Six on Saturday: Summer Suns are Glowing

I look forward to the above view in late summer, when the peachy rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ has its second flush and the peachy crab apples of Malus ‘Evereste’ are beginning to ripen, a match serendipitously made in heaven as it didn’t cross my mind when I chose the roses two years ago. Last year, however, the crab apple was mistreated by the Beast From the East and cropping was poor, and there was no such spectacle.

Deadheading down by the cutting beds this week, a seedhead of Calendula ‘Orange Prince’ crumbled in my hand, transformed into viable seed, prompting me to take action and start putting little ‘hats’ on seedheads of plants I feel it is worth collecting seed from. The ‘hat’ is a little gauze drawstring bag, bought on eBay and sold to hold jewellery or party favours, and on the photo below contains seedheads from two-tone Lychnis coronaria ‘Occulata’:

The white and pink varieties seed around quite generously, but I don’t know if this variety does. I shall not, however, be collecting seedpods from this wayward nasturtium which not only clambers through the bed and onto the path but also up the trellis and into the climbing rose, extending possibly as much as 12 feet or nearly 4 metres. I quite like its exuberance and it certainly adds brightness to this bold border, but it was meant to be RED (Crimson Emperor)!

Also clambering exuberantly is this clematis, C viticella ‘Walenberg’; nothing unusual in that, you might think, but all this growth has been in the last couple of weeks! I suspect molluscs hiding in the leafy growth around the base destroyed the first new shoots, but I was confident that the plant was still alive and would grow as normal next year (subject to mollusc vigilance) – so the almost overnight emergence and growth of what you see below took me by surprise, even more so when I found there were also flower buds, as shown on the second and rather out of focus shot. The plant clearly wants to make up for lost time!

There seems to be a lot of active plants in this post as this week I have removed the ‘overactive’ Persicaria ‘Firetail that I referred to in my EOMV. This plant originated in the woodland edge border from where an offshoot was taken and planted in one of the main borders, where it didn’t do much, before a border overhaul saw it taken out and replanted in the bed next to the streamside grass. This was a little over a year ago and from a very small root this is what it has grown into now:

Fairly humungous, wouldn’t you say?! It’s strange, but all the persicaria in the bottom part of the garden seem to show a bit of restraint, but here the opposite is true, and although I talk of  ‘the streamside’ it is an artificial stream contained within a butyl liner, so the ground should be no moister than the rest of the garden. It may get more sun, I suppose, but whatever the reason P ‘Blackfield’ and P ‘Inverleith’ both need a bit of attention in the coming months, as does the whole of the main streamside border where couch grass is proving difficult to keep on top of. In the meantime, most of the big chunk of ‘Firetail’ was replanted back into the woodland edge border, co-ordinating nicely with P ‘Red Dragon’ in front of it:

Jon the Propagator kindly hosts this Six on Saturday meme, where gardeners are asked to feature any six things from their gardens, giving rise to an intriguing and varied range of subjects, so do consider visiting his blog to check them out. My sixth today is one of our regular visitors, one of the welcome ones, which I am thrilled to say we see or hear most days, although with an active family or families around it is not always possible to tell them apart and yesterday, when this photo was taken, I also saw his/her sibling/parent/offspring/friend scurrying away in the opposite direction:

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Wordless Wednesday: a Cross Hippeastrum

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End of Month View: Hints of Autumn

There are definitely hints of a change in the season at the end of August this year, most noticeably the sudden drop in overnight temperatures (and the need to have a jumper or cardigan at the ready in the daytime) and a clear shortening of the days – my last ramble of the day has been in darkness recently, and I tread gingerly in case of wandering hedgehogs. Tomatoes in the greenhouse are coming to an end, damsons are picked with apples crying out for the same, blackberries are on the wane and the Autumn fruiting raspberries, after the bountiful first pick of their double cropping, are now fruiting again: all these fruits were earlier to crop than the average year. Amidst this has been the almost overwhelming urge to tidy up – empty spent pots, plant out anything that has been glaring at me for weeks or months, sweep the paths and above all prune – lop- cut back – pull out! The compost heap is rapidly filling up, the green waste bin is always full and bags are filled and on the ready for the next trip to the tip. Perhaps the increased number of projects undertaken in July and August is part of the same thing, and not just a matter of timing?

Underneath all this, however, some things change less from month to month, and may not be evident in this monthly view of the garden but, for me, keeping a photographic record has proved useful over the years. There is also now a video to accompany this post, so do click on the link at the end and you may get more of a feel for the garden as we move into September. Don’t forget there is a map and an aerial view under The Garden tab above, so come on, let’s go!

The main picture, as always, is the view we get from the back of the house, looking out at the paved area and the sitooterie, where the sense of green enclosure is enhanced by a second flush of blooms on various roses. Below is the streamside grass and shrub border, viewed from both ends, with a similar rosy display and overactive Persicaria ‘Firetail’ in the foreground!

Recent posts have described how the ‘path less travelled’, a second path through the woodland, came about, and you can virtually walk this path when you watch the video; it veers to the left on the photo below and is a work in progress as ferns and other suitable plants are moved from elsewhere to line its route.

From the bothy at the end of the woodland you can look out over the main borders, seeing quite clearly the changes that have been made in their layout. Part of the gallery fence has been removed to display Magnolia ‘Susan’ better.

The same area from ground level, the photo taken in front of the back of the shed then, swivelling on the same spot, views of the clematis colonnade and the entrance to the woodland edge border:

The latter looks more open and exposed than it has done for a long time; not only has the mid hedge been severely pruned, but the oak tree has been felled and the two sculptures (nominally representing the Golfer and myself) have been cleared of ivy and now look naked. Most of this end of the garden will benefit from the increased light, and it will green up considerably by next year as the mid hedge grows again, although in the meantime it will still produce a carpet of snowdrops and hellebores in the early months of the year. Below is the view from the other end:

The three bold borders are having their contents rationalised, and I am hopeful of an improvement in boldness by next year:

In the cutting beds, the dahlias are still going strong and many of the annuals are still producing a good display, whereas it is coming to the end of cropping for the tomatoes in the greenhouse:

The blue & white border is also undergoing a big overhaul, particularly since the removal of two large aconitums…

…and in the rose garden the Blush Noisette roses against the fence have been cut down ready to be moved to make way for roses that don’t grow as tall. The amount of light this area will get now the oak tree has been removed will increase considerably:

We walk under the clematis colonnade and get a different view of the realigned main borders…

…before heading back towards the house, past the snowdrop border and its poor showing of white annuals,  looking across the paved area towards the gable end of the house with the wisteria:

If we bear to the left we can have a quick look in the Coop, before walking down the side of the house to see the shady Coop Corner, as leafy as ever. The hosta in the foreground is one of the few to have received attention from slugs or snails.

That’s about it for our August visit, but do now please click here to have a guided video tour.

Posted in End of Month View, garden structure, Gardening, Gardens | 16 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: My Candy Girl

Sugar, ah honey honey
You are my candy girl
And you got me wanting you
I don’t think zinnias haven’t been the main feature of any of my Monday vases this year, so the sunflowers I had intended to use will have to wait for another week. A mixture of Purple Prince, Orange King and Benary Giants, the zinnias make such a bold splash of colour and it seemed appropriate to feature my newest prop with its equally bright colours alongside them.

I have always found pleasure in these little toys* when I come across them, and decided some time ago that I really needed one of my own, if only for an IAVOM prop – but probably also for my amusement in an idle moment! But what would you call them? I searched eBay for ‘articulated toy figure’ which brought up Action Men and the like, so added ‘wooden’, then tried ‘press-up’ and finally ‘traditional’, before finding this one, listed as ‘Traditional Wood Wooden Classic Push Up Press Puppet Toy’ – so now you know what to look for if you want one too!

The spherical glass vase was not my first choice, having immediately and instinctively gone for the

bright cheeriness of my yellow spotted jug and photographing it in readiness for writing the post, before deciding that there was something unsatisfactory about it. I also included Rudbeckia ‘Rustic Dwarves’ in the first vase for a splash of yellow, but they were past their best and beginning to look a little bedraggled after being handled, so I removed them for the revised vase. Comparing both photographs now, I am fairly sure I made the right decision.

What might you be able to find in your garden to feature in a vase or jamjar on this last day of August? If you would like to share your finds with us, please leave the usual links to and from this post.

* for those who have not come across similar things before, this little figure is strung together and the moveable base has a spring which means when it is depressed, the figure will bend in different ways, depending on how you press it, giving hours/minutes/seconds of entertainment… This flower fairy version seemed the ideal choice for me.

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Six on Saturday: Seeking Wisdom

Gardeners are likely to find their wisdom in many places – their successes, their failures and their also-rans. So am I going to plant out my recent order from Claire Austin directly in the borders? No, because I have learned to my cost that planting into an already stuffed border is likely to result in plants that do not thrive and often just fade away, disappearing eventually to the cramped plant world in the big blue yonder, leaving just plant labels to taunt me.

I was going to pot them on but, having planted out that late sowing of sweet peas last week, I looked at the latter today and faced with increasing evidence of the gradual onset of autumn decided that there was no chance of them ever reaching ing anywhere near flowering stage – so out they came, and the new plants were planted out into the vacated beds instead,  to stretch their legs for a month or two, or perhaps until spring. Learning outcome – don’t bother with a late sweet pea sowing!

Whilst planting them out, most very rootbound and desperately needing space to breathe, I cast a number of glances at the pots in the ‘nursery’ and spent a little time emptying out those whose contents have gone for a burton, mostly failed cuttings or ones that hadn’t been watered enough. With not opening the garden in June, there is a surplus of plants that were grown for sale; most will survive till next year and just be more mature, so nothing really lost there. Less easy to deal with are the plants taken out of the revamped borders – is there anywhere else for them to go? Are they duplicates generated just to fill a space – and are they garden-worthy anyway? I have learned greater discernment through revamping borders and, although the number of these pots is gradually diminishing as decisions are made, I could of course consign them to the plant sales stand for next year – and certainly don’t need to squeeze them back into a border.

As well as my order from Claire Austin I have also placed an order with her father, David Austin, for more roses. Over the years, I have learned that roses are not just about colour, and that fragrance and length of flowering are important considerations too, as is eventual height. I have no qualms, therefore, about remedying poor rose choice decisions, made as a result of my previous relative ignorance, and taking roses out. Thus, two ‘Snow Goose’ are due to be removed from the blue & white border, where they climbed above and beyond the wall behind them, and will go to a friend; they will not be replaced and instead the Trachelospermum, already happy in its location, will be given free and undisputed reign of the wall.

The picture below shows the wall after the roses were cut back to a manageable size, ready for removal, instantly improving the area and making it look more self-contained. The second picture shows the adjacent rose garden where four ‘Blush Noisette’ roses, planted against the fence, have been similarly cut back for the same reason, ready for removal and replacement with roses that grow no taller than the fence itself.

It was back in 2012 that this version of the rose garden took shape, and a year later when the wall bordering the blue & white border was built, so these ill-advised rose choices date back 7 or 8 years and I have certainly learned a lot about roses since then – and indeed have bought a lot of roses since then too, but I shan’t bore you with numbers…!

The wise owl in today’s opening picture just looks and says nothing, keeping his wisdom to himself. He was a recent acquisition from Etsy, a good source of quirky items for the garden, bought to add interest to the path less travelled, and was accompanied by a woodpecker and a squirrel.

Lumping some pictures together as one theme, that comes to about Six on Saturday; please visit our host Jon the Propagator for more sixes this Saturday.

Posted in garden structure, Gardening, Gardens, herbaceous perennials, projects, roses, Six on Saturday | 28 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Frills and Flounces

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Best of the August Bunch

For some time, Chloris of My Blooming Garden has been hosting a meme celebrating the Top Ten blooms each month; it is often difficult to pick just ten, to avoid both repetition and featuring several varieties of the same species, but it can still be useful as a reminder of what was its peak each month. However, for similar reasons, she has decided that the meme has run its course, but will go on to feature other highlights each month instead. Thank you Chloris; in the meantime, do check out her blog for the last of her Top Ten booms.

I have started with a self-seeded sunflower this month, which I thought at first had arrived from bird feeder seed, but now that it is flowering I believe it is an overexcited seedling from a dwarf variety I grew last year, no longer dwarf but around 4ft high. There are actually a couple of plants, so even more reason for them to have self-seeded in situ. Having not used any sunflowers in vases this year yet, this needs to be rectified soon!

No apologies for including two roses in my ten; most of the roses are having a second flush, but I am especially enjoying seeing Lady Emma Hamilton and Munstead Wood again after several weeks’ absence:

I have however lumped all my dahlias in together:

And all the zinnias too, a combination of Purple Prince, Orange King and Benary Giant Mix:

We have a lost label phlox, seemingly flowering extra well after its Chelsea Chop:

And as I also cut back Clematis heracleifolia  ‘New Love’ before it got carried away, which it has a tendency to do, perhaps this could be considered a Chelsea Chop too; it always flowers well,  but chopping has certainly kept it neater:

Another wayward clematis, this time C jouiniana ‘Praecox’ (as a ‘herbaceous sub-shrub’, now included in the heracleifolia group), which this year is climbing into the hedge rather than sprawling on the border below, a tidier option:

I have included the humble but rather thuggish Japanese anemone this month,  which makes a striking plant even where it is not really wanted:

Finally, I have to put a word in for annual scabious, easily grown from seed and not only blooming for weeks on end but lasting over a week in a vase. This one is Burgundy Beau, I think, but I also have Black Knight; several plants of the former overwintered, another point in its favour.

The above may not necessarily be the very best blooms of my late August garden, but how could I possibly rank them anyway? They are certainly giving me pleasure at the present time, except when hunkered down inside, out of the wind and rain, as I am now!


Posted in cutting beds, dahlias, Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens, herbaceous perennials | Tagged | 10 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: the Miniaturist

Unlike last week, when I used a miniature prop to accompany my Monday vase, both vase and prop are miniatures this week.

The vase is a tradesman’s sample of a Bretby Pottery jug, a mere 2½ inches or 6cms tall, filled with Cyclamen hederifolium, Salvia ‘Hot Lips’, Verbena bonariensis, a pink furry caterpillar (aka Sanguisorba hakusanensis) and foliage of pesky meadow rue, bringing the total height to a mere 4½ inches (less than 12cm). You may recall having seen the miniature embroidery before when it featured in a haiku post back in 2016: stitched from a photograph of a border at Packwood House in Warwickshire, the embroidery measures just 2 x 3inches (work the cms out yourselves, if you must), and was stitched in the early 1990s when I had time to sit and embroider.

We have found from experience that finding material from your garden to fill a vase, whether tiny, average or large, will undoubtedly bring pleasure to both you and those whom you choose to share it with – if you choose to share it with the wider IAVOM community, please leave links to and from this post.

garden tapestry
like heavens’ embroidered cloths
stitched with childlike dreams

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Six on Saturday: Still Busy

Despite the high winds yesterday, I still managed to accomplish one of the tasks that mark the seasons – summer pruning the wisteria. This involved an ordinary step ladder for the lower stems, the scaffolding for the bulk of the rest, and a few minutes on an extendable ladder to reach the apex. The generally accepted advice is to cut back the stems to five or six buds, but admittedly I don’t now count them and I know some people just take a hedge trimmer to theirs. At one time I used to prune mine on roughly the shortest and longest days, but they make such a lot of growth after June that it made sense to defer it, but I will still cut off any wispy bits that impede passage before then.

I am always amazed at how much growth is made each year – below shows prunings just from the section down the side of the house, where only a single stem is trained, with the completed job below that:

Today I decided almost on a whim to cut down the sweet peas which have suffered from a combination of heat, lack of rain and not being picked frequently enough; despite following Monty’s suggestion that you cut off all blooms once a week to prolong flowering, they were now producing virtually none at all and the stems were verging on crispness. This year, for the first time, I have made a later sowing as well so took down just half of the supports and planted out this second batch but have no idea how well they will do – and if there is any chance they will get to flowering stage before the first frosts. Next year I must try harder to eliminate the ‘lean’ in these supports…

Recent showery days has meant pausing the picking of blackberries, unfortunate because the last time they were inspected berries were falling off because they were so ripe; however, it was dry today and I was able to pick another 1lb 9oz, bringing the total so far this year to 10lb 6oz, virtually all from one plant (Loch Ness, I think) – the best year ever, as is the case also with raspberries, with over 18lbs of them tucked away in the freezer and more to come on the autumn fruiting canes. All this with minimal input from the gardener!

Way back at the beginning of June I took the plunge and ‘Chelsea chopped’ the sedum and some other perennials for the first time, and have now convinced myself it is worth doing, even if the plants do look ugly for a little while. The sedum are noticeably less lanky and their new growth has been daintier, whereas the phlox that I had forgotten had been chopped until I reread that June post is currently flowering profusely in a very neat and orderly fashion. The honeysuckle that was hacked right back is producing new shoots too. Definitely a win-win scenario, and I shall just have to avert my gaze from the ugliness when I cut them back!

Having hung up his lumberjack hat, the Golfer was in danger of having to sit and twiddle his thumbs, so I suggested he sweep the paths and – My Goodness! – what an instant transformation such a simple task always makes:

That’s my six for today, so buzz off now to Jon the Propagator’s blog to see his six and those of other bloggers around the world.

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Wordless Wednesday: Seasonal Sillies

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