End of Month View – January 2014


I’ve been umming and arhing about what I should focus on this year for the End of Month View.  I like to have a new area to look at each year.  Last year I bored you with my front garden and before that I looked at the slope, cottage border and woodland border.


I have decided to focus on a group of discreet areas this year as I think it will make the posts more interesting.  My first thought was the greenhouse.  I don’t think greenhouses get enough coverage but then I am also thinking I  might move this into its own post – The Greenhouse Year, possibly posting around the 20th of the month.  My greenhouse is fully used all year so I  think that might be interesting.

2014_012600082014_01260015I have decided to revisit the Cottage Border as it has been through so much change in the last 2 years and I want to see how it is working and what needs tweaking, adding or just leaving alone. The border is quite narrow and runs along the top of the wall which separates the garden from the patio.  You can judge the slope of my garden from the relationship of the border to the greenhouse!  I have tried to make the focus of this border early summer with delphiniums, aquilegias, roses and geraniums.  There are also quite a few narcissus in here.  Due to the creation of the Big Border on the other side of the wood chip path last year the Cottage Border became very overgrown and neglected and was only really tidied up and sorted out in late summer so I will be interested to see how it mirrors, or doesn’t, the idea in my mind.  2014_01260042

The next area I am going to focus on is quite small.  It is the border which runs under the one of the front windows.  As with all modern houses the builders put in a slab path only one slab from the house and backfilled with rubble.  Up until last year there was a Cistus in this border which completely dominated and swallowed up the path and then keeled over!

You can see if you squint that I tried some lavender in here this year but apart from the 2014_01260043one by the front door it is all rather sad and quite dull and just not doing it for me.  I want something fab and eye-catching by the front door and I have been pondering for a while what this should be. I have an old sink which I intended to plant up with alpines but now plan to put in this bed and inspired by the gardens I saw in San Francisco last year plant with hardy succulents.  I will then add the tender succulents in the summer.  After some late night twitter conversations I am also going to try some hardy Aloes (Aloe striatula, Aloe aristata and Aloe polyphylla) in here and Beschorneria  septentrionalis. If they do well I think they will add some real zing to this border.


I thought I would also profile  the staging at the end of the patio which has the appearance of a dumping ground at the moment but is home to my growing collection of miniature bulbs.  In the summer it has housed my succulent collection but that might change this year if I put them in the front border.  I also have a hankering for a grow frame to house my bulb collection and this is the obvious place so who knows by the end of the year there may  be real changes here. As for the fence I need to come up with a solution to its bareness which is challenging as there is no real soil here just builders rubble.


Another border of bare soil! This is the spring border which runs along the patio below the cottage border.  It has snowdrops, bluebells, aconites, primulas but has also been through some editing in the last 18 months as the perennials which follow the bulbs had outgrown the space.  I want to see how it  is working and what I need to do to get it how I want. Its obvious so far that I need to extend the bulbs along the length of the border!


Finally the old bog garden which I have talked about over the last few months.  Of course as soon as I decide the bog garden isn’t retaining enough water for the Ligularia and to re-plan the area for a woodland border for those plants that like a little moisture, but  not a bog, it rains, and rains.  I am still convinced though that the new plan is the way forward. I still have a number of perennials to go in this space but it is just too wet and cold to plant them out but hopefully this will be an interesting border in late spring with Camellias and primulas, emerging ferns and if  I am very lucky meconopsis.

So these are my End of Month View areas for 2014 – warts and all.  I hope you will enjoy seeing how I, and they, progress and will feel inspired to adopt this meme for something similar.  All are welcome to join in with the End of Month View and you can use it as it suits you – focus on one area, the whole garden, what is looking good, whatever you like.  All  I ask is that you include a link to my post in yours and leave a link to your post in the comment box below so we can find you and come for a nose.

Lets hope that 2014 is a good gardening year for us all.


Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

40 thoughts on “End of Month View – January 2014”

  1. Oh, I love the idea of giving the greenhouse its own meme. I’d love to join in this year, but I’m always late getting my act together, so it will end up being a beginning of the next month view.

    1. Hi Alison
      That’s a vote for the greenhouse post then. Would love you to join in even if late

  2. I will await the idea of a greenhouse meme with great interest. I love your array of succulents (first photo); they look so healthy and immaculate. If you have a moment, I’d really appreciate the names of some of them as I want to try and foster my interest in them.
    Once again, enjoyed a tour round your garden and look forward to following the changes as the gardening year progresses (that is, if the rain stops long enough).

    1. Hi Alison
      I think it’s a go ahead for the greenhouse meme. The succulents are predominantly aeoniums: zwarzkopf, tabuflorium, hierrense, plus echeveria black prince (that one has a tall flower spike at the moment), Kalanchoe tomentess (grey fluffy one) and some agave and aloe. I will do more detail when I do the monthly meme

  3. I’ve also gone with a succulent solution to the bits that just didn’t want to grow with me. I’ve gone with formal rectangles and squares in the pair of geometric planters under the ash trees. Instant garden from cuttings. Now I wait, patiently for it to fill in a little.

    1. Hi Diana that sounds good, I am hoping this will solve my problem although a lot of succulents aren’t hardy here so I will have to choose carefully

  4. hello Helen, thanks for hosting this meme, I stopped posting towards the end of last year due to the continuous rain, I’m being optimistic and starting again this year, I’ve written my post and will blog it soon,

    all your areas look interesting, I would love a greenhouse but they have to be extra strong here to withstand the winter storms, I look forward to seeing the changes in your garden and you are not talking to your self though I do know how you feel,
    I’ll be back with a link when I get my post up, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, good to have you on board again. I always admire your perseverance as I think you garden in very difficult circumstances and it must be soul destroying at times

  5. Plus one for a greenhouse meme, excellent idea, I would love to pick up some tips as to how to use mine better. I laughed when I saw you were featuring several areas in your posts this year, because I had decided to do the same! You seem admirably clear about what you want to achieve though, whereas I feel distinctly woolly… I’m intrigued by all your plans, but will particularly enjoy seeing what you come up with for that border under the window. Those areas are always really hard to plant up because of the challenging conditions, and usually not very inspiring, sounds as if you are going to do something interestingly different!

    Anyhow, my long and muddled post is up, and I am crossing my fingers that the end results are more coherent than my current thoughts! Thanks again for hosting.

    1. Hi Janet
      I spend far too much time day dreaming about what to put where and how to change and improve things, possibly because I am single so I can be quite self absorbed when I want!

    1. Hi Yvonne
      You are right the meconopsis is the blue poppy although I think there are some red and yellow varieties. I have grown some from seed and am trying to bulk them up before planting out but they are notoriously difficult to find the right site for

    1. Hi Pauline
      I like to have plans helps me focus or I just fuss around and do nothing. Thanks for joining in again this year I will pop over for a nose!

    1. Hi Alison
      My greenhouse is so small it has to be tidy, I suspect if it was larger it wouldn’t be that tidy! Thanks for joining in again

    1. Thank you Gwen, I have given up on tomatoes etc so can devote my space to more tender perennials

  6. A regular greenhouse post would be most interesting Helen. Alison has taken the words out of my mouth – mine is a “jumbled mess too”. Not much in there at the moment other than post of snowdrops and a few cuttings. Yours looks so ordered and under control and as for your staging that’s not my definition of a dumping ground 🙂 That strip under the front window looks like a challenge but I’m sure you will rise to it admirably. Which direction does it face? Off to find out what a beschorneria septentrionalis is other than a glorious tongue twister.

    1. Hi Anna
      I am hopeless about directions, I think it faces east but maybe not. It is quite sunny and very free draining and poor soil and my twitter sources say the aloes are what I need so who am I to argue!

  7. Hi Helen. I’d like to link up with this meme on a more regular basis this year. I’ve chosen an area of the garden that needs a bit of work, and it’ll be a good discipline to keep me focused on it! http://www.rustyduck.net/2014/01/31/reality-gardening/
    I’ll be following your greenhouse series because mine is totally under-utilised and your old bog garden too. I have both dry and moist shade to contend with.. getting moister by the day!

    1. Hi RD
      Glad you are joining in. I like shady planting as I find it more interesting and am always surprised when people moan about it. Ferns are my first choice, there are ferns for dry and moist shade

  8. Hi Helen, as ever, another enjoyable post. I like the idea of a Greenhouse meme, you are right they don’t get as much attention so will be interesting to read.

    For the border under the front window, what aspect is that facing? I have a even smaller one along my drive, but it’s north facing so not sure what to do with it.

    I’ve have posted my first EMOV blog here: http://www.gwenfarsgarden.info/2014/01/end-of-month-view-january-2014.html. Looking forward to joining you on the monthly reflections as the year goes.

    1. Hi Julieanne
      I think mine is east facing possibly south east so relatively sunny. Glad you are joining in with the meme hope you find it he,pful

  9. It’s a great idea of yours to devote some blog space to your greenhouse. There isn’t much said about them but when I had one I used to spend a lot of time in there. I’ve just ordered one for the rooftopvegplot and can’t wait to get it in place. Can’t wait to follow your wise words on greenhouses.
    By the way. I’m worried about that very narrow border. Why not rip up those nasty paving slabs and replace them with something more permeable. My bet is that you need to recondition the soil in that bed before things will get away. If you need the slabs you could just set them as stepping stones in the grass (set low so you can still mow) You won’t believe the difference an extra foot or two of soil width will bring (and no squelchy run off from those slabs) Hope you don’t mind an uninvited suggestion 🙂

    1. Hi Wendy
      I welcome your comments and I know exactly what you mean by the narrowness of the border. However, the path runs across the front of the house and along the top of the driveway and would be a huge job to rejig, which after the upheavals last year I don’t have the energy for. I am going to refresh the soil before planting but hopefully the succulents will like the bed

    1. Hi Christina
      I did start a monthly greenhouse post once before but for some reason it fell off my radar so will have to try harder this year.

  10. I discovered your site from Rusty Duck and I’m enjoying looking through it.
    Last year I did a weekly garden review and I’m hoping it will help me out this year with what bloomed at what time, what did well and what didn’t. I’d participate with you this month but all our gardens are buried under huge mounds of snow, so perhaps later in the year when I actually have some progress to report 🙂

  11. I do enjoy reading about people’s thoughts and plans for their gardens, Helen, and watching them come to fruition. I would certainly agree that it is worth reconditioning that strip when you feel up to it – digging out any rubbish and adding your own or bought in compost to add depth and improve the soil. I did that with both the hedge border and one of the main borders that had previously been grassed and it makes the world of difference. Alternatively cover it with membrane and gravel or slate chippings and stand pots on it – less work! Thanks for hosting this meme – mine is at http://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/end-of-month-view-around-the-corner/

  12. This is my first time visiting this meme and what a wonderful idea it is. I have really enjoyed looking at your photos and hearing your thoughts and plans for these areas of your garden. Do you garden on acid soil? I am interested as you mention Camellias – I have a number outgrowing pots and would like to move them to my woodland border, but am worried that they will not thrive in my clay soil. I will try and join in next month and would also love to join in with your greenhouse post when you start it – my greenhouse is one of my favourite areas of my garden.

  13. I’m so looking forward to joining in this meme – I’ve posted a couple of links before but nothing that actually follows the spirit of the meme. I’m choosing to highlight a new opportunity for planting in my garden.
    I look forward to seeing how your areas develop over the coming months and of course wish you luck on finding the ideal spot for your mecs.
    Here’s my post: http://mygardenblogs.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/end-of-month-view-january-2014.html

  14. Hi Helen – Just read through your replies and can’t believe the difference in areas and the determination of gardeners to grow plants in places they don’t really want to grow! When you talk about succulents here in Auckland area you just bung a piece in and away it goes! Snails like some – samperverias eg – I ‘bunged’ in about 20 of the dark maroon one in winter and now they are flourishing 30 centimetre plants. Solid concrete/clay – yuk – put some compost in hole and built up a bit and stuck some stones around for stability. We don’t get frost. Another sight at the moment while driving on country roads is wild agapanthus – white and blue- and lots of orange watsonias. and a sort of queen annes lace – they all are a weed here but they do look pretty. I love reading about gardens and plants from around the world and it reinforces by belief that Gardeners are pretty nuts! A disease that cannot be cured! Very hot here and the water in the Manukau Harbour today was lovely. Just keep imagining when you see a bulb or packet of seed is a flower like I do!
    And a glass is half full!

    1. Hi HG
      I am glad you have decided to join in with the meme, I hope you will find if helpful

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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