Six on Saturday: 25 Sep 2021: Wishes and Karma

I’m publishing two posts today – a rather excitable one on the new allotment I’ve got a share in – and this week’s Six on Saturday, as there’s still plenty to revel in as September draws to a close.

1 Salvia ‘Ember’s Wish’ was an impulse buy as I was killing some time last Saturday afternoon while my son did his theatre class. There’s a nice little garden centre run by some friendly Flems nearby, so this inevitably means picking up a plant or two. This one stood out. It’s one of the Wish collection salvias from Australia, and part of the sale proceeds go towards granting wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. The flowers are a lovely coral-red with dusky pink bracts and there are purple tones to the leaves and stems. Only downside – it’s not fully hardy, but I will enjoy it through autumn.

2 Begonia ‘Picotee Sunburst’ is described as ‘an indefatigable bloomer from mid summer to the first frosts’ but my three in pots seem very fatigued. They have been growing at a snail’s pace since spring, and only now are deigning to flower. I’m probably not giving them something they need, and so they are sulking. Never grown them before.

3 Calendula ‘Daisies Mixed’ – many thanks to One Man and His Garden Trowel for the seeds for both this calendula and number 4. I was late sowing these, so they are flowering much later than my ordinary orange calendulas, but they are worth the wait. I’ll let them set seed and grow more of these next year.

4 Calendula ‘Snow Princess’ is an interesting colour mix, the petals starting off a soft yellow and then turning white, but retaining a hint of that yellow towards the centre, and the very tips of the petals are brushed with brown.

5 Dahlia ‘Bora bora’ is flowering again, this time in combo with some perennial sunflowers in the background. I really can’t get enough of this cactus dahlia.

6 Pot luck. We’ve got a neighbourhood WhatsApp group for a small collective garden managed by a very sociable Italian (is there any other kind?) up the road. I recently dug up some overgrown Alchemilla mollis, divided them and offered them to the group. They went like hot cakes. Then another neighbour offered some aged terracotta pots he didn’t want, so I was very pleased to get hold of these four, just in time for planting up bulbs. A bit of gardening Karma.

Plenty more Six on Saturdays to see on The Propagator’s site. Wishing everyone a great weekend. Here we have another glorious sunny September morning, so hope the weather is good wherever you are.

Six on Saturday: 18 Sep 2021: soft and gentle

September is proving to be a soft, mellow and gentle month, just as it should be, so at last the weather is doing what it’s supposed to. Though the days are shorter, and the night is encroaching ever further into the evenings, the sun still has a lovely warmth to it – we need to bask in it while we can. I feel like I’m on borrowed time, and even as I write this, am looking at that bench thinking I ought to be sitting on it! It’s a bit of a raggedy time in the garden, frankly, but grasses are throwing out their seed heads, and little pops of colour are brightening the vibrant border – still in its first year, so a bit gappy but pulling through.

A clump of Tithonia and a few bits and pieces

1 Sunflower: Helianthus annus ‘Velvet Queen’ was supposed to be one of the less tall, spreading varieties. Ahem. You can see its tall, very silly, spindly stem in the photo above, so it’s not at the right height at all, but the flowers are a nice russet colour. Silliness aside, I hope the birds will enjoy the seeds in winter.

2 Dahlia ‘Antibes’ has survived the usual ravages of slugs in the border, and is throwing out appropriately autumnal reddish blooms.

3 Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ with Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’ make a nice pairing. The seed heads of the Pennisetum are soft and furry, like rabbit’s ears. Nachtvlinder, now becoming rather trendy, is a sultry velvety shade, and is doing pretty well for its first year.

4 Gladiolus byzantinus has finally appeared, planted out this spring. There are more on the way I hope. In the morning light, it looks pinker, but it has a nice magenta tone in the petals.

5 Gladiolus ‘Velvet Eyes’ came as a bit of a surprise. I’d planted a bunch in the spring of last year, and they all flowered last August, with terrible timing as I’d gone to the UK for three weeks during that ‘Covid opening’ phase of last summer, so I missed them. Then I lifted and stored them in the shed last winter, and the bulbs went mouldy. This single survivor was missed and left in the border, surviving one of our harshest winters. There’s a lesson in there!

6 Pyracantha ‘Golden Charmer’. Coming to six already, I realise how much is still going on in the garden, but I have to include some of these delightful berries. Pyracantha is one of those plants that divide opinion. My neighbours have one and call it ‘the devil shrub’ because they hate pruning it, getting caught up in its admittedly rather spikey thorns – but they prune it so much that it doesn’t have a chance to produce berries, so no wonder they don’t like it, they are missing its best feature! I really enjoy these generous clusters of berries and have two in pots near the house.

That’s all from me this week, I need to get to that bench, quickly before the day and all its activities take over. For more Six on Saturdays from around the world, visit The Propagator, and have yourselves a lovely weekend.

Six on Saturday: 24 July 21: summer’s here

Summer days are here, the living is pretty easy, especially now that work has slowed right down and the sun has come out to play. After all the rain we had here, I’m relieved, and cat-like, I enjoy basking in the dry heat. The deckchairs are out and the BBQ is in use.

Morning sun, full of promise

For Six on Saturday, I’m going to start with a dazzling dahlia:

1 Dahlia ‘Bora Bora’. I featured this last week, but look how it’s changed to the most unusual sea urchin! I love it. This almost makes up for the slug decimation of Chat Noir and other dahlias that were supposed to be on parade.

2 Blight on tomatoes. OK, let’s get this one over with. As mentioned earlier this week, we’ve got blight for the first time ever. Everyone seems to have it round here this year. I was really hoping I could save these tomatoes by stripping off the bad leaves and letting them ripen in the sun, but it’s not looking too good, is it?

Veg-bed tomatoes

What to do now? I noticed that the ones I’ve got growing in pots against the back wall are looking a bit better, although the leaves aren’t too good. It will be a poorer summer indeed without tomatoes, or courgettes – these have been destroyed by slugs of course.

Wall tomatoes

3 Begonia in a big blue pot. Onto better things. I mentioned that I felt Geranium Rozanne was lacking a little je ne sais pas quoi in this corner near the back door, perhaps a bit too dominant in pale blue. So I’ve added some white to draw the eye with this begonia (which I found in the garden centre, no label: does anyone know it?).

4 Daylily ‘Stafford’. Another one that’s been featured recently, for those who may remember, but it’s adding such great impact now with those warm, spicey tones and I’ve also figured out its name: Stafford. Seems too traditional for it. Daylilies do very well on our Belgian clay, so naturally I am tempted to try a few more.

5 Lantana camara ‘Orange’. I had an unusual, somewhat unsettled childhood, with expat parents who were very adventurous and moved around the place a lot. So when I was seven years old, I found myself in Jordan. My Dad worked at a university outside a small town, and so we lived on campus and my friends and I had free reign to play outside within its perimeter all day long. The almost traffic-free roads were lined with Lantana camara, so this takes me right back. I love the intensely aromatic leaves (the oils of the plant are used in insect repellents) and the tiny florets which always fascinated me (seven-year-old me liked to unpick each little flower from the main floret). For the first time, I managed to get this plant through a European winter – it sulked in the cellar in front of a south-facing window, but has really picked up now.

6 Hypericum kalmianum ‘Gemo’. I prefer this compact but showy little shrub to the larger Hypericums. It stays quite small but flowers enthusiastically from now through to September within minimum fuss, and adds a cheerful note right by the front steps. It looks good pretty much all year round, retaining its dark seed pods and a nice woody structure in winter, so that’s not bad for the front of house.

Well, I was hoping the sun would stay with us a little longer so that I could lounge in my deckchair and read a good book, but today starts overcast. I’ve sown some biennials for flowers next year (foxgloves, wallflowers and sweet williams) and pulled some more bindweed out here and there. The garlic is ready to harvest, and the blackberries are starting to come in, I might sow some radicchio. It’s a nice time of year, without too many urgent tasks.

For more delightful Six on Saturday posts from gardeners far and wide, see The Propagator’s site.