Saturday, 21 July 2018


Caterpillar-eaten kale flowering away.

The serendipity of nature really tickles the beejayzus out of me.  It's an unseen collaborator, making quiet little gardening tweaks such as herb Robert around the peony, bindweed twining up the wrought iron gate, cosmos colluding with kale in an optical illusion.

This week, let's see what the Collaborator has done to my pots.

1.  A magic stick.

When we moved during the Beast from the East, some of our lifted plants came in plastic bags wrapped with sheep fleece.  As soon as possible, I rammed them into any available pot.

This included pots left by the previous tenants, who were specialist gardeners (har har har).  Our black grass went into one that had a three-tined dead stick in it.  Today, the black grasses are blooming in front of the bark-shedding dead stick.

In bloom.

The pot luck here isn't the black grass, but the thriving dead stick with its one summer's worth of growth.  Can anyone ID it for me?

It lives!

2.  Oh, Cory!

Earlier this year, I sowed some lambs lettuce in the pot with the fading erythronium.  An effort which produced a feckless feckall.

Late, great dogtooth lily.

With other more successful seedlings rampaging around the garden, I forgot the FF pot in its shady corner.  And then this appeared in it.

My buddy, Cory.

A lovely self-seeded corydalis, possibly from our last house where it grew like crazy.  My Unseen Collaborator, she knows what I like

3.  Another stowaway.

I rescued this teeeeny weeeeny fernee fella from the lawn & slapped it into what, at the time, was a plant-less pot.  Now the fern has company.

Am I pink knotweed?

Last year, my 92 year old neighbour gave me pink knotweed as thanks for always stopping to let her pet Mr BigNoseDog on our daily walks.  Mr BND'd knock me down for a pet from anyone, but I kept that to myself, & graciously accepted the cutting.

Not sure why it took so long to show itself this year.

And for those of you aghast that I grow knotweed, rest assured my garden has far, far worse things growing in it with my full consent.

4.  Like this thug.

Another pot luck caused by our move was thrusting goldenrod & queen of the prairie into the same pot so I could replicate how they looked last year:

Last year's golden queen.

This is what that pot looks like today.

Queen makes way for a thug.

The queen of the prairie survives behind the asters, but only foliage, no bloom.  There wasn't a whiff that those sneaky aster bastards were in the pot, yet now they've taken over.

There'll be a separation of powers in this pot come autumn.  Rest assured no thug shall perish in this coup.

5.  Comedy of errors.

I wanted verbena bonariensis for my last garden, but in some type of brain glitch, ordered common valerian instead.  The valerian didn't bloom its first year, so when we moved, I dug up its dead stick, & brought it along.

The foliage that came up wasn't valerian, but I let it grow, hoping for a pleasant surprise.

I got this ugly thang.

Ugly weed.

The tiny yellow flowerbuds never seemed to open, yet've already gone to seed.  Floaty, flying millions upon millions of ugly thang seed.

Ugly thang's back lit glam photo.

6.  A cosmos by any other foliage . . . 

My perennials've mostly been stalled or killed by drought.  The smattering of annuals that were meant to be colourful interludes, now have to carry the can.

All grown from seed, they're cheap & cheery low maintenance types which include, of course, bog standard cosmos in the white to red spectrum.

Dark pink cosmos.

I also bought a packet of dwarf cosmos in various colours, purportedly including a deep, deep purple.

Growing 2 types of cosmos, I kept both packets, referred to them several times during the seedling process, so I know for certain this wasn't my mistake, but an Unseen Collaborator intervention.

When the foliage matured a bit, the dwarfs looked more like marigold than cosmos.  The dwarf blooms opened this week & they're orange!  Every single one of them.  A fiery yellow orange!

Orange cosmos at bottom, usual suspect at top.

Searching 'orange cosmos' brought up photos of something with the same foliage as mine - cosmos sulphureus Cosmic Orange.  I don't know how those seeds wound up in that package, but they go well with the golden rod & the mint green raised beds.

My Unseen Collaborator certainly knows what she's up to.

Woodwardia beauty.

And that brings me to the end of my #SixonSaturday.

Thanks for dropping by.  I love feedback, but folk've had problems with the site letting them comment.  If you can't speak here but're on Twitter, I'm @lorahughes7.

Lets have a chat!

Oh, & don't forget, if you've got a garden, drop over to The Propagator & read his participant's guide.  You'll also find his Six, plus links in his comment section to other SoS gardeners from all over the world.

See ya next week!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Veg & Blooms

Insect watering trough.
Hello, lovers of #SixonSaturday!

Yet another week of sun & no rain.  The veg are happy about this, but no one else is. 

A promising crop of berries dried on the vine, though they looked healthy otherwise.  Presumably from the hot, dry air.

With few exceptions (calendula), my flowers have been lack lustre.  The sunflowers & cosmos are very short.  The summer bulbs either didn't grow, stopped growing, or died.

My Twitter feed makes me wish I'd grown dahlias this year, but no, I wanted something different.  Now, I have only my ice cream for solace.

However, with a little effort, I present a few lovelies surviving amongst the veg this week. 

1.  After the tassels comes the silk.

The predicted hand pollination has begun.  As of this morning, there are 3 corn silks.

First silk.

2.  No longer fruitless.

Last week, I wondered when the peppers would ever appear.  I now have etiuda & cayenne.  The latter are so small as yet, my phone camera couldn't get a good shot.  Maybe next week.

A pair of etiuda chilis.

3.  Fire tongues.

The beans love this weather, so keep me busy harvesting.  As with the peas, I find the coloured pods so much easier to find. 

Fire tongue dwarf French beans.

And now for those blossoms.

4.  Spirea

This gal looked a bit rugged after the Beast from the East.  She earned herself a serious haircut this past spring.  Today, she's looking grand.

Spirea going to town.

5.  Unintentionally purple.

In this shady corner, we have a young wisteria, a smoke bush, a very short spider fatsia & a young cedar in a pot.  The poppy & loosestrife/toadflax/wandythang volunteers are serendipitously colour coordinated.

Accidental purple.

6.  Day lily.

This clump isn't actually in my garden, but has escaped from the OAP Fairy Person's garden & lives in the bin alley.  I may have to take custody of it in the autumn when it dies back.

Daylily absconding. 

Do you know my name?

That's my Six for the week.  There's rumours of rain on Tuesday.  In the meantime, does anyone know this plant?

For more garden glimpses, drop by The Propagator who leads this band of merry fools.  You'll find his Six, plus links to all SoS gardens across the globe.

See you here next week, hopefully a little damper.  If not, the unfettered ice cream eating continues.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Tassels, Thugs, & Scary Scapes

Velcro vs twine ties.

Not entirely sure what Nature Goddess I've pissed off, but her scorched earth policy continues.  I'm trapped indoors for huge blocks of the day, lest I be scorched myself. 

Fortunately, Pissed Off Goddess is kinder to her plant subjects, & they be doing radical thangs without me.

1.  To-mah-toes

Although I don't start my seed germination until April, it doesn't seem to've delayed things with the mater production.

We got babies!

I also found this on the ground one morning.  Pretty much surprised me, as the tomato plants are on a terrace ledge, out of harm's way.  I can't imagine what would be tall enough to knock off a branch, other'n a human. 


But I also can't imagine a human in my back garden without the Canine Patrol losing their minds.
However it happened, I've since put the Velcro ties higher up the cages & pruned any errant straggly bits.

2.  Various pepper plants.

My son El Punko's started a tradition where, at Christmas, he gives me a seed kit.  Or two.  Or three.  Usually they're weird & wonderful - I'm currently trying to get olive tree seeds to germinate.

This year, he gave me 6 varieties of chili peppers to go with my garlic crop - I'm a great fan of chili & garlic oil on just about everything, including grilled cheese.

My father excelled at growing both hot & sweet peppers.  He'd pick the hot chilis & pop them in his mouth, seeds & all.  But that was his success below the Mason-Dixon, & this is my 1st try in the British Isles.

Flowers go leor.

So while my to-mah-toes've caught up with the rest of the SoS-ers, my peppers are only at the flowering stage.  I've not seen any flowers turn into baby peppers, so am wondering if this whole experiment is slightly . . . yes, I'm going to say it. 


Moving quickly along . . .

3.  More babies.

Life isn't worth living without a battalion of Halloween jack-o-lanterns.  We always have at least one vine.  While we save a little fruit for Thanksgiving pies, & some family members love the seeds, for me, it's only about Halloween.

Let it grow!

So when selecting what pumpkins I'll be growing, it's all about carving size & nothing else. 

This year has taught me to be more discerning in future.  These pumpkins are thugs.  Not only are they trying to strangle the corn plants, but the vines themselves stand about 30" or more. 


I've never battled my pumpkin vines before, but since about Week 2, I've been cutting & chopping & redirecting to stop the corn from being smothered.

And it's only July.  God help me.

4.  Corn update.

Last week, I lamented the disparity in my 2 types of corn plants.  I reckon word got back to the corn field, because this week, the shorter of the varieties started to tassel.

Shorty gets growing.

That'll teach me to open my gob.

5.  Cutest babies.

This is my first year for cucumelons & they're going for bust up the bed spring trellis.  Their flowers are entirely unimpressive &, from what others say about their taste, I'm not going to relish eating them.

But you got to admit, they take gorgeous baby photos.

Cute-cumelon babies.

Which may or may not be reason enough to grow them again.  I'll get back to you once I bite one of their chillen.

6.  Scapes.

The last bunch of garlic that I left drying out in the shed had about 3 scapes amongst them.  These somehow multiplied during the drying process.  Considerably.

Last of the scapes.

What I didn't have the presence of mind to do, was to photograph them while they were still attached.  Imagine going into your shed & seeing this, only with all the scapes looking out the window.

Decapitated scapes.

Ever so slightly creepy, let me tell you.

Bindweed on the gate.

And that's what's happening this week in my garden.

This blog is part of The Propagator's meme, #SixonSaturday.  Hit the link to see what he's writing about this week (including one fantastic nasturtium I gotta have next year).  In his comment section, you'll find links to bloggers from all over the world highlighting six things you definitely want to see.  For voyeurs like myself, it's great stuff.

Thanks so much for stopping by my patch.  Leave a comment if you've got one, & then do come back next week.

See ya then!

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Taking the Heat

Yellow Queen Columbine.

It's time for my #SixonSaturday, a selection of goodies that've appeared, failed or thrived in the garden this week.

Here, we're having unusually high temps & no rain.  The garden hose & I've become one entity patrolling the brown lawn, sunburned leaves & ripening fruits.

1.  Beans!

It's a veritable bean fever in our garden. We've got fire tongues & yin yang, to which we add the blauschokker & spring blush mange tout.

Beans & more.

Our resident cook has the easiest & most delicious way of cooking these bad fellas.  Let them sit in boiling water for 5 minutes (no cooking, just sitting), drain, toss with a bit of sesame seed oil & the sesame seeds themselves.

Easy side dish.

2.  Astrantia Wars.

Someone gave me my first astrantia nearly 10 years ago & I've been smitten every since.  I don't know the variety of that one, but it had a large faded blossom, like your favourite purple jeans sent through the wash too many times.

Don't get me wrong - I love the dark & vibrant astrantia.  This year, however, my heart is torn between two loves.

Astrantia Roma

. . . and . . .

Astrantia Maxima

Still loving that faded jeans vibe, I guess.

3.  More foot race than war in the corn field.

My first batch of corn plants were Sutton's Sundance.  During the hardening up process, a good third of them died, which effectively tossed my block planting over the wall.

By that time, Sutton's was out of corn plants, as were most everyone else except for Harrod's.  It was a risk buying from someone else, what with the potential their plants would be younger, not to mention they weren't the same strain.  But without more plants, germination was going to be iffy.

The joy when the Harrod plants arrived & were about the same size as the Sutton plants.

Corn Bouquet.

Three weeks later, my best laid plan is foiled again.  The Harrod's plants lag significantly behind the Sutton's Sundance.  I assume the difference in strain is the problem. 

Harrod Shorty in front, Tall Sutton in back.

Hand pollination, here we come.  Hopefully a few plants will produce a few kernels.  Next year, though, think I'll go back to growing from seed.

4.  Mystery tree.

Remember the unknown fruit tree at the bottom of the garden?  Every morning, this particularly fat pigeon tries to have breakfast there, creeping down the branch toward its goal, but eventually cascading wings over tail & out of the tree with an empty belly.  It's even tried eating from the holly tree next to it, but no joy.

Pigeon bait.

As to the tree's identity, I'm thinking it's a cherry tree.  But then you SoS lot told me one of my alleged cherry trees is actually a plum, so . . .

5.  Mater ties.

My mother used old stockings to tie up her tomato plants.  I always used garden twine, which in my hands, wasn't effective.  By the end of summer, my tomatoes looked like Romans relaxing over their dinner.

This year, I went shopping for tomato cages & discovered Velcro ties instead.  The new-fangled always tempts me, so out came the cash, home went the Velcro.  The maters loved them.

New ties.

As the maters grew toward the roof of the cages, more Velcro was needed, but it was a little too close to payday.  Perusing the situation, I decided to take the bottom tie off & move it to the top.  And wow . . .

No bottom tie needed.

By the time another layer of ties is needed, the base of the plant's big & ugly enough to support itself.  Great stuff.

6.  Free stuff welcomed here.

One of my neighbours had a leftover eggplant & decided we looked like a good adoptive home.

Orphan eggplant.

My mother grew aubergine & canned all sorts of delicious sauces with it in.  Being the only eggplant eater in my own family, I'd never tried growing it. 

Recently, one of the cooks in the house converted, but even if it were still only me, who turns down free plants?  So we shall keep you posted on this lovely item.

Inspector Butt

And that's me done writing.

To keep up with the latest international garden sagas, drop by The Propagator who hosts this meme.  He always has a cracking Six himself, plus a comment section full of links to all the others

Hope your garden is surviving the weather & gives you plenty of tales to tell.  If you've not joined us in SoS-ing, why not start now?

Until next week, stay hydrated, use sunscreen, & eat your veg.

See you around!

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Things That Work, Things That Don't

Garden workers.
This is our first summer in this garden, so I'm learning what works & what doesn't.  Let's see what you think of this lot.

Of course, when you're done, go over to The Propagator who is our #SixonSaturday meme host.  Read about his colourful Six, all workers in my mind (even the marigold).

Then scroll down to his comment section where throngs of other SoSers have links to their week's SoS.

So first, a coupla things that work.

1.  Cucumelons.

Not only a new garden, but a new crop.  We had poor luck with our cucumbers last year, so thought these might fare better, as they're reputed to be rampant.  The teeny weeny bloom surprised me.

Cucumelon blossom.  A small chap.

2.  Bed spring trellis.

Remember during the rainy spell earlier this year, when I got cabin fever?  We had an old mattress that we couldn't give away, so I decided to re-purpose its parts.

The inner spring was destined to be a trellis for the berries.  We cut all the little coils down the middle to make 2 trellises.  Separated, the bed spring is quite floppy & could be rolled up like wire fence, so that solved my winter storage question.

The Fence Guy, however, put a wooden trellis above the berry wands, so the bed spring went to the cucumelons.

They seem ready to explore the new trellis.

Because the springs are linked, it loses its floppiness once it's in place & without too much securing.  Two rows of coils are above the wooden fence.  In the afternoon, they catch the sun & the trellis looks a bit like prison razor wire.

In truth, the cut wires can scratch a person, but no worse than roses or brambles.  Even so, I've been mulling over solutions for that.  Maybe some type of tape or fabric plaster on the ends.

Another bad weather project, don't you think?

So now, a coupla things that aren't working.

3.  Droopy smoke.

We lost 3 trees this year, & I haven't a clue as to why.  All three of them - an apple tree, the Asian pear, & the sambucus - survived the winter & started to grow with varying success.  The apple died when the first leaves began to show.  The pear came into full leaf, but no blooms, then died.  Sammy actually had buds but then keeled over.

The smoke bush, thankfully, only has droopy flower buds.

Can't bring myself to full bloom.

Has anyone else had an unlucky tree year?  How about ideas as to why we've taken such a hit?

4.  Calloloo

As I mentioned last week, our front garden gets more sun, so I've put some of my veg there.  When I could, I chose veg of colour in hopes that perhaps the neighbours* wouldn't notice my less than frivolous beds.  The photo of callaloo in the seed catalogue made them seem like a excellently flamboyant candidate for my deception.

But the callaloo isn't reaching the heights advertised.  In fact, it's not reaching heights at all.  Here's a photo of them, potted up after they first arrived, all pretty & sassy.

New baby photo

This is what they look like now, six weeks later. 

Callaloo in June.

Although it's obviously gown, for a plant that's reputed to be a metre tall, this fella has a long way to go by the end of summer.  The foliage has also lost some of its vibrance, but perhaps that's normal.

Interestingly, I've had very odd results in this bed.  As you can see, oxalis & buttercup grow to beat the band, but my bulbs have languished.  I've lost one of my Paris roses in this location, too.  Everything is well fed, but I'm wondering if it's simply too much sun, not enough water, or something a bit more complicated.


As to the neighbours, I under estimated these guys.  They're an overly inquisitive bunch, but rather friendly, so my veg has been allowed to stay.  There may or may not've been an offering of produce on my part.

5.  Tonsured mullein.

So let's end with some more things that work.  In my mind, Nature does it best.  Like others of you, I let my favourite weeds self seed somewhat unabated. 

This mullein appeared in the smallest of troughs last year & grew to about 15 inches, which I assume is normal for a first year.  I gave it a bigger trough for this year, though, & here we are, doing what mulleins do.

Monk Mullein.

And here's a close up of his hair cut.  I love the texture & colour of those leaves, especially with the pops of yellow when it blooms.

Bugs like him.

6.  Opium & the creep.

When this poppy first showed itself in my Creeping Jenny, I figured Jenny could take Pops, so left them to it.  They've been quite lovely to watch, the poppy foliage elbowing for space, Jenny running toward the ground.  Then Pops bloomed.

Fleeting beauty.

I'd expected the more subtle purple blossom, but was a bit wowed by the red.  Which of course only stayed with us for the blink of an eye . . .

Shedding petals

. . . then left a bit behind so we know it wasn't imagined.

Both blooms.

The not-workers.
There's my contribution for this week.  Hope to hear some ideas & maybe even some solutions.

For now, I'm off to read your blogs.  Although I've been quiet in your comment sections, I am reading & retweeting as much as possible.  When my energy level returns & I'm my more gregarious self, you'll look back on these quiet days with fondness.

Until next time!