SixOnSaturday August 3rd. Seasonal shift.

We had 2 heatwaves in July. The rest of the month was really hot but didn’t quite make “official heatwave” status. It is humid from dawn till dawn. My water barrels are empty. There are rabbits everywhere. The beagle is too hot to bother them. The algae in the river stinks at low tide. On the plus side, it is too hot and dry for mosquitoes. A couple of good thunderstorms would be very welcome, but so far the garden is loving it! It is lush and green when I’d expect baked and brown. Here are my six specials from the garden this week.

img_20190727_092004.jpg1. Anemone japonica ‘robustissima’. As the name suggests this is a very hardy individual,  taking over the marsh-front border with gusto. It throws up its tall flower heads in late summer, and will flower prolifically from now until frost. For me it is the first floral  harbinger of fall. In a couple of weeks it will be infiltrated by wild jerusalem artichokes, causing me to chunter on about ‘clearing out’, ‘redesigning’, ‘no more pink and yellow combos’ and so on. But it will still be August, too hot & humid for such intense activity. By the time the weather co-operates I will be ‘over it’ for another year.  

IMG_20190727_0915422. Germander. Teuchrium Chamaedrys. This one is also a sign of summer’s end. A lovely edging in the sunny border. Some years I clip it. This does not feel like a formal edging year. In a normal climate it would be evergreen. It is a nice alternative to boxwood, which is not really hardy through our winters.

img_20190727_092059-e1564583559934.jpg3. Phlox. Another harbinger. I don’t know which one this is but it is medium height and hides all kinds of ugly rose stems and burned out clematis vines.

IMG_20190727_0915214. White lace-cap hydrangea. This was an element in my first white garden. It is the nicest hydrangea, first to flower and repeating until frost. The white flower is so clear and clean. Sadly it is now being thirsty-ed out by the thuggish redbud tree and will have to be moved to another part of the garden. Another job for the Fall. I’ll take cuttings as soon as the current heatwave is over….I’d hate to lose it as I’ve never seen a prettier one.

IMG_20190727_0917245. Crookneck Squash. One plant, still too many squashes!

IMG_20190727_0917036. Onions! I have at last grown a decent crop. They are not show quality by any means, but they are big enough to slice rather than pickle! It’s only taken 30 years…..these are no-dig which I am turning to more and more.

So there you are, Six on a Very Hot and Sticky Saturday! For more gardening excitement visit the propagator’s site and have a wonderful week.


SixOnSaturday July 20th – PrunePlantSow

Summer is suddenly here. Hot and humid.  Gardening must be done early to avoid the heat and mosquitoes.  Tasks need to be broken into small, manageable segments or there is overheating and tantrums.

Six things on this ‘dangerously hot’ Saturday that make me smile. IMG_20190715_1008571. Prune. Before the heatwave my big old rose Cuisse de Nymphe had a major renovation prune in order to keep it in check but also to remove a lot of fossilised old wood from the base.

IMG_20190715_100934Here’s the pile of clippings waiting to be chipped up on a cooler day. I hope to promote stronger young growth that won’t flop around so much. The thorns are evil,  especially when they get you in the scalp as you meander by with a cup of coffee at daybreak.

IMG_20190715_1009212. Plant. I have been trying to extend my flowering season into summer. These Shasta daisies and gaura should complement the hydrangeas in the hottest months.

3. Sow. I don’t direct sow many things as we have a very strong critter contingent,  but these Shirley and opium poppies are exceptions I would never be without.

IMG_20190719_1227464. Harvest. Surprisingly Winter Density lettuce continues despite the heat.  The first blueberries of the season. The birds start screaming at me the minute I open the netting to harvest the berries.

IMG_20190715_1006425. Grow.  An experimental Charentais melon in a big pot. Growing at a rapid rate up the bannister of my deck stairs. Lots of flowers but so far no melons.

IMG_20190715_1010196. Bloom. I try to get as much blue as possible in my gardens. I leave you with this lovely Endless Summer/Nigella damascena combination.

Visit the website of the founder for more garden stories of the week. Stay cool!

www. thepropogatorblog.wordpress

SixOnSaturday July 13th. Change is good.

It’s been a bit of a funny week or two. Between the 4th of July festivities, house guests, heatwaves and downpours, I only just managed to get my beans and pumpkins planted out. With a bit of luck we’ll have a long, slow transition to Fall and they’ll have time to produce. I’m trying to kid myself that it is succession planting for a Fall harvest….

Meanwhile, back to Six On Saturday, where my theme this week is Change. Because things do. And usually for the better.

IMG_20190703_1745511. Boundaries re-established. The wild kingdom has no respect for straight lines or tidiness. A couple of times a season I hack back the weeds and remember why boundaries are essential to healthy co-existence.

2. Everything in its place. My garden shed is a hundred year old former chicken coop. It came with old (mostly broken) tools, half used containers of chemicals I would never dream of using, bits of lumber and thousands of pots. I’ve re-used or recycled most of the plastic pots over the years and organised the beautiful old terracotta ones so the mice can’t nest in them. The shed has never been so tidy! I can actually walk in now without risking life and limb. I’m still working on safe disposal of the chemicals, as you can see.

IMG_20190627_0755493. Goodbye old friend. My trusty old gas powered Toro gave up the ghost and has been replaced by an electric self-propelled mower. Its much lighter in weight and so quiet. I’ve never owned a brand new mower before.

img_20190704_134056-1.jpg4. Hello Sweetness. Baby girl is now old enough to enjoy the great outdoors. During her visit we played with rocks and stones, watered the pathways and ate alpine strawberries right from the garden. A new generation to love the land.

IMG_20190624_1627355. Lilies. The beetles moved in at the same time as I did, so for the last 25 years or so I had no lilies. This year, so far so good. These have been brightening up Mikey’s corner for weeks without blemish. I do see a big hole in that nicotiana leaf though…


6. Climate change? My window boxes are looking lovely this year, I think because the weather hasn’t been baking hot for weeks on end. There are 4 boxes like this on the front (Northern side) of the house. Usually I change them out in August because they are looking very tired. This year they look like they’ll make it through the whole summer.

That’s my six for the week. It’s a bit more ‘hard-scapey’ than usual because we’ve had torrential rain again and all my flowers are muddy. Visit the prop’s site for details from all the other gardens and have a great week.

SixOnSaturday June 22nd New for 2019

Here in Massachusetts Spring has been cool, damp and cloudy, much like the English Springs I recall. Plants are lush and floppy. As usual I didn’t get around to staking any of them: result, I have roses, poppies and peonies with muddy faces. Travelling overseas for the first half of June has exacerbated the problem. OK as cut flowers for the house, they are definitely not photo shoot material. On the other hand I tried a few new things this season. With mixed results.


  1. At last. The very first apples on my Cox’s Orange Pippin. I can’t wait to see whether I got the tree I ordered or an un-identified leftover that lost its tag at the nursery. As an example my so-called Arkansas Black Apple is decidedly lime green and suitable only for making pectin as it is sour and doesn’t store well.


IMG_20190619_1450302. Cosmos Xanthos. Those seed catalogs in January should be banned. A pale yellow Cosmos – how wonderful! Not really. Compared to “Purity’ or ‘Psyche white’ that I usually grow to fill odd patches in the sunny borders, Xanthos is underwhelming at best. Flowering early but only a foot or so high  it can’t compare to the 6 foot pure white classic beauties I wish for at this time of year. Although they would probably be face down in the mud like everything else…..



3. Disappointing double white Clematis flowering for the first time in its second spring. Looking sadly like a wet paper towel. I can’t even be bothered to look up it’s name for this post.


IMG_20190619_0934264. Scrumptious Honeoye strawberries. Newly planted, mulched with straw and properly hydrated (thanks to the weather) these are the best ever.



5. Exciting to find a few cherries on 2 year old Carmine Jewel. Bodes well for a hearty harvest next year. The plant is shrub-like in form, for easy netting, with normal sized cherries.





6. And what’s this? A few of these plants have volunteered in odd places around the garden. This one is in my herb garden. Looks a bit like a prostrate Rosemary but has no fragrance.  It’s really pretty but I’m stumped. Anyone out there have any ideas?

Those are my Six for this week. I’m hoping for a break in the clouds so i can get out and start pruning away some of the floppies. I know there are lilies and zinnias somewhere under there……

Thanks once again to the Propagator for hosting. Visit the comments section on his post to see all the other Sixes and have a great week!


SixOnSaturday May 18th Blossom time

Despite cold and rainy weather, our native trees and shrubs are ‘getting on with it’ and this week are putting on a great show in the garden. Frothy blossoms, along with fresh new growth in vibrant shades of lime, emerald and bronze announce that spring is finally here in New England. It is amazing how much the garden changes from week to week. Thank you to the Propagator for SixOnSaturday, which helps us to enjoy and appreciate the subtle seasonal shifts.IMG_20190511_1417271. Chaenomeles completely laden with buds this year. I always need to prune away the new growth in order to see the flowers. I don’t mind as this approach also keeps the size of the shrub in check. It also gets a shaping in late summer.


IMG_20190511_1417492. Cercis canadiensis. This is a wonderful tree, and a sad case of don’t believe everything you read! Described as a small shapely tree, the one I have is a large bulky tree. The main trunk is at least 12″ in diameter at about 10 years old. It is inappropriately situated and requires pruning at least twice a year so we can see out of the windows. The new growth can be 8 feet long. I use the prunings as bean supports. I should probably have it cut down but it is a memorial tree and extremely healthy. The blossom is gorgeous. At this point I think of it as a large Bonsai.


img_20190511_141812-e1558109847727.jpg3. Prunus glandulosa. Fragrant Almond. A lovely little shrub with double pink flowers all down every stem, very fragrant, very well behaved. You don’t often see this one. It could be because it is pretty unremarkable for 11 months of the year. I have enough space to showcase it during its glory.


IMG_20190511_1418534. Prunus Carmine Jewel. This one is part of my experimental cherry group. Traditional sweet or sour cherry trees are not suited to this land. They turn up dead on a regular basis. The Nanking, Cornelian and Carmine Jewel cherries seem to fare much better, crop well. They are not as good to eat, being small and seedy, but are fine in pie filling or jam.


IMG_20190511_1419425.There are many native Viburnums in my garden. Burkwoodii is the first to bloom and extremely fragrant.


IMG_20190511_1420206. This Amelanchier is also a native. It lives on the weedy edge of the marsh, often has wet feet and yet rewards with a fine display each May.

That’s what is blooming in our yard this week. Visit the Propagator’s site for more garden news from all over.  Have a great week!

SixOnSaturday May 11th. Space Invaders.

More commonly known as weeds. My 6 today covers the annual Spring invasion. There’ll be episodes to cover the other seasons. In fact I could write a daily blog about them and just might!

img_20190508_130936.jpg1. Here’s a good one.  Galium odoratum. Sweet Woodruff,  a charming thug for which was named my most beloved late tabby. He was always on the prowl, a mighty hunter to the end. Note the lovely lace-cap hydrangea being suffocated in the upper right corner.



2. Feverfew.  A single plant in a 4 inch pot purchased in haste in 1992 is still producing offspring. Accompanied in this frame by 3 more of my proven winners,  common bugle (whose botanical name should never be spoken for fear it will break your spirit), more sweet woodruff and maple seedings.


IMG_20190508_1310223. Here is lunaria. She manages to spread across the marsh even although she’s never permitted to set seed.


IMG_20190508_1312014. The A team. Forget-me-not and foxglove , both of which are completely out of control in a very endearing way.  Maple seedlings. Not endearing. Rampant. See below.


IMG_20190508_1306515. Mature maple specimens. Ours are Norway maples,  not sugar maples. They are useless to man and beast and manage to support  all kinds of pests and diseases on their prolific, messy selves. They cover everything with a haze of green pollen and drop litter in all 4 seasons: spent flowers;  caterpillar-shredded young leaves; an excess of baby seedlings; ugly black-spotted brown leaves and finally tonnage of mature twirlies. Each one ready to sprout in the middle of a treasured tender specimen in order to restart the cycle of invasion! Then the parental rot sets in and dead branches fall on your car.



6. And here’s where they all end up! Each spring I start a special hot pile into which all the infernal invaders are pitched. It’s a losing battle. They all come back annually. 

Take a look at the Propagator’s site to see what’s going on in gardens around the globe. There must be some gardeners out there who have perfect, weed-free plots, if only in their photos! Have a great week!


SixOnSaturday May 4th. Surprise!

Sometimes the best laid plans go wrong. Despite one’s best efforts and intentions there are surprises,  and not always nice ones. Here are some of mine.

IMG_20190503_1449311. 15 year old Crabapple. Planted to encourage cross pollination and good fruit set on my apple trees.  Here is the first ever flower cluster. Just the one.. . . (The apples have been doing just fine for years).

IMG_20190503_1449032. The Peach tree that wasn’t. It appears that the rootstock Prunus Americanus has beaten the peach into submission. Back to the drawing board on the peach cobbler.

IMG_20190503_1453473. Two lonely tulips. These from a huge bag planted years ago that I’ve never been able to find again. They are so beautiful and the planned ‘drift’ would have been breathtaking.

IMG_20190503_1455074. The twice killed Lemon Verbena  – update. It is fully recovered as usual and ready to be planted in the herb garden.

155691289910613795666795. Too many Chillis and Peppers… And tomatoes. And so on. Why this counts as a surprise I’m not sure.  It happens every year.

IMG_20190503_1452326. A wet weekend. Yes, I have today off and no obligations. Great,  I’ll get more peas in, do some preventative weeding,  start a new compost pile,  mow….

But no,  pouring rain and cold weather forecast for the foreseeable future. Everything is growing at a mile a minute.  Looks like my weekend will be spent reading about everyone else’s gardening wins over on the propagator’s website . Take a look at what’s going on in gardens everywhere:

Have a great week!