Was 2012 a Washout ?

Not really ! I started preparing this post by looking through all my photos for this year and re-reading some of my posts. There seem to be so many photos of plants looking absolutely sodden and covered with raindrops, so lets start with the weather!!




I think we would all agree, no matter where we live in the world that things are happening to our weather causing us to have extremes of heat, cold, drought, floods etc. and here in the UK it has been floods from June onwards with a short period of summer in September.


The cold, wet weather in the spring meant that there weren’t enough bees flying to pollinate our fruit trees and therefore we had hardly any fruit in the autumn. Obviously in future I will have to buzz around with a paint brush, from flower to flower, pretending to be a bee!


However it wasn’t all doom and gloom, not by any means. I have never known all the plants to flower and grow so well. Trees and shrubs put on extra growth, the roses flowered as never before, some even managing to have 4 periods of flowering, almost never stopping.


All the rain has also benefited shrubs that flower after New Year, witch hazels, camellias, rhododendrons etc. which form their flower buds during our summer, ready for next year. Usually we are flinging buckets of water over them because they are in danger of aborting their flower buds, not necessary this year, nature took care of it for us, we should have a fantastic show in a few weeks time.


The short period of lovely weather that we had in September brought the butterflies into the garden in droves, making up for lost time. They were everywhere,  flitting from flower to flower, wonderful to see them at last, there were lots of Commas among all the usual butterflies.

Jersey Tiger Moth

We even had a visit from a Jersey Tiger Moth, we don’t often see these visitors from across the channel in the garden, they stayed around for quite a few days.


All of sudden bees also were everywhere, as long as the rain stopped for a while. As soon as the sun came out for a short spell, there they were making up for lost time.


Another point that has become very evident by re-reading some posts is that I am certainly going to have more drifts of certain flowers at different times of year. Looking at photographs the first drift would have to be snowdrops which will be appearing very soon.


These are quickly followed by the snakeshead fritillaries which are in the damp part of  woodland. I was delighted this year at how they have multiplied and spread in such a short time, just by sprinkling the seed each year.


Next come my Meconopsis with their stunning blue colour, once seen, never to be forgotten! Seed needs to be sown each year to be able to have drifts of these fantastic flowers, but they are worth the extra effort. Hopefully I will be able to move this years seedlings to their final place soon and drift building can start in earnest!


They flower at the same time as the cowslips that are planted in the same area and the two colours contrast beautifully. They shouldn’t grow together, meconopsis likes acid soil and cowslips alkaline soil, just as well I’m neutral and didn’t know their likes and dislikes when  I planted them!!


The many primulas that I have planted in the bog garden are the next to take centre stage. All different colours, some flowering early, some later, bring lots of colour to a shady border that just gets very early morning sunshine. There are lots more that I have grown from seed that are ready for planting, so the drift should be a lot better this coming year or I hope it will be!!


The primulas are quickly followed by lots of astilbes, brightening up the shade with their blowsy pinks, reds and lilac colours. It has dawned on me that all these drifts are in my shady borders, the sunny borders are where I have planted all the flowers to attract wildlife.


I can definitely say that the best plant in this category has been Eupatorum atropurpureum.


It is rather huge, ( 7ft tall) with equally huge flower heads, but the bees and butterflies were drawn to it like a magnet. The plant produced about 10 flowering stems this year and they were all covered with insects of one sort or another. Forget the buddleja, forget the verbena bonariensis, all they wanted was this one, it was a feeding frenzy each day and I dread to think how many photographs I took!


All this rain has meant that the foliage of all the plants has been so lush, so huge, almost as if we have been in a jungle at times.

Autumn tints

The rain also meant that the autumn tints were late arriving, the leaves just didn’t want to switch off. It was worth the wait though as the colours were so much stronger than usual, a super year for autumn tints!


A very colourful end to the year with the red stems of Cornus lining the driveway. This is the back of the bee and butterfly border, so it continues the summer and autumn interest in a different way. With so much moisture in the soil, the cornus shrubs have grown as never before, well over 7ft tall. Some of the branches have flopped and layered themselves so when the time comes in March for them to be coppiced, we will have quite a few more ready made plants!

Can’t look back on the year without mentioning the Ash Tree disaster. If our ash have to come down it will make such a difference to our garden, we can only hope that some will be resistant to the disease. Coming so close on the heels of the problems with Chestnut trees which are being attacked by a moth, it really is a disaster. We swept all our chestnut leaves up last year and put them in bags which we sealed. The moths will have died in the bags, but this year the leaves were attacked again, but not quite so badly.

April in the back garden

Let’s end 2012 on a lighter note. I think that looking at the garden from a distance means that the weeds don’t show up as much! This shot is from the woodland area looking back into the garden in April, maybe you would like to join me in a stroll around the garden through the year.

Front border in May

In May the front bee and butterfly border has quite a bit of interest for the insects and weather permitting, this carries on until October.

Bog garden

The bog garden also gets into its stride in May, lots of lush foliage to hide any weeds that I have missed and the flowers just keep coming, well into August and beyond.

Side garden

These are the side borders near to the house in June, just by the back door, which is at the side!! Again quite dense planting to try and eliminate the weeds. The Convolvulous cneorum that you see with the silver leaves was a casualty of all the rain, it just didn’t like our heavy clay soil staying wet all the time, even though I had improved the soil with lots of drainage. All my Lychnis coronaria were casualties of the weather too.

Woodland arch

The archway into the woodland in July where wild flowers are welcome to join in with the others and form more drifts.

Mulligani up oak

This view of Rosa Mulligani up the dead oak in the centre of the garden, is taken from under the pergola which in turn leads up to the fruit and veg garden. July is the usual time for this rose to flower but it was a bit earlier this year and had far more flowers than usual.

Pond area

All the foliage is very lush by the pond area in July, great difficulty getting to the pond, everything has grown so much, the wildlife now has it all to itself.

Looking to woodland

From the side garden, looking through to the back and the woodland in August. The rain hasn’t stopped anything flowering, they just keep coming non stop, fuelled by all the extra moisture.

Hope you have enjoyed your wander round the garden with me, I’m amazed at just how many photos were taken with the sun shining, I hadn’t thought that we had seen it very much this year, I must have been out with my camera as soon as the rain stopped!

I was getting quite stressed as the year went by as my muscle problem has still not been solved, I still have good days and bad days, but the under gardener has been absolutely fantastic, in fact I think he is now the head gardener and I have become the under gardener, he does so much more gardening than I do!! He was brilliant when I had my shoulder operation a few weeks ago and did absolutely everything. I have been working  hard with my physio, so hard that last week I was signed off from the hospital, they were very pleased with my progress but have warned me that it could be a year before the shoulder is fully recovered.! I had my cataract operation yesterday and the difference is amazing, everywhere is so colourful, even though it is pouring down again. Only problem is, I can see the weeds at the top of the garden, they will just have to wait!

Now I can do lots more than before but I have decided that I’m not going to worry about a few weeds and try to relax in 2013!!

I would like to finish by wishing you all a wonderful New Year and in the UK at least, a much drier 2013!




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22 Responses to Was 2012 a Washout ?

  1. wellywoman says:

    Thanks for this tour of your stunning garden Pauline. It has really cheered me up on another wet day. It does show how remarkable plants are and what they can cope with. I’m pleased to hear your shoulder is recovering and that your eye op was a success. Although not so great that you can see those pesky weeds now. 😉 Wishing you a drier, happy, healthy and prosperous 2013. Best wishes, WW.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you WW for your good wishes, as well as weeds I’m now seeing cobwebs everywhere !!
      I think plants are amazing, coping with what they have had to this year. Still pouring today, patio flooded once again, thank goodness I put my tulips into pots this time! Wishing you all the best for 2013.

  2. Donna says:

    It was a dry year here and I was reading all year about the rains in the UK. I too hope the weather in 2013 mellows out all over. I hope you have a joyous New Year. Your garden looked lovely in the images as the rain does make plants grow beautifully. Love those blue poppies.

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Donna, yes, it has certainly rained almost non stop, they say the worst year since records began and that was a few hundred years ago! Plants are wonderful the way they can adapt to adverse conditions and we really have had a very flowery year! Even so, I hope we all have less extremes next year.

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    I’ve been writing an end of year post and it’s impossible not to mention the weather… I’d love to cut out any mention of rain, considring it’s all we’ve talked about for the past 7 months but then it wouldn’t be a true round up of the year!

    Lovely photos, and I really love your Mecanopsis. I hope mine bloom this year………

    Here’s to a much better 2013 and hoping the rain stops… PLEASE!!!!! Grrrrrr. I’m going to end up wearing wellies constantly soon.

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Liz, the weather had to be mentioned didn’t it as it was such a big part of the year. I was amazed though at how many photos were yaken in the sunshine, I really don’t remember it shining so much!
      Next year has to be better, it couldn’t be worse. Maybe we will all evolve with webbed feet!!!

  4. Cathy says:

    Pauline, I am so sorry the effects of your shoulder injury are still taking their toll, but well done for doing well with your physio and your successful cataract operation. It was a delight to stroll through a year in your garden, as I only joined the ‘circuit’ in the summer and haven’t read ALL of people’s previous posts! Your spring flowers in particular are absolutely stunning – the fritillaries, primula, cowslips and the snowdrops of course. And the first two photos with the raindrops are brilliant! I have so enjoyed reading your posts, Pauline, and look forward to getting to know you and your garden even better in the new year.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Cathy for your lovely comments about the garden, I too feel that spring is a very special time in the garden here and look forward to the drifts expanding without any help from me! I have appreciated your comments over the months Cathy and look forward to more posts about your garden in the coming year. Let’s hope it will be a bit drier next year so that we can all get the necessary gardening done at the right time of year.

  5. Christina says:

    Pauline, certainly from most of your photos ones would never know just how wet 2012 has been in England. Your garden seems to have gained much more than it has lost with all the rain, even if it has not been as pleasurable for you, this year. Who knows what 2013 will bring us gardeners, I’m hoping we won’t have quite such a long, hot, dry summer as 2012 but as you say, who can tell – Climate change or climate weirdness, as it’s being described by some is here to stay I fear, we can only do our BEST! A very happy New Year to you and the under gardener. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      I think Christina, that we have all learned a lot from our gardens this year, here we have found that plants flower a lot more and grow a lot more with all the rain. With you it was the opposite, all your heat stopped your plants from flowering and just shut down until the cooler weather arrived, then started again, giving you almost a second spring. Plants are so adaptable, they have to be or they would all die, I think we have to adapt with them.
      Very best wishes for the New Year and hopefully a less extreme gardening year for us all!

  6. You have something interesting happening in your garden in every season. Your Galanthus drifts are wonderful. I’ve been trying to get my Galanthus to grow, but they are borderline hardy here, so only a few of the bulbs bloom each spring, and a few scattered flowers doesn’t have nearly the same effect. I was gong to give up, but then I saw some really large bulbs last fall, so I’m trying again. I’m hoping that these fill in, as they will make a beautiful start to the gardening year.

    I love the beautiful blue Meconopsis growing up thorough the cowslips. Your Primula are so vivid. Those new seedlings will make a very colourful drift of them. Those Hosta and ferns are probably wishing for more of the same weather for 2013, even if you’re not.

    Have a great gardening year in 2013, and glad to hear that things are improving for you, and that you’re making progress with your shoulder.

    • Pauline says:

      I’m surprised your snowdrops don’t flower for you NS, they are very hardy with a special tip to push through snow and frost! Are you splitting your clumps of snowdrops regularly? Sometimes they get so congested that they stop flowering, I usually split my clumps every 3 or 4 years into groups of 5 bulbs as the leaves start dying off and they flower as usual the next year. Hope you have more success with your new ones.
      I decided that the only way to get drifts of meconopsis and primulas in a short time was to sow masses of seed, just a couple more months of nurturing the youngsters, then they can be planted in their final place. I agree, the foliage plants in the garden have revelled in all the rain, they have never been so good!
      Thank you for your good wishes, I hope we all have a good gardening year in 2013

  7. pbmgarden says:

    Pauline, I enjoyed touring your garden through this post. Each plant and each view you show here are so inspiring. Based on your recommendation I plan to add Eupatorum atropurpureum this year. Wishing you good health and happiness throughout the new year and looking forward to reading your posts. Susie

    • Pauline says:

      Susie, I have to warn you that Eupatorum atropurpureum does grow huge, 7 to 8 ft tall with flowers about 10 inches across. The wild one, Joe Pye weed is good for wildlife, but this hybrid is fantastic! A friend gave it to me when it got too big for her garden, I’m so glad she gave it to me!!
      Thank you for all your comments since we found each other, wishing you happy gardening for 2013.

  8. Anna says:

    A magical look back at the year Pauline and even though we have had more than enough of the rain those top two photos are exquisite. If nothing else this year has proved just how resilient plants are. So glad to read that your operation is behind you and how wonderful to be seeing the world with ‘new’ eyes. May the new year treat you, those that you love and your garden kindly xxx

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Anna, for your kind comments, it’s the difference in the colours that I am finding the most amazing after my op, everything is so bright compared with before and not having to wear specs any more is fantastic!! The forecast for this week says it should be drier, let’s hope they have it correct. Hope you have a wonderful year in your garden in 2013.

  9. Alberto says:

    Amazing post, Pauline! A great celebration to a great garden, I really enjoyed making this tour through time and space. I am also looking forward to watch new pictures of the drifts you were talking about. I also remember you have quite a lot of hellebores, right? You forgot mentioning them! 🙂
    I wish you a very happy and healthy and relaxing 2013!

    • Pauline says:

      Glad you enjoyed wandering about the garden Alberto. Yes, you’re right, I do have quite a few Hellebores but just 2 or 3 in each shady bed, not all together making a drift,…..but now you mention it…maybe that could be a project for this year!!
      Hope you and your garden have a wonderful 2013, with maybe less heat for you this summer.

  10. What a lovely “glass half full” post, full of so much colour. Good to be reminded that all that rain wasn’t a total disaster. But I still hope we have less this year…

    • Pauline says:

      Janet, I agree, less rain this year would be lovely, enough to keep the garden looking nice but not enough to flood everywhere! All the rain has meant that plants have grown as never before, yes, some silver leaved ones have died, but then maybe, being on heavy clay, I shouldn’t have planted them anyway!!

  11. Helen says:

    Hi Pauline,

    yes, even in years with “bad” weather lots of plants and flowers do manage to come through as your photos show so nicely. I shall be looking forward to hearing how your meconopsis are coming along, I just read that betonicifolia is now called baileyi. Some of my seeds have just been sown, a plant company recommended doing it now and not leaving them in the bags in the fridge, to hedge my bets, I shall also sow some according to your recommendations. Fingers crossed for yours and mine 🙂

    All the best to you for the coming year, let’s hope its a bit more amenable.


    • Pauline says:

      Hi Helen, lovely to hear from you again! I was looking in the garden this morning at all the wonderful fat buds on most of the bushes, all thanks to the rain last summer, we should all have lots of flowers in the spring! I have just sown my meconopsis seeds, thinking we were going to have some frost last night…no frost! Any way they are sown and outside under a table to keep some of the rain off them, we will just have to wait and see what happens! Do let me know how you get on with your seeds and yes, lets hope this year is a bit more garden friendly!!

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