All posts by Julie

Six on Saturday 24-9-22

I have been enjoying the sunny warmish Autumn weather. There is lots of colour left in the garden, enough to do another colour theme, despite the fact that we have just passed the equinox. So here are some pink flowers. I will start with the remains of summer: cosmos are still going strong.

A late summer favourite of mine is Japanese Anemone, this year there are fewer than usual, perhaps a casualty of the hot weather in July?

Over the last few years I’ve been slowly growing my dahlia collection. They do bring so much joy. This new one JUST started to flower, gorgeous.

I guess it really is Autumn when the sedum appear. Great for the now sluggish and hungry bees.

Another classic plant that pops up in September if I’m tidy enough to free space for it: I love how cyclamen grow, and spread, even in the shadiest cool corner.

Last, this is an odd one. It happened last year too: azalea, that usually flower in March, are doing their thing in September. Anyone know why?

That’s my #SixonSaturday for this week. The garden keeps me going in these really odd times, and I hope there’s a green patch somewhere that soothes you too. Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 17-9-22

Time to reflect this week on a fabulous growing season in Fife. Despite the heat and drought (much less than further south), or perhaps because of it, some of the fruit and veg have been the best ever, including outdoor figs and STILL flourishing courgettes. We have a weather forecast for close-to-zero temperatures in the next few days. Instead of showing off my veg, I’m thinking this might be the last chance for dahlia, which are magnificent this year. So here we go.

A favourite simple red open flower, i think this is one of the ‘Bishop’s Children.

Possibly another in the same series, the next plant has lovely rich purple foliage and a red-yellow petal. these last for ages.

A purchase from a ‘posh’ dahlia supplier has produced a few new wonderful varieties. This one might be ‘Totally Tangerine’. The petals are simple, the centre complex and interesting.

I’m particularly please with this little beauty, in its second year after being grown from seed in 2021. Has become a lovely plant in its second year.

A mini-dahlia I bought as a cheapy supermarket plant, also in its second year. this one flowered in the August heat wave, then had a rest, and is now coming back strong for an early autumn flourish.

For the finale, I can’t remember the variety, and the flower is barely out (first one of the season on this plant), but just LOOK at the fabulous red-wine colour on what I hope will be a rich full cactus-type bloom.

That’s my #SixonSaturday for this week. Will the week ahead bring the first frosts? Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 10-9-22

What a week, biblical floods and historical momentousness….so here’s some lilac(ish) flowers. First up, Michaelmas daisies.

Buddleja are still blooming.

As are the hebe, though with tiny drought-shrunken flowers. And free bee.

Canterbury bells have popped up a few more blooms for some lovely late summer colour.

A few of the echinops survived Thursday’s strong winds and 90mm of rain.

And last, but not least, at least the sun came out for some much-needed cheer for an hour or so, allowing the colchicum to really show off.

That’s my #SixonSaturday for this week. Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 3-9-22

I don’t want to admit that Autumn is on its way, but gosh, here we are in September. Hopefully not too many mists yet, but there is a fir bit of mellow fruitfulness around, hence fruit will be the theme for this weeks #SixonSaturday.

Part of my garden hosts what must have been a small orchard. There are 8 old trees, each one a different variety that fruits at a different time. One has finished already, the next one to come will be a lovely crisp, green-red variety. This year the apples are particularly large, and there are huge numbers of fruit weighing down the boughs.

I’ve a couple of old trees that offer cooking apples, as well as a fairly young one (10 years or so). This lovely fruit is from the latter, the big old trees have been hammered by the heatwave and their fruit are still small and hard.

For mid-to-end September, there’s another tree, this year having a great year with huge numbers of little red apples. This one has a pink blush to the flesh too.

Attached to a south facing wall, I have an old pear tree that I suspect was planted when the house was built (>200 years). The tree tends to fruit every other year, despite the drought it is doing me proud this year. A soft sweet variety, delicious, though they do all ripen at once.

I’ve also got some slight more exotic fruiting action. On a sheltered south facing wall, this is the first year when my outdoor figs have ripened properly, they are sweet sticky and very tasty.

To finish with a flourish, this far north, grapes only work well under glass. I’m fortunate to have a large greenhouse with a big grapevine. We’re almost there. these are dark and juicy, last year there was so much fruit I made some very tasty raisins.

I hope other growers are also having a good harvest. That’s my #SixonSaturday for this week. Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 27-8-22

Normal summer has resumed in beautiful Fife, rainy (and boy we need it!), cool (18-20 degC) and windy: a proper end-of-summer feel. And yet, dahlias this year are my best ever. It could be because of the unusual heat a few weeks ago, it could be because I now know how to grow: mostly in pots, keep away from damp walls, and feed heavily. And it could be because I’m now more adventurous with my choices. I LOVE my dahlias this year, so for the second time they feature as my #SixonSaturday.

I’m going to follow a colour theme. This one is a ‘proper’ pom-pom. I’ve never had these open fully before. This plant sits in a big pot that is sunk slightly into the depths of the border. And she’s looking perfect.

For those who don’t want to pay for the spring bulbs/tubers, a friend gave me a simple pack of seeds a couple of spring’s ago. From this I’ve raised 8 good plants (whose tubers are stored dry over winter). Each plant has simple single flowers, this one is a lovely peach/apricot. Insects love the simple open flowers, and so do I.

I don’t know this variety, but it’s a real winner (‘very bonny’ according to my Geordie partner: for those who are lost now, try wikipedia: Admittedly, it did come from from a not-so-cheap tuber this spring.

A similar plant next, indeed it might have come from the same dahlia tuber ‘collection’, I really like the simplicity of this flower. As it ages, a central dark band forms around the inside of each petal…looks like a trick of the light here, but it is a feature of the petal coloration.

Wow, this next one is pretty hard to photograph. One of the largest flowering dahlia that I have, with wonderful spiky petals and just so BRIGHT red.

Last this week, another wonderful pom-pom flower, in a really rich dark red. looking splendid with a coating of raindrops. This one was a very recent gift from a fellow-dahlia grower, who just had this one going ‘spare’. It offers a beautiful addition to my collection, and I hope will keep for years to come (simple regime: keep out in pots until frost kills top-growth, then take out of pots, leave to dry in dark low greenhouse shelves, then keep cool – not below 0 – until April).

It has been such a joy showing off my dahlias this year. I know I’m lucky to have a garden full of birds that love those pesky snails. They require a bit of effort (ie take out of ground in winter), but can be really worth it. That’s my #SixonSaturday for this week. Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 20-8-22

For those who follow me regularly, last weekend was my village Flower and Produce show, the first since the onset of covid. I entered in 12 categories, did fairly poorly for my veg: just a handful of 1/2/3 including a 1st for chillies (the only entry!), a 2nd for ‘veg not in schedule’ where I bamboozled people with achocha, and a disappointing 3rd for my fabulous cherry toms. BUT, it turned out I’d got ‘best fruit in show’ for blackcurrants (scroll down to last weeks blog for a photo) and enough points in the fruit competition to be the overall winner. I can’t remember if I ever won a cup before, thrilled! So here we go:

OK, enough of the grow-your-own bragging, we’re back to flowers for #SixonSaturday, this week I’ve gone for purple (though it was touch and go whether it would be another dahlia special, maybe next week). First up, I picked up a few zantedescia bulbs at the Chelsea Flower Show, so glad I did, this one is pinging up bloom after bloom.

Geraniums are such good value. I don’t think I remembered to cut this one back hard in June. Perhaps the hot weather did it for me, as it has burst back into bloom now. This one also comes with a ‘free’ michaelmas daisy, a thug that pops up everywhere.

Mediterranian herbs are doing well this year (can’t think why). Here’s a close up of marjoram, lovely in a vase, or in a tomato sauce.

Despite the heat, I have religiously watered my sweet peas, and they are still trying (though a little faded by now), and still lusciously fragrant.

Twitter has been full of echinops for weeks, in my garden they are just coming into flower, loved by a host of insects, and here’s a hoverfly to illustrate the point.

The Scottish summer has crept back to normal (18 degC daytime high), we’ve had (thankfully) some thunderstorms and torrential rain this week, pouring plenty of water into the but for the veg garden. Yet, I still love the cool feel of water mint in the pond.

That’s my #SixonSaturday this week. Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 13-8-22

I’m very excited this week that my local village hall flower and produce show is back on, for the first time in 3 years. My #SixonSaturday this week are therefore simply 6 of my entries in the fruit and vegetable sections.

First, my dilemma, should I show the 3 small chillies, one of which has a little stretch mark down the side, or the chunky ones, one of which still has a little green colouring at one end? I’m very proud of the big ones, so went with them in the end.

Given how many courgettes there have been this year, I was a little disappointed regarding my options. I suspect the dry weather has paused fruiting on some of the plants. Ah well, knowing that uniformity wins points, I’ve had to go for 2 biggies and a small one.

French beans, on the other hand, are looking rather good. I went for uniform length, and plumpness. Not perfect, but I’m fairly happy with this lot.

Tomatoes have fruited early and are looking gorgeous, leaving me quietly confident. There are two classes: ‘3 tomatoes’ and ‘5 cherry tomatoes’, I’m going for both, with aurora and chocolate cherry.

On the fruit side, there isn’t much left. Strawbs are long-gone. Autumn raspberries appear to be taking a little rest. After picking a few white currants and red currents, the blackbirds got in and scoffed the rest. but they didn’t get into the blackcurrent net, and some have been shaded enough to last until now. Quite pleased!

Finally, sharing the net were my 3 gooseberry bushes. One has had a rough summer. The red on produced huge numbers of fruit, but rather small. My last bush has delivered plump, juicy, sweet fruit. I hope the judges like them too.

That’s my #SixonSaturday this week. Wish me luck, I’ll be heading down to the hall later to bask in veg-winning glory. Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 6-8-22

The first #SixonSaturday of August brings a tired garden (and gardener). There has finally been some rain, but not enough to revive the flower beds: there has been lots of clearing of dried up flowers to get to. Life is happier in the greenhouse, with tomato varieties now ripening apace. I’m hoping there will be some good one to take to my local flower and veg show in a week’s time: the first in 3 years, I’m really looking forward to it. In anticipation, this week’s #SixonSaturday is a tomato special.

As advertised by the wonderful, Urbikany, is a bit of a sprawling bush, that sits well on the greenhouse bench and produces very early delicious juicy tomatoes. We’ve been eating these beauties for a while (though I didn’t use fresh seed this year, I had had a few left over from 2021, and the plants have been a bit weedy by comparison).

Far less satisfactory, both this year and last, are another variety from the same supplier. Millefleur are supposed to produce a big cluster of tiny little toms. They are not ripe yet, and when they are, the fruit will be a pleasing yellow, but so many of the flowers don’t yield fruit. Any suggestions?

Perhaps my favourite tomato in terms of flavour is the sungold. A good, vigorous cordon, with a good few sets of lovely orange fruit that are super sweet. And they don’t all ripen at once (though I hope a few do for the show, I need five for the ‘cherry tom’ category).

A new variety for me this year has been aurora. I wish I’d read the instructions properly, where it did clearly say the bush/cordon would only make it to about 4ft. At least I know I didn’t do anything wrong. There are not many fruit, but they are huge, sweet and very juicy. I’ll have another go at these next year.

My second favourite cherry tom is the chocolate cherry, very sweet and a lovely colour, what’s not to love?

Last, and I hope not least, it looks like it might be a few more weeks before we get to try tigrella. This stripy little number will turn red, but will retain the dark/light stripes. Fun in the salad bowl.

That’s my #SixonSaturday Anyone got any suggestions for must-try tomato varieties for next year? Have a good weekend. Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 30-7-22

Five Saturday’s in July, how did we get to the end already? A more normal summer has resumed in Fife this week, a little rain to perhaps bring the flower beds back to life , and properly cool. Lots to see now, on both the veg and flower fronts. I’ve hoped to add a little sunshine by going for a yellow theme for this week’s #SixonSaturday.

Starting with edibles, I’ve tried to do a bit of successional planting of tomatoes this year. The first of the crop are now ready to eat, while a few plants are still producing flowers. Finger’s crossed there will be enough light for these to flourish.

From the greenhouse to the garden. Apparently ‘Fremontodendron’ (from California) can be tricky to grow in the UK. My small tree sits on a south facing wall, and probably loves the dry and sandy conditions. It also somehow manages to weather the fierce westerlies and rain of a Scottish winter.

Most years I bring on 6 or more courgette plants, assuming that a few will droop and die on cold spring/summer nights. They’ve all made it this year, and here’s a lovely yellow fruit from courgette ‘atena’. I’m inundated already, anyone got any recipes?

Although not the regular St. John’s Wort, I think this is also a hypericum. In a usual summer, it flowers for weeks. This year, most flowers got hammered by the heatwave. I’m going to try more deadheading in the hope that they might have another go. This flower comes with a free hoverfly.

To edibles again. I planted a few squash ‘Kuri’ this year, but only in early July. I hope they will pull themselves together and get fruiting. The flowers have started, fingers crossed.

This week’s sixth choice is a snap of monkey flower. Living near the pond, this plant has spread about 2/3 of the way round. It offers a blast of summer colour and lots of nectar for the bees. Wonderful.

That’s my #SixonSaturday Have a good weekend. Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.

Six on Saturday 23-7-22

How hot did it get in your garden? I felt privileged to be in Scotland during the heat emergency. Here it got to 29 deg C, with what I think of as ‘proper hot weather’ for just two days. I must admit to enjoying to novelty, though inspection of the garden has since revealed quite a bit of stress: not least because we have not had rain for weeks! In honour of what I hope is a very rare phenomenon, here are some hot reds for this week’s #SixonSaturday, to commemorate the heatwave.

Most interesting first? I picked up a few cala lily quorms at the Chelsea Flower Show in May. This one is a gorgeous rich red, as are its stems.

Despite the heat, some careful feed and watering has allowed a few sweetpeas to keep going, one of them a rich red (shame the resting hoverfly wasn’t quite in focus!).

I’ve shown these as one of my six recently, but here they are again, as I can’t look at them enough. I love a big blousy bright red dahlia.

A couple of edibles next. I kept the greenhouse as cool as I could with wide open doors and windows, and regular dousing of the floor with buckets of water (still great to work at home sometimes!). The tomatoes loved it, and the first few are ripening now.

The heat also seems to have boosted the beans. This year, I have fewer plants, but each one is producing swathes of red flowers. It’s almost time for beans.

Last, one of my favourite flowers of the summer (though I can’t quite work out how we got here so fast) has just started to bloom. Crocosmia lucifer is here.

That’s my #SixonSaturday Have a good weekend, the weather here is back to normal, I’ll be harvesting lots of berries which instantly ripened in last week’s heat. Stay safe, take care out there, and don’t forget to follow the crowd on twitter and via the web from links to the originator of #SixonSaturday, the Propagator himself.