Once more we are reaching the end of October and the end of BST and my least favourite time of the year. I just hate the short days and lack of light. Time once more to analyse what went well and what can be deemed a failure in the garden this year so I can re-design the beds and borders. I keep a note of everything I buy and it’s sobering to see how much has died, whether due to poor plant choices, pest damage, the weather or wrong plant wrong place. But I’m not going to let my failures stop me from experimenting because isn’t that what gardening is all about?
(1) Success. My decision to remove more of the weed-ridden lawn has been fairly successful so far, though the dandelions have come through the area I left without weed membrane. I might have to reconsider that. Several new plants were purchased and planted including a couple of grasses, a Gaura and two Geums. They seem to have settled in nicely and hopefully next summer will see them grow and fill the spaces more. If they survive the winter of course. I have tried to allow them space to grow this time!
(2) Success. Clearing out the small bed close to the patio meant I could get in to cut back the white rose growing on the fence and train it better. I also planted three new clematis, two of which have grown, the third not as well. I am hoping that it will put on some growth next year, but I do tend to have a hit and miss success rate with clematis. I scattered a packet of pollinator wild flowers onto the bare soil and planted two replacement (for two that died) Heleniums. Both the Heleniums and the pollinator flowers looked good throughout the summer months.
(3) Semi-Failure. The Bee and Butterfly bed. The plants here have become overcrowded. A Phygelius ‘African Queen’ (Cape fuchsia or Cape figwort) has run amok sending runners all over the place and I need to remove it and put it back into a container. Whether I can remove all the runners is another question.
Geranium Rozanne also went a bit crazy and sought world domination, well at least the complete 1m square bed! I ruthlessly chopped her back in July, but she flowered on and on and on.
I also used this bed as a nursery for some Erigeron. They loved it so much that they grew over the pebble pathway and tried to strangle my Geranium renardii. Other plants such as Salvias, Penstemon, a lavender and Chocolate Cosmos have struggled and my pretty red lobelia didn’t flower at all. I have come to realise that plants that may seem too small when first planted can easily grow too large when in their third year.
(4) Semi-Failure. Raised bed. Not an outright failure because the roses in this bed have been fine this year, but the rest of the bed needs revamping as there are all sorts of plants growing here which are not working together.
My white Narcissi re-appeared as did the white tulips and some of the Muscari as well as the white ‘Glory of the Snow’ which actually increased. Hardly any of the Iris reticulata re-appeared though. I was going to clear this bed, but because of the wet May I didn’t get around to it. It’s probably on its way out though as I have plans for this area.
(5) Tulip Bulbs – failure. I left all last year’s tulips in their containers . Hardly any returned. And yet some from previous years did, so I am not sure what that tells you (or me) except the ones that returned are in glazed pots, the others in plastic which stayed far too wet during the wet spring. I’m buying new bulbs this year and they are going into glazed or terracotta pots.
However the new bulbs I bought were lovely.
As for the summer bulbs I planted in late March – Martagon lilies, Freesia, Sparaxis, Ixia and two types of Zephyranthes – candida and robusta (rain lilies) – only the Freesia performed at all and they weren’t as scented as I expected them to be. The Martagon lilies did start to grow before disappearing altogether, one even reached the dizzying height of 6 inches! But when I returned from my holiday at the end of May there was not a trace of it. Oh, well, maybe they are putting down roots for next year.
(6) Failure. Patio pots. I ordered several different types of annuals from a different online nursery this year for my pots. Fiery coloured Bidens, yellow and orange Osteospermum, white Bacopa and orange Calibrachoa and white Cosmos. They were all supposedly large plug plants, but on arrival in mid-May I thought they were very tiny plants. They arrived just before I went away for a week, so I hurriedly popped them into small plant pots to await planting out when I got back. Sadly none of these plants grew well. I even bought more Cosmos plants in June, but even they didn’t flower until late August!
My cunning plan concerns the raised bed area. I have been wanting a fairly shallow natural pond for a while now and contemplating where to put one. Next to the patio seemed like a logical place as there were already a lot of bog loving plants growing there, then I thought maybe just convert the Butler sink into a water feature, but when I was thinking about what I could do with the raised bed (4) which I am not happy about I suddenly had a light-bulb moment. This could be a good area for the pond! Sunny, but not all day, a larger area than next to the patio so room enough to still have some of the plants in that bed around it. And there is a lovely large rock which would be perfect for making it look natural. Now all I have to do is find a gardener who likes building ponds!
As I did last year I shall be taking a break from the SoS for a while as there is never anything interesting in my garden over the next few months, but I hope to be back with the Prop and all my SOS friends in January. I will of course still be checking in on what everyone else is up to.
See here for the participant’s guide.
I was doing the same critical overview in my garden the other day. We do tend to focus more on what displeased rather than pleased. I’ve also been telling myself that it’s been a rather challenging year this year. I’ve really enjoyed reading your sixes and look forward to when you start again. Hope you find someone to make your pond.
Interesting to see your successes and failures during the year. I think your idea of incorporating a pond into your garden is lovely. I look forwards to seeing your idea taking shape. I was very hesitant about having a pond, and we tentatively put one in before winter, and it seems to be doing well.
So wonderful photography 🌹👌🏼🙏🏼 variety of beautiful flowers 👍🌹
I loved reading your honest overview of the garden, Jude – I know it helps others when we admit to ‘failures’ and just the very act of reviewing can trigger new ideas as well. And of course it also demonstrates the colour you have created in your garden for much of the year
I suppose the SoS encourages us to showcase what is looking good in our gardens, though I have done a couple of posts about weeds! But we probably all have failures and difficult / neglected areas that we try to ignore. New gardeners may not realise that even experienced gardeners have their issues!
Although Jon probably tells us anything goes!
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