This is my first post in a couple of weeks as I have been away.  I have allot to do in the garden but so much to share.  I hope you enjoy my Six.

Greenhouse research

New greenhouse

Greenhouse – so beautiful but what to put in it needs careful planning

This week I finally moved into my stunning new greenhouse.  It is spacious and luxurious and the potential of what I can do in it is almost scaring me.  As I have said to my daughter who is mid GCSEs, the only solution to fear is to face it head on and be prepared.

Thus, I pulled off the shelf the greenhouse books I’d bought years ago only daring to hope that one day I’d have such a glasshouse to fill, and started reading.

I am fairly confident in raising cuttings and seed for fruit, vegetables and perennials but the beauty of my new greenhouse is the potential it offers for growing a range of more tender plants year round.

The greenhouse contains a small partitioned area which I can heat year round should I choose to.  The question is how to choose which of the thousands of stunning plants out there to grow?

Greenhouse gardening books

Essential research

Anne Swithinbank’s ‘Greenhouse Gardener’ and ‘The Conservatory Gardener’ books  are an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to expand the range of ornamentals to grow in a greenhouse or conservatory, or even in a well lit room inside a house.

I will be sharing with you all my choices as my collection grows.

Exotic seeds

Exotic plant seeds

A gift from a friend – exotic seeds for my greenhouse

First step in filling my greenhouse is to plant this collection of Thompson and Morgan‘s ‘World Garden’ seeds which a friend gave me to celebrate the new greenhouse construction.

Yesterday seemed a good day to start them off but I didn’t get very far.  The instructions are printed on the inside of the seed packets and after I had slit them open to read them I discovered that two needed soaking overnight and one – the Protea – needed planting in ericaceous compost, which I have run out of.

Very few gardening tasks go smoothly straight off and what seems like a 30 minute job often takes longer. I am reminded of a book I once bought called ‘Thirty Minutes Kids Cakes’.  The idea was that once you’d baked the cake the designs would only take 30 minutes to decorate.

If anyone out there can cover a hemispherical cake in white fondant icing and fashion several authentic looking fondant penguins, all sprinkled with snow balls and dessicated coconut to conjure up an antarctic snow scene – all in just half an hour – I’d like to hire you.

That sort of dexterity and creativity would go a long way in my garden.

First Greenhouse tenants

Gloriosa Rothschildiana plants

Two Gloriosa Rothschildiana plants to rampage around my greenhouse

A second Gloriosa Rothschildia tubur has sprouted, many weeks after the first one.  Both are now potted up together in a corner of the partitioned zone of my greenhouse, and I have put up a wire for them to clamber up.  I love the ingenious tendrils of many climbing plants but this one has blown me away with it’s beauty and innovation.

tendrils of Gloriosoa Rothschildiana

The tapered tips of the leaves form the clingy tendrils that will help the plant to climb

The very tips of the leaves taper at the end and the tips curl round to form the tendril. I know this plant will need little help from me to festoon this part of the greenhouse with it’s bright green leaves and splendid flowers.

Alliums stealing the show

Purple alliums

Alliums stealing the show

Away from the greenhouse, it’s been Allium week in the garden.  I remember them being all the rage at Chelsea Flower Show 20 or so years ago and it seems their popularity keeps on growing.  It’s little wonder as amassed in large groups they are stunning.  They are quick to plant and rarely fail.  The bees also love them.

I’d say the only downside of the allium is the fact that the leaves dry out and look messy before the flowers fade.

Alliums, chives and Cirsium rivulare atropurpireum

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ alongside their cousins – the humble Chive and Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’

Planted alongside these ‘Purple Sensation’ alliums is a row of chives, also part of the onion family of course and their leaves last much longer and are edible.  What they lack in size they more than make up for in culinary usage.

Also featured here is the shocking pink thistle-like flowers of Cirsium rivulare ‘atropurpureum’

Halesia monticola

Halesia monticola flowers

Halesia monticola flowers

I planted this pretty bush three years ago and after a couple of seasons of looking spindly, it’s really settled in.  I am a big fan of bell shaped flowers and these pretty pink blushed bell flowers dangle delicately from the underside of the stems.

Halesia monticola

Halesia monticola growing steadily but slightly swamped by it’s neighbours.

It is rather swamped by this oriental poppy, which was struggling under a nearby bush and so I casually gave it prime position in front of the Halesia.  I shall have to move the poppy again this autumn but the Halesia is just holding it’s own. Of course those fat poppy buds promise tremendous glamour in a week or so.


Rhododendrons in a shady border

It’s been a great year for Rhododendrons

Best in show at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show went to Chris Beardshaw’s garden for Morgan Stanley and the NSPCC.  The most eye-catching plant in this garden were the tremendous Rhododendron specimens.

I really like it when a Chelsea Show Garden reflects the seasonal best out in the real world.  I wonder if Chris Beardshaw knew what a tremendous year it would be for Rhododendrons and other acid loving plants including azaleas and camellia.

I am convinced that the fairly wet summer last year helped the bud formation that has led to this season’s floriferous displays.

I count myself  very lucky to be able to grow acid lovers in my garden.  I have never actually tested my soil as there are huge rhododendron specimens growing further up the road, which gave me the confidence to plant.

What baffles me is that the our valley I is famous for it’s ephemeral chalk stream.  Just a quarter of a mile downhill from me the soil is chalky and alkaline.

I am not a geologist but I think we’re lucky that my hill has a thick layer of clay and flint over the chalk.




Six on Saturday is a weekly meme – take a look at the comments at the base of host The Propagator to see more ‘sixes’ from other keen gardeners from all over the world.