by Janis on 9th December 2022 / 0 comments

Our successes and lessons learnt

So, how did our English country garden progress in 2022?

I must say that some of our projects were successful; some still need attention, and others could have been done better.

But hey, you can’t win them all.

After completing our mid-year review, the garden was undoubtedly looking more colourful, if not a bit scorched in places. Here in the UK, we experienced one of our hottest summers on record, and the sizzling weather seemed to go on for weeks.

The heat restricted us somewhat as the ground was baked hard, and at times it was too hot to work in. Needless to say, it was pleasant pottering around in the evening.


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Our cottage garden border

It’s all about the long game
One of the first projects we started to tackle, and one that is an ever-evolving task, was turning our main garden border into an English cottage garden. The vision I conjured up in my mind wasn’t quite how it developed. However, as I bought youngish plants, I’m not sure what miracle I imagined they would perform.
The lush green cottage garden bed in front of a plain wooden fence in Our Garden
Cottage garden bed before
When we started clearing some of the cottage garden bed, we had a very invasive geranium, we removed a huge amount of it, but it appears to have returned in abundance. I wasn’t convinced it was geranium, but now that our mild autumn has rejuvenated it, I can see it is and has spread further.
A pathway made of concrete timber stepping stones weaving their way through our cottage garden bed during summer.
Cottage garden bed after

We have planted several new plants in this border throughout the year. As they are currently dormant, I don’t want to go gung-ho and remove the geranium with a fork or shovel, so I think this will be a job on my hands and knees.

I’m not looking forward to this.

However, in general, I think we certainly made progress; only time will tell next spring and summer.

Sowing and cuttings

It’s so rewarding

We’ve certainly had a few successes with sowing seeds, although my main problem is growing too many.

For example, with my chillies and tomato plants, instead of sowing a couple of seeds of each, I end up growing four or five, and then I don’t want to lose them. Which is all well and good, but you need to ensure you use them all.

Our Jalapeno chilli's planted on to their final terracotta pots in our conservatory.
Potting on my chillies

This year was the first time I grew flowers from seeds other than Sweet Pea & Morning Glory; I have usually only sown vegetables in the past.

But for 2022, I grew quite a few flowers from seed, and by and large, they were all pretty successful. One plant I was surprised with was Dahlia. I must admit I thought you could only grow Dahlia from a tuber; how wrong was I.

My Dahlias were amazing; they flowered for weeks; I will definitely be growing more next year.

Small pots containing our cuttings of Salvia and Spiraea growing on in our garden frame
Salvia and Spiraea cuttings

Another win I had this year was taking softwood cuttings from my Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ and Spiraea ‘Bridal Wreath’. I took five soft cuttings from each, and incredibly all five Salvia grew and started flowering in their new pots and four of the Spiraea.

I was so pleased; it’s like having free plants, and who doesn’t like that?

I think next year I’m going to purchase a couple more Salvia or grow them from seed, as they add so much delicate colour late into the season. It’s early December, and my ‘Hot Lips’ still has flowers on it.

Our garden gear purchases

Everyone loves a gadget

Oh yes, we purchased a couple of new electrical items for the garden this year. One is a new lawnmower, as our old Flymo finally gave up, and the other is a Ryobi rechargeable hedge trimmer.

The new lawnmower we purchased is a rotary model; it’s the Flymo EasiStore 340R, which I like as it stores away very simply; I just wish the blade cut lower to the ground. I shopped around for the best deal, and Amazon and Homebase had the best offers.

Now sticking with the lawn theme, our grass has become a bit of a challenge this year, and I think for 2023, we’re going to have to take serious action. Since the summer drought, our grass has dried out, and the weeds have come in abundance and spread further. The weeds and moss really have taken over, especially in the later part of the year.

The Flymo EasiStore 340R lawn mower on the lawn
The Flymo EasiStore 340R

Now, onto the Ryobi cordless hedge trimmer. This was a great purchase as the hedge trimmer makes very light work of tasks that would have normally taken ages if it were done by hand.

In no time at all, the shrubs were tamed, and it was job done.

We also purchased the Ryobi hedge trimmer's extension arm; some of our garden's shrubs are quite tall, so the extension arm was an ideal addition. The battery pack is also interchangeable, so you can buy other tools in the Ryobi range that will fit with the battery.

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The courtyard patio and secret garden

A splash of colour

Another big win for us this year was our courtyard patio. I planted so many pots we had a fountain of colour for months. The plants ranged from rejuvenated fuchsias and grasses to beautiful new bedding plants and dahlias.

Although one climbing plant that truly impressed me was Thunbergia or Black-eyed Susan. This delicate vine was incredible; it vigorously grew all over our obelisk and continued to flower for months.

I bought three Thunbergia for £1.99 each, which I thought was good value, but I think for 2023, I'm going to look for some seeds.

One side of the patio is lined up with flowers in bloom as a result of the home irrigation system
The patio in bloom
Now the Secret Garden section is a work in progress, as this is quite a large task. I must admit the whole garden is a large task; on paper, we've broken it down into garden sections to make it more manageable.
A pathway into the secret garden after the first attempt to clear the wilderness.
The Secret Garden
We've been slowly tackling the secret garden; however, we needed to clear more. This means that the task is rolling over into 2023.

Spring flowering bulbs

Are 400 too many?
In recent years our garden has been lacking colour through late winter and spring. So, we decided to splash out and buy a selection of bulbs that should start flowering towards the end of January; well, that’s the plan anyway.
A selection of the bulbs we purchased from J Parker for autumn planting.
Unboxed autumn bulbs

So, after some deliberation on the variety of plants I wanted, I purchased our bulbs from J. Parker’s. We’ve used them before, and they have a vast selection of bulbs and tubers and are also reliable. An added bonus is that I got a discount as a Gardeners World magazine subscriber.

I ordered just over 400 bulbs in the end, which I’m hoping should look fantastic if they all grow. My only concern is that I may have planted some of the bulbs too deep within my patio pots, but only time will tell.

Hands clasped with a selection of the first bulbs order for planting for 2023 displays.
Bulbs in hand

Having said that, I do also have a concern that as we have had a mild autumn a few of the bulbs have started to sprout already. Fingers crossed, they lay dormant for a couple of months and re-appear in spring.

The flowers that I chose were snowdrops, dwarf iris, crocus, narcissus, hyacinth and tulips.

I’m really looking forward to spring now.

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