Six on Saturday

Despite the showery weather, the temperatures are encouraging the garden to get up and go. Everywhere I look, things are gathering pace and I need to keep up! As usual, the weeds are growing even faster than the cultivated plants so that is my main priority at the moment. However, it’s nice look at pretty things too, like this Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Pink Giant’ even though the bittercress in the background annoys me!

I am never quite sure whether this is a pink Primrose, Primula or Polyanthus. It comes back every year and is spreading to different parts of the garden, presumably by seed, but I am happy to let it be. It is a cheerful little thing.

Millium effusum ‘Aureum’ or Bowles’s Golden Grass is something I spotted in a large manor house garden a few years ago and bought a small pot for £2. It was said to brighten up dark corners and is an unfussy plant which “gently spreads about”. In fact, it grows anywhere, spreads like mad and is becoming a nuisance! In late summer the waving seed heads are very attractive above the golden leaves but don’t be fooled, it is just looking for its next target. Every bed and border now has its own clump which will soon become a forest so be warned!

The Delphiniums are relishing the damp conditions and the 3″ of mulch I packed round them a few weeks ago. I got on top of the slugs and snails by applying ferric phosphate on Valentine’s Day (so romantic!) and they are untouched. Time to get the supports in place!

I think I might have overdone the Cosmos! Friends and neighbours will take a few but that still leaves far too many. However, the leftover mixed dahlia seeds are doing well and are ready to be pricked out today. I love a nice surprise!

The Sweet Peas will also get planted out today, but in the garden. I follow the old mantra of ‘sow when the clocks go back, plant out when the clocks go forward’, so today is the day! By sowing in October, pinching them out in January and overwintering them in a cold greenhouse, I get stocky plants with at least two side shoots and a healthy root system to give them a good start. They go into heavily composted soil with some chicken pellets and bone meal which I find produces good results.

That’s it for my Six. Have a great weekend


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.


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.


Six on Saturday

It was time to pot-on the sweet peas this week to give them 6 weeks to establish a good root system before planting out at the end of March. Some people are surprised by me doing this. Most people grow them in a pot and then just plant that out, even though the roots have probably been going round the pot for many weeks trying to find water and nourishment. I think this additional stage is worthwhile to get stronger stocky plants which are well fed and better prepared for life outside when they are hardened off in mid-March. It only took a few days after pinching the tops out for them to start producing side shoots which will result in nice bushy plants with more flowering stems and therefore more flowers.

I sow two seeds into each cell of root trainers and, most of the time, both seeds grow. I don’t soak them or chit them as some recommend, I have never found this necessary if you plant fresh seed in October/November. As soon as they have grown two pairs of leaves I pinch out the top and let them start to produce side shoots. I start pinching out in mid January and by now they have all been pinched out and ready for potting-on.

The root trainers produce really good root systems and I think it is essential to give them plenty of room at this stage. I have tried cardboard toilet roll tubes but they just turn to mush and can only accommodate one seed. You also can’t pot them on unless you put the whole thing into a pot which seems to defeat the object of sowing them in the toilet roll tube in the first place! Root trainers are definitely the best.

The two little plants separate easily without any damage to the roots and are potted up individually in 9cm pots or, my preference which is Sweet Pea bags. Hard to come by these days, I think I bought mine from Roger Parsons many years ago. Like pots, they last for ever. However, I have given so many away over the years to intrigued friends that I now only have 30 left, so I use 9cm pots as well.

They both fit nicely in a mushroom tray for moving them about and watering and provide the same amount of compost and growing room. I don’t add any feed in the compost at this stage, other than what is already provided by the supplier in the bag. I don’t want to encourage too much soft growth before they are ready to go outside.

So there we are, Six on Saturday all about Sweet Peas! Sorry, but there’s not much else going on this week. Lots more next week though, February is weed, feed and mulch time and I have 1000 litres of blended soil conditioner arriving in a dumpy bag on Monday! Valentines Day present for the wife. So romantic!

Have a great weekend