Six on Saturday: 04 Sep 2021: mellowing

Who captured the feel of autumn better than John Keats, with his ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’? Well, we are not quite there yet, it’s a bit early for mist, and fruitfulness is a bit disappointing, as we’ve had very few apples and no grapes this year. But there is most definitely a mellowing of the light, which is to be welcomed, making the plants glow softly in a most appealing way. Add some blue skies and sunny days, and things are on the up after the dog days of late August. I prefer September, when the garden might be slowing down, but the rhythm of the year re-establishes itself: that back to school, back to work feeling, which in gardening terms is back to planning for next year, with my first bulb order arriving and awaiting planting (Camassias, Fritillaries, Alliums). Let’s get started with the first Six on Saturday of meteorological autumn:

1 Cricket of considerable size. As I was belatedly staking some sagging Heleniums, this fellow was watching me through the Miscanthus. One of those moments to stop and stare, after running in for the camera, as he slowly crept away with sticky padded feet. He was at least 7cm long. Very exciting, as have never seen one of these in the garden before.

2 Verbena bonariensis. I’m pleased that this plant is gently seeding itself about the place, bringing in the bees and butterflies. It’s moved into the veg patch, which I don’t mind at all as it hardly gets in the way with its narrow stems, in fact there is little for it to get in the way of, as the space is normally occupied by tomatoes, which went out when blight struck. I replanted with radicchio, which all got eaten, despite precautionary anti-slug measures. So the Verbena has free reign.

3 Rosa ‘Compassion’. Now, speaking of mellow, take a look at how this rose is transformed by the light. When it flowered profusely in June, it was predominantly pink. Now the apricot is coming through much more strongly. I’ll let you decide which is prettiest – the bud on the cusp of opening, or the faded bloom (you’ll need to ignore the hoverfly being devoured by a tiny white spider).

4 Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’. Here’s another flower I like best at this time of year, when it’s glory is fading and the pink is gradually suppressed by biscuity buff tones.

5 Hylotelephium. Or Sedum if you prefer the old name. I’m always astonished by the number of bees dining on this mix of a pink sedum given to me by my mother-in-law Marianne, and a white ‘Iceberg’ that I added. These grace the sunny sweet spot of the front path, with lavender behind them and geraniums in front, and further up the indefatigable Nepeta is having a second flush. Lots here for our pollinator friends over an extended period of time.

6 Geranium Rozanne. Speaking of indefatigable, this hardworking geranium is also I think looking better in the softer autumnal light – in brighter summer sun, it looks a bit washed out. Now it’s got a glow to it, and with any luck it will keep this up into October, maybe November: ‘to set budding more, and still more later flowers for the bees, until they think warm days will never cease, for Summer has o’er brimm’d their clammy cells‘ – I’m sure Keats would have made a great Six on Saturday blogger.

So there we have it, a change from the warm reds, oranges, terracotta and turmeric shades that I’m rather partial to – no doubt they’ll be back next week, as those Tithonias are just clamouring to have their photo taken again. Many thanks to our host The Propagator, and to all the participants too, wishing you all a great weekend.

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.