Six on Saturday: Scraping the Barrel

I have been scraping burnt-on grease stains off the Aga this afternoon, but feel I have had to really scrape the barrel for today’s Six on Saturday post, the meme hosted by Jon the Propagator. At least I can start with something worth seeing, the only streptocarpus in the Coop that is flowering, S ‘Polka Dot Purple’. I began to build up a collection of them last spring, attracted by their long flowering season and ability to cope with temperatures down to 6°C. Although they overwintered well enough, they began to struggle early this year, first with an infestation of minute aphids and then with their watering regime. I ditched some of them and replaced some favourites, and am working hard to crack their aftercare. Two of the earlier batch which were kept are shown below, the one on the left probably on the way out, but the other perking up surprisingly well:

The size and weight of the branches of Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carrière’ that sprawl above the ‘bus shelter’ are such that they need support, and one branch has been supported by a redundant tree stump for some years. In recent weeks it has had to be repositioned more than once and in doing so this week the Golfer found that the stump had become loose and was leaning at an angle; further investigation showed that the base had now rotted, meaning the stump was no longer of use as a support. It wasn’t till a day or two later that I realised that when the stump is removed, as it will need to be, I could move the comfrey which currently occupies the bed at its base, probably to the woodland edge, and give myself a further extension to the blue  & white border…the garden continues to expand!

Also still taxing my brain is the ex-snowdrop border, although I have made progress this week and ordered some shrubs for it, albeit without a specific planting plan (hydrangea, nandina, sarcococca). I have also been toying with including a sculpture in the border and, finding it hard to visualise the scale of it, temporarily plonked an obelisk from elsewhere in the garden between the 2 existing obelisks (which will have clematis growing up them) to give myself more of an idea. It doesn’t really help but, having decided to include a sculpture, coming to a decision of what to have is not easy. I am not proposing to create my own this time, but to purchase one in stainless steel – without physical examples in front of me it is not an easy choice and I don’t want to rush it. It seems likely that the refashioned border will take on the name of the sculpture, whatever it turns out to be.

Having found a moment to order two new heuchera for the bronze heuchera bed, they were finally planted this week and the bronze effect is complete again, in time to set off the Acer griseum they grow around when the leaves began to change colour.

Our neighbours on the hedge side have had contractors in to cut the hedge today, and they came to our door this morning to ask if we could move one of our vehicles so they could cut ‘the corner’ of the hedge at the front of our properties. I was rather surprised when I went out later to move the vehicle back to find they hadn’t just cut the corner but had instead cut right the way up to our gate, ie ‘our side’ of the hedge! I am not complaining, as it saves us (the royal ‘us’, as it’s one of the Golfer’s tasks!) the effort…

Finally, finishing on another productive note, I will be off out to pick some raspberries when this post is complete. I only grow autumn fruiting raspberries but double crop them so, after picking over 17lbs in June and July, the second smaller crop is now ripening too. There will still be some blackberries to pick as well, this year ripening slowly over a longer period. Most of the raspberries and blackberries will end up on my breakfast muesli over the coming year.

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31 Responses to Six on Saturday: Scraping the Barrel

  1. tonytomeo says:

    What is that hedge? It looks sort of like English holly, which is no fun to shear; but some foliage looks like that of English ivy and white oak.

    • Cathy says:

      MOstly holly, Tony, with some hathorn and a lot of ivy in parts. It will be at least 200 years old and probably much older

      • tonytomeo says:

        Goodness! I would say that, although mixed, that hedge has been sustainable. English holly is very unpopular here because of the prickly foliar texture. My parents planted three that became hedged in 1976, and I was impressed by how the trunks and main stems always remained proportionate to the size of the hedge, rather than getting obtrusively bulky. Hedging, like pollarding and coppicing, is not taken very seriously here like it is in Europe.

        • Cathy says:

          I suppose in its very early days it wasn’t maintained and would kjust have been a field boundary; if it wasn’t maintained now it would just keep on getting wider and taller!

          • tonytomeo says:

            My colleague down south, who is a landscape designer, installs tall hedges, typically of Ficus microcarpa ‘Nitida’, around confined urban gardens to obscure the urban surroundings. (I really do not understand why those who dislike urban situations live in urban situations.) Such hedges are new, refined and homogenous. There is nothing like those old hedges that have been in the landscape before the landscape was there.

  2. Rosie Amber says:

    Those raspberries will be delicious on your breakfast.

    • Cathy says:

      They are – I have to be careful with the blackberrries though not to pick them too soon…because they are really big fruits, sometimes they look ripe before they are!

  3. Everything Plant says:

    Love it.

  4. The raspberries look delicious, and I love the Heuchera bed! I can just picture the maple in winter, branching above it.

  5. Heyjude says:

    Streptocarpus are so lovely, I remember them from South Africa but have never tried to grow them here. I have been picking blackberries today which will end up in a blackberry and apple crumble (when I buy some apples). I ought to grow raspberries too as I love them for breakfast with yoghurt.

    • Cathy says:

      I could send you a parcel of apples…! 🤣 We always have a good crop and most of them get given away. They are early this year too. I also had the urge to make a crumble and then remembered that until the Aga is fixed, I can’t…🙄

  6. Love your heuchera bed. That streptocarpus is very pretty. My mum kept one alive for years on her West facing kitchen window sill, but I haven’t been able to master them. Good luck!

  7. That is a gorgeous Streptocarpus! I have found that they grow quite happily on our back verandah. Perhaps it’s time to grow some more. I also like your Heuchera border. That was very lucky to get your hedge pruned.

    • Cathy says:

      Are your streptocarpus exposed to the rain, or would you have to water them? It’s only a very small proportion of the hedge that has been trimmed on our side, but sadly it’s probably the easiest bit to cut as the ground slopes and the hedge gets much taller further down the garden!

      • I have the in hanging baskets under eves, so I do need to water them regularly. They look a little sad during winter, but the white ones are just starting to produce flowers again.
        Hedges on sloping ground are a challenge to maintain. Take care!

        • Cathy says:

          It s ony a gradual slope though, and the paths are more level. By the house, there is a drop from our neighbours garden to ours, and the hedge is above a brick retaining wall on our side

  8. Everything looks great–especially the Heucheras and the raspberries (yum)!

  9. susurrus says:

    That streptocarpus is one of my favourites.

  10. Cathy says:

    A beautiful Streptocarpus Cathy. Hope you manage to succeed with them. They do seem tricky. My Mum had them for years with no problems until a few years back when they all died. She thought it might have been some tiny fly introduced in the compost she used. Do you dry or freeze your raspberries Cathy? What a great crop you had! We dried lots of apples and pears last year and they lasted us until late spring. 😃

    • Cathy says:

      I have a single flower on one of the others now (albeit a new one). I think it was the aphids that weakened mine, followed by overwatering, even though I didn’t give them a lot. I have moved them onto the lower shelf now, so I can check the compost and see exactly how much water I am adding. I freeze the rasberries and have dried apples befor now and perhaps should do again, as I would happily nibble on them regularly and much of those I put in the freezer don’t get used as we rarely have puddings these days. I borrowed a friend’s dehydrator one year but need to investigate drying them in the Aga

  11. Oh looking forward to hearing more about your progress planting the ex-snowdrop border Cathy and you have made an exciting start with a shrub order. Do you have anywhere in mind to go sculpture shopping? I’m still missing my autumn flowering raspberries from allotment days

  12. PS I pressed enter before saying that my breakfast cereals are not the same 😂

    • Cathy says:

      I can understand that – I do sometimes have something else instead if none of the batch taken out of the freezer are left, but raspberries will always be my favourite…

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