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: 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.