A Time for Reflection … Part 1

No, I’m not getting all maudlin on you. I’ve just done my last bit of wintertime prep in the garden and wanted to write out some of my successes, failures and … learnings, I suppose you’d call them from the last couple of years.

006Although we moved into this house at the end of May in 2012, I didn’t get a whole lot done in the garden over that summer. Yes, there were some annuals, including some red and some white geraniums pelargoniums in terracotta pots and some cosmos daisies (white and pink). I have to say that the two plants we bought did amazingly well. The photo over there of the white one was taken about a week or so after I planted it. Although it didn’t get huge, it was definitely a prolific flowerer! The pink one – seen in the photo a bit down the page – was an incredible plant! It lasted for months and months, grew tall and wide and was generally an all round fantastic purchase! I also did a fair whack of cutting back, clearing space  and digging up of forget-me-nots …


The first flower I planted was a lovely blue Veronica longifolia – we’d decided early on that the “half moon” bed was to be blue and white. Which was a bit of a bugger to the big clumps of flame-red giant poppies.


 I also fought a battle with clumps of daylily (Hemerocallis). I don’t now which of the previous owners had a love-affair with them and so planted them everywhere but I consider them a waste of time. No, really. Granted, whilst they flower (for a week or two, maximum) the flowers look good (not spectacular – just good), but for the rest of the year they’re just mounds of strappy vegetation and could be, well, anything. I might be missing something important about them but, and I’m not particularly ashamed to say, I’m not that bothered about finding out. There are other plants that look better for longer.

Last year I also grew – thanks to a gift from my mother – shoofly for the first time.  Nicandra physalodes is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae) and is quite an impressive plant – if you have the space. It grows to (at least) a metre in height and possible over a metre square. It does like heat to get going and lasts well until the frosts arrive. The flowers are purple and cream, and then create wonderful paper-clad seedpods. These do seed freely and will germinate naturally, but only if the heat is right (some that seeded from last year didn’t come to anything until about August of this year!).

Geum, cosmos, rudbeckia, shoofly

Geum, cosmos, rudbeckia, shoofly

The big success of 2012 was the planting of my first geum – ‘Totally Tangerine’. Planted in full sun it was a triumphant riot of orange flowers. I was a bit dubious about not cutting it back in the autumn but I was assured by various sources that this is as it should be. Consequently, this spring it was another amazing display.

2012 was also the Year of the Lavender – although perhaps the least said about that the better … out of several plants that were purchased only 4 plants are still alive (and one of those isn’t the happiest of blooms).

Lavendula stoechas 'Coco Blue-White'

Lavendula stoechas ‘Coco Blue-White’

But then winter came around and we all went to sleep until spring 2013.

I think that we were too busy for me to actually learn anything per se about the garden in any more detail than “oh, it gets the sun there at that time and over there at that time”. We met the neighbours, settled in, and I would wander up and down the garden thinking “If only this was my garden and not rented … I’d do this and move that and get rid of those …”

Spring 2013 started fairly warmly in March. So much so that the clematis started to shoot in earnest:

… but then came the frost and buggered it all up …

More in Part 2!



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