Saturday is a good day for mixed bags, as several things which wouldn’t be enough for a post of their own can be combined into one post. My contribution to Jon the Propagator’s weekly meme actually contains more than six photos, but several are part of a single theme so I am hoping to get away with it. I shall start with the prettiest photo (above), showing Rosa ‘Susan Williams-Ellis’ which for some reason bucks the trend and seems to produce its best and biggest blooms in a later flush – look at all those tiers of pristine white petals!
Moving onto the blue & white border, in anticipation of a rainy week, I have begun a major overhaul by removing most of the plants from the first of the two beds:
Unsurprisingly, the border proved to be graveyard of redundant plant labels, although I was surprised how plants did come out of it, especially when there are a number of additional plants waiting to go in. I didn’t remove the two echinops nor the delphinium against the back, but the former could do with being thinned or divided. I now need to decide how best to improve the soil, as I am faced with the age-old problem of adding goodness but not wanting to end up with an increasingly high soil level – how best to get around this?
In the course of removing plants I dug up a clump of these intriguing clumps of roots, all huddled together, and although there was no clue as to what they were they were potted up anyway. It wasn’t till I dug out a pretty white Centaurea montana that I realised that they must be the thuggish blue variety – I must have dug out so many of these over the years but clearly didn’t remember what their roots were like!
I set up my hydroponic propagator during the week and quickly filled it with cuttings, penstemon and salvia to start with. As the heat builds up in the greenhouse it also warms the water in the reservoir and this must boost the speed at which cuttings root, as some were doing so within a mere couple of days!
Still in the greenhouse are the pots of previously non-performing clematis, which I lifted and potted up to administer a touch of TLC. I lifted seven in total, five of which were complete no-shows and two were ailing C integrifolia. Astonishingly, all have burst into life and two are even rewarding me solitary blooms; all the more astonishing is that some hadn’t been seen for at least two seasons! The moral is clearly not to give up on clematis you think you have lost – do give it a try and you may be pleasantly surprised!
One of a small number of plants that have sailed through this dry year without watering or any attention other than deadheading is the various scabious in the cutting beds, not just the second year Scabious ‘Black Knight’ (below) but two different varieties sown from seed this year. What a wonderful performer it is! Normally grown as annuals, they regularly return for another year or longer, and I plan to add them to some of the other borders next year. I love their pin-cushion heads and the bees love them too…
Finally, I have made an effort and tackled a bit of weeding in the paths, a job normally done by the Golfer but I wanted to try out this new weeding tool, recommended by Which? Gardening. Made by Fiskars, this ‘XACT weed puller’ performs the task pretty well and is surprisingly cheap (around £15) – I can now recommend it too. There is also a more expensive long handled version.