Six on Saturday

The evergreen Agapanthus africanus have just begun to flower and they look stunning this year. I have reduced my stock to just three plants in 20 litre plastic pots which are now in their third year since splitting them. 16, 18 and 20 flower stems which is the most ever. The heads are fully 30cm across on stems 1.2m high. They make quite a statement!

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ almost at full throttle now with her big beautiful creamy flowerheads being cradled by hazel supports beneath. I love this shrub but it does need a lot of water and support to do well. Quite a needy plant in my garden. Others tell me it is trouble free in theirs. It’s all about the soil!

Just behind Annabelle sits pink Linaria purpurea ‘Canon Went’, alongside his common purple cousin and the indestructable and long lasting pink Diascia personata which should definitely be grown in more gardens. I haven’t met anyone who knows this plant which is such a shame as it is such a good doer.

This is an extra pic to show how well the combination works.

This was controversial at my garden opening recently. It is the true Valerian, Valeriana officinalis, the root of which has been used since Roman times to treat insomnia. It is a very tall plant, 1.8m high, with a beautiful pinky white umbellifer flower which has an odd sweet smell which, as I found out, is not to everyone’s liking! I think is is rather musky and spicy but one visitor described it as the smell of “wet pants”!

The Petchoas (a cross between a Petunia and a Calibrachoa) in the basket are doing rather better now but not showing much sign of trailing yet. The colours still don’t excite me, I find them too subtle and a bit dull for the impression a basket by the front door is supposed to make. I think they work better in pots at low level. I won’t be using them in baskets again!

Some years ago I grew seeds of common Scabiosa atropurpurea, a distant cousin of the common field scabious, which thrives in my dry summer clay and self seeds everywhere. They now pop up in every variation of red, pink, purple, white and cream. One of the best plants for pollinators, tall and self supporting, long lasting, unfussy and beautiful. All from a single free packet of seeds on the front of a gardening magazine.

That’s my six for this week.

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

The paths in the cottage garden are slowly merging into the beds which makes for a better appearance but more difficult to walk on. The plants soften the edges and lean out for more light.

I love the way plants mingle and merge with each other, jostling for position and trying to outdo each other for light and space. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is an expert and uses the other plants to give her a leg up.

This little patio standard rose from T&M was supposed to white but turned out to be a lucky mistake as I just love the soft peachy apricot colour. It sits in a pot by the patio table and has a subtle fragrance. If anyone knows what her name might be, I would be grateful for a comment please??

Dianthus carthusianorum, a tall pink with clusters of gorgeous dark red buds which break out into pale pink flowers over a long period in June and July. I spotted this in the long borders at Hidcote and bought three in the plant shop. One has since died but the other two are romping away and clumping up well with more flower stems each year. Thriving on neglect, they love my dry alkaline clay in summer, not too keen on my wet clay in winter!

My camassias have not flowered well over the last few years and a quick internet search revealed that, although they don’t like being moved, they don’t flower well if they are congested. This was obviously the reason because having dug up what I thought would be the five bulbs I planted 7 or 8 years ago, there were now over fifty! I have cleaned and dried them in the greenhouse and will re-plant them, farther apart this time, in September. They like damp heavy soil and do well naturalised in grassland but I am going to try them in pots of loam based compost where I can regulate the water and see if I can get them to flower with narcissus. I think the blue and yellow will look lovely together in spring.

Petchoas, a cross between a petunia and a calibrachoa, which I was recommended by the editor of Which? Gardening magazine last year. I’m not sure about them! I bought Caramel and Cinnamon but I find the colours too subtle and dull for what should be a bright and zingy hanging basket. It is claimed that they don’t need deadheading but I have found that not to be the case and pick off the dead flower heads every morning. However, as my favourite training consultant used to say, “try a lot of stuff, keep what works!”

Finally, Delphinium requienii, or perennial Larkspur, which is a tall, unusual stately plant acquired from a friend who has it on her allotment where it seeds around freely. Seems to flower in it’s second year from a rosette of shiny leaves which slugs and snails leave alone! I rather like it and look forward to passing on some seeds and seedlings for others to grow.

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

It’s Rose time! ‘Camille Pissarro’ looking a bit like raspberry ripple ice cream. Certainly good enough to eat!

The rose garden in early morning sunshine. The different scents of roses and sweet peas plus the constant sound of pollinators buzzing around collecting pollen and nectar makes it a magical place for an early morning cuppa.

Bulb pots emptied and replanted with summer bedding plants. Bulbs dried in the greenhouse and ready to be stored in paper bags in the shed until September.

Nigella damascena in full flower now and looking good with the acid yellow feverfew. These two are both prolific self seeders and I find myself taking out more than I keep, otherwise they would be everywhere. I like to garden with a light touch and try to make it look as natural as possible, particularly in the cottage garden borders.

The little pink fox grape, Vitis labrusca ‘Isabella’ is covered in bunches of tiny flowers which should, in theory, become delicious purple grapes in September. I had just one bunch last year but winter pruning and another year’s maturity has resulted in incredible growth. It almost beggars belief how much growth these grapevines can put on in a single season, some of the new stems are already a metre long.

Finally, a friend of mine asked me to try to get Fuchsia ‘Lady in Black’ cuttings to root in my Hydropod propagator as she has tried conventional methods without success, Looks like we have liftoff!

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

This week has been absolutely manic and garden visiting is now in full swing. We are so lucky to have so many lovely gardens to visit here in the Cotswolds. Last weekend was Eckington Village with 30 private gardens and Barnsley Village including Rosemary Verey’s Barnsley House.

My garden is rather smaller and insignificant by comparison but still just as lovely at this special time of year. Delphiniums just opening and buzzing with bees, their tubular flowers drawing them in.

The Sweet Peas now coming thick and fast and will be cut every other day for the vase. I just adore their scent and so do my elderly neighbours who love it when I knock on their door with a bunch every few days.

Rose ‘Roald Dahl’ and what a stunner! He is a big boy, our Roald, so big that he needs a bit of support to hold him up. I pruned him quite hard this year but he has grown even bigger! Such gorgeous flowers, and such healthy foliage, a real tale of the unexpected!

Next to Roald sits ‘Isn’t She Lovely’, and she certainly is! Pure white elegance and a scent you could drown in. There is something rather exotic and erotic about these modern roses which makes them so delicious.

I have never been a fan of Dutch Iris and these freebies are not only in the wrong place, they are taking up space for something more to my liking. Definitely coming out this year!

Not often seen or sold but Neillia affinis is a hardy deciduous flowering shrub that deserves to be in more gardens than it is. Nobody in my circle of gardening friends has it and I don’t really know why, it is attractive and bombproof. A kind friend gave me a piece a few years ago since when it has done well in the shrubbery with the bonus of these delightful pink flowers in May.

Rose ‘Ghislaine de Feligonde’. This is a useful short rambler in that it is almost thornless, very healthy and not too vigorous. The orange buds open to small, pale apricot blooms with a yellow base, then fade to peach, pink and white. I have it covering a fence mixed in with Wisteria chinensis, hoping the two would be compatible and so far so good. The colour of the emerging and fading flowers look as if two different roses have been planted together.

Have a great weekend of gardening.

David

Six on Saturday

Everything is going bonkers! Weeds are outgrowing the plants, all the early flowerers have suddenly realised it’s mid-May and they had better get a shift on. The dry April has been replaced by ‘mixed’ weather conditions. Rain then sun then cloud then rain again, it just can’t make its mind up! This Cerinthe and the feverfew are fighting for position in the cottage garden border.

The Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus grown from seed a few years ago are delightfully scented and pack a real citrus yellow punch in late spring, way before the other taller varieties behind strut their stuff. I suppose it’s a survival of the fittest thing, get in early, do your thing, get out.

Have you ever seen anything more delicious than this?! Rosa ‘Boscobel’ is one of the best roses in my little collection and is one of the few David Austin roses that manage to hold their frilly heads up instead of drooping under the sheer weight of their flower power. Highly recommended if you are looking for a modern repeat flowering shrub rose with modest scent, healthy foliage and the most gorgeous flowers.

Nobody bothered to tell Clematis ‘Hagley Hybrid’ that it’s only mid-May and she shouldn’t be flowering just yet. She is starting subtly though, six inches off the ground so no-one can see!

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) should come with a warning label which says “regardless of what you would prefer, this plant will decide on its own position and grow accordingly”. Last year it was sown in the narrow cottage garden border where it flowered prolifically, went to seed and decided it preferred the adjoining gravel path, which has a weed suppressing membrane beneath! It needs no goodness, just to be left alone.

My Tradescantias are coming into flower and I am busy recording interesting things about their habits, flowering dates and cultivation. This one is Tradescantia bracteata from the mid-west of the United States and one of the shorter, more well behaved species. Delicate foliage and lavender blue flowers are a beautiful combination in a grassy plant, or weed as my wife calls them! Ah well, they feed my obsession and make me happy in my old age!

Have a great weekend, I am off trout fishing near Chipping Norton today to see if the Mayflies are about. Wish me luck!

David

Six on Saturday

Firsts

This weeks post is all about ‘Firsts’. First roses, ‘Let’s Celebrate’ is a good place to start. Sweetly scented, dark glossy healthy foliage and frilly baby pink flowers. What’s not to like.

Tulbaghia violacea, bit of a fuzzy photo but it was breezy! The first beautiful violet flowers and lots more to come. Simply stunning en masse or on its own, like this one.

Sweet Pea ‘Painted Lady’, one of the oldest varieties and still one of the best. The very first sweet pea to flower and just wait ’til next week!

Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Summer Sky’. These two will be flowering for months producing armfuls of flowers for the house and for visiting friends. The perfect flower for a vase lasting at least 7 days and usually 10 if you keep shortening the stems and changing the water.

The French Lavender opened fully this morning and the bees were on it immediately. Totally neglected, on dreadful poor, dry soil in full sun and never watered. The perfect plant!

Leucanthemum vulgare, Oxeye daisies to you and me, right next to the neglected lavender and also ignored until now. Then, suddenly, this happens! One day you turn around and the boring green foliage erupts into flower and catches your attention. Stunning!

There it is then. Six firsts for a Saturday.

Enjoy your weekend.

David

Six on Saturday

Sometimes, the fresh new growth of trees and shrubs is just as beautiful as colourful flowers. Our purple beech hedge is amazing at this time of year as the tightly curled leaves emerge from the tight bud.

I rained last night and the drops of water made the new soft leaves look even more stunning.

I love the flowers of alliums but hate the leaves because I have a garden plagued with slugs and snails. The damp foliage attracts them like a magnet and this is the inevitable result. I visited an open garden near Malvern last weekend and a lady with 50 hostas told me she has no molluscs or slugs in her garden. I am not sure I believe her!

The autumn sown Sweet Peas are doing well and the first flowers are already forming. These will probably not be viable as the nights are still too cold but by the end of the month this obelisk should be covered with beautiful blue, white and pink flowers which will be picked every other day for the vase.

Geum ‘Banana Daiquiri’ given to me by a friend last year and loving its new home in the sunny border. One of the shorter geums which is ideal for placing beneath taller, later flowering perennials.

Viburnum Plicatum ‘Mariesii’ looking spectacular in the shrubbery this morning alongside the acid yellow of Euphorbia palustris and the backdrop of Photinia ‘Red Robin’

Finally for this week, I could fill a whole blog post with the myriad colours and forms of Aquilegia in my garden, most of which I did not plant. Some of them started off life as the ‘Barlow’ series many years ago but have morphed into all sorts of things now. More Ken & Deirdre Barlow than Nora Barlow!

Ah well, that’s my six for this Saturday. Off to take the granddaughter to Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford for the day. Gardening will have to wait until tomorrow!

Bye for now.

David

Six on Saturday

Tiny Mint Moth on a nepeta leaf. Just 5mm long and wide but perfect in every miniature detail.

Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’ at 7am unfurling her flowers to welcome the day. Simply stunning.

Dahlias in the greenhouse and growing rapidly. Overwintered 24 tubers this year in pots of old bulb compost and they have all survived. It’s going to be a fabulous display once I get them into the ground at the end of May.

I love this miniature Euphorbia cyparissias which scrambles through the front of the shrub bed. The intense acid yellow is a bit shouty but certainly livens up the border at this time of year before the aquilegias take over.

Peony flowered tulips with unusual stripey foliage which have been in the border for ten years and come back every year. No idea of the name but I just call them Mabel.

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) with Erysimum ‘Parrish’s’ and Ophiopogon (Lilyturf), such a nice combo on the steps and will flower for weeks until the roses take over in June.

Got to dash, the sun’s out and I’ve got a million things to do in the garden!

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

We are having a spell of frosty nights here in the Cotswolds and I am determined not to lose the emerging Wisteria flowers this year so out came the fleece on Wednesday and so far, so good. However, the forecast is saying -4 degs C tonight so fingers crossed!

The Amelanchier lamarckii (Snowy Mespilus) is flowering and looks glorious on a sunny morning like this. Rather like magnolias, you have to enjoy their brief flowering period when it happens because it is fleeting.

Our 30m long hedge of Photinia x fraserii ‘Red Robin’ showing off its new red tips. It provides a useful wildlife corridor for Dunnocks and Blackbirds who scuttle around in the leaf litter beneath and stay safe from prying eyes!

I believe these are Narcissi ‘Ice Follies’ but I am not sure. They are certainly the largest headed daffodil in the garden and must have been here when we bought the bungalow in 2009 because we didn’t plant them. A happy accident with the Anemone blanda.

Never been keen on Kerria japonica. Scruffy, straggly things with yellow pom pom flowers and always seem to spread in the wrong places. This lot started at least 5m further up the border 10 years ago when I stupidly planted a freebie from a friend. I think their days are numbered!

Got to dash, I am off to our Cotswold Cottage Gardening Group meeting in the village today with some spare plants to sell and give to friends. To me, that’s the joy of gardening, sharing plants, ideas and experiences with other gardeners. I find them the nicest people of all.

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

Glorious weather for late March but a return to frosty nights is forecast next week. Some things like this Chaenomeles won’t mind but I am very concerned about my young Wisteria chinensis ‘Prolific’.

Just as the flower buds were about to burst open, a late frost killed them all last year at about this time. So, it looks like fleece will be required for a week or so to protect the emerging flowers.

My latest attempt at a solitary bee nest box! Not sure how successful it will be but I have already noticed ‘C’ shaped notches being cut out of rose leaves so the leaf cutter bees are nesting somewhere!

The professionally made one is untouched at the moment but perhaps in a better position, not so exposed. I once had a bee trying to make a nest in a hole in my front door as I was trying to paint it!

The hardwood cuttings of rose ‘The Generous Gardener’ I took 18 months ago have rooted well in pots and the remaining 8 plants have been planted out around bent wire supports . The idea is to train the young stems up and over to form a bell shape, hopefully covered in soft pink flowers. I will let you know if it works in June!

Best year yet for my wife’s little Magnolia stellata. Last year it only had 5 flowers! Feeding and mulching has obviously worked this year.

Surely it’s too early for Tulips?! These obviously don’t think so. I have still got narcissi to open and some snowdrops in flower but tulips already. Bonkers!

The carpet of Anemone blanda is getting a lot of comments from passers-by at the moment. The flowers open and close with the sunshine and work well with the lemon yellow daffodils, primroses and pink Chionodoxa.

That’s all for now. Sadly, I have tested positive for Covid so will have to spend all weekend in the garden. Oh well, ho hum!

David