Six on Saturday: 22 September 2018 – Lost in Space

Here we are again, having reached another Saturday and another Six. Last weekend was very productive – removing a hedge to produce more useful gardening space and then erecting a new fence along the back of the front garden. Well, technically it’s along the side of the front garden but as I’m at the end of a close, around which the front curves, I sort of have two front gardens, one with a front and a back that’s against the front of the house and the other with a technical front that adjoins the front garden of the house opposite but another effective front that faces the end of the road. So my new fence is technically along the side of the plot but is effectively along the back of the front. So I’ll refer to it as the “backside”. And thus I carry over the derriere theme that ran through my six last week.

So off we go with this week’s six.

1 A New Fence

A weekend’s work is worth a mention and those who don’t follow me on Twitter won’t have seen photos before. The old hedge went on Saturday morning as we re-enacted the duelling banjos scene from Deliverance with duelling chainsaws. Two of us waving our choppers at each other from a respectful distance whilst a third humped away happily, dragging the fallen boughs out of the way ready for loading onto the truck that spent the morning running back and forth to (and from) a nearby farm which (legally) accepts tree-felling waste. Tree felling doesn’t take long when you’ve got a big chopper to wave around.

By just after midday, we had a big hole and a lot more usable planting space.

The grass looks worse than it is (was). The brown is largely dead leylandii bits – what makes up most of the thickness of the trees behind the covering of green.

In the afternoon we concreted in the fence posts and left things to set overnight. Resident cat promptly left his signature in some soft concrete which, maybe, will be found by some future alien archaeologist visiting the, by then, dead planet and concluding that it was once inhabited by creatures with small paws.

After recovering from a celebratory evening in the local pub, we started late on the Sunday morning at about 10 am, collectively groaning at each bang of the nail driver as we covered our beautiful concrete fence posts with wood. We’d finished the job, bar the clearing up, by just after 2 pm. And voila:

I know, it doesn’t come all the way to the ground. There’s a reason for that. More will be revealed in due course.

2 Calliope Geraniums

These are a new class of geranium. So far, described as an annual. Now technically, I suppose, annual geraniums are actually Pelargoniums but, for reasons best known to someone other than me, the official title of these is Calliope Geraniums. The result of 10 (or 14, depending on whether you read a horticultural article or Wikipedia) years of interbreeding between zonal and ivy geraniums. The only variety I’ve found in the UK is named “Dark Red” and has large, deep red, semi double flowers and a strong, bushy growth habit. Some growers are now saying the colour range available next year will be much wider. You can read more here.

That’s just two plants. The stick supports the hedge removal casualty. Or what’s left of it. I now have a rather squat Stachyurus praecox. It’ll recover in time. As will the lawn!

There’s a sister series of Geraniums called Caliente. This series was launched before Calliope and is, reputedly, better at coping with heat. It also has a wider range of colours. Both have been around for years in the US but are relatively new in the UK. Hayloft’s is probably a catalogue to keep your eye on for next year.

3 Bulbs

It’s that time of year again! I’ve been a bit restrained this year, partly because so much else is going on here inside the house and partly because I want to do a fair bit of re-planning in the garden. When I get round to it. I’m a fella, see, and we fellas are (supposedly) not as good at multitasking as Gill Heavens. Except when she mitches off.

That’s restrained for me. Only a few hundred. And I’m not giving you a list. I’ll keep my powder dry for next spring’s sixes.

I have new resident squirrels here now. Youngsters who are still learning that they don’t need to empty their nut feeder as soon as I fill it and bury the nuts all round the garden ready for the expected (by them) winter dearth of food. None of last year’s adults have made an appearance this year to teach them so I’ve had to step into loco parentis. One has made it to the fairly tame stage and will take a nut from my hand before running away to bury it. Which is nice (the first bit, that is). Time will tell if they concentrate on digging up their nuts or make a B-line for my bulbs. Which is another reason for a bit of restraint in bulb planting. Will I need to start laying wire mesh over the soil, I wonder.

4 Fuchsias

My hardy fuchsias haven’t put on much of a show this year. Perhaps the weather’s not been right for them. The tender fuchsias generally came along a bit earlier than usual and have now mostly gone over just when I would be expecting them to provide the late colour. But Fuchsia Rivendell has been flowering like mad since spring and is still going strong. Maybe it feels at home, here at Chez Rivendell.

I decided, back in the spring, that my “Llandudno” fuchsia was getting out of hand, I call it “Llandudno” as that’s where the cutting came from. In the Happy Valley garden nestling at the foot of the Great Orme, there were fuchsia trees whose canopy is high enough to stand under. But I don’t want a tree. So I reduced it from about 8 feet high down to about 6 inches above ground – a simple swipe with a chainsaw. It’s back to 4 feet already but few flowers. I’ll wait and see what happens next year, just giving it a gentle prune down to about 3 feet in the spring.

5 Hakonechloa macra “Aureola”

I planted a ring of these around the base of a Malus to cover the circle cut into the lawn around its trunk. The ring has now filled out nicely. Exactly the effect I’d hoped for. Resident cat has taken to curling up on them for his afternoon nap but, so far, they’ve been remarkably resilient and spring up again as soon as he moves to the Nepeta for his late afternoon nap (I am forced to grow Nepeta as an annual thanks to the local cat population meeting regularly on it). I think this may be the last year I bother with catnip! Unless I can find a 25 litre sized plant going cheap.

6 Pampas

I was going to let you see a schematic of Edifice 3 but we’re not there yet so I can’t. Instead I offer a nice pampas grass to tickle your fancy. This isn’t an eight-plus-footer selloana  but a more dwarf variety (name unknown; it may be the “Pumilla” variant though I can’t be sure). It’s about 5 feet tall. Nice and bushy. A bit of autumn froth.

Someone once told me that having a pampas grass in your front garden is supposed to signal that you’re a “swinger” (look it up like I did). Well I suppose I do swing my chopper around a bit.

That’s my six. But there are a lot more sixes to be found in all corners of the known (and unknown) world. Which is quite an achievement given that the world is a sphere and so has no corners. The weekly Sixdex is lovingly tended by the one and only Mr Propagator. Why not pop across to his blog where, in the comments appended to his post of the day, an abundance of links will be found, magically growing through into Sunday (UK time) as the somewhat tardy gardeners in the US catch up, having been awakened by their President’s daily Twitterstorm.

Until next week, enjoy your garden.

23 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 22 September 2018 – Lost in Space

  1. The aureola at the tree base looks quite swish! The OAP fairy person next door has a gorgeous pampas in her back garden. I’d heard about it signalling from the front, but not the back, so was very curious. But not enough to annoy one of the Good Folk, so I kept my curiosity to myself. The resident fox kit is enamoured w/it tho.

    1. Thanks Lora. TBH, I’m not really a fan of pampas though I do like its autumn plumage. And I am a chainsaw swinger I suppose.

  2. I’m still trying to work out your first parapraph about back fences being front fences. It reminds me of mental arithmetic tests at primary school. You know the sort. If John has 13 apples and Peter gives him 7 oranges, how many plums does Susan have?
    Great forestry work, how satisfying it is, the best sort of gardening. I don’t wield a chainsaw but I am a devil with my ratchety loppers.
    A skirt of that lovely grass looks wonderful growing round trees.

    1. People say I’m mental. It’s like trying to answer the question “if a plane crashes absolutely on the border between the US and Canada, in which country do they bury the survivors?”

  3. Looking forward to the next instalment.
    I like the sound of the geraniums, I’ve just looked at the link you added and it sounds like there will be a lot of colour choice

    1. It’ll be down to what nurseries stock. I have a suspicion that the garden centres won’t be that interested as it’s likely to be a high priced plant for a couple of years. It’ll be like Impatiens – so many garden centres continued to stock (and probably will next year) the mildew-susceptible walleriana types but very few really promoted the resistant New Guinea ones or, if they did (as my local garden centre), priced them ridiculously high. Though I’ll be quite happy with just the dark red ones.

    1. Checks diary Yup, I can fit you in around 2034. I have a busy schedule. Seriously, plan it right and fence erection is a doddle. I’m not a pampas fan but when a regular visitor gives you a gift, needs must!

    1. I cheated. I didn’t dig it up but chopped it down. And I don’t need to dig out the roots either. All will be revealed soon …..

  4. What a nice job! Your new fence is very beautiful and doing it in such a short time has been a challenge. (I also thought of an escape in the bottom for cats …) Congratulations.
    I also like hakonechloa in your six, it gives a graphic side to the base of this tree (and having nepeta not far is always a withdrawal ( I didn’t know that word… thanks to Google Translate) for cats … I planted a new this morning and my cat went there right away …)

      1. interesting article! My cat loves nepeta but also kiwi stems ( especially hairy male stems ) It’s so much fun to watch him roll on the terrace…

  5. Good morning, John. That geranium you promised to show us looks very suitable for next year. The fence is very smart but not sure what the gap could be for apart from an escape route for your resident cat if the squirrels are chasing it? Look forward to hearing about that. Granny’sGardenHimIndoors likes Pampas grass but I have maintained it is too big for our garden – I will investigate this smaller variety. I am hoping to send my Six-on-Saturday later. I usually do the photos on Friday, however, we were out until too late. It has been raining all morning and I am not so keen on taking photos in the rain. No, I know I won’t shrink but I don’t want to get my iPad wet! Anyway, I wil leave you to your fence, I refuse to comment on your chopping. Hope it is not too wet with you.

    1. Resident cat gets on fine with squirrels (and also pays no attention to birds, even if they land on him when he’s napping). There are several shorter Pampass types. Mine was a gift, unlabelled. Much thicker growth than your typical selloana and much better at surviving storms and staying upright. Pouring down here but have managed an hour in the greenhouse.

  6. Okay. I’ll be the first to say it and I’m sure you will say I don’t to what you are referring but your cheeky post did make me chuckle! A good weekend’s work. That Hakonechloa macra “Aureola” around the tree is very funky. I planted some very discrete snowdrops! And I do like the colour of the geranium – calliope geraniums to be explored then.

    1. OK, I believe you. There will be more adventures with my chopper to come next week. I’ll be doing what the storms didn’t.

  7. I can’t help thinking they’re describing Calliope Pelargoniums as annuals because they don’t want people keeping them overwinter or taking cuttings. Interesting to get a big range of clonal pelargoniums introduced when seed raised plants had pretty much completely marginalised the clones.

    1. Shhh! I intend to have a go. I can see no reason why they shouldn’t grow from cuttings (given that the plants I got this year were grown from, wait for it, cuttings)! Compared to a common-or-garden pellie, the strength and rate of growth was surprising.

  8. The new fence looks magnificent and you must be feeling a deep sense of satisfaction after achieving such a result in a short space of time.

    1. Thanks Jane. I have a feeling that levelling the ground in front of the fence before I start building what’ll be going there is going to take a lot longer ……… At least I won’t need to remove the stumps and roots of the old hedge.

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