Six on Saturday. Stormy Weather.

As storm Arwen rages bringing chaos to many area we are lucky here in Suffolk to have escaped the worst of its horrors. But still, it’s a horrible day. I nipped out between showers to take some photos.

Every autumn I look at the tan flower buds which appear so late on my Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’ and think how nice it would be if I could see the white, honey-scented flowers opening. But of course hard frosts come before they get the chance. But never mind, the suede- coloured buds look good for now. Tetrapanax papyrifer comes from Taiwan. It is a very impressive plant with huge deeply lobed leaves. It looks very exotic; I grow it next to my hardy banana, Musa basjoo. Most years I wrap up the stems of the banana even though it is supposed to be reasonably hardy. But it has got far too big now so it will have to take a chance.

Tetrapabax papyrifer ‘Rex’

This week I have made a start on cutting back roses, wisteria, jasmine and clematis on the trellis round my secret garden. Here it is in spring with a white wisteria, and in summer with one of my favourite roses, ‘Phyllis Bide’.

It’s

It’s probably the wrong time of year for everything to be cut back but I have a big garden so everything has to be dealt with when I get round to it. This haircut was long overdue; I call it my secret garden but I have to be able to get into it. The bench is nearly hidden by the golden jasmine.

My strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo is covered in clusters of pretty lily-of -the valley type flowers. Anything that blooms in November is extra welcome in my garden.

Arbutus unedo

I have a very pretty broom in the garden which is supposed to be for the conservatory as it is a bit tender. But I forgot to take it in a couple of years ago so here it stays. I hope it will survive another winter as I love it. It is called Genista x spachiana and it is sometimes known as the Easter Broom, it usually flowers in late winter and spring but this year it is coming into flower in November. The flowers are deliciously scented.

It’s too miserable to linger outside so let’s go into the far unheated greenhouse. The tomatoes have been cleared away and the vine cut back. The mimosa won’t be out until February. But I keep my growing collection of cyclamen here. I grow a few varieties from seed each year, but unfortunately the labels seem to go AWOL and it is quite hard to sort them all out. But never mind their names, they all have dainty, helicopter flower and beautiful leaves. And because I have different varieties there is usually something in bloom, many of them are sweetly fragrant. I think the first is Cyclamen purpurescens

Cyclamen purpurescens?

The next is probably Cyclamen mirabile, it has very pretty leaves.

Cyclamen mirabile?

I have some with huge leaves which are very eye-catcning, so far they haven’t flowered, but they are worth growing for their beautiful leaves. They could possibly be Cyclamen africanum because I remember sowing some seeds for this variety.

As I am counting all the cyclamen as just one item, I have one left to complete my Six on Saturday. I have one or two exciting plants coming on in my heated greenhouse and I am looking forward to sharing them with you but they are not quite ready yet. So meanwhile here is my beautiful Fantasy Chrysanthemum ‘Salhouse Joy’. I have to thank to Cathy at Rambling in The Garden who very kindly sent me a cutting a couple of years ago. I am very grateful. I have never grown tender chrysanthemums before and I was delighted to be introduced to the Fantasy series. I am not keen on chrysanthemums with recurved petals which look as if they have spent too much time with an old fashioned hairdresser. But these Fantasy Chrysanthemums are really quirky with their mad Catherine wheel flowers.

Chrysanthemum ‘Salhouse Joy’
Chrysanthemum ‘Salhouse Joy’

Here in the UK, it is certainly not a day for lingering in the garden but you will find some horticultural stalwarts bravely facing storms and mayhem outside to bring you their Six on Saturday. Do go over to our host The Propagator to see.

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End of Autumn

I can’t remember a November as beautiful as this one. The leaves have hung on longer than usual and we have been living in a golden, red and russet world. And we have had plenty of blue sky to enjoy, quite unlike the usual foggy, dismal November. Now it has turned cold and the trees will soon be bare. So with thanks for Paul’s photos which are so much better than mine, this is a last glance of the glorious autumn I have been enjoying in my garden.

Cotinus is invaluable for autumn colour.

Cotinus ‘Grace’
Cotinus coggyria

Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Coral Sun’ always looks good in autumn.

Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Coral Sun’

The new part of the garden which was reclaimed a couple of years ago now has trees and shrubs which look quite mature.

I have kept a wide path along the fence to get round to the top part of the garden. It has a carpet of gold at the moment.

But this part of the garden really belongs to the wildlife. Mr. and Mrs. Muntjac have made themselves quite at home down here. I wish they would find somewhere else to live, they chew everything and they are particularly partial to my roses. They look at me as if to say: ‘What are you doing here?’ when I go down the garden.

Mrs. Muntjac sunning herself

We have a wild life camera and it is amazing what a very busy highway this is at night with deer, badgers and foxes making nightly visits.

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Six on Saturday. 20.11.21.

We have had a beautiful, extended autumn here with hardly any frost and the wonderful colours hanging on for weeks. Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Coral Sun’ in the background to the right is living up to its name, but the liquidamber has barely started its annual bonfire of colours.

So I will be seasonal and start my six with some bright berries. The brightest is of course, Callicarpa bodinieri with its profusion of long lasting, shiny amethyst- coloured berries.

Callicarpa bodinieri

Callicarpa is a bit boring when it is not bearing its astonishing berries, but my next berry bush, Clerodendron trichotomum var. Fargesii has fragrant starry flowers in summer. This shrub comes from China and I am not sure if I like the strong scent of the flowers, but I love its jolly turquoise blue berries which are revealed when the scarlet calyces split open. Actually, to be pedantic, I think we should call these berries drupes. But whatever they are called, they are very eye-catching.

Clerodendron trichotomum var. Fargesii

I have already given my Euonymus hamiltonianus ‘Miss Pinkie’ an airing on this blog but she is still looking very pretty in pink, specially now the leaves have fallen off. She looks lovely against the silvery leaves of Cistus creticus which started its life here as a cutting; an illegal immigrant from Crete. As ‘Miss Pinkie’ was born from a found berry, I should call this corner of the garden ‘Crook’s Corner’ .

Euonymus hamiltonianus ‘Miss Pinkie’

As I have several other November beauties to share today I shall bend the rules a bit and put all three berries into number one. Frost is threatened for next week so perhaps we should celebrate some hangers on from summer. Salvias are still going strong all round the garden and there are plenty of roses. Farrer called roses that hang on into winter ‘withered moths‘ but nobody could call the wonderful China roses that are barely out of bloom ‘withered moths’ . I think flights of butterflies would be more appropriate. I have two China roses, both of them with beautiful single flowers. It is difficult to choose a favourite, but the superb ‘Bengal Beauty’ has masses of red flowers which right now look lovely in front of the fiery autumn colours of Cotinus coggyria. Unfortunately, today is a dull day so that it doesn’t shine as it did yesterday.

Rosa x odorata ‘Bengal Beauty”
Rosa x odorata ‘Bengal Beauty’

For some reason that I don’t understand, roses that I always knew as Rosa chinensis now seem to be known as Rosa x odorata so I must have missed something. The next one is called ‘Mutabilis’ which is a good name as the colour of the flowers range from honey-yellow to apricot to pink.

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’

I grow several alstroemerias and most of them are long gone. But my favourite seems to pump out flowers until the first frost. It is called Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’; it has dark foliage and flowers which are lovely sunset colours. This makes an excellent cut flower, so next year I shall get some more, a bed of them would be lovely.

Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’

November is a bit niggardly when it comes to flowering shrubs, but you can always depend on the yellow racemes of Mahonia x media ‘Charity’. I love the shrub for its architectural, shiny foliage and abundance of fragrant flowers which lighten up the gloomiest day. It needs to have a haircut in the spring after flowering to keep it compact, otherwise it can get a bit leggy.

Mahonia x media ‘Charity’
Mahonia x media ‘Charity’

For my last two plants I am going into the greenhouse. People are always surprised to see snowdrops in the autumn, but there are several which bloom in October and December and they are always welcome. My October one, Galanthus reginae-olgae has been and gone and my November-blooming Galanthus ‘Barnes’ was looking lovely a few days ago with nice plump flowers but it has been eaten by some horrible gastropod. But in the greenhouse I have a pot of dainty Galanthus peshmenii looking lovely. This snowdrop comes from the Aegean and our winters are probably too wet for it to survive outside.

Galanthus peshmenii

Also still going strong in the greenhouse, I have the climbing Mimulus aurantiacus I think this plant comes from California, it blooms for months on end and I love its little monkey faces. It has sticky leaves and used to be called Mimulus glutinosus. Trying to keep up with these name changes is a full time job.

Mimulus aurantiacus

So there we have my Six on Saturday on this gloomy November day. I know there are probably nine in fact, but I never was any good at counting. Do go over to the Propagator who hosts Six on Saturday and you will find plenty of keen gardeners who have plenty to show us even though our gardens are winding down for the winter.

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In a Vase on Monday. Mum’s the Word.

November seems more like October this year with the glorious autumn colours carrying on well into what is usually a dismal month. I always used to dislike this gloomy time of the year in the garden, but that was before I discovered hardy chrysanthemums. They start blooming in September but I seek out the later-flowering ones which start in October and carry on into November. They light up the garden in rainbow colours, but they are also long lasting in a vase. I still have dahlias in bloom but most years I rely on chrysanthemums for vibrant late colour.

I set them off with a few plumes of various grasses. This rare Chrysanthemum ‘Buxton Ruby’ is the darkest one I have. It has sprays of frilly little flowers with a yellow daisy centre.

Chrysanthemum ‘Buxton Ruby’

Autumn colours are here with the apricots, orange and yellows. Chrysanthemum ‘Picasso’ is rather rare. It is fully double with masses of small apricot flowers. It makes quite a compact plant .

Chrysanthemum Picasso’
Chrysanthemum ‘Picasso’

As well as oranges and bronzes I have quite a few yellow chrysanthemums, the one I used here is Chrysanthemum ‘Cottage Lemon’. It is still going strong although the asters in the photo which I took a few weeks ago are over now. So the clump no longer looks like a fried egg, sunny side up.

Chrysanthemum Cottage Lemon’
Chrysanthemum ‘Cottage Lemon’ Chrysanthemum ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’

The vibrant bronze one in the centre is perhaps my favourite chrysanthemum of all. It is the peerless Chrysanthemum ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’ which has double flowers with golden lights on the backs of the petals. It lasts late into the year and I sometimes pick it on Christmas Day.

Chrysanthemum ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’

I have popped a few pinks in the vase; I probably wouldn’t mix these colours in summer but at this time of the year I am happy to have a kaleidoscope of clashing colours. One of my favourite pinks has quilled pink flowers and was discovered in a garden here in Suffolk. It is called ‘Mavis Smith’ and makes very vigourous plant.

Chrysanthemum ‘Mavis Smith’

I have just one white chrysanthemum and it has lovely raggy white double flowers. It is called ‘Edelweiss’. It really lights up the vase.

Chrysanthemum ‘Edelweiss’

For the dining table I made a little arrangement in a little Danish vase which I am rather fond of .

I used some sprigs of Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ which always blooms in November and various salvias which are still lingering

Chrysanthemum ‘Marion’ has a lovely, semi-double coppery-orange flower with a yellow ring round the centre

The pink double one in the above photo is a Jaapanese chrysanthemum called ‘Kei Kyo’. It looks lovely growing with blue Salvia uliginosa annd the red butterfy flowers of the China Rose ‘Bengal Beauty’ which is in bloom for months on end.

If I still haven’t persuaded you to try growing chrysanthemums to fill up your October and November vases, then here are a few more.

Many thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for encouraging us to go out on a gloomy day looking for flowers to put In a Vase on Monday.

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In a Vase on Monday. November.

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds-

November !’ Thomas Hood.

Clearly, Thomas Hood was having a bad day when he wrote his famous November poem, and clearly he didn’t grow chrysanthemums. My garden is full of colour at the moment, provided by these autumn beauties but they are not for today. Over at Rambling in the Garden, Cathy’s meme In a Vase on Monday is 8 years old today and she has challenged us to celebrate it by sharing a vase with no fresh blooms. I have been a bit lax about keeping up with my blog lately. Other things have got in the way and after seven years I feel I am saying the same things again and again. However, there will be some exciting new developments next year to write about and meanwhile I can’t let my lovely friend’s anniversary pass by unremarked by me. Most years I grow quite a range of flowers for drying, but this year I didn’t bother so I had to comb the garden to see what I could find. I used my old Staffordshire Ironstone autumn fruits jug to display them in.

Natural daylight makes them look a little washed out so I used the flash for the next photo.

I have recycled some flowers from a previous vase which I had kept to see how the flowers would dry. This is how the Mathiasella bupleurides looked in a vase in July. The flowers are green at first and then get flushed with red.

With the dried flower heads I used the seed heads of eryngiums, nigella and Clematis rehderiana. This is a lovely primrose- coloured, late flowering clematis which seeds about profusely. The seed heads are pretty too.

Clematis rehderiana

The brown seed head is from my Tree Peony and the curly twigs are from Meulenbergia astonii which is such a wonderful feature of my winter garden. The bright orange berries are from Iris foeditissima which seeds all over the garden. Other touches of orange come from the seed heads of crocosmia. Grasses are lovely for this sort of arrangement, I have used the fluffy heads of pennisetums, molinia and miscanthus and a few sprigs of Briza media saved along with the Mathiasella bupleuroides.

Miscanthus and nigella seedhead
Pennisetums and Molinia ‘Transparent’

Hood’s dismal description of November seems far from the truth today. The sun is shining, I spotted a Red Admiral butterfly on the dahlias which are still going strong and a little robin followed me round the garden. And I just spotted this little ladybird who had hitchhiked a ride into the house.

Congratulations to Cathy who has kept up with this popular meme for so long and who has brought so much pleasure to people all round the world. It is lovely to bring flowers into the house and share them, specially as the the weather gets colder. I have popped in and out of In a Vase on Monday for the last seven years, but even when I don’t find time to share my vase, I still pick flowers and I enjoy seeing what other people have produced. Thanks Cathy.

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Six on Saturday. Autumn Bounty.

I have had a rather long blogging holiday as other writing commitments have rather taken over the last few weeks and sometimes life gets in the way. But I’m still here and so is the garden. In fact, late summer and early autumn provide waves of floral delights with an abundance of dahlias, Michaelmas daisies and colchicums; I am sorry I let them go by unrecorded. And now the chrysanthemums have started too and will carry the garden into November.

Today, I have been looking around for special treats and I was stopped in my tracks by the blooms of one of my tree dahlias blooming way above my head. These are hybrids of Dahlia imperialis bred by Keith Hammett in New Zealand. So far all my seedlings have turned out to be pink. They grow to an enormous height and then start blooming late in the season. But even the ones without flowers provide an impressive presence in my exotic garden.

Trees and shrubs are colouring up and fruits and berries are everywhere. I have quite a few spindles grown from seed and they are all looking lovely at the moment. This one is a seedling of Euonymus hamiltonianus ‘Miss Pinkie’. Some of the spindles get bright red leaves in autumn, but on this one they turn yellow as the days get colder.

Hesperantha coccinea is always a useful plant for early autumn. As long as the plants don’t get too dry, it spreads beautifully into nice big clumps. The only drawback is that the flower spikes tend to loll about a bit. I have it in red, pink and white; my favourites are the white and pink.

Hesperantha coccinea. ‘White Form’
Hesperantha coccinea ‘Pink Surprise’

My big treat in October is the blooming of my nerine collection in the greenhouse. It has got rather out of hand. I could ramble on about my nerines for a long time, but on this occasion I will confine myself to just one. This next picture is one of my latest; it is called Nerine ‘Lipstick’. I think I shall have to come back to the nerines another day.

Nerine ‘Lipstick’

I suppose an autumn bounty blog should include fruit. I have apples, pears and quinces but in the greenhouse I have grapes. These are a bit of a disappointment because in a previous greenhouse I had a wonderful golden Muscat grape and I thought that this was going to be the same. It was wrongly labelled and these black grapes are very sweet, but not what I was expecting. Still, it does bear loads of fruit.

Like all vegetable gardeners I have had lots of courgettes and also patty pan squash which look just like flying saucers. But my daughter gave me some plants of these ‘Uchiki Kuri’ squash and I am looking forward to sampling them. My chef is a bit baffled as to what he is supposed to do with them, but I think they keep quite well while he works something out.

Squash ‘Uchi Kuri’

So there we have just a small taste of what is happening here in the blooming garden right now. I shall be back soon, but first I have a lot of catching up with other blogs to do. Meanwhile do check out the Propagator and all his enthusiastic followers. He seems to be doing a lot of running at the moment; 100 miles is an awful lot of running. I doubt if I could run 100 yards, so I am amazed by people who do this sort of thing . But don’t worry, you don’t have to run to enjoy Six on Saturday.

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Six on Saturday. Looking Good in August.

l have been away for a while. Not to Brazil, as I suggested in my last post as a safer option than the UK, but to France to spend time with my son Bertie and his beautiful Beatrice. They no longer live on the boat, so the jetty garden has been left behind, but they have managed to buy an amazing home in south west France. They have done this in the middle of the pandemic and despite the difficulties created by Brexit. And it is beautiful, unusual and very old. The garden has enormous potential and I will be writing about it in due course.

Coming back to England was a bit of a shock. My garden has become a jungle, I have never come back from holiday in August to find so such a tangle of weeds and the lawn like a hayfield. What kind of tropical weather have you been having here? But amongst the chaos there are some beauties which are well worth putting in an appearance for Six on Saturday.

First, I have some lovely codonopsis. These are climbing plants growing from a tuberous root. I have Codonopsis lanceolata from Asia; it has pixie -bonnet flowers which are green with purple markings inside. I believe this plant has pharmaceutical properties for the treatment of various diseases. But I grow it for the exquisitely beautiful flowers.

Codonopsis lanceolata
Codonopsis lanceolata

Codonopsis grey-wilsonii ‘Himal Snow’ comes from Nepal. It has apple-green leaves and beautiful, snow-white, star-shaped flowers. I think next year I must investigate the codonopsis family further and see which other ones I could grow.

Codonopsis grey-wilsonii ‘Himal Snow’
Codonopsis grey-wilsonii ‘Himal Snow’

I love South African summer bulbs and I have several different forms of the lovely albuca family. There are over 100 species in this genus so there is plenty of choice. I believe they are known by the revolting name of slime lilies because they are fleshy with a mucilaginous juice. Albuca nelsonii is my largest one. It has the most enormous onion-like bulb and long stems with green and white flowers.

Albuca nelsonii
Albuca nelsonii

Albuca bracteata rejoices in the ridiculous common name of ‘Pregnant Onion’; I wish I knew who dreams these names up. It has the most delightful, starry, green and white flowers on long stems. Some members of the Albuca genus used to be included in the Ornithagalum family and you can see the resemblance.

Albuca bracteata.

Each year I collect seeds from the charming flowers of Albuca shawii because a pot of these in flower makes a nice gift for friends. It has nodding yellow flowers which are scented.

Albuca shawii

Most of my agapanthus are grown from seed; they are very easy to grow and bloom in the second or third year from seed. The parents are all large flowered ones. I believe Agapanthus africanus is not considered to be hardy, but mine have been outside for a few years now. I love to have them all round the garden and specially on my ‘beach’ in front of the shed.

The white ones seem to bloom a bit later and they are still in bud.

Each year I grow a few different cyclamen from seed. The labels get muddled up so I am not always sure which is which. But this summer-flowering one is Cyclamen purpurascens. I think it is probably hardy but I grow it in pots because it is beautifully fragrant, A pot in the greenhouse fills the space with scent. It is a woodland plant so I keep it under the staging in the greenhouse. I also keep a few pots on my table of delights.

Cyclamen purpurascens

Also in a pot I grow the ridiculously -named annual, Zaluzianskya capensis each year. I believe it is named after a Polish botanist. The common name is night-scented phlox but I don’t hold with common names. I don’t think it is actually a phlox at all. If you visit me in the day time you may wonder why I keep a pot of these uninspiring little buds in such a prominent position by our sitting area. They are a pretty shade of deep pink but still it looks a bit weedy. But each evening the buds open up to reveal starry white flowers which have the most gorgeous fragrance. Sometimes I bring the pot inside with me when we come indoors because I just can’t get enough of the wonderful scent. This little plant comes from South Africa. It is easy to grow, I sow it straight into the pots in which it is going to live. It’s no use having this plant down the garden somewhere, it needs to be where you sit in the evening or by a door or window so the evening scent can drift indoors. It is pollinated by moths.

Zaluzianskya capensis. Daytime.
Zaluzzianskya capensis Evening.

I am going to finish with another plant with an amazing scent. It is my very favourite oriental lily. It is called ‘Casa Blanca’ and as well as a glorious scent, it has huge pure white flowers with huge reddish brown stamens.

Lilium ‘Casa Blannca’

So there we have six beauties well worth coming home to. And I haven’t even mentioned my dahlias which are looking wonderful, but they will be looking good until the frosts so we can come back to them. And now, having completed my six, I have no more excuse to pretend I haven’t noticed the weeds rampaging all over the garden. Please check out the Propagator to see other August beauties.

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In a Vase on Monday. Freedom Day?

Well, here we are, the 19th July has been named as Freedom Day by our criminally reckless Prime Minister. We are heading for 1000,000 cases a day later this summer. But Boris is reverting to his original covid strategy known as ‘Let the bodies pile high.’ This will no doubt make him very popular with all the covid deniers, anti- vaxxers, anti-maskers and those who define freedom as the freedom to make money rather than keep people safe. What the ultimate cost will be, we don’t know, but thousands will die and many more will be left with long covid which very often appears to manifest itself as permanently damaged organs. The thousands of people who have no antibodies because they are immuno- compromised will have to retreat indoors because there will be plenty of ‘freedom loving’ selfish idiots around who don’t like wearing masks and going out and about will be too dangerous. And scientists tell us that having an uncontrolled pandemic will be the perfect breeding ground for vaccine -resistant strains of the disease. But of course we live in a populist age and we don’t take any notice of gloomy boffins.

Thank goodness for the sanctuary of our gardens where flowers bloom and the natural world goes about its business regardless of the craziness outside. Today I have two vases. The first celebrates my love of green flowers and umbellifers with a vase of Mathiasella bupluroides which ticks both boxes. The flowers are cup-shaped and look rather like those of the green hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius. They bloom for ages and gradually the jade green flowers become tinged with red. This plant comes from Mexico and was only discovered in 1954.

Mathiasella bupleuroides

This vase came about because I had some sprays of red/ green acer leaves which are a perfect match for the flowers. No, I didn’t pick them, but the Mad Mower Man has been up to his tricks again. The Pianist, is of course, the light of my life, but he uses his ride -on mower as an offensive weapon and woe betide any tree or shrub that gets in the way. Thankfully, apart from losing a few branches, I think the victim will survive, although it might need counselling. I added some quaking grass, Briza media. This grass is easy from seed and looks lovely in the garden swaying in the breeze.

I used my favourite brown Pearsons of Chesterfield jug to match the rather autumnal colours.

And for a second vase I have sweet peas and what would summer be without their wonderful fragrance? The varieties I grew this year are ‘Spencer Wiltshire Ripple’ and ‘ Lilac Ripple’; I am not sure how the pink one crept in.

Lathyrus odoratus. ‘Lilac Ripple’ and ‘Wiltshire Purple Ripple’

Alchemilla mollis is another green flower I wouldn’t be without. It’s frothy flowers are perfect for flower arranging. It can be invasive, but this is easily remedied by cutting off the flower heads before they form seeds. It is a good idea to do this anyway as they benefit from a haircut.

I used another little brown jug for the sweet peas, this time a French one.

You are probably thinking that In a Vase on Monday is not the appropriate platform for a rant. And you are right. I do usually limit myself to all things floral here. But you did get two vases today along with the rant. Do visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden and find plenty of rant-free beautiful vases from round the world. And if you are unfortunate enough to live in this benighted country, then good luck. Personally, I’m thinking of moving to Brazil, it might be safer.

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Wordless Wednesday. Short-lived Splendour.

Epiphyllum crenatm
Epiphyllum crenatm
Epiphyllum crenatum
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Six on Saturday. A Rainy July Day.

As gardeners we are never happy. Last year, here in the UK, we moaned about constant watering and this year we don’t have that problem; quite the contrary, a little more sunshine would be lovely. Still it is warm and the conditions are perfect for the jungly effect in my exotic garden. So at number one, I have big leaves. Each year, I coppice both my Golden Bean tree, Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’ and my Foxglove tree, Paulownia tomentosa so I don’t get any flowers, just enormous leaves.

Catalpa bignonoides ‘Aurea’

Framing my Foxglove tree I have the weeping mimosa Acacia pravissima, which I have just discovered is known as Oven’s Wattle, goodness knows why. The foliage plant to the right is the very unusual Rubus lineatus which has lovely pinnate foliage. This lovely shrub comes come from Burma and its beautiful foliage is a wonderful addition to my exotic garden. You’d never guess it belonged to the bramble family.

Paulownia tomentosa

Here is a photo of Rubus lineatus. It does sucker a bit, but not too much and I love the pinnate leaves which have a fishbone structure if you look at them close up, they are silvery underneath.

Rubus lineatus

Another tree which looks quite exotic is the Melia azedarach which I grew from a seed I picked up in Greece eight years ago. I have never seen this tree growing outside in the UK. It comes from Northern India and China so I presumed it would be tender. But three years ago it had become too big for the greenhouse and had to go outside and take its chance. It has done very well and this year it is flowering for the first time. It has lilac, star-shaped flowers which are fragrant if you put your nose into them. When I saw it in Greece it was bearing decorative clusters of yellow fruits, or to be accurate, I should say drupes. Apparently these are poisonous but I don’t go round my garden grazing on my plants.

Melia azedarach
Melia azedarach

My son is the tree fern king; he just adores them and has a huge collection which he lovingly nurses through the winter with blankets and probably hot water bottles. He generously gave me three a few years ago and to my shame, I lost two of them. But I am delighted with my remaining one which has plenty of new fronds this year.

Dicksonia antartica

But I have used the stump of the largest dead one to grow a Fascicularia bicolor. This is a bromeliad related to the pineapple. I got the idea for this after seeing that Christopher Lloyd grew one on his roof at Great Dixter. I thought that if it could live on a roof it should cope with my stump. I have a large Fascicularia in my garden, but I decided to buy this one and if you have ever tried to divide a fascicularia you’ll know why. It has really tough leathery leaves with vicious thorns.

Fasciciularia bicolor growing on a tree fern stump.

And now for some exotic flowers and they don’t come much more exotic than passion flowers. I have two passion flowers, neither of them is hardy so in winter they have to jostle for position in the greenhouse with all the other tender climbers which I can’t stop acquiring. My greenhouse is not all that big so I lack space as well as common sense. One is a lovely pink one, Passiflora x violacea ‘Victoria’.

Passsiflora x violacea ‘Victoria’

The other one, I have shown before, it is a large flowered Passiflora caerula called ‘Silly Cow’, a name I should bear in mind when I fall for yet another tender plant. This one is supposed to be hardy but I have lost one in the past so I am not taking any chances.

Passiflora caerula ‘Silly Cow’

And coming in at number six, or have I already exceeded six? I never was any good at maths. Anyway, Rhodochiton atrosanguineus deserves an appearance. I used to know this as Rhodochiton volubile so I have to try and keep up. It is a lovely climber for a pot as long as you remember to feed it well. It has pink, bell- shaped bracts with a long deep purple flowers. Next year I am going to try planting one out in my exotic garden. It is possible to keep it going inside in winter but I have found it susceptible to red spider mite. But it is easy from seed. Once the flowers fall off if they are fertilized you get seed pods which look just like little bottoms. You let them dry on the plant before harvesting the seeds.

Rhodochiton volubile

So there we have my Six on Saturday, give or take a plant or two. But then I never was any good at sticking to rules. Please check out the Propagator to see what delights other SoS addicts are enjoying.

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