Six on a Saturday-7.7.18

A further week of brilliant sunshine is leaving the lawn a bit parched, but seems to be doing better than surrounding gardens. I think my garden has a bit more shade for more of the day than neighbours.

1. Sempervivum

This red house leek has flowered this year. The small flowers stretch out from the main plant. This will then die off after flowering. Luckily the runners are established in other pots to replace it.

2. Nasturtium-dairy maid

These were grown from free seeds with a magazine. They’ve been well chewed, but a pleasant space filler. The pale yellow flowers are a nice contrast to the pink rose behind.

3. Lady’s mantle

I think this is lady’s mantle. My mum thinks she planted it, but it grows all over the area so may be self seeded. It offers foliage around the lavender and then small pale green, almost yellow flowers.

4. Peace lily

One from inside. This Peace Lily’s roots were completely pot bound having circled the pot several times. Its phototrophic growth had led to it growing hunched over on one side. I’ve potted it on and cut back to get it straighter again. Hopefully grow back again better for it.

5. A lick of paint

I’ve given the bench a lick of paint. A clean, a sanding, and a fresh coat of paint has done it a world of good.

6. Silver Y moth

The last week has seen a mass invasion of these moths. Apparently every few years there is an influx of these moths. The caterpillars live of nettles, which grow behind our garden. They are particular a feature on the East Coast where we live during these influxes.

Hope you enjoy your afternoons whether out in the gardens avoiding the football or in watching.

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Six on a Saturday 30.6.18

It’s a lovely day out. We’ve got a school Fair to go to. Then hoping to do a bit of weeding and then maybe get in a few of my seedlings.

1. Unknown rose

This rose came with the garden. After the first year I cut it back quite severely and have fed it better since and it is now giving an abundance of pink flowers. It repeats flower and last year was still flowering well into Autumn.

2. Charles de Mills

Charles de Mills was bought back in April. In its first year I’m not expecting much, but got a few flowers to get a taste of what will hopefully come in great numbers. The closely packed petals give an interesting slice off appearance. I don’t think there quite as nice when they fully open, but a good addition to the garden.

3. Poppies

I don’t remember planting poppies of this variety. I remember scattering the standard red variety, but not these. So either I’ve remembered wrong or got some self seeders. Either way they are very nice. A rich plum going well with the sweet peas and lynchnis. However in the heat the petals are not lasting long.

4. Obelisk

The obelisk of sweet peas is looking good. The sweet peas were looking a bit pasty, but after adding some slow release feed they are looking lusher. The peas are flowering well now with lots to come.

5. Hebe

The front garden has a line of hebes that have all probably grown past their best. However they ate low maintenance needing no watering most of the year. Ideal for the front garden. Some are flowering less, but one variety is still giving a burst of white flowers that the bees are all over.

6. Salad leaves

I had this plastic window trough spare. I used it last year for salad leaves to pick off. I thought I do the same. I don’t grow much edibles, but do like to have something each year to enjoy. These are a David Domoney mix I planted just a few weeks ago and taking off well. It contains a mix of two tender Italian leaves: lollo rossa and lollo bionda. It grows quickly then can be used as cut and grow again salad leaves. While it won’t provide a mass amount of salad it is nice to have a few home grown pleasures in Summer.

While the garden is still a random mix it is gradually taking shape with plants working in better combinations. The borders are filling out, so next year can start looking at how each plant works with its neighbours.

 

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Six on a Saturday 16.6.18

It has been a windy week. Despite the strong sea winds my garden suffers from the fox gloves are still standing proud. The hollyhocks I’d already staked luckily. But a number of plants have suffered and the leaves are looking the worse the wear for the weather. The garden is currently in a state of anticipation of things to come. The roses, the hydrangeas, the hollyhocks, the teasel is all set to flower. But hasn’t quite happened despite the signs for the last two weeks.

1. Cobra lily

This strange looking plant is a cobra lily. It’s the first year growing one, so have no idea if it’s coming up right. The picture on the packet shows a dark striped flute shape. Then at the base planted black mondo with the idea that it would be a striking combination. Watch this space to see if the lily develops more. While its meant to be hardy I’m not sure the wind this week has done it much good.

2. Campanula

Each year these star shaped flowers have regrown out of this post. I think it’s a type of campanula, but not something I planted. It is lovely though in flower and the bees love it.

3. Aquilegia

After setting up foxglove seeds ready for flowering next year I’ve also set up a tray of aquilegias. I’ve got some that self seed already, but I’d like to introduce a few more to increase their numbers. I’ve gone for a more flamboyant variety with two coloured flowers.

4. Weigela

I’ve picked up a cheap weigela from Morrison’s. My neighbours has been flowering and is looking beautiful. I’m planning to start in a pot on the patio then see how it grows.

Next doors.

5. Pollinators

The garden is awash with insect life now. Bees are out everyday. Damselflies are coming in bigger numbers. Hoverflies are loving the daisies and marigolds. It’s a clear sign that things are warming up. The weekends have still been cloudy, so still not many butterflies. Sat out in the garden there is now the hum of insects to listen to.

6. Mud kitchen

The biggest addition to the garden this week is Alice’s new mud kitchen. Made for her by her grandad and my father in law to be. She has been loving mixing and smashing the soil. I’ve made a mix of play sand and compost for her cooking. Truly something special for her made by family. I have noticed many of the nearby pots now have a top dressing, but never mind getting her outside and involved in the garden.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. Got a few garden jobs to get on with quickly as it looks like rain is coming.

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Six on Saturday 9.6.18

While many of the sixes are now featuring roses my buds are staying firmly shut up North. But still plenty of visual delights on offer.

1. Foxgloves

One of my favourites is now in flower with many self seeded along the border. Planted for the pollinators the bees have been all over. I know many people proffer one colour, but I like an eclectic mix.

2. Lupins

Another cottage garden and Chelsea favourite. These were decimated by slugs last year, but defences have worked better this year.  While I only have one growing this year it has multiple heads coming up.

3. Ox eye daisies

Last year I grow these from seed. I now have far more than I need. I’ve divided some for my school garden and still been left with vast swathes. They are supposed to be one of the best flowers of pollinators with a mass supply of nectar.

4. Fruit

The dwarf apple had a large number of fruit forming. I will need to pick some out soon if they don’t drop naturally to encourage less, but bigger apples.

The dwarf cherry is also fruiting. It’s not going to be a feast, but might have enough to add to a single bowl of cereal. That is, if the birds don’t get them first. The starlings have been checking it over.

5. Marigold

A lone marigold left over from last year has flowered under the camellia.

6. Preparing for next year

Already starting preparation for next year. While I’m sure plenty will self seed I’d hate to be without, so foxglove seeds have gone in the propagator. Then got a few other biennials to sort. I’ll get them started in the trays, then pot on, then transfer to the border later in the year.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. A bit overcast today, but the garden wildlife is starting to come out in more. Enjoy your weekends!

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Living with slugs (and snails)

As most regular readers of my blog will know I’ve tried to build my garden up to attract various wildlife. I’ve tried to avoid potentially harmful chemicals for weed killing and pest controls. But even trying to encourage wildlife I still need some methods to control some of the more destructive forces in the garden. I’m talking about the slugs and snails. My aim hasn’t been to wipe them out completely as I don’t feel comfortable with committing large scale molluscacide I just want to reduce plant damage.

While many people use nematodes I’m not convinced of the long term sense in this solution. Nematodes for slugs and snails involve microscopic eelworms that create bacteria leading to slug destruction. Snail shells combined with time above ground defend them from nematodes. While a biological control seems like a better option than slug pellets which have been shown to be harmful to animals up the food chain. But something about the idea of nematodes is distasteful to me. I just want to control the numbers, not eradicate completely. I’m not looking for little daleks programmed to exterminate slugs and snails I just want a few less holes in plants trying to get established.

So I still favour biological controls, but not ones leading to total destruction of the slugs and snails. Encouraging predators into the garden helps create an equilibrium with the slugs and snails not destroying all green life. I have encouraged birds in through keeping bird feeders stocked. While they come for the food put out they still usually do a sweep of the borders to check for prey.

I’ve also tried to encourage hedgehogs to take up residence. While none have stayed they do visit through the hedgehog hole. Within. The garden I have hedgehog homes and feeding stations to bring them in. The trail camera shows they do visit. I don’t know how many slugs they account for, but I still like knowing they are there.

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Frogs and toads can eat through large quantities of slugs and snails. While I don’t have a pond next door does. To encourage some across into my garden I have a number of frog homes. Spots that are shaded and moist for frogs and toads to shelter in. A broken pot can be buried into the ground to provide shelter.

On top of biological controls slugs and snails can be controlled through barriers. Copper tape is recommended as they don’t like crossing the copper. However many still will cross when wet. Grit and egg shells are again recommended, but any gaps and they will find a way through.

Sheep wool pellets can be used to protect plants. They also act as a mulch helping water retention in the soil. It is however quite pricey for any reasonably sized area.

With almost any barrier method the slugs and snails can find a way in. Any leaves drooping over the barrier provides a path to a feast. Most varieties become less effective when wet. So I’ve mainly employed barriers to allow seedlings to get established. Then I trust that the larger plants can handle a bit of leaf loss.

When I have seen damage is bad I’ve employed beer traps to reduce numbers. Slugs and snails seem unable to resist beer. The beer dehydrates them leading to their death. Darker beer is supposed to be more effective, but I haven’t four d much difference between cheap lager and other varieties. Plus I don’t really like to pour away nicer beers to the slugs.

I have some commercially made traps, but jam jars and plastic bottles can be up-cycled into traps.

Through this multi-fronted approach I seem to be keeping plant damage to a level I can live with. While many people go out with the torch at night to remove this isn’t really an option for me as I have Alice to put to sleep, so not about to send time in the night picking them off. If you do though it is worth getting to know your slugs. Leopard slugs for example eat other slugs so are worth leaving.

My seedlings seem to be surviving better this year and making it to flower. I may even risk adding some hostas to the shaded corner!

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Six on Saturday: 19.5.18

Today the garden will hopefully be in use as we have family coming round for Alice’s second birthday. No Royal Wedding for us. Time has gone quickly with Alice coming on more everyday. The garden has come on a long way over that time as well.

1. Alliums purple sensation

There are still a few queen of the night tulips hanging on in there, but most of the tulips are gone. This loss though is being replaced the alliums. The purple sensations spheres are spreading out to form full spheres. These alliums form one tall stem with one small sphere to each stem.

2. Alliums Turkish onion

These alliums were planted in the first year in the house. They have large leaves before forming a large sphere low to the ground.

3. Aquilegia

Aquilegia, or Granny’s bonnet isn’t something I planted. It has come up each year poking out through other plants. But the leaves are interesting. The colours vary. One is flowering now, while a few more self seeded ones in the shade have more to come.

4. Oxalis

Last week we went to a community plant sale and picked up some cheap purchases. Amy like the oxalis. I believe this can spread badly, but for now it’s going on the new ladder planter on the patio.

5. Lilies

I also bought two lilies for the patio. One orange and one pink. They’ll add a burst of colour to the ladder.

6. Herbs

Amy wants a number of herbs to cook with, so we got a few cheap purchases at the sale. Dry as a bone currently. In need of a good water this evening.

Now to get things ready for birthday celebrations. Guests arriving in an hour. Hope you all have good weekends. The weather is glorious for a garden party. No sitting in watching weddings or football for us. The previously posted birdbath is getting good use now.

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Six on a Saturday 12.5.18

Time for six on Saturday as started by the propagator. The last few weeks of heavy rain followed by bright sunshine has really brought on the garden. Everywhere luscious green foliage is appearing. Blossom is out all over. The tulips are almost spent, but the alliums are following close behind to replace the loss. I like Summer flowering plants that form tall spires and they are all making their push to the sky. The hollyhocks, the foxgloves, lupins and teasel are all pushing up higher and higher. It’s a good time of year for the garden.

1. Clematis

The first of my six isn’t actually from my garden. It’s my neighbour’s clematis that is growing through. My own aren’t doing very much right now. There is one on side of the fence that was in the garden when we moved in. This had become thin and sprawling and only managed one flower last year. I’ve trimmed it back to almost the ground and it seems to be returning stronger. Then I have another on the other fence that was planted fresh last year that seems to be establishing now.

The neighbours clematis is growing through and over the fence. It’s providing a nice burst of colour in a patch that is currently a bit bare. I’ve got a climbing rose coming up here. Combined they should compliment each other well. Not sure of the type of clematis, beyond Spring flowering, but it is going strong.

2. Lilac

The lilac is out in flower now. It’s one of Amy’s favourite and the colour is nice. Not as strong smelling as I remember last year, but still has more flowers to come.

I’ve taken out a few suckers to grow new plants. Lilacs spread by suckers. The roots spread and new shoots grow around the stem. I’ve dug out three and potted up in a gritty soil mix. Then watered well and stones on the top to help retain moisture. These are destined for school if they establish well enough. I’m trying to save school budget by improving my outdoor area with free plants grown by different methods of propagation. I’m also making use of the discarded plastic pots of other purchases that are now planted in the border.

3. bluebells

The bluebells in my garden are just getting going. This years frosts has sent everything a bit off kilter. They were English, but I think they might be hybridized now. I’ll see when they flower.

Behind the garden there is a path with both blue and white varieties flowering. They are one of my favourite Spring flowers. Another like daffodils that mark the season.

4. teasel

Last year I established some small teasel seedlings in the border. Now they are beasts ready to flower. While not a popular garden option as it seeds all over and the leaves fill a lot space I wanted it for its wildlife potential. Bees love it. Goldfinches flock to it. I love seeing the goldfinches in. Last year they were all over my cornflowers. I’ve scattered some cornflowers seeds again. So I’m hoping between the cornflowers and the teasel and putting out niger seed I’ll see them more regularly. As biennials it should flower this year, as there second year. I have a few starting off this year to ensure a patch flowering next year.

The leaves are great, large, thorned things that surprisingly haven’t been eaten apart by slugs and snails.

5. Sempervivum

My patio holds my more exotic plants with alpines and succulents, while the border holds more traditional cottage garden choices. The sempervivum suffered with the frosts, but are recovering well now with rich green leaves and the darker leaved varieties looking fresher.

Six. beer traps

The slugs and snails have been devouring one of the patches of foxgloves and self seeded hollyhocks.

I have tried to avoid weed sprays and pest deterrent sprays that may be harmful to much of the visiting wildlife. I haven’t used pellets for several years now to avoid poisoning other animals up the food chain. My compromise has been beer traps. I periodically fill them up to kill off a few of the slugs and snails and give plants a chance to recover. It doesn’t eliminate, but it gives the plants a chance to establish a bit stronger. In hot weather the beer evaporates quickly, so they need topping up regularly if you want to keep them effective. As I’m just trying to keep numbers down I’m a bit lackadaisical about this.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six and enjoy your weekends.

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My watcher on the wall keeping an eye on my writing.