SixOnSaturday August 10th: Harvest Happens.

I have been harvesting herbs today. Bay leaves, thyme, sage,  marjoram, lemon verbena. IMG_20190802_104714These are tied in bunches using lengths of raffia that in a former life I scrounged from a fish vendor in Hong Kong.IMG_20190809_104937 The bunches hang in my warm, dark basement until dry, before being crumbled for use in cooking, as teas and as gifts for work.IMG_20190809_104816

Soon there will be poppy seeds. These are bread seed poppies. The seedpods don’t open up like salt shakers, so you can either leave them to dry in place or hang them. IMG_20190719_122920

The garlic is in.IMG_20190807_104341A really good haul this year. I planted only 24 cloves to harvest a whole muck-bucket full. IMG_20190808_142600Unusual in that quite a few of the singly planted cloves have sprouted 3 or 4 very large heads of garlic. I couldn’t say what variety, as I haven’t bought seed garlic in years. I just plant the biggest and best cloves around October 15th.

I pulled the little brown onions. IMG_20190809_102914The Alisa Craigs are still putting on weight so I’ll leave them to grow  for now. IMG_20190727_091703

Blueberries have been fantastic this year. I’ve been picking every other day or so, and from only 2 bushes have enough to eat and stock the freezer. This is today’s haul.IMG_20190802_114852 It’s all about netting. I use plain net curtains from Ikea. The birds can’t get tangled in the very fine mesh. There’s nothing worse than trying to rescue a furious grackle!

Chillies, peppers and squash can be picked daily. The weather is perfect.IMG_20190809_133544And it is tomato time at last! They will have their own Six!

Check out all the other Sixes by following the Propagator Enjoy  the harvest!

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 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.

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.


  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 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.



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.