the buyer potentially gets a good plant if they can nurse it back. Botany Boutique had a bag that had been reserved and then left unclaimed. As I had bought the other she offered it to me for free while I was in buying something else. This included 2 Boston Ferns, a peace lily, Oxalis triangularis, Tradescantia and a parlour palm. I already own each of these except the Boston ferns so had a pretty good idea of what each needed. The parlour palm and peace lily just needed a few browned stems and yellowed leaves cut out and they now look presentable. I cut back the dead growth on the Tradescantia and stuck a few cuttings of one I already owned into the soil to bulk it out. The Oxalis has had a trim and a water. These can grow inside or outside so I’ve left it outside, for now, to get more sun to help it recover. Oxalis triangularis spreads by rhizomes so even if appears that all the top growth has died it’s worth waiting a while to see if new growth comes. By coincidence, I had ordered several self-watering pots to help my maidenhair fern. The maidenhair fern is bad for dropping leaves and browning. The self-watering pots have a reservoir of water at the bottom. A wick runs from the reservoir into the soil to keep the soil moist without waterlogging the plant and causing rot. I potted both of the rescue Boston ferns up in these. We’ll see if it makes any difference. They’d lost quite a lot of fronds and it may be too much of a time investment to get them looking good again. But I’m grateful for a bunch of freebies.


Now for a casualty of the heatwave. Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ has been gradually crisping but with our week away and the heat it is looking worse by the day. Our neighbours did a good job watering the garden but this has been going downhill for a few weeks. I’m going to pot it up and move it to a more shaded place. I should wait until dormancy to move it but it may be too late by then. I have a suspicion this may be past the point of saving. I have planted a tetrapanax nearby that can take over. The tetrapanax is happier with sun and should hopefully thrive there and add to the exotic feel of the garden. As it is, the Acer is one of the few plants that looks to have expired in the heatwave which in comparison with those of you down south I am getting off lightly so far. A hosepipe ban is coming into effect but not until the end of the month. I’m getting by on the water butts currently but we have had a few bursts of rain this week.

Hydrangea limelight

Now for something that is still thriving. Throughout or holiday we have seen hydrangeas looking very miserable but ours are all doing well. The best of the bunch is Hyrangea paniculata ‘limelight. Panculata seem to have a bit more drought tolerance than some of the other hydrangeas. This is in the shaded front garden where we have clay soil. It has still needed watering a good deal but it is worth the time as it makes a great centerpiece to the front garden.


I bought this back in 2020 from the plant bench at Wassand Hall. It has sat not really doing anything since then. I had considered composting it. This year it has rewarded me with three of the pineapple-like flower spikes. The purple edging and inner triangles is quite pretty so it can stay another year.

Japanese anemone honouring jobert

This clump has been in a few years now and is producing a better number of flowers. With any luck these will keep producing through to autumn.

While it has cooled down a lot in my area watering is still the main job to get on with. We have rain forecast for Monday but we’ll see how much actually materialises. Hope you are all coping with your gardens. We have our linen wedding anniversary to celebrate though we have nothing planned to mark the occasion.

Find me on Twitter.

Kiftsgate Court Garden

We have returned from our holiday in the Cotswolds, which is pretty much a paradise for garden visits. I asked Twitter where they recommended and Kiftsgate Court Gardens was suggested. I looked it up and found we got two for one with our Gardeners World card so even better. The garden is the result of three successive female gardeners starting with Heather Muir in the 1920’s. She was aided by Lawrence Johnson of Hidcote Manor. We didn’t make it to Hidcote. Hidcote is arguably one of the most famous of the arts and crafts movement gardens. It is currently under National Trust stewardship and I don’t totally trust the National Trust for several of their environmental stances and the excessive price they charge for visiting their properties. As it was, it has been so hot the last week we have chosen gardens with shade. We may manage Hidcote in future. After Heather, Diany Binny took over and developed the white sunk garden and began to open the garden to the public. Anne Chambers took over and carried on the evolution of the garden with the tennis court becoming a water garden. The staff were very welcoming on entry explaining the layout and they were friendly to Alice. Not every garden we visit is happy to see children.

The banks and pool

We began our visit heading down the winding bank paths. These looked to have been replanted recently with a few areas of hardy geraniums and ferns that haven’t been established yet. It will look nice as it spreads if it can survive the current heatwave. As we got down the planting was more established. The paths wind down to the summer house which has a lovely view across the pool and Cotswolds. Then coming down from the summer house the steps lead to a little pond.

The pool at the bottom has a sunken ha-ha giving you another view out to the rolling hills.

In the heat, all seating was appreciated. If it was cooler we might have stayed down here longer to admire the view but we needed shade.

The lilies were the standout flower all over the garden. While many plants have suffered with the heat these were loving it.

Amy was very determined to get a photo of Alice by the pool with her reflection but Alice quickly lost interest and got fed up of squinting.

The walk back up was hot work with multiple stops on the way. The route took us under the towering Scots pines. Their shade was much appreciated. By the end of this holiday, I have become convinced that these should be planted everywhere as they have saved us from heat exhaustion, again and again, the last week.

I rather liked this statue that you find located part of the way back up. Statues are often placed badly in gardens or they are out of proportion with their surroundings but this fitted beautifully. There was also a stone bench to sit on which was needed for us to stop and drink more water.

Yellow border

The yellow border was more of an orange border currently with crocosmia and lilies dominating the colour.

Though no less beautiful for being orange rather than yellow.

At the end of this border, there were a number of topiary animals creating a mini farm.

And a stone which in my mind has a face.

The water garden

As already mentioned the water garden was previously a tennis court. It has kept the strong straight lines of the court. The dragonflies were skimming the surface enjoying hunting the other insects on the water.

The water pleasantly trickles over the leaves. On a cooler day this would be a nice serene place to stop and wander. But in the heat of our visit we mainly stayed in the shelter.

Luckily to the side there was a much appreciated shelter.

The rose garden

The rose garden was a bit lacking in roses in flower. I assume they are either over or the next flush hasn’t come through yet. Most of the photos I took here were badly over exposed so I don’t have any of the few roses that were looking good.

One end of the rose garden leads back towards the house while the other takes you through to the wild garden and orchard. I really liked how the smaller leaves of the formal yew hedge had been combined with the larger leaves to make the arch.

And a statue seat drawing the eye up the path.

Wild garden and orchard

The wild garden was not full of much activity. Much of the plants had finished flowering and gone to seed ready for next year. There will have been lots of life hidden away amongst the stems but not much moving in the heat.

The orchard had some fine-looking fruit forming. The grass has gone very parched but will still be providing habitats for lots of insects and other life. Many of their old apple trees had died and have been replaced but all looks to be settling in well. Underneath is planted with Camassias and the tulip Jan Reus which are well over now but would make a spring visit worthwhile with the fruit trees blossom.

The avenue

The avenue is made up of a formal seating arrangement with gravel arranged to make the diamond shape.

Then the avenue stretches out, lined by tulip trees, to a sculpture at the end by Pete Moorhouse. Looking at it as a photo the sculpture doesn’t look quite proportioned right to the length of the avenue and the size of the trees.

I can’t say I was that bothered for walking down to see it in the heat but Alice insisted. I’m not interested in formal layouts like this. They leave me feeling a bit cold, combined with the heat I can’t say I liked this area. The water garden was formal but that was all done with a bit more panache. This still feels like a work in progress. It extends the garden but I didn’t feel it fitted with the more intimate feel of the other garden rooms.

Alice on the other hand enjoyed running up and down the banks.

White sunk garden and four squares

By this point, legs were getting tired so we started heading back to the house. We stopped to have a look in the white sunk garden on the way.

There was a lot flowering around this area doing well in the heat. Roses and agapanthus were thriving.

Then the wide border and four squares were filled with lots of colourful beauties.

Then a well-earned ice cream for Alice. We’d given her legs a good workout and nice cake for us in the cafe.

We appreciated the shade and breeze that filtered through the plants around the window after our hot exploration of the garden.

Even in the heat, this was a lovely garden to visit. There were a lot of plants suffering in the heat but the dahlias and lilies were looking fabulous. I particularly like the yellow and wide borders. Lots of perennials looking good. The fern garden I didn’t photograph much but that had a lovely mix of ferns. The banks were a nice stroll down and back up through the pines. Hard work in the heat but well worth it. Sadly I couldn’t make plant purchases as we wouldn’t be able to fit them for the journey home but the selection on offer looked very good. I’d like to return again at another time of year to see it in a different season or at least a few degrees cooler. I would recommend it for a visit though you may struggle if you have mobility issues as the bank is steep and many of the garden rooms are on different levels. It made a good start to our stay in Moreton In Marsh.

Find me on Twitter.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Find me on Twitter.

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.


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.

Find me on Twitter.