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.
Ponds are a challenge, but I’m sure you can rock that one! Gardens are meant to evolve, aren’t they? You’d get bored -and overcrowded- if everything was a success. The roses look lovely though. I hate the clock change too. It’s just getting dark now on what has been a very dull day. Tomorrow- who knows?
I can see you put a huge amount of work into your garden and it shows.
Success or failure, the colour in your garden is always beautiful either way. I find these posts very inspirational. I’m beginning to think we need to use weed membrane everywhere. They just continue to flourish.
My poor lawn, the bit that is left, seems to be mostly dandelions!
It looks stunning, even the areas you have put down as part failures. You are an inspiration to us all – good luck with the pond!
The pond will depend on finding a garden landscaper who doesn’t charge too much, my back is definitely not up to digging holes!
No ponds definitely should be dug by someone else – do you have any agricultural colleges nearby? Their students are always looking for extra work!
Great idea to keep a record of all you buy. Very handy for next years planning. Found it very hard to find willing, and not too expensive, gardeners over here. Good luck with the pond project.
Yes, that might end up being a dream, like the loft conversion. No one wants to do small jobs.
🙄same over here. Building and renovations are everywhere at the moment so tradies are in very short supply
Your garden alwasy looks so lovely to me Jude – you obviously put your heart and soul into it. It looks such a special place 🙂
Thanks Rosemary. I’m not very happy with it at the moment though. I’d like to start again with the knowledge I have accumulated over the last five years. Something to work on during the winter months.
I think I need to hire you to plan my garden! Very hard to get things to grow in the sandy soils of the coastal plain in Perth. However we had so much rain this winter and last month too that it has been good for quite a few plants though my basil wasn’t happy.
Mediterranean plants should be good in sandy free draining soil.
Thanks for the tip Jude! There is a lot of work to do in our garden after the winter rains. We made a good start today and cleared out a lot in the beds – unfortunately one of our natives was chomped through by termites over the winter (fortunately we got the pest control guy in pronto and all is sorted out now phew)!
There is always some critter out to destroy a garden! Fortunately termites are not found here.
You always have such wonderful colour in your garden – even if you consider some of to be failures. I like your detailed notes on what you planted and what went well, or not. I started off this year with a similar plan, but I’ve not been as diligent about it as maybe I should have – however, it should go some way to inform what I do for next year, which includes enlarging some beds and creating a new one. My cosmos are looking fabulous! Every day there are more flowers on them and they are a profusion of pink shades. If only they had flowered when they should have – and also been their intended height – not the 9 feet tall monstrosities that I currently have. 😀
Cosmos were definitely failures this year, but I don’t blame myself for that. I have been successful before. I might try sowing my own again in the spring, now that I understand not to put out young seedlings for the molluscs to eat!
At first I did blame myself for my wayward cosmos but when I heard how many others had struggles with them this year, I felt glad that they had grown at all! 😀 Oh yes, be mindful of those slimy assassins.
You are my hero with your gardening exploits Jude – I live vicariously through your efforts! I agree with your analysis of winter – blah!! Much as I love autumn, which here means the arrival of the purple sweet grasses, I equally despise the arrival of the cold and dark. Fortunately for us it arrives late and leaves early but it’s still my least favorite time of year. Congrats on the marvelous blooms and good luck with the pond. Will look forward to seeing how it works out for you.
Amazing color and beauty in your garden –thanks for the round up of success and failure. The failures seem pretty minimal to me, but I am the same about judging the success of plant pairings and disappointment at some plants not doing well.
It take much time and efforts to maintain your beautiful garden, Jude. A pond is a nice idea. Thanks for the lovely tour of your garden.
Thanks Amy. A pleasure to show you around.
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