Six on Saturday: Ivy has a Habit…

…not of picking its nose or biting its fingernails, but growing! It doesn’t seem very long since I built a wall around the compost heap, with a feature extension utilising two pieces of stained glass from an old front door, but this is what it looked like yesterday before I introduced it to the loppers and secateurs:

…and here it afterwards:

We might have gone pretty hungry otherwise, because we mightn’t have known that home is where the bread is:

Cutting back Rambling Rector was not such a straightforward task, despite it being an annual one, but at least by tackling it annually the rose no longer reaches the bird’s nest stage when a complete overhaul is required. However, it was made much easier this year by the discovery that lurking in the shed we have a telescopic pruner we had forgotten about – no more perilous reaching to pull down the stems with a fence stake with one foot on the ladder, thank goodness.

It’s not all been pruning and trimming, lopping and hacking, this week and there has been plenty of time for observation, noticing the embryonic flowers on the various witch hazels, for example. I realised a few years ago that the flowers were formed the previous year, but not that they could appear as early as this. It’s a reassuring sign, as some of them skip a year or otherwise flower badly, undoubtedly weather-related and perhaps dependent on the timing of rainfall, and there is no doubt that  Hamamelis ‘Zuccariniana’ will be smothered in blooms this winter, making up for its poor show last time. You can see seed pods here as well as the new flowers – and most of my witch hazels sport generous quantities of these, testament to the number of pollinating insects around in winter.

Further exciting news this week is that I have zinnias! Orange King, Benary Giant Lime and another from Benary Giant Mix, they were sown in mid February with a second sowing in early April as the first had suffered from aphids, and planted out mid-May. It has taken a few years, but I was close to Zinnia Success last year and have now finally cracked it – joy of joys!

I have also discovered a bud on seed sown Trifolium rubens, although it has taken a couple of years to get to this stage; this clover relative makes a pleasing and tactile impact in a border and by next year these potted ones will hopefully be snapped up by garden visitors, assuming we will be able to open ‘normally’ then. My original plant, shown here with astrantia and allium, was bought from a local NGS garden, invariably a good source of interesting plants.

The sixth of my Saturday Sixes is a query: the plant below just seemed to ‘appear’ in one of my borders this year and although without a label it is clearly not a weed. A number of plants have made themselves known this year after an absence and I suspect this is one of those, and on looking through past plant orders I see in 2017 I ordered Aster novae-angliae ‘Andenken An Alma Potschke’ (now Symphyotrichum) which this might be. I have never successfully grown asters before, so does this look like Alma, do you think?

Even if you can’t help with this, do pop over to Jon the Propagator’s blog and see what Six things he and other people have written about this Saturday.

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16 Responses to Six on Saturday: Ivy has a Habit…

  1. bcparkison says:

    The brick is beautiful addition to your garden but I do love ivy.

  2. Cathy says:

    Congratulations on the zinnias Cathy! I like the look of the Trifolium. (My hares would love it! 😉 ) The mystery plant is the right colour for Alma indeed, but I think the leaves are a bit too thick. And isn‘t it a bit early? Mine doesn‘t flower until the end of September, early October….

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, thank goodness rabbits and hares are unlikely to make it to our garden! The plant is a puzzle – I had been thinking it might be Erigeron Pink Jewel but couldn’t find any record of having bought it. Illustrations don’t always show the leaves of a plant which sometimes you need for a positive ID. I agree that it would be very early for an aster

  3. tonytomeo says:

    English ivy is the most invasive of the exotic species in this particular part of the forest. It covers acres of the forest floor, and climbs into several of the trees. It tends to avoid the redwoods, but once it starts climbing one, it can really make a mess of it. I can not explain why most redwood repel ivy, but a few do not.

    • Cathy says:

      Why does England get the blame for the ivy – why is it classed as ‘English’ ivy, Tony? 😉

      • tonytomeo says:

        English ivy is the common ivy, at least here. It is commonly known simply as ‘ivy’. I designate it as English merely to distinguish it from Algerian ivy, which is less common and less invasive here. Algerian ivy used to be more common in landscapes, and was popular when I was a kid. The subspecies and cultivars of English ivy that were commonly used in landscaping, and that have since naturalized in many regions, are supposedly not originally from England. (I was told that they were originally from Portugal, but I am not certain if there are any ivies that are native to Portugal.) English probably get the blame for ivy because they took the ‘credit’ for popularizing it, whether or not it was actually native. Many of the species that are known as English were designated as such because they were obtained from what were colonies of the British Empire at the time. (It seems that ‘British’ is commonly described as ‘English’.) No one seems to know where ‘London plane’ got its name from, but we think of it as the English sycamore, probably because London is in England. However, it is a hybrid of an Asian sycamore and a North American sycamore. I have no idea how it got to be ‘English’. (Incidentally, what I know as Algerian ivy is not actually the species that is native to Algeria, but is instead from the Canary Islands.)

  4. Noelle M says:

    Love your brick wall and I just love the piece of marble with the quote. That picture could be on the front of a home baking book…but it would have to have the translation of the fly sheet! I do like a bit of Ivy, but you have to show it the clippers or it would outdo its welcome.

    • Cathy says:

      I like a bit of ivy too, Noelle, and I suppose it is my fault for focussing on my pretties instead… The plaque is some sort of reconstituted stone and I have about three of them – they are so realistic, even down to the pretend cracks!

  5. Heyjude says:

    I have to say that I rather liked the look of the ivy on that wall. Like discovering a derelict building that had been reclaimed by nature.

    • Cathy says:

      And I liked the look of it too – but enough is enough! I was thinking about The Secret Garden as I cut it down though… Rather than trying to remove the roots I might let it grow around the base, as long as I can be confident I will trim it before it gets out of hand again!

    • Cathy says:

      ps and some of our garden is still like that, especially around the woodland

  6. Anna says:

    Oh that is most positive progress on the zinnia front Cathy! Have you sowed any of the witch hazel seeds?

    • Cathy says:

      As I took the photograph I was conscious I had never actually sown any, so that is something worth having a go at. I shall have to put a little bag around the seed pod as they tend to split open quite suddenly and shoot their seeds (2 in each) out

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