Everythng Has Its Season
As we reach the
end of 2000 Rosemary Verey takes the opportunity to
look back over her horticultural year, and anticipates
pleasures yet to come
When my gardeners
are working on the borders I always tell them to look
both ways. It is the same with our thoughts about this
year. We must look back to January when we started with
great expectations thinking of all the bulbs we planted
between the myosotis and the imaginative ideas we had
about putting Salvia
patens with rehmannias for a surprise September
effect. Some ideas worked and others were overtaken
by too much rain and will have to wait for another year.
All the foliage plants
have done well. The Rheum palmatum rubrum excelled itself
and so has the New Zealand flax, Phormium
tenax. This latter has grown to a record 9 feet
with an abundance of flower spikes, then a show of shiny
black seeds. Any newly planted shrubs and perennials
have rejoiced in the cool damp days, concentrating on
increasing their roots, while being shy flowering.
In our garden the
plums did poorly, there were not enough insects about
to help with the fertilizing during the cool days, but
the currants (the bushes are now well established) did
Have you been pleased
with your lilies? Ours are all planted in pots, our
own soil is too alkaline for them. So we have control
over their fertilizer and watering until the moment
they come into flower, then they are dropped into the
flowerbeds, concealing the pots and looking as though
they had grown there. An idea stolen from Gertrude Jekyll.
In our small arboretum
the sorbus (Mountain ash) have put on lots of growth
and I am hoping that next spring they will flower profusely.
In the autumn borders the late-flowering annuals
like cosmos have given an extraordinarily bold display.
Andrew Lawson, the photographer, planted his in individual
beds and when I saw them in October they were sensationally
beautiful, and will go on flowering until a really killing
frost. What more can a gardener want?
It is important to
make winter join hands with spring. What does this easy
sounding sentence mean? It is my belief that there is
always a horrid hiatus after Christmas (in England)
when it is best to stay indoors, write your thank you
letters, bury your head in catalogues and the new books
you've been given and make and record all those New
Year resolutions that will transform your garden. This
indoor stay must only be for an instant, the flicker
of an eyelid; if you leave it any longer you will miss
the wonderful scent of the winter honeysuckle and winter
sweet. Everything has its own season and will not
wait while you sit indoors.
We cannot tell what
next year will bring, even if we study Old Moore's Almanack.
Prepare for the best and the worst. Plant acanthus,
for a sunny summer, but have enough annuals to fill
your gaps as my friend did with his cosmos. The great
thing is to have your options ready. If your garden
starts to look drab by late August then make some gaps
where you can drop in clumps of late asters. Your local
market or WI stall may have some treasures for you.
Don't be downcast
if December in the garden depresses you - there will
soon be lots to see as long as you use your eyes. The
first hellebores, probably H.
foetidus, will be opening and those amazing tough
primulas will have a flower here and there to cheer
you, and Iris
unguicularis will shyly be hoping that you will
notice its first flowers.
Think ahead so that
you have enough kindling wood and dry logs to tide you
over the Christmas holiday. A fire is always welcoming
to your guests so keep it going in case they arrive
I have recently been
given The Names of Plants by D Gledhill. The
glossary tells you the meaning of all those Latin names
you have been puzzling over recently. I have just discovered
that uliginosus means marshy, so now search for plants
that love wet conditions. Your winter evenings will
be fully occupied.
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reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com