My Garden This Weekend – 5/10/14


Autumn has arrived and a sense of panic marred my gardening today.  With evening gardening over due to the shortening days and a wet day yesterday, I felt an unexpected sense of urgency in the garden today.  To such an extent that I found myself not enjoying myself at all but this may be tangled up with the pervasive feeling of unhappiness I am experiencing currently – which I know is hardly surprising and I need to be kind to myself.

2014_10050014With cooler temperatures forecast the tender plants were the priority.  I am in a bit of a quandary at the moment since I am using the greenhouse for my alpine bulbs which presumably means that this space won’t be very helpful for overwintering the tender perennials.  I intend to keep the greenhouse just frost-free, or even cold, and the door will be open on warmer and sunnier days and I suspect this won’t be good for the succulents and pelargoniums.  There is part of me which thinks “give it a go and see what happens”.  I’m not emotionally attached to any of the plants so if I lose them I won’t be heartbroken but then my sensible and risk averse head kicks in and I wonder how to accommodate the diverse range of plants I have accumulated in recent years.  The solution, at the moment, is that I have tided up my work space in the garage and all the pelargoniums are now stored in there by the window where they will get lots of light.  The tender succulents are currently in the greenhouse whilst I come up with a better solution.  I only ever keep the greenhouse frost-free  and they have always been fine so I wonder if I corral them in one area and give them some extra

Aster pringeli ‘Monte Cassino’
Aster pringeli ‘Monte Cassino’

protection with fleece whether that will be sufficient.  The rest of the borderline plants in pots have been collected on to the patio so they can be quickly put under cover if a frost is forecast.  There are still some planted out but again I am thinking of risking them to see what happens.  Bob Brown told me the other week that he thought if you planted them deep enough and mulched plants you didn’t expect to survive do. I have also heard John Massey say the same so I might give it a go.

Sorbus vilmorinii
Sorbus vilmorinii

As I collected the pots up I was deeply conscious of the fallen leaves which weren’t present last week and how much I still wanted to achieve in the garden to prepare it for Spring and finish off projects before Winter commences. Then in the next breath I experience a strong feeling of just needing to give up and ignore it all.  There are areas of the garden where I still feel very strongly that the planting could be better.  I spent some time talking to my sons about my loss of confidence in my horticultural abilities, how the borders don’t replicate the images in my head and our conclusion was that writing about the garden on this blog may be partly to blame.  I have always shared my plans and thoughts about the borders and in the last few years on a weekly basis, much as I have done today.  I have always tried to treat the blog as a record for myself but at the moment, in my heightened emotional state, I am feeling quite vulnerable and sensitive so it may be that the garden won’t appear here for a while until I am feeling a bit more positive and confident.

Aster ericodes f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’
Aster ericodes f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’




15 Comments Add yours

  1. Diana Studer says:

    keep that ‘record for myself’ in photo folders.
    One day you’ll dig in your archves for a Before, when the After does look like the picture in your head. Our garden is only becoming The Picture since we groomed for sale, instead of gardening for us and our biodiversity. Suddenly my Great North rose is doing what the catalogue promised, covered in white flowers. The neighbouring granadilla has died, and no longer steals her food and water. The roses are FLOURISHING on the handful of wood ash.
    And we only have weeks left here …

  2. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I have been feeling much the same with the change of season. I lost lots of things after our dreadful winter and redid a whole section of the garden. Part of me feels like I made a big mess and the other part can’t wait until spring to see what I’ve got. I think much of gardening does take place in our heads and so our garden will always look one way to us and another way to others.

  3. Your garden is beautiful!

  4. rusty duck says:

    Helen, I love your garden and there is no reason to be less than confident about it. A garden is difficult to feel truly passionate about at this time of year when it is starting to fade. In Spring it will come back rejuvenated and you will fall back in love with it.
    Take care, it never does any harm to be kinder on yourself.

  5. Anna says:

    Oh Helen the arrival of autumn in the garden always brings about a degree of pressure, dilemmas and some regrets even when we are feeling on top of the world. I’ve spent the day kicking myself for not spending more time at the allotment today, instead of working in the garden, especially when I had a good look at the forecast for the week. We are often our own harshest critics. You have been through so much in the last few weeks – do be gentle on yourself xxx

  6. I’m so sorry you are feeling a lack of confidence in yourself as a gardener Helen, particularly when you have achieved such amazing things in your garden, front and back, over the past couple of years. The excitement and enthusiasm have fizzed through your posts and been seen in your reworking of your borders. Do be gentle with yourself, I’m sure I’m not alone in being able to identity with what you are expressing, it will pass, in time. Meanwhile, good luck with your greenhouse dilemmas. I have to decide whether to lift the dahlias. I lost the one I left last year, despite my mild climate, free draining soil and a hefty mulch!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Janet
      Thank you. I always lift my dahlias as I have clay soil. I dry them off and then store them in seed trays or those plastic boxes from the greengrocers. I pack them with wood shavings from sons wood turning and it seems to have worked god a few years now

  7. Oh Helen I am sorry you are going through a bad patch. This is not a good time of the year, especially as we had such a good Summer, today being so cold all of a sudden is a brutal shock that we are in for more cold and chilly spells than warm days. However, don’t lose heart, if what you decide to do in the greenhouse turns out to be the wrong decision plants can always be replaced. Meanwhile try and tell yourself that “life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain”. I have that on my kitchen wall and it serves as a good reminder not to take life too seriously, but enjoy what you can. Take care xx

  8. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Love your asters – so light and fairy like. Definitely time to be kind to yourself. Concentrate on plants that do well and ‘bugger the frost’. I have opposite problem of loving peonies and just not cold enough so buy a bunch in November for my birthday! some people resort to putting ice on them in winter – why bother when there are hundreds of growers in the South Island who send their lovely flowers up here to buy! I always say grow what grows well in your area and why struggle with iplants that don’t like the conditions in your area. I used to like in Christchurch so completely different conditions – had precious inside straggly ‘pot’ plants and yet up here can grow vigourously outside. I always love wandering around your garden and the lovely ones you visit but not always ok here. We do have world class gardens here like Airlies etc and plants seem to go whoosh! It never ceases to amaze me that plants which are coddled in Britain are weeds here! make use of your lovely seat and be kind to yourself! x

  9. Christina H says:

    Hi Helen, It takes courage to put your garden, yourself, out here in the world. Thank you for doing it. I hope your confidence returns, maybe after you have hibernated a little.

  10. Noelle Mace says:

    Thank you for sharing your garden. It looks great, its your space, and you are allowing us to view plants grown well…but its the real world, and at different times the garden and or the gardener needs time to evolve, to go into hibernation. Sometimes there is nothing left to ‘give’ to the garden. The winter season can be a time of gentle reflection.

  11. Beverley Jones says:

    I always feel sad when all my lovely Summer flowers are gone and the thought of snow and ice instead of flowers can be depressing – not because of all the hard work gone into them but because they are so pretty and make a walk round the garden a lovely experience. However sadly we cannot change Nature’s way so I remind myself to stop snivelling in the mind – brace myself for the leaves of 44 Japanese Acers to be collected shortly – dig out the Winter gardening coats and boots and enjoy the colours of the fall.

  12. Clive Crawford says:

    Deares Helen, I have been visiting your blog weekly (and often more) since April and have been inspired and surprised by your dedication and tenaciousness in developing your garden. I think it’s natural for a gardener who’s worth her salt to be always searching and trying new things out. However, sometimes we need to say to ourselves ‘ it’s good enough for now’…… I think it is !!!
    Take Care , Clive

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Dear Clive
      How nice to hear from a previously silent reader and thank you so much compliments, very uplifting.

  13. Autumn. Fear. Got it.

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