A Time For Reflection Part 2

I hadn’t originally planned for this to spread over more than one post, but I also hadn’t planned for heucheras to take over my garden … but here I am with 11 of the buggers …

Before I get back into a review of 2013, I wanted to share something that made me have a little horticultural facepalm. When I was out doing my bits and pieces yesterday, I noticed something growing in the middle of one of my Japanese anemone (Anemone hupehensis var japonica). Early (for the anemones) in 2013 I purchased two plants that were already in flower (silly boy) to go in my shady border (more on that later). They came, they flowered, they – er – they died right back to straggly little nothings. Clearly not happy where they were, when I revamped the bed (after removing the horribly ill-placed honeysuckle) I shuffled them to somewhere new, under the proviso that they had next spring to start doing something or they were gone. No room for lollygaggers. Not on my watch.

There was improvement in one of the plants, but given that their natural flowering time was over I had some hope for next spring.

So cue the surprise when, upon examination, it was not something growing through the plant …

2013-11-28 12.23.57

As far as I can tell, it isn’t all that usual for these to flower after frosts have started. But there you go. A garden mystery. Hopefully it’ll survive into next year (the plant, not the flowerbuds!). (I feel I should point out that another clump of these started budding in mid-August and were flowering freely from early September.)

Whilst talking of garden, er, mistakes, time to move on to a couple of not-so-great moments from this year …

Along with the anemones and heucheras that I bought for the shady border, I also bought a Trollius chinensis ‘Golden Queen’, having never grown Chinese globeflowers before and reading somewhere that they didn’t mind the shade as long as it was damp, being native to meadows (although cold-wet was bad, they are also very hardy, being native to northern China and Siberia). Mmm.

There’s a difference between willowy elegance and light-deprived straggliness. There’s also a difference between watering something enough and, er, not … Although still alive when the revamp occurred, this was not a happy plant (sorry, no pictures of said unhappiness!) Again, it got moved and we shall see if (with some judicious care and attention) its happier next year!

Astilbes are not right up there on my Must Grow list. However, when I was on holiday in June, my other half thought he’d purchase one. Upon researching them and finding that they like damp conditions (although shade-tolerant and clay-loving and hardy) I was somewhat disheartened by the choice, but upon my return I planted it where I had room at the time.

Despite being in semi-shade and me watering it, it didn’t do well. It didn’t die right off the bat. The flowers faded after a while, but it didn’t seem to grow. It has subsequently gone brown and crinkly. However, upon cutting back there is green in there, so there may be hope yet (and if it does turn out to have croaked then I won’t exactly be crying about it …).

2013-10-19 14.10.46My other main ‘disaster’ this year has been pest control, specifically (but not limited to) the gastropod kind. Last year I bought some very jolly French marigolds (Tagetes patula) in order to infill where I’d removed some previous plants and hadn’t yet found replacements. Annuals. Instant colour. Its all good.

The slugs and snails definitely thought so. Unfortunately, having a dog with a “eat now, repent at leisure” approach to investigation precluded lacing the ground with an inch of slug pellets (yes, you can get ‘pet-friendly’ slug bait; no, I didn’t really want to risk it) so I watched with dismay as they were munched to nothing in the space of seconds (okay – 2 or 3 nights). This year, however, I avoided marigolds altogether (not quite true – in a planty care package provided by my mother and delivered by my father there was a single marigold which was planted in a raised box – and lasted at least a week before the little monsters found it and devoured it).

My main enemy in the garden now is feline in origin, multitudinous in number and foul in nature. I like cats. I like all animals (even slugs & snails have their uses and their place in nature), and its always good to work with nature instead of against it. However. There is a line to be drawn. Vegetarians scoffing my plants when I don’t protect them? I can take that on the chin. Catshit, on the other hand, is something that I don’t feel is acceptable. I have one neighbour with one cat (who generally takes care of his own business in his own garden). I have another neighbour with two cats (who just luuurve my soft, freshly turned and well-cared for soil). I have a third neighbour at the end of the garden who rescues cats. A lot of cats. Need I go on? I think not.

The third pest that arrived this year in great numbers were caterpillars. My mum sent me a batch of sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis) seedlings which did very well. Considering they are biannual (i.e. they flower and set seed in their second year and then die) I wasn’t expecting much, other than a lot of green. Well, I got a lot of that all right, plus flowers (a bit of a surprise, it has to be said).

Then my neighbour planted sprouts (actually, a lot of sprouts). And I planted some alyssum.

2013-06-24 17.19.25

Needless to say, the Cabbage White butterflies (Pieris brassicae) had a whale of a time with all that brassica-y goodness abounding …

However, with some judicious pruning of the rocket (and in one case digging up an infested plant and replanting it on its own behind the shed) things calmed down soon enough – even the alyssum bounced back. Which is more than can be said for my neighbour’s sprout plants. No sprouts, but plenty of sprouting …

I feel that I should end on a high, however. And that is my pelargoniums. Well, I call them ‘annual geraniums’ as I treat them as annuals and don’t bother trying to overwinter them. Last year I had a mixture of red and white (sadly, the vast majority of my 2012 pictures are on an external hard drive that I have yet to send to see what can be exhumed), but the white ones didn’t seem to flower as prolifically as the red. Not sure why. Anyway, I bought a few packs and potted them. I think I ended up with 4 or 5 terracotta pots full …

as well as a metal ‘trough’ that we … inherited with the house and also a big rectangular wooden planter (a kind gift from our neighbour) …

I have to say that they were quite spectacular (as this year I managed to water and feed them on a more regular basis than last year!) and I was very pleased. Debating giving them a miss next year – or finding some alternative ‘flavours’.

And it looks like this will now become a series of posts rather than just the one or two … But the next post will be more of an ode to the shady border (finally …) and me sharing some of my favourite pics from the year!

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