End of Month View – The Roundup

Well its the end of another year and I have compiled a mosaic of shots of the front garden, the focus of this year’s End of Month View, through the year.  They aren’t quite all from the same spot but I think you can see the changes.  The biggest change was the removal of the Descampsia grasses at the end of the lawn and it is a decision I don’t regret.  There is still much to do to improve the front garden and I have ideas about planting along the border but it is a vast improvement on the misshapen oval lawn from two years ago.  Looking back through the End of Month View posts the front garden seemed to look its best in late May (see below)when the Alliums and Tulips were flowering and the oregano along the border was fresh leaved.  This is the effect I am trying for the rest of the year so I need more big leaved plants with a higher percentage of evergreens.

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I haven’t decided on what parts of the garden I will feature in the End of Month View posts in 2014 yet.  I think a selection of a few small areas might be interesting but I am pretty certain that the greenhouse will feature.

The number of bloggers joining in with this meme is slowly growing and it is fascinating to see how others gardens change through the year and also how different bloggers choose to use the meme.  All are welcome to join in.  I just ask that you include a link to this blog in your post and include a link to your post in the comments box here so we can find you and pop over for a nose.

Finally, I would like to wish all my readers best wishes for 2014 – may it be a healthy and happy year for you.

That was the year that was – 2013

I thought I would do a similar post to last year showing some of the highlights.  We had a slow start to the year with snow on and off from January to March but finally in April the weather changed and we ended up with a long hot summer which gently merged into Autumn with us hardly noticing the change until the cold winds of winter crept up on us.

This year I really got involved with the local horticultural groups I joined and I have made new friends and found myself learning more than ever before.  The year started with me attending my first HPS Galanthus Day despite knowing nothing about snowdrops.  I was quickly won over and have enjoyed continuing to learn about this fascinating genus.  I also enjoy seeing snowdrops en-masse and visited Painswick Rocco Garden to see them.

April brough the local Alpine Garden Society group’s show and an introduction into the addiction of plant showing.  This led me to enter plants into Open Garden section at the Malvern Spring Show, my local  horticultural show and also the AGS Tewkesbury show.  I even won a first and a few seconds and thirds.  Showing is something I plan to continue with in 2014.

As ever I visited a number of gardens during the year including the Laskett, Veddw and Sezincote; all of which I have wanted to visit for a while.  I also visited the Garden House in Devon again which is a favourite garden of mine and my youngest son especially as it is only 30 minutes from his University house and does very good cake!  In June the boys and I spent a relaxing week in Cornwall visiting gardens and castles and I finally got to visit St Michaels Mount.

The highlight of the year was attending the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling in San Francisco and meeting lots of bloggers I have read for years.  This was a huge  achievement for me as I have never visited the US or travelled on my own before but it has given me the confidence and courage to do more travelling in the future.  I found many of the gardens we visited in and around San Francisco inspiring particularly their exuberant way of using plants and ornamentation together; it was all rather liberating.

I spent the rest of the year concentrating on my garden and trying to finish projects and get to grips with the borders.  The Big Border project is nearly complete and I am pleased at how well my son’s new workshop has fitted into the overall ‘design’.  There are more plans in the pipeline and I want to really concentrate on hardy exotics and woodland plants but also my new passion bulbs – something I can’t see doing anything other than grow.

I  rounded off the horticultural year by attending my first AGS Conference weekend and despite initial reservations I loved immersing myself in the plant world uninterrupted for a weekend.

So what  will 2014 bring?  Who  knows but I hope I continue to learn more, meet more interesting people and see more inspiring gardens.

Boxing Day Flower Count 2013

Cyclamen cyprium 'E9 form'

Cyclamen cyprium ‘E9 form’

This is the third year I have done the Boxing Day Flower Count and I have to admit that I really thought it would be a non-starter this year as there seemed to be very little flowering, if anything, in the garden this year; this does seem strange considering how mild it has been in recent weeks. The majority of the flowers are on early spring bulbs amongst my growing collection of small pots.  The Cylamen cyprium ‘E9 form’ above has been flowering for weeks in the greenhouse.  I keep it in the greenhouse, which is frost free, as it hails from the mountainous area of cyprus and I’m not sure it would really appreciate our damp winters.

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I do like cyclamen and these are some of a group I planted in the top of the planter the jasmine is growing in against the back house wall.  They too have been flowering for weeks, if not months and really brighten up the patio along with the violas and cyclamen in the hanging baskets. I am pretty sure they are  form of cyclamen coum but I bought them from a large garden centre and they weren’t labelled beyond ‘cyclamen’ which is frustrating.

Narcissus cantabricus foliosus

Narcissus cantabricus foliosus

The Narcisuss cantabricus foliosus, which I bought at the AGS Conference in November has also been flowering for weeks.  It has such a delicate tissue like flower.

Thalictrum urbainii

Thalictrum urbainii

Another new addition to the garden is Thalictrum urbainii from Evolution Plants.  It is a dwarf spring flowering form of Thalictrum so I’m not sure why it is flowering now but maybe its the protection from the cold frame where it is residing until it beefs itself up.  Such a pretty and delicate flower.

Grevillea 'Canberra Gem'

Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’

As with the last two years the Grevillea Canberra Gem is sporting a few flowers although these are very very early and the general consensus is that it shouldn’t flower until May-June.  I love this shrub and it was this plant and its conifer like foliage which started me change of attitude towards conifers although it isn’t a conifer at all.

Abelia

Abelia

The Abelia is flowering as well and again like the other flowers on this post it has been flowering for weeks.

Sadly unlike the last two years I cannot include the Mahonia since I pruned it severely after it flowered this year and it is only just beginning to shoot again.  However, there are a couple of primroses and bergenias as in previous years as well as the winter jasmine and a lone chrysanthemum.  The total of the year is 12 which is the same as last year although this  year’ selection  is more seasonal and not so dependent on stray annuals having gone into a torpor.

2012 Boxing Day  Flower  Count
2011 Boxing Day Flower  Count

 
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Plans

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I don’t go in for New Year resolutions as I think they are unhealthy and put you under pressure to achieve something which you will no doubt fail to achieve as you have never achieved it before.  But I have projects, plans and aspirations for 2013 many of them garden related.

In practical terms there are a number of projects that I want to carry out or even complete.  To start with the front garden project, started Spring 2012 needs finishing.  The weather and allotment just conspired against me and what should have been a fairly quick job of reshaping the lawn dragged on all year and still isn’t complete.  I have one more edge to straighten and a stepping stone to lay.  Then I need to finish preparing the borders followed by some plant moving.  This is still a work in progress plant wise as I haven’t quite  got the planting completed in my head.  The front garden will be the focus of this year End of Month View posts so you will see for yourself  how  I get on.

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I also want to extend  the steps up the garden.  I am forever slipping on the ‘grass’ at the top of them even when we haven’t had as much rain as we have had this year.  I am still trying to work out a purpose/identity for the corner border and I think extending the steps up to the gravel path will help define this space better and help my thought process.  The extended steps will no doubt mean that the ‘lawn’ has to be reshaped but this will mean more planting space.  I am also still toying with the idea of digging up the whole back lawn but  am dithering because due to the slope I would need to add in more steps to help with access and it would also be a huge planting space for me. I think I need to focus on finishing off  other  projects first but who  knows it might be a project for 2014.

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The final project is a small one and that is to sort out the patio.  I can’t afford to replace it  but I want to pretty it up.  In particular I need to address the area near the bike shed which has become a dumping ground.  There is a wooden planter here which my son made me years  back which is now falling to pieces and now he is a cabinet-maker he isn’t that proud of it.  This will go and I want to replace it with a rectangular pot which will be the focus point with a climber in it to cover the fence.  I then intend to use the cleared space as a display for pots with plants that need a little shade.  Well that’s the idea.  I also intend to paint the fence a dark brown to show off the plants and I am thinking of doing this to all the fences – though that does sound daunting.

disguising the boundary is an ongoing challenge.  Over the last year I have planted a number of shrubs and climbers but I hadn’t really taken into account winter and as many are deciduous  it all looks a little bare so I  need to look at adding some more evergreens. I also need to address the compost bin situation as it is completely out of hand and a sign that I need to improve the way I do things which leads me on to my real driver this year.

I want to learn to be a better gardener and move towards my aspiration  to become a plantswoman; this is my real focus and challenge.   Now the  allotment has gone I feel more focussed and am finally seeing my garden properly for the first time in years.  My  urge to buy  plants is still there but it is not the most important thing  now; maybe this means I have matured as a gardener.  I  want to learn about plants in detail.  I have looked at various  courses and I know enough about propagation, naming plants and the component parts for now.  There aren’t any courses that fulfil my need so I have decided to roll up my sleeves and teach myself.  I have joined a number of specialist plant groups so I can learn directly from the experts and I am reading – a lot.

I am pleased to say that due to the drier weather I  have started the New Year with two good gardening sessions including starting to empty out the compost bins.  It is lucky I have an appointment at the chiropractor on Monday as I think I will need sorting out by then.