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 +7C, 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 – 26C. 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.