Six on Saturday: 30.11.19 wonderful weeds

Having finished reading Foliage Plants I have moved onto a new release Wild about weeds: garden design with rebel plants by Jack Wallington. I preordered the book as having followed Jack’s Twitter and newspaper output I was interested to see what he’d have to say on the subject. Making use of wildflowers is very much on-trend currently. Any examination of flower shows over the last few years will show a wilder approach to our gardens in the fight to help support wildlife. People are more aware of the damages and benefits our gardens can provide. The book is beautifully produced in a lovely hardback edition.  I’m about half-way through the book and had lots of food for thought. If you still have anyone asking you for a Christmas recommendation you might want to suggest this. Through the book, I’ve found a handful of ‘weeds’ I’ve already grown and some I may try in future. So this week I thought I’d look at six weeds I’ve included within my own garden.

1. Teasel

Teasel is a fabulous looking roadside plant. It grows tall spires of flowers. These are normally around two metres tall though in my garden it grew to about three. Every part of it is spikey, the flowers are spikey, the leaves are spikey and the stems are spikey. They are part of the reason why I appreciate my Gold Leaf Gloves. It was loved by many pollinators. The bees swarmed over it all summer and holly blue butterflies seemed to like it. It is a biennial so I currently have lots of little self-seeded plants coming up. I’m not sure I’ll allow it to establish again as the leaves are so big it takes up quite a lot of border space, but I did enjoy it for the year. In autumn the seed heads brought flocks of finches to the garden. If I had more space I would grow it again.


2. Ox-eye daisies

In the first year in the garden, I spread a mix of wildflower seed over two planters near the house. One of the only plants that grew well was the ox-eye daisies. The planters have been taken out but I spread the daisies around the garden. They are a superfood for pollinators with their wide-open flowers providing for a range of insects. Their growth gets a bit untidy in Summer. Then I cut them back and they often go onto flower as late as November and last year there were still ones flowering in December.

3. Campanula

This campanula grows around the cracks in the wall post. It dies back down and comes back each year. The bees swarm around it. It makes use of space that would otherwise be empty. The post has been rebuilt this year but I don’t think the edge has been touched so I think they should still return next year.

4. Borage

Borage is a bit of an untidy plant but it is great for bees so I allow a few patches to grow at the bottom of the garden. Mine comes up with blue and white flowers. This plant gets recommended for wildlife again and again due to its long flowering period. It seems tolerant of sun or partial shade. I pull it out every so often as it gets too big for the space I’ve assigned it but I let the self-seeders reestablish so I usually have a few patches on the go. It’s a member of the Boraginaceae family along with forget-me-nots, though grows a bit taller than forget-me-nots. The flowers are edible and can be used for cake decorations.

5. Asplenium scolopendrium ‘hart’s tongue’

Hart’s tongue is one of my favourite ferns. It is a reliable hardy plant capable of tolerating the cold windy conditions in my garden. The wider fronds make it suitable for growing in a pot or in the border as it the wider leaves reduce water loss from winds. It naturally colonises cracks in rocks. It can grow as a tiny little plant in cracks in walls or grow up to be a decent metre spread. The large evergreen sword-like leaves provide a good structure through winter and contrast well against the summer hostas and geraniums grown in the same area of the border.

I’ve just moved my biggest patch of harts tongue. It was part of a patch of three ferns that have outgrown their original spaces. It has all flopped in one direction but it will gradually spread out better with the new fronds in spring.

6. Asplenium trichomanes

This little fern is another evergreen option that again spreads into cracks in walls. I’ve used it in my window box planters that sit either side of the front door. Combined with the hostas they’ve looked good through summer. The hostas have died down and some crocus has been added for spring colour. The delicate string of little leaves looks good as part of pot displays with larger leaves like the hostas.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks foray into weeds. I’m still a bit poorly after last week but I am up and mobile. It is Amy’s birthday celebrations tomorrow so I’m probably not going to get much chance to garden this week. I want to shift a few plants around after planting the holly tree last week and I’ve picked up a few cheap hellebores to add some winter flowers. Don’t forget to check out the other six on Saturday posts through the comments of the Propagator’s blog.

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Feed the birds-Haith’s bird seed

Haith’s bird food contacted me a few weeks back to tell me they have released two new seed bags they would like me to review. I have reviewed Haith’s products in the past, that said I still buy from Haith’s for much of my bird food. They are relatively local to me in Lincolnshire, a well-established family business, that makes good quality feed. So while in the interest of disclosure I didn’t pay for these I do buy from the company. The seed is cleaned making it healthier for the birds. Many birdseed mixes contain dust and waste husk that may be harmful to birds.

Before I put in the new mixes I’ve given my bird feeders a good clean with boiling water. I’ve said this before but regularly cleaning your feeders is important to limit the spread of disease between birds. I’ve replace many of my feeders with metal feeders that are easy to dismantle and clean but I still use these two Peckish feeders for my main seed feeders. They dismantle easily to clean. With the wet weather, some of the previous supermarket seed mix was starting to sprout. The seed tray catchers I bought separately but these have helped minimise waste and allow more birds to get a grip on the feeders.

I’ve been sent two mixes to review one for all and winterberry. Haith’s package their own mixes within these paper bags sealed with string. I normally buy in the bigger packs to cut down on plastic waste. They are delivered within a postage bag that contains some plastic but by buying large amounts at once it cuts down the number and frequency used.

The one for all mix contains sunflower hearts and peanut granules. Sunflower hearts are very popular in my garden with tits and finches. Haith’s have found, in their testing, the combination attracted more than the sunflower hearts on their own. It’s also listed as no mess so I shouldn’t have lots of random plants sprouting underneath. This is a mix aimed at benefitting the birds through all seasons.

The winterberry mix contains a mix of seed and fat pellets to help birds over the winter where the birds need a high energy source to reward them for visiting the feeders.

I’ve left them on the long feeders as next doors cat has been in a lot and it can’t get up these ones. I have a lot of the feeders hidden in the trees where the birds can visit safely but I want to see what is visiting these and these can be viewed from the house.

Within minutes the pigeons and doves were in trying to work out how to hang off the feeders to get at the seed. These were followed shortly by the sparrows. We’ll see what follows over the next few days.

Haith’s stock a good range of bird food and wildlife supplies and are well worth checking out. While some are more expensive than your value feed the birds really do seem to love it. Buying in bulk can make savings too. I’ll report back probably in next weeks six on Saturday of what has come visiting. Feeding the birds provides a great simple bit of pleasure and I wouldn’t want to be without them.

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Six on Saturday: 12.10.19

I haven’t had much time in the garden this week between rain and work but still some colour on the go. The cosmos and dahlias took a good beating last week but they are still putting on a smaller show. We’ve had builders back in fixing the roof so still got everything off the patio leaving a mess of pots over the lawn but can’t do much about that right now. Just dream of what it may become.

1. Honeysuckle

The honeysuckle flowers have ripened to berries adding bursts of colour along the two stretches of honeysuckle in the garden. I try to leave off pruning so they get a chance to form to give the birds another source of food, though I haven’t seen many going for these yet.

2. Geese

As the swifts and housemartins have left us another visitor has come in. The geese have been a regular sighting in huge flocks. They come swarming over the garden honking away. Many geese migrate to the UK for the Winter. As these are coming from the direction of the Mere I’m assuming they’ve stopped off there and are now heading further inland.

3. Sambucus Nigra ‘Black Lace’

This Sambucus was planted as a tiny little stick with few leaves on earlier in the year. It is establishing well having put on a good metre or more growth. These were on the list of plants recommended for coastal gardens and it seems happy enough with the winds. It could do with moving out from the fence a bit for more space but I think this will look good in the space. The Dryopteris fern to the side donated from my mum is establishing alright and the geraniums in front seem happy.

4. Cotoneaster

I planted this cotoneaster on the edge of the patio. I’m aiming for it to fill the corner gap so Alice doesn’t throw herself off the patio. I’m also hoping the berries will bring birds close to the house. The jasmine to the side has been slow to settle but has shown small signs of growth. I’d mentioned last week about trying to get some evergreen climbers and this is forms part of that.

5. Wild sweet William

I believe this is a variety of phlox. It was growing in abundance when I took over the garden. I’ve dug out lots but always leave a handful. It’s meant to be good for butterflies though I can’t remember ever seeing any on it.

6. Sea Holly

The sea holly was planted as it formed part of my wedding flowers last year. It has been a long time flowering but has finally done it. This was just a cheap Tesco purchase as rootstock. There are nicer varieties with the blue edging on the leaves as well but it is bringing in the bees during the odd patch of dry weather this week.

Well, that’s it for this week. I doubt I’ll manage much more this weekend in the garden but not long until half term now and then I’ll get a decent chance to get on with the bulb planting. I hope you all enjoy your weekends.

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P.S. The passionflower planted last week has flowered and it is spectacular. I doubted that it would flower but it has managed it with a few more buds to come possibly.

Six on Saturday: 5.10.19-bulbs and peat-free

We enter a new month and Autumn is definitely upon us now. The leaves are changing colour or falling. As I live by the sea I often don’t get to enjoy the change in colour as it often goes from Summer to the leaves blown straight off. But the dogwood and hydrangeas are doing good impressions of Autumn currently. Much of Autumn gardening ends up being about tidying or preparing for Spring. The bulb planting has begun in earnest now. The garden has taken a battering the last week with rain and wind. A few plants have flopped under the weight of the rain and a few snapped. But that’s fine as the winter foliage plants stand out more and I do like my ferns and heucheras.

1. Iris reticulata

I have got round to planting the iris discussed in previous posts. I enjoyed my irises this year and vowed to get more. I am trying growing the iris in the same pots as the hostas. The idea being the iris will flower, then die down as the hosta come back up. Time will tell whether this was a good plan. I’ve got two varieties so far. The classic Harmony and Katherine Hodgson. I went with the Katherine Hodgson in one of the taller hosta pots and then the harmony are spread over two of the pots filled with the 50p hostas bought a few weeks back.

2. Clematis

Thompson and Morgan had another of their flash sales on clematis. So I now have 4 more clematises. Clematis winter beauty was one of the main ones I wanted. It’s an evergreen variety with small white bell-shaped flowers in winter. Amy doesn’t want ivy but I want evergreen climbers so I’ve been working through the options. Clematis Kokone is a ruffly purple variety that flowers in Summer. I’m split between trying this up the fence in one of the few remaining spaces or to try it up one of the trees. The Florida ‘Taiga’ and ‘green apple’ I want to try in pots growing up obelisks. But I need to find a decent-sized pot for this to work.

3. Butterfly-comma

Last weekend saw, what I think is, my first sighting of a comma butterfly in my garden. I haven’t seen these much in my areas since a brownfield area was bought for housing development. A welcome sighting. This butterfly went through a rapid decline and then has steadily come back in the south of the UK but has been working its way North. The caterpillars feed on nettles, but will also feed on willows and hops. I don’t have hops or willows but there are plenty of nettles in the back passage behind the garden so hopefully, these could become a regular feature.

4. Cosmos

The cosmos combined with dahlia have looked stunning for a good month, but the wind and rain has flattened and snapped many stems. It’s been nice while it lasted. But removing the patch reveals the evergreen ferns that will keep the garden structure through winter. I’m cutting down to the snapped stems, so I may still get some more flowers but not as grand a display as I’ve been enjoying. On the bright side, a bit less deadheading to do.

5. Buxus sempervivums

I recently discovered a local company, The Little Green Plant Factory, selling plants reared peat-free, plastic-free and chemical-free. The plants are very well priced. With all the ethical boxes ticked I needed to give them a try. I ordered two box shrubs. These were a good price. Just little specimens currently but look well-rooted and healthy. The plants came packed in cardboard in biodegradable pots with wool weed suppressant on the top. They were wrapped in straw for protection. I’m planning to grow these in pots on the patio to act as wind buffs for the less hardy plants. While only little currently they will grow quickly enough. I’m thinking square planters for this. I’ve never really grown topiary before so I’m only aiming for rough domes. A lot of the plants listed on the site are not currently available as they are growing but I’m interested to follow the progress of this company.

I actually drive through the village where this is based but currently mail order based. Though they do offer £1 delivery to Beverley for anyone local.

6. Passionflower-Snow queen

My second purchase from “The little green plant factory” has been another passionflower. This time a white variety. This was a crossbreed between the hardy caerula and white wedding. It has gone a little further along the fence from the existing passionflower. I’m hoping it has enough time to settle into its position before winter, but I’ll give it a good mulch to protect the roots to be on the safe side. In bad winters they can be killed back but will regrow from the ground. It had a decent bit of growth on it and several buds. This has the advantage over the popular Constance Elliot of having larger blooms that stay open longer. It has a few flower buds on but I don’t know if it will be sunnier or warm enough to flower this year but fingers crossed.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks six and peoples gardens are holding up alright against the onslaught of the weather. I’ve had a Gee-Tee bulb delivery of 200 croci. 100 white for the front garden and 100 mixed for the back but don’t know that I’ll have time to plant them but we’ll see. Even if I can just get some in that will cut the workload. But no great rush on these. They can wait a bit longer.

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Six on Saturday: 7.9.19

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

1. Butterflies

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

2. Dinosaur garden

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

3. Bargain Hostas

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

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

4. Choisya

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

5. Nights drawing in

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

6. Dahlia, not Rebecca’s World

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

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

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Six on Saturday: 24.8.19

This week I’ve been spoilt for choice for my six. Some will make it into next weeks six, while others haven’t made the cut. I’ve somewhat neglected the back garden while I’ve been sorting the front garden but I’ve discovered bindweed so I need to very carefully weed the borders to try and stop it establishing.

1. Zinnias whirligig

I started growing these from seed in trays. I then moved them straight into the ground and forgot about them. Then when I saw flowers emerging I almost removed them as weeds but asked for an ID on Twitter. The pack came with a variety of types in. They’ve been popular with the insects and there very pretty. I’d grow them again but I would probably put them further forward in the border as they are hidden a bit behind dahlias.

2. Clematis

This clematis was already in the garden when I took over the garden. It barely flowered so I gave it a hard prune and it has been giving a few more flowers each year. It is growing out of a thicket of shrubs and then gradually colonising the top of the fence.

3. Agapanthus

I planted these as bulbs last Autumn as they formed part of our wedding flowers. We had our anniversary this week and one is in flower. The others have put on foliage this year but no flowers. I’m growing them in pots as the advice states they like to be crowded. Hopefully next year I’ll have a few more to show.

4. Cosmos candy stripe

I’ve grown double click and candy stripe as a big mass. Double click featured a few weeks ago. Now it’s the turn of the candy stripe.

So far the majority of the patch has come out as double click but I have a few of the candy stripe dotted through. These are white with a pink edge. They are recommended as good for insects and I’ve seen a good group of hoverflies over them each day.

And a few other insects enjoying just resting on them.

5. Lily ‘Casa Blanca’

This almost didn’t make the cut this week but I decided I’d include it. It flowered while we were away and was getting past its best when we returned. It’s a pure white lily from Sarah Raven as part of her scented collection. The lilies have suffered from lily beetle this year. I’ve grown this in a pot this year but I may move it into the ground for next year. I’m not too bothered if it survives as it isn’t really exciting enough as just one. I’d need to but a couple for proper impact. It doesn’t really work in combination with my other plant choices.

6. Dahlia Tamburo

This was another Sarah Raven choice and has been a stunner. It’s been sold as a small variety for pots. I have only used one short stake and I think it would have managed without. The dark flowers are absolutely stunning and it has taken pride of place outside the extension window visible to all.

Lots of insects have been settling on the large flowers as a convenient resting point to survey the garden. It has been a good week for wildlife in the garden. I’ve had swarms of long-tailed tits of up to 40 coming in, tons of insects and a lot of frogs around. These dahlias seem to be hot spots for posing insects wanting their photo taken.

The dragonflies have been regular visitors. I love seeing the dragonflies and this year I think I’ve had more than ever. The size and their primaeval nature make them fantastic to watch.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week six as much as I’ve enjoyed admiring them. As well as the much-needed weed of the back garden I’ve got a large fern donated from my mums garden to plant and a couple of gorgeous heucheras to plant. Happy gardening!

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Six on Saturday: 3.8.19 from the in-laws in Summer

I wrote earlier in the week about our trip to the in-laws at Robin-Hood’s Bay but I left out how their garden was looking. So here it is six things from their wonderful garden. It featured earlier in the year in Spring. They’ve got the scaffolding up around the house and garden but still plenty on offer. Not least the entertainment of following the cat.

1. Roses

There is a smorgasbord of roses on offer in the garden currently with many hitting their peak. I am classing this mass of roses as one choice on my six, though if I knew more about them I could have written this six purely on the roses.

2. Sea holly

There are a few patches of sea holly around. I’m trying to grow my own as this featured as part of my wedding flowers. Mine are in their first year and not showing any signs of flowers this year but plenty of foliage.  I did start them quite late on so I may not get anywhere with them this year.

3. Japanese anemone

These again are a lot further on than in my own garden with plenty of flowers on many.

4. Pond

The pond was revamped last year and is now surrounded by many wildflowers. There were tons of butterflies and bees enjoying the flowers. The pond is attracting plenty of life with tadpoles and newts in resident.

5. Painted ladies

This year has seen a higher number of painted ladies. Every ten years or so we get a record year. These wonderful butterflies undergo the longest butterfly migration on Earth. There is a great documentary on the BBC but only for a limited time.

6. Hydrangeas

I’ve written about hydrangeas a lot recently and there are lots to view at the in-laws.

The limelight is fabulous. It was seeing the ones in the in-laws garden that led me to buy mine. You can see the flowers at various stages from the lime green to white.

If you fancy taking part in Six on Saturday read the guide. There are lots of wonderful plants and gardens to view. I have my own garden to tend today. I want to have a good weed over the next few days before we go away. I’ve still got a few more Bishop’s Children dahlia’s to find spaces for as well. They are flowering away well now and looking stunning. Now I’m starting the regular feed of tomato feed.

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