Boundes End Blog


February 2020

Once again, here I am, nearly in the middle of February 2020 starting to write a summary of how the garden fared last year. As I write I am anticipating with some dread the very high winds and gusts of between 60 – 80 mph that are forecast. Hopefully we can move all pots and garden furniture that might get blown over, and keep our fingers crossed that there will not be too much damage. So, back to 2019...

January started mild and dry with some bright sunny days. As the month progressed it gradually became colder with frosts, a chilly breeze, and continuing mainly dry. As always, the first Hellebores and snowdrops were a joy. The perfume of the Sarcoccoca wafted as I walked past it as did the mahonia’s. There were also flowers on the white camellia, a few of which caught the frost. An odd primrose flower or two lit up some dull corners too. All the Hellebore leaves now cut off which makes the flowers stand out much more. Had to re-pot a lot of our Echeveria and Aeoniums due to the dreaded vine weevils having made a good meal of their roots!

February started cold and frosty with snow showers on the first Wednesday and Thursday of the month – all melted away by Saturday though. A wet week followed, then turned milder up to 13’C and on the 26 th we had the warmest February day on record with a temperature of 18’C! the colour was added to with a few crocus and Tete a tete daffs coming into flower – little rays of sunshine. The grasses were cut back, roses, apple and pear trees pruned, and the Catalpa had a slightly harder than usual prune.

March turned slightly cooler although still slightly warmer that the average for the month at 11’C – 13’C. By the middle of the month it had become wet, cooler and windy with gusts of up to 50mph on 16 th and 17 th . March ended with a warm, dry and sunny week. Many plants are now showing signs of life – Spring is in the air! We have primroses, camellia’s, Tete a Tete daffs (in abundance) Crocus, irises, scilla’s and pulmonaria’s in flower. The snowdrops were well over by the middle of the month as were the hellebores. A large branch broke off the ash tree in the lower garden, fortunately it didn’t cause any real damage but there was quite a mess to clear up! Weeding the borders started in earnest and the grass had its first cut of the year in the last week.

April was a month of very mixed weather – warm and sunny one day and cooler, cloudy and raining the next. Happily the Easter weekend (19 th – 22 nd ) was warm dry and sunny – 23’C, great for the grandchildren’s Easter Egg hunt! Cooler and showery again at the end of the month. Polyanthus now making a good splash of colour but the Tete a Tete’s had gone over. Symphytum’s, which we have quite a few of for ground cover are flowering well. Rhodanthemums, Bergenia, Muscari and the first rhodi’s have come into flower along with Pieris, Epimedium’s, brunnera ’s, and Clematis Montana’s. the apples, pears, plum and damson trees all in blossom by the end of the month and the Davidia was covered in ‘handkerchiefs’. The grass had its second cut of the year in the first week and weeding continued apace. We had two casualties of the winter that we had to dig out – our beautiful tree fern in the lower garden and a Choiysia in the top garden. The tops were cut off the snowdrops at the end of the month.

May started out mild and sunny then turned cold with a NE - NW breeze with rain and cold nights. Became warmer mid-month, sunnier and drier. By the end of the month temperatures were up to 20’C climbing towards the beginning of June. Flowering in the garden were clematis montana’s, tulips, azalea’s, rhodi’s, choisya, scilla peruviana, Symphytum, Bergenia, irises, geums and alliums. There were a lot of plants which we started potting up or potting on, continued weeding and mowed off the daff leaves in the last week of the month. We have had frequent visits by a fox, seen coming right up to the terrace and the blue tits who have used one of our nesting boxes have hatched their chicks.

June was initially very warm with a high of 28’C, but then became cooler with occasional rain for most of the month, interspersed with some fine and warmer days. The roses did very well, with Crown Princess Marguerita on the arch by the terrace being particularly floriferous. In flower as well were geraniums, salvia’s, Thalictrum Heuchera, lilies, gerbera’s, Hemerocallis and Philadelphus. Weeding, tidying continues and mowing at least twice a month now, as well as keeping the edges trimmed. We changed a very small area at the bottom end of the lower garden where we removed a pampas grass that was definitely in the wrong place and subsequently hadn’t thrived. We replaced it with a statuette that had been slightly damaged (and which had been replaced by an armillary sphere in the top garden) we planted an azalea, ferns and hosta’s around it and gave it a pebble mulch.

July was a mainly settled month with temperatures ranging between 20’C – 30’C. a few rain showers and a couple of cooler days. The hanging baskets and troughs are now looking their best having completely filled out. We now only plant them up with trailing geraniums as they can cope well with warmer and drier conditions – appreciated by our wonderful neighbours who water for us when we are away! The garden is probably at its most colourful from the end of June til the end of August, coming into flower now we have Hosta’s, penstemmons, agapanthus, echinacea, perovskia, verbena, zinnia’s and salvia. The roses continue to flower well. little weeding to do, but deadheading and watering all the pots keeps us busy.

August continued to be settled and fairly warm, a bit cooler mid-month with one very windy day with gusts of 49mph! back to warm and dry toward the end of the month. Canna’s, buddleia, hydrangea’s, Helianthus, Japanese anemones and ceratostigma and rudbeckia all adding to the colour, with salvia’s and roses still looking good. august is a month when we can sit back a bit as there is less to do and the garden mostly looks after itself, just a little bit of deadheading and light weeding.

September was breezy at the beginning but still warm – up to 23’C until the last week when it turned cooler and showery which was welcome after the dry spell as the soil had got very dry and some plants were drooping. Still some colour in the garden but the early – mid summer flowerers are going over. Roses still have some blooms and the rudbeckia’s and salvias are continuing to look good. The canna’s which are in pots on the terrace are still providing a welcome pop of bright reds and oranges. Took cuttings of salvia’s, geraniums and pinks. The Victoria plum crop was not as good as last year, and there were very few damsons. Plums and damsons crop well every other year so hopefully there will be a better crop in 2020. The little Grenadier cooking apple tree produced a reasonable crop and the fruit was ready to harvest by the end of the month.

October was a month of very mixed weather, but generally mild throughout, especially during daylight hours, 10-17’C. Rosa Crown Princess marguerite continued to flower very well. this rose is supposed to be disease resistant, but in fact suffered very badly with rust and blackspot this year, and at one point we had virtually stripped it of its leaves before spraying. Salvia’s, canna’s, Datura, Verbena’s, Nerines and Clerodendron all continued to provide colour. The Callicarpa’s in the front garden had a very good crop of beautiful purple berries which will be there until after Christmas. The leaves on the Acers and Liquidamber’s changing colours bring their own splash of colour to the lower garden. We picked the pears to finish ripening indoors and the Bramleys to store for later use. We took cuttings of geraniums, salvia’s and penstemons. A good crop of acorns this year, which we will probably be raking up until well into November.

November continued mild and very wet at times, a few sunny days but mostly dull and overcast. The garden became very soggy. Foliage plus a few odd roses, kaffir lilies, callicarpa berries and salvia’s giving last pops of colour. The Sarcococca’s just beginning to come into flower and looking forward to their perfume wafting around in the breeze. The geraniums are now all cut back and potted up and brought indoors to overwinter along with other tender plants. Cut back other perennials and lightly trimmed shrubs were necessary. Most of the leaves are now down and raked up – apart from the oaks which are always last.

December continued wet, with the soil becoming increasingly soggy and proving difficult to get onto – no forking-over done. Little colour now – although by the end of the month we are just beginning to see the tips of some bulbs showing, plus an odd primrose deciding to pop up a few flowers and a Symphytum in the front garden – slightly confused perhaps? At the very end of the month we had some chilly but bright sunny weather which was very welcome, which along with the tips of the daff leaves, a few primroses and buds in the Hellebores was a very welcome sign of things to come at the beginning of 2020.

March 2019

I think 2018 will be noted for a year of extremes, especially when we think of the Beast from the East and the long dry summer. However, as gardeners we have to rise to the challenges that the weather and life throw at us and adjust accordingly.

In my blog I comment on the weather month by month, the plants that are flowering and/or looking good, any tasks that we have undertaken that may be worth noting and any general comments about the garden.

January; we had a few frosty mornings, glimmers of sunshine, average or below average temperatures and a lot of ‘grey’ days. The Hellebores and snowdrops did well, and their clumps are increasing nicely. The Sarcococca’s have been wafting their perfume around the garden and the first primroses were in flower. The soil however remained wet and the lawns soggy. Not a lot we could do but raked up the last of the leaves and started mulching. Our mulch is a mixture of leaf mould, garden compost and pelleted chicken manure.

February; temperatures ranged between -3`C and +7`C, with quite long spells of cold weather. Another mainly grey month with little sunshine. Occasional rain and an odd snow shower except on the 26th and 27th when we had heavy snow falls accumulating nearly 6” of lying snow and an overnight low of -6`C. despite the cold we had primroses, snowdrops, Sarcoccoca, hellebores, iris, cyclamen, a few crocus and camellia’s in flower. The Tete a Tete daffs were beginning to show nice fat buds.

March; happily, all the flowers and plants seem to have recovered from being covered in snow. The month started very cold with some further snow showers and freezing rain. There were then some milder spells (up to 13`C) but overall it stayed mostly cold, with more snow at times until the last week when it was very wet. It was a joy to see the winter flowering clematis out, joined by pulmonaria’s, tete a tete’s and crocuses. The buddleia’s and hydrangeas were pruned towards the end of the month.

April; we had a wet Easter weekend, continuing grey, misty and chilly until the middle of the month when it suddenly warmed up with Thursday 19th being the warmest April day at 25`c since 1949 and with clear blue skies! After then it was back to normal spring temperatures with rain and a cool breeze. All the spring plants and flowers doing their stuff now plus grape hyacinths, Epimedium’s, brunnera and blossom on the plum and damson trees. The grass has had its first cut of the year, split and potted up all of our Hosta’s and started weeding in earnest. One unfortunate loss of our Acer Capillipes in the lower garden was diagnosed by the RHS (we sent them samples) as having Honey Fungus. This then necessitated removing the tree and all the plants around it, following advice from the RHS.

May; a warm start to the month, and amazingly a very warm and sunny Bank Holiday weekend! Then after a mixed week it became warmer and mainly dry, with the month ending with an horrendous thunderstorm! The tree fern unfurled its fronds, choisya’s, camellia’s, clematis Montana’s, azalea’s, Rhodi’s, Lamium Orvala, Rhodanthemums, Alliums and many other late spring plants looking a treat. We had Blue Tits nesting in the top garden bird box and Coal Tits in the lower garden bird box.

June; the month started on a cool note but the gradually became warmer and dryer with higher temperatures ranging between 21`C – 26`C. The roses did very well this year, particularly our ramblers and climbers. The addition of the philadelphus coming into flower with its wonderful perfume was lovely. With the imminent Open Garden charity days, much time was focussed on weeding, tidying, mowing and edging in the hope that our visitors would enjoy the garden as much as we do. The hardy geraniums were in flower, as well as salvia’s, day lilies, penstemons and our Cornus Kousa Chinensis was magnificent. With the lack of rainfall, we had to spend time watering all the pots most evenings and tried keep everything deadheaded.

July; a very warm dry month, max temperature of 35’C, often 15’C overnight minimum. No rain until 28th/29th when we had one wet and windy day and night! The warm dry weather was great as far as opening the garden for charity visitors was concerned but a few showers would have done a lot of good for the plants and grass, which had brown patches by the end of the month. Roses, Hemerocallis, penstemons, hardy geraniums, clematis, honeysuckle, agapanthus, agapanthus, lilies, eucomis and cardoons all did well despite the drought conditions. Hanging baskets of trailing geraniums, pots and troughs all looked good. Flowers went over fairly quickly, but we managed to keep everything blooming with copious watering and deadheading.

August; continuing fairly warm - although cooler in relative terms, with a few changeable days with showers mid-month, until the Bank Holiday weekend which was wet, windy and cold! A bumper crop of damsons was harvested, and many were made into jam! the Victoria plum crop was poor, although we enjoyed the few that we picked. The echinacea’s, fuchsia’s, canna’s and helenium’s all gave good colour. Not a lot of jobs to do this month apart from mowing and deadheading.

September; the weather continued to be mainly dry and warm, with a little hiccup mid-month and cooler towards the end. The hanging baskets, planted mainly with geraniums did very well all through the summer, flowering well until the end of the month when they were taken down, and cuttings taken. All the late summer/early autumn flowering perennials flowered well, with the helianthus, Rudbekias and salvias being particularly good. In some beds the crocosmia were beginning to take over so they were thinned out. Kaffir lilies (or hesperanthus as I think they are now supposed to be called) started flowering later in the month bringing very welcome splashes of colour.

October; a very pleasant autumn month, being able to get all the tidying up done that was necessary. A month of good average temperatures by day, cooler nights and mainly dry. The Rudbekias, Fuchsias kaffir lilies, callicarpa berries, ceratostigma and late roses keeping welcome colour around the garden. The hedges were cut for the last time and some trees required a bit of management. The leaf colours were beautiful but had really started falling by the end of the month. Happily, the oak tree produced no acorns this year saving us from having to rake them all up!

November; as we went into the winter the weather continued fairly mild for the time of year, by mid-month we had had some heavy showers and thunder storms with the end of the month going out with grey, wet and windy days. Most of the leaves now down and raked up and stored for leaf mould and we finished putting the garden to bed for the winter, grass was mown for the last time and the tree fern wrapped up. Kaffir lilies, nerines and cyclamen still giving a bit of colour along with a winter clematis on our lower pergola. The sarcococca just starting to flower with its beautiful perfume beginning to waft through the air. Most of the Braeburn apples now picked (and eaten!) – an excellent crop on our small tree this year.

December; the last of the leaves are now down and raked up. We have had some early frosts, and a lot of ‘grey’ days including over the Christmas period. The holly berries have nearly all disappeared already, and undoubtedly enjoyed by our numerous feathered friends. And…………………we have the first signs of things to come in the 2019; buds in the Hellebores and snowdrops, flowers on our white camellia and the first primroses.

Febuary 2018

Here we are at the beginning of February 2018, as I start to review 2017 I am looking out of the window watching the snow falling!

I am able to review the year relatively accurately as I keep a garden diary – the RHS 5 year one, which I believe is no longer in print. Mike got my current one from Amazon.

January 2017; A cold month, only warming up slightly at the end to 8’C, occasionally frosty and frequently ’grey’. I note that the Hellebores were in bud, a very few tips of daff buds were showing but as usual the Sarcoccoca’s were releasing their wonderful scent as I walked round the garden. The soil has been too soggy to work on, but we have continued to clear debris as necessary and have cut back the grasses. We also cleared the terrace of pots and part of the pebble bed of its plants and we were about to have the builders in to put up a new boundary wall/fence, enlarge the terrace and create a new lower sitting area.

February 2017; Weather continued to be ‘grey’ and often windy, culminating at the end of the month with storm ‘Doris’. Snowdrops began to show their buds and were out soon after the middle of the month although those in the front garden ahead of those in the back garden. The apple and pear trees were pruned in the first week, later the grasses cut back and the fire circle Cornus bushes were pollarded. By the end of the month the Hellebores and snowdrops were well out in flower.

March 2017; Beginning to feel a little more Spring like with the weather warmer and drier. The Hellebores, Daffs (mostly Tete a Tete), primroses, camellia’s, anemone Blanda, crocus, pulmonaria, grape hyacinths all adding colour to the garden. The grass is beginning to grow and the buds on the pear trees are getting fat! The snowdrops well gone over and I noted that some of the clumps could do with dividing – but I confess it didn’t get done. In the last week I trimmed the Fuchsias and the grass had its first mow of the year. The Bergenia’s and Fritillaries are now in flower, and there is blossom on the plum and damson.

April 2107; a mostly dry month, warm at times but 2 heavy frosts in the last week. The apple and pear trees came into blossom at the beginning of the month, lots of daffs around the garden – little rays of sunshine – Drymis, Pieris in flower and as we go through the month Rodanthemum, Symphytum, Brunnera, Epimedium, Erythronium and tulips all make an appearance. Lots of weeding to do now, potting on of container plants and dead heading the daffs by the last week.

May 2017; Rain at last – the garden was beginning to get very dry, and then dryer again by the end of the month and very warm at times. The canna’s and agapanthus have all been split and repotted this year, so hopefully will be a job that won’t need doing next year. The clematis montana’s on the pergola have been flowering their socks off and really could do with a bit of a trim when they go over. Choiysia Sundance flowering and perfuming the garden and Azalea’s and Rhodi’s in flower. The Rhodis in the front garden are going to be partially cut back when they have finished flowering as there is a lot of dead wood in them and they have got ‘gangly’. Lots of self-sown Aquilegias dotted around – very pretty. Thalictrum, Heuchera’s and Lamium Orvala in flower, as were Irises and Geums by the end of the month.

June 2017; a mainly dry and warm month with just odd rainy days, very warm – up to 32’C one day at the end of the month. the roses did very well, with the ones on the pergola and oak tree being exceptional. With it being dry we had to do a lot of watering, fortunately most of the water butts were full (we have 6 plus a large tank). Plenty of weeding to keep me occupied and mike gave the hedges their first cut – by June the Laurel hedges get very shaggy and with an Open Garden day on 25th needed tidying up. Salvia’s and Hosta’s now flowering, as are the Philadelphus, hardy geraniums, Monskhood, Penstemons, Hemerocallis and unusually, all our phormiums had flower spikes. The hanging baskets all doing well too, containing mostly geraniums as more able to cope with drying out.

July 2017; A mostly warm dry month although showery and breezy at the end. Some rather warm nights too. Perennial doing well with Hemerocallis, Penstemons, Campanula, Achillea all looking good. by the end of the month the Agapanthus, Lilies and Cardoon were magnificent. General tidying up, weeding and deadheading gives us plenty of ‘pottering time’ this month. Our apples trees had very heavy crops and had to be thinned out to prevent the branches from breaking. Garden Open on Sunday July 9 th.

August 2017; A change in the weather to a definitely cooler and breezy spell with frequent showers. This is always a quieter time in the garden, and mostly just a bit of dead heading and the mowing to do. In flower we had Lilies, Isoplexus, Echinacea (loved by the bees) Lantana, Japanese anemones, 2 nd flush roses and penstemons and others making the garden quite colourful. Some of the Bramleys were ready to pick and harvested all the Grenadiers.

September 2017; the beginning and end of the month were dry and relatively warm with a cooler wetter couple of weeks in the middle. Dead heading and mowing continued, but by the end of the month we were doing quite a lot of cutting back including stripping back and potting up the basket geraniums for overwintering. The Hydrangeas flowered well – such reliable autumn color. The fuschia’s, Rudbekia’s, Helianthus and Asters came into their own and the Anemones Sedums and Canna’s continued to give good colour. The Callicarpa berries turned purple – we have 2 small bushes in the front garden.

October 2017; Now beginning to feel really autumnal, although still fairly mild and dry, with a few showers and occasionally breezy. A bumper crop of acorns this year – about 3 brown wheelie bins full this month! potting up of tender perennials continues as well as general tidying and cutting back. Coming into flower were our very late Kaffir lilies – very welcome late splash of colour, a few late Tulbaghia flowers too. We picked the rest of the Bramley apples and all the Conference Pears. The autumn leaf colour was fantastic provided by the Cornus, Maples, Cercis, Liquidamber etc. our compost and leaf mould bins are now full….so lots of lovely mulching material cooking nicely!

November 2017; The month started with some frosty mornings and was chilly at times but throughout the rest of the month was typically mixed and dry toward the end. A few odd roses still valiantly flowering. Still some more acorns to pick up and all tender plants brought indoors. A few Braeburn apples still on the tree – these are a late crop and were excellent this year. The tree fern now wrapped up for the winter.

December 2017; Weather turned colder with a bit of wet snow which didn’t settle – there were heavy snowfalls in the north of the country to down as far as the M4 corridor – very unusual! We cut the leaves off the Hellebore as some are beginning to show buds and also I can just see the tips of some snowdrop leaves pushing their way up into the grass. We continued to rake up leaves – the oak leaves always being the last to fall.

So as I finish writing my 2017 review the snow has stopped falling and the sun is coming out, there is much to look forward to in the garden in 2018.

January 2017

Looking back to May last year was the first sign of the summer to follow. Most of the month was dry and warm for the time of year. Plants were forward in their growth, pears, plum and damson blossom well out in the first week of the month so we were keeping our fingers crossed that there wouldn’t be a late sharp frost. However, May progressed with no sign of frost, foliage romped into growth, hanging baskets went out early and we had to start watering the potted plants every evening. The daff tops were all cut off by the end of the month, and all the beds had been weeded and forked over at least once.

June was mainly wet windy and cool, holding back some of the plants – notably our Alliums – but others, including the roses that ramble up the oak tree, were flowering well. Everything seemed to have benefitted from the early warmth in May, followed by the rainfall in June, and the amount of foliage growth was amazing……inevitably to be followed in the autumn by more pruning back than usual!

At the end of the month the garden was shortlisted as a finalist and then judged for the Kent Life Magazine Amateur garden of the Year Competition which we had been persuaded to enter, the judges were Roger Platt (garden designer and Chelsea Gold Medallist), Sarah Sturt (Editor, Kent Life Magazine), Andy Garland (Radio Kent) and Leigh Clapp (Photographer)

Our 2 Open Garden days were at the end of June and beginning of July. Both days were fine and warm which encouraged a good number of visitors to come and see our garden and the other gardens that opened with us. Over £900 was raised for charity on each day, and much cake was baked and enjoyed.

Throughout July and August the garden flourished and flowered, produced a good crop of plums and damsons and we have been kept busy weeding, mowing, deadheading etc. It was enjoyed by visiting private groups as well as ourselves. Weather-wise it was mainly dry, a few showery days and generally warm, a few brief hot spells but no long heatwave.

The Award ceremony for the previously mentioned competition was in September, and held at Broadview gardens, Hadlow College. We were delighted when it was announced that we were runners up to a very worthy winner – ‘Thatched Cottage’ at Hever. The prize was a Coolings garden Centre token and a framed and signed personalised certificate, and we all went home with a ‘goodie bag’! It was an enjoyable afternoon which included a delicious afternoon tea.

September continued dry sunny and warm, meaning we had a lot of watering to do as all the pots, baskets and troughs by then had heavy foliage and flowers to support. Our small potted fig tree gave us a good crop this year.

Come October, while we still having warm days, the nights began to cool. Whilst there was still plenty of colour in the garden, much of the foliage was getting untidy and needed cutting back – the autumn tidy up had begun! We picked a very good crop of apples and pears - the apples, both cooking and eating, were particularly large this year – and delicious! We realised towards the end of the month that our big pink flowered Camellia in the lower garden had decided to come to the end of its life – we think it was suffering from a lack of water due to the dry summer. It was a bit sad as it had come from our previous garden 15 years ago. Never mind, one plant loss is another planting opportunity. Actually, it gave us the chance to thoroughly dig over, clear out, and improve the soil in the part of the bed where it had been growing. We have now planted another camellia to take its place.

November also continued to be fairly dry for the time of year, enabling us to get on with putting the garden to bed for the winter, which was largely then finished by the end of the month. The tree ferns were wrapped up a bit early as frosty nights were forecast end Nov/beginning Dec.

At the beginning of December, the lawn had its last mow of the year but we continued to rake up leaves – needless to say after all the early foliage growth we now have a full leaf mould bin. There were so many leaves that we ended up having to fill our council brown bins as well! We had a very good clearing session in the front garden, giving the Rhododendrons a good pruning (there won’t be many flowers on them in 2017) removed the old Euphorbia’s and tidied up the ground cover on one side. On the other side, the maple and other shrubs were pruned and again the ground cover tidied up.

And so, here we are, in January 2017. We have just cleared part of the pebbled bed below the terrace as work will begin at the beginning of February on building a new boundary – a low wall with brick piers between which there will be ‘hit and miss’ fencing. The existing fence was damaged in high winds in the autumn and needed replacing, so we are taking the opportunity to do a bit of re- designing. The terrace will be extended to the boundary, the slope down to the lawn replaced with steps and a new small sitting area created on the cleared part of the pebbled bed. The old sleeper edging of the pebbled bed will be replaced by bricks.

Boundes End Blog 2015-16

I see I haven’t written any blog for 2015... so have decided not to look back too much, looking forward seems a much better idea!

2015 continued in much the same vein as previous years, the challenges and vagaries of the weather, new plants to replace plants that died…..or just new plants to create more variety.

Our Open Day went very well, with 3 other local gardens opening with us for the Hospice in the Weald. We didn’t open for the NGS although we had some group visits for them in July and August. We also had an art group with their tutor in the garden for a day, and, as a watercolour artist myself, it was great to see how the garden looked through the eyes of someone else.

Towards the end of the year we decided that our small wild flower meadow was not doing as well as we could have wished for, and so had a change of plan. The area now contains ‘prairie style’ planting, so we shall see how it fares this season.

We also decided that the area at the top of the dry stream bed could do with a revamp, so was cleared at the end of the autumn. Inevitably some bulbs and Japanese anemones were not dug out and so we must dig it through again – more thoroughly this time perhaps? The plan is to make it into a small bog garden which we feel might be more in keeping with the dry stream theme! We hope that it will be finished in time for our visitors this year to see.

As I write this at the beginning of April, I have already watched the snowdrops and crocus come and go, the hellebores had a good year but are more or less gone over, the daffs are fading although there are just a few later flowering ones left to open. But, the tulips are just coming out, as are the fritillaries, pulmonaria Blue Ensign, camellias and the buds on the rhododendrons are fattening up nicely. From the blackthorn blossom in the hedges it looks like it might be a good year for sloes as long as the frost doesn’t catch them.

We have decided to change the planting slightly under the pergola in the top garden, which will now include some euonymous to provide some winter structure and some bush roses (which might stop the grandchildren from jumping over the beds instead of walking round on the path!!!), we have chosen 3 different roses to plant here, one a peachy orange, one yellow and one creamy white. (as I sit here at the computer writing this I cannot remember the names of the varieties, except to say they are all David Austin roses).

In the front garden we dug out 3 Hidcote lavenders that were a bit past their sell by date and have replaced them with rosa Pearl Drift which we bought when we celebrated our Pearl Wedding Anniversary in February.

The winter pruning was all completed despite the miserable weather, but I sorry to say I have got a bit behind with forking over and weeding all the beds, my excuse being that the soil has been too soggy to work on. However, it is beginning to dry out now so there is plenty to do.

So, April now, and the garden is really springing into life. The perennials are reminding me where I planted them, the fruit trees will soon be in blossom and everything is showing the promise of things to come. Lovely, can’t wait!

A Review of 2014

As I write this in January (2015) I know that once again I have neglected to keep the Blog up to date. However, I do keep a weekly diary of how the garden changes, and indeed the weather – slight neurosis on this topic I think! So I will look back at the gardening year and give you a bit of a review of how we have fared.

January; a soggy month, often windy but with mainly above average temperatures. The soil was too wet to work on, so general tidying was the order of the day and as always, with the large oak trees being last to lose their leaves there are always a few more leaves to rake out of the borders. Bulbs were quite early to start popping their noses up along with Camellia’s, Witch Hazel, Viburnum and Sarcoccoca coming into flower. Hellebores having plenty of buds, a promise of the flowers to come.

February; the first snowdrops out at the beginning of the month – what a joy! Early crocus out too and the Hellebores gradually coming out too, as are the cyclamen, pulmonaria’s and Mahonia. Grasses cut back as they are just beginning to show new growth and the tops have been looking rather tatty. The roses and clematis, apple and pears have all been pruned. I note that there is a lot of moss in the lawn after a wet and mild winter.

March; a bit drier thank goodness and beginning to get some early spring warmth in the sunshine. Lovely to have longer days too. Our many clumps of Tete a Tete daffs are out making the borders look very cheerful and the primroses are lighting up the shady areas of the garden. The dogwoods have been pruned, their red, yellow and orange stems having lit up the ‘fire circle’ during the Winter months. Much anticipation of the year to come as plants ordered from various catalogue start to arrive.

April; the lawns have had their first cut of the year and there’s now plenty of weeding to do. I find that the pesky little vine weevil grubs have attacked the Heuchera’s that I grow in pots, but I have managed to salvage enough bits to grow on for new plants. There is lots of blossom on the Damson, Plum and pear trees so I envisage a good harvest providing the weather is good enough for the bees to do their bit. The Amelanchier, Choiysia, early clematis and irises are in flower, the Rhodi’s and Azaleas flowering by the end of the month. Mike has prepared the mini wild flower meadow and sowed a mixture of annual seeds.

May; Huge excitement (on my part) as I notice the Davidia has 12 ‘handkerchiefs’ for the first time since it was planted in 2002. Patience rewarded!!! Also for the first time since planted about 6 years ago, the Dianella Tasmanica Red produced flower spikes. The fairly mild weather seems to have brought out Roses, cistus, heuchera, dicentra and lamium. The hanging baskets are all planted up and canna’s split and re-potted.

June; getting warmer- and drier- and it’s a joy to be working outdoors, feeling the sun on my back. The Cornus Kousa Chinensis in the lower garden is in full flower and looking fantastic. The rambling roses on the oak tree are the best we have seen them – they have almost reached the tree's lower branches now. The perennials are all growing well, providing plenty of colour, looking good for our first Open Garden Sunday at the end of the month.

July; most of the garden continues to be performing well, the climbers on the pergola’s looking particularly good this year. Unfortunately the wild flower meadow is very poor, with a lot of weeds, really disappointing – ah well, there’s always next year!

August; the hanging baskets have filled out really well and are looking very colourful. The day lilies are at their beautiful best. The agapanthus and canna’s are full of flower, I just love the exotic feel they bring to the terrace, along with the Aeoniums, Echevera’s etc. We have had a very good crop of Damsons, but the Victoria plum has too many fruits for the branches so the crop has been reduced by nearly 50% to save the branches being broken. We still had a very good crop, although we found plum moth grubs in quite a few of the plums.

September; the pebble bed below the terrace still looking good with the Echinacea, Eryngium, Perovskia, Tulbaghia, Agapanthus and Verbena Bonariensis producing a wonderful haze of pink, blue and mauve. All the cooking apples and plums have now been picked. We had no apples at all on our little Discovery eating apple, hopefully there will be some in 2015. We are totally delighted that this year the oak tree has NO ACORNS! Last year was a ‘mast’ year, when it produced a record amount, so none this year was not a big surprise, sometimes they go 2 years after a mast year without producing too big a crop of acorns. Fingers crossed. Apparently this September has been the driest on record.

October; continuing warm and dry ‘til late in the month enabling us to get well ahead in tidying up for the winter. The changing colours of the leaves has been beautiful with the Kaffir lilies providing welcome splashes of red and pink. Lots of leaves to rake up.

November; a month of general ‘putting the garden to bed’. Mike turned the compost heap.

December; lawns had their last mow of the year and the tree ferns have been wrapped up. A few bulbs just showing and one or two flowers on the Camellia’s. Last of leaves down from the oak tree and cleared away.

So there we are, another year in the garden over and looking forward to the next. Gardeners are forward looking and great planners. I can’t wait to see the first snowdrops...

January 2014

Once again time I updated the garden blog. I have been very remiss in not doing this task since last March.

I see that last March my first comments were about the weather. I am beginning to think that regarding this topic that neurosis is setting in!

Last Spring was long, cool and wet. I was beginning to think that some the plants would never get going as they just sat and sulked, but eventually the garden greened up and did its stuff.

Our first Open Day (NGS) was on Sunday 30th June – and joy of joys - the sun shone and people turned out. The garden looked neat and tidy (mostly), and some colour had appeared. That was the beginning of several weeks of beautiful Summer weather, producing a profusion of growth and colour, with many plants looking better than ever. Inevitably with little rain we had to do a lot of watering, especially all the pots, to keep it all going for our Hospice Open garden day and the private group visits through July and August. As you would then expect the ‘experts’ forecast that we were going into a ‘drought’ situation with dire warnings about how we should conserve our water. Fortunately, we have enough water storage (2 small and 4 large butts + a large tank) to keep us going for a considerable time.

We had refurbished the small beds that are under our large pergola in 2012, they had filled out considerably last year, but I hope to improve them further this year. They are difficult beds to get right as they are under the big oak tree, so rather dry, but need to be planted to fit in with the rest of the herbaceous borders in this area of the garden.

Going forward into the Autumn the garden continued to give us much pleasure, there is always the time at the end of the summer and beginning of the Autumn when you can sit back, relax and enjoy it. I do however, make a habit of wandering around almost every day pulling out the odd weed that has dared to show itself (or that I missed on the previous days wanderings), deadheading, and re-arranging pots! As with most gardeners I love a bit of planning and looking forward to the next season and year – what shall I change, what new plants shall I get, shall I move some plants as they might do better elsewhere???

We managed to more or less get the garden put to bed for the winter. There are still a few of the perennials that could do with cutting back, but the seed heads still provide some bird feed. Our main task this autumn was clearing up acorns. Altogether, we raked up 5 wheelie binfuls which must be a record (2 years ago we had 2 binfuls and thought that was a lot!). There were so many in the borders that although we have raked the bulk of them up, I’m sure we have left quite a few behind so I will be pulling up a lot of little oak trees during the coming year!

In the first storm of the winter we had a fairly large branch come off the oak tree on the other side of the footpath that runs down the side of our boundary, it landed in our big herbaceous border. Happily it didn’t do too much damage. It broke a branch off the Catalpa and a few twiggy bits off various shrubs. The shrubs where somewhat flattened but in the main came back up on their own.

Over the last few weeks we have suffered from a lot of wind and rain. There is a lot to be said for living on high ground – although we catch the South/South-westerly winds here, which can be extremely noisy – at least there is no chance of being flooded out. Having said that the garden is very soggy and it is impossible to get on the soil at the moment, I will have to start forking over at the first opportunity as it is so compacted from the heavy rain, but I must take care not to damage the tips of the emerging bulbs.

So as we begin 2014, there is quite a bit to do in the garden – the rest of the tidying up of the dead foliage of some of the perennials, some weeds are starting to grow, I have sown a few seeds which now need pricking out (geranium, eryngium, and prunella), and have some wallflowers that I haven’t planted yet!

As we haven’t got a greenhouse, I keep a lot of the tender plants such as Geraniums, echivera, canna’s and aeoniums in our garage, these are beginning to show signs of growth due to the weather generally having been relatively warm for the time of year. (our garage is insulated and has ample light)

The spring catalogues are starting to arrive through the letter box, all tempting me to buy a few more plants – which I am sure I will, as I can’t resist! If you visit our garden this year, hopefully you will see the results. We always have plants for sale too.

Our Open days this year are~:

Sunday 29th June for the National Garden Scheme

Sunday 20th July for the Hospice in the Weald

March 2013

High time to write an update I think. I realised that I have not added to the blog since last September which is far too long ago for me to remember all the details of how the garden fared during late Autumn and the Winter.

What I can remember, however, is how awful the weather has been through most of that time, so many grey days. I started putting the garden to bed in October and never finished due to the wet weather which seems to have been almost continuous since then, along with the cloudy skies, cold (days and nights) and snow. To have almost reached Easter with barely a glimmer (bar a few odd days) of sunshine is so unusual. Most of the good days that we have had seem to have coincided with days when I have been doing other things!

Well, now I have got the problems with the vagaries of the English weather off my chest I will see what I can say that is a little more positive.

...I’ll return to the subject of weather first though! The first snow of the winter was on Wednesday 5th December and the last (so far) was on Thursday 4th April, I have lost count of the snowy days in between. That’s not to say it always settled though, it was often wet snow.

However, we have just had a lovely weekend (6th/7th April), what a joy to be able to go out into the garden and work in the sunshine, in a sheltered spot and feel warm, the promise of the Spring weather to come perhaps?

Mike has now finished mulching the front and lower gardens with a mixture of manure and compost, the top garden still to be done with leaf-mould this year. The cutting back is almost finished – just some of the grasses left to do and a few perennials still to tidy up where I had left the seed heads for the birds. I have just pruned the dogwoods, including Cornus Midwinter Fire which I pruned back a bit harder than usual as they were getting very congested at the tops and a bit thin at the bottom. There seems to be divided opinion about pruning this variety as it is perhaps a little less easy going than the Sibirica’s. We will see!

Everything seems to be flowering very late – somebody told me that many plants are about 6 weeks behind, and indeed our large Camellia in the lower garden has been very reluctant to flower. It has had a few flowers on it for about 3 weeks and still has lots of buds to come, but would normally have odd flowers out from January.

Our snowdrops were lovely this year. They were only planted 2 and 3 years ago and are now making good clumps. The Tete a Tete daffs have been lovely too – little rays of sunshine brightening up the borders. We have some of the larger varieties which are yet to flower. The Hellebores have been very prolific; I just have to go round them raising their heads to see how beautiful they are. I don’t think I have a preference whether they are single or double, I love them all.

Many of you who have been to see the garden will know that Heuchera’s are one of my favourite plants. They are such good fillers for borders, come in wonderful colours and are also good in pots. I am sorry to say that I have lost a lot on the over the winter, a combination of the cold and wet I think. Consequently, I won’t have many for sale this year. I wonder how many people have had a problem with them. I have also had other casualties among my plants that I have been keeping for selling, but hope that I may be able to build up my stock before our first Open Day.

My first consignment of ‘ordered through catalogue’ plants arrived last week – very exciting – so have been busy getting them potted up. Not sure what the weather is going to do this week so, as I don’t have a greenhouse, they are being kept in the conservatory at the moment, and will be transferred to the log store for shelter once it is a degree or two warmer.

I can’t wait to see if our Davidia might actually have some ‘handkerchiefs’ this year, they can apparently take up to 20 years to ‘flower’, we’ve had ours for 11 years, but who knows?

So, the garden is gradually waking up, and we are working hard to get it ready for our summer visitors.

September 2012

Mixed weather this month, started dull and damp but warm – up to 22’C, then had a very wet week, followed by a dry one then back to rain again. I am getting very frustrated with the wet days as there is so much tidying up to do in the garden.

Colour-wise a lot of the flowering plants have gone over, many just battered down by the wind and rain, but in spite of that, the canna’s are doing their stuff and giving a good display – slightly late but never mind. Anemones are still going strong too, we grow them in white (Honorine Joubert and Whirlwind), light pink(don't know the variety) and dark pink(Pamina). Eupatorium Purpureum (Joe Pye Weed)is as magnificent as ever and much loved by the bees.

Our fruit trees have had a very poor or non-existent crop this year, but then, last years was amazing so I guess we can’t expect the same every year. The Bramley gave us enough apples for a couple of pies and the damson just about enough for one! Each of the pear trees had just one pear – and they were deformed so removed them anyway.

Our potato sack was quite successful giving us enough tasty potatoes for several meals. Runner and French beans and courgettes could have been better but the chilli plant produced a good crop of dark purple fruit.

Our long boundary hedge - Laurel in the Top garden and a woodland mix in the Lower garden had its 3rd cut of the year – it usually only needs two, so is now looking very tidy and shouldn’t grow too much more this year. The oak tree is shedding very few acorns - English Oaks only tend to have a large crop every 3rd year and last year we had the largest crop ever! Most of those that are coming down so far this year seem to be deformed which is rather curious.

I got very excited at the end of the month when I opened up the compost heap and found a young grass snake curled up on the top of the compost. It slowly uncurled itself and wriggled away and I haven’t seen it since. I usually find a couple of voles in the compost heap which I am always delighted to see in there.

August 2012

Has been a mixed month weather wise, the garden has been looking lovely and there has not been too much weeding to be done, I have just been wandering round the garden, pulling out an odd weed here and there, snipping off a the dead heads as flowers fade.

Unfortunately many of the bedding geraniums seem to have succumbed to rust, we have sprayed them and picked off the affected leaves, but I fear that I will not be able to find many healthy shoots for cuttings or be able to overwinter as many plants as usual.

Otherwise the garden this month has been there to enjoy, to sit back with feet up, a cup of tea and a good book on a sunny afternoon.

July 2012

Continued to be wet and windy which wasn't very helpful for our first Open Garden Day of the year on the 1st. Flowers were still late in showing themselves although the roses that are climbing up the oak tree have been the best ever. The honeysuckles on the pergola's have been very floriferous too.

Unfortunately it would seem that the Clematis Armandii on the pergola has died. In some ways not a great surprise as it has always struggled a bit as it was under the oak tree and therefore the soil very dry.

Our 2nd Open Garden Day was on the 22nd and what a beautiful day that was – warm and sunny and barely a cloud in the sky. The flowers stopped sulking and were looking fantastic...at last!

June 2012

Started with the Queens Jubilee weekend, what a wet and windy time that was!

The rubbish June weather continued in the same vein for most of the month making gardening a less than happy hobby at times. The late Spring flowers came out late and the bedding geraniums in our pots and hanging basket positively sulked, not really getting going ‘til July.

The wildflower meadow was very late with still no flowers in the middle of the month. Plenty of foliage growth though and the weeds were very happy and HUGE! Our potted veg not great either – just sitting there not doing a lot.

May 2012

All apart from one week from the 20th which was warm sunny and dry, May was a wet and at times windy month also cool – a bit like most of April really.

However, plants started to grow at last, but with the lack of sun it has been mostly foliage growth and in some respect to the detriment of flowers. Having said that the Rhododendrons and Azaleas, although later flowering than last year, have been spectacular. Our fruit blossom was over quickly, I hope that there will be some cooking apples, a few pears and maybe a very few damsons. There are no Victoria plums at all.

Some people think that I am very strange in that I love weeding! Unfortunately with the recent rain I have got somewhat behind with the weeding and now, in the lower garden particularly they are running riot! Hairy bittercress, and dandelions being the most prolific. Happily the pignut is almost gone from the flower beds and the remainder of its leaves are yellowing – there is still plenty of it under the boundary hedges though.

The new beds under the pergola are planted up and filling out, the Aquilegia "Green Apples" is so dainty in flower and the Achillea Moonshine is just coming into flower.

I still have some new plants which I had hoped to use to fill spaces, but the foliage growth has been so great that I can no longer see the gaps for which they were intended! I have lost one or two hosta's from the bed around the "dry stream" and need to put some new ones in – I have already got a Krossa Regal or Big Daddy that I could use... or maybe some ferns instead!

All our pots for our terrace display are now growing on nicely as are the hanging baskets, and at last I have managed to split all the canna's, giving enough for the displays as well as quite a few for sale on our Open garden days.

April 2012

From a very dry start to the year we are now making up for it! We seem to have had a lot of rain so far this month; at least, there have been quite a few days when I have been unable to garden. Recently it has been windy as well. The up side is that all the water butts are full to overflowing and the soil is becoming moist enough good for strong spring growth. The weeds seem to be enjoying it too!

Some of the new plants are now in the beds under the long pergola and growing away. I have planted white sedums, Aquilegia "Green Apples", Dianthus Mrs Sinkins, Achillea Moonshine, coreopsis Moonbeam and crocosmia George Davison. Still to plant are Iris Black Swan and some Heuchera's.

Most of the daffs (except for the Pheasant Eye's) are just about gone over as are the early tulips. Pulmonarias have done well, Blue Ensign has been a picture. Epimediums are coming into flower, the ones under the Betula jackmonii looking particularly good.

A fox or badger has been digging its way into the garden from next door where there is a large hole under the fence. I actually am inclined to think it may be a fox as one has definitely been scent marking around the terrace again which is somewhat unpleasant!

Still lots to do, the Canna's need splitting and repotting so that there will be some for sale on our Open Garden days (1st and 22nd July), and other plants which will be for sale will need to be potted on or tidied and top dressed. Still plenty of time to do that particular job though.

All the grass has been treated this month with weed, feed and moss killer and also scarified so some areas, especially in the lower garden are a bit lacking in grass. Never mind, I'm sure it will soon grow back.

The month finished as wet as it began, and often chilly for the time of year.

23rd March 2012

We are almost at the end of another very dry month. Plants in pots especially are suffering already, and we don’t usually have to think about watering them at this time of the year. I am thinking that I must carefully consider which will be the most drought resistant plants to put in our pot displays.

We have bought 2 new water butts (there's obviously been a run on them at the stores as very few available to buy), bringing our total to 6 plus a big tank. Two weeks ago Mike pumped all the water that was in four butts into the big tank, so now we need a bit of rain to refill them. Fingers crossed!

All the spring flowers are looking good: hellebores are a delight, daffs are little rays of sunshine, with pulmonarias, brunnera, primroses and grapehyacinths all adding to the kaleidoscope of colours.

The blossom on the Damson (Merryweather) is just coming out and the Pear (Conference and Concorde) blossom will not be far behing. Just hope we don’t get a sharp frost.

The bees have been very active on the last few warm and sunny days – mostly bumblebees. We try to use plants that will attract the pollinators to our garden, we think it is very important to encourage them as they are seemingly in decline.

Most of the garden has now been tidied up and mulched, just a couple of beds left to do. The grass in the lower garden was treated with weed, feed and moss kill last weekend and all the grass should get its first cut of the year this weekend.

28th February 2012

Very unusual weather. We’ve gone from 4” of snow, to night time temperatures of between -7’C to -10’C, and towards the end of the month there have been daytime highs of up to 18’C! Poor plants, they’re all over the place!

Walking round the garden today I find so many plants waking up from their winter hibernation and showing that Spring is on its way. There are the shoots of perennials becoming visible, fat buds on the roses, hydrangeas, clematis and honeysuckle. The Tete a Tete’s are just coming out adding to the colour from the hellebores, snowdrops, crocus and iris, as well as the first primroses.

I have just about finished the pruning; the roses are all done, as are the clematis and Buddleia’s. Still need to finish collecting up all the winter debris though, particularly in the lower garden. Most of the top garden has been cleared and mulched with a mixture of compost, leaf mould and well rotted horse manure, and is looking quite tidy... except where the blackbirds have had great fun with the mulch which they throw out onto the lawn!

10th February 2012

Weather continuing to be very cold. Below freezing at night for the last 2 weeks, and barely above freezing during the day. We had 4” snow overnight 4/5th February. Happily, over the previous weekend, we had managed to clear and mulch all the beds in the front garden and most of the back top garden.

Our beautiful pink Camellia in the bottom garden has not enjoyed the cold weather, it was in full flower (3-4 weeks earlier than usual) but is now covered in mainly brown flowers. Never mind, we were able to enjoy it for a while.

The Snowdrops and Iris reticulata are out, and the Tete a Tete’s poking their noses up the soil. The Sarcococca’s are continuing fill the air with their delicious scent which is a real joy.

Currently we are not doing much gardening, but I am enjoying looking through all the catalogues that have been dropping through the letterbox, trying to decide what I need... or rather what I have space for. I have been trying to plan the beds under the pergola, I think I would like the colour theme to be white green and yellow (all my beds have to have a colour theme!), so far having decided on Pinks, Achillea, Heuchera and Aquilegia, but we shall see!

12th January 2012

Its now mid January and the garden has become unusually dry for the time of year. The last week has seen day time temperatures into 2 figures although now becoming cooler and below freezing forecast for the end of the month. I spent a very nice 10 minutes in the lower garden sitting in the sunshine yesterday and feeling quite warm.

The Hellebores are in flower – a real joy, and I have a pot of snowdrops looking lovely on the terrace. The fox has been scent marking its territory round the terrace which is not a joy! We also have Pulmonaria Rubra flowering, as well as Witch hazel, Sarcococca and Viburnum Bodnantse Dawn which are giving off a lovely perfume when I walk past.

4th January 2012

2011 was on odd year weatherwise, drier than usual, warm in the spring and cool in the summer. It was very wet and windy on one of our Open Garden days but despite the at times indifferent weather we raised almost £2k shared between the National Garden Scheme and Hospice in the Weald. Thank you to all those who came and supported our charities.

A very wet and windy start to the year, although not too cold. We have a mature Oak tree on our boundary and another in the adjacent foot path which have lost a lot of twiggy growth in the high winds – more to clear up, following on from the enormous amount of acorns that we had to pick up in the late autumn... nearly ½ a wheelie bin full every week for 6 weeks, unfortunately we don’t know anyone with pigs!

Mike did manage to cut the grass on Christmas Eve, which picked up the last of the oak leaves, although I didn’t follow him round trimming the edges – too much to do in preparation for the festivities.

The garden is looking a bit sad and soggy at the moment, there is still some cutting back of late perennials to complete and the beds are not all mulched. The beds under the pergola have been emptied, widened and had the soil improved and are ready for replanting. Haven’t decided exactly how they will be replanted but will include several varieties of Heuchera’s in the scheme.

I am wondering how the plants are going to behave during the coming year. Last year with its strange weather pattern found some plants sulking and others becoming oddly unruly. My cardoon was trying to flower in December! Our large pink camellia in the lower garden has been in flower for a couple of weeks now, far earlier than normal; I fear it will be caught by a frost before too long. All around the garden bulbs are beginning to show their noses above the surface of the soil, I suspect they too will be checked if it turns colder.