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. beetleypete says:

    I am suitably shamed by your garden efforts, Jude. But as it is pouring down with freezing rain here, I at least have an excuse not to worry about gardening today. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      Been several hail showers here Pete since the early hours – like someone is throwing a whole packet of tin tacks on the Velux windows! Sunny earlier but the sky is getting black again now and that wind is very cold! I am guessing you won’t be wearing shorts today for Ollie’s walk!

      1. beetleypete says:

        Just back, and pretty damp. Not only no shorts, but heavy boots and a big coat. Plus the umbrella! 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          Umbrella would have been useless here today in the wind. Still hailing!

  2. I loved looking around your garden, it is always good to look back over the year, then quickly move on to the next one. Your successes definitely outweighed any failures. Here’s to a great 2019!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Less failures than last year as I refrained from planting any veggies! Soon learned that I am not a vegetable grower. I am still learning about this garden and what can and cannot cope with the conditions here.

  3. I see you back on to fields – very nice. We back on to the local cemetery which I like, too. (We get the usual comment that “It must be quiet” regularly but we know that no one can build on it!) I was thinking of looking back to my successes/failures but will do that nearer the end of the year. I am looking forward to seeing the bee and butterfly bed next year. Is that going to attract more insects than plants spread around the garden? Interesting.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I consider the end of BST the end of the gardening year, although to be fair I still have flowers in bloom. Although after today’s constant hailstorms maybe not as many as yesterday! I don’t have many flowers in borders as there aren’t really any borders in this garden! The chap who previously owned it created low granite walls around the boundary, which makes planting quite difficult – hence the new bed and the removal of lawn. I shall try and note what comes to the bee and butterfly bed – more butterflies hopefully!

  4. Eek! My narcissi got eaten too – I thought it was pigeons eating the flowers or it could have been snails. Jolly annoying. Hope the tulips do well next year. Mine suffered this year too.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I shall keep an eye on them next year and try to discover who is the culprit. That’s if they actually flower again! I adore tulips, but dislike the faff of having to plant new ones each year. I have tried planting some in the garden, with little success. I think bulbs either get nibbled by the slugs or rot in the wet soil, which is why I use containers.

  5. I remember the experiment with not putting clocks back in the late 60s and going to school in the dark which seemed weird. That was in the north of England so it would be even darker in the north of Scotland which I think is where a lot of objections come from.

    As usual, your garden looks wonderful.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I guess, though it does mean coming home in the dark so I’m still not sure what is gained by it. I suppose when Scotland gains independence they can choose their own hours 😉

      1. I did think of putting that but thought it might be over-confident!

  6. fredgardener says:

    I count 4 successes and 2 failures: You won. It’s very nice to admire the result of your efforts. Even if you have lost things, you can change your technique for the next few years. ( congratulations for your gravel garden 🙂 )

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Fred. Yes, indeed, I shall definitely grow my sweetpeas in a better location next year. And hopefully the new tulips will be a success. Who knows! Today it has been hail showers all day long interspersed with sunshine, but bitterly cold.

  7. One Man And His Garden Trowel says:

    I’m not looking forward to the journeys to and from work in the dark and only getting to see the garden at the weekend. Loved the successes and empathise with the less successful things. I’ve never had any success with tulips; I prefer to admire other people’s instead.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Another reason to be thankful that I am retired and no longer have to do those journeys. I always hated getting up in the dark 😦

  8. pommepal says:

    I loved this walk around your garden Jude. It is so colourful and interesting. Love all the variety you have achieved a lovely selection in each area. The gravel garden is a huge success. I like how you have fields as your backdrop. Now onto planning next year a garden is a constant joy. I would not like your winter either

    1. Heyjude says:

      Winter arrived today PP. Very cold and windy and lots of hail showers. I cannot get enthusiastic about winter especially the wet and grey days. Should be sunny and cold tomorrow so I might actually head to a garden to see if there is any tree colour.

      1. pommepal says:

        Brrrrr time to head over here ☔️

  9. janesmudgeegarden says:

    You had more success than failure Jude, and that is a good thing. Like you, my tulip growing was an experiment this year, and I think that although the flowers are rather beautiful, I’ll concentrate on things that are more reliable and will multiply by themselves. Your gravel garden is excellent and it will be very interesting to see it maturing when the warm weather arrives again. Something to look forward to.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I suspect Jane that I shall be cutting lots of things back! I always plant too close together.

  10. Su Leslie says:

    I love these glimpses I to your garden Jude. And the scales are definitely tipped on the successes side.
    I’m less a fan of daylight saving than I used to be, but I suppose not being in a job with regular hours, I can accommodate natural seasonal change more easily.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Now I am retired Sue I don’t really care, except for the fact that we lose the daylight at the end of the day when I AM awake! Makes it a loooong evening.

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