Flying Lessons


After a fairly productive “tidy and mulch” morning, the forecast rain arrived to scupper my afternoon plans.  Luckily I had contingencies.  And conveniently they were all greenhouse based.  I say “based” because it did involve going into the deluge, but not for long and intermittently.  Today was the day I had ear-marked for clearing out the feral tomato plants.  Nipping out side shoots had been abandoned weeks ago.  They had been “expressing” themselves freely ever since.  I could see from the outside the soup of squashed fruit, mouldy leaves and lurking molluscs squashed against the glass.  Not a job for the faint-hearted.  So, with a wheelbarrow parked at chucking distance outside, I cruelly attacked the optimistic top growth.  When it was piled high I  pushed it up to the compost bin.  This took several trips.  The best green tomatoes were laid out on the shelving to ripen.  We live in hope.  Then the growbags were loaded and pushed up the hill to be stored until a piece of free ground needs a little improvement.  Then on to scraping up the gunk and detritus left behind, all the while throwing the resident population of slugs and snails over the hedge into the field beyond.  Luckily for this little newt I was wearing my specs and he didn’t partake in the flying lessons.  I tucked him in a cosy corner where hopefully he will be safe until the spring.

Sunflower Felling


Today was not the day to be a top heavy, shallow rooted, annual.

To prevent the almost inevitable toppling of the sunflower forest and the consequent squashing of the less stout souls below, my first job this morning was to dig up the giants.  First I had to remove the extensive corsetry that was valiantly attempting to hold them in place, although they were already at a jaunty angle.  All it took was a quick nudge from a fork beneath and we had a controlled felling.  I then passed them over to Lady Mantle who cut off the worthy flowers which she lined out on a low wall.

It may have come to your attention that it was a tad breezy today, and has not yet relented.  I sincerely hope that the howling and crashing coming from outside is the wind and not an early Halloween visitation.  For all the weather’s vigour it was pleasantly balmy and, after the sun shook off the Saharan dust, it was bright and blue skied.  This made for unexpectedly good working conditions.  Of course everything had to weighted down and throwing weeds into a trug was a miss and miss affair.  Later I chased the cut sunflowers around the garden, scooping them up and taking them into the house.  Lady M. had been diverted.

The journey back was scattered with twigs and small branches and the odd young tree that had been battered just a little more than it could cope with.   I was glad to get home.

I hope you stayed safe and damage free.


Six on Saturday – Late on Parade

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

Sorry, I’m a little late on parade.  I would love to say I had a pressing engagement, possibly top secret, which prevented me posting yesterday.  The truth is, however, other mundane stuff got in the way and the day slipped by on a banana skin.  Still I am here now and The Propagator, who manages the Six on Saturday Team, is very forgiving.  Hopefully.

My first contestant this week is Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’.  This variegated Japanese grass has a wonderful lax habit and its golden striped leaves are a joy.  As autumn proceeds red tinges are beginning to appear in its foliage.   It has just begun to flower, these are not showy plumes, but dainty has its place in my garden too!

Phyllostachys nigra

Phyllostachys nigra

The next contender is Phyllostachys nigra otherwise known as the black bamboo.  This was very fashionable (and we all know how much a follower of fashion I am) in the same decade as the ra ra skirt.  Luckily for the great British public, I only embraced one trend.  Unfortunately it is confined to a pot where it struggles on, giving me a dirty look each time I pass by.

Salvia atrocyanea

Salvia atrocyanea

Eventually the Salvia atrocyanea has come into flower.  And I mean flower, singular.  Just the one.  Next year Rodders, we will be millionaires.

Paraserianthes lophantha

Paraserianthes lophantha

And now for teacher’s pet, Paraserianthes lophantha, formally Albizia lophantha.   I have grown this fast growing tree from South Western Australia before.  Unfortunately it succumbed one especially chilly winter and I have mourned its passing ever since.  I sowed seed earlier this year and this one plant is the result.  Now all I have to do is get it through the winter!

Heliotropium arborescens 'Chatsworth'

Heliotropium arborescens ‘Chatsworth’

Next a fragrant one, a lavender coloured heliotrope, Heliotropium arborescens ‘Chatsworth’.  The bloom is looking a little weather-beaten, the leaves yellowing, but still the perfume is delicious.

Tibouchina 'Groovy Baby'

Tibouchina ‘Groovy Baby’

Lastly we have the small but perfectly formed Tibouchina ‘Groovy Baby’.  I bought this last year at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens in Dorset, wooed by both the manageable size and its funky name.  The shrub might be miniature but the flower certainly isn’t.

So that is it for another week.  Better late than never.  Thanks Mr P!  Will set my alarm clock for next week.

Other Plans

Eccremocarpus scaber

The plan was that the Eccremocarpus scaber would scramble up the dark leaved Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’.  The orange tipped scarlet flowers would be shown off beautifully by the close-to-black backdrop of the Eastern ninebark.  I must confess, this brilliant idea was a blatant rip-off from something I had seen in the Hot Garden at RHS Rosemoor.  Here they are grown through the fastigiate beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Purple’ and Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ or suchlike.  Unfortunately the Chilean Glory Flower didn’t get the memo outlining the preferred route to be taken.  Instead it thought a much better option was to use a variegated myrtle as a crutch and however much I tried to gently suggest otherwise, its mind was set.  It had other plans.  Not quite so dramatic perhaps, but definitely more original.



A combination of bad weather and feeling a little below par meant that I didn’t work today.  Instead I sat at home sorting out my photos.  Perhaps a little sorry for myself, periodically watching the wind and rain wallop my plants outside.

In the olden days the job of photo-sorting would have entailed sitting on the floor shifting through reams of prints and negatives.  We still have storage boxes containing ancient pictures from across the years. Occasionally I will delve into these museums and wonder at my youth and waist size.  Not often enough though.  It is good to remember.

Nowadays it means sitting at the computer and trawling though virtual files.  And blimey, don’t I take a lot of pictures.  The increase in shots since the devil digital arrived is not tenfold, but perhaps a thousand fold, or maybe ten thousand fold, and they need to be culled and named and archived.  Being the efficient librarian that I am, this job hasn’t been done for two years.

I may be some time.

I spotted these little snails sheltering beneath a fennel leaf.  A fragrant umbrella, how sensible.



This rampant jasmine is perhaps Jasminum polyanthum.  It is commonly known as the pink jasmine or the white jasmine or the many flowered jasmine.  It grows in a shady position, covering a damp wall, with roots who knows where?  Walking past its exuberant self is a joy indeed.  It lights up this gloomy alley and fills it with a delicious fragrance.  Worth a detour any day.


Impatiens puberula

I was thrilled to find a flower on my Impatiens puberula today.  It is the first time this plant has bloomed and I am very excited.  There is absolutely no way I could possibly wait until next Saturday to share this little beauty with you.  Here it is, so gorgeous!

Now who is the impatient one?