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 ...
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
(3) ... and in the flower beds ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
(11) ... and perennials ...
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 ...
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 :
I'll also be linking up to Donna's meme Word 4Wednesday : WEATHERING