Six on Saturday: 3.10.20 astrantia fest

The rain is coming down now. We have a week ahead of rain so probably won’t get on with much gardening this week. I was going to get a few things moved and planted yesterday but I got a call from work asking if I could come in early to cover. So the garden job list is building up. This week I’ve gone a bit astrantia heavy and almost all shade-loving options.

1. Building work

The builders have almost finished. The render is on. An extra line of tiles has been added to make up for the extra insulation on the outside. Hopefully, it will be tied up soon so we can get things back in order and start to move pot plants back.

It has created a lot of dust on some of the plants where they had their builder’s rubble bag. But the rain has come down and washed it off now.

2. Astrantia major ‘Alba’

This went in the front garden a month or so ago and while it is a bit floppy with the wind and rain of the last few weeks it is establishing well. While the main focus of the shaded front garden is foliage it’s nice to have a few flowers. The whites of these really stand out for the contrast against the other plants. Perfect shade plant.

3. Astrantia major ‘Claret’

This was Alice’s purchase from our recent trip to Scampston. It’s a wonderfully rich red. The photos don’t really do it justice. Ones do light, ones too dark.

4. Astrantia major ‘Margery Fish’

Also known as ‘Shaggy’. Named ‘shaggy’ by the great plantswoman herself but known better by her own name. I bought some of these seed as an add on to another order. I’ve not had much luck with trying to save seed from astrantia so I thought I try and buy some and see if they do any better. This is a spikey white variety. It’s a little different from Alba which has green edging to the petals. These are pure white. It also goes by the name ‘Hattie’s pincushion’ which entertained me as it’s my mum’s name. Hattie, not pincushion. They seem to take a little time germinating and can need periods of cold, so ideally they need to go in the fridge if not germinating. Our fridge is too small for that though so they’ll just move inside and outside if they aren’t germinating.

5. Coniogramme emeiensis

This is a Chinese native originating from the slopes of Mount Emei.  Plant profiles suggest it is tender at H3 or H4. My suspicion is that it won’t remain evergreen but should return in spring as it would experience -10 and sometimes lower in its natural environment. I’m split between placing it in a pot close to the heat of the house or in a sheltered bordered spot. The foliage is so striking for a fern that I hope I can keep it going. I reckon it probably just hasn’t been trialled enough to rate it hardier but we will see.

6. Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’

This is another native to China along with Siberian regions of Russia, Manchuria, Mongolia, Korea and Japan. Reliably hardy and another shade lover. Brunette is a more compact form. This was another purchase from Spampston. They had it growing in the borders. The contrast between the leaves and white flowers is very attractive. I am going to clear some rather thuggish hardy geraniums so I can place with a backdrop of euonymus on one side and ferns behind so the dark leaves should stand out. The ferns are reliably evergreen so they provide constant year-round interest. It spreads by rhizomes so I’m hoping it should be able to claim a little area here.

We are heading out to Alice’s dance lessons and then to the garden centre to collect some craft materials Alice wants to make Halloween decorations and the Works bookshop is based in the garden centre. So we should be able to pick up some coloured card and other bits. Not specifically after any plants today but we’ll see what specials we get directed through and whether I can resist.

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Six on Saturday: 26.9.20

It’s been a week of contrasts. The first half of the week was glorious sunshine. The second half of the week has been hailstones, torrential rain and strong winds. This has put a halt to the building work. They made a good start but they can’t do the render until there are a few dry days together. The wind has crushed a few plants but hopefully most will recover alright.

1. Tulip pot

Alice bought her tulips last week but she wanted a really nice pot. She won a garden centre voucher back in May for National Children’s Gardening Week that we hadn’t spent yet. So, we went to the local garden centre and she chose this bee pot and we got the tulips planted last Sunday before the weather turned.

2. Wild about weeds competition

I also had some good news this week that I came 2nd place in a competition! I entered Jack Wallington’s wild about weeds competition. The aim of the competition was to show a weed within a plantings scheme. This was the photo I entered showing Asplenium within the front garden.

3. Sambucus racemosa

I planted this earlier in the year. It’s still only small but the lovely bright foliage is stunning right now. The foliage is working well against the darker dahlias foliage.

It is looking particularly nice against the Fuschia next to it.

4. Hanging basket

The hanging basket was replaced with a few fuschias I grew from cuttings. They’ve been slow to get going but they have finally realised I am growing them for their flowers.

5. Leptinella squalida and Acer palmatum ‘seiryu’

I have combined this Acer with Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s black’.

‘Platt’s black seems to be getting marketed as black moss. It isn’t really a moss but it does act as a ground cover plant. The foliage is small and fern-like in appearance. It’s actually part of the Asteraceae family, the daisies. It does flower with small brown flowers. Hopefully, it will spread to fill the base of the pot.

I wanted to see if the finer filigree leaves hold up better to my drying sea winds. It will still need a sheltered spot. But in theory, small leaves of this nature should lose less water and be more tolerant of the winds though it will still need a sheltered spot.

6. The dry garden

I have volunteered to tidy several of the planters at work. They have got a bit worn over the last year and just need a bit of a spruce up. They are outside the nursery and have a compost mix of sand and soil in. They are in full sun and will not see much watering for periods. Currently, there are a few lavenders healthy enough and a few sempervivums, a broom and a patch of Festuca grass. So I figure it makes sense to plan for dry garden conditions. The existing plants are mainly silver as many drought-tolerant plants have silver foliage. I have started reading Beth Chatto’s book, “The dry garden” to gain better knowledge. I largely garden on clay and my favourite area to work is my shaded front garden. So these planters are pretty much the extreme opposite of what I normally work with. I grow a few alpines and succulents in pots. I think it would look nice to find the handful of darker options to contrast with the existing silver plants. I’ve got a few stonecrops and sempervivums that can be split to use. It does feel a bit ironic to be planning a dry garden during the wettest week in months.

We are planning a visit to Scampston Walled gardens tomorrow so hopefully, the weather will hold off long enough for us to have a nice day. The gardens include both Capability Brown designed areas and Piet Oudolf designed areas so a bit of a contrast. I’m sure I will end up reporting back on it if we do go. Enjoy your weekends whatever you are up to.

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Burton Agnes: snowdrop walk 2020

It’s almost a year to the day that we visited Burton Agnes for the snowdrop walk. It makes for a nice winter stroll. We’ve got one of Amy’s friends visiting so thought it’d be a nice day out on one of the few days that wasn’t meant to rain heavily. Burton Agnes is a lovely Elizabethan hall with a walled garden and woodland. The first we thing we spotted was Amy’s dad in the carpark, which was a nice surprise to see him there.

There was a good queue to get in as everyone gift aids their ticket. Once in we headed on the snowdrop walk first. Alice was excited to see the snowdrops pointing them out everywhere.

The snowdrops carpet all the woodland ground.

The walk gives you a gentle stroll suited to a three-year-old. The wind was bitter even well wrapped up but the snowdrops were stunning.

They have left lots of stumps and branches to rot down. Good to see positive woodland management.

Even busy with people walking there was plenty of bird song as we walked.

When we visited last year I commented that Alice was disappointed that there was noo Gruffalo. There was an owl and snake and fox. They have rectified this mistake.

They’ve done a good job on the park with a massive tower and spiral slide for the older children, then two smaller climbing frames for different ages. A zip wire runs along the back.

We had a stroll around the outside of the house of the gardens.

The garden is bare currently.

The walls still providing for some of my favourite ferns.

But the greenhouse was well worth going in for the mass display of Narcissus.

Amy is taking on more classes at school and she is teaching more photography. So, Alice got a few lessons today.

Then Amy borrowed my camera to get some practice in.

Then back to the courtyard to see what was available. I resisted the snowdrops. No more Galanthus for me. I’ve just added a few more in the front garden and I’ll let them spread gradually now.

The irises were more tempting. I’ve got a small pot of Katherine Hodgkin but they do look good in a mass display.

I’ve got Katherine’s gold still to come but it’s nice to see what they are going to look like.

I went for two pots of Iris reticulata ‘Pixie’. They are not in flower yet. Pixie is a pretty little purple variety to add to the mix. It’s been a lovely day out. Alice managed very well with the walking, had a great time in the play park. I now have 100s of her photos to filter through.

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Six on Saturday: 25.1.19

Today’s six on Saturday is a post of two halves. The first half coming from a family friend’s garden, the second half is from my own garden. Last weekend we went to visit one of Amy’s friends whose garden we had seen on open gardens last year (garden 4). I was interested to see it in winter as it has a lot of foliage I’d assumed was evergreen. But it was all still looking great. The mass carpets of cyclamen foliage covering lots of ground, alongside hellebores coming into flower looked great.

1. Alice and snowdrops

Alice was very taken with the snowdrops, though she is referring to them interchangeably as snowdrops and snowbells. I don’t think I have any coming up in my own garden anymore or they are lost in the foliage. I may have to see about adding a few in the front garden. Then Alice can enjoy snowbell hunting in our garden.

2. Pots

I’d seen this area of their garden in summer when the pots were filled with hostas and ferns. Even in winter without the hostas, the ferns still look great.

The semp pots and rock towers still looking good. All the found objects adding to the look nicely.

3. Pruning

Returning to my own garden I made the decision to give the Korean dwarf lilac a rather severe haircut. I’ve cut it each year but it has gradually been creeping up in size. The surrounding shrubs will be given a trim in spring. Though having cut the dwarf lilac and looking at the gap I think it may be better removing this completely and letting the hydrangea and choisya claim the space rather than having three shrubs fighting for space.

4. More driftwood

I’ve talked previously about my plans to use driftwood in the garden. I’ve managed to claim a few more pieces to start laying out in front of the pots just next to the Korean dwarf lilac. I’m loving the very knotted piece full of holes. A great find.

Then I’ve managed to get another big piece. I need to wash some of the sand and salt then I’ll probably look at putting it into the borders as I’ve done with the other large piece I found.

5. Iris reticulata

The iris are shooting up quickly with the mild weather. I think I may have an early show for many of these. I expanded my selection with a few different varieties Katherine Hodgkins, Katherine Hodgkin’s gold and harmony. Having seen some stunning purple ones in the last few weeks I’d like to add something like Pauline next year. They have stunning deep purple flowers.

6. Hydrangea buds

A number of the hydrangeas have foolishly put on growth beyond the old mopheads with the mild weather. I think they may regret this if the temperature drops as predicted. Rather strange looking things when you look closely.

I’m planning on carrying out my Big Garden Birdwatch so I’m looking to disturb the garden as little as possible this morning until that is done. Then the forecast is dry for today but rain for tomorrow so I’m going to be looking to tidy up the pruning work today. I’m cutting it down as much as I can and putting it down as a mulch under the hydrangeas. It will be slow to break down but it will provide for beetles and woodlice.

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Six on Saturday-14.7.18

A the garden is seeing a lot of the taller plants coming into flower. The lawn is holding on. The shaded parts still looking lush, while the centre is looking dryer and dryer.

1. Fennel

The fennel is growing good and strong currently. I grow it for the umbel flowers that are good for butterflies. I’ve got a few smaller plants to put in the border. The feathery foliage makes a good contrast to the dark leaves of the camellia and hollyhocks around it.

2. Unknown perennial

Bought for me last year. It lacked a label. It has been on the verge of flowering for weeks and is now putting on a good show.

3. Fuchsia

The first of the fuchsias is now flowering well. I took this one out of the border as it was getting swamped and put it into a pot. The contrasting white and pink flowers are quite attractive. Quite a few of the fuchsias didn’t survive the harsh winter, so happy this is a survivor.

4. Teasel

The teasel has featured earlier in the year. It has grown up above the fence and has an abundance of flowers growing tall attracting in the insects. While quite spectacular it has quite a large footprint in the border taking up a good metre square at the base. The leaves and stems have vicious spikes making it an unpleasant job tying up. Not sure if I’ll let it grow again. I’ll have to see if it brings in the birds later in the year.

5. Chives

My mum divided some of her chives. They were ripped apart by seagulls trampling them, but one has hung onto flower.

6. Rose Scarlet Paul’s climber

I planted two of these Tesco £2 plants to replace another climbing rose that was doing all its flowering above the fence and on the neighbours side. I’m going to try to train these so I get better flowering across the fence. The first flower has opened up. While this year I’ll only have a few flowers they are looking to be quite glorious. Proper Scarlett Harlots providing bright blooms on the fence. There are two clematis next to it that are going strong. They should intertwine well.

Initially opening as a dark bloom.

Still keeping a rich colour as it fades.

And that’s my six. Hope you enjoyed. I’ve got lots of dead heading to get on with and some of the ox eye daises and forget me nots are past their best. Time to trim and pull.

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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-5.5.18

So this weekend is a longer weekend with the Bank Holiday. Surprisingly, we have sunshine as well. Bread buns are out of stock across the nation as people prepare for barbecues. My garden is seeing Spring coming to fruition. The blossom is on the trees. The Spring bulbs are all coming through I force now. The Summer bulbs are starting to poke through. Already I’ve forgotten what went where and having to check back on the blog to see what I’ve planted.

1. Cherry tree

Last Summer I ended up with a cheap dwarf cherry. It had lost many of its leaves, but come back to life now. The branches aren’t the most amazing shape, but I’m hoping as it grows up I can encourage a more pleasing form. The birds have been pecking away at buds for the last few weeks. Despite this the blossom has still managed to come out.

2. Apple tree

The apple tree is also blossoming. Another dwarf fruit tree. This was given a severe prune last year and dug out and turned around to encourage growth in a better form. It had seen five years of neglect while the house was rented. So last year we only had a small number of apples while it recovered. This year going off the blossom I might get enough for chutney again.

3. Queen of the night tulips

The queen of the night tulips are starting to flower marking the last of my tulips. These have grown much taller than the other tulips despite the pack details saying they’d be roughly the same height. This has give them a bit of a leggy effect, tall and thin over their other family.

4. Geraniums

Carrying on from last week I’ve added two new geraniums to fill patches of border that are a bit empty. Then as these grow I can divide and spread around the border and take some for school when I’ve filled my borders.

I’ve gone for two recommended for pollinators: Ingwersen’s variety and renardii. After this severe Winter I’m more aware of hardiness in the garden. Both of these have good hardiness ratings and RHS plant of merit awards as well as the good for pollinators award. Both are tolerant of a range of soils and conditions so they should thrive. They are also recommended for under planting roses. I haven’t currently done this, but maybe if they get to a point where I can divide I might use them for that purpose.

5. Ajuga, black scallop

I bought one small plant last year as part of an alpine deal. Since then it has spread nicely over its pot. It’s a hardy evergreen with rich dark leaves. The blue flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies. Unlike most of my other alpines it likes moister soil and shade. It is recommended for under planting shrubs, so long as it is an area that stats moist. It spreads by runners, so I can create more removing the runners to establish in other pots.

6. Seagulls

For the last of my six here are one of my commonest visitors the seagulls. Being a seaside town my garden is swamped by these as much as sparrows and blackbirds. Currently I’m woken by a dawn cacophony of randy seagulls on our roof. They like sitting on the shed and at times will try to sit their massive frames on the bird feeder. I do put bread out for them, which is swarmed over within minutes. It isn’t the best food source for them, but as were a seaside town I can’t imagine it’s any worse than the chips. Yesterday Alice and myself were in the garden when this group descended within metres of us. Alice thought it was hilarious and wanted to go closer to say hello, but I kept her back. Don’t fancy a peck from those beaks.

They can be a pain stomping through borders, but by and large I quite like seeing them settled on the fence.

Hope you’ve all enjoyed my six and have good long weekends enjoying the sun.

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Six on A Saturday 28/4/18

Well a week of sun and then heavy rain has really brought on the garden. The grass is looking lusher and the shrubs leaf buds have opened bringing the rich green back. Lots of flowers that have been on the point of opening for several weeks are now open.

1. Tulips

After several weeks of seeing other people’s spectacular tulips my own have finally opened.

The eagerly anticipated black parrot tulips have opened revealing their magnificent shades of purple into black. The frilled petals are nice contrast to the more popular rounded edges of my other tulips. I think next year I may try further variations of petal types.

I have a number of pots of Red Riding Hood tulips on the patio. These are giving a bright splash of colour at the moment. The pot grown are looking nicer than the border ones. I think have them grouped in greater numbers is working to greater effect. The striped leaves are an attractive feature providing interest before they flower.

The alectric tulips are a nice contrasting variety. I think I moved a number of these while digging up the brick border, so they’ve ended up dotted around a bit randomly, but some nice individual specimens.

2. Rhododendron

The rhododendron suffered with the cold, but the leaves now seem to be recovering. After re-potting it last year and keeping it fed with liquid ericaceous feed it has flowered better this year. This plant came with my last house where it had been put at the front. It had been deprived of water and had outgrown its pot and used up all nutrients. However it now seems to be doing alright with the best show of flowers yet.

3. Fronds

Most of my ferns are evergreen, but they still brown off over winter as the old leaves die off ready for the new fronds. It’s nice seeing the curled up fronds ready to unfurl.

4. Saxifraga

My saxifrage had formed a nice mossy mound. For the last week it has been displaying its bright red or pink flowers, the colour depending on the light. It just provides small daisy sized flowers, but a nice dash of Spring colour.

5. Geraniums

“When in doubt – plant a geranium!”

Margery Fish

Last year my mum donated some geraniums she had divided. They’d now taken and formed solid domes of foliage. The first burst of flowers are just coming through. Geraniums are a good workhorse in the garden with one suiting most situations. At the end of this year I should be able to divide these further creating more patches. While not as flashy as the tulips they play a valuable role in suppressing unwanted wild flowers establishing as weeds.

6. Monty Don-Down to Earth

This week I finished reading Monty Don’s down to Earth. Like much of Monty’s work he passes on his passion for gardening to bring pleasure. The garden is a way to relieve stress and worries. For him gardens are made by people and their use of their gardens. The book offers a good guide to get started in gardening and has a good practical month by month guide to jobs in the garden. While a lot of lot of it will be information known to most gardeners of a couple of year Monty’s writing style is enjoyable. It is all information worth repeating. Currently available for kindle and in hardback, but I believe it is seeing a paperback release later in the year ready for the Christmas market.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. I’m heading out to look at pavers. We are having the house rendered again and we are considering getting the patio paved probably while he’s on the job. It is currently a cracked concrete surface, so would be vastly improved if we can have it done.

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Six on a Saturday-21.4.18

This week my school got the phone call all teachers dread, the Ofsted phone call. So Monday was a mass amount of activity at work checking and rechecking our provision, which is absolutely fine, but this is what happens when you get the call. So come Wednesday I was ready for a bit of a rest. I managed to plant two new plants shared in today’s #SixonSaturday.

1. Bleeding heart

Asda provided me with the plant formerly known as Dicentra spectabilis, but now known as Lamprocapnos spectabilis. Or stick with the easier name bleeding heart. While it’s looking a bit dehydrated with the warm weather this week it did have an excellent root network. Many of the supermarket purchases have been a bit poor on this front, but this looks good.

2. Honeysuckle

Continuing on from previous weeks I’ve added one more climber, again as with the Jasmine I’m pushing for scent with a honeysuckle Belgica, more commonly known as early Dutch Honeysuckle. I already have a wonderful patch of honeysuckle, but it’s behind a tree and I only get to enjoy the scent when pruning or weeding near it. Generally while getting spiked by other things. They can go a bit rampant, but the other patch I just give one prune a year and it’s at a time when I don’t have much else to do in the garden. I also quite enjoy pruning the honeysuckle as it isn’t a job I do with a great degree of care. Again this has come from Asda and seems to have a decent root network and been reasonable looked after.

3. Primrose

Next is Victorian Lace primrose. These were a present last year for my birthday. While I probably wouldn’t have bought them for myself there pretty enough if a bit isolated at the moment.

4. Muscari

The muscari have finally decided to do something after seeing lots of other six on a Saturday posts flowering. It’s my first year growing them. My mum bought me a pack of bulbs last year. There pretty enough, but feel I probably need something else in the pot with them for some impact. I had in my head that they grew a bit bigger, so these tiny little blue burst seem a bit feeble at the moment. I think they need mixing up with something else next year.


5. Watering

After many months of only needing to water newly planted additions we have had a week of sunshine making watering necessary. At the moment just looking at a good soaking once a week for the border and pot plants I’ve done twice. Alice wanted “more water” though. So we made sure the bird baths and hedgehog bowl was filled.

6 Bean sticks

Rather than using my standard bamboo canes for support I’ve bought willow canes this year. The idea being they are sustainable and native grown lowering my carbon footprint in the garden. So rather than importing Eastern bamboo of various quality I’m going to give these a go. I think they look more attractive than the bamboo. I’m going to try the sweet peas up a wigwam frame of these.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six for this week and enjoy getting out while the weather is nice. I’ll leave you with a rather nice blue tit photo from my journey home from work.

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Edging the lawn

Today saw me braving the cold to make a start on my plans to edge the lawn. Our next door neighbours have knocked out a chimney breast and we claimed lots of vintage Edwardian red bricks for my garden. They were heading for the skip, but were upcycling them. The bricks are getting dug into the lawn edge to hopefully give me a neater edge when mowing.

I’ve previously edged the bench area with stone bricks, so it won’t all match. But I don’t want to see these lovely bricks go to waste.

Alice watched on.

Before enjoying her Christmas present.

Then abandoning me to play on her push along.

The blackbirds have been watching me from next door but one while enjoying the apples left on the trees. Hornsea is full of fruit trees where the fruit are never harvested giving the birds a good Winter food source.

I’ve got through half today and hopefully finish the job later in the week.

The garden is looking set for Spring. The daffodils are coming up strong now. Soon be flowering. I’m seeing a few tulips peeking through. I’ve even got one allium making an early break for it.