Six on Saturday

Crocosmia are in full bloom now and bring a real zing to the garden. Here backed up by the dark Physocarpus ‘Diablo’ and behind a clump of Iris sibirica for support.

I love garden Phlox and have quite a few now, but they do shout ‘old fashioned’ and ‘out of date’ for the modern garden. Mine don’t last very long in flower either so it is a brief joy but I won’t be getting any more!

The Rudbeckia laciniata are huge this year, well over 2 metres, and the flowerheads themselves also appear to be larger. They seem to respond to weather conditions and vary from year to year in height and cone size.

Cheap and cheerful Liatris spicata love the rich soil in the rose garden and bring in the bees and other pollinators. One of the most underrated summer flowering bulbs in my opinion. Always ramrod straight, open from the top downwards so always look good and will grow almost anywhere in sun.

This is my ‘prairie’ border where I grow tall Leucanthemums, Helianthus and Verbena bonariensis as well as Silphium perfoliatum and a few others to create a focal point and vista from the kitchen window. It takes the border through August and most of September before I need to do anything with it.

Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’ is an odd plant. the yellow flowers don’t seem to belong to the dark foliage. It is rather persistent and can be invasive if not constrained but I like it all the same. It pops up here and there and if I don’t like where it has wandered to, I just pull it up. It doesn’t sell well at plant sales!

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

‘A day late and a dollar short’ as the saying goes. I spent Saturday driving back from Sheffield and unexpectedly hit a massive diversion at Chesterfield which was only flagged up at the actual junction which was closed. Two hours and 44 miles later, I was on my way back on the M1. Not the way I hoped my weekend would start! However, Rosa ‘Jude the Obscure’ lifted my mood when I returned home. Impossibly gorgeous.

Rosa ‘Camille Pissarro’ jostling for position with Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and showing why she was named after an 19th Century French painter. I bet his apron was messy!

Talking of Geranium ‘Rozanne’, here she is in all her glory, creeping, crawling and shoving her way into every nook and cranny. One plant can easily travel 2m in all directions and neatly carpets the ground beneath roses and shrubs. However, she climbs too and often pops up amongst even the tallest flowers.

Clematis ‘Yukikomachi’ with her delicate lavender blue tints on pure white flowers is one of my favourite viticellas and is neat and tidy on a short, north facing trellis. Growing in a big pot in a shady position by the side gate which makes sure she gets admired several times a day.

This summer flowering Allium angulosum, or Mouse Garlic, is one of the best bee plants in the garden and flowers for weeks on end. It sits beside an ever-growing clump of Sapponaria (Soapwort) which is now untidy and spreading relentlessly towards the daylillies. Note to self: remove 75% of Sapponaria before it takes over! The towering white spikes of Lysimachia ephemerum mingle with the tall Veronica and Veronicastrums to add height and drama to the summer border.

Rose ‘The Pilgrim’ at her very best, like a flaky pastry tart with vanilla custard.

Have a great rest of your weekend

David

Six on Saturday

Absolutely delighted with this self sown hybrid Dahlia which has just come into flower. A seedling picked at random from one of last year’s pots of overwintered tubers. It looks good enough to be a named variety so I have called it ‘Radiant Heat’ !

I have been very impressed with these Calibrachoa this year. I have given up on the big blousy trailing petunias in favour of these mini ones and they have proved to be a great success in the baskets.

There is no blue quite like this chicory, it is unique and very easy to place. It combines well with most other colours and is tall and statuesque, a good 2m and still growing. The flowers close at night so I assume it is pollinated by bees and other day flying pollinators. It is certainly a popular pit stop in our garden!

The heat on the patio was intense this morning, reflected off the stone walls and paving, but the roses, nepeta and veronicas are revelling in it. I will be on a 2 hour watering session this evening though. Good opportunity to combine with a cold glass of Sauvignon blanc I find!

There has been some recent debate on forums about the virtues, or otherwise, of Agastache. This ‘Liquorice Blue’ has been with me for years and is a valuable addition to the early summer border but some people say it looks like a weed, having nettle-like leaves and relatively insignificant flowers, For me, its value lies in its attractiveness to pollinators, particularly bees, which find it irresistible.

Just one of many roses gracing my garden at the moment. The air is filled with scent and the sound of buzzing busy bees. This one is ‘The Generous Gardener’ which has the most wonderful pink buds opening to creamy white flowers and a delicious citrus scent.

Finally, (and I know it is the seventh image!) is the evergreen Agapanthus africanus which has only just come into flower, 6 weeks later than usual. Summer has finally arrived!

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

My ‘Lockdown One’ project of creating a new cottage garden during April and May 2020 has certainly paid dividends this year. Everything has established and, with some slight alterations, is now how I want it.

This pretty pink Linaria ‘Canon Went’ was planted many years ago in a different part of the garden but is now obviously at home with its darker brother and the Verbena. It is a prolific self-seeder and ‘perfect for pollinators’.

I managed to rid the garden of the horrendous magenta Lychnis coronaria and now just have the white version which is easier to place and coordinates with almost everything. It has colonised an area of dry clay in the hottest part of the garden and its offspring are already preparing themselves for next year’s show.

My favourite shrubby Salvia ‘Trelissick’, named after the National Trust garden in Cornwall. I just love the dark calyx with emerging pink bud and creamy white flowers, a stunning combination.

Lychnis chalcedonica, more commonly called Maltese Cross, is another ‘in your face’ sort of plant for a hot border or scheme. Here backed up by the dark Pittosporum tenuifolium. Needs some support otherwise it will flop in the slightest breeze. Dramatic and much admired by quizzical passers-by.

Yet another Thompson & Morgan disaster! These begonia tubers were supposed to be ‘Apricot Shades Improved’ but have turned out to be plain red! So annoying when you nurture something into life in the cold days of February, carefully bring it on in the greenhouse in April, plant it up in the basket in May only to find it wasn’t what you had bought and expected.

Hey ho!

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

Today, I thought I would introduce my collection of Tradescantia virginiana species and Tradescantia Andersoniana Group hybrids. This is something I have been working on for twelve months or so with Plant Heritage, the national plant conservation charity.

Tradescantias, or Spiderworts as they are commonly known in their native United States, were named by Carl Linnaeus to honour the English explorer and plant collector John Tradescant the Elder and his son, John Tradescant the Younger who discovered the species and many hybrids in the late 16th and early 17th century.

They are members of the family Commelinaceae, after Commelina meaning dayflower, and have clusters of several flower buds which open progressively each day over several weeks in June and early July. The flowers come in a variety of colours from white through various shades of blue, purple and pink to almost dark red.

They are very promiscuous and have spawned dozens of natural hybrids which were collected, named and brought together into a group by the American botanist Edgar Anderson in the 1920’s and 30’s and now referred to as the Andersoniana Group.

I currently have 37 different hybrids and species growing in 20 litre pots sunk up to their rim in my old raised fruit and vegetable beds. This contains root spread, makes spot watering and feeding easier and less wasteful, enables me to move them around to change the display and to lift and divide each plant when the time comes.

The beds and pots are mulched with 50mm of Strulch mineralised chopped straw to reduce germination of weed seeds and to deter slugs and snails who see Tradescantias as gourmet food. So far, it is working well and there is no damage and no weeds and I am pleased that it stays put and doesn’t blow around.

I have added a couple of Alstroemerias and Agapanthus in the corners to add some complementary colours and texture.

I hope to bring more news and pictures of the project as it progresses, the problems I am having sourcing plants from Europe after Brexit, and the virtually impossible task of importing from the USA where they apparently grow like weeds!

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

I definitely didn’t buy it so this beautiful Iris sibirica must have found its way here in a pot of something else as often happens. Delightful happy accident!

Neillia affinis, or Chinese ninebark, is a tough deciduous shrub for the mixed border, often overlooked, but it does well for me.. By no means a stunner like Abelia but I enjoy the late spring pink flowers and it’s relaxed habit.

This little rock garden plant sits in this pot year after year and does this in May and June when the sun shines. As soon as the sun goes in, the flowers close up tight. I have no idea what it is called but the ‘leaves’ look like a succulent. Lives outside all year round and seems to able to take everything life throws at it.

The Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber, is in full swing and I am pleased to have the various shades of pink as well as white growing wild in the garden. It seeds prolifically in the gravel paths and margins but pulls up easily so I don’t mind. It is one of those miracle plants that doesn’t seem to need any soil or nutrient to grow. You see it billowing out of limestone walls all over the Cotswolds at this time of year and, on closer inspection, it is thriving on absolutely nothing at all!

The Erysimum ‘Apricot Twist’ continues to astonish me with it’s flower power and persistence. Possibly the hardest working plant in the garden, it literally never stops flowering!

There is a danger in writing a gardening blog, that people believe all areas of your garden must be perfectly maintained at all times which, of course, is never true! There is always a neglected corner where nature runs riot. Out of view, away from prying eyes, this is mine! I call it my comfrey patch but in truth it is my compost corner, a jungle which I hack my way through every few days. I’m sure we all have one, don’t we?!

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

The garden is suddenly exploding into life thanks to the warm and wet conditions we are currently enjoying. This shrubbery with Viburnum plicatum and Euphorbia palustris make a fine show.

This Anthemis punctata softens the path edges and looks lovely backed up by the dark leaved Physocarpus ‘Diablo’. For a Mediterranean grey leaved plant, it certainly loves the rain!

Erysimum variegatum looking a bit straggly after the winter but flowering and sending out new shoots to flower later in the year. Reliable, bone hardy and easy from cuttings to replace these short lived perennials.

The alliums are a bit later this year but now about to burst into flower.

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ which seems to like its partly shaded position between the Philadelphus and the Thalictrums.

Finally, the first flowers of self seeded Hesperis matronalis ‘Alba’ which was originally grown many years ago from seed and now pops up wherever it feels like it. The violet version seems to have disappeared and just the white ones remain. The clove sweet fragrance on a warm summer evening is everything you could want from a scented plant. Mainly pollinated by moths I believe but enjoyed by many other pollinators too.

Enjoy your weekend

David

Six on Saturday

It has been so cold here in the Cotswolds that we still have the central heating on! Never known a cold spell last into early May before. Everything is at least three weeks behind where it should be at this time of year. This Euphorbia cyparissias doesn’t seem to mind the cold and is adding colour to an otherwise green scene.

The recent late frosts have killed all the emerging Wisteria flowers! Despite the plant itself being totally hardy, the flowers are not and are easily damaged by cold winds and frost. I am bitterly disappointed as it is usually a highlight of early May for me.

The Camassias have not performed as well as usual this year with far fewer flowers. I will feed the bulbs for a few weeks before the foliage dies down and will then lift and divide them because it may be due to the bulbs being too congested. The brown leaf tips are worrying too. Perhaps a lack of nitrogen??

This Genista ‘Porlock’ is probably an escapee from a local garden and is actually in the hedge outside my garden but it is so beautiful I thought it was worthy of showing in the blog. Obviously a member of the pea family by the labiate flowers, it is a type of Broom with a faint but pleasant scent. I might see if there is an ‘Irishman’s Cutting’ I can take!

It has fascinated me that some plants always flower before others of the same species. This Aquilegia next to the house wall is the first to flower every year, weeks ahead of all the other hundreds in the garden. No logical reason why it should but it always does.

Years ago, I discovered Bowles Golden Grass, Milium effusum ‘Aureum’, in a local garden and the kind owner dug up a piece and gave it to me. Slowly but surely it has colonised several areas of the garden but in a good way. It likes the shady spots in amongst other plants, below trees and bushes, where it lights up the gloom with its bright yellow leaves.

I kid you not, this Erysimum ‘Apricot Twist’ has been in flower constantly for 12 months! I cut back some of the straggly growth in February and the new shoots are flowering alongside the flowers on last year’s growth which shows no sign of slowing down. These plants literally flower themselves to death over a couple of years or so.

Have a great weekend

David

Six on Saturday

The debate rages on about Spanish Bluebells and whether, rather like the Grey Squirrel, they are driving out the native English version. Recent research suggests this is not the case and that the native Bluebell has a genetic advantage which makes them tough and resilient. So let’s just enjoy the beauty of Spanish bluebells, despite their tendency to invade and spread alarmingly!

We have Blue Tits in the posh new nest box! He or she had just gone in with a mouthful of something when I took this shot. Unusually, our old nest box on the shed, which has been occupied every year since 2010, is unoccupied for the first time. That’s the housing market for you, the lure of the new and untouched!

Talking of Bluebells, lurking beneath the beech hedge is a small clump of white ones which flower every year but don’t seem to increase; just the same small clump every year.

Early morning shot of the front garden today. Comments seem to suggest that followers like to see gardens as well as plants and flowers so I thought I would periodically bare all.

The middle garden this morning. I call it the rose garden but in all truth, it is mostly patio!

And the back garden minus the shed and greenhouse on the left. What you see are 20L pots of Tradescantia virginiana hybrids sunk into raised beds, the beginning of my National Plant Collection. Lots more to do, including a new website to go live shortly, but it’s a start!

I am always impressed with the sheer exuberance of Daylillies. The ability to go from nought to this in a matter of weeks in cold, wet weather is remarkable and a reminder that a colourful summer is just around the corner!

Enjoy your weekend.

David

Six on Saturday

Got to be quick today, off to play golf! Six things I found interesting this morning included this Waldsteinia ternata which I hardly notice for eleven months of the year but this morning it was resplendent and shouting to be admired, which I did.

Phizzy Pheasant. Not the sort of bird I encourage into the garden but he doesn’t seem to do any damage and just pecks around with his wife for an hour or so then disappears. The males can get very territorial and aggressive if they haven’t already found a partner but Phizzy is already paired up which is lucky for the postman!

Lovely peach Japanese Quince, Chaenomeles japonica, grown from a pip many years ago and now flowering in the drive border. The red, white and dark pink cousins are yet to appear.

An unusual double Anemone blanda which has popped up amongst the singles.

Flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum, nothing special but an excellent source of early nectar for bees and other essential pollinators.

Dhalia tubers shooting in the greenhouse are promise of a bright and colourful summer to come.

Enjoy your weekend.

Fore!

David