Six on Saturday – 1/8/2020

Summer holiday season in Cornwall is always manic and I tend to hunker down and steer well clear of the busy bits. Sue was down in Looe during the week and said it was heaving. If you know where to go you can avoid the crowds completely. It’s a safe bet that you could sit in the middle of Leskernick bronze age village on Bodmin moor all day long and not have company at all.

I’ve barely been out, the garden and allotment fill my days and I’m happy to have it that way. I did my weekly stint as a volunteer at Mt Edgcumbe and a gardening job on another day, otherwise I’ve not been out.

We missed out on a really hot day yesterday, it hit about 24°C max, which was still plenty hot enough to be weeding in. I mooched about with my camera, trying to find six interesting things I’d not already done. Here’s what I came up with.

Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Transparent’. This was well named, when it comes to trying to get a picture of it the name describes it well. I’ve taken dozens of pictures, from all angles and at every time of day. This is a six foot tall grass which my brain can perfectly easily focus on without seeing only the background but I haven’t caught that on camera as well as I’d like yet.

Begonia palmata ‘Tye Dye’. Like the species I included a couple of weeks ago, this is a Michael Wickenden introduction from Arunachal Pradesh. It was sold to me as hardy but I’m taking that with a big pinch of salt. I’ve just plunged it, still in its pot, for this summer outside. I’ve got a couple of young plants of it going now so I’ll bring it under cover for winter and plant it in the ground next year. The buds will open to small pink flowers.

Two for the price of one, or the subject is the juxtaposition of the two elements. Actually, I’ll ignore the Scarborough lily for now, it’ll be looking much better next week, and focus on the Geranium which is ‘Dragon Heart’. It’s a hybrid of G. psilostemon, which I have and love, and G. x oxonianum, which I have and don’t. It’s growing alongside ‘Ann Folkard’ and ‘Tiny Monster’, three out and out thugs together. I measured the bloom and it was exactly 2 inches across.

Hydrangea paniculata cv. This got a mention in my recent blog about hydrangeas but I thought it was good enough to put here too. It’s a short standard, on a three foot stem, but I don’t know the variety. Sue said it went pink last year but I don’t remember it. There’ll be pictures somewhere probably.

Hydrangeas go on for quite a while, bridging the early season into the late. Dahlias are very definitely after the solstice plants so in a sense once they really get going you know it’s downhill all the way to winter. They don’t allow you to be depressed about it though, they’re the ultimate feelgood flower and none more so than the ones that combine clashing colours in the same bloom like ‘Kalinka’.

The new thing. Last year I constructed an obelisk out of canes and grew sweet peas up it. It was a sort of proof of concept, in that it was between 8 and 9 feet tall and nothing I’d seen in garden centres was much over six, which I didn’t think was big enough. I put the canes back this spring and planted sweet peas again. They never really took off, nowhere near as good as last year. It came to our attention that a friend of a friend worked in a place that made iron gates. Sue knocked up a design, they did the rest and delivered it a week ago. I put it up on Monday, sacrificing the sweet peas, but I managed to rescue and replant the Mina that was in the middle of the cane wigwam. It has a long way to go if it’s to reach the top this summer. We’ll probably plant a rose/clematis combination unless I can come up with something more original that promises to perform well.
It’s bright and shiny but will go dull, at which point I shall consider painting it black.

And that’s yer lot. The Prop is on his hols but there being no peace for the wicked he will no doubt be up to his MC duties same as always. All the Six on Saturday links are here.

36 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 1/8/2020

  1. Your hydrangea paniculata looks better than mine, they don’t like the recent heat… Regarding begonias, the leaves are very pretty but I guess the excess heat should not please it either. Full shade and humidity, like other begonias, right?


    1. That hydrangea is lucky to have made it this far, a nursery reject that I nearly left in next door’s garden, which would have been a death sentence. It’s showing its gratitude.


  2. Oh my gosh I love the obelisk! I need a dozen of them to support my ferociously growing tomatoes this year. I know what you mean by hunkering down and not venturing out into the summer crowds – it’s the same for us!


  3. It is crazy busy here too, and like you we are letting them get on with it. I really like the iron obelisk, looks very impressive. Love the begonia, definitely a genus I would like to explore. Dahlia is fabulous!


    1. It was the realisation that I could bed out the house plant type begonias as much as the discovery of “hardy” forms that alerted me to the possibilities they offer. So many to try out, there are bound to be failures but hopefully more successes. I’d be avoiding the crowds even if they weren’t trying to infect us with their diseases. I’ve realised why I rarely catch colds, I rarely get near enough to anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That obelisk is lovely and, clearly, unique. I am eyeing a few of the lilac branches, as I mentioned last week, but I’m not sure what I can do with them yet. I like the name “Tye dye”, it describes the leaves perfectly.


  5. That’s a pretty obelisk. Nice to have something bespoke. Like you we are not venturing far, avoiding any small towns like St Ives and beaches, though we are finding more people than usual up on ‘our’ hill. We are trying to pop into a NT garden once a week just for a change of scenery, though having to book in advance is a pain as you never know what the weather will be like! We are certainly not in a rush to visit a pub or restaurant.


    1. It really makes you realise how much you take the freedom to come and go as you please for granted when you’re stopped from doing so. We’ve only done the one trip to Rosemoor where we had to book, it’s a big deterrent.


  6. The ‘Sculpture’ up which you will be growing your roses and clematis is quite the thing. What a lovely addition to the garden.


  7. That is an amazing tuteur! How wonderful to be able to source just what you needed. Why black? How about yellow, or cobalt blue?


    1. It was made clear to me today that it is to stay unpainted for the foreseeable future. My role in such matters is minimal, just to pay for it and put it up. Might have to experiment with modelling something else with bamboo canes and painting them yellow, it’s too good an idea to waste.


    1. I just had a quick look at Rick Darke’s book on grasses to see how he got good pictures of them, as I found myself agreeing with the idea that they are often not inherently photogenic. It could be that the answer is context, most of his pictures show grasses in landscape settings where they are providing structure or texture as part of a bigger picture. You’ve got me thinking now.


  8. I do like the misty look of the grass seed heads. Lovely! The dragon heart is an amazing colour indeed! The Hydrangea is really lovely, and I was interested to read that it does not mind the heat. I did not realise how many different varieties of hydrangea are available, so it is going to take me a while to decide on one that is suitable (hopefully) for my garden. The obelisk is just amazing. Well done to Sue for designing it. What a lovely addition to your garden!


    1. I wouldn’t advise putting much faith in my experience of heat tolerance of hydrangeas here as a guide to how well they’d fare for you. Cornwall far from being the hottest place even in the UK. Sue is rightly proud of how the obelisk turned out and is planning the next feature.

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      1. I need as much advise as I can get, and then I try and gauge whether or not I can trial a plant here. It would be better if the trees and shrubs were bigger, as there would be more shade and cooler areas within the garden. They will get there eventually! Sue has a lovely creative skill, and I for one look forward in anticipation to seeing future designs and creations in your garden. Have a lovely gardening week!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I have Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ but it’s only thinking about starting to flower, not as far on as yours, which is lovely. (Limelight turns a soft pink as the flowers mature). I absolutely love the obelisk – it’s unique.

    Grasses are easiest to photograph if they have a simple dark background or are part of a landscape where they’re not the main subject. Any plants will always show through finer specimens and be a distraction. Waiting until the sun hits the grasses, with the background in shade, helps separate the grass from the background, as does a longish lens with a shallow depth of field. They’re tricky to get right, and no matter what techniques you use, some grasses just don’t take a good photo. You’ve done pretty well with them. 😊


    1. I started thinking that what you see through a camera lens is close to what you see when looking directly, so the things that make a photo easier or more effective can inform the choice of where the grass is planted in the first place. One problem with the Molinia ‘Transparent’ is that there isn’t a viewpoint that gives me a dark background where I can get far enough back from the grass to use even a mid length lens. What’s really annoying is that I’ve been taking pictures of Stipa gigantea for years so I should have planned it better when I planted the Molinia.


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