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.