Six on Saturday- 26 October 2019

The last of the sunflowers. This one, above, looks like it can’t decide whether to open or not. It’s been wet here, 142mm of rain this month. Twice the usual amount. However, flowers coped well with the deluge. Dahlias love the rain. They just tip forward slightly to drain. Sunflowers have also thrived. My sunflowers are a mixture of Infrared and Allsorts Mix from Mr Fothergills. I sow them in seed compost in March in 9cm pots, grow on in the greenhouse until they have two pairs of leaves, and then plant out after all danger of frost has passed. I use Strulch mulch to protect from slugs. It’s a scratchy kind of mineralised straw mulch which slugs and snails don’t like. It helps to retain moisture and feeds the soil as it rots down. I also spray everything with home-made garlic liquid. The recipe comes from Sienna Hosta nursery. If it’s good enough for a multi- gold medal winning nursery, it’s good enough for me. It works, with the proviso that you have to spray repeatedly, especially after rain. I’ve got a 3L Hozelock sprayer set up ready, which makes life easier. It’s worth it to protect delicate seedlings from slugs, without resorting to chemicals. The garlic spray doesn’t kill slugs, but deters them, leaving them available as a food source for birds and mammals.

Seed merchants used to mostly supply yellow sunflowers, but in recent years there’s been a big increase in varieties available. I love the chocolate -coloured flowers and the mini-sunflowers, such as Teddy Bear, which can be grown in a container and only grows to 1m with 12cm wide very double ‘fluffy’ yellow flowers.

Glowing red, this sunflower reminds me of rich dark chocolate. This was the darkest flower in a packet of Velvet Queen seeds. Truly scrumptious.

Plenty of pollen for bees, and I leave the seeds on the plants for the birds to enjoy over winter. Insects hibernate in the sunflower stems.

Lovely markings on these sunflowers from the Allsorts Mix.

And finally, Thompson and Morgan produced a new and exclusive multi-branching sunflower which repeat flowers from spring until Christmas, if protected from frost. It has rather an unwieldy name- SunBelievable Brown-Eyed Girl. It’s perfect for containers. My potted sunflower was amazingly prolific, and produced about 100 flowers over the season. Plenty for mini flower arrangements like this one which has calendulas, and herbs mixed in with the sunflowers. It lasts about a week in a vase.

Tonight we put the clocks back and the evenings will gradually close in. We’ll just have to make our own sunshine- and grow more flowers. Don’t you agree?

Which plants have you grown this summer? Let me know which have been a success for you. It’s good to share ideas and information, and help one another- especially as winter draws near and we all need a bit of colour to keep our spirits up.

Links : SOS six on Saturday

Mr Fothergills Infrared

Allsorts Mix

Velvet Queen

Thompson and Morgan

Calendula Orange Flash

Garlic wash spray, Sienna Hosta Nursery

Karengimson1 on instagram

@kgimson on twitter

GardenMediaGuild member

26 thoughts on “Six on Saturday- 26 October 2019

  1. Those are pretty sweet. A neighbor had me grow a mix of sunflowers on my driveway where I lived in town. I cut a few from down low and brought them in, which brought a huge herd of finches into the dining room to eat them! I don’t recommend that.

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  2. Hi Karen. I wonder if that garlic spray would deter mice! We have a plague of them at the moment! Love all your sunflowers. I still have some flowering – I have been calling them ‘Silver Queen’ all summer, but maybe they were H. argophyllus ‘Gold and Silver’, with lovely silvery foliage and fairly small lemony yellow flowers – loads per stem. They have been flowering since early August. 😃 I also have Helianthus microcephalus ‘Lemon Queen’ and they have finally gone over after making a great impact in my sunshine bed since July. They are so sturdy and didn’t mind the drought, heat or strong winds we had in the summer. I have already ordered various annual sunflower seed for next year as we want them all over the place. Such cheery flowers! We had a sunny day today, which made the early dusk bearable – it was thick fog most of last week. Hope you get some real sunshine soon, although those sunflowers are a pretty good substitute. 😉

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    • Thank you Cathy. Same here with the mice. I am using humane tunnel traps. I set an alarm on my phone for every 15 minutes, otherwise they are not humane and the mice can die from stress. I bait them with peanut butter and once caught, the mice are let go in the dry ditch, woodland area, away from the greenhouse and potting shed where they are a problem at the moment. Today, the fledgling owl is in the trees above the potting shed. What a racket it’s making. It sounds a bit like some kind of alarm that’s running out of batteries. It starts loud and fades away. The parent birds have to work really hard to keep them alive as they seem so dependent for such a long time. Hopefully, they will catch the mice!!!

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      • We have plenty of buzzards and kestrels around, but the mouse population has rocketed this autumn. We have also got humane traps and have been taking the mice up into the woods… dozens of them. And that was just in the garage! The garden is a lost case. Oh well, hope the numbers will drop over winter. At least the birds and other predators have plenty to get them through the cold time of year. (Nature is so cruel). 😶

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  3. Karen your sunflowers are wonderful and divine, beautiful and lovely, I love them all. The photos are magnificent. Each sunflower has a special beauty, I don’t know which one to stay with, everyone loves it. The rarest for its color but no less fabulous is that of red. The rarest by its name and flowering period – from Spring to Christmas – and that you have had it in a pot giving you 100 flowers is magnificent. Thank you for leaving the sunflowers with the seeds in Winter for the birds and for the insects to hibernate on the stalks. Karen thank you very much for your garlic broth to spray the seedlings and keep the slugs away: I have entered the link you have left and copied the exact measurements, I love it. We have also changed the time tonight, from now on it will get dark one hour earlier. Tomorrow at 2:00 pm, my older sister operates on one arm with tennis elbow syndrome: she has two broken tendons and they have to join, a bone spur in the elbow that they have to remove, more bone matter enters Cubito and the Radio that they also have to remove. All this is to spend almost 30 years in his work at the computer, because he is a Journalist of RTVE, the public radio television of Spain. We will accompany her my Mother, her husband and me. I am having a very bad run and I am very depressed by my dear Father. What I least fancy is getting back into a hospital. But I love my sister very much and I want to be by her side as she has always been mine, and give her a kiss before entering the operating room. Sorry to extend me so much with my sister’s operation, but you are my friend and for me it is very important. Karen thanks. I wish all your family and you a lot of love, a lot of health and a lot of strength. Take care of yourself and keep warm. I feel like it has rained twice as much as it had to rain. I wish it would rain normally from now on. Do not wet yourself. Loving caresses for Grace and Meg. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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    • Dear Margarita,
      I understand your not wanting to go near a hospital so soon after all that has happened. But, as you say, you must, to support your sister. It is the right thing to do and you will be glad you did. There is no easy thing to say to comfort you. We both must do our duty and help our relatives and it is sometimes very difficult and takes a toll. Time is a great healer, my friend. Your father would not want you to be sad. He would want you to find joy in small things, as best you can. We are all only here on this planet for a short while. We have a choice, to be sad, or to look for the good in people, to help others, and to enjoy the simple things in life. I’m sending positive thoughts your way. I shall think of you tomorrow and pray the operation goes well. I’m sure you are like me and will find the strength to do all that you must. And you will have sad days and happy days alternately no doubt, but you’ll slowly find there will be more happy days than sad. I really hope this will be the case for you. Sending affectionate greetings from Mr B, Grace and a Meg. I’ll try to keep dry, although the rain has been truly awful. Much love, and kind thoughts – karen xxx


      • My dear friend Karen, thank you very much for your wise advice and for your kind words of support. You are absolutely right in saying that my Father would not like it to be so; and that in life there are small things that make you happy, like watching your blogs and writing for example. You are so right in your advice that I will follow them, see if I have strength. Life is short, but you have to enjoy it even if you hit us and help others. I was with my sister from the first moment until the last, and although inside I felt bad for being in a Hospital, being with my sister has been much better. Thank God the operation went very well although they found the arm worse than they thought. The Surgeon has said that he will not be able to drive again and that he has lost a lot of strength in his arm: but that it depends on the person and the rehabilitation. My sister has taken it very well: if she can’t drive, take her husband to work or go by bus. And since she is not going to be able to write on the computer, she says that she has to change her job with her professional category and her bonuses to one she can play. And that doesn’t matter. I was tired of being on the computer all day with the news from RTVE and outside, staying many days to work late. I am convinced that with my sister’s way of being and a lot of rehabilitation she will recover her arm to drive but not for the work computer anymore. The bad thing is that the poor woman has caught a cold with the cold of the Operating Room and that when she left the postoperative period she was very cold. She is already at home, although I think that with the delicate operation they should have left her for another day. Karen much love and good health to Mr. B., all your family and you. Take care of you all very much. Loving caresses for Grace and Meg. Keep warm and do not get wet with rain. Here we have been at 20ºC for a week and it continues during this week and at 10ºC at night: a totally abnormal time. They announce some rains in the north for this week, but they are needed throughout Spain. Karen I hope you have a break with the rains and a few days with sunshine. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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      • I am so pleased to hear the operation was a success. What a worrying time for your all. I am amazed at the power of the body to cope with illnesses and operations and return to good health. I am sure all will be well if your sister takes good care of herself and listens to the experts regarding exercise and physiotherapy. Sending affectionate greetings to all. Love from karen and everyone here xxx

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  4. Lovely selection of sunflowers. I particularly liked the deep red one. I’ve tried to grow sunflowers for the last few years without success. It’s too windy for them here and they end up being snapped in half. I’ll no doubt try again next year anyway – ever the optimist!

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    • Hello and thanks for reading. I live at the top of a ridgeway, with the garden backing on to windswept farmland. How I grow them is amongst sweet corn, which help to hold them up. I grow squash and courgettes at their feet, and sweet peas and climbing beans grow up through the sunflowers making use of their stems and anchoring them to the ground. I put the canes in the ground at the same time as planting them out. I’ve had success with morning glory growing up them as well. This creates a natural rope tie, if you like, and the yellow and blue combination is rather wonderful. I believe the growing system is called the three sisters. Good luck.


    • That’s a lot of rain for your neck of the woods! Here on the Coasta del Merseyside it chucked it down from mid-morning on Friday until about 2.00pm on Saturday! My sunflowers usually fall prey to slugs and snails Karen so I have taken careful note of the measures you take to take to keep them at bay and will try them out next year. Thanks for the tips 😄

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      • Thank you. Once the sunflowers get to 10” the stems are not so attractive to slugs. They like the new shoots best, so I always give them enough care as if they are newborn babies until they reach about a foot. Then they are on their way and no more trouble. Good luck 😀 xx


    • Thank you Phao. Lots of work to start with, and then when they get to a foot tall they are no trouble and just look after themselves. Watching the birds enjoying the seeds is a real treat. There were all kinds of finches on there today. A bonus after the flowers. Thanks for reading

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    • Thank you Mike. Mine are always late here because it’s such a cold windswept garden. But the bonus is they last until the first frosts. We had a very cold night last night, but no frost. Tonight there are clear skies and temperatures are falling. All kinds of little finches on the flowers today. I must say, a parakeet would be a wonderful thing to see! So colourful- and noisy I expect.

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  5. I’ll have to see if the garlic spray deters deer. I bought a commercial preparation which worked but is quite expensive and smells truly horrible. It almost deterred me! I grew sunflowers this year also, but only the regular tall variety. The chickadees have already polished off the seeds; I don’t know if they had a chance to ripen.

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    • Oh dear! That’s made me laugh. I did once use a vinegar spray to kill weeds. A very posh client came to the house and declared the garden smelled like a fish and chip shop! I was most put out, and didn’t use it again for a while! I’ve heard that soap on a rope deters deer. They don’t like anything strong smelling. People have tried lion poo here from the local zoo. I’m sure that would put off visitors too!!! All the best. Karen

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