Some needed rain on Sunday and Monday just gone, a good soaking. It made for a damp gardener on Sunday, but I did get quite a lot done. I am off work for this coming week, nothing much planned but it will involve gardening and trips to Wisley and Waterperry. I hope their borders are still hanging on so I can get some inspiration for some new planting space I have carved out of the lawn. Time for Six on Saturday then – Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything, a flower, a pest, a success, a failure, wildlife, a weed, foliage, anything at all. Join in!

Here are mine for this week.

1 – I was planning to take a photo of an ivy flower, then this fella photobombed the scene. Ivy flowers are fairly unlovely, but they are late season manna from heaven for assorted pollinators. I am nearly certain this is a red admiral flutterby.

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2 – Begonia oojamaflip. I bought a little pack of these 3 or 4 years back. I put them in one of the wooden planters on the patio, not really expecting them to last, being tender. Each year they have come back, although there is only one left now. Perhaps this is their last hurrah.

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3 – Dahlia ‘swan song’. The dahlias have finally arrived at the party, fashionably late. Just in the nick of time really. Normally we have had our first frost by this time in October, but while the temperature is forecast to drop to 5°c or so at night, seems likely that we’ll get no frost for the next couple of weeks. I shall enjoy them while they last. This one is a keeper, I like it. I’ll just leave the tubers in the ground this year. Dahlias can stand a bit of cold, but they don’t like being cold and wet. If drainage is good, in the milder parts of the country they are fine in the ground. I tested this theory last year, storing half and leaving half where they stood. The stored ones all dried out and died, defeating the object!

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4 – Salvia ‘amistad’. Grown from cuttings taken in the summer. They have a reputation as an easy to root plant and I was not disappointed. They have been potted up for a couple of months and are now flowering a little, an unexpected bonus. As a precautionary measure they will stay in the greenhouse till the spring. I was in Paris for the day earlier in the week for work, and while I didn’t have a lot of time to dawdle, I did see an enormous stand of s. amistad in a pavement planter. It was very effective en masse, but I think it would have been improved still further if mixed with something else.

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5 – Sweet peas, sown. I grew sweet peas in numbers for the first time last year, just a random selection of end-of-season-sale seeds. I enjoyed the process, sowing in October, planting in March and then having a couple of months of cut flowers for the kitchen. I’ve sown next year’s plants, 5 or 6 seeds to each 1L pot. I bought some from Johnson’s, a specialist sweet pea grower, and some were sale jobs like last year. I may have overdone it. I figure I can have some growing up something or other in the borders as well as on the veg plot.

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6 – The Extension! I have become a compost nerd over the last year, obsessing over the temperature, the mix, sourcing the ingredients, the turning frequency, you name it. I decided that I will double down on the compost front. This year I have gone from using two bays with a spare for turning, to using all three. With the aim of being self-sufficient in compost next year, I have added another two bays. The wood is all deconstructed pallet so hasn’t cost me anything to build bar a few screws. I have an endless supply of ingredients that I can bring from off site. To get faster composting, it’s best to fill a bay in one go rather than adding bits and bobs over time.

To fill a bay I have found I need 4 bags of fresh horse manure, four bags of spent hops, and a load of cardboard. I add something from each in layers until the bay is full. The heaps I built like this recently got to over 60°c in just a few days. In theory, if turned every two or three days, it could be ready to use in a month. In practice I try to turn once a week, so it may be more like 3 months before I could use.

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So, those are my Six, what are yours? If you’d like to join the gang, just publish your post, pop a link to it in the comments below, and maybe mention my blog in yours. That’s it! For more details and for other ways of taking part, you can read the brief participant guide.

Have a fabulous gardening weekend, don’t forget to check back in as more links are added during the day.

I’ll be back next weekend with another #SixOnSaturday.

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