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A Review of 2014

20 December 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...