Another tradition here at the PatientGardener blog is a round up of the year.  It is always interesting to look back and remind yourself of places you have been and things you have seen or it seems, as is the case this year, places you haven’t been.  I was surprised that I really haven’t been out and about as much as I have in the past but then I am reminded that this year has been challenging from a work perspective and I have struggled with exhaustion and uncertainty as well as still working through the grief of losing Dad at the end of 2014.  Saying all that it hasn’t been that bad a year and whilst I haven’t been out and about that much, the places I have been to visit have been exceptional with a number finally crossed on a long term wish list.

Just as we are ending 2015 with a mild winter we started the year with a mild winter with only a scattering of snow over one weekend.  Looking back through photographs it appears that I did a lot of gardening this year and really focussed on looking after my garden better.  I was rewarded in February with flowers on the Melianthus major which is a plant I just adore for so many reasons. I started my garden visiting at the very end of March with the first of a number of visits to Stockton Bury Gardens in Herefordshire.  This is a favourite garden of mine being quite close and always having a good selection on interesting plants. The garden work continued into April and I finally decided on what colour to paint the shed much to every one’s relief.

Then in May the travelling started. The month started with the annual visit to the Malvern Spring Show, always a delight which boost my gardening enthusiasm.  This was closely followed by a trip to Rome with Mum.  It was nice to do a city break although I remain unconvinced that cities are my favourite holiday destinations. June was a real highlight as I finally got to visit Great Dixter and Sissinghurst.  I spent 3 days in the area, attending a study day at Great Dixter (which I might repeat in 2016 depending on other plans).  Then if that wasn’t enough I spent a wonderful week on a garden visiting trip in Dublin and Cork led by Noel Kingsbury.  During the week I got to visit another 3 gardens on my wish list: Helen Dillon’s Garden, Hunting Brook, and June Blake’s garden.

Off the back of this trip I was invited to a gardener’s lunch at Noel and Jo’s garden in Herefordshire. A delightful place, completely different to my garden, planted in a wilder style but full of interest and atmosphere. In September I indulged my growing interest in ferns and attending a British Pteridological Society visit to two local gardens, one owned by the esteemed Veronica Cross and the other owned by a passionate plantsman who rarely opens his garden.  It was a great day in the company of passionate plants people such as Martin Rickards; I learnt a lot.

In October we had the first meeting of the RHS Symphyotrichum trial.  I have been asked to act as recorder for the trial which is being held at the local Old Court Nurseries, rather than RHS Wisley.  Asking me to undertake this task is a bit of a leap of faith for the RHS as I don’t think they have used a non-RHS recorder before.  The trial will last for 3 years.

November was a challenging month at work but I did manage to go to the AGS Annual Conference over a weekend in Stratford which I really enjoyed as I reconnected with friends and may have made plans for a trip to Greece in late 2015. As for December I was lucky to finish work on the 18th and so I have had time to recharge the batteries and tick another couple of hills off my Malvern Hills Challenge.  And just to round the year off properly I hope to visit Kew Gardens on Tuesday with some friends.

What will 2016 bring, who knows.  There will probably be more significant changes at work but I am determined to get the balance between work and home better this year.  I have a trip to North Essex planned in early summer, another short trip to Devon with Mum in the summer when I hope to include a few gardens I have wanted to visit for a while and then the trip to Greece, or possibly Japan (although I’m not sure that trip is going ahead).  Then there will be the usual  trips to the RHS Malvern  and Chelsea Shows.