Six on Saturday – 24/6/2017

One. Euphorbia lathyrus. This is an annual that seems to pop up in our garden somewhere most years. It has numerous common names, caper spurge being one of the best known but it is also known as mole plant because it supposedly deters moles. Well, I am going to try and collect seed from this plant and grow some more to go on my allotment where I am much troubled by the little buggers.


Two. Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’. What a performer this has turned out to be. It had a rest over winter but this is it now, even after having several stems snapped off in wind a couple of weeks ago. I just cut off (NOT pull) the stems that have finished flowering and it puts up more.

Alstroemeria Indian Summer

Three. I do like a bit of in yer face colour, so it’s always good when the dahlias start to flower. The National Collection of Dahlias is down the other end of the county near Penzance and to go and stand in their field, surrounded by thousands of dahlias in almost every imaginable colour is a total joy. Everyone is happy, strangers talk to each other, people who should be snooty about such vulgarity are making lists. This one is ‘Tally Ho’, which for younger readers is a cry associated with the long forgotten practice of fox hunting and alludes to the rider’s red jackets. Quaint.

Tally Ho

Four. Another big red bloom; this is an Epiphyllum cactus. Desert cacti, or cactuses if you prefer, thrive on neglect. I know, I’ve neglected many. Epiphyllums are epiphytic forest cacti and they take a bit more looking after, which sadly this one has not had. As soon as its flowers are finished, which will be a fleeting couple of days, I will take cuttings and dump the parent plant. The flower is enormous, seven and a half inches across for leavers, 19cm dia. for remainers.


Five. A gardener friend gave us a plant of clematis recta, which self sows in their garden. I planted it, the slugs demolished it, the friend gave us another, I planted it in the same place, they both came up this spring. One is purple leaved, the other green, at least early in the season. I don’t know about recta, horizontalis would have been a more fitting specific epithet. Pretty though.Clematis-recta

Six. We once had a pond, at the edge of which grew this clump of Iris ensata. Then we filled the pond in and they’re at one end of our bog garden, behind the Aruncus. Like the Epiphyllum above, theirs is a fleeting magnificence. They always leave you wanting more. A complete contrast to the Alstroemeria, which runs the risk of you getting fed up with it, of outstaying its welcome. Plants are a bit like people.


It was too hot for Bobby earlier in the week. Now that it’s cooler she’s keen for you to pop over to ThePropagator to check out any other Saturday half dozens that might have surfaced this week.

Six on Saturday: 17/6/2017


One. We’re not very good at keeping these going after the first season, so this second year performance is a bonus. Hippeastrum, no idea on variety.

Dianthus deltoides

Two. Dianthus deltoids is something of a rediscovery for me, after about a 55 year gap. I remember growing it as a child and have come back to it as something to break up the edges of the practical not pretty paving slab path I laid a few years back. Just got seed of a white one with pink centres.

Geranium sylvaticum album

Three. When it comes to geraniums, I would tick the middle box on the absolutely hate/absolutely adore spectrum. This is Geranium sylvaticum album; the sylvaticum implying it is a woodlander; growing very happily in full sun.

Podophyllum Spotty Dotty

Four. Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ is also a woodlander, and I don’t think it would be as forgiving as the Geranium if not given its preferred environment. Other than that it seems to be a robust and reliable perennial, which in this garden usually means not overly attractive to slugs.

Eryngium giganteum

Five. Eryngium giganteum was a thing I planted several years ago, which comes back as self sowers in varying numbers each year. Only one this year so I’m cherishing rather more than I would if there were dozens.

Primula bulleyana

Six. Flowering as the last blooms fade on Primula japonica, Primula bulleyana is one of the first hot colour plants to do its thing. My Dahlias are under-performing this year, hopefully they will get there eventually. Alstroemeria, Helenium, Solidago, Roscoea, Hedychium and a few others will join the party in due course.

You have just reached the end of another six on Saturday, a meme started and hosted by The Propagator, whose own six and links to others are at

Six on Saturday: 10-6-2017

One. A cone from my beautiful Pinus parviflora ‘San Bo’ that I cut down yesterday. A close up lens and photo stacking creates an opportunity to look closely at something I usually walk past with barely a glance.


Pinus parviflora ‘San Bo’


Two. You can pretty much work out from this picture that you are facing north. Prevailing wind from the west, to the left of shot, blowing Astelia chathamica, Leptospermum rupestre and foxglove into a windswept, bad hair day composition.


Leptospermum rupestre, Astelia chathamica, Digitalis purpurea.


Three. Just out of shot in the picture above is the plant below, which is Geranium ‘Nimbus’. There are so many blue to purple-blue geraniums, I like this because of its fine foliage as much as its flowers, which have never been prolific, if truth be told.


Geranium ‘Nimbus’


Four. Also in the blue part of the spectrum in this garden, are hydrangeas. This one is Hydrangea serrate ‘Cap Suzin’, which is usually a clear blue but this year more mauve. The serrate varieties are generally a bit smaller and less coarse than macrophyllas, which suits me.


Hydrangea serrata ‘Cap Suzin’


Five. Stipa gigantea is at its superb best when it’s catching late afternoon sun set against a dark, shady background. It’s morning and it’s raining and it still looks pretty good.


Stipa gigantea


Six and last. This little bush, it’s about 75cm tall, is Ozothamnus hookeri. At least I’m pretty certain it is, meaning that almost all of what is sold as Ozothamnus hookeri is something else, probably a hybrid. This is in full flower, strongly honey scented.


Ozothamnus hookeri


Check out other Saturday sixes from The Propagators blog.

Six on Saturday 3/6/2017

1. Conifers. I was going to run with six conifers, on the grounds that a quick tot-up in my head led me to think I had just six in the garden. When I uploade the picures to the computer I quickly saw two more in front of one of the ones I’d snapped, so I have eight, unless I’ve missed any more. It kind of tells you something about conifers in a garden, they merge into the background, never doing anything to draw attention to themselves, and as a result get overlooked.

That’s a pity, because they are structural, like hedges and trees. They provide a backdrop against which the more flamboyant members of the garden community can perform.


The one on the left is Pinus pumila ‘Saentis’; about 25 years old now and I have cleared its lower branches to make it tree like, reclaim growing space beneath it and get back the view of the garden from the greenhouse beside it.
The one on the right is Pinus parviflora ‘San Bo’, which is outside the front door. I hardly dare say this, but in a week it will be gone to make way for a porch. It would have had to have gone soonish anyway, it’s getting too big for where it is and they’re not easy things to restrict in size without destroying their character. I shall miss it though, it’s a thing of beauty.

2. Orchid. I can tell you this is a Dactylorhiza but not which species. It was legitimately raised in captivity so it may be hybrid. I have a book, I will try and work it out, later. It was a self sown seedling in a pot that was supposed to have a Dodecatheon in it, but which survived only one season planted in the garden. The orchid is in its third or forth and seems very happy. If it’s happy, I’m happy.


3. Diplarrena moraea. This is an easy to grow member of the iris family that you see surprisingly rarely. It puts up stiff stems from a clump of narrow leaves and opens out its pure white flowers to show off a centre of yellow with purple pencilling. I have two forms, this one is 30-40cm tall, the other at least twice that, but with smaller, less well marked flowers.


4. Chionochloa rubra. The New Zealand tussock sedge is a mighty fine grass, pretty much unrivalled as what in my younger days, in the context of bedding schemes, was called a “dot plant”. It is used to great effect as a punctuation mark in the semi-natural flower meadows at the Garden House for example.
I grew this from a few seeds that I purloined from a garden run by a well known horticultural organisation and it has proved a robust perennial plant, probably nearing twenty years old now.  The tallest leaves will be 2 metres.


5. Cactus. I have no idea what species or variety this is, it wouldn’t add anything to it to know. Cacti were just about the first thing I grew, a while ago now.


6. Cucumber. This looks set fair to be my first cucumber of the season. That isn’t half the triumph it might have been; this is the last survivor of the half dozen plants I started with, the rest having dropped by the wayside as a result of my poor husbandry. Mind, if last year was anything to go by, one cucumber plant will be enough to ensure we are sick of cucumbers by about August. It’s a Brexit cucumber too, no way that would pass the standard for approved cucumbers. Probably taste alright.

So that’s this Saturday’s six, for the Propagator’s Six on Saturday meme. I wonder who has chipped in this week.

Six on Saturday – 27/5/2017


One) I know it’s only an optical illusion, but plants are set off better by moist dark soil than pale dry stuff. After last night’s deluge, which combined the most sustained lightning I have seen in my life with rain akin to the tropical downpours I’ve seen in Australia, moist and dark wasn’t a problem. My broad beans are a bit battered, but on the whole it’s looking good.


Two) The point at which the runner beans go in always seems a bit more significant than most other allotment activities. Everyone is always looking over their shoulder at how everyone else is going on; there’s cachet in being first unless it all goes wrong and it turns out you should have waited. You can sneak in some carrots or beetroot without it being noticed; not so the runners. A big row of canes appears and cannot be ignored. I’m very glad it was only rain last night, hail would have been catastrophic.


Three) For what it’s worth, this is Maianthemum flexuosum. The pink petals are all that remains of the camellia, actually two camellias, that were dug out to create the space. One was a sucker that came up from the roots of Camellia ‘Arajishi’ about two years after I dug it out to make space for the second one. That never had a name. It was one of a batch of seedlings, sown around 2005, which showed some real promise. I planted it here and it grew and flowered and was almost but not quite a really good plant. I tried to find a picture of the flower, but couldn’t. It was big, bright pink and semi-double. Not especially distinct from a couple of others I know, but pretty good. Trouble was its buds started opening in January but progressed so slowly that most years the edges of the petals were frosted before the blooms eventually opened in April. A handful of blooms would open later and escape, but most were a bit skanky. Yesterday I dug it up and shredded it.


Four) Fuchsia microphylla is the hardiest of the Fuchsias we grow. Most years it keeps most of its leaves through the winter and quite often it flowers right through too. By March it is looking pretty tatty so it gets cut to a couple of inches from the ground and starts over. This year it was still looking so good we never got to cutting it down. It is awash with flowers and the flowers are swarming with bees.


Five) I don’t know how it works for other people, but there are bits of our garden that are “mine”, there are bits that are “ours” and there are bits that are “hers”. The 12 x 8 ft greenhouse that houses the cacti is “hers”. She’s out today, so I sneaked in and took a couple of pictures.


Six) The polytunnel, on the other hand, is “mine”. It is mostly full of young camellia plants, but that’s another story; in summer shade is provided for the camellias by a row of tomatoes down the middle path. I’m pretty chuffed with these, all are ‘Sungold’, most have a couple of trusses of blooms on them, which I’m fairly certain is a long way ahead of any previous years efforts. Perhaps this will be the year when we get sick of fresh tomatoes, but I doubt it.

My thanks to ThePropagator for starting and hosting this meme. I must nip over and check out his post; see if anyone else has come aboard too.

Six on Saturday – 20/5/2017

One. I was going to start with a picture of dead cabbages, the rootfly having munched their way through two rows. But it was raining and going up the allotment in the rain to take a picture of dead cabbages didn’t do it for me.

Two. Papaver bracteata. Every year this monster astonishes me anew. One day I will try and propagate it so I can give a few away. It sets no seed, so it would be root cuttings when it’s dormant. But when it’s dormant I forget all about it. With the petals out flat this flower is more than 9inches wide.

Papaver bracteata-5

Papaver bracteata

Three. Maianthemum bifolium. I suppose my garden is about evenly split between shade and sun and I try to take full advantage of the range of conditions that gives me. Maianthemum bifolium is a very understated plant that wouldn’t appeal to everyone but which I like just as much as the big brash poppy.


Maianthemum bifolium


Four. Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Betburg’ is another woodlander, a variant of Solomon’s Seal which starts the season with strongly purple flushed leaves and stems, the leaves gradually turning green. I think I have seen it hold its leaf colour better than mine is, perhaps I have an inferior form. Polygonatums get sawflies, like my gooseberries, but whereas the gooseberries have been worse than they’ve ever been, the Polygonatums, which are usually shredded, are clear so far. Mind, I’ve squashed a couple of adults and rubbed off a couple of clutches of eggs.


Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Betberg’



Five. There’s a fair amount of sanctimonious crap talked about what is and what isn’t a weed. Welsh Poppy is a weed. It’s a pretty weed and I don’t mind having a few of them around the garden but it seeds prodigiously (Can someone please tell me why slugs never, ever browse the seedlings) and comes up in the middle of almost everything where it is hardest to winkle out. I try to dead head every single one but I suspect I have fifty years supply of seed in the ground already. I read somewhere recently that they’ve now decided it’s much more closely related to true poppies than to the altogether better mannered Meconopsis.


Meconopsis cambrica 

Six. A fern to finish. I grow lots of them. They’re all my favourites at one time or another. This is my favourite today. Athyrium otophorum ‘Okanum’.


Athyrium otophorum ‘Okanum’


Posted as part of The Propagator’s six on Saturday meme. He doesn’t strike me as a man who likes to take his frustrations out on deceased individuals of the species Equus ferus caballus, so please join in, the more the merrier.

Six on Saturday 13/5/2017

Six on Saturday, or SOS; appropriate because my allotment seems to be constantly under assault by pests. Gooseberry sawfly is far worse than I’ve had before, I squash hundreds, the next day they’re all back again. And I thought the slugs had been chewing my cabbages, turns out it’s rootfly. Nematodes will be ordered and applied asap.


Gooseberry sawfly caterpillars, masters of hiding in plain sight.

More positively, as far as allotmenteering goes, I shall consider starting peas in pots again. Peas are one of the very few things I seem to be able to sow in the ground and actually get to grow. It saves planting them out and it saves on space. The ones I did in pots though, have really hit the ground running, so for an early start, and perhaps then an early finish, allowing something else to follow on, doing them in pots could be the way.


Pea Onward, sown in 9cm pots.

Back in the garden but still on produce, my late flowering Suntan apple is in full bloom. It’d be worth having for its ornamental qualities but I want a crop as well. I have now got a couple of other late flowering trees planted nearby and with a few blooms on them, so I’m hoping for an improved fruit set this year. I spur prune this tree in August, cutting everything back to an inch or two. It’s doing well on it as far as flower goes, I just want a decent crop too. The Echium put itself there. Shame that won’t pollinate the apple. Does a fair job of attracting pollinators though.


Apple Suntan and Echium pinniniana.

My Victoria Plum is self fertile, and has set a huge crop this year. Learning from past mistakes, I shall thin them so I get a reasonable crop of good sized plums rather than thousands of tiddlers. Plum jam; can there be anything better?


Victoria Plum. Too many plums, what’s that about?

I’ve neglected the ornamentals. We used to have a pond, but every year the frogs indulged in a frantic orgy and filled it with spawn, which then all died leaving the whole mess stagnant and stinking. I got fed up of cleaning it out and filled it in with soil, leaving the liner in place but putting a crow bar down through to provide some drainage. It’s now full of moisture lovers like Astilbes and Primulas. The Lysichiton camtschatcensis that used to be a marginal is still there, does less well but OK. Not a bad year for Hostas so far; a bad year for slugs is a good one for Hostas, and much else besides.


Astilbes, Primulas and Hostas.


Six on Saturday is a newly hatched meme hosted by The Propagator. Hopefully others will be chipping in and links will be appearing on his blog.