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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Six on a Saturday-14.4.18

The weather has remained horrible for much of this week. However there are signs of gradual improvement. The temperature is slightly warmer. I managed in the garden without a coat yesterday.

Currently my garden has a bit of a void. It’s transitioning between seasons. The crocus and glory of the snow are going over or gone. The camelia is still flowering, but wilt is setting in. The daffodils are still going adding bursts of sunshine and the forget me nots are starting to bloom. I’m eager with anticipation for tulips and then Summer flowers.

1 self seeders

Across the borders many plants have self seeded. I selected many cottage garden favourites for just reason when planting my first flowers. From a small patch of forget me nots under two years ago any bare earth has been claimed by forget me nots. The first are flowering now adding small patches of sky blue to the border just visible from the house.

The foxgloves have seeded in a nice drift behind the bench in the shade. I love the appearance of foxglove’s flowers. There structure being visually appealing to me.

I’ve even got a few hollyhock seedlings establishing themselves around.

2 Skimmia Japonica

The skimmia has given me a good dash of colour through Winter. It has now opened its flower’s revealing the dainty white flowers.

3 Roses

Last month I won garden vouchers from linking to The Old House in the Shires Linky on garden blogs. This includes many good reads on gardening. With my vouchers I thought I’d go with a few plants that will hopefully last a good while. Both options I’ve gone for are strongly scented. In my mind roses are supposed to be scented and many modern varieties have lost this. I’m not a big fan of roses however having bought some tougher gold leaf gloves and enjoyed the long flowering season of several of the existing roses I’m coming round to them. Much of my planting is cottage garden style and roses suit the garden.

Cottage maid has white flowers with speckled pink lines much like a raspberry ripple ice cream. Then Charles de Mills has been a popular choice amongst rose growers for many years. It only flowers once I believe, but it has reasonable foliage for the rest of the year to make up for it. With some under planting I can still have colour coming through.

I’ve planted them in a big hole with new compost and root powder to give them a good start. I wrote on planting roses before with my climbing roses and they seem to be taking off now.

4 Dicksonia Antarctica

Also with the vouchers I bought a Dicksonia Antarctica. This fern can grow to large sizes eventually, though growth will be gradual year on year. I’ve wanted one for a while. It would be nice have one further on its growth. However the price rapidly goes up for a larger one. This will be planted in my shady shed area. I haven’t planted yet as I wanting to check advice on the best means of planting.

The patch it will be going into.

5 Jasmine

On my continuing quest to establish climbers over the fence I have planted two jasmine. Jasmine Stephanese have fragrant flowers that are generally white, but can be pink or sometimes yellow. They fruit a black berry. This was another purchase from tesco’s along with the passionflowers purchased previously. As mentioned with the roses I’m hoping to make more of scent in the garden. I have a wonderful section of fence covered in honeysuckle, however it is behind trees and only smelled when I prune it. My lilac bush is beautiful scented, but short lived. So it would be nice to have more pleasing fragrances.

6 Gertrude Jekyll

Over the last week I’ve read Gertrude Jekyll’s the beauties of a Cottage Garden. While there was little actually discussing cottage gardens, it was still informative despite the 100 years since publication. I did like this paragraph:

But the lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others is to know the enduring happiness that the love of garden gives. I rejoice when I see one, and especially children, enquiring about flowers, and wanting gardens of their own, and carefully working in them. For the love of gardening never dies, but always grows and grows to enduring and ever increasing source of happiness.

Following from the child comment, my little gardener has been in the garden with me moving one weed at a time. She is getting a reward with the last of my vouchers. I’ve bought her Percy from Thomas the Tank engine to go with her Thomas from the New Forest. I haven’t given it to her yet, but I’m sure she’ll be happy with it Percy is one of her favourite characters.

Having reported on wildlife provisions in the garden last week I set up the trail camera for the first time this year. I’m pleased to report hedgehogs came in last night twice. Not sure if it was the same one twice or different, but either way happy they are still visiting.

Hope you all have lovely weekends with the improved weather.

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Six on Saturday 7.4.18

There isn’t a massive amount blooming in the garden at the moment. Lots of buds are ready to unfurl. Bulbs are coming up, but not much flowering. So this week I’m going to focus on some of my provisions for wildlife. One of my aims with the garden was to do my part to contribute to conservation by providing as many homes for nature. I’ve tried to manage the garden to give a variety of habitats and food sources to many types of wildlife. The photos are from across the year. I don’t have foxgloves in flower quite yet.

Birds

For the birds I leave out a variety of food. I use several fat block and ball feeders. These don’t need replacing as often, so ensure the birds have a supply at all times. If you feed the birds during Winter and Spring you need to ensure you leave constant supplies. Otherwise birds waste energy on visiting your garden for no reward.

The seed feeders are the most popular, although recently the wind has made refilling them hard.

The bird baths give a water supply. Around me we have quite a number of fresh water supplies, so mine don’t get used that much by birds, but the insect life in Summer do settle on them.

Hedgehogs

For the hedgehogs I ensure they can move between gardens with a hedgehog hole. Just a small hole in the fence allows hedgehogs to roam. They cover good distances in a night.

I have hedgehog homes for hibernation and stop offs. One is used as a feeding station with weight on the top to stop cats getting the food.

Bug hotel

I built a bug hotel when we first moved in from decking squares and bricks. This has twigs and straw to give bugs shelter.

I have a few fence mounted houses. These mainly attract spiders rather than any of there intended visitors, but it’s all adding to the diversity in the garden.

Frog homes

Frogs need shaded wet patches. I have one bought shelter and then other home made. A broken pot or half buried pot can give shelter to frogs. Next door has a pond, while I don’t, we still get lots of frogs in the garden. I was keen to encourage frogs to help keep the slug numbers down.

Log pile

The log pile provides home to many forms of life. It encourages beetles, earwigs and other predators that will act as biological control of slugs and snails.

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The lawn

The lawn can be a bit of a desert to wildlife if kept really short. I have a couple of patches I leave longer. Several butterfly species lay eggs on longer grass. The frogs and insects use it as passages to stay safer.

Further advice

The RSPB has lots of advice for helping wildlife in our garden with the home for nature plans.

The Wildlfe Trust and RHS teamed up to offer advice in their project wild about gardens.

For book advice Chris Baines companion to wildlife gardening is an excellent source of inspiration.

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My garden wildlife gives me lots of joy. Below are a number of visitors from the last year and a half since moving in. I hope you’ve enjoyed my six. What do you like seeing in your garden?

mouse

Six on a Saturday 31.3.18

This weeks six in the Saturday has been written earlier in the week as I am now on holiday down in Dorset. So I will look forward to seeing what everyone else has been up to when I return home.

Sedum/stonecrop

The first of six is the sedum/stonecrop. The plant flowers in Autumn, then dies down. I like this point of the year when the plant starts to grow back up from the ground looking like sepervivums.

Crocus

This dainty crocus has come up after it’s companions have already been and gone. No less pretty for being on its own.

Passion flowers

Tesco is selling off different climbers at cheap price. I’ve gone for two passion flowers. I have one variety already. These two are going to be planted either side to give a solid section of fence covered in the flowers. While I like to encourage natives the bees still love the open flowers of passion flowers. I have native honey suckle and various clematis of native and non-native origins elsewhere in the garden.

One blue variety: passiflora caerulea.

One white variety: passiflora Constance Elliot.

Bird bath

I’ve added a solar panel floating fountain and some stones to the bird bath I’d bought with birthday vouchers. A little bit of a novelty purchase. The bird bath reviews had said the birds enjoyed one of these fountains in the bath, so thought I’d try it. It gives little squirts of water, rather than continuous flow, when the sun is on it. So far it’s been overcast, so don’t think it’s been at its best yet. I fancy a proper water feature, but I’m not ready to invest money into wiring outside, so this little tinkle of water will do for now.

When the sun has been out it gave a solid continuous jet.

Gardening reading

On the gardening reading front I’ve finished reading Jim Buttress-The people’s gardener. This has been on sale this March for kindle at 99p. It has been a enjoyable quick read. Jim was encouraged in a love of gardening by his dad, from there he has worked in nurseries and town parks. He then went on to train at Wisley, where he failed to graduate due to the academic side. After this he went onto work in the Royal Parks and eventually as, he’s probably best known, a RHS judge and Chelsea Flower Show gold award winner. Life at Wisley was fascinating, as was hearing about his time working for the different parks. This book won’t improve your horticultural knowledge in any major way. But a pleasant read for 99p. My only gripe was how he makes himself out to be a working class lad working his way up from the bottom. He talks about dealing with resentment because he wasn’t the right class. His father was ex navy, then an accountant, so not really a working class upbringing, more middle class. That said he still comes off as a decent bloke who has done well for himself working in a profession he loves. What more can you ask for from life?

Glory of the snow

The last entry for this weeks six I don’t remember planting. I believe it is glory of the snow. I vaguely remember buying the bulbs as they sold off cheap at the end of season last year. However I think I have then dug over the ground and displaced them leading to these forgotten beauties being randomly spread around an area of the border.

The standard blue variety a bit droopy from the rain.

And the white variety.

Over this coming week I am in Dorset, so I may leave off doing six next week or may do a travelling six depending on where we visit. Hope you all have good weekends and the weather treats your gardens kindly.

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Six on a Saturday-24.3.18

Well it seems that Spring has arrived. On my journey to work the rabbits are back out along the wooded edges and the daffodils are coming out in greater numbers. Today is my birthday and the first day of the school holidays, so a day for relaxing. I’m continuing with the six on a Saturday garden blogs concept from the Propagator.

My first, as already mentioned, is my daffodils. I planted a number last year as Amy likes them. While I’m not massively found of them they do add a good splash of colour for Spring and I do like them as another herald of Spring arriving.

The next I think is a camellia. I’m not certain if it is a camellia or an azalea. It came with the garden and I’ve never tried looking it up to work it out. Either way I know it needs ericaceous compost. I gave it a surface layer in Autumn and gave it a liquid feed a few weeks back. This seems to have done it a world of good. A lot more flowers than last year. It’s suffered a bit with the frost, but for a few weeks I’ll get to enjoy the white blooms.

My windowsill propagator sensed Spring was here too. As shown last week my hollyhock seedlings and sweet peas are coming along well. However the morning glory seed were showing no sign of life. Then Monday one poke out, then a few more as the week went on and now were looking to have plenty on the go.

This will be my first year attempting morning glory. They came within another pack of climbers. In the UK it is grown as an annual as it is too tender for our climate. It is a climber with trumpet shaped flowers. The blue flowered varieties are the ones I’ve seen most often, but this pack has reds and oranges on. We’ll have to wait and see if I manage to keep them going to find out what colour they go.

Earlier in the week gold leaf gardening gloves were slightly reduced in the Amazon Spring sale. I’ve read about Gold Leaf gloves before. They are the only RHS approved gloves, recommended because of their durability combined with suppleness. I generally don’t wear gloves. I like the feel of soil and dislike the hindrance of not being able to feel what I’m doing properly. But I have a few plants which irritate to the touch and having planted new roses I want to try to take better care of them than the previous owners had. So, while they were on offer I thought I’d treat myself. While pricier than my previous sets I’ve ended up replacing the last few after short periods. We’ll see whether quality work out better. Having arrived they do feel as good as the reviews said. I’m sure in future I’ll give them a proper review when they’ve seen some wear and tear. The leather feels lovely in comparison to my previous rubber gauntlets I’d equipped myself with for roses.

In the last week I’ve finished the RHS botany for gardeners. This is on kindle sale this month for 99p. It was well worth the 99p. As it’s mainly text it was fine reading on kindle. Many gardening books don’t suit the kindle format, but this was good. It covered a wide range of subjects from Latin and taxonomy to cell structure and propagation.  It was an interesting read that I think I could reread in a year or two. It’s given me abetter understanding of why gardeners do jobs particular ways.

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And my final contribution of my six, my hebe cuttings. I’d started the cuttings just in water and they rooted. I had no idea whether they would. I had an inkling that they would and thought I’d experiment to see if I could cultivate another bush or two from cuttings. They seem to be doing well in the pots, but I think they might need moving to a bigger pot now. We’re going away in a weeks time, so I’d like to do it before then, so I can ensure they have a decent watering before we go.

As mentioned at the start of the blog it is feeling more Spring like and the rabbits are out and about. I’m aiming to manage a decent photo of a wild rabbit this year. I’m getting closer, but  still nothing amazing yet. Here is one from yesterday I’ll leave you with. Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. In a few weeks I think I’ll have a lot more in flower to comment on. Hope you’ve enjoyed my six.

Six on a Saturday 17.03.18

It’s another snowy windy day for my garden, so seems an odd time to start taking part in six on a Saturday. I’ve been reading many of the blogs that take part in six on a Saturday for a while, but never taken part. I figure it’s time I gave it a go.

The garden hasn’t thawed at all over the day. At dinner time the hanging basket was still showing icicles. I’ve kept up my bird feeding efforts and have been rewarded with lots of visitors. So far today I’ve seen blue tits, great tits, blackbirds, wood pigeons, sparrows, starlings, a robin and a few wrens. The wind is preventing me filling up the seed feeders, so I’ve been keeping supplies of suet and fat ball feeders going.

My first of six comes from my windowsill propagators. My sweet peas are taking off well. As there on the windowsill they’ve been growing with a slant towards the light, so I’m trying to turn them around every few days to account for this.

Again from the windowsill comes hollyhock seedlings (Alcea Rosea). I’m trying to establish more from seed this year rather than the garden centre to save money and give me plants to use for home and school. The variety I’m growing came from a mixed pack my mum bought me reduced last year. This particular variety is “Summer Carnival”. A double flowered variety with ruffled flowers. I grow hollyhocks for the bees last year. With the double flowers I imagine these won’t have as much benefit for the bees, but as I have the seed I will give them a go.

My alpines and succulents I had growing in plastic trays last year. I’ve bought a few new varieties and transferred them to ceramic pots as I didn’t like the plastic much. I’ve improved the drainage with layers of grit and sand, so they don’t end up sitting in water. The aeonium is a bit sorry for itself after snow and frost, so if it doesn’t recover I’ll remove that from the middle.

The saxifrage is a variety called “Peter Pan” that grows into a mossy cushion of foliage with red flowers in Spring.

Then in one of the other pots, another new addition to my garden, sedum, spathulifolium blanco. Another low flowering plant, giving bright yellow flowers. Both the sedum and saxifrage should spread over their pots and then I should be able to propagate more from this small beginnings. Much like the sempervivums I started off last year I believe these are all fairly easy to propagate. From three sempervivums last year I now have double that from separating off the offsets.

I have one rather pitiful group of primula. They were a birthday present last year from one of Amy’s sisters. However on their own they just look sad. I may have to add some more next year, though I think I’ll go with some of the more natural white varieties.

Back on the patio the Black Parrot tulips are taking off well now. These are a feathered variety growing up through Ophiopogon, black mondo at the base of an angustfolio prunus. I never tried tulips in my previous garden as the combination of thick clay and a limited border made me reluctant to use the space on them. But Amy is quite fond of them I think, so I have a few varieties coming through this year.

The snow has started heavily again outside, so no more garden time today. With the bitterly cold wind blowing at strength, even wrapped up, I don’t fancy getting Alice out. So today she has enjoyed some inside time with a new paint set.

She quickly decided hands were a good tool to use for painting.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed my first six on a Saturday. Don’t forget to keep feeding the birds. My blackbirds have appreciated a bag of apples I left out for them. They keep returning for a nibble and they are large enough not to be buried in the snow. I hope you all have good weekends and the weather treats you as kindly as it can. Any other six on a Saturday bloggers please feel free to comment linking to yours. I read a lot already, but happy to discover more.

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