Six on Saturday: 4.7.20

It’s been a wet, grey week here on the North East Coast. I’ve not needed to do much watering all week, which is nice but it’s been too wet to do many other jobs. I’m working through clearing one corner of the garden ready for a second shed. Alice is reaching the age where she has lots of outdoor bits that need storage. So the second shed is just going to be a small one for some of her bits. The lilac has had a good prune this week and a few other things need pruning now they’ve flowered. I had some good news earlier in the week. We had entered a competition for Grow Your Own for Welfare Week and we heard back to say we have won £500 worth of vouchers for woodblocx. I think we’re going to use it for a bench with a planter built-in.

1. Sweet peas

I didn’t grow sweet peas last year as I was limited for seed growing with building work and I regretted it through the summer seeing everyone else’s photos. I got two types on the go back in February. One was a Johnson’s mixed bag, the others were air warden. They are a bit of a mess growing up the obelisk but lots of blooms are coming.

I’ve been able to start cutting for small vases inside.

2. Sutton’s Dwarf Broad Beans

The broad beans are coming along well in the veg patch and I should be able to start harvesting. They’ve been an easy grow with minimal fuss.

3. Sambucus racemosa ‘Sutherland Gold’

I’ve dug out a dogwood that hasn’t been doing much for a while. It didn’t quite fit with what was going on around it and the stems weren’t the most exciting for the winter interest they can give. To replace it I have got a Sambucus Racemosa. Bought from my local peat-free supplier it’s a bargain as they offer free delivery so I was able to restock on Dalefoot compost as well. I have a Sambucus nigra opposite and it has grown well. They offer nice foliage, pretty flowers and they are tolerant of my sea winds. This is going to be going between two Acers, ‘Osakazuki and ‘going green‘ and I think the colour will look good amongst the other two. It’s only small currently but they shoot up fast. I’m going to be planting up the undergrowth with some of the patio pots to clear it ready for the builders. So it will probably end up with a few hostas and heuchera surrounding it. Large rounded foliage to contrast against its jagged leaves.

4. Dahlia-charity purchase

This dahlia was for sale in a charity box outside someone’s house round the corner. It was labelled as pink dec. I don’t know any by that name but it’s a very nice vibrant colour.

The flowers seem to be more of a double variety without the open centre for wildlife like my favoured bishops but it is looking pretty on the patio where we can see it out of the window.

5. Fuschia-Trudi Davro

I took cuttings of this Fuschia a few months back. The parent plant suffered during drought but this one has gone onto flower quite happily. It’s a trailing Fuschia designed for hanging baskets or for the edge of large pots. I haven’t got anywhere in mind for it right now but it’s looking nice currently.

6. Hydrangea runaway bride

I’ve moved my two runaway brides into the pots either side of the front door. They were in pots on the patio but as mentioned the patio needs clearing ready for builders. The plants in these were looking a bit tired so I’ve moved the hydrangeas in. I reckon I’ll probably only be able to grow them on in these for a year or two but it’s a pretty addition to the step.

Unlike other hydrangeas, these were bred to flower along the stems so they can produce more flowers that many varieties.

Lots of work to get on with around the borders. The area the Sambucus is going into needs some work. The climbing roses need a bit of training in. They’ve flowered beautifully this year but need a bit of training to ensure they do again next year. I’m going to be trying to get the garden in order as much as I can before the builders return to minimise damage.

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Six on Saturday: 27.6.20-Joys of Summer

A week of rain followed by a week of the sun has led to lots of plants opening their first blooms of the year.  So much so that it was hard to choose just six, but six is the rules. So let’s get on with these absolute delights.

1. Dutch iris

The first of the Dutch irises are out. So far they’ve come out blue and white. I loved my Reticulata is spring so I’ve been looking to expand my irises. These were a cheap Tesco purchase and they seem happy in the border growing out of ferns and hardy geraniums.

2. Early potatoes

We had our first harvest of early potatoes. These were Duke of York. They’ve grown to a reasonable size. We used the small ones to go with a chicken pie and got some larger ones left for another meal. There are two more bags still growing so we’ll have some more in a few weeks. They were quite a tasty variety. I’d grow them again. This pot I earthed up as we went. One of the others I filled completely at the start to see if it makes a difference.

3. Container pond

I bought a little container pond set from Thompson & Morgan when they were on offer. The kit came with a plastic bowl, planting basket, aquatic compost, and gravel to go on the top. It has come with 3 bare root pond plants. Acorus calamus ‘Argenteostriatus’, Iris pseudacorus, and Pontederia cordata. The bulbs are starting to poke through. I’m not sure how healthy the bulbs were so I’m not sure they will all come up. The hope is to get some dragonflies in. The water is getting a bit of algal growth so I’m having to scoop it off while it sorts its equilibrium.

I’ve used driftwood around the outside to cover part of the plastic and form a slope up to it.

4. Cornflowers ‘black ball’

At the start of lockdown, I gave Alice lots of the seed packets that had come free with magazines that could be sown direct. She scattered them all over leading to a mass of marigolds this year. These were a cornflower that I think wablack ball. The flowers are quite pretty little black fluffy things.

The stems are pretty ugly with a wispy white look that looks pretty diseased. Alice must have emptied these into quite a small space as they are all coming up together, so I’ve rigged up a support of driftwood, again, along the edge of the border with string to tidy it up a bit.

Despite the ruffles the bees still seem interested.

5. Passionflowers

The passionflowers have all clumped together on one bit of fence. I’ve spread the growth out a bit so it can gradually turn the whole section green. We have the first flowers which are a lot earlier than last year.

6. Hosta Bressingham Blue

This is one of my largest hostas grown in a very large pot. It has large blue leaves making it slightly less appealing to slugs. It is coming into flower with its large white blooms.

Some people cut the flower stalks off as they want the plant purely for foliage, but I think they are rather nice.

The garden is looking lovely right now but we’ve had the news that we are going to have to have more building work as the render was applied wrong. This means I’m going to have to clear the patio again at some point in the future. With this in mind, I’m going to be looking at whether any of the patio plants can be potted into the border. A lot of the current pots are temporary like the veg pots and the dahlias but have to see if I can find spots for some of the hostas and heucheras as I don’t fancy them all sat on the lawn again. I’m also adding a second shed so I’ve got the dumping area to clear ready.

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Six on Saturday: 20.6.20

It’s been a week of on and off rain. We’ve got through a few jobs. There has been lots of thinning to do. The forget-me-nots are going over and the ox-eye daisies are growing a bit thick. We are now into dead-heading time as the first roses are going over. The old roses won’t flower again so they can be left to form rose buds but the others can repeat flower. The marigolds are all over after I let Alice scatter seed, so plenty to deadhead. Alice is joining in, though whether they actually need deadheading varies

1. Dahlia potting on

The Bishop’s Children dahlias have been in need of potting on for a few weeks but not got round to it. I’ve moved them from the tray into pots. They are a bit behind the others as a result but I’ve got two big Bishop’s children nice and bushy from the tubers saved last year. The cactus from seed are a bit further ahead and my other tubers are set to flower soon. The aphids are all over several this year but I’ve found a few ladybird and larvae on them so that should help.

2. Climbing hydrangea

The climbing hydrangea is one of my favourite climbers in the garden. This one isn’t massively noticeable as it is hidden behind the black cherry and the lilac. But it is flowering happily away. I planted two last year opposite that are working their way up the fence. They are slow to establish but once they do they have lush green foliage and these stunning white florets. I noticed Tesco had a lot for sale this week if you are tempted.

I’ve also added a different variety ‘silver lining’ which has the variegated leaves. Gradually the fence is getting claimed by the different climbers as I’d prefer to have it completely green. This gives the other plants a better background but it’s also better for the wildlife.

3. Seagull chick

The seagull chick is still hanging around. It has been rained on lots. I don’t think the parents are feeding it so I have put out a bit of food. However, I’m not sure it recognises it as food so it may slowly fade.

4. Geranium Rozanne

Geranium Rozanne was added earlier in the year. It’s a very popular choice that I’ve never bothered with. But I fancied adding a different colour into the mix as currently, the hardy geraniums are mainly pink or white.

5. Foxglove

I haven’t got many foxgloves this year but I’ve got lots on the go from seed ready for next year. I’m also trying Digitalis lutea to add a perennial variety to get around the biennial aspect of planning for the next year.

6. Hanging cage

I renovated the front garden’s hanging cage as it was looking a bit tatty. I’ve dug out one of the self-seeded nasturtiums. Initially, it seems to have taken a hit for being dugout. But it is still providing plenty of flowers so that’s fine. I think this variety was self-seeded from milkmaid.

And that wraps it up for this week. The weather looks to be wet tomorrow but then it should just be grey for a week so we’ll hopefully be able to get out and get on with some jobs.

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Six on Saturday: 13.6.20-Soggy week

Well, it’s been a busy week of 30 Days Wild activities and a wet one. It has rained most of the week. So between rain and homeschooling, I’ve only really done a bit of weeding this week. The lilac needs a prune once the last flowers go over as it’s growing beyond its allotted space. I’ve started the process of pulling out the spring self-seeders. The forget-me-nots and aquilegias are coming out by the handful now. But the dahlias and verbena are almost ready to go in to replace them.

1. Purple clematis

This was established in the garden when I moved in but had got very leggy so I pruned it right back the year before last and it is doing much better. However, it is growing through the Clematis montana ‘Marjorie’ which doesn’t need pruning as often so I may face issues here. Just the one flower currently but a few more dotted around.

2. Goldfinches

The goldfinches have been visiting more often currently as they now have their young coming in with them. I want to encourage them so I’ve got some more sunflower seeds from Haith’s bird food. It was nice to see they’d got rid of their plastic packaging and it came delivered within a sturdy card bag. It’s done the job. As soon as I put it out I had several blue tits, the goldfinches, and a chaffinch in. I hadn’t seen the chaffinches in a while so that was a pleasant sight.

3. Lychnis coronaria

My lychnis started as one small plant and has since self-seeded around.  I like the furry silver leaves as it contrasts well against many of my favoured foliage plants and the hardy geraniums. The small flowers are as vibrant as anything in the garden but looking a bit sorry for themselves at the moment. They get a bit leggy and woody after a few years and look better for being pulled out and letting the new ones take over.

4 Pot combination

This pot combination has been together for a while now and is filling out nicely. The fern is Athyrium niponicum var. pictum metallic, the Japanese painted fern. The hosta lakeside is a small variety growing just 15cm or so. Then the black ophiopogon is evergreen and stays all year.

5. Yellow rose

This yellow rose grows up through the Choisya ternata. I’d quite like to take out the Choisya as it suffers too much during winter and spends the rest of the year recovering but I don’t think I can remove one and not the other. Choisya’s little white flowers are popular with bees. The yellow rose came with the garden. It shoots straight up for light out of the Choisya and forms bright orange flame buds. The roses bright yellow and fade to cream. While I probably wouldn’t have picked a yellow rose it is probably my favourite in the garden.

6. Charles DeMills

Charles DeMills was bought with vouchers I won a few years ago. It did a few flowers in its first year, none last year and looks to have a few more this year. It’s an old rose so I will only get the one burst of flowers each year, but they are rather grand. Large ruffles with a strange flat top.

The rain looks set to continue for a few more days over next week so I’m probably not going to get a mass chance to garden over the next week. But I’ve got a couple of garden books to read and try to get out in the few bursts I can. Don’t forget to check the Propagator’s guide to taking part in Six on Saturday if you fancy taking part and check his blog today to see more links on the comments. Enjoy your weekends.

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30 Days Wild: Day 9-Beetles maths

Last weekend was World Coleoptera weekend so I thought I’d make a focus of beetles. Beetles are one of the most diverse forms of life on the planet. They are the largest order of insects and makeup almost 25% of all known life forms. So worth spending a bit of time on.

We had a look at a couple of different beetle books, which I’ll comment on later in the blog. Then we had a look at the ladybird lifecycle models and stag beetle life cycle.

For those of you who don’t know a ladybird is a type of beetle and its lifecycle is much like the butterfly. We start from eggs, usually laid on leaves. Out of the egg hatches the larvae. These are particularly useful for gardeners as it is these that eat a mass number of aphids, yet a lot of gardeners don’t recognise them. The larval stage is when the beetle puts on most of its growth. When it has matured enough it forms a pupa. Later in the year, you will often find these hanging off leaves. From the pupa, the ladybird emerges as the mature beetle capable of reproducing and thus the cycle can continue.

After covering part of the science and answering the many questions we moved onto an activity designed for pushing the craft and maths. I had made up ladybirds, but with a problem, they had lost their spots. On the back, it had a calculation for Alice to represent.

We added the spots with paint and a sponge brush.

Once made we ordered the numbers and counted the doubles. Then I taught Alice the ladybird doubles song.

“This ladybird has 2 spots, 2 spots, 2 spots, this ladybird has 2 spots, 1 + 1 makes 2.”

Then in the afternoon, we headed out to the park.

And I’m pleased to report we found the key stages of the ladybird. A mass of ladybirds, though many were the invasive harlequin we did see some 2 spots. The following photos are courtesy of Amy and her macro skills. We have the larvae first. There were lots to be found on the nettles and buttercups.

Followed by the pupa.

Then a handful of ladybirds.

And I found one in our own garden.

The two main beetle books I used today were the beetle book by Simon Jenkins and a beetle is shy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long. I’ve reviewed A nest is noisy previously by the same team. Both these books are beautifully illustrated and show the great variety in beetles as well as a chance to talk about different body parts, wing cases, mandibles, etc. For older children, there is the beetle boy series but Alice isn’t quite ready yet.

I hope you’re enjoying our 30 days journey so far. I’ve added a contents page if anyone wants to look for ideas. There are also lots of ideas used in previous years here.

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Six on Saturday: 6.6.20-Roses and alliums

Well, this week has seen us busy with 30 days wild. We have spent a lot of time in the garden but not so much on gardening except the grow your own. But at the moment it’s nice just to enjoy the mass of flowers coming through. We have had a few good bursts of rain the last few days which is doing the garden a world of good. The water butts should be filling up and the veg patch is moving on from the combination of sun and rain.

1. Rose Paul’s Scarlet Climber

I planted two of these on opposite fences and they are now in their 3rd Summer. The aim was to train them out for the horizontal growth to encourage flowering. I think training is going fairly well. Plenty of flowers all along both with plenty more on the way. A little more training to get another layer along the top of the fence but we have a good number of flowers this year.

On the opposite fence, I’d planned for the combination of the white allium nigrums contrasting with the roses and so far so good.

It’s full of blooms with many more on the way.

2. Allium Nigrum

Here are the Allium nigrums in more detail. I grew a few last year and I liked them so much I’ve added more. They are a nice tall variety growing out of the mass of geraniums. The white is standing out well amongst the mass of greenery. I think I could go for even more of these next year.

3. Chives

The little patch of chives near the driftwood has been bringing in lots of bees. While I can harvest them as a herb and for an edible flower I don’t like to deprive the bees so they end up staying on. I might divide them this year as it’s getting to a good size patch now.

4. New lawnmower and strimmer

I won a new lawnmower courtesy of a Skinny Jeans Gardener competition, or more accurately Alice won a new lawnmower. She was meant to win a toy lawnmower but Flymo sent an actual one and a strimmer. She isn’t too bothered for it so I’m putting it to use. I already had a Flymo but as this one is a bit newer I thought I’d keep this one and I’ve given my old one away. It’s a little smaller than my old one but that makes it easier going over our uneven lawn. I’ve got it set to the highest level currently as that helps with the periods of drought, though we have had the rain this week I doubt will last.

And a strimmer for the lawn edging. I tend to cut parts of the border neat with the brick edging while a few areas I leave longer for the wildlife. It made short work of the edging nice and quick and useful for going around the raised veg bed.

Much neater.

5. Ox-eye daisies

The ox-eye daisies were one of the first flowers I grew from seed on the garden. They now self-seed all over the place. I let them flower, then either cut them back or pull them out. More will replace them. They are named again and again as one of the best for pollinators and always attract a wide range of insects with their easily accessible open flowers.

6. Marigold

The first of the marigolds have opened. A bit ahead of the rest. These self-seed around but I also gave Alice a lot of packs of seed this year that could be sown direct. She has been scattering these around and I look to be getting an abundance of marigolds this year.

The garden is looking great right now but I need to get on with the staking that as usual, I’ve been tardy over. All the wet weather with bursts of sun will have brought the weeds on so I need to try and give the garden a bit more attention. I’ve just completed another RHS assignment which frees up a bit of time. Enjoy your weekends. We’ve got a bit more 30 days fun planned.

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Six on Saturday: 30.5.20 National Children’s Gardening Week

This week is National Children’s Gardening Week. The Horticultural Trade Association has set challenges each day. We’ve taken part in each of these along with doing some of our own. Like many of you, we’ve been homeschooling so I’ve been taking part in lots of different national weeks and days for some inspiration for activities. Today I’m covering six of her favorites from the last week but we’ve done lots more besides this. Lots of seed sowing and grow your own. Alice has carried on helping to stock our charity sales. She has got used to doing one lesson each day and it has now got to the point where I’m getting pestered for one before I’ve finished my morning cup of tea. She also has no concept of weekends so I still have to do lessons at the weekend. Shouldn’t have done such exciting lessons.

1. Garden collage

We found a challenge set by the publishers of the lovely children’s book Mrs. Noah’s garden to make a garden picture out of recycled material. The book’s pictures were created by collage so we thought we’d give it a go. We started by cutting a sheet of card and painting it for the background.

Old gardening magazines came in use for some flower material.

She then assembled the parts she’d cut and made. It was interesting seeing the story she developed as she glued it together. The felt flower was there for the ladybird. The strawberries were there if the butterfly got hungry.

2. Allotment plan

One of the National Children’s Gardening Week challenges was to draw your ideal veg plot.

She drew what she wanted and then asked me to label. I was impressed with how many ideas she came up with. She didn’t need any prompting for choices. I was also glad to see she picked many things that we are growing in our own garden. With the exception of the lemons. But I don’t think she’ll mind us not having them as she said they were for mummy’s drinks.

3. Seed bombs

We had a go at making a seed bomb mix for grassland. Several seeds for short flowers went in that can escape mowers. Red clover and yellow rattle in. Yellow rattle works as a parasite on grass reducing its vigor. Essential if looking at establishing a meadow area on grassland as the grass will win against many wildflowers. Then a few poppies we had spare went in. These were mixed with clay, water, and soil. Then we put in a bit of chili powder. This is to put animals like squirrels off eating them.

The mix was then sculpted into balls and then left to dry.

4. Bee rocks

Another challenge set by the HTA for National Children’s gardening week was to paint rocks for the garden. We went with a simple bee design. Alice worked on a queen bee and several workers.

She then found a spot in the garden for them.

5. Fairy pots

On Wednesday the fairies left Alice a message outside the back door.

She spent a bit of time inside drawing onto the pot. She wanted a rainbow door and butterflies around hers. Then we got them planted up. She choose one of the mini-dahlietta.

She then wanted to arrange a fairy garden and pond around her pot house.

6. Mini-beast hunting

Armed with a clipboard, magnifying glass and, cameras we headed out for a mini-beast hunt.

We found just about everything on the list with the exception of the dragonflies and ladybirds. We’re just starting to get the damselflies in again and the dragonflies will follow.

It’s good to see that between the plants we grow and the habitat creation we have done we are finding a rich variety of life.

It’s been a busy week for gardening and craft activities. But it will be continuing as we head into the Wildlife Trust’s 30 days wild. Each day through June we do one activity to engage in nature. I’ve taken part in it the last few years and many of my previous ideas can be found here. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 23.5.20 Hardy Geraniums and alliums

Well, it’s been a busy week for garden media, despite lockdown. The virtual Chelsea flower show has dominated the TV during the week. After giving my opinion earlier in the week the TV coverage has still been pretty dull. But it can’t have been easy to fill the number of hours they had assigned to it. Though, I still feel the 15+ hours of coverage could have been put to better use. 15 hours could give a good introduction to gardening but obviously, it isn’t easy making TV on lockdown. The online content has been much better though with some great slots from designers and growers without the fuss of show gardens. The Virtual Chelsea garden competition was inevitably won by people with stunning gardens, but many times the size of the average garden. But my tweet did make the RHS website.

1. Geranium Renardii

Renardii was one of the early purchases I made for the garden. This one has been a slow spreader. The Margery Fish advice of, “if in doubt, plant a geranium” is sound advice and they are all over my garden. I’ve seen it featured on several other peoples six on Saturday posts and they’ve lamented that it doesn’t flower as well as other hardy geraniums. Mine has a reasonable number but it probably isn’t as filled as other hardy geraniums.

Renardii leaves have an odd warty texture to them. A bit leathery but I rather like the look of them near my silver-leaved lychnis for the contrast.

2. Geranium x oxonianum

This little geranium was one of our wedding presents. It’s taken two seasons to establish well but I now have two plants that are filling out well and they are covered in the tiny veined flowers.

3 Allium karataviense

These were bought from a market stall a few years ago for 40p each. They ebbed and flowed in their vigour. They are a short variety with large ivory flower heads. They are quite a nice variety for pots with their low growing nature. These are dotted along the front of the borders.

4. Allium trifoliatum ‘Caméléon’

These are a Sarah Raven purchase. I bought them at the end of the season cheap. I think they might want to review the product details as by nor stretch of the imagination are these 30-45cm. More like 10-15cm. They are completely lost in the borders. You can see even the smallest forget-me-nots are taller. While very pretty they needed to be in a pot on their own as anything else will cover them. I’m going to try to carefully transplant them to the front garden where I might be able to put them in visible spots.

5. Geranium-Ingwersen’s variety

This was bought at the same time as the Renardii. This is spreading to claim more and more ground. It is a short ground hugger. The flowers aren’t as ornate as the other two featured this week but they flower in abundance. I think it’s probably time to divide some. Maybe place it under the Charles DeMills rose.

6. Allium-Tesco special

These alliums are grown in pots. Tescos has sold them for the last few years. I’ve bought them last minute usually when they’ve been reduced. There are two to a pot. They flower and stay looking good as flower heads for a time afterwards.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekends. Don’t forget to check the other six on Saturday blogs in the founder’s comments. We had a good burst of rain yesterday but this was followed by a day of sun and wind. It’s looking to be a bit colder but still winds around me so back to the watering. But now people are coming to our area for the beach we aren’t walking out as much as it’s getting too busy. Glad we’ve got the garden.

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I’m going to sneak an extra plant in featured a few weeks back as it was such a lovely photo.

Six on Saturday: 9.5.20

Well, we started the week with lots of glorious rain refreshing the garden no end. Then back to glorious sunshine mid-week before dropping in temperature again. We’ve had a good bit of time in the garden though. I’ve dug out lots of self-seeders for plant sales and divided a few perennials. The garden is getting to a nice point of filling up and I’m selecting what remains.

1. Radish-cherry belle

We harvested our first crop form the raised bed. Still, a few more of these that have some more growing to go and a second variety coming through. I’ve planted a few of the little gem lettuces and the broad beans have gone in. Alice has been enjoying eating these over the week knowing she helped grow them.

2. Red Riding Hood tulips

These were Alice’s choice. They are dotted around the border. They are normally a pretty reliable choice but have been a bit weak this year. But never mind I’ve had plenty of other spectacular tulips over the last month.

3. Azalea japonica-Agadir

The Azalea is going through its first proper year of flowering. There are a mass number of flowers and they are lovely but the foliage is a bit sparse. Not quite the tightly clipped Japanese ‘Kokarikomi’ I had in mind. So after these have flowered I’m going to be looking to try to prune it. The advice from Jake Hobson in his book Niwaki was to treat like box and start by pruning little and often. So I’ll start with pruning some of the dead growth back hard and pruning the rest back behind the flowers.

4. Clematis Montana

Last week my neighbours Montana featured. My own Montana is on the opposite fence. It isn’t as showy a flower. These are smaller, more delicate flowers. I forget the variety but it is doing well, interlinking with the climbing rose nicely.

And I’m going to sneak last weeks Montana back in. This time as a silhouette by the light of the moon.

5. Brick spires

Last week I’d shown my seagull defense spires. I’ve managed to find enough bricks to fill each of the spires most of the way up. I could do with one or two more for each to fill them completely. I’ve then added some rope between to block the seagulls and act as if it’s a handrail. Looking at the positioning of the plants the hydrangea limelight could probably do with moving slightly so that it is in the middle of the space between the two-stepping stone paths but that can be left till it’s dormant. So far it seems to be working as no more plants have been dug out.

6. Lilac

The lilac has got a great spread of flowers this year. Every so often I contemplate removing it as it takes up a lot of space but when it’s in flower it is tremendous. While it might not have the most exciting foliage or nices growth for the rest of the year it does seem to be tolerant of our sea breezes at least.

The garden is starting to look really nice now, if I do say so myself, with lots of foliage looking lush and many plants coming into flower. I’m attending a Zoom lecture online with Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter on layered planting through the season. Thoroughly looking forward to this as I’d never normally be able to make it to one of his lectures. I hope you are all getting plenty of pleasure from your gardens this year. Stay safe and don’t forget to check the propagator’s blog to see more six on Saturday posts in the comments.

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Six on Saturday: 2.5.20

So, today is world naked gardening day but with the weather, I think we can give that a miss. Besides, I’d probably need to ask Alice to take the photo and I think that might traumatise her for life. We’ll see whether it makes it onto anyone else’s sixes. If you fancy taking part in Six on Saturday check the participant guide. The garden is filling with colour with the hot weather followed by the rain. I make no apologies for the mass photos.
1. Saxifrage

I have a few patches of saxifrage in pots. The white is ‘Pixie white’ and the red I think is ‘Peter Pan’. It has faded from the red it opens to a mixture of pink. They are getting a bit straggly. I could probably do with trying to save some seed and start them off again. Some of the pots would do with some more grit but I’m not about to pay delivery at the moment.

2. Lamprocapnos spectabilis-Bleeding heart

The plant formerly known as Dicentra. The pink bleeding heart is well established now. I divided a large section last year and I’ve now got bursts coming up along the border. It prefers shade but can tolerate sun if watered regularly. The bees have been visiting more often this year.

This patch of the ‘Alba’ variant’ is in the back garden in the shaded fern corner. I’ve got two establishing in the front garden amongst the ferns and hostas. They should carry on putting on growth each year until I can divide again.

I particularly like the bleeding heart alongside tulips. The combination of the dark queen of the night with the pink hearts is always striking.

3. Tulip Zurel

I’ve just got the one pot of these tulips. The white and purple stripes are very striking. The shape is nice and they’ve been long-lasting. They’ve been open for a couple of weeks and still looking good.

4. Tulip-Black Parrot

These were in a pot display a few years ago with Ophiogogon, ‘blackgrass’. I must have emptied these out at some point as I have this single parrot in the border. They are very striking tulips with the feathery petal edges. The rich dark colour means it is standing out on its own in a sea of ox-eye daisy foliage.

5. Rain

On Wednesday we got the first burst of rain which started lightly but carried on through part of the night. Then we’ve had dribs and drabs since. It’s amazing how quickly it refreshes the garden. I’ve been watering the garden but it’s not a substitute for a good downpour. The water butts have had a chance to be replenished. I’ll just need to step the slug and snail defences again. I might try brewing my own nematodes again now the weather has warmed up a bit.

6. Seagull defence network

I had previously mentioned that the seagulls have been causing me issues. Normally we happily coexist but this year they have been very destructive. I don’t know if it’s the lack of chips available or nesting material but they keep trying to steal the cyclamen and the Ophiopogon from the front garden. I’d rammed in a collection of bamboo stakes initially. The basic idea was to make it harder to land and take off. This would hopefully put them off spending time in the garden. But they just saw the bamboo stakes as big nesting material and tried to steal them as well. So I’ve been collecting worn bricks from the beach. Then a steel fencing pin through the middle makes a brick spire. I need a lot more bricks to complete it but I think it will make a network of solid obstacles to put them off. If not they are still slightly better looking than a network of bamboo canes.

I’ve then got some rope to add when they are all in place as a sort of handrail around the stepping stones and as another blockade for the gulls. In my mind, this will be a better-looking solution to a problem. In reality, it looks like a strange pile of bricks people going past are going to question. It’s a work in progress it might improve. The bamboo canes will go when I get the rope done.

Then I’ve got two different types of wind spinners to try to put the seagulls off as they apparently don’t like these either. I’m not sure these will achieve much but Alice likes them so that’s fine. I like the hummingbird one more than the oak leaf. The fake bronzing on the oak leaf isn’t the best quality. The hummingbird one I imagine will rust up but should still spin even once it does.

I hope you are all staying safe and coping with the strain of lockdown. I’ve got plenty to still keep me busy. If you are looking for things to do with the kids check out my review of ‘how to get kids gardening‘. Plenty of seeds still to sow, plants to pot on and veg to tend. Alice is still enjoying the quality time with us. We’ll be carrying on with our beach walks to see if I can collect enough bricks to finish the spires.

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