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!


Six on Saturday – missed again!

I have discovered that my hitherto punctuality is a thing of the past and I am now pretty hopeless at remembering to update my blog as promised. Could be an age thing, could be the distractions of family and friends last weekend (a two year old granddaughter demanding attention from the moment she wakes up doesn’t help!) or it could be the red wine, who knows! Anyway, I promise to do better from now on, to which end I have taken the photos today and uploaded them so I just have to write the words. No excuses then!

In the meantime, here are the ones I meant to post last week.

Named after the house in Shropshire where King Charles II allegedly hid after his defeat in the Battle of Worcester in 1651, this David Austin bred repeat flowering rose, (apparently with the scent of Myrrh but I couldn’t possibly comment having never smelt the real thing) is on its second flowering and doing better than the first. It has the great attribute of holding its head up rather than drooping like so many David Austin modern roses do. A gorgeous coral pink with glossy green leaves, it is a stunner.

At just £2 for a bag of 5 bulbs from Morrison’s, I rate this summer flowering bulb for its height and form, bee friendliness and sheer exuberance. It is rated as perennial but if it isn’t, I haven’t lost much and had a wonderful first and last summer.

This unusual Kniphofia ‘Green Jade’ is about as reliable as any red/orange and is not as difficult to place in the garden. It combines well with most colours and fades into the background. Bombproof, thrives on neglect flowers for weeks on end and easy to tidy up in the spring. I just wish it had tidier flower heads, it always looks a bit scruffy!

This is one of those Dahlias that started off life as a ‘Bishop’s Children’ derivative and has morphed into it’s own semi variety. It stays in the ground, comes up every year without fail, battles the slugs and snails in April and May and comes good in July and August. It’s tough, pretty and never lets me down; a metaphor for the best thing in my life.

This Salvia was grown from a demonstration cutting discarded at a Plant Heritage meeting seven years ago. It is one of those plants that you love to hate. It smells awful, it has an enormous appetite for water, it is not particularly attractive and yet it just won’t die! It is supposed to be H3 meaning it won’t take a frost, but I leave it out all year and despite the initial leaves often getting frosted, it soon sends out more as if to say “you can’t kill me!”

And another plant which hasn’t read the book. Cannas are also H3 so should be ‘lifted, dried and stored carefully in a frost free place over winter’. Frankly, can’t be bothered. If you plant them deep enough they easily survive an average Cotswold winter and come up unscathed to flower from August to October with these head turning colours.

So that’s it for this/last week. Sorry I was late…again. I will improve…promise!

Six/Ten on Saturday

I missed last week’s posting due to grandparent duties so I have a bumper crop this week starting with the scrumptious Rosa ‘Camille Pissaro’ newly acquired from Style Roses. Always difficult choosing roses from a catalogue but this one didn’t disappoint. Camille himself was an 18th century French painter and this probably looked like his painting apron!

Good old Geranium ‘Rozanne’ mingling with Nepeta faassenii ‘Kit Kat’, and just about anyone else she can find on her sprawl across the border. Good at hiding the less attractive underparts of roses and carpeting the ground to prevent weed seed germination.

Another new addition for the rose garden is Clematis x triternata ‘Rubromarginata’ AGM currently smothered in hundreds of small but delicious almond scented flowers. I may have underestimated this clematis as I had assumed small flowers – small height. Wrong! She is going to be huge next year, easily outgrowing her allotted space and may have to be moved while still young enough to cope. If you like marzipan, you’ll love the fragrance.

I found a tiny self sown seedling of Verbena ‘Bampton’ when I was clearing the ground for the new rose garden, potted it up and replanted it in May. It has rewarded me with a wonderful display of its rigid wiry stems, dark green foliage and tiny purple/pink flowers for weeks and shows no sign of slowing down. A good strong perennial self seeder.

The last of my Thalictrums to flower is the wonderful ‘Rochebrunianum’. Fully 2m tall and literally smothered in delicate purple flowers with bright yellow stamens, it is a sight to behold. Adored by bees and other pollinators she makes me happy every time I see her.

Apologies for the tall picture but I wanted to get the flowers and foliage for this one. It is Penstemon sub serratus (we think!) grown by local nurseryman Kelvin Freer from donated Cottage Garden Society seed last year. I say ‘we think’ because opinions seem divided over the species but whatever it is, I am happy to give it garden room. It is proving to be robust and long flowered and like every Penstemon, adored by bees.

Just acquired this Tulbhagia violacea from a National Trust garden after failing miserably to germinate any from seed earlier in the year. I love their elegance and delicacy but, sadly, not their smell. They are not called Society Garlic for nothing! A South African native, they are not quite hardy in the UK unless you live in balmy Cornwall so they will be kept in a pot and transferred to the greenhouse for the winter. I am led to believe they ‘clump up’ like agapanthus and can be split every few years.

Sweet Pea ‘Betty Maiden’ from last year’s Which? Gardening trial are doing very well again and deserve a place in any pastel colour scheme, The delicate mauve and white flowers opening from lemon buds are just gorgeous and one of the best scents I think too.

Not particularly liked or fashionable these days, the ubiquitous Centranthus ruber or confusingly called Red Valerian, is all over my garden in cracks and crevices. Growing out of gravel and dry stone walls, it seems to be able to survive on a starvation diet of pretty well nothing. I certainly never water it or feed it and in fact, ignore it completely. If it pops somewhere I don’t mind then I leave it and if I don’t, it is easily pulled out. A lovely addition to a garden despite its almost ‘weed’ status. It comes in pink, red and white and seems to blend in with most things in my garden.

Last, but definitely not least, my current ‘Plant of the Year’, is Diascia personata, a tall version of the popular rollin’ & tumblin basket or edging plant, which went to the top of my lust list after coming across it at an open garden last year. You know that ‘I’ve got to have it’ feeling? It was one of those! It has performed so well and flowers so profusely I am going to spread the word among my fellow cottage gardeners by taking loads of cuttings for dispersal.

That’s it for this week. Hope to keep this up, I’m quite enjoying it again!