Six on Saturday

It is getting more and more difficult to find six interesting things for the blog but some things, like this Rose ‘Camille Pissarro’ continue to surprise me. Flowering as strongly in November as he was in June and no sign of giving up any time soon.

This unnamed wallflower, not a perennial just one of the annual cheiri types, is still here after three years and producing lots of self sown seedlings. I left it because I like the flower colour, less gaudy than most and unobtrusive at any time of the year.

Earlier this year I resolved to link my seven old water butts together to try and capture as much rainwater as possible. However, I am not patient enough to stand while a watering can slowly fills from the tap. I am a dipper. I plunge my can in the open water butt at the top instead! The problem is that some of my butts are old juice barrels with no lid. So, I experimented with joining them all together at the bottom by their taps or outlets whereby they all empty at the same rate. This means my open dipping butt never seems to go down! Every time it rains, the water from my 18′ x 8′ shed and greenhouse fills 2 of the barrels which in turn fill the other 5. This gives me a constant 1500 litres of water all year round. The manifold of old hose pipe and ‘T’ pieces was a bit of a faff but it all works beautifully!

A few Saturdays ago I mentioned the self sown cosmos seedlings and wondered whether they would survive the winter. Well, I needn’t have worried because they have all flowered! Never had this happen before and I think it must have been the hot summer and mild autumn which promoted germination and flowering in just a few short weeks.

The shrubby salvias, like this ‘Trelissick’ are still going strong with lots more flower buds and fresh growth at the base. I tend to cut the top third off about now to avoid wind rock, but I can’t bring myself to do it just yet!

And finally, let’s end on Hardy Geranium ‘Orion’ which has been flowering non-stop since May and is a real stunner. One of the sterile hybrids like ‘Patricia’ and ‘Rozanne’, she keeps flowering in the vain hope that pollination will occur, and seeds will form, but they never do.

Have a great weekend


Six on Saturday

And, just like that, Autumn is upon us! The Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’ began her decline at the end of August this year, a full month earlier than usual, so her leaves are already turning crimson as they lose their sugar and end their life cycle for another year.

The Amelanchier lamarckii is also turning from its summer green to that gorgeous, golden honey shade before they too drop and carpet the ground with colour. This is not death but renewal, and both trees will come back bigger and stronger next year.

The previous owners of our bungalow must have planted some Rose of Sharon bushes, Hypericum calycinum, which, despite my best efforts, are still around making a nuisance of themselves 13 years later. I pull them out but they always return. This one escaped my attention by hiding under the beech in the drive border but I must dig it up before those berries fall and cause even more mayhem next year. A real persistent survivor from the 70’s when it was all the rage. Little did they know!

This little patch of Persicaria affinis did not enjoy the full glare of the hot sun in July and sulked for weeks afterwards. Even copious amounts of water did not coax it into flower but now, suddenly in October, it is back again in force! The little pink fluffy bunny tails are enjoying the cooler conditions and the low sun in the lee of the hedge and delighting me every morning as I raise the kitchen blind.

The Chinese Mountain Ash, Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’, is laden with fruit after a barren season last year. It may be a variety that has a rest year, I am not sure. What I do know is that the pesky Wood Pigeons will be on it shortly performing their acrobatics to strip the tree of every last berry. They are quite comical and never seem to break a branch no matter how precarious their endeavours!

This is a bit of a dilemma. The Cosmos which was planted here, which fell over and was removed weeks ago, obviously shed a lot of seed behind my back and has produced dozens of babies. I doubt they will survive the winter but even if I were to dig them up, I have nowhere warm enough to put them. What to do? Leave them and watch them turn to mush and die? Pot them up and leave them in the greenhouse to turn to mush and die?

This was it before it was removed. Too pretty to lose forever. Watch this space!

Have a great weekend


Plant of the Day – Cosmos

One of the easiest plants to grow and one of the most reliable to flower and put on a great show all summer is Cosmos. I think my favourite is ‘Purity’ simply because it has such pure white flowers which highlight and accentuate the rich colours of other plants.

Equally stunning are the single and double pinks and purples which seem to come true from seed every year despite the bees hopping from colour to colour all day long.

Cosmos ‘Double Click Cranberry’

This year I tried a couple of new varieties from which I will collect seed, the unusual ‘Double Click Cranberry’ and the pretty ‘Picotee’ with delightful pinky purple edges.

Cosmos ‘Picotee’

The taller varieties can get a bit ‘top heavy’ and begin to lean or even topple over in high winds but they usually survive if pushed back up and staked. The shorter varieties make colourful front of border plants. They are all very attractive to pollinating insects, flower for months if deadheaded regularly, are drought tolerant and will grow in almost any soil. What more could any gardener ask for?

Daily Jottings

Update on “New Variety” Nicotiana mutabilis…

Just had a response from Ray Brown at Plant World in Devon. My “new variety” is not particularly unusual, it happens all the time with “mutabilis”. The clue is in the name meaning “changes” Not going to get rich this time! I will continue to save the seed though; who knows, it might throw up an even bigger change next year.

On the same subject, I thought I had recently found a new variety of Lychnis coronaria too. As far as I knew, it either came in shocking cerise pink or white. However, from a packet of ‘Alba’ seeds, up popped what I now know is ‘Angel’s Blush’. Surprising, delightful and disappointing all in one go!

Snipping or Sniping?

Anyone who has been in the garden recently armed with bucket and snips will know that there is no greater pleasure than getting up close and personal with pollinating insects in the herbaceous border! What I am talking about is, of course, deadheading. I mention this because I have just spent a wonderful two hours in amongst the Cosmos, Dahlias, Knautia and Calendula which need attention every few days to keep them flowering. However, I am still reeling from a comment made by a good friend and neighbour at the weekend that “life is too short for deadheading Cosmos”. To me, deadheading is the very essence of gardening. If you sow the seed, grow them on, plant them out, water and feed them, enjoy the bounty and cut them for the vase, the least you can do is prolong their life and beauty – isn’t it?.