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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.