My gardening year

by Kate Bradbury

I watched the evolution of the plot from courtyard to garden as more and more creatures visited it...

Cosmos flowersI've had a great gardening year. It's hard to imagine my garden now as it was a year ago - a building site, with a huge pile of sand at one end and 200 paving stones and builders' rubble at the other. Then there was an awful lot of mud as we imported topsoil, then tried (and failed) to sow a lawn from seed.

I watched the evolution of the plot from courtyard to garden as more and more creatures visited it - blue tits and great tits, a robin, blackbird, bumblebees, butterflies, moths, slugs, snails and froghoppers - and, of course, I watched the plants grow. I'm trying to cover the walls and fence with climbers, and seeing these scramble over new territory has been a delight. I wonder how much they'll grow in 2011.

Many of my plants came from root cuttings from my mum's garden. Some didn't flower, so I'm hoping they will this year. I'm also looking forward to single plants growing into clumps, as they become established and make my garden their own.

And what went wrong? I grew far too many plants, for a start. I got a bit too excited last spring and sowed hundreds of seeds. Many of these, such as the cosmos and zinnia, grew well. Others, like the Eryngium leavenworthii and Nicotiana suaveolens struggled, but I let them limp on, looking pathetic, at the front of the border. Will I be more ruthless this year? I doubt it.

I also, didn't grow enough shrubs, so my border lacks structure. I can see this clearly now in winter, as my herbaceous plants have gone to mush and there's nothing left in their wake. There's a tiny lavender (grown from a cutting) and a hebe (a gift - not my favourite plant but loved by bees), which will grow in time. My callicarpa died. Planting large(ish) shrubs will be my first job of 2011.

I'm hoping some of this year's cornflower, field poppy and bird's foot trefoil will have self-seeded in my lawn, but if not, I'll be sowing seed in the lawn's margins. The lone foxglove produced plenty of offspring, but I'll have to wait until 2012 to see those flower.

I'm still not pleased with the look of the garden, and wonder if I ever will be. And it will certainly never win any awards, but it's mine and it makes me happy. I can't wait to get my hands on it in spring.

I'd love to know about your gardening year. What has worked for you and what will you be growing in 2011?

Wishing everyone a fantastic Christmas and a great gardening year.

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Talkback: My gardening year
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Gardeners' World Web User 23/12/2010 at 13:10

At least your Nicotiniana germinated. I've never got even that far with them. On the other hand, I think my garden will be solid foxglove this summer. At the front of my house I have the problem that the back of the bed has the shallowest soil - talk about lack of structure! I wince every time I walk up the road towards it. My most delicate lavender has just died. There were voracious caterpillars (some kind of saw fly?) in it. I hadn't realised before that such creatures liked lavender. Happy Christmas Esther

Gardeners' World Web User 23/12/2010 at 13:14

Happy Christmas to you too. You will never be satisfied with your garden but that in itself is part of the happiness - always something new to do and look forward to.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/12/2010 at 15:44

I started a fernery with foxgloves and primulas for colour and a slate garden to show off the brightly coloured flowers. These two areas will be developed further next year and I will grow my plants in the Olympic colours for my Olympic garden in 2012. As perennials from seed usually take three years to flower I shall start off my golden plants for my Golden Jubilee in my present garden in 2014. next year will be as busy as all the others, no doubt, and it is the change that is possible that keeps us interested. Having a large garden myself, I find your endeavours very interesting, Kate, and I know how much pleasure even a tiny garden can give. You will learn to be very choosy about which plants you wish to give space to and find out shortly,I hope, that there are alpine species of most of the favourites which take up very little room. Happy Christmas.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/12/2010 at 17:32

I am looking out on my garden in dispair as it looks dreadful, not being as strong as I once was I can't see it ever recovering but one can hope that when all this snow disapears that I will be hit by inspiration, and all in the garden will come together once again. Happy Christmas all and a great New Year

Gardeners' World Web User 23/12/2010 at 19:15

In January this year we had the same old awful weather as we are having now, and my school and home gardens looked apalling .... broken down, frozen, trampled during snowball play, surely unable to recover. But by March virtually every plant was up and about and I was thrilled by how little I had lost. Don't give up hope fellow gardeners ... it'll all come back as good as ever, you know it will!!

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