Six on Saturday: Monsters

At some point in mid-Spring, the garden goes from looking a little bare and forlorn to being suddenly taken over by great green monsters in the form of overgrown shrubs, hedges and climbers.

This is certainly true in our front garden where the plum cherry hedge, planted by our neighbour to prevent unwitting people from holding onto the unstable handrail between our houses, was threatening to prevent anyone from entering through the front door. We were at risk of becoming a veritable Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

So this week’s Six begins with some of the monster jobs that await me in May – and one I have already tackled.. As ever I am joining in with the Monster of Propagation himself, The Propagator, and his legions of little seedlings followers. Do check him and them out.

  1. Cutting back the plum cherry

After blossoming beautifully early in the year, the plum cherry had gone bananas and sprouted an enormous rusty green wig. It was time for a haircut, making sure not to take off the fruit.

There, that’s much more manageable. We can actually get to the front door without running the gauntlet of spiky branches and now this ornamental fruit tree can put more energy into growing its fruit (which are allegedly edible if we get to them before the birds).

2. Dr Franken-Spirea

Our Spirea has gone from being a beautiful, frothy white just a few weeks ago to this mad, zingy lime green. If ever there was a shrub in need of good hard prune this is it. I just need to summon up the energy to tackle it – a bit like wrestling with Medusa.

3. Crazy Campanula

Now I know what you are thinking. This is no monster of a plant. But this little fragment of Campanula sitting so demurely by our front door is just the outer tentacle of a mass of green and purple which takes over the walls of our front garden at this time of year. I can pull out great handfuls of it, not a jot of difference will it make to this delicate thug. Just as well the star-like flowers are so pretty to make up for its smothering nature.

4. Bronze fennel

Another prolific self-seeder in our front garden is this bronze fennel, at its best at this time of year when its feathery fronds are burnished red gold. Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’ is an edible herbs with many uses – it can be chopped over salads, or its seeds can be used in breads and cakes.

5. Broad beans and bindweed

The broad beans are now in flower and looking healthy. Behind them are peeping some of this year’s sweet peas. But in the middle you might just spot the biggest monster of them all in this part of the garden. The dreaded bindweed.

6. Phlomis

I know that summer is on its way when the Phlomis russeliana starts coming into flower. I cut our Turkish sage back hard last year and it looks all the happier for it. Not a monster at all, but you’ve got to admit there’s something sort of sci-fi about those flowers.

I hope all you SOSers out there have a productive weekend, vanquishing any monsters in your own gardens!

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Haven’t found my fennel self seeding yet but possibly as the goldfinches stripped the seeds. They lived it last year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Both my Spirea have gone mad this year. I was thinking when getting in the car the one on the front is going to need a major cut in the Autumn…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JohnK says:

    Good luck with the monster vanquishing though try not to let the horse trample over all the good stuff. I’d spear the Spirea next, though, as the spring-flowering types are best pruned within a couple of weeks after flowering stops.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s that time! My Six this week also deals with the invaders!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. fredgardener says:

    Pretty spirea volume, mine went to the hairdresser as I suggested JohnK. It’s the good time for spring-blooming varieties.
    Phlomis already in bloom… I love it !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One Man And His Garden Trowel says:

    You did a good job with the plum cherry. I’ve noticed a Crazy Campanula growing against the fence, just behind the viburnum. I’ve no idea where it came from (I’m assuming the neighbours) but it is rather nice when it flowers. I must keep an eye on it.


  7. Whatever you are feeding the first two shrubs is clearly most nutritious! I’ve not seen that Phlomis before.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lora Hughes says:

    I keep getting tempted by phlomis then think, where would it fit in? Seeing yours, nowhere – it’s unique & deserves a place just on that account. Your bronze fennel is certainly beautiful. You’ve done a great job w/the pruning as well. Spirea, gird thyself. Your turn’s next.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Noelle says:

    Nice collection this week…Phlomis looking like little blocks of sunshine.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. susurrus says:

    The bronze fennel looks great. I love the campanula too, although delicate thug is an apt description!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Heyjude says:

    I have a huge Bronze fennel – do you use the leaves in salads then? I don’t quite know what to do with mine!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. n20gardener says:

    The phlomis looks so happy, do you every worry about losing it? I thought it would be too tender for my garden. Sending you positive thoughts for cutting back the spirea.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. cavershamjj says:

    I’ve been looking at my big hypericum shrub and thinking it needs a good trim. Next year perhaps!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve always loved phlomis but have never bought one. I really don’t know why. It’s such an interesting flower. Do you leave the seed head on over winter?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I leave them on for a while then trim.


  15. tonytomeo says:

    Oh my! This was NOT the time to prune the plum! It is more vascularly active now than at any other time of year. Pruning should have been done prior to bloom, while it was still bare in winter, or after the fruit is finished, and vascular activity slows down a bit. Some (fruitless) flowering trees can be pruned after bloom, but even for them, it is best to allow the new growth to mature a bit before doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was necessary so we could get up our front steps. Perhaps it was not the right place to plant a plum but that was our neighbour (who asked me to prune it now as it was shading her veg bed). It’s a bit of a brute – it will survive!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Oh, I now that goes. We had to move a star magnolia last SUMMER! I really liked the small tree (or shrub), and hated to offend it. Fortunately, it is doing quite well now.

        Liked by 1 person

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