The Tea Break Gardener

My Gardening Week – Six on Saturday 06.10.18

My Gardening Week – Six on Saturday 06.10.18

2018-10-06T10:12:05+00:00October 6th, 2018|My Gardening Week - Six pictures on a Saturday|16 Comments

It’s been another glorious week for gardening with warm bright days.  If it wasn’t for the darker evenings and tell-tale reddening of the leaves I could believe it was early summer.  Some of the stalwarts of June are still flowering magnificently, such as my roses.   The dahlias, asters and sedum tell a different seasonal story.

This week I have been stocking up on pots for spring bulbs, getting a border ready for a major replant, moving things into my greenhouse and photographing roses and quince.

Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’

Rosa Munstead Wood

This rose has been my number one this year.  It has been smothered in huge, plum-coloured frilly flowers non-stop since June.  It looked lush throughout the blazing heat-wave and is still looking mid-summer fresh into October.

Rosa Munstead Wood in border

I have barely watered it and as the plants around it droop and look ready to drop their leaves, I could believe it will flower into November.  Some of you may remember how lovely its leaves looked alongside burnished tulips back in April.   I so loved this combination I’m sharing it again.

Tulip Princess Irene

Tulipa ‘Princess Irene’ with emerging leaves of Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’

This rose is in a prominent position near my front door and deserves to be so.

Quince, Cydonia oblonga

Quince fruit

I love the word Quince.  Iit sounds so Elizabethan to me, probably because it’s the name of one of the mechanicals in a Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I planted this Quince tree just this year in my little orchard and I worried about it establishing in the summer heat.  I did water it every week but no more often then that.  I’m hoping it’s been sending roots deep down in search of water.

Despite a tricky first year, it’s been kind enough to give me three fruits, which are a really jolly yellow colour.

I’m also sharing a picture of the furled up flower that I took back in the spring.  I love the felt-tip shape of the furled up flower and the candy striped pattern.

Quince flower

Welcome to my garden lovely Quince and may you continue to entertain me next year.

Dahlia display

Dahlia border in autumn

I’ve shared close-ups of some of these dahlias before.   I can’t get over how many flowers I’ve been getting so I thought I’d share a wider view.  Here you can see ‘Bacardi’, ‘Cafe au Lait’ and ‘Henriette’ with some Sedum (now known by another name I believe) in the understorey.

This used to be a herb garden but I pulled out the old woody sages and huge lovage stalks.  Now I plant this area with seasonal displays – tulips, then alliums, then dahlias.

This year a thick layer of mulch really helped the flowers. Not only will it have fed the dahlias (although I also plant them with lots of manure and chicken pellets) but I think it also kept moisture in the soil.

I think the mulch has ensured a stunning display.

Spring bulb pans

Spring bulbs in pans

I’ve joined the Alpine Garden Society and will soon be starting as a diarist on their website.  I will be writing about my beginner forays into alpine gardening – something I have a growing passion for.

Two weeks ago I went to my first AGS event, a spring bulb day.  I had a fantastic time hearing presentations on flowering bulbs in Kyrgyzstan (only one vowel in that long name!) and Greece accompanied by stunning photos of the the flowers in their native habitats.  There was also a presentation about Erythroniums.  I had no idea there was so much diversity.

The Head of Alpines at Kew Gardens then gave a demonstration of how to pot up alpine bulbs.  Her big tip was to cram lots of bulbs into each pan to avoid a sparse display.

Straight afterwards, I was like a kid in a sweet shop at the Pottertons Nursery stand, where dozens of bulbs were lined up to buy.  I chose a few varieties and counted them out into paper bags to take home, just as I had done in the sweet shops of my youth.

Tulip 'Little Beauty' bulbs in pan

These dear little tulip bulbs – a red variety called ‘Little Beauty’ are only the size of a marble and seem very dainty next to the robust standard tulip bulbs.

I do tend to wish winter away and I really can’t wait to see what these look like next spring.

A blank canvas

Garden border awaiting autumn replant

This bed has been almost empty all summer waiting for a good time to plant it up again.  Many of the plants in it were moved last autumn up to the veg patch. Time got away from me though and a few were left behind.

This was the dumping ground for the builders but a surprising number of plants managed to survive the steel capped boots and pallets of bricks.  This week I dug up the last of these and potted them.  Whilst doing so I found an old horseshoe, which I’m hoping will bring me luck in designing the planting scheme here.  I’ve longed for the chance to redo this bed but now the day is here I’m nervous about what to do.


Having some plants to reuse gives me a good starting point and I have some lovely Delphiniums, Cranesbill and Iris to replant.  That’s allot of blues and purples so I’m thinking of other colours to weave in there and also some grasses for different textures.  Whilst I know I should plan it out on paper, it’s not something I’ve ever really done before.

Knowing me,  it’s more likely that I’ll place the plants I already have and then visualise in my head what’s missing.  Not a scientific approach but one that works for me.

Greenhouse re-jig

Greenhouse airplants

Now the nights are drawing in, I’ve started to move my greenhouse ornamentals into the small zone that I can heat over the winter.  It’s beginning to look lovely and I know I’ll enjoy trips out there in the depths of winter for a little hit of jungly warmth.

This week my horticultural society had a talk from broadcaster Matthew Biggs and he reminded me why I like tropical plants so much. Matthew was a friend of the late Will Giles, who had an incredible tropical garden in Norwich.  It was crammed with bananas, palms, cacti and bromeliads. Will Giles features in Matthew’s book ‘Lessons from the Great Gardeners’.

My collection is still small but I like this display of air plants and bromeliads.   I attached them to to a log found in the woods, the bromeliads with wire and the air plants with glue.   You don’t need a greenhouse to achieve this as they make excellent houseplants.


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.



  1. Fred October 6, 2018 at 10:38 am - Reply

    How are you going to heat the greenhouse? I’m interested in your solution …
    About this Six, I loved the Dahlia display … so colorful and so floriferous …
    Last thing, the word “quince” is nice in English, but not in French: we say “coing”, it’s not very beautiful

    • Katharine October 7, 2018 at 8:33 am - Reply

      Often French words are better than english – Chou Fleur for cauliflower for instance. But yes, coing is not a good one! On the greenhouse heating, I’ve gone with the recommendation of the greenhouse manufacturer and chosen a large fan heater. It has a thermostat so in theory I can keep the temperature constant. I’m fiddling about with it at the moment to get the setting right and trying to decide what the minimum temperature should be to keep all my plants happy. The fan can also be used cold and it was good in the heatwave to add a bit of extra air circulation in there. I’ll send you a pic on twitter.

      • Fred October 7, 2018 at 12:34 pm - Reply

        Thank you, I saw your picture. I will be interested in the temperature you choose. Around 10° would be nice but I guess this heater is energy hungry … around 2000-2500W? And in winter it will work every day and every night … Keep me posted of the results at the end of the winter even if your greenhouse is bigger than mine

  2. Jude October 6, 2018 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Your Dahlia display is lovely, I do like those colours together. I have a raised bed that was intended for vegetables, but haven’t had much success with growing them and still can’t decide what to do with it. A seasonal bed may be the answer.

    • Katharine October 7, 2018 at 8:27 am - Reply

      A seasonal bed is possibly less work than vegetables. Once you’ve planted your bulbs/tuburs you can sit back and wait for an explosion of colour (and do a bit of occasional weeding!). If you plant enough you can have plenty to cut for the house too. Worth a thought.

  3. Nate October 6, 2018 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Are you planning to eat your quince? I tried making quince paste or jelly (I forget which) twice and had no luck.

    • Katharine October 7, 2018 at 8:26 am - Reply

      I would like to try making some quince jelly. I’m wondering if I have enough fruit. Time to peruse the recipe books…

      • Katharine October 8, 2018 at 8:30 pm - Reply

        Hi Nate. So I found a recipe for Quince Paste (aka Quince Cheese or Membrillo) on the River Cottage website. It worked a treat. It said to use sugar but I had some left-over preserving sugar so used that.

  4. Ali, The Mindful Gardener October 6, 2018 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    Munstead Wood is my favourite rose too. And Princes Irene is one of many favourite tulips. Love seeing pictures of bulb planting – it makes my fingers tingle!

    • Katharine October 7, 2018 at 8:25 am - Reply

      We share some favourites it seems. More bulb planting planned today, this time in the lawn. Never mind tingling fingers – I think I’ll have a bit of an achey back by the end of the day!

  5. March Picker October 6, 2018 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    This post has so, so many things to delight in, from enticing bulbs to that Munstead Wood. I’m again glad I selected it as a feature in my upcoming rose garden. From one dahlia lover to another, yours are sublime.

    • Katharine October 7, 2018 at 8:23 am - Reply

      Thanks for your lovely comment MarchPicker. Excited to hear you’re planning a rose garden and that Munstead Wood will feature. It sounds like a wonderful project. Good luck with it.

  6. @cavershamjj October 7, 2018 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    You know that Billy Joel song “new York state of mind”? I am in a tulip state of mind at present. Among my tulip frenzy purchases recently is your friend Irene. I’m looking forward to seeing her strut her stuff next year. I love having a new birder to plant. I should have two or three soon as I sacrifice more of the lawn to the greater good.

    • Katharine October 9, 2018 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      More borders is definitely the way to go and you’ve been imaginative in how you’ve developed your garden – the eye of Sauron for example. I’ll look forward to seeing the new borders emerge.

  7. Lora Hughes October 9, 2018 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    I agree w/March Picker, this post is as jammed w/wonderful ideas/photos/drama as your alpine pans are w/bulbs. I’ve been dithering about getting a quince, telling myself I should actually taste one first, but now that I know about jelly & have seen the bud, well, you sold me. Love your garden!

    • Katharine October 9, 2018 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much Lora. I love it too which is why I can’t stop writing about all I see and do there. Yours is full of interest too – that’s why sharing online is so great. The jelly was a bit of a faff but well worth it. It should store for 12 months but I doubt it will last that long!

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