Onwards into 2019

Soon we’ll be planning what we want to do in the garden this year. High on my list will be container-grown veg – I have our three old recycling crates and plan to use one for lettuce, one for carrots and one for potatoes. I also want to be a bit more organised about the potato planting, as I’ll have three containers for them, so will try to plant at staggered intervals so they’re not all being harvested at the same time.

Otherwise there might have to be some reorganising and maintenance. The fence on one side has suffered in the winter weather but unfortunately it’s not “our” fence, it’s the responsibility of our neighbour, and he is always reluctant to do any maintenance or repairs. So I suspect we will have to patch or tie up loose sections as best we can. Much of it is covered with ivy or Virginia creeper in any case so that helps to keep it from collapsing completely.

The front garden seems to be full of things that have got enormous and need cutting back, while the back has taken longer for big things to get established, but we are getting there. The sambucus, forsythia and witch hazel are all getting bigger and once they put out flowers and/or foliage they look much more impressive. A lot of tidying is needed everywhere, though.

I took a few photos this morning as there are dots of colour here and there, and plenty of things with buds looking promising. Photo quality is a little variable, taken on my phone rather than with the “proper” camera.

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Garlic emerging – nine plants altogether, can’t remember how many I planted now but it was probably about ten or twelve.

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Crocus shoots. An excellent photo where I managed to get the surface of the compost in perfect focus but not the crocus shoots. I’m proud of this.

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Flowering quince – one of the most colourful things in the garden at the moment.

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And a bit closer up. Hoping for fruit this year as we didn’t get any last year.

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Pittosporum doing really well, and with snow-in-summer climbing up through it – this is going to look interesting when the snow-in-summer starts flowering.

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Hellebores starting to look good (foliage is a bit tatty though, must do some tidying!)

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Hellebore in the background, cyclamen in the foreground – the two cyclamen are still here, haven’t managed to kill them yet, but we’ll see.

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Winter honeysuckle, another photo where I wasn’t focused on what I thought I was focused on, but never mind. You get the general impression.

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Mahonia flowers starting to go over now, but they have been lovely. The birds will enjoy the berries.

And things with buds on, for which I can only hope the frosts don’t get them:

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Camellia (with a tantalising hint of colour)

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Witch hazel

Happy New Year!


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Season’s Greetings

Things have been rather quiet for which I apologise. The garden is pottering along, not looking too bad for a midwinter garden as long as you don’t look too closely. The winter honeysuckle and the mahonias are flowering, and forsythia, witch hazel and flowering quince are covered in promising-looking buds. We haven’t had much cold weather yet in this part of the country, just a handful of sharp frosts, so perhaps we won’t get the sort of winter we had last year.

So as we haven’t had any snow yet, my seasonal image will have to be from last year instead.



Wishing you all an enjoyable festive season, however you celebrate.

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Autumn-flowering camellia

A few weeks ago Mum mentioned that she had a very pretty pink camellia coming in to flower. She was a bit surprised as she’d only ever had them flower in spring – well, a minute or two on Google cleared that up and informed us both that there are indeed autumn-flowering varieties, usually single-flowered.

We visited Mum today so I took a couple of photos of the camellia as it’s really very pretty. I might have to look out for an autumn-flowering one myself!

mum's autumn camellia (1)mum's autumn camellia (2)

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First frost

This morning there was frost on the car windscreens – the coldest night we have had so far this autumn. In Scotland and northeast England there has apparently been some snow overnight, but we’re a lot further south (thankfully – I am not a fan of snow!).

But the first frost is a sign that I have almost been too late in moving our less hardy plants into the greenhouse. A couple of weeks ago I cut all the remaining tomatoes off the plants and brought them in to ripen but hadn’t got round to disposing of the plants. So I have just done exactly that. Then I remembered the crocuses and tulips that I still hadn’t done anything with, so I planted them in various containers. Finally after some tidying up I had room in the greenhouse for the cordyline, the Canary palm, the Torbay palm, the osteospermum, and the pelargonium that survived from last year. Whether the pelargonium makes it to another summer remains to be seen.

After that I had a little look round the garden, which is untidy and full of weeds and dead leaves of course. There is colour dotted about, which is good – two penstemons are still flowering, a dark red one from a cutting Mum gave me, and the pink and white “Flamingo” which suffered a bit in the very hot summer but seems to have recovered well.

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The abelia, which flowered for the first time last year, is covered again and seems to be trying to outdo itself:

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But the thing I am most excited about…


is this:

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That is the first garlic to appear. It’s the only one so far, and for all I know it will continue to be the only one, but as J remarked, it’s proof of concept.


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Rainy autumn Sunday

It’s miserable out there so I’m posting some photos I took earlier in the week when it was still warm and dry! It’s been unusually warm for the time of year but since Friday it’s been wetter and windier, and it’s getting a bit cooler now. Last weekend I got a new phone with a better camera than my old one so I’ve been testing it out a bit during the week, and these are some of the results.

In the front garden, on Monday and Wednesday, I took these:

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Lots of these ladies in the garden at the moment:

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In the troughs under the window, most things are doing well – violas:

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Santolina “Lemon fizz”:

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Artemisia “Oriental Limelight”:

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But you can see that one of the santolinas has died, for no apparent reason – the other is fine. I should replace the dead one at some point, but it’s finding the time to get one.

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In the back garden on Thursday, I took all the fruit that was ok or even still remotely viable off the tomato plants. They’re all in the house now and continuing to ripen up – there may be onions, garlic and freezing in their near future. It’s nice in the middle of winter to defrost a home-made pasta sauce containing your home-grown tomatoes for a quick and easy meal.

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The hypericum is flowering again – it does seem to enjoy a second go around this time of year:

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The hardy fuschia has been doing well:

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And the scabious I got half price a couple of months back has settled in well:

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A couple of weeks back when Mum and I went to the garden centre I bought two outdoor cyclamen to go under the tree at the end of the garden. I never have much luck with them but these looked like nice sturdy ones so fingers crossed. (Yes, there are dead leaves everywhere. I leave them lying for the wildlife. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

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We have berries on the cotoneaster but it won’t be long before the birds spot them and strip the lot.

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Verbena bonariensis is flowering away, though the stems are shorter than they’ve been in previous years. The one in the back garden was late getting going this year, though, and for a while I thought we’d lost it.

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And the rosemary is flowering (we’ve made good use of it in the kitchen this year too).

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The other garden centre bargain from a couple of weeks back was this – Mum and I both bought one, it’s a hardy geranium called Orkney Cherry and has been happily flowering away in its new home.

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And no autumn round-up would be complete without a picture of the Virginia creeper looking gorgeous.

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We still have flowers

Thankfully, though it’s distinctly autumnal out there and I’ve broken out the cardigans and woolly socks, there are still plants doing well and keeping on flowering. The front garden gets a bit forgotten about as there are so many evergreens and other shrubby things that just sit there all year round, but yesterday I took a few quick photos of flowers when I got in from work:

Salvia “Hotlips” is still magnificent:

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The verbena that came with the value pack of perennials I got last autumn has done well (some sedum in the background here):

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And the rose is still flowering. No fragrance, which is a pity.

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Last week Mum and I made a very quick garden centre visit and bought a couple of things – some half price hardy geraniums and in my case a couple of outdoor cyclamen. I never have much luck with cyclamen but these looked pretty sturdy plants so I’m hoping they’ll survive. So those have helped to fill in some gaps in the back garden. There’s still a fair bit of colour about, and I’ll probably take a few more photos next weekend. It’s been wet and miserable here today so not a good day for photos.

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Keeping going

There’s more happening in our garden than we realise, sometimes. I’ve been thinking everything’s giving up and going over but after a wander to do some watering this morning I felt inspired to snap a few pictures as there’s still a bit of colour about.

The back garden is still looking reasonably neat (and from this distance you can’t see the weeds):


We have a salvia in a pot that’s still doing well – I grew this from a cutting last year, taken from the one in the front garden that was originally a cutting from Mum (phew!):


The dwarf hydrangea’s vibrant pink flowers are starting to fade but I do like to leave them over the winter.


Several plants are having a late second flush – notably lychnis, geranium himalayense and fuschia – while the half-price scabious I bought a few weeks back seems to have settled in well.


Tucked away in the corner by the greenhouse is a mahonia which I tend to forget is there, snuggled up to the flowering currant and somewhat overshadowed by its louder, larger cousins nearer the house. Unlike them with their simple yellow flower spikes, this one has a lovely burnt orange hue.


And this year’s random self-seeded flower is a nicotiana. I haven’t grown any for a few years so it’s anyone’s guess where it came from.


Meanwhile at the front, it’s all about the sedum:


Looking back, I posted an almost identical photo a year ago!

The salvia “Hot Lips” has been spectacular again this year and I must have another go at taking cuttings. Last year’s cuttings didn’t make it, apart from the one I gave to Mum. I think that says more about my lack of skill at long term plant care than I’d like to admit.


The plants in the troughs are mostly doing well, though one of the santolinas is already suffering:


And we have more garden spiders than ever – any casual meander around is fraught with the risk of walking into an unfeasibly large web.


We have a hedgehog house at the bottom of the garden now, so maybe there’ll be some bigger visitors too.

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