Looking back over the photos for all of 2014 has shown me that the garden continues to flower even though there are times when I haven’t felt like looking after it. I have had such a lot of help from the under gardener, I couldn’t have done any of it without him.
January is the month when the snowdrops start flowering, one or two have opened before New Year, but most of the others start in January. The year started with gales which brought lots of branches down in the woodland and one night the top of one of our oaks was snapped off. There is always a silver lining though, this opened up an area in the woodland so that the sunlight could get to an area that had never seen sunlight before, an excuse for more planting!.
Once the snowdrops start flowering, the other woodland plants soon join in. If we have plenty of sunshine Crocus Tommasinianus open up their lovely flowers and make the first bees very happy.
February is the month for the beautiful Hellebores, there are so many different ones, all so tempting.
February was also the month for the floods that hit the UK. So many areas were under water for a couple of months. The garden here was absolutely sodden, but compared to other people we were very lucky indeed.
In March the colour in the woodland changes from the white of the snowdrops to the yellow of many varieties of Narcissus, this one is Tete a Tete.
Slowly the yellow narcissus are replaced by white ones and then of course they are joined by the beautiful Snakeshead Fritillaries, Fritillaria meleagris.
The fritillaries are as important to me as the snowdrops are at the beginning of the year. This year they managed to escape damage caused by the pheasant which likes to patrol the garden. Usually they suffer when the weather is dry and the pheasant is looking for something juicy to eat, I just wish it wasn’t the buds of the beautiful flowers! Here they are joined by cowslips and false oxlips.
The fritillaries continue flowering into April which is the month when all the blossom starts on the trees.
The Amelanchier is a lovely small tree, beautiful blossom, copper coloured new leaves, black berries for the birds and good autumn colour, it really earns its space. Lots of other trees are bedecked with blossom in April, making the garden a lovely place to be.
April is also the month when Peonia mlokosewitschii opens its beautiful flowers
and is also the month when the Erythronium are flowering in the woodland. It was also the month when we had more gales, but this time the damage was done to next doors oak tree, we managed to escape.
By May, the garden is almost flowering on all cylinders, it is difficult to choose which photos to show you. This photo is of some Pacific Coast Iris which mark the start of the Bog Garden flowers.
At the back of the bog garden the star of the show is my favourite Meconopsis. They are such a wonderful turquoise blue, so beautiful, they are worth a little bit of extra cosseting.
Flowering at the same time are all the colourful Candelabra Primulas. These lovely flowers open over a couple of months. I am so pleased with the way this border is developing, from a border which was rather uninteresting and always soggy, it has now become the rainbow of colour which I hoped for.
May is also when the Bee and Butterfly border starts to get into its stride, when the iris and paeonies are flowering. Colour in this border goes on until the end of autumn and provides pollen and nectar for any visiting insect.
Late May and June sees the oriental poppies burst open their beautiful blooms, this one is Patty’s Plum, they certainly are such gorgeous flowers, even though each flower doesn’t last very long, they are worth their space.
June is also the month for Alliums, here they are Globemaster which make wonderfully solid heads, and is also the month when all the climbers that I have put up trees are starting to flower.
Rosa Mulligani up the dead oak in the middle of the garden is smothered with flowers at the end of June and into July, also R. Wedding Day is the same in the back garden where I have put it up an Ash.
July is when the fruit and vegetable garden is producing so much each day, sometimes it is all we can do to keep up with it all.
We are still enjoying our black and red currants which are in the freezer, they will keep us going for a while yet.
The runner beans have been fantastic, still plenty in the freezer for me to use. July was when we had a drought, so a lot of extra watering had to be done. But by August the beans were toppled by the tail end of Hurricane Bertha. They weren’t uprooted so carried on producing even more beans.
July is when all the Hemerocallis, Day Lilies, are flowering. I still have some to move as there are too many together in the border by the field, I need something there to contrast with all the foliage.
Crocosmia Lucifer makes sure we all know where he is, no matter where you are in the garden, he almost always catches your eye.
August seems to be our best month for moths and butterflies. This is the Jersey Tiger Moth which we have seen for the past couple of years now, we’re hoping that it becomes a regular visitor.
We have found that the best flower that attracts the insects is Eupatorium maculatum Atropurpureum which is a big plant growing to about 7ft tall. It is in the Bee and Butterfly border, at the back of the border and has me rushing out all the time to take loads of photographs when the sun hits it and the insects arrive.
August is also the time for Hydrangeas and the viticella clematis on the pergola to wow us with their flowers.
Clematis Etoille Violette flowers so abundantly and for such a long time, a really good one. All the uprights of the pergola have a rose and clematis combination up them, there is always something to see in this area. We had a heatwave for most of the month but the rain came just in time I think because some plants were looking a bit stressed. There is only so much watering we can do from the water butts, mains water is on a meter and has to be paid for!
The roses started flowering in June but then had a rest while we had a drought in the summer months. More flowers came as soon as the rain came at the end of the month and they all looked better than ever.
September has a different feel, misty mornings followed with a bit of luck by bright sunny days. It is also the time when the different grasses start flowering and take centre stage, this one is Miscanthus malepartus.
It is also the time of year when the garden seems to be full of berries. We do have rather a lot of fruit bearing shrubs, planted to keep all the wildlife happy, Cotoneaster, Berberis, Pyracantha, Elderberry (above) and lots more.
I always feel that Cyclamen hederifolium herald autumn, but mine are getting earlier and earlier each year, this year it was the very end of July instead of September.
Colchicums always take me by surprise, as the leaves die down early in the year and then suddenly the flowers appear in September.
October still has plenty of late blooming flowers, here Sedum and Asters. I think it will have to be my New Years resolution, to learn all the new names that we keep getting!
October is also the month when suddenly toadstools erupt in the grass, we get quite a few different varieties, but I daren’t cook any of them!
Autumn tints also start in October, but it very much depends on the weather how long they last. Unfortunately we had the tail end of another hurricane, this time Gonzalo, which whipped all the lovely leaves off after about a week, we usually can enjoy them for a month, but not this year.
Gonzalo was followed by some warm and wet weather coming from Africa. I’m sure this is why Iris unguicularis was flowering so early, usually it flowers in the winter.
This was also when the undergardener was rushed into hospital and the garden had to cope by itself for a while.
I found I was quite enjoying sweeping up all the leaves, I kept telling myself it was good for the waistline!
The Acers took a long time turning colour, I think because it was so warm at night time, but they got there eventually and stayed for quite some time, a lovely end to November.
Our first real frost was a few nights ago, the detail in the gate that I carved for the pond area shows up so much better with a bit of frost on it. We were so lucky just having a frost, so much of the country was covered in snow with people stranded everywhere, I hope they all got safely home.
The Camellia is still flowering away, in spite of the frost, I think it is quite sheltered where it is, more buds are opening each day, they are so unexpected at this time of year.
The front border now glows with the stems of Cornus alba sibirica Westonbirt and we will be able to enjoy them with the white stems of all the silver birches until they get cut back in March, the cornus, that is, not the silver birches!
We have now come full circle. The only snowdrop that was out by Christmas was G. Farringdon Double, but something has been chewing the flower and the label! More snowdrops are pushing up each day so soon I will be making my daily rush to the woodland to see what has opened overnight.
Thank you all for leaving messages during the year, I love hearing from you all and love reading all your posts. I wish you all a very Happy New Year and happy gardening for 2015. I have just realised how long this post is, if you have stayed until the end, then thank you very much, I appreciate it!