Six on Saturday: 28 Aug 2021: summer’s end

I’m late posting for this week’s Six on Saturday, I was going to give it a miss: like the garden, I am flagging at this time of year. The end of summer often feels quite sad to me. My camera’s also temporarily out of action so the photos aren’t great quality, but never mind, they will do. There are still a few things going on after all, and I even got some spinach and raddicchio planted this afternoon, so there’s that to look forward to.

1 Helenium ‘Indian summer’. This photo looks upside down but I had to take it from a funny angle, on top of which the plants are leaning heavily to one side. They are rather hidden among other things in the vibrant border – I’m struggling to find space for everything – but they’ve got the right vibe for late summer. Must stake them better!

2 Tithonia ‘Torch’. These have actually done really well, grown from seed, and I have five of them grouped together so they add a good splash of orange. I have belatedly realised they go together well with tall verbena bonariensis, which is further down the border, so maybe next year I’ll plant them together. It’s very hard to get a group photo though – they are large plants, of different heights, and the flowers are often facing skywards, so instead here’s a close up of a bee enjoying a slightly tattered but still bright bloom.

3 Cucamelons. I grew theses from seed for the first time this year, and I got the idea to train them up the chicken coop netting from a Youtube video of an Australian who did the same thing to provide shade and occasional food for his chooks. They scrambled up happily here, and three plants provide a small bowl of these tasty mini cucumbers with a hint of lime.

4 Chillis. The Thai Dragon chillis are turning red so they can go in a Thai curry any day now. The yellow Biquinho (Portuguese for ‘little beak’) have been interesting. They have a fruity, chilli kick without actually being hot, so they work well in a salad or to pep up a baguette sandwich. I see another blasted lime tree seed is wedged in the Thai chilli*

5 Rosa ‘Compassion’ with tall grass. Ouch, sorry for the fuzziness of my ancient iphone camera here. I do like this combo of feathery grass (in a pot) with apricot rose (the flowers of this rose are pinker in its first flowering, I find, and more apricot in its second).

6 A seat for autumn. Our patio and decking-terrace area are under the canopy of the neighbour’s mature trees, including the lime trees you can see in some of the photos above, which means I spend far too much time these days sweeping up lime seeds up and picking them out of plants (see point 4*). During one such Herculean cleaning operation, I moved a few pots around and decided to put a little table and chair in the midst of my patio pots and next to the mini greenhouse. As summer fades into autumn, and the light shifts, this becomes the perfect spot for my morning cup of tea.

It’s also next to a pretty white-pink rose which is having a good second flush of flowers and has a lovely scent. It’s been in a tall blue ceramic pot for at least five or six years, but shows no sign of flagging and is always healthy. I like the fact that despite being a double rose, it shows its stamens and provides nectar/pollen for the occasional bee.

That’s all for now, thanks to The Propagator once again for hosting, and I’d better dash as I’ve got a family appointment to watch the latest unlikely plot twist in ‘How to get away with murder’ on Netflix.

Six on Saturday: 13 Feb 2021: whitewash

Many of us in the Northern hemisphere have had a snowy, cold interlude, thanks to a Siberian weather front, and whether or not you have enjoyed this probably depends on how many half-hardy plants you have in the garden! In my case, the wonderful bright light, blue skies and glimmer of frozen lakes has lifted my spirits. A change is as good as a rest, especially during these monotonous Covid days. As for the plants, well we’ll find out which have made it through soon enough. Onto Six on Saturday, the weekly garden round-up…

1 White, white, everywhere. Obligatory photos of the snow-clad garden taken earlier this week, before the sun came out and before snowball fights made a mess. I wonder if the chard in the veg patch will still be edible after the thaw. On the terrace, fleece has been deployed to help out the sage, and a Fatsia japonica, hardy to minus 10 degrees C. We got down to minus 11 one night, so it’s touch and go.

2 Crocus. Remember last week’s hopeful flowers? Well, they’re still here…tough plants.

3 Sedum with a bobble. Just for fun, and to show that sedum is a plant that looks good all year round.

4 Chilli seedlings. For those curious as to how my LED plant lights are working out, take a look at these straight chilli seedlings. I’ve had a great germination rate on the Thai Dragon (5/6), not bad on the Biquinho (4/6) and zero on my experiment using seeds from a shop-bought green pepper.

5 Dahlia splurge. A visit to the garden centre to get some seed compost and a packet of seeds resulted in the purchase of nine new Dahlia tubers, three each of Chat Noir, Bora Bora and Antibes. The tropics await me!

6 Robin. The ultimate cute winter bird. He was photographed on a walk in a nearby nature reserve, but as this is the best photo I’ve got of a robin so far, he deserves an inclusion here. Forgive me for breaking the rules.

That’s it for this week, let’s see what other gardeners have been up to around the globe on The Propagator’s site. Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Six on Saturday: 30 Jan 2021: Citrus boost

This week I was reminded that January brings one of the best harvests, from the citrus groves of Sicily. We have an Italian neighbour who has a connection to a grower on that sun-soaked, fertile island, and brings in a lorry-load of crates laden with oranges, lemons, grapefruit and clementines, which he stores in his garage and sells to neighbours. We got a box of oranges and another of lemons, so should be able to make it through the rest of winter with enough Vitamin C!

Night time in the neighbour’s garage!

No visions of citrus from today’s rain sodden garden though, but let’s see it has to offer in this week’s Six on Saturday, hosted by the committed Propagator.

1 Narcissus ‘Paperwhite’. Indoors rather than outdoors, this has just started flowering. It has a very sweet, spicy scent, which would be cloying as a perfume but is fine for the occasional sniff.

2 Sarcococca confusa. Perfume outside now, in a pot on the patio the sweet box is coming into flower. It’s not overwhelming me with scent, to be honest, but it’s only just getting going, and it could do with a less damp atmosphere to play its part.

3 Helleborus argutifolius. I’ve featured this before but it deserves another turn. None of the coy downward facing flowers of the oriental hellebores, pretty as they may be, this is a vision of health and vibrancy. It shines from its corner in the glade, even more so in the rain, which given how much it’s raining this year is a definite plus.

4 Spanish bluebells. Next to the hellebore is a spreading clump of Spanish bluebells. Previous owner here was Spanish, so there might be a connection there. I am looking forward to these, even if they are not quite as delicate as the English bluebells.

5 Asiatic salad. In the little greenhouse I’ve got a tray of Asiatic salad which I sowed a tad late last autumn. The roots are coming through the holes in the tray, so I need to transfer to a larger container and hopefully get fresh salad leaves soon. In front is an experiment in autumn-sowing sweet pea Matucana, they’re ok but a bit floppy.

6 Chillis: Thai Red Dragon and Biquinho. Let’s loop back indoors now to show you my LED lights in action, giving my just-germinated chillis a helping hand. I’ve gone for two ends of the scale this year, a hot Red Dragon for our Thai curries, and a very mild yellow Biquinho for adding to salads, making salsas etc. There is a third row of yet to germinate sweet green peppers. By the way this is how dark it is at 9 a.m. on a rainy Saturday – urgh!

That’s all for this rather wet week. We are now trapped in Belgium with closed borders, and haven’t seen family in the UK since last August. This is a strange feeling, to have your freedom of movement restricted, and in a foreign country, though I totally understand the reasoning behind it. I feel a slight sense of creeping claustrophobia though, but then I realise I am not alone in that, and many are aching to get out and about again. I hope the garden and the lengthening days provide welcome distractions for all.