Six on Saturday: 15.2.20-dahlia love begins

The garden survived last weekends storm relatively unscathed. I’ve reattached the back gate with heavier duty hinges as it got broken in the wind last weekend. But apart from that, the garden has held up pretty well. We’ll see whether it holds up to the rain this weekend. Despite the weather, I’ve still managed a few jobs this week and still a good couple of flowers still coming out to play.
1. Primula Veris-cowslips

I started with one little pot of cowslips. I’ve gradually been dividing them under the dogwood. Most of the year the dogwood would overshadow this area but the cowslips flower early enough to shine before the dogwood takes over. They provide an early source of nectar for early bees and beetles and provide the garden with a bit of colour early on in the year.

2. Charity find

This week’s charity find was this little painted pot for the price of 20p. I’ve put a cheap pot of daffodils in it for now. Another little burst of colour amongst the foliage plants. The pots have survived through the storms. The log store acts as a bit of a buffer for a few of the pots.

3. Bin tidy

I finally got round to sorting the bin area. I dug out the border, put sand down and these plastic grids that the bins can sit on. Then the area was covered with gravel. We thought it would look neater while still giving drainage rather than the paving we’d originally considered. I’d still like to build a covered bin tidy but it all looks neater than the strip of mud that was there before. The fatsia was only put at the end temporarily but it seems to like the spot so it may stay.

4. Iris reticulata- Katherine Hodgkin

The second of the Iris reticulata varieties to flower and it is a stunner. It rather foolishly decided to open during last week’s storms but has survived the winds. The creamy bloom with the blue veins is a delightful combination. I planted these in one of the tall hosta pots with the idea that they’d be up and flowering and then the hosta would come up later in the year. So far so good.

5. Lupins

I got another batch of seeds sown last week as Alice was pestering to sow something. She’d chosen a mixed bag of lupin seeds a while back. She likes the red ones on the pack. Hopefully, we’ll get some red ones or she might be a bit disappointed. Lots have germinated within a few days so it seems hopeful. I noticed last year at open gardens that almost every garden that was selling plants had lupins so I figure they must be fairly straightforward to raise from seed. I’ll grow them up in recycled plastic pots to protect them from the slugs and snails and then use them to gap-fill later in the year.

6. Plug plants

I picked up a few small plugs to grow on. I got a few of these dahlieta options. I got one last year and it flowered for months across summer and into autumn. They grow small and compact and within regular deadheading and feeding, they can keep flowering. I’ll need to grow these on and pot them on. They’ll need keeping inside initially so I may regret getting them this early but it’d be nice to have an early show of dahlia flowers.

I also got a few Nepeta hederacea plugs. This forms a good trail of variegated foliage. It’s useful for trailing out of pots or hanging baskets. Then I also got a white trailing fuschia that I will probably use in the front garden if it survives potting on.

The garden is currently very calm but we have storm Dennis on the way so I want to check the garden is all secured. I have a handful of jobs to work through over the next week. I’ve got the last few stepping stones I needed for the front garden. I’m going to add some drainage holes to the front while I’m at it. As it’s thick compressed clay having had weed matting and gravel on it for a decade the drainage isn’t great and don’t want it to waterlogged. I’ve also managed to pick up some cheap peat-free soil improver to use to top-dress it. This will gradually get taken into the soil improving the structure which will help drainage. It will also add a few extra nutrients for the plants. I’d started work on a new seat in the back garden and I’ve still got the roses to prune so hopefully get a few dry days after the storm. Hope you all survive the storms and enjoy your weekends.

Six on Saturday: 16.3.19 Anniversary

So it has been a year since I started contributing to six on a Saturday. It’s been great being part of such a lovely gardening community. I’ve learned a lot from reading everyone else’s posts and I’m developing a better seasonal spread from seeing what everyone else is growing. The last few months the garden has seen quite a lot of disruption with building work going on. The building work is coming on though and I am making plans for improving the front garden and making some serious changes to the back garden. This has already started, over the last few weeks, with a number of the shrubs and trees that gave the garden a lot of its framework removed. I’m taking it as a chance to remove plants I don’t like. With limited space I don’t want to waste it on plants I don’t like.

1. Hydrangea paniculata limelight

One plant I have come to love through writing my six on Saturday posts is the hydrangea. I have three pink mopheads in the garden that I didn’t care for much when we moved in. But I’ve come to enjoy them through their long lived seasonal interest. I’ve also admired this particular hydrangae in the in-laws garden and fancied one for the front garden and one of the little limes, a dwarf variety, for the patio. The little limes aren’t available until August and there wasn’t much difference between buying two or three so I now have three. The front garden is North facing and shaded for much of the time and I think it will thrive there. Then the other two I’ll try growing on the patio in large pots. I’m aiming for a few large statement plants on the patio with a few ferns, hostas and pots of bulbs that can be moved on and off the patio as they flower. Previously the patio was cluttered with lots of small pots. I’d like to make it more cohesive. We’ll see how long this lasts.

2. Ilex Crenata Stokes

I’ve bought these two to grow together on the patio to act as a low screen to stop Alice throwing herself off the patio into the roses. Ilex crenata is recommended as an alternative to box for giving domes that can be pruned into evergreen mounds. I’m on the look out for some square planters to put these in.

3. Slug gone

Slug gone are wool pellets to put round plants as a barrier to protect from slugs and snails. I tried it last year in small amounts to protect my lupins. The one surrounded by this survived. As I added more lupins again last week and have lots of hostas to go in I felt they should have some protection. It also adds some nutrients and acts as a mulch to keep water in the soil. So even if it is ineffective as a slug and snail deterrent it at least serves other purposes.

4. Beer traps

In addition to the slug gone, I’ve added a couple more ceramic beer traps. These snails are easy to fill. I use cheap supermarket brand beer and find these work well in keeping the mollusc numbers down. The plastic bottle is protecting and marking one of the hostas positions.

5. Window planters

I’d bought these with a vague idea of doing something for Jack Wallington’s window box competition. I don’t plan to attach them to the house I’ll raise them on a stone outside the front windows. I had an idea of doing a mini zen garden with a bonsai but I don’t think this is practical so I’m back to the drawing board. I would like something low maintenance with some year-round interest. So I’m probably looking at a number of structural evergreen plants with maybe bulbs for seasonal interest. It’s a shaded spot so that will limit choices too. There a bit shorter than I’d like at 50cm but it seems the price rapidly increases for any larger and I don’t want a plastic window box. This is clay fibre and still has a bit of weight to it.

6. Irises

I planted these minature iris back in December in pots hoping the building work would be done by the time they flowered and could go back on the patio. The building work isn’t done so they are currently sat on the edge of the lawn looking a bit untidy but the flowers themselves are lovely. I’ve seen some lovely varities this year and think it’s something I could happily plant more of next year. Though I think next year I’ll look at less pots but putting a bit more care into planning seasonal succession planting.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my six and watching the gardens progress over the last year. As mentioned there are a lot of changes ahead as I try to create a more cohesive garden rather than a series of individual plants. Enjoy your weekends and good gardening!

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