Six on Saturday – 9/7/2022

We’re set fair to get two good days, weather-wise, for our two afternoon openings this weekend. I’m not a great fan of hot weather, which for me means anything over 25°C. We make life difficult for ourselves by growing so many plants in pots but in spite of regularly resolving to cut the numbers down we do the opposite and grow more each year.

The garden is very colourful at the moment but the colourful plants are not necessarily the most interesting ones, or the ones that give the gardener the most satisfaction. I’m spoiled for choice really.

One.
Eucryphia milliganii. This is the less widely grown of the two Tasmanian species of Eucryphia. It is known as Dwarf Leatherwood, reflecting its relatively small stature compared to E. lucida. My plant was grown from a cutting I managed to salvage from a plant that had been planted at my ex nursery employers as a stock plant. The parent plant expired shortly thereafter. I must have had it in the garden for nearly ten years, planted originally in shade, I dug it up and moved it a couple of years back. Finally, it seems happy and has rewarded me with a few flowers. I’m hoping it will grow into a tall, narrow, evergreen shrub and flower freely. For some reason it is not even in my “Flowers & Plants of Tasmania” book.

Two.
If the Eucryphia was a bit subdued for your taste, be prepared to be disappointed further. Digitalis parviflora has produced a single flower spike from the three or four plants I have remaining from at least twice that number planted at least three years ago. Tiny brown flowers above a rosette of evergreen leaves. Just over a metre tall and looking like it will do a bit more yet.

Three.
Right, some colour at last; Alstroemeria ‘Little Laura’. Smaller flowers than most but intense yellow with red markings. Supposedly scented but I couldn’t detect anything. Medium height, nice.

Four.
Where we grew Malva sylvestris ‘Bibor Felho’ last year, a rash of self sowers appeared before the winter. By spring they’d all vanished and I’m not sure whether what subsequently grew were spring germinated seeds or small dormant over-wintered plants. I know that a month ago they were sporting masses of huge coarse leaves and just a few small flowers, then they got a bad dose of rust, so I cut off a lot of the worst affected leaves. They are now 2.5m tall and a mass of bloom. Being so tall they catch both morning and evening light to great effect.

Five.
Aloysia triphylla, the shrubby lemon verbena, is a plant we wouldn’t like to be without. The leaves have a powerful lemon scent but mainly if touched; the flowers have an altogether different scent and for all their diminutive size it is readily detected from feet away. We have a plant at each end of the bench at the top of the garden.

Six.
Wine weasels. There still being a few things around that are being troubled by slugs, I have kept up my evening slug patrols, necessitating venturing out with a torch sometime after 10pm. Most times I find a few vine weevil adults as well as the slugs. Thursday night I went looking for them a bit more carefully. The haul was 24 plus a few similar pale brown ones. Given that they are all female and all capable of laying around a thousand eggs and that I’ve probably averaged about five a night for the last two months and if I’d been looking harder it might well have been double or treble that, it puts the maths beyond my failing capabilities. A lot.

It really does seem pretty amazing that there is anything left alive out there sometimes. There are quite a few things fail to come up every year and we’re never sure what killed them. One of our Asters was being plagued by weevils last year and I checked it very regularly, removing two or three most evenings. It seems to have been effective, I’ve only found one or two on it this year and there is no obvious damage. So it seems to work if you can keep it up long enough but it’s quite a chore. Thursday’s haul were dropped into a jar, I wanted to count them and to take their mugshot before I despatched them. I really don’t like slugs, vine weevils I utterly loathe.

I don’t like to end on a low point so I’ll put a picture as a footer. You can amuse yourself identifying it and award yourself points. Those of us raised on ISIHAC will know what points mean. Those of you raised on SoS will know to go to Mr Prop for the global linkfest.

33 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 9/7/2022

    1. I don’t think the Digitalis is quite so weird looking in the flesh as in the pictures, still an oddity though. Someone else what pollinated it, which is a good question to which I don’t have an answer.

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  1. I would like 25° and here it’s rather around 28° this afternoon and it will rise to 35° next week. Sometimes I envy the Brits who live a little further north.
    Amazing Digitalis parviflora which, as you say, is already more than 1m tall?!
    Here I grow the Aloysia polystachya from Argentina I guess. Yours is more hardy?
    Last photo reminds me of a hymenocallis but mine are white.

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    1. When we’ve been to Australia it’s often been in the mid 30’s much of the time and you do get used to it to a degree. We hit 27° today and tomorrow is set to be a little warmer. You’re quite right about the Hymenocallis, it’s the variety ‘Sulphur Queen’. I don’t know Aloysia polystacha; A. triphylla is not reliably hardy even here in Cornwall.

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  2. I had to look up ISIHAC..what a laugh, but a good one to follow on from the dreaded vine weevil. Seeing your Lemon Verbena has reminded me to go and start harvesting. I dry the leaves to last me as a tea all winter. Sadly the standard tea has now side effects!

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    1. Very good question to which I don’t yet have an answer. The flowers are too small for any of our bumble bees to get into, so I’m thinking perhaps a smaller wild bee. I don’t even know where it originates from; you have set me some homework.

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      1. Five days on and I’ve yet to see an insect of any kind on it, with the exception of an adult vine weevil on the foliage last night. Nothing I’ve found online helps either. I’ll keep watching.

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      2. Interesting! I would have guessed some kind of insect would be all over it. Maybe it self pollinates. I found one website that says bees love it and that birds love the seed heads, and that it is a Mediterranean native, especially to be found in Spain. Well, I figure I miss a lot in my garden (can’t be out there all the time), for example, I have seen one leaf cutter bee, but the leaf cutting evidence indicates many more and they must be stopping off somewhere for pollen to place in their nests. Do the flowers seem open enough for a bumblebee?

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      3. The flowers are very small, only around 5mm wide, so too small for our common bumblebees. I noted today that the most recent flowers to open have their stamens in the top of the flower, ready to place pollen onto the back of a bee. At the bottom of the spike, the older flowers have their stamens lying on the floor of the flower, so there may be a fall-back self pollination thing going on. I still haven’t seen a single insect on it and as well as lacking bright colour, there is no scent. It doesn’t seem to be offering pollinators much!

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      4. Interesting! I had some good bees today. I have increasing variety of flowers available finally. The other day I saw four banded hairstreak butterflies on my Shasta daisies.

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      5. Gatekeepers and Speckled Woods, a couple of quite common species, have been almost all the butterflies I’ve seen so far. I must try to get some pictures.

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    1. The Verbena is not completely reliably hardy even here in Cornwall. We’ve left the big plant outside the last couple of winters and it’s been OK but we move a smaller plant under cover as an insurance. I need to keep watch on the foxglove, see what is attracted to it.

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  3. That last one makes me think of Fred’s unusual first picture last week, phlox, I think it was. Clearly, yours can’t be that with the stalks I can see. Anyway, interesting Six-on-Saturday again. I hope the Open Garden goes well today

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  4. I love your selection this week, especially the dwarf Eucryphia, which I am not familiar with! The Digitalis is very unusual and a lovely colour. A flower stalk of a metre tall must be amazing to see. It would not survive in my garden as it would not bear the weight of the noisy miners who would definitely want to search the flowers for nectar, regardless of whether there is nectar there or not!

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    1. We have no birds that go for nectar and no native plants that have evolved with bird attractive flowers. I did see Puya being tapped for nectar by starlings on Tresco once, so they seem to have the ability to learn, provided they have a beak/tongue long enough to get at it, which most of them probably don’t. Having said all which, ring necked parakeets are now well established here, and bee eaters are checking us out.

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  5. Hope the Open Garden went well – a bit too warm perhaps? I have seen that brown Digitalis growing wild in one of the lanes around here, well at least I think it is the same one. Very strange. I loathe Vine weasles too though I might like the wine ones 😉 they ate all the leaves on my Aeonium cuttings that I was growing over the winter, though I did manage to rescue a few. Found one on the Himalayan honeysuckle yesterday as I was cutting it back. Promptly squashed it. I dread to think how many more are out there…

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    1. Another 17 night before last, beastly things. We’ve not had big numbers on the garden openings but are fine with that; less pressure, we get a chance to chat with people, it’s been a pleasant experience. We had a garden club round earlier this evening, which went well too.

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  6. another interesting visit to your garden, it is looking wonderful. Vine weevils move so quickly in my experience. I’m sure I have seen some here but never managed to catch them!

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