Six-on-Saturday 22/08/2020

Our week has been dominated by the weather. Of course, the gardener’s week is normally influenced by the weather at any rate but when you add a storm to the mix matters can be significantly more dramatic. Storm Ellen arrived late on Wednesday evening and passed quickly but dramatically. We were very fortunate as we didn’t have any great damage while there was an amount of disruption to life from flooding to the west of us. In the garden, it simply lead to a carpet of broken twigs and fallen leaves while others elsewhere suffered structural damage, loss of electrical supply and flood damage to roads and homes. Knocked trees were simply scattered about, blocking roads and damaging electricity cables and the clean-up operation made extensive demands on public services. Thankfully, I have heard of no loss of life as a result of the storm.

These reports from around the country put our little grievances in perspective. We prepared for the storm by putting potted plants into sheltered positions, grouping some together (strength in number!) and by moving others into the glasshouses. Although the storm has passed, wet and windy conditions have continued and we haven’t completed the clean-up here in the garden yet. We made a start on it on Thursday and continued yesterday, picking up fallen twigs, cutting down a lot of plants which had been battered and knocked about and doing a general bit of tidying up. The pots have been left where we put them for safety as the winds are still quite strong. The ground is absolutely saturated so working on flower beds and borders is out of the question until they dry out a little.

One of Aesop’s fables tells of the tree and the reed; the tree mocking the reed for its weakness but it was the reed’s ability to bend with the wind which saved it in the storm while the oak tree was lost. So it was with many of the garden plants; those of a more flexible nature, while a little battered, have come through the storm reasonably well. Clematis, despite having their heads in the air, fared well:

Crocosmias and Japanese Anemones are the toughest of old things, at times so tough as to become thugs in the garden. At one time we had a large number of crocosmias but got rid of many of them the worst offenders, those with designs on garden domination at the expense of all which stood in their way. The anemones can be similarly bothersome but they are so very pretty that I am inclined to be more tolerant of their wayward behaviour while also taking the precaution of only planting them in places where their habits will be curtailed by their surroundings, conditions and their neighbours. Of the crocosmias, we have added a few in the last few years having missed them a little in the garden – a case of a lesson not learned? – but these two are my firm favourites, ‘Solfatare’ and ‘Severn Sunrise’

The Japanese anemones have always struck me as the most photogenic of flowers and, despite their at times unruly nature, I wouldn’t be without them. The plain white ‘Honorine Jobert’ remains a firm favourite but the strong colour of ‘Prinz Heinrick’ is very striking while ‘September Charm’ and ‘Lorelei’ are more delicately coloured

Recent rains, and we have plenty of them, have brought a spurt of growth to many plants and have prompted those which respond to autumn rain into flower a little earlier than normal. Nerines have suddenly broken into growth though not yet into flower – naked ladies, flowers without foliage. Likewise, the pink snouts of Colchicums are peeping through and will be in flower shortly. Sternbergia lutea has begun to flower, in a pot in the glasshouse, without having a drop of water for several months. I have since watered the pot and also the dozen or so pots of autumn-flowering snowdrops, Galanthus reginae-olgae, which I keep dry and baking in the glasshouse all summer. These snowdrops don’t enjoy wet, or even damp, ground in the summer and have never done well in the open garden with me. They have been watered now and will flower in a month’s time, the first of the snowdrops will soon be with us! However, the best display at the moment is from Cyclamen hederifolium:

A man who used walk our road about twenty five years ago, unfortunately he is now deceased, called in to us one day and gave us two bulbs for the garden, one a white Crinum x powellii and the other pink. He told us he had come upon them in Cork and thought they would do well for us – what a kind person, so thoughtful! Seán’s crinums were given good positions in the garden, planted a foot deep on top of a foot of manure for such were the directions I had read. In the intervening years they have thrived and give a good display every year. The one bulb of each has now multiplied well and I have had to construct plant supports to keep them from swamping neighbouring plants.

Finally, a random selection of other blooms from the garden this week, odds and ends:

To read more Six on Saturday blogs go to The Propagator’s entry for today: ,scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entry there. Lots to read!

17 thoughts on “Six-on-Saturday 22/08/2020

  1. What a splendid selection of flowers for this week’s selection. I am grateful for the name of the deep pink Japanese Anemone that I have in my garden since a gathering of garden,ie friends when Fran gave me a piece! I used to have Crocosmia Solfatare but sadly it has disappeared on me! I have a small clump of a pure yellow one that I would love to be able to name! I also am very relieved that the storm passed over me with nothing more significant than some Holyhocks that broke loose from their supports!

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    1. C. purpurascens has become a favourite in recent years. I have only a very few but they are summer-flowering and so bridge the gap between C. coum in spring and C. hederifolium in autumn.

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  2. What beautiful colours. I like the Crinum in particular. You have had some awful weather, it’s been bad enough here to deter me from mowing the lawn…….I hadn’t done it the previous week due to little growth during the heatwave……but it has caught up with all the recent rain, so that’s next week’s first task. Your crocus is very early.

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  3. You’re Cyclamen are well ahead of mine, I have flowers but not masses. That’s the finest Crocosmia ‘Solfatare’ I’ve seen, what a beauty. What’s the secret to keeping slugs off Crinums, mine are ruined every year. Is that Colocasia gaoligongensis in the montage, how does that do for you? I have a small one in a pot. You’re tempting me further onto the slippery slope of choice bulbs in pots with the Sternbergias and promise of autumn snowdrops.


    1. Slugs on crinum is something which has never caught my eye here. I’ve never seen damage to them. Crocosmia ‘Solfatare’ is an easy one and doesn’t run wild so I like it. I’m not sure of the Calocasia – a gift from a friend a few years back. It’s in a biggish pot and loves loads and loads of water. It is sending off runners but they are going out into fresh air so won’t come to anything. One is enough for me. The flowers are interesting but very short lived. I struggled for years with the autumn-flowering snowdrops in the garden and gave up. I was following all the advice – good drainage, full sun etc until a friend in Greece told me I was missing an essential ingredient – the 40C they would experience even in the shade in Greece so I moved them to pots in the glasshouse. Once they have finished growing I leave them completely dry and in the hottest spot until I water them in August – flowers one month later. Same with the Sternbergias – neglect for the summer but they come into flower without watering.


  4. I was sorry to hear about your garden being drenched, but the photos you posted were still fabulous. I hope they haven’t been spoilt by all the wind and rain. I particularly like the Crinums They are very striking.
    I planted some Japanese Anemones about four years ago and they have been very slow to do anything, although this year they are finally getting going. It’s hard to believe they will be trying to take over soon.

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  5. A beautiful collection of plants. I particularly enjoyed the cyclamen, they are such pretty and elegant flowers. The same can be said of the Crinum, that was a kind gesture, and a lovely way to be remembered.

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  6. Glad to hear you made it through the storm unscathed, and although the ground may be saturated the flowers seem as perfect as ever! What beautiful photographs and an excellent range of new color for this time of year. I love seeing the cyclamen and of course hearing about the snowdrops on the horizon isn’t bad either. What a nice story for the criniums, I think gifted plants are sometimes the best.
    A sternbergia has survived two winters here but I’m not holding my breathe to ever see it flower. No greenhouse of course.

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    1. I have never tried the sternbergias outside but may do so when numbers have built up – perhaps, in a trough in a hot, sheltered spot. I have succeeded with a few G. reginae olgae in such a position so, there is hope.

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  7. I do admire the range of flowering plants you have in your garden at the moment. I’m envious of the Clematis, and of course the anemones! And I’m happy that your garden survived the onslaught of the big storm. The cyclamens look gorgeous! I had no idea that they grew so happily in gardens until I saw some in the UK at one of the NT gardens. I had always known them as houseplants!. I grew some outside for a couple of years, but with the unusually high rainfall we had I lost them to rot. I will definitely get more cyclamens. Beautiful photos.

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    1. Most of the cyclamen sold as house plants are C. persicum which is not hardy, or just barely so, in our gardens. Better for the garden are C. hederifolium, C. coum and C. purpurascens, especially the first two.

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