Six on Saturday

I suspect I won’t be alone in talking about the drought this week! But it is too easy to moan, I like to get on with things and believe it will get better, like it always does! This Silphium perfoliatum is a good case in point. It is a little shorter than last year and the flowers are slightly smaller, but it is coping like it is designed to do in the prairies of North America.

This short and stocky little Helianthus ‘Happy Days’ is another one enjoying the heat alongside the Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum x superbum. It is protected from the fierce heat of the afternoon sun by the shrubs and trees which tower over it and seems quite happy, despite the lack of water.

However, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ needs her daily drink to survive and I have been determined to keep her happy to enjoy her beautiful big bounty of flowers, the size of footballs. The colours fade quickly in this heat and relentless sunshine and I should probably have planted her in a shadier spot, but I wanted to see her from the kitchen window and for others to enjoy her too.

My potted pineapple lily, Eucomis bicolor, is struggling too but seems determined to put on a show. Her fleshy leaves wilt in the heat but the flower stems stand erect and unconcerned, pulling in the bees all day long.

This gaudy Phlox paniculata is on its last legs, gasping for breath but soldiering on in the mixed border. I chuck a bit of water around the roots if I am passing with the watering can, but there’s a small part of me that obviously doesn’t care if she lives or dies!

Finally, the wonders of nature. I have been monitoring this tiny spider for days as she spins her web over the Euonymus. Truly, a work of art!

Have a great weekend and remember, the rain will come!


Six on Saturday

During the last very, very hot two weeks it has been a struggle to keep everything alive, particularly plants in pots and those planted out just a few months ago in the new rose garden. The (five) water butts ran out in quick succession and I had to resort to the hosepipe which I try not to do but needs must! Of course, as soon as I got the hosepipe out, it rained; big rain, lots of rain. My (five) water butts are now full again!

I am a great fan of Soapwort with its pretty white and pink flowers; so dainty yet tough as old boots. As perennials go, this one should be in every garden but it seems to have lost favour like a lot of ‘common’ plants. The nursery trade has a huge influence on how gardens are planted unless, like me and many others, you hunt down the seeds and grow them yourself.

The saponin properties found in soapwort plant are responsible for creating the bubbles that produce soap. You can easily make your own liquid soap simply by taking about twelve leafy stems and adding them to a pint of water. This is usually boiled for about 30 minutes and then cooled and strained. Alternatively, you can start out with this small, easy recipe using only a cup of crushed, loosely packed soapwort leaves and 3 cups of boiling water. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes on low heat. Allow to cool and then strain. Note: The soap only keeps for a short period (about a week) so use it right away. Use caution as this can cause skin irritation in some people.

These two tough little pots of Liliope muscari were given to me by my friend Nan a few years ago and only found their way into the ground in May, since when they have been much happier and flowered better than they ever did in pots. They like the shade of the Physocarpus and the moist clay beneath.

This is quite simply a stunning rose despite its rather lax habit, with gorgeous apricot flowers on almost thornless stems and a fruity tea scent. Destined to be one of my favourites I think

My little potted Eucomis bicolour has excelled herself this year with eleven flower spikes which I think is down to the ‘Carol Klein method’ of repotting with fresh gritty compost every February before growth gets underway. It has surprisingly few roots for such a leafy plant, but stores it’s food in its huge bulb.

Finally, I don’t often recommend gardening websites, particularly the large nurseries with big marketing budgets or here-today-gone-tomorrow gadgets, but this one seems to be different and a good idea for hard pressed gardeners. The Secret Gardening Club is a venture by Yorkshire Lavender who take over excess stock from nurseries all over the country and sell it to club members at a fraction of the price, often starting at just £1.99.
Every week they let all their club members know what great plants offers they have available by email. I have joined the club, bought some plants, received them and have been impressed with the quality, the packaging and the customer service. I speak as I find and so far this seems to be a genuinely good idea.

So, there are my six for this Saturday.

Have a great weekend!