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!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Getting Fruity!

Laburnum in the mist.

Chores've slowed down in the garden, but the lack of rain means walking slowly among my plant buddies on a daily basis to give them a drink. 

A great time of year for this, with everything coming into bloom, then blooms turning to fruit.  I love my ornamentals, but man, I adore my edibles.

Take a look at them all.

1.  The race is on.

I bought 3 berry plants last year, the labels of which have walked off into the sunset.  None of them bore fruit last summer, but this year, 2 of them are popping out red all over.

So on the race to fruition, who will get there first - us or the birds?

Breakfast waiting to happen.

2.  Peas in various finery.

It's our first year for blauwchokker peas & I'm loving them in all their stages.  We grew ours from seed planted in April.  They now stand taller'n myself & have great broadly veined leaves on nicely thick stems.

The flower is originally 2 tones of purply pink but then go blue as they wither.

Rampaging pea plants.

Then the blue tissue falls away & these black-purple pods slip out.

Pods jumping the fence.

3.  Today's flowers are tomorrow's sauce.

Slightly behind their pea friends are our rosella cherry tomato plants, but we got flowers!

Looks like a good crop coming.

I'm a fiend for eating most of our cherry maters before I make it back to the house from the garden, but these are feted for having a smoky flavour, so we're hoping to experiment with cooking a few.  Too bad for future sauces that our onions did feck-al this year, but we've got plenty of . . .

4. Garlic, garlic & more garlic!

Inviting vampires to dinner.

Our early purple Wights didn't clove, but these fellas . . . well, you can see it yourself.  Smashing. 

5.  Bean brigade.

We've 2 varieties of dwarf French this year - yin yang & fire tongue.  The yin yangs went in first & so, of course, are the first to bean up.

Yin yang beanies.

As you can see from the smudge in the photo, these guys have a white blossom.  The fire tongues have small pink flowers that hopefully will produce red speckled pods.

6.  Happy surprise.

You may remember my spring angst over my Louis Bonne pear tree.  While it bloomed to high heaven & beyond, its mate, the Asian pear, had no blossom.  Since I'd been told by the nursery that my bloomin' pear didn't self pollinate, I feared no fruit.

The Asian pear, which'd been given to me by the nursery to replace its dead predecessor, gave us great foliage then died.  Louis Bonne did this:

How'd it do that?

Such a shame that I'm the only pear eater in the house (har har har).  Do you know how many amazing pear recipes there are out there?  Come on, Louis!

Rebel Woody.
So while I'm dreaming of fruits to come, take a gander at my woodwardia. 

It was supposed to frond out scarlet, unfurl bronze, then green.  The colour in this photo is pretty accurate, so not what advertised, but I'm not complaining.  Loving this fern.

There's my #SixonSaturday.  Make sure you drop by The Propagator who's our meme host.  You'll get a gander at his six, & links to SoS-ers from all over the globe.

See you soon!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Prodigal SoS-er

Spying on the neighbours during rest breaks.

The garden's in post-spring frenzy.  There's me flying behind, clinging to its coat tail. 

As such, it's been about 6 weeks since my last SoS post, which means you've missed my bluebells & irises & the 1st dwarf French bean flowers.

Fortunately, there's plenty of other #SixonSaturday bloggers, keeping pace with the season.

Be sure to check out The Propagator for his Six & links to all the rest of the gang.

So, the garden.

1.  Summertime & the ground elder is blooming.

The last time I lived with ground elder was 3 gardens ago.  At that time, I waged war.  An older & less healthy me decided to live with it in this garden.   I mow the flowerbeds it's taken over, not planting anything else there.  Around the edges of the deck, it grows with impunity.

Elegant ground elder.

Some local residents are glad of its presence.

Drunk on ground elder.

2.  Peony.

The clasped burgundy hands that surprised me by poking up this spring, have come into glorious bloom, upstaging everything else in the garden.


This peony's such a well formed shrub, I hesitated cutting any of the flowers.  Then either the wind or a cat or a passing banshee bent one of the stems.  How are we blessed with anything that beautiful?

Indoor peony.

3.  Shade garden.

Fighting with slugs over hostas never seemed worth it before, but I wanted a gillenia & something with a different foliage to contrast it.  After an initial slug nibble on the hosta, I circled it with dead cedar fronds, & the slugs've left it alone.  Think the plant combo's working out quite well.

Gillenia, hosta, herb Robert, ferns & Doodle tail (w/possible sleeping BigNose behind the chair).

4.  Too stupid to breathe.

All those long weeks ago, my last blog entry generated conversations about what the fruit trees were at the bottom of our garden.  Best guess from the best guessers was plum or cherry.  However, I'd convinced myself that it was the same type tree as the neighbour's on the other side of the fence.  The dried fruit on that tree were too big to be plum or cherry.

Then our hero, Fencing Guy, enters stage left.  He says to Hot-On-The-Tree-ID-Trail-Me, those trees don't have the same bark.  Meaning my tree & the one next door.

It's a struggle, gardening & not being very bright.

Anyway, in that same vein, I was very excited to plant our terraced area of the garden.  It had pavers over it, which I lifted to discover soil.  Well, if we add a little this, add a little that, then this here's where the maters would grow.

Seeds were germinated, pricked, potted on.  After the last fear of frost, out to the terrace with myself.  Dig, dig, dig.  An inch or so down, builder's rubble.

The soil was plant material accumulated over the years.  I knew the garden'd been neglected for a raccoon's age.  Just too stupid to breathe, that's me.

Anyhoo, the terrace as it looks today.

Veg garden.

5.  Mystery visitor.

When lifting the terrace pavers for the tomato planters (that need to sit on gravel, rather than concrete), I found this little guy. 

Snakes are common where I come from, but the only snake I've seen in the UK is an adder.  This fella doesn't really look like a snake to me - something about the head.  Is it a snake?

What's my name?

6.  My favourite thing.

I don't think I've ever shared a photo of my favourite tree, the Crooked Cherry.  Some day I'll tell you how it came to be called crooked (no relative of Nixon) & how it came to live with me.

Until then, here's Ole Crooked with valerian, Carolina allspice & what I call loose strife but others call toad flax.  I'm probably wrong (see #4 above).

Keeps getting better.

Ditch them maters.

That's what's happening in my garden this week.  Sun's shining, tomatoes, peas & beans are blooming, last mess of beans've germinated.  Time to put my feet up.

Or maybe not.  Looks like someone has other plans for my afternoon.

Hope to see you again, soon.  Until next time . . .