Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012 a review

I worry that before I begin, this blog may become rather long, so apologies in advance :)
Being new to blogging I wanted some sort of reference to my garden that I can use as a reference in future years and perhaps refer readers to in future posts.
I hope you are not put of by the amount of content but enjoy reading about a year in my garden.  This year has certainly been a learning curve and whilst I expect that throughout this blog I will bemoan the rotten weather we had here in Scotland during 2012 I do hope that doesn't put you off reading.

So, get yourself and cuppa and enjoy :)  


January....
The New Year certainly came in with a bang - a clatter bang would be more like it!!  The gale force winds on Hogmanay (New Years' Eve to those of you outside Scotland) brought down the last remaining inherited fences in the garden.  I woke up on New Years Day to find my small tool shed upside down in the neighbours garden, taking the fence panels with it!!
Here's the garden as a building site at the beginning of January - new posts and cross rails were fitted asap - luckily the cementing was done before the temperatures dropped, otherwise that would have meant more delays! 

If you look closely, you can see sections of the the fallen fencing in the neighbours back garden.  As none of the fencing boards were rotten it made sense to reuse where we could.  For those of you yet to get to know me, I should point out that all the works were carried out by myself, 1 neighbour had 'man flu' and the other is just no good at this kind of thing.  Personally, I just love getting stuck in to these kind of DIY projects.  It's much more satisfying to stand back and say 'I DID THAT'!  Once all the hard work was done I was able to sit down, relax and choose some evergreens which would be planted down the entire length of the garden.  Around 22 metres in total.  The plants I chose were Caenothus, Escallonia, Euonymus, Prunus, Photinia and a blue holly.  These are slowly but surely growing upward and outward to create a lovely evergreen hedge.  Sad to say though, that during the floods this summers, the Holly has not survived and I think the Caenothus may also have to be removed.  These evergreens had deciduous shrubs offset in front of them - I intend to remove these as the evergreens fill out and fill the spaces.  For this I chose Physocarpus (2), Deutzia, Philadelphus and Buddleja.  During the year - I have since added a trellis to the top of the small fence running down the garden.  This gives the fence a bit more height and gives the idea of a bit more privacy.  As you can see from this picture (taken in August) I think it adds something that a taller fence would not have.

February.....
Having spent the rest of the month of January and pretty much the rest of February digging out the new border, enriching the soil with as much humus by the way of rotted manure and soil conditioner as I could afford, adding a stone edge the entire length.  Luckily, I have a very friendly farmer who lives nearby and he allowed me to take quite a few large stones from the 'dump' ground in one of his fields.  This of course means labour and lots of it!!  Oh Boy - the days spent getting those rocks from A-B were back breaking and the time spent soaking in a hot bath recovering was much appreciated.  There was on the odd occasion that I fell sound asleep whilst resting my eyes in the bath and did not awaken until the water was freezing or someone else needed in!!
In between digging out the now named 'long border', I managed to plant up a little redundant gravelled area next to the back steps.  Being gravelled I wanted something which will be 'low maintenance' - I chose Hydrangea Petiolaris to cover the wall, Cotoneaster dammerii for ground cover and Ophipogon for the contrast in colour.  The little Heuchera - lime something or other, did not settle in and promptly went to the big compost bin in the sky!

February, as always, brings around the first of the years blooms and some of the plants/bulbs blooming were not a disappointment.

Here's a montage of some of what was in bloom in February.



        

                          

 March....



Possibly, like most gardeners in the Northern Hemisphere, I find March is the most exciting month.  All those dormant plants begin to show us that the soil is warming up and with sight of those new shoots bring with them a promise of what is to come!  Virtually the whole of March was glorious, coupled with April - summer had came early!  The lengthening of the days are so welcome as it reveals the slumbering plants from below the surface of the soil.  As the clocks change on the last Sunday of the month, British Summer Time had began, Yippee!!!!!


March was the one and only time this year I 

caught a glimpse of a solitary ladybird (ladybug) in the garden.  To put a positive spin on the abscence of these much adored creatures is the fact that I do not have an abundance of aphids on which they can feast.  Most of the spring bulbs are by now gracing us with their fine blooms. One of my least favourite plants are I'm afraid to say are Yellow Daffodils - I can't explain my dislike for them but it is what it is!  I do however have a beautiful scented white daffodil, Narcissus Thalia, growing in containers, if you are looking for an extremely graceful Daffodil, you could do worse than choose these beauties and what's more, they are multi-headed with 3 or 4 blooms per stalk.  They lasted well into the beginning of May so another plus in so far as I'm concerned.  With a common name of 'Glory of the Snow' this Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant' were neither Giant or glorying their way above the snow - nevertheless, very pretty little flowers.
Also in flower were the remainder of the Camellias, The Pieris and I'm sad to say that the Rhododendrons were a complete disappointment, my only explaination can be that the winter was so warm and dry that they perhaps were sulking due to lack of rain!  


April.....

Like March, an utter delight weather wise - usually I only manage to get the lawn mowed once during the month of April, it was every week by the time April came, the lawn mower was in over drive.  Do lawn mowers go into over drive?????  Admittedly, I'm about to contradict myself here, I have said that the Rhododendrons were a disappointment this year, however, there's always an exception!  The exception was Rhododendron 'Shamrock' - rather surprisingly she started taking on a rather dark shade of red  on the foliage late in 2011. It did have me scratching my head, as I could think of no explaination.  It was suggested to me that perhaps one of it's parents has dark foliage an it is reverting???  I think the dark foliage really shows up the flower and do hope it stays this colour!

I managed to pick up a bargain in the end of Season sales in January but as yet not got round to doing anything with it.  What was this bargain I hear you asking?  I've always fancied an seated arbour in the garden and when I saw it was reduced by 20% I could not resist.  I won't describe to you the palaver I had trying to get it into the car but enough said that there was a small domestic in the car park of our local DIY store ;)  I'm sure some of you have been there before!!
Given a coat of garden shades 'Holly' and in pride of place.  This is a section of the garden that can get a bit 'damp' in April time, therefore, I used roofing joists to create a raised gravel area on which to place it.  Year round colour will be added in the way of pots (daffs and tulips seen here) - since this picture was taken, I have planted 2 climbing roses (The Wedgewood Rose) either side - the dark green should really show of the pink of the flowers.  Behind it I've planted some Prunus - which will in time make it seem more enclosed and give some privacy.  I would like to add here, that it remained unused for the rest of the year, due to the very poor weather we had :(

The garden had really started to waken up from it's winter slumber - the hot sunny spell brought most of the plants on leaps and bounds and the garden was buzzing with life in forms of all the early bees and insects.  As the month end approached the rain was by then making the garden look positively lush, how were we to know it was a sign of things to come!!

Some rainy pictures to round of the month of April and begin the summer of rain.  The Roses and Heuchera were soon perked up by the extra moisture and all the recently planted shrubs were thoroughly enjoying it, for the time being, that was. The Azeleas, the Paeonies and the Aconitums were gearing up to release their colour - in fact, the buds on lots of the flowers were fattening nicely and showed plenty of promise!



May.....
The April showers ceased just enough to fill the garden with early summer colour - there was plenty in bloom - the garish blooms of the Azeleas, the Aconitums were reaching skyward and the tighly curled fern fronds were imitating fiddle heads.








My favourite flower of the month was one of my little Primulas - Elizabeth Killelay (second from the top left above), I grow this in a container and much to my disappointment and frustration, I have failed to propogate this little gem.  Something I've never had trouble with before is dividing primulas - but Elizabeth is proving to be difficult.  I'll give her a rest of a couple of years and wait until the pot is crammed full before my next attempt!  Semi-aqualegia Sugar Plum Fairy was a new one this year.  Listed as a short lived perennial - we shall see how it goes!  Geranium sylvaticum Album, has a common name of 'Mayflower' certainly living up to it's name.  May was a very disappointing time for the Iris - so many didn't flower.  The Weigelas, of which I have 4, graced the garden with their bloom.  Such a good all rounder in the garden I think, their variegated or purple foliage are useful back drops to many plants. 

 No May garden would be complete without the Alliums towering above other blooms.  With so many plants flowering - the garden was a sheer delight and filled with buzzing in every corner.  Aother new addition this month was Hosta 'Blue Cadet' - these so called blue hostas are useful in the garden, I find that their rather thick glaucous foliage is not so attractive to the many slugs that inhabit my garden.  They contrast beautifully with purple foliage.  I chose to partner this hosta with a rather elegant looking Japanese Painted fern, a bit of a slow starter, therefore, no decent picture YET!  Both should enjoy their home in part shade with relatively moist soil.    



 June....
As usual, June, begins with a week of annual leave from work.  I have in the last 10 years or so found that this is a reasonably sunny week and yet cool enough to get stuck into giving the garden a good tidy up.  So many of the early flowering plants have gone over and do benefit from a chop back, this encourages fresh new foliage and in a few cases produces a 2nd flush of flowers later in the year.  
My optimism was soon knocked back - the rain came and did not halt for weeks on end - there was the odd sunny day in between but lack of sun stopped many of the other plants in their tracks!!
The garden suffered very badly from flooding,  the water was just refusing to drain away.  It was quite obvious after a week or so that some plants had just given up trying to survive, a few others, I managed to save by lifting them from the ground and potting them on into containers.  The early flowerers and the bulbs which had all died back can only be presumed GONE!!  

I took the bull by the horns and decided that it was time the garden had a pond.  I didn't want anything large, just something I could call a 'wildlife pond'.  I chose a corner in the shadier side of the garden and got out my spade - here is the finished result. Planted out with shade lovers namely Hostas, ferns and Polygonatum with Aucuba japonica 'Rozannie' providing a back drop.  With all the rain, everything soon settled in and I look foward to seeing how this looks next year.  Reading back, I've made June sound so full of doom and gloom - all was not too bad, lots of plants did enjoy the damp condition and were having a having a go and sharing their bejewelled flowers and their lush growth.  I've never come across a similar colour lupin since buying these a few years ago - they are a beautiful deep blue and are a perfect contrast to the deep yellow of the Primula Bulleesiana (candlabra primula), with the chartreuse flowers of Alchemilla mollis softening the planting scheme.  Hosta Francis Williams, I think I mentioned previously that this is my favourite 

hosta, despite being lifted and divided days earlier (probably not recommened in plant terms) did not bat an eyelid and settled right back in.  Seen here with Dicentra 'King of Hearts', is a must for any shady area.  I could not possibly forget to mention this little Dicentra - flowers from April - October in my garden has been a useful addition to the garden.  It was at £7 for a little 9cm pot considered expensive at the time but if you think that flowering for 7 months at a time for the previous 2 years - that doesn't work out so bad, does it?  I could not even consider ending my June entry without mentioning 

 Zantedeschia Aethiopica, the Arum lillies not only flowered at Easter time but blossomed their little hearts out right through to the end of October.  They love moist shade and given a good mulch in their first year should have no problem surviving here in Scotland.  These do come with a slug warning but in my garden it was the snails that had a penchant for them.  Watching the weather forecasts as the month was drawing to a close did not bring with it good news.  I have wondered many a time over the summer that had the South of England not declared a drought and promptly announced a hosepipe ban - did they in fact jinx their neighbours?



July.....

No year review would be complete without giving a mention to my all time favourite blooms.  The herbaceous paeonies opened their big blousy blooms at the tail end of June and manage to look reasonable for the first week in July.  A cottage garden stalwart, considered by many as 'Old Fashioned' - I don't think I could ever consider a garden without a paeony flower!
The sight of these blooms take me right back to my childhood when I would often see my grandfather stand so proudly over his magnificent blooms.  The anticipation from the first time those red shoots pop above the soil very early in the year, watching the fattening of those buds as the weeks go by until they burst open seems to take forever to happen, but worth every minute of it!!   This single flowering magenta pink is the   

newest addition to my garden.  A gift from an elderly lady who is no longer wih us, will be treasured for many years to come, I guarentee it!!
We hear so much about the decline of the Bumble bee in today's climate for various reasons.  Here is an image of one lonesome Queen bee who would not be defeated.

Bombus lapidarius (common red tailed bee) is a bumble bee which nest just under the surface of the ground - they are fairly common sight in my garden here in Scotland.  She slowly made her way up from the sodden soil to rest on the flowerhead of this Scabious.  As you can see from the picture she was soaked right through and sat on this bud for almost 4 hours while the heat of the sun dried her out (a rather rare sunny afternoon).  I suspect that her nest was in amongst some of the plants in this part of the garden, which was now completely up to their elbows in water!  I kept my fingers crossed that she survived and managed to make herself an nest elsewhere.


August.....
did brighten up and the constant rain ceased for a while bringing with it some reasonably sunny days, some of the plants did their best to recover from the set backs and were most welcome!
Clematis The Vagabond and Buddleja providing a nice back drop to Phlox paniculata 'Violet Flame.  Luckily, you can't make out all the gaps in the border.  Although the rain ceased and the temperatures rose - it brought with it stong winds - we can never win us gardeners can we? - a few of the plants were 'over' before they began :(  

Achillea Terracotta flowering for the second
time this year, this is one plant which benefitted from being given a good chop back earlier.

Deutzia x hybrida 'Strawberry Fields' is a shrub which earns its AGM award.  Set back by lack of sun and flowering a good 2 months later than                 than would normally be expected.  To be considered the best month of summer 2012 August did not let me down.  The late visiting Hoverflies and Bees were a delight to behold and I spotted the first butterfly to visit the garden this year - a small tortiose shell.  My garden is not usually abundant with Butterflies, so any are welcome!  There is plenty on offer for them but I suspect that because I live in a rural area on the city boundary there is probably plenty elsewhere in the surrounding woods and fields.  There are always plenty to be seen when I take a walk along the river.

Seen here on the right with the blue sky in the background Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty' looking positively radiant in the afternoon sun.  These plants were a good bit taller than they have been in previous seasons - I wonder - were they just reaching out trying to touch any of the sun's rays which were trying so hard to escape regularly cloud filled skies?          

          
      

September.....
As autumn is knocking on the door, temperatures are dropping but I am most pleased there is still plenty going on.  Don't you just love it when the trees and shrubs begin to take on their autumn colour - they give a new dimension to the garden.  However you want to describe September, early autumn or late summer - it would not be complete without the obligatory Sedums.  Now given that I find my soil a wee bit too moist for Sedums, I have found that growing most of them in containers is the best way I can enjoy them in my garden.  Here's a selection of what I grow.  In a close up of the blooms of Sedum 'Purple Emperor' you can see the hoverfly enjoying these

late summer blooms.  A great little plant for sprawling over a wall or on the edge of a path is Sedum cauticola 'Coca Cola'.  This is one that doesn't seem to mind a bit of shade and grows quite happily in the border which is home to the pond.  Sedum telephium 'Autumn Charm' is variaged green and cream with deep pink flowers.  Seen here just before the flowers open.  Sedums are one of those plants which propogate very easy - any stems you snip off, just stick them in the ground and before long they will have rooted.  Extremely important food source for late flying insects, no garden should be without a sedum or two!  There is talk that giving the larger border specimens the 'Chelsea Chop' can benefit them, I found that more often or not they do not bloom until much later and are often spoilt by the first frosts before they can be enjoyed.  This year I experimented by doing half a plant (Sedum spectable) - snipping of random shoots over the whole plant - whilst in theory I think this would have worked had it been sunnier, the weather played against me and brought the whole plant to it's knees before my experiment was concluded.

One shrub which has not disappointed this year has been Physocarpus opulifolius 'Lady in Red' common name Ninebarks.  This variety is also known as Coppertine in the states.  If you are looking for a purple leaved shrub than I can highly recommend this one.  It didn't seem affected by the rain or lack of sunshine.  It new foliage in the spring is almost copper coloured so I'm guessing that's where it get's it name from.  As the year progresses they turn a deeper shade before falling of in autumn.  It does produce flowers but this year it did not flower in my garden due to the fact it was moved at the wrong time of year.  As the plant matures it has peeling bark, which will add a bit of winter interest.  I found this shrub very easy to propagate by way of softwood cuttings, although I'm not sure what the recommended way is, but it's what worked for me.  This very hardy shrub can be kept in check with pruning, although pruning at the wrong time will sacrifice flowers!


October.....
October is the month that signifies the end of British Summer Time - we change our clocks back on the last Sunday of the month.  The reduced amount of daylight means it is dark here around 4pm.
There  truly was very little going on in my garden come October and by the end of the month the frosts had arrived!  Pretty much most of the time spent out in the garden was preparing for winter.  Wrapping pots with bubble wrap and fleece, mulching some of the plants and providing winter protection in the way of straw for a few of the 'borderline' perennials.  Although I don't have a greenhouse in the garden, I have access to the use of a neighbour's, so that's quite handy!
Let's take a look at what's still looking good......


From left to right with their Autumn colours we have Enkianthus, Acer and Cotinus - all in the process of turning various shades of pinks, reds and purples before they go dormant until spring-time.


Zantedeschia, the last of the flowers before the frost got to them.  This was chopped right back the day after this picture was taken.  A deep mulch provided for winter.  The Dwarf Scabious 'Nana' was one of the plants rescued from the flooding - it took a while to recover but got their in the end!  Anemone hupenensis 'September Charm' - should have been renamed 'October Charm' - I think that she is just enticing us in this shot!  Rather burlesque like don't you think?       


November.....
I need to admit here that I had very little time to spend in or around the garden in November, it was all hands on deck to get the decorating in the house done.  Besides, for much of November the garden was crisp with frost.  It was the first time since last year the Woodpecker dared to show face.  Probably a sign that food is sparse elsewhere.  Christened Woodrow by the family he has been making a regular appearance over the winter.
The frosted heart shaped leaves of Epimedium x perralchicum 'Frohnleiten' quite happily situated beneath the Mahonia - another shade lover.  This plant is classed as evergreen but should have it's foliage cut right back in late winter.  It's yellow flowers will appear before it's coppery red new foliage emerges.  Another plant looking good in close-up being kissed by the frost is Ophiopogon also known as Black Mondo Grass looking like it's been dusted with sherbet - hands up if you remember 'Sherbet Dib Dads' as popular sweetie when I was younger. There are very few plants that say 'winter' like the berries on a holly bush does.  An extremely useful food source of many of the garden birds.
 Ilex 'J C Van Tol' gives sanctuary to the birds when the cats are out and about.  We used to have nesting Robins in here too but sadly since getting my cats they no longer roost in here.  Can't say I blame them - bringing up youngsters with cats on the prowl would be one danger to many, I think!!



Last but not least

December......
As the frost lifted in December, I took the time to do a bit more tidying up.  The borders that I didn't quite get round to doing before I got distracted elsewhere.  I was amazed to find 3 hand tools I lost during the year.  That got me thinking......Am I the only gardener who puts things down and never finds them again until everything has died back.  I speak from experience, this isn't the first time this has happened.  It can be anything from a hand trowel to a roll of garden wire to a pair of gloves - what do you loose in the garden?  
I successfully had a go at making a log feeder for the birds - this has been a worth while effort.  It's extremely popular with the Robins who are unable to feed on the feeders and often get chased from the bird table by the starlings.
Of course, what December entry would be complete without mentioning the Christmas word!  Like most gardeners, I know, I've read the blogs, talked the talk, and visited garden centres at this time of year, we all like to give ourselves a little treat.  As a Christmas Present to myself I bought something a wee bit different than I normally would.  It would have been so easy to walk into any GC and buy any of the gorgeous looking shrubs that are on offer at the moment.  I find that the prices on some of these items tends to be a bit exaggerated at this time of the year and just what are you spending your money on?  An, albeit, reasonable sized Camellia - there are quite literally hundreds to choose from, these are also forced into bloom before they reach the shop and unless you have somewhere to keep them in conditions they have been accustomed, they promptly drop their buds suffering from shock!! - been there done that!!  The shelves are filled to bursting with winter flowering pansies, garish polyanthus and the likes.  These are not to my taste.
What did I choose - I went down the less is more route this year and chose a few select alpines.  These are to be grown in troughs, which I have made out of more polystyrene boxes.  Saxifraga and Sempervivums have been on my wish list for a long time but up until now had nowhere to grow them.  As a bit of a preview - here's a look at the Saxifraga I selected.....




On the left is Saxifraga cotyledon Southside Seedling, on the right is Saxifraga Monarch and below left is Saxifraga aizoon minor.  All are rosette forming evergreens. Both S. Southside seedling and S. Monarch have been awarded the AGM by the RHS.  All 3 belong to the group of 'silver' Saxifraga.  
They will flower spring and summer.


  

On the bottom right is Saxifraga stolonifera 'Hime' This little beauty was sold to me as hardy but I am having difficulty on finding further information on it.  RHS list it as H2/H3 so I'm a bit confussed.  The nursery where I bought it is usually reliable with their plant information.  So time will tell!  It's dark green viened leaves have a pink shade on the reverse, it should make a rather nice specime.  It will flower later in the year than the other too.

    
Well, there you have it, my year in not so brief!!  I hope you enjoyed my look back at 2012.  It has certainly jogged my memory and reminded me of some of the thinks I need to resolve in 2013.

Thank you for stopping by.

Angie x      

        




   



     
              

          





10 comments:

  1. Wow, what a busy year you have had!
    Isn't it great to have these yearly reviews for later to look back on, we tend to forget what we did when. I have my reviews in pictures, divided into 4 seasons (you can find them on my website, link on my blog), I have been doing it since 2004 and it is so great being able to just look up things when I wonder for example when I planted a plant or changed a bed etc.
    I wish you a great gardening year for 2013!

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  2. Thanks Helene - I think that this maybe a bit too long, I probably should have done it on a page rather than a post. Still it's done now and like you say, always there for reference.

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  3. You had a busy and productive year in the garden. Hoping this year is as good or even better.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Crafty - hope your's is a good one too!

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  4. Have found my way here via' Shirls Gardenwatch'. It looks as if you had an eventful year in 2012.That early January storm took another couple of days to get down here and did a lot of damage to a willow in our garden in north west England. We have that same rotten weather too all year. Look forward to getting to you and your garden better in 2013 :)

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    1. Anna - thank you for visiting. Yes, I think 2012 started and never ended!! So many disappointments and I feel like I never stopped moaning about every one of them!
      All the best in 2013 for you too :)

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  5. Angie I am exhausted...my goodness you have done si much over the year. I too lose my tools and I love the trellis on the fence...and that log bird feeder....I wish we could garden year round here but right now we are snowed in...no gardening until late March if I am lucky!

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  6. Donna - it would break my heart if I couldn't get outdoors for such a long period. How do you manage - you must get cabin fever! I supppose you get lots of housework done though :)
    Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. I found my way here from 'Shirl's Gardenwatch' too. Lovely post. You have made me add a few more names to my massive wishlist! :)

    http://woodlousehouse.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. That's the downside to visiting garden blogs - the list just get longer and longer :)
      Thank you for visiting!

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