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