Six on Saturday – 21/10/2017

I have to admit that the garden is looking tatty and perfect blooms are in short supply. It’s been wind and rain that have done the damage, not cold. Today it’s lurching wildly from bright sunshine and fluffy clouds to torrential downpours and black skies. We barely get frost any more here, so things get cut down when they start to look ugly. Quite a lot has been cut down lately. I’m still mostly on flowers for my six though; I’m staving off falling back on foliage, conifers, berries and snowmen for as long as I can. It’s going to be interesting to see whether people try and keep something happening in their gardens overwinter or go into hibernation until spring.

There will no doubt be several links to other participants from The Propagator’s blog and as a vehicle for picking up or sharing ideas on what to grow, it’s just great.

Fuchsia ‘Lechlade Gorgon’.  A species hybrid between F. arborescens and F. paniculata. In a pot, under glass and still not flowering until October. Not unusual for species and species crosses when they have been cut down in the previous winter, by cold outdoors, secateurs indoors. Left unpruned it would flower earlier but get very large. Outdoors, if this survived, it would probably never flower.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Paradise Little Liane’. The Paradise camellia series was produced by Bob Cherry of Paradise Plants in Australia and marketed there mainly for hedging. ‘Little Liane’ was one of a handful in the series that had Breeders Rights, proscribing unlicensed propagation for sale, so presumably it was one of the most popular. I have it in full sun and it is doing well, with masses of buds this year. It’s quite compact, with small leaves and pleasantly scented flowers that have just started to open.

Liriope muscari. I have had this for many years and it never does much flower-wise. Looking closely, snails could be part of the problem. Look what I picked off. I hate it when you see something looking gorgeous at Wisley or some such, then can’t grow it for nuts and don’t know why.

Begonia grandis evansiana alba bulbils. There are a few Begonias that produce bulbils in the leaf axils, including the various forms of B. evansiana. Should make for easy propagation; I have pushed some into compost in a tray and put it in the greenhouse. I scrounged some bulbils of the pink one too, which I used to have but killed. When I was checking what to do with the bulbils I came across lots of other tasty “hardy” begonias.  Like B. pedatifida and B. ‘Torsa’. Please, stop me someone!

Hesperantha is a thing I find myself admiring in other people’s gardens and cursing in my own. Most of what we have is self sown clumps of what I think of as the unselected species. I was given a clump of H. ‘Major’ a couple of years ago which is going well. But they all flop completely.

I was going to put a berberis in at number six, but instead I wandered round and snapped away at anything in flower and put together this montage. For most it’s their 2017 swansong so if they haven’t been honoured with a six on Saturday spot before now, they’ve probably missed their chance.
There are some things doing their thing for the time of year, some that are out of kilter and having a funny turn and lots that flower for months. To be snobby about Dahlias, Fuchsias, Pelargoniums and Begonias is to make having a flowery garden very difficult.

Have a good week.


Six on Saturday – 14/10/2017

Saturday again! Saturdays seem to come round quicker than the other six days. I’m finding things to put into my six but struggling to find anything diverting to say about them. Well, some of them.
Six on Saturday is a meme hosted by ThePropagator, who will have six of his own plus links to several, if not more, other sixes from around the world.
Here are my six garden snapshots for this week.

Honey Fungus. Armillaria mellea or gallica, probably. All too much could be said about this. We had a Eucalyptus felled a couple of years back after a large chunk split off it. Now it has a ring of toadstools all round it. The RHS are doing a honey fungus hunt at the moment, I think I’d better report my outbreak. It’s something we’ve had the odd outbreak of over the years, especially after removing a leylandii hedge and an Acer. It doesn’t seem to be too aggressively pathogenic, thankfully, and there isn’t much we could do about it if it were.

Parthenocissus henryana. I wanted to include this because it is producing some autumn colour and with gales forecast for Monday, it wont be around for long. It’s on the fence between us and our neighbour and has been there so long I can’t remember if it’s planted his side or ours. It’s much more manageable than the other Parthenocissus species people grow and has a very nice leaf even when it’s not doing its autumn thing.

Fuchsia ‘Olga Storey’. The Fuchsias seem to be having a final fling for the season. This one stands out because it has really bright yellow leaves with red veins and it seems to be immune to rust, gets very little leaf spotting and is untouched by capsid. For a hardy, the flowers are large and showy too, though it’s not the most generous flowerer.

Sue’s glasshouse. This glasshouse is off limits to me except for the annual ritual of moving the big pots of succulents, mostly Echeverias, out to the front of the house in spring, then putting them back in here for the winter sometime in October. There is never any room because all the space made in the spring gets filled up with more plants during the summer.
I see pictures on blogs of empty glasshouses, washed down and waiting for plants to be moved in for the winter. I can dream.

Camellia x williamsii ‘Debbie’. ‘Debbie’ is a popular camellia which grows rather vigorously. Ours had poked it’s head above the neighbour’s fence and got blown over as it was top heavy. I tried to support it for a couple of years, not very successfully, so I cut it back hard in the hope that the roots would catch up with the top growth. This year the regrowth was 2-3 feet in length. Camellias typically produce an early flush of shoots that are 3-6 inches long and on which the flower buds form. If they are young and vigorous they will then make a second flush, from about July onwards, which can be 2 feet or more long and on which there are no flowers. By October the flower buds are easy to see and if it is not required, the extension growth can be shortened or removed altogether, keeping the bush much more compact and allowing the flowers to be seen better.


Growth buds on left, flower bud on right.



Before and after pruning.

Blechnum tabulare. A friend of mine tipped me off that one of our local garden centres had plants of this magnificent fern a few years back. I got the last one, in a 3 litre pot. It’s now in a 10 litre pot and needs potting on again or planting out. Online opinion seems divided about how well it does outside, it being borderline hardy, but I think I’ll move it in for this winter and plant it in the ground in spring.

See you next week.

Six on Saturday – 30/9/2017

We managed a few decent days this week and the autumnal slide has been put on hold. The late show is now on, Asters, Cyclamen, Nerines et al, joining the long season Dahlias and Fuchsias. When I worked on a nursery I often got the impression that customers rushed out to buy plants as soon as winter showed signs of giving in and probably ended up with gardens where it was all over by June. I may have gone too far the other way.

Here are my six for this week’s Six on Saturday, hosted by ThePropagator. A growing band we are, and diverse too. Links to the rest from our hosts blog.

Zingiber mioga ‘Crûg Zing’. This is a 1m high, easy, robust plant with great architectural/exotic qualities, until it flowers. The blooms are, frankly, a disappointment. Eating the buds, which is what people do, is not going to cost you much in display terms.


That’s the flowers, down there at the bottom.

Impatiens omeiana ‘Ice Storm’. I count myself very lucky to have the sort of gardening friends that give me stuff like this without me even asking. Just two weeks ago I included the original, unnamed clone of I. omeiana in a six, noting that having more than one sort opened up the possibility of seed being produced. I now have three. (The other side of the Anaphallis label says Impatiens. Label upcycling)

About certain things it is best to say nothing.

Nerine bowdenii ‘Ostara’. I was advised to get these going in pots before planting them out. I think I shall plant them when they start to leaf in spring. The usual pink ones do well for me so I thought I’d try some different varieties. ‘Stephanie’ is still to come.

June’s Aster. I don’t know which variety of Aster this is. It was given to me by an elderly lady called June, after I admired it in her garden. There has been plenty of moisture this year, so it has grown tall and flopped. Gardener’s are such generous folk, they’re a nightmare for nurserymen trying to make a living.

Begonia ‘Garden Angel Blush’. There has been a steady trickle of hardy Begonias turning up in recent years. Encouraged by my success with B. evansiana alba, I succumbed to the charms of this beauty at the Plant Heritage market in Tavistock on 17 Sept. It has passed the first test, ten days in the ground without being devoured by slugs. The nursery was Barracott Plants if I can get away with a plug for an excellent local nursery.



Six on Saturday – 23/9/2017

The “could be anything” list on our host’s participants guide to Six on Saturday is six items long. Perfect, thinks me, I’ll do one of each. But I don’t make plans, I rarely complete projects and I have no features. My favourite tool is up the allotment. I’ll start with a success and end with a failure, sandwich some plants between.

Success. Dahlia seedlings. I grow a few Dahlias, including ‘Orange Cushion’. A couple of years back, having failed to deadhead as I should, I found that it had set quite a bit of seed. I collected some, cleaned them up and sowed them in spring 2016. Earlier this year I planted them out on my allotment where they have been growing and eventually flowering. Some are yet to flower. The majority are red, one is yellow, one orange and there’s one just showing maroonish. It’s easy to assume that open pollinated seedlings will be inferior and not worth growing, but these are surprisingly good. I will be doing more of this, it’s rewarding.


‘Orange Cushion’, seed parent, plus four seedlings

x Amarine ‘Zwanenburg’. A cross between Amaryllis and Nerine, both of which I grow outdoors, making me wonder why I have this in a pot indoors. The flower stem snaked its way up through the fuchsia (‘Koralle’) and burst into clashy bloom. To me it looks exactly like Nerine, but a bit bigger. Pictures online of it are rather mixed, some very similar, some with broader petals.

Amaryllis belladonna. I included a different clone of this in my six on 19 August. I’d forgotten I had these in the front garden, the bigger clump of the same sort in the back garden are only an inch or so high, getting much less sun and delayed as a result.

Camellia sinensis ‘Benibana-cha’. This is the first of my Camellias to flower for the 2017/18 season. It’s a sorry little plant in a glasshouse, being borderline hardy. Strongly aromatic. If you like Camellias, I have another blog all about them.

Roscoea. A few weeks back I bought a Roscoea seedling from Tale Valley’s stand at a Rosemoor do. It was a fine dark colour and I expected it to be much more expensive than it was. When I remarked that it seemed good value he brushed it off saying they were just seedlings. Yesterday I noticed that the same plant was spilling seeds all over the place. Today I collected as many as I could and sowed them. All I have to do now is get them to germinate, then keep the slugs off them.

Failure. Should I put this in? Who wants to see it? The O.H. will kill you. You have other failures, why this one?
I never get on top of this midden down the side of the house. You have to have somewhere for the wheelbarrow and the bags of compost, the shredder and the dustbin. Please don’t tell me it should be in the shed, you can’t get in the shed. Perhaps putting it on here will shame me into sorting it out. Then I can post it again as a success.

That’s another six for The Propagator’s Six on Saturday thingy, which is really taking off now. There’ll be a bunch of links to other interesting half dozens, so check it out.

Six on Saturday – 16/9/2017

While there is undoubtedly more going backwards than going forwards, there is still plenty of colour to be found. Harder to find is gaps between the showers to get out and take pictures. Low light levels and wind don’t help either. At least I don’t have to work out in it any more, for which I am truly grateful. It also means less opportunity to get out and work in, or enjoy the garden.

Oak Tree. I’m going to start on a sour note, get it out of the way. There are new people in one of the gardens that backs onto ours. Between them and our next door neighbour is an oak tree, probably 35 feet tall and quite a bit more in width. It overhangs the north east corner of our garden by a few feet but casts no shade onto our garden. It shades most of theirs and their neighbour’s for much of the day. It has a short trunk and all its branches spread from about 7 feet up, so crown raising is near impossible. But it’s been a big part of the background for all the time we’ve lived here. It has what planners call “high amenity value”. Indeed I considered calling the local council to see if it had a TPO on it, but didn’t. I think I’d rather they felled it than this though.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Izu-no-hana’. A second outing for this hydrangea for the simple reason that it is still looking pretty good. It may have been late to start flowering, but I included it at the end of July when it had just started and those same flowers have kept in passable condition since then, especially noteworthy given the weather we’ve had.

Impatiens omeiana. What a good plant this is. Good foliage and flowers when nearly everything else is beginning to wind down. All it demands is moisture. There are several other forms in cultivation of which I have one but the temptation to get more is great. If I see others offered my resistance will crumble. Plus having more than one clone raises the possibility of setting seed and who knows where that might lead.

Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’. I’m hoping that this is going to get better than this. At the moment it is not a sufficient improvement on common golden-rod to stave off execution. It has options; it can go on for a long time, get showier, attract a late flush of bees or butterflies; but make no mistake, it’s on a verbal warning.

Begonia evansiana alba. Or, to give it the full RHS treatment, Begonia grandis Dryand. subsp. evansiana (Andrews) Irmsch. var. alba hort. AGM. In spite of which it is a lovely plant for moist shade.

Dahlia ‘Penlea’. Most of my Dahlias have come from the National Collection at Penzance. This I obtained elsewhere; it isn’t even on their list. I think it’s the best red I’ve got. This year it has started flowering very late, partly because slugs hit it earlier. That thing where you have a bud just starting to open and you come out and find it doubled over because some beastie has chewed through the stem. Grrrr!
I have never succeeded in getting the colour and texture of this beauty in a photo. The light when I took this didn’t help. It’s much better than this, and this ain’t bad.

So that’s this week’s six. I’ve had a sneak look at The Propagator’s six already so I know he has a similar story to tell about one of his Dahlias. As ever I’m keen to follow the links on his blog to other sixes, it’s a great snapshot on what’s happening in other peoples gardens right now.

Six on Saturday – 9/9/2017

Ah, the uncertain days of autumn. Things that look good on Thursday are trashed by Saturday; things that look like they will open in time don’t. The weather forecast is for rain all day and it’s been dry for hours. Right, what we’ve got is:

Geranium procurrens. This appeared from nowhere about two years ago. It spreads astonishingly rapidly, sending out stems flat to the ground and 4-5 ft in all directions in a single season. It also seeds. The flowers start to appear from July or August, never very freely, though it is in shade. I would have got rid of it but OH presses the flowers. It’s one parent of ‘Ann Folkard’, which has been on my wanted list for a while.

Mina lobata. One of those plants I’ve seen and liked in other gardens since forever and finally got round to growing from seed this year. They haven’t excelled, but I’ll give them another go next year.

Elephant Hawk Moth. If you grow Fuchsias, you’ll probably have had Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillars. I think their native food is willowherb, which is the same family as Fuchsia. A single caterpillar doesn’t do too much damage; I’m not sure I’d want a (collective noun for caterpillars) of them. (I just googled it, it’s “army”, which is appropriate sometimes, not others)

Fuchsia glazioviana. Talking of Fuchsias, F. glazioviana is a species with a lot of charm. Seems perfectly hardy. It sets viable seed and I grew some seedlings a couple of years back. All more or less came true, some had quite nice purplish foliage, which might have been hunger. They’re still kicking about in too small pots.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Ferne Osten’. Something about this variety must have caught my eye though I don’t remember what it was. It has very nice purplish flower spikes that get about 3 feet tall, but it flops terribly. It has managed some very nice autumn tones to the leaves some years, but Cornwall is notoriously bad for autumn colour. It’s in a list of top ten grasses for autumn on the RHS website, and it has an AGM too. They give it a height of 1.5m, and there’s me thinking it flopped because I was treating it too well.

Anemone hupehensis var. japonica ‘Bressingham Glow’. I’ve had this a couple of years and so far it has repeated what it was doing in the pot when I bought it. Which is all you want really.

Another six for another week. Off now to check out ThePropagator’s six and links to other people’s sixes. That’s here. Always interesting.

Six on Saturday – 2/9/2017

The elephant in the room regarding this six is the magnolia I have spent half the week removing and disposing of. It’s gone, move on.

Cyrtanthus elatus. Scarborough Lily. I included the variety ‘Pink Diamond’ two weeks ago, now the red flowering original form is starting to open. They’re not frost hardy, but in every other respect are extremely accommodating.

Helenium ‘Chipperfield Orange’. Quite tall and flowering late August-early September. A few stems have gone over but mainly self supporting and seemingly, relatively unattractive to slugs. People bang on about planting native plants for wildlife but most of our native flowers are over, the hay meadows mown; this is clearly appreciated by bees and butterflies at this stage of the summer. Appreciated by me too.

Hedychium densiflorum ‘Assam Orange’. The original selection of H. densiflorum that was named ‘Assam Orange’ produces seed freely and probably most of what is on offer under the name is seedlings, including this one. I believe the true clone has shorter flower spikes that are a little pinkish compared to this. Most of the time my plant is scentless, very occasionally it can be quite strong.

Daphne x transatlantica ‘Pink Fragrance’. There are two forms of Daphne x transatlantica around, the nearly white ‘Eternal Fragrance’ being the more common. The pink one is very similar, less free flowering for me, but with a stronger perfume that carries some distance. In my experience they are as easy and unfussy as their raiser aimed for them to be. Their raiser is the legendary Robin White; I found an article about his two Daphnes by the people marketing them in Australia; if you’re interested it’s here.

Dahlia ‘Red Velvet’. We went down to the National Dahlia collection at Penzance last weekend, a visit we try to do every year. A total joy. This one is perhaps the best of the varieties I grow. I leave it in the ground, it gets up to about five feet, covered in flowers for months. Just a bit of yellow at the base of the petals, makes it zing!

Ligustrum lucidum ‘Excelsum Superbum’. A strikingly variegated form of an excellent privet that grows to tree proportions. Mine is now about 20 feet tall. At the end of the winter it looks a bit ragged but by June the new growth has restored its appearance and it will look good into the new year. It caught my attention for inclusion here because it was flowering; typical privet spikes but a bit of a late summer bonus. On the nursery all the plants we ever had of it were grafted, but the RHS entry said it would grow from cuttings. I’ve done half a dozen, just to see, and while I was at it I took some of Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’. That has a PBR on it, but these would be for me, not for sale.

Another Saturday, another six in the bag. Off now to ThePropagator to see what he’s been up to and to check out links to the growing band of sixers, or SOS’s, or whatever.