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

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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…

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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. http://www.thepropagatorblog.com

SixOnSaturday June 29th: A riot of roses

Through the long cold winters and hard working springs, this is the week I wait for. In a good year, when nature keeps everything is well watered, the temps are low and the afternoon sea breeze keeps the air moving, peak rose week can last for a month! The shrubs are huge, the foliage is clean, the flowers are gorgeous and the fragrance wafting through my window as I write is sensuously stunning.

There is enough rose interest in the garden now to write at least six Sixes…here are my current favourites.

IMG_20190624_1656511. Graham Thomas. One of the oldest of my English roses, this was planted in memory of my tough little sister who passed away before her time in 2000. Every one of her 38 years was a bonus. She loved yellow.

IMG_20190624_1657442. Zephirine Drouhin. ZD the first succumbed years ago from being planted in the flood zone. This cutting on higher ground survived, producing foliage last summer and flowers this year.  The thornless rose is wonderful in a vase.

IMG_20190624_1702233. Mme Plantier. Another survivor, this time from the feet of construction professionals and their tools. She is highly fragrant and very unruly, over-run by several similarly wayward clematis. Jackmanii is photo bombing.

img_20190624_165711.jpg4. Leander. A big strapping lass of a rose starting apricot and fading to buff, with a lovely fruity aroma.

IMG_20190624_1620245a Heritage. Quintessentially David Austin. Perfect shell pink.

img_20190624_162019.jpg5b Abraham Darby. Also one of the best David Austin roses in its day. I still love its changing colour and strong scent. Underplanted with germander and the odd weed…

IMG_20190624_1619446. Cuisse de Nymphe (Great Maiden’s Blush). Another of the great old roses, my original shrub is huge, scents the whole street and produces very easily rooted suckers. consequently I have a number of these around the place, none as large and impressive as the mother. She only flowers once a year, a huge, generous flush of buds, perfect flowers and fallen petals. Great hips too if left un-pruned after flowering.  This last one is for grandma. She would know why, but I am not telling.

Catch up with what is going on down the garden path by looking at the comments section of the Propagator’s blog. http://www.thepropagatorblog.com

Have a great gardening 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.

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  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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

http://www.thepropagaterblog.com

 

SixOnSaturday May 25th. Going Native.

A disappointing start to Memorial Day Weekend with leaden grey skies, a broken lawnmower and an impossible to-do list. So I’ve thrown in the trowel for today in favour of some blogging and retail therapy. The marsh is coming into bloom,  with creeping buttercup,  honesty, Dame’s rocket and cornflower leading the spring weed pack. I always hope for poppies too. A bit of red would really add to the display. Anyway,  on to my Six for this week, inspired as usual by the Propagator and his gang.

 

IMG_20190524_1438171. Doublefile viburnum. This spectacular shrub usually flowers on Mother’s Day (which is in May here). It’s a bit late due to the cold and rainy Spring. It will be perfect for another week or 2 before setting the bird-beloved berries that if left to ripen would be blackish purple in the Autumn,  against wonderful burgundy foliage.

 

 

2. Snowball Viburnum. A very imposing large shrub with lime green pompoms which gradually fade to pure white. They are at the pale lime stage at the moment. Gorgeous in a vase. They don’t produce seed but are easily propagated from root suckers.

 

IMG_20190524_1439313. Cranberry Viburnum. The flowers on this one are a little more subtle,  but the garnet Jewel like fruit are fantastic.

 

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4. Arrow wood viburnum. Not a showy specimen in any season but useful material for stakes and supports. It’s also well-behaved,  stays in its allotted space,  doesn’t encourage the nasties, and always looks pretty.

 

IMG_20190524_1441005. Moving on from viburnum to vaccinium. The blueberries are absolutely loaded with flowers.  I have my net curtains ready this year.

 

1558728709058-8497888066. Finally Fothergilla. Another good shrub with vanilla scented ‘fothery’ bottlebrush flowers. These are dotted around for their scent and their wonderful Autumn colours. They are so much prettier than the ubiquitous ‘burning bush’ euonymous that we see us much here. Even though it’s a native I never met a euonymous I liked.

So take a look at the propagators site for more gardening,  grumbling and growing from around the world.

http://www.thepropogatorblog.wordpress.com

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.  http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com  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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com