Well it has been a while! I thought I could ease myself back into the blogosphere by reflecting in the gardening year that was 2018. First, it snowed in March and then we had the longest, dryest and hottest summer ever. I found this summer really hard to get through as I dislike the heat and felt like that angry cat meme all the time.
I continued to garden, and I continued to write in my gardening notebook, but I stopped blogging. And I realised why thanks to Sara Venn. I was finding it hard to marry writing about gardening with the fact that I am not an expert and I felt like an impostor the couple of times I went to shows as a Blogger (with a capital B). Personally, I don’t feel like I have the authority to tell you what to do, so I won’t; I will write about my experience in gardening and what works for me. I feel like I already did this, but this concept of expertise kept discouraging me. This is a hobby, I don’t make a living out of it, so I don’t need to be an expert.
Now, with that clarification out of the way, let’s talk about the gardening year. I have loved it! True, the snow in March did not help with my veg growing. I was late sowing seed and by the time the plants got going it was September and too cold for them to produce food. The summer demanded daily watering sessions, threatening with crispiness if not enough water was applied. The cold frame was hands down the best purchase I made last autumn: it has protected my plants from snow, frost, birds and wind. Now, if only I could make it a slug-free zone.
This was also the first year that we haven’t moved after 12 months. Ever since Dom and I moved in together we have changed address every year, normally due to work. We moved to Oxford late summer last year, and we’re still here! We love the house we are currently renting, and we hope to stay here for quite some time so this has allowed me to plan. Or perhaps I should I have allowed myself to plan. Life has felt rather temporary until now.
Open for buzzness
I felt immense pride when the bees started to visit the garden. I learned about mason bees and leafcutter bees, and witnessed one of them carrying a circle of leaf to the bug hotel I (sceptically) hung at the bottom of the garden. Next year I will try my hardest to attract more solitary bees next year, as well as honey bees, bumblebees moths, butterflies and caterpillars. I learned about the mint moth, and got used to the multiple visits from wasps to the water dish.
I made sure I had pollinator-friendly blooms for most of the months. January was tough, but the promise of the first bulb shoots kept me going. I got very excited when I started with primulas, hellebores and crocus in February and March. I was surprised by the scent of daffodils and wallflowers in April and celebrated tulips and geums in May. Borage, clary sage, valerian and nemesia in June and then calendula, echinacea, pelargoniums, cerinthe and peas in July. August slogged by with sunflowers, cosmos and phlox; followed by a heavy sigh in September with verbena bonariensis, kangaroo paw and dahlias. The strawberry plants decided to start flowering in October and kept the sedums and rudbeckia company. In November I was still picking alpine strawberries and admiring the persistence of the salvia blooms as the weather got colder. There aren’t many blooms in the garden in December, so I am grateful that there is still green in the garden with santolina, rosemary and chamomile.
Watch this space
I will continue to add to the garden next year of course. I have surplus seed, and I have already identified a couple of new plants I would like to try. However, I have the itch for growing edibles again, so watch this space! Maybe not potatoes though. I tried them in gro-bags this year and although it was exciting and got some interesting purple varieties, they just required a lot of water and it was a faff to bring the hose through the living room and out of the window to avoid ferrying watering cans in and out every other day.