Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Year-End Review (27 DEC 2011)

Before I started gardening, I didn't care much about the weather as I spent most of my time in an air-conditioned office. I never looked up at the sky to trace cloud movement, never stayed out long enough to catch sunburn, never felt the rain on my face. In summer I wore one layer and in winter two; I always carried a jacket and umbrella just in case. This attire ensured that I was weatherproof during the brief periods that I spent outdoors.

Almost every UK gardening blog that I have read has commented on how strange the weather has been this year. Even I noticed the icy back-end of winter, dry spring, wet summer, balmy autumn and now a mild winter into 2012. The other day someone on the phone asked me what the weather was like. I replied, "Warm enough for the bulbs to come up." He seemed a bit confused, not a gardener perhaps.

I wish I had added a brief weather report to my posts as well as the date, though it's not easy to summarise in a meaningful way.  The results of weathering are plain to see in my garden as it is the only factor that has really changed in the past year.

I had so many plans :

(1) to acquire more plants for winter colour and to keep the hellebores company ...

February 2011

The hellebores didn't seem to mind icy conditions. Their buds were covered with snow two months before. I'm hoping they'll be accompanied by a few snowdrops at least early next year.


(2) to prepare for a spectacular spring display ... in pots

March 2011

(3) ... and in the flower beds ...

April 2011

Spring was an anti-climax after the amount of time spent planting bulbs. I overestimated how long spring flowers would last, no wonder some people call them ephemerals. I should have watered more, the ground was bone dry and cracked. Nevertheless, crocuses and bleeding hearts were the highlights.


(4) to improve the quality of my soil ...

June 2011

In summer the soil was soggy, weeds could be pulled out effortlessly. My soil quality is so poor that I'm almost embarrassed to show it - it's amazing that anything grows. I try to remove most of the stones when I'm transplanting and throw in a few handfuls of compost. A couple of bags of soil improver have been sprinkled around but I don't think that made a significant difference.


(5) to dead-head flowers before they go to seed, to keep them blooming for longer ...

August 2011

The sweet peas went to seed almost immediately, before I even had a chance to figure out how many colours there were. I didn't complain when the borlotti beans did the same.


(6) to mark out where I have planted bulbs and herbaceous plants ...

September 2011

I've lost count of all the bulbs dug up by accident. The gladioli were a pleasant surprise, until they were blown over during a storm.


(7) to line the fence with hollyhocks ...

September 2011

The sideshoots of a giant hollyhock did produce a row of spires in the end. Unfortunately, when I imagined them in my head I wasn't aware of rust, which seems to be an inevitable problem with these plants. I guess damp conditions makes it worse.


(8) to propogate raspberry ripple roses by mating deep red and white specimens ...

September 2011

I didn't take into account that the blood-red rose would flower after the white. Anyway a raspberry ripple rose already exists, called rosa mundi. I've read that rose propogation is not for hobbyists, it can take up to twenty years to develop a rose. I was pondering this in the garden when I noticed these two-toned roses which flowered again after I had pruned them ready for winter.


(9) to plant more colors of nicotiana to add to my signature lime-greens ...

September 2011

Sorry for yet another photo of nicotiana, but this is my favourite.
Nicotiana was not perturbed by weathering, it self-seeded and popped up. producing several stalks of flowers per seed, from summer through to winter. 


(10) to pack my flower beds full of annuals ...

October 2011

(11) ... and perennials ...

November 2011

This poppy had its second flowering during a warm week in November.
Outdoor seed-sowing hasn't worked for me so far. A friend gave me a tip to mix the seeds with compost first, which I'll try next year. The sunflowers and poppies were propogated indoors, plenty to experiment with, but not enough to fill the flower beds.



(12) to eliminate the houttuynia ...

November 2011

It's still resident in a flowerbed, behaving itself during the water-logged summer despite the horror stories. I don't pull it out any more to avoid agitating the roots, cutting the stalks at ground level instead to weaken the plant.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

These are twelve unpublished photos that I selected from my 2011 file.
I'm posting them for Diana's Twelve Days of Christmas :
http://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/2011/12/twelve-days-of-christmas.html

I'll also be linking up to Donna's meme Word 4Wednesday : WEATHERING
http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/

©Copyright 2011 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2011/12/year-end-review-27-dec-2011.html

22 comments:

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

Thank you for a beautiful look through the year at the garden blooms. It is gray and rainy here, so this brightened up the scene. I am with you on the strange year. It was like no other that I can remember. Funny you should mention being in an office and not being so cognizant of what was happening outdoors. That was me too in an architectural office. It was not until I started designing for outdoors that I started noticing and looking at what was around me to influence my designs. It also became more enjoyable than designing just structures. The fresh air gave me a new lease on creativity.

Malar said...

That's very beautiful flowers and foliage!
I admit the same! The waether is so unpredictable nowadays!

Elephant's Eye said...

Since the camera always lies, your garden is filled with colourful flowers. I vote for more lime-green Nicotiana. Anything you like, which is happy, is to be welcomed with open arms. Could you quietly purloin some bags of autumn leaves, to mulch the flower beds? Mulch would help with the dry cracked soil, the sodden damp soil, the soil quality, and it looks good.

Christine @ The Gardening Blog said...

Hi Bag, I love the "signature lime-green" Nicotiana - what a stunner! And your Hellobes are gorgeous! I'm with you on the strange weather pattern, here in SA things are also very weird. It should be stinking hot and its cool. It has also rained a lot in December (I'm not complaining, we needed the rain), but all very strange and unusual for this time of year.

Isn't gardening humbling? I've learnt so many lessons this last year. Not just about "how to's", but lessons in patience, humility, thankfulness ... and how simple things in life bring great pleasure!

I wish you (and your garden) a fantastic 2012!

HolleyGarden said...

Gosh, looking at that April picture, I would have thought you were extremely happy with your garden! It's gorgeous. I suppose, though, we are never completely happy, and there are always changes to be made in the garden. I had thought of sowing poppy seeds outdoors. I'll try not to be disappointed if they don't work out now. And I was thinking of introducing houttuynia, and you're wanting to eliminate it! Maybe I'll research it a bit more! As for roses - 20 years to propagate for commercial purposes is fast, but for your own garden, you should be able to do it in a couple of years. It would be a great experiment as each seedling is different, while cuttings are probably easier and more reliable. I enjoyed hearing your 'resolutions'.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

B-a-g, We are having unusual weather here too with many days in December in the 50s and 60s here (10 to 15 degrees C). However, I have to keep in mind that the last two winters were cold and snowy. I saw your comment on GWGT. I highly recommend the book Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy where he explains that suburban gardens are the only hope for the survival of our ecosystems. So yes there's a lot you can do in your suburban garden. Happy New Year, Carolyn

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Love the list and plants..I have many of the same things on my garden list especially the houttuynia ...thx for the tip on that...continuing to amend soil and especially to mark where things are and deadhead...

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

Your garden gave you lots of beautiful blooms this year. It is amazing how some plants flourish despite poor soil and neglect. I hope your garden will bring you many more surprises next year and the weather is, well, more predictable.

Nathan's Garden said...

Great pictures. The Nicotiana is beautiful.

PatioPatch said...

Dear b-a-g, enjoyed your resumee very much and following your posts of 2011. You've evolved into a gardener, with the language of flowers and the lingo of a garden writer e.g. signature lime-greens! Happy New 2012
Laura

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Bag, I am embarrassed to say this is my first visit to your blog -- I was aware of you on Blotanical, but only just decided to take a look. Now I know what I have been missing -- your garden is just lovely, and full of many of my favorite blooms, not least the hellebores. I look forward to following your 'Experiments with Plants' through 2012. Happy New Year! Pamela

Janet said...

Some lovely images to remember 2011 by, Bag. I will make an exception with the houttuynia which we were given as a present for our last garden. Almost impossible to get rid of all the roots and it loves it damp. It should have a government health warning!

linniew said...

I love how important the weather is to a gardener. Might as well be on some other planet if you never go outside... Nice review, good resolutions. Goals keep us going and learning and always the garden gets better.

debsgarden said...

I enjoyed your review! I think your Nicotiana is stunning. I must try to find that cultivar for my own garden, though i know what grows for you may not appreciate my garden at all! I never accomplish all of my plans in the garden, and I know I won't when I make them. But they do give me some structure to my methods and give me something to aim for. What I do get accomplished, i am grateful for. The rest usually gets added to the next list.

hurtlingtowards60 said...

Great post... it's wonderful to look back and plan for the next year. Your photos are wonderful. Thank you for sharing your end of year review and happy planning and gardening for 2012 Ronnie@hurtledto60

b-a-g said...

Wow! I've been away, wonderful to come back to such lovely comments.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Donna - it was a pleasure to join in with W4W, looking forward to the next one.

Thanks Diana - I love lime-green too. I'll think about re-distributing the leaves in the woodland around the garden.

Thanks Christine - You're right about "humbling". I'm certainly less materialistic since I started gardening.

Thanks Holley - Enjoyed reading your weathered post about your grandfather. As you suggest it, I will try growing some rose seedlings after all!

Thanks for the recommended reading and seasons greetings Carolyn.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Donna GEV & Janet - Key point with houttuynia (to get rid of it) is to dry it out. They love damp conditions.

Thanks Karin, Malar & Nathan - Sometimes I wonder if I should leave the garden alone and not interfere. It seems to do pretty well by itself.

Thanks Laura - for taking the time to leave encouraging comments.

Welcome Pam - I'm even more embarrassed to say that I've never visited your blog. I'll check it out this weekend!

Thanks Linnie, Deb & Ronnie - The great thing about gardening is that for every failure I've had, there's also been a lovely surprise. Guess there's someone out there with a better plan than me.

Happy New Year All!

Sunray Gardens said...

You had a lot of beautiful blooms this year. Hoping your New Year brings you even more.
Cher Sunray Gardens

b-a-g said...

Thanks Cher - Happy New Year to you!

Crafty Gardener said...

lovely blooms

Lea's Menagerie said...

Lovely!
And I enjoyed reading your commentary between each photo.
Best wishes for you and your garden in 2012!
Lea

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