Six on Saturday: 15 September 2018: There and Back Again

Two months? Yup, the proverbial bad penny has returned again after another break. As I return, something is going so let’s start with that.

1 Goodbye Leylandii

Fifteen metres long plus a two metre end and four metres high. Behind the front edge there’s a metre and a half deep strip of potential planting space.

By the time you read this post there’ll be less leylandii. Maybe none of it if you stayed late in bed. Two of us with chainsaws and a third to carry the choppings to a trailer. We hope that with an 8am start, we’ll have it all gone by early afternoon. Then we’ll erect a fence but not as you know it, Gill! A fence whose bottom will be half a metre above ground. Eh, you may well surmise!

But there is madness in my method. I’m a glutton for punishment. Though my back isn’t. So to save a bit of bending, the gap left by that half-metre of missing fence will be filled by the back-side of a half-metre tall edifice 3. About a metre and a half from front to back and about twelve from end to end. Think of all that lovely planting space. My planting list will probably fill it twice over. That’s if my back is still working after shovelling an estimated 12 tonnes of topsoil into it. I like a challenge. Well, I could always just make it a metre from front to back. Or fill it gradually through the autumn and winter, ready for spring planting.

Don’t worry, the bit of fence that isn’t covered by Edifice 3 will be down to ground. Except for a hedgehog hole that is.

And by the start of our 9am coffee break, my six was down to five-and-a-half. Early birds we are!

2 Talking about Edifices

Edifice 2, as it’s become known, has filled up nicely, giving me continuous colour for months. The irrigation system served well through that little warm spell we had (most of which I spent doing very little), far better than lugging watering cans around.

Though planting a couple of Erigeron karvinskianus (you may notice a theme here as I graduate from “the bottom” of a fence and a “back-side” of edifice 3). Something to meander gently through the planting to deliver colour as the spring-flowering alpines went over. Yeah! Well! Just two plants took over almost all of one of the two alpine beds and then staged an invasion of the second. Something tells me they’ll have to go. Shame as they’re pretty little flowers but …..

3 It Aster Be Symphiotrichum

This used to be Aster season but it’s now Symphiotrichum season. Those in Edifice 2 are still only in bud but a couple in Edifice 1 are now flowering nicely. There are labels in there somewhere behind the foliage. But I can’t see them so you get Symph1 and Symph2 and have to like it.


4 Antirrhinum

We Welsh roll our “Rs” (it’s a theme thing, you know). Which makes the name of these plants sound different. These two are (I was told) a new type so I thought I’d try them out. Smaller than the traditional types but more bushy. Nice. Now if only I hadn’t lost the label, I’d be able to get some more next year. Some Snapdragons are hardy but I don’t know if these are. Still, I’ll lift them before the frosts and see if I can get them through the winter in the greenhouse.

5 Agapanthus

I have nine of these. Only one has flowered. The others show no signs of anything other than leaves. Bummer! This one is Twister.

6 Grapes

I have a Black Hamburg (or Hamburgh if you prefer) grape vine. Unlike the one at Hampton Court, whose roots are outside and everything else inside, mine is totally outdoors. I don’t grow it for grapes but, rather, to provide dappled shade from the early morning sun which would otherwise blind anyone taking breakfast in the breakfast room here. It does produce a few small grapes each year which the blackbirds usually take before they ripen. But this year, I guess because of the hot summer, I have piles. (Yay, I made my six with a derriere-related mention in each.)

Sixteen bunches of grapes in total, plus a few small “groupings” that don’t count as bunches, ripening nicely.

And the blackbirds don’t seem to be bothering with them. Hooray.

Well that’s my returning six. If you have a mind, pop over to the blog of our glorious leader, Mr Propagator, for links to the growing international horde of “Sixers”. Even better, join in and give us your best garden six-pack of the week.

I’ll finish with a bonus, just for Granny – two hardy geraniums. Flowers have long gone but the foliage is still growing strongly.

Till next time, enjoy your garden.

24 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 15 September 2018: There and Back Again

  1. Ha – glad to hear you leave your grapes to the blackbirds. I am starting to feel guilty about mine as my enthusiasm for making grape jelly wanes… Hope the back has recovered now.

    1. It’s not that I leave them for the blackbirds. Rather the blighters nick everything before I can get to it. But this year, for some reason, the blackbirds have all disappeared and I have berries aplenty and am overwhelmed with grapes. The back doesn’t really get the chance to recover but I can put up with that.

  2. Great to see you return. What a massive operation to get the Leylandii removed. Love your labour saving tips. Looking forward to seeing the progress of your new edifice.

    1. Removing the hedge was a surprisingly quick job though I’m glad I got a waste contractor in to remove the pile of choppings. The bits for Ed3 have been ordered. I just need to get the ground levelled before they arrive.

  3. Ah the conifer hedge. I took one out about 15 years ago in a hot summer. Not having a chainsaw I sawed all the branches off then dug the damn things out. Took weeks. I would definitely get a man in now. I still have some at the back of the garden that could come out at some point. The trampoline is in that corner so it’ll be a few years yet before I get round to that.

    PS. I’ve decided to use the old names unless the new ones are easier to say. Asters they shall remain!

    1. Hire a chainsaw next time. And think about building up rather than digging down. You don’t need to go to the expense of WoodblocX if you don’t want to (but get untreated railway sleepers for longevity). You could always just call Asteriotrichums “Michaelmas Daisies”. Everyone knows what they are.

  4. Do you find aster (I can’t spell that other name) a garden thug? The ones I have are nearly as thuggish as the erigeron.

    1. Here it’s quite the reverse – I have difficulty in keeping them for more than a couple of years. Maybe they’re thugs for you as they like growing upside down. 😉

  5. Good to see you back. Does the Edifice Installation mean that you won’t have to remove the stumps of the leylandii? That’s always the worst part of tree/shrub removal.

    The Agapanthus is lovely. I really like the bicolored flowers.

    1. Avoiding root removal is the plan, plus less bending as I stiffen up with old age! The real bonus, though, is being able to choose the soil type in different compartments. In most of the garden I have only about a foot of heavy clay soil before I hit bedrock! Plants seem to grow a lot better when they have anything up to half a metre of the right type of soil for them.

  6. Brilliant. Back and up to speed straight away. Good to see the edifices filling out. I also have Black Hamburg growing outside and this year the grapes did ripen. But oh so tiny and immediately ravaged by wasps. You have probably finished removing hedge by now and are sitting with your feet up enjoying afternoon tea. I hope so!

    1. Thanks. I now need to keep my foot on the accelerator though. We’ll see. After firing up the chainsaws at 8am (before that all the fencing stuff was delivered and had to be unloaded to somewhere out of the way), we finished the hedge removal at about 10 seconds short of 1pm. As we’d been aiming for 2, that was a plus. The waste removal people were turning up every hour to take away what we’d cut so far. Military operation. As to sitting down, being a skinflint I was acting as the fencers’ labourer all afternoon. So didn’t sit down till 4. Now watching the concrete dry. Tomorrow we add the wood…….

    1. It has its place and it served its purpose here. It’s main downside is that each year it grows wider and I’d ended up with a thick hedge with about 2 inches of “green” on each side and a metre or more dead stuff in the middle. But I’ve now gained a lot of extra front garden and about 8 more days each year when I won’t have to trim it.

  7. Edifice 3, I can’t wait! 1 and 2 are looking great. Love that Agapanthus, I have one (a dark inapertus that promises to be wonderful) that has never flowered but I am ever hopeful for next year. Always hopeful. I also hope you are OK after the day’s toil. Glad to have you back. x

    1. It’s good to be hopeful. Gives us something to hope for. Having realised how much garden I’ve gained today I need to go back to the drawing board for number 3. Maybe split level (like number 1) or “castellated” (like number 2). Or curves and zig-zags. I’m thinking of a water feature! Watch this space. x

  8. Glad to see you’re still taking it easy after the flu. Were the leylandii a boundary hedge? I’m wondering from the photo why the fence. And look forward to seeing Edifice 3 in situ. As to the snapdragons, are they not producing copious seeds or is there a concern they won’t come true? Hopefully they’ll survive the winter under your tender care, because they are truly beautiful. Really, really lovely.

    1. Yep, it was a boundary. Behind it is a disused railway embankment (disused except for three or four Sundays a year when the track serves as a diversion from the South Wales main line) which looks an absolute mess. Hence the fence – to hide what’s behind without the overhead of trimming twice a year. Plus I get a lot more garden! No sign of seeds forming on the Snapdragons. Trying to track down the variety.

      1. ah, yes, I remember you mentioning this area before. Your other comments indicate that now the job’s done, you’re revising. Can’t wait to see the finished plans.

  9. I’m happy to read you again, John. The Leylandii are so beautiful and fragrant trees … But I know your feeling. I also have a hedge of berberis to dig up (30 * 4 * 3m) and this will give new opportunities to add new plants (I can already imagine a border of 30m long free with a good mixture of soil and compost. ..) just dig them up now … About agapanthus, I also grow Twister that has not bloomed yet, but hopefully next year.

    1. Well some would agree with you that leylandii are beautiful and fragrant (must admit I like the smell of fresh trimmings) but the tide has turned against them, perhaps because of those who plant without realising the maintenance needed. A 75 foot monster in next door’s garden is not necessarily going to be welcome. Good luck with the berberis – they can root surprisingly deeply and the roots are quite tough (I speak from experience!).

      1. Thanks. As that are so thorny, I will ask to a gardening company. They will dig up the whole row and probably use a backhoe .

  10. The day will surely come when Leylandii is a rarity, to be seen only in the National Collection at the National Pinetum. Nice Geraniums, you went out in the middle of the night and took them with a flash? (Wanted list addition: Agapanthus ‘Twister’)

    1. The thought of a national collection of Leylandii is somewhat amusing (not). I suppose they’ll just let them romp away to their 75 foot height. Though I read somewhere that the only reason the powers that be said Leylandii will grow to 75 feet is that they hadn’t then been around enough to grow taller than 75 feet.. The Geranium shot was taken mid afternoon with no flash. But the photo looks as if it was otherwise so I posted it to give the impression that I’m out in the middle of the night, dedicated to fulfilling my SoS obligations. 😉 Must admit that Twister looks better in reality than it did in the catalogues.

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