Six on Saturday | Annual Round-up

As it is coming to the end of October and the clocks move back tonight (why do they still do this?) we are heading into the worst months of the year (November, December and January) as far as I am concerned. I hate short days and it getting dark at 4 pm.  Not a time of year to head out into the garden either. Though now we have the Orangery (!) I am hoping that perhaps I can sit in there and enjoy watching the garden birds come to the feeders. But mainly winter is a time to plan ahead, redesign borders, choose plants for next year and dream of spring and the arrival of bulbs.  It’s also a time to analyse what went well and what can be deemed a failure in the garden this year. So here goes.

  1. Success #1. The Gravel Garden / Sunny Border – finally completed according to my vision a couple of years ago. I have put a few new plants in the wall including three Osteospermums, though only the Tresco Purple has really taken off,  Erigeron karvinskianus, (I had to resort to buying small plants as I was unable to raise this from seed) and some succulents. Hopefully next year this wall will be covered in flowers and stop all the weeds from growing.

    The planting around the granite slab has grown somewhat this year
  2. Success #2. The new bee and butterfly bed. Well perhaps too soon to say whether or not it is a success as the plants (all perennials and all in shades of blue, purple or red) have only just gone in. True success will be judged next summer if they survive the S&S attacks in spring.

    Hopefully edging plants will soften the border, if not I shall try planting something along the outside edge.
  3. Failure #1. Sweet peas. I usually grow my own from seed and choose multi-coloured ones in deep shades. This year I sowed white ones intended for the ‘White Bed’ and bought 8 small plants, 4 x ‘Just Julia’, a pretty mid-blue colour and 4 x ‘Heaven Scent’, a light apricot pink with a creamy background. Unfortunately, the white ones took an age to germinate because of the unusually cold spring ( I sow in Feb / March as I don’t have a greenhouse) and they were very slow to flower because of the hot dry summer.  I had planted the other ones in the new raised bed, without realising that they would be submerged by some Mallow plants that had been sown last year as part of a mixed wild flower seed packet. I also think I shall go back to the jewel colours next year.
  4. Success #3. Spring bulbs. I planted a lot of small bulbs last autumn, Dwarf Narcissi and Chionodoxa in the ‘Woodland Border’ to add colour and Crocus, Iris reticulata and Muscari in pots. As well as tulips. Most of the little Narcissi were fine though I did notice one type got eaten. I shall keep my eye on it when/if it reappears next year.
  5. Failure #2. (Some) Tulips. I love tulips and I went crazy two years ago buying bulbs for containers. Last autumn I was rather more restrained and bought three collections from the “Queen of Tulip Collections“, Sarah Raven. It was an odd year for spring bulbs with first the cold and then a mini heat wave in spring. My Brown Sugar tulips were snapping / being bitten about an inch under the flower, so too short to even put into a vase and I never did find out the cause. I also had some Avignon Parrot tulips in the scented collection and found that the heads were far too big and heavy for my windy plot. This year I have been even more restrained with only one collection ‘Brandy Snap‘ with four types I haven’t grown before. We’ll have to wait and see if this is a success next year.
  6. Finally, the front garden. Or courtyard. Or indeed ledge. North-facing this area doesn’t get any direct sun ever. Though it is quite light there. My ultimate plan is to have lots of pots crammed onto the ledge with mostly foliage plants, but some pops of colour in the form of Hydrangeas, Fuchsias, a Clematis or two and a couple of roses in oranges/peaches/ cream shades. Maybe some Begonias and Impatiens for summer colour, Hellebores for winter and bulbs in the spring. This area is next year’s project though the spring bulbs have already been planted.

See here for the participant’s guide.

Six on Saturday


  1. I can’t imagine what it feels like when the sun is gone and it is dark from 4pm. Even in the depths of winter here it’s daylight until 5.30pm.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I might be exaggerating a little. It will get dark earlier tonight as the clocks went back – I estimate around 6pm but it is a lovely sunny day so maybe a bit later. I will have to make a note of when it gets dark on 21st December as that is our shortest day. (I might need a reminder though!)

  2. Lora Hughes says:

    What a great roundup! As others said, more successes than failures. I was coveting the same Sarah Raven tulips which got eaten in your garden, so may hold off on those until you find the culprit. My tulips last more than one year in pots, but I’ve also lived in gardens where they survive in the ground. I suppose it depends on your local climate, the protection/exposure of the particular place in the garden, etc. Or maybe I have tulip fairies, which means I can order those Sarah Raven bulbs after all . . .

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have left tulips in pots for more than a year but usually the second year is not as good. I think I just need to treat them as a luxurious annual treat! I have had Brown Sugar for two years and had no problem in the first one, so not sure what was going on last year. Rabbits maybe? But then why just that particular tulip?

  3. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I love those subtle sweet pea colours Jude, I’m with you on the nest three months, I can’t stand cold and continuous rain and have to make a conscious effort to keep the gloom at bay!

    1. Heyjude says:

      At least today was sunny. Sunny and cold I can put up with. But it is dark already and not even evening as far as I am concerned.

  4. Joanne Sisco says:

    Whenever you talk about your garden I feel so inspired to put more effort into my own. Like planting bulbs for next spring. I say it every year and never do it. Sigh. I guess I’ll just have to keep living vicariously through your gardening adventures and make believe what my own garden might look like.

    Your comment though about hoping the plants soften the edges of the butterfly bed was interesting. The sharp clean edges of the bed rather appealed to my sense of organization. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that it was good to let nature ‘soften the edges’. Maybe my lackadaisical approach to gardening isn’t all bad after all 😉

    1. Heyjude says:

      I am often late planting bulbs, but I do like to see them in early spring. It is nice to have a garden again so I can plant more each year and hopefully build them up. I think you probably have a lovely garden, it’s just not your passion as it is mine. You can share my garden and I will share your cycling adventures 🙂

      1. Joanne Sisco says:

        Sounds like a perfect share 🙂

  5. Definitely more successes than failures! Love your gravel garden.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Ahem! I might have forgotten about a few failures, but really down to the Beast and not my mismanagement (other than not wrapping them up warmly).

  6. You’re a queen of gardens! I love this stocktake, as I look at my tiny unkempt deck box where I just planted basil and two lots of different lettuce in dry soil that had to be nurtured first! A developing garden always seems miraculous to me, and your garden is indeed a miracle. Good luck with the orangery and the dark months.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you Meg! Orangery survived yesterdays hailstones so keeping fingers crossed. Lovely to hear from you and I have been for a gander on the blog. 🙂

  7. Chloris says:

    Your gravel garden is a great success and what pretty sweet peas. I treat tulips as annuals too, they are luxuries. Oh, the dreariness of dark at teatime, this clock- changing is a misery.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Chloris. I guess I shall see whether it is successful next year when things start to grow again. I have a suspicion I will have to thin some plants or move them elsewhere.

  8. Jude, it’s absolutely gorgeous! What a wonderful labour of love. I’m surprised you find time to visit other gardens looking at all that hard work 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      That’s my excuse for not going anywhere!

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