Saturday, 23 July 2011

Mid-Year Appraisal - still Thriving (23 JUL 2011)

So we have passed mid-summer and I'm still waiting for most of my annuals to mature let alone bloom, but as my mug is always at least half-full these days, I'll try to focus on what is thriving at the moment rather than what isn't.

canary creeper grown from last year's seed
self-seeded nicotiana

Unfortunately at work, half-full isn't acceptable. We have mid-year appraisals at this time of year. It's an opportunity to review work-done with the management, assess achievements & shortfalls and reschedule tasks to be completed by year-end in order to fulfil objectives set at the beginning. If I had approached my gardening activities in the same way I would probably have much more to show by now. However in January, I emphasised that there would be no target-setting in my garden, as I wanted it to be my pleasure and escape from the pressures of the world outside. I did make some Promises though, which I believe I have honoured so far ... almost.

rose in the right border ...
... and view from the kitchen sink
 
"Experiments with Plants will continue" - I didn't think too much about these words when I wrote them in January but they are meaningful now that I have been thinking about the scope of this blog and Diana's question "why am I blogging?"  It's what I do now instead of sitting in front of the TV. I often hear about people having blogging overload and how interacting with other bloggers gets too time-consuming. I have avoided this by keeping a careful life-work-blog balance. (It also helps that there isn't much to blog about in my garden ...)  Only a few of the people I know in the real world are into gardening. By blogging, I have been delighted to "meet" people from various countries with a similar interest. I've learnt a lot and been inspired. I can't remember being inspired by anything else before. What I appreciate most, is that we all have different styles & strong principles concerning our own gardens, yet we are not judgmental about others.

 
   


  
                                                 
                                                                           roses in the woodland

"no display-ready plants will enter my garden" - This was not really a promise, more an explanation of why my garden looks the way it does ie.half-full. This year I have tried my best to nurture my inherited plants; I have grown more by transplanting suckers, from bulbs & seeds and exchanging seedlings with my neighbour. I haven't even been tempted to buy plants.
 
agapathus

hydrangea

"foxglove measurements will be tabulated and correlated with flowering performance" -  This was written when I didn't have a clue if my foxgloves would even flower. Luckily they did. It was the only real "experiment" that I carried out this year, even then I just discovered what gardeners seemed to know already, I guess we are all scientists learning by trial and error. My plan to create a sub-species of foxgloves was flawed because I didn't take into account interference from pollinators doing their job while I was at work. I never bothered to notice what bees get up to till this year; they've moved on to the hebes since the foxgloves died. I assume breeding experiments are only possible if plants are grown in isolation and hand-pollinated.  I must try harder.

white hebe
pink hebe

"Live and let live with the Slugs & Snails" - When I started gardening it was all about the plants. I never imagined that six months later my phobia of creepy-crawlies would be almost cured, encouraging me to deal with others, that I'd be taking photos of slugs and snails and becoming a bit curious about them. I'm convinced that when they eat leaves, the plant's reaction is to flower prolifically so its species can survive. It's not possible to prove this though because there are no slug-free areas in my garden to grow control samples for comparison.

my last broccoli "sedum" ...
... to burst into flower
                
"Don’t be angry with the fox" – just get some garden netting, it deters slugs, snails, foxes and pigeons. Black bean aphids plagued everything except the peas & beans, but can be washed off with soapy water if caught early enough. Gradually I'm beginning to accept the things that go wrong in my garden, without feeling negative emotions; I put all my energy into working out solutions instead.  This is another example of a lesson I learnt in the garden that can be applied outside.

mixed sweet peas
borlotti beans

"Have trust in Mother Nature" – Before I started gardening, I didn't need to plan or have hopes for next year because it would certainly be the same as this year. My garden is teaching me to be hopeful in a way that I never have been. Starting with little hopes like "I hope this seed germinates", then "I hope this seedling grows", "I hope this plant flowers" leading to bigger hopes not just about gardening. Maybe they will come true too.

love sun rose-despite its scent of cheap perfume
fuschia & late-developing hollyhock
 
"Use the Garden to do Good Work - which will have an impact beyond the garden, myself and my life."   I've been thinking about this since I wrote it, but have done nothing so far, because I couldn't think of anything within the scope of this blog. Then while writing this appraisal I had an idea ... This year I grew an excess of seedlings; I gave some away but I had to throw away the rest. I wished I could present them to someone to introduce them to the benefits of gardening, just like Mrs. F did to me last year. Extending this thought, I checked on-line for local garden therapy charities. I couldn't find anything in my neighbourhood, but I found Thrive. I'm going to add their logo to my blog, hopefully this is just the beginning.

Thrive is a small national charity in the UK whose mission is to research, educate and promote the use and advantages of gardening for people with a disability.



©Copyright 2011 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for  http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2011/07/mid-summer-blooms-23-jul-2011.html

26 comments:

Alistair said...

Hi b-a-g, If you ask me, I would say you are doing a fantastic job all round. Now don't get me wrong, I have always liked your blog, but you now have it set out beautifully. I see the Agapanthus flowers when planted directly in the border down your way, we have to use them as container grown plants.

Esther Montgomery said...

Goodness! Getting a bit professional round here!

Thought provoking post though. Quite challenging too in some ways. (I just bumble on!)

Esther

b-a-g said...

Thanks Alistair - Those are inherited agapanthus. I tried separating them last year, hoping the flower heads would produce more florets, but it didn't make any difference.

Thanks Esther - I was trying to show my life-work-blog balance. Hope it worked. I've noticed great depth in your bumblings.

HolleyGarden said...

What a great post! I am impressed that you inherit plants and grow them from bulbs, etc., instead of purchasing them. I don't think I could ever do that, but I admire it. The plants in your pictures are lovely, and I love your philosophies.

Shyrlene said...

b-a-g -- this post is absolutely fabulous! I love the way you look at successes and challenges in your gardens (which are lovely, btw). The philosophy you've shared with your readers is endearing. Thank you!

b-a-g said...

Thanks for your kind comments Holly & Shyrlene - I think all of us garden bloggers are philosophers.

greenapplesgarden.com said...

I ditto Shyrlene. You have noted both success and challenges, what gardening is all about. The good with the 'bad'. I note bad because in the grand scheme of things, it is all for a purpose. We just perceive bad because it is a less than desirable outcome for we the gardeners! Just ask a slug how he feels and surly it would be a different answer. They live in my garden unharmed, but I do sneer at them each time one is spotted. I smile a bit when a robin gets one too.

Donna said...

Another wonderful post...your successes are so much sweeter for any perceived failures..although I find we don't fail...we just didn't get the desired response so we make changes and try again..it is the creed of the gardener and you have it...such lovely flowers everywhere...snail, aphids...they are food for birds and I have no time to run them out...I loved the analogy of work, life and garden balance...

One said...

This a good read. It touches a chord...

Your roses and fox glove are just gorgeous.

Today, I took photos of many small critters in the garden. Most of them are beneficial but the cutest one happen to be a leaf eating grasshopper. :)

b-a-g said...

Donnas GEV & GAG - Your approaches to gardening have surely influenced mine.

Thanks One - Congratulations on getting your other blog accepted by Blotanical too : http://tropicalnaturephotos.blogspot.com/

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

As you demonstrate, a garden really is a place of growth in so many senses of the word.

Christine @ the Gardening Blog said...

I love your Roses in the Woodland and that pink Hydrangea is stunning! B-a-g, this post gave me lots of food for thought. Very well put and written, thoroughly enjoyed :)

Stacy said...

I love your midyear assessment--it's not as success-or-failure oriented as I tend to be, but more "where have we come from, and what strategies can we come up with to get back on track as needed?" And I love how in gardening the promises can be about enjoyment and learning and live-and-let-live. That's so gorgeous! So is the view from your kitchen sink, by the way.

Thrive looks like a great organization--I'm a huge believer in horticultural therapy for all kinds of ailments.

Anita Kumar said...

Thought provoking post. BTW, you have plenty to blog about! Your roses are gorgeous.

PatioPatch said...

Enjoyed your reflectons b-a-g, thinking out loud as you take us round your garden. Your positive approach glows as much as that red woodland rose. I did 2 years voluntary work with Thrive in Battersea Park - a great growing together experience.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Great post, I really enjoy reading about your gardening adventures, and I love what you wrote about hope, I find the same. I applaud your desire to "do good", you've made me think.

Mark and Gaz said...

Glad to see so many of your plants blooming and thriving :) Hoping for a warmer August and September for all of us!

b-a-g said...

Thanks Christine, Anita and Janet -I didn't intend this to be a thought-provoking post. Sometimes I don't realise what I've written until I read it a week later.

Thanks Carolyn, Stacy & Laura - I often walk past front gardens where elderly people are gardening with obvious pain in their joints, yet they seem at peace. They are in on the secret.

Thanks Mark & Gaz - It was a bit chilly in the garden today, but after reading posts from the US, I'm grateful that it's not too hot.

Malar said...

It's so pretty blooms!

Sunray Gardens said...

Lovely blooms in your gardens. I am your new follower, would love it if you came by and followed back.
Cher Sunray Gardens

linniew said...

You are a good person Bag (I already knew) and so organized in your thinking. I wish I could be less like dumping a bag of mixed seeds and more like a thoughtful landscape planner. Oh well. There is room for us all, and really it's lovely that we are not all the same.

debsgarden said...

The view from your kitchen window is beautiful! I also love your canary creeper, a plant I am not familiar with. Must do some research! I enjoyed this post. Gardening does have a way of subtly changing us into better people.

Pauline said...

Lovely post, lovely thoughts and lovely flowers - well done ! What else can I say, everyone else has already said it !!

Martin Neill said...

You are very hard on yourself! I recognise this as I am too. We analyse our lives too much I think, but we'll never change, it's the way we are. I rarely just go out into the garden and enjoy it, I always see things that need doing. But I sure would kill to have roses like yours!

b-a-g said...

Thanks for visiting Malar, Cher and Pauline.

Thanks Linnie - I am not really organised in the garden. I am constantly moving plants around.

b-a-g said...

Deb - I can't praise canary creeper enough. The foliage is beautiful, the bird-shaped flowers are a bonus. It creeps but not in a strangling way - up a wire wrapped around my washing line pole and along the patio. You need to keep an eye on it though - I divert it out of the rose bushes on a daily basis.

Martin - I'll keep out of your way then ... but thanks for the compliment!

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