by Pippa Greenwood

It hasn't been an easy growing year, with very hot, dry spells followed by regular downpours, but the pelargoniums have been in flower since spring and are still going strong.

Dark purple flowers of Pelargonium 'Lord Bute'Autumn is the ideal time to evaluate our successes and failures in the garden. What worked well this year? What didn't? On my veg plot, though, this process is pretty much continual. Photographers from Gardeners' World magazine are always turning up record my progress, and I need to keep detailed notes to help me write about the edible crops I grow.

Anybody peeking through my kitchen window recently would have seen me hunched over the bathroom scales, measuring the cropping weights of freshly harvested potatoes, and sorting them into bags. But my approach to ornamental crops is much more random and haphazard: I just notice what has done well and what has been disappointing.

This year, the pelargoniums growing in containers near our front steps have been a real triumph. It hasn't been an easy growing year, with very hot, dry spells followed by regular downpours, but the pelargoniums have been in flower since spring and are still going strong.

One amazingly vigorous variety, 'Calliope Dark Red', has intensely rich, deep red flowers that almost glow. I'd recommend it to anyone. (The image above, by the way, is the regal pelargonium cultivar 'Lord Bute', not 'Calliope Dark Red'.) I want the pot to remain in its prominent position for as long as possible, but the night time temperatures have plummeted recently. If I want this gorgeous plant to survive, I'll have to move it to the greenhouse soon. In the meantime, perhaps I'll just drag the pot a little closer to the house and keep a few metres of horticultural fleece to hand. But dare I risk it?

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Gardeners' World Web User 22/09/2010 at 09:34

hi this has nothing to do with flowers but could someone tell me what this could be..... yesterday on my lawn there were and still are theses jelly type clumps of balls,,,very much like frogspawn but without the black tadpole in the middle... they are very close to my pond but are on the grass...there is a clump of about 10balls... any ideas...............

Gardeners' World Web User 22/09/2010 at 11:46

Sounds like salamander eggs, Sarah. That's awesome!

Gardeners' World Web User 22/09/2010 at 16:17

I think it is more likely to be be some sort of jelly fungus.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/09/2010 at 15:15

Back to pelargoniums! Thank you, Pippa, for reminding me of the name of Lord Bute which has done well with me this year as has the scented leaf one called "Copstone" which is 4ft tall and never without flowers. I have started to bring them in to the house and conservatory. The large ones go into the conservatory in their pot and I scrape off the top inch of compost and add some fresh while the smaller ones are repotted from their big planters into pots which will fit the window-sills to make way for bulbs, primulas, pansies, etc for winter colour in my containers. It is possible to have pelargoniums giving a show in the house all year round. Such a pity some peple are allergic to them.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/09/2010 at 18:52

Hi jc Re your garlic problem - I think that this year you left it in too long. Tradition has it that you plant it on the shortest day & harvest it on the longest day. I generally harvest it in July, once the outer leaves start to go brown & dry. Leave it too long & I understand the heads tend to divide further to make more but smaller cloves. The other thing is that you should grow garlic bought from a garden centre, as those varieties are good for growing in the UK.

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